Friday, August 30, 2013

The Flight of the Bumble Bee

Yuja Wang plays "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on the piano

This is really incredible!


Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Vivaldi like you've never heard before

Men who go so high in doctrine.....

Listen to what Charles Spurgeon had to say about some people who could not find anything good to say about John Wesley, because, as Calvinists, they could not agree with his position as an Arminian.

John Wesley (via)
Charles Spurgeon (via)


"......Men who go so high in doctrine, and withal add so much bitterness and uncharitableness to it, that they cannot imagine that a man can fear God at all unless he believes precisely as they do."

From his lecture, “The Two Wesleys” (delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Dec. 6, 1861)

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Sounds familiar?!

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Three random but possibly related quotes I have read together in the past week.....
2. Thank God we finally got our doctrine right!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some thoughts on Giving (and the Tithe)

Tithing or Giving (via)
While growing up in Bangalore, it was my privilege to be a part of a church for 25 years that never (even once) took an offering! Yes, you read that right!

This church had two offering boxes at the back of the meeting hall. Members were free to put money into the box anonymously whenever they wanted. The boxes had verses printed on them. One box said, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7), and the other box said, "First be reconciled to your brother."(Matt 5:24). This highlighted a part of the church's teaching on giving to the church:

Offering Box

1. Giving was to be voluntary, and cheerful rather than forced and out of a sense of compulsion, and
2. It was far more important to have a good conscience and obey God, than try and pacify one's conscience through giving to the church.

There were a number of other teachings they emphasized regarding the use of money. They taught that all our money (not just 10%) belongs to God, and we are only stewards of what we own, and are expected to use all that we have for God's glory and for the extension of God's kingdom. They taught that one of the signs of true disciples was that they chose to serve God rather than mammon. They taught that it was better not to give to the church than to give grudgingly or with a sense of compulsion. And they taught that we could trust God to meet all our needs, and to enable us to work for Him.

There may have been many things wrong about this church, but perhaps this was one thing they got right!

Over the years, I watched God provide. The church leadership never asked for money from the pulpit, but they always had enough. Meeting halls were constructed in villages all over south India, the church had enough resources to hold national conferences twice a year, and had flourishing and powerful cassette and book ministries that have helped thousands all over the country.

And I know that members gave, sacrificially and cheerfully, beyond the obligatory 10% that has become the unfortunate normal standard for giving. For example, I know one member personally who gave well above 10% percent of his income, not just to this church but also to Christian ministries all over the country.

So here are my questions: (and believe me, these questions are generic ones, and not directed at anybody personally. I myself have been deeply convicted in the last few months since I began thinking about this topic, about how little, and how un-strategically I give!)

1. Is it not possible that it is fear (that perhaps one may not get enough money to make ends meet) that drives pastors who are otherwise sound and careful in the way they exegete Scripture, to adopt questionable doctrines such as:

i) The Tithe:

The truth is, if the Old Testament custom were to be actually followed in the era of the New Covenant, church members would actually be giving something like 23% of their income, which is something I have never heard any pastor talk about. In fact, the more I understand the New Covenant, the more I realize that the laws of the Old Covenant were pictures of the coming reality, and it makes perfect sense to me to realize that under the New Covenant, ALL my money (and not just 10%) belongs to God, to be used by Him for His glory and the extension of His Kingdom.

Should we not faithfully hold our members up to God's standards of discipleship, and help them develop their sense of relationship with God as both Lord of every part of their lives, and Loving Father who has now made them a part of His family?

ii) The Storehouse concept: mis-exegeted from Mal 3:8-10, which is used to tell church members that all their tithes should go to the church they attend.

In matter of fact, we give our money to God, and not to the church. He is the Head of the Church, and He is also the Lord of the harvest.

Should we not teach our members that they are giving to God, and that they should prayerfully ask God to show them how to use their money? I think members of (relatively wealthy) city churches have an especial responsibility to give, not just to their local church, but also strategically to other ministries in poorer parts of India. I think churches too should be considering how to strategically use the money they collect to extend God's Kingdom, not just in the cities in which they are located, but also in other parts of the country. Most often the church's budget gets used up improving its own infrastructure, (air-conditioning, better musical instruments and sound systems, salaries, etc). If the CS Lewis quote (that I posted previously) is correct, some of our city churches should be choosing to be more uncomfortable, and to live with more inconvenience so that God's work is better done in other places.

In conclusion, I think the Bible teaches us to be faithful in the stewardship of the money God has given to us, as well as shrewd in the way we use it. He expects us to use our resources wisely and well, so that we are:
1. Able to take care of ourselves and the people He expects us to provide for (parents, family, children)
2. Able to meet needs around us that He burdens us to meet.
3. Able to use our wisdom and skill to make strategic decisions that will have the maximal impact in building His Kingdom, and accomplishing His purposes.

What do you think?

Bonus: Read my father, Jacob Ninan's, article: Frequently Asked Questions on Tithing.

Possibly related posts from the past

1. Tithing and Giving
2. Sacrificial Giving
3. God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom

What really causes heart disease.....

My Dearest Arpita,

It seems you were right all along!


Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Turns out Women are Cleverer than Men

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom

"Watch the way Jesus walks through the kingdom. He is always moving toward the marginalized, the physically broken, the oppressed, and the poor. We already know that the rich are reluctant to believe in Jesus because they know it will cost them. Jesus and his followers prefer those who can never help us get a better job or increase the church budget.

Just when your storehouses had enough for tomorrow, you notice some desperate needs around you. The King is close enough to put his hand into your pocketbook and, for most Westerners, that is far too intrusive and impolite. "Go ahead and require public niceness and regular attendance at church, Lord, but remember that my money is my own!"

We get the impression that the Father prefers to keep us on the edge. This is what got us worried in the first place! His plan is to liberate us from our defensive, hoarding, tight-fisted, miserly ways, and to teach us that when we have been given the kingdom - the kingdom! - stinginess is unnatural and unbecoming. We might prefer a different strategy, but if God is molding us to be chips off the old block, his strategy makes sense. It is exactly what we need, because our greatest need is to be what we were intended to be - to be like him.

So, the Kingdom is God's and God targets the needs of those who have less than we do. In other words, not only is the kingdom about God, and not me, I don't even come in second! I am to consider others more important than myself in the kingdom. This seems like too much to ask until the King calls us his treasured possession (Ex. 19:5). He is seeking my allegiance with love, not with force and power. The reason we are called to lay up our treasures in heaven is because we are his treasure. When you are confident that you are the Father's treasured possession, you are also confident that his loving care will continue forever. Building warehouses is a waste of time and space. His gifts to you become things you want to give him back in gratitude. Then he give you even more."

(Ed Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry & the God of Rest, p. 133, 134)

(HT: Vit Z)

Possibly related posts from the past:

Inasmuch as you have not done it to the least of these my brothers.......
2. What is a Mission Hospital?
3. Sacrificial Giving
4. Tithing and Giving
5. Giving with a difference

Sacrificial Giving

"I do not believe one can settle on how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them."

(C. S Lewis in Mere Christianity)

(HT: Vit Z)

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Tithing and Giving
2. Giving with a Difference

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The World Map divided into Five, with each containing a Fifth of the World's Population

The world divided into five, with each containing a fifth of the world's population
China has a fifth of the world's population: 1.35 billion. This is how much land is required to hold each of the other fifths.

As this blogger remarks, "I’m not sure what is more amazing — how vast the area in blue is or how small the area in yellow."


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sincere and pure devotion

Ray Ortlund talks about his recent visit to The Cove in Asheville – at the Billy Graham Training Center.

The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville (via)
"I wish you could have been there with us in the green room, as we gathered before each service. I saw no ego at all. They were relaxed friends, enjoying one another. But there was more. I saw a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For example, as they were discussing the music, now and then Cliff would spontaneously break out in song, and everyone would join in, right there in the planning session. I saw no distinction between planning the worship and worshiping. It was beautiful. It was heartfelt. It was real. I saw Cliff, with zero affectation, speak about his Lord with emotion breaking his voice. I saw the members of the team speak to and about one another with tears in their eyes. I saw biblical Christianity – a sincere and pure devotion to Christ flowing and overflowing."

Read the rest....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Forgiven People Forgive

Riley Cooper

"Until last week, Cooper’s was a name known only to die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans; now it’s a household word. Last week, a video surfaced of a drunk Cooper (who is white) using a racial slur (the racial slur) while claiming he wanted to fight all of the African-Americans at a Kenny Chesney concert.

In a statement following the video’s appearance on the internet, Cooper said, “I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie, to [General Manager] Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”

To most observers, Cooper seems sincere and legitimately contrite. Only God knows, of course. But it’s not the quality of Cooper’s apology that interests me, it’s the reaction of Cooper’s teammates to the apology."

Read the rest of what happened.

The author concludes:

"To the extent that we ignore (or run from) our own sinfulness, we will be unable to care for other sinners. We will be unable to extend forgiveness to others until we are honest about the extent to which we are forgiven. The most forgiving people are those who are coming to daily, deeper terms with their own need for forgiveness. Ungracious people are those who haven’t come to grips with their own dire, daily need for grace."

(HT: Tullian)

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. The Insanity of Luther by R C Sproul
2. Everything you are in the world is of no value.....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Annadurai the Autodriver

For those who missed this on my brother Prem's Facebook page:

Here is the story of a surprisingly enterprising auto-driver in Chennai, Annadurai, who seems to invest much of what he gets, into trying to give his passengers a good experience.

You could pass the time (while using his autorickshaw to make the 30 minute commute between Thiruvanmiyur and Sholinganallur) using the free wi-fi connection to surf the internet, using his tablet if you have not brought your own, watching TV, reading the various magazines he subscribes to and enrolling in the various contests he conducts. If you're lucky, you might even make the ride free!

I'd like to meet this guy!

Annadurai in his autorickshaw

Some of the deals available in Annadurai's auto

Read more.....

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Insanity of Luther by R C Sproul

Here is a priceless little lecture that I found yesterday on one of the blogs I follow.

It is the story of Martin Luther, told by a terrific story teller, R C Sproul. Actually this is the first time I have ever watched Dr Sproul speak, and I am glad to have finally found him.

In this lecture, he discusses the possibility that Martin Luther was, in fact, insane, and concludes, "Ladies and Gentlemen, If (Luther was) crazy, I pray that God would send an army of insane people like that into this world..."

Do take the time to watch this. It is certainly worth 30 minutes of your time!

(HT: Tullian Tchividjian)

 Possibly Related Posts from the past

1. Everything you are in the world is of no value.....

Apple iPhones for sale

The Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction!

Witness the story of the young lady who recently tried to buy two Apple phones
for $1200.....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

After the rains...

Ray Eicher's simple and powerful gesture of expressing empathy with the people of Uttaranchal

A Reflection from Dr Philip Alexander

A reflection from a surgical giant in the Mission Hospital at Manali.

"Viewed from the legal and academic perspective, my reach had extended beyond my lawful jurisdiction. I had taken a risk, and included the patient in that gamble. In this instance, it paid off. An unanswered question is what if the outcome was bad? Would a remote practitioner still be justified and validated in his altruistic attempt? How many risks will we take, and how far will our reach exceed our grasp?"

Possibly related posts from the past:

What is a Mission Hospital?

Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack

A Shout out to India's Generalists

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tithing and Giving

Here are a couple of links that I'm sure you will find interesting and thought provoking. These concern the questions of tithing and giving....

I seem to agree with the author that the 'tithe' (a compulsory 10 percent giving to God) was basically an Old Testament principle, that was replaced in the New Testament  with the understanding that All (100 percent) that we are and own belongs to God and we are only stewards of what he has given us. Jesus came to fulfil the Law and help us understand what it was meant to signify. (just like 'Do not murder' became 'Do not become angry', 'Do not commit adultery' became 'Do not lust in your heart', and 'Do not bear false witness' became 'Let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' no')

This understanding actually changes the way we live and give. We would probably end up giving MORE, and definitely more strategically for the building of God's Kingdom.

What do you think?

Possibly related posts from the past: