Wednesday, December 14, 2011

God changes us through Holy Spirit

I was very angry. I had a genuine reason to be angry and wanted to shout. I wanted to say all things which a worldly man would say when he gets angry or mad at someone or something. I barely managed to keep my words to a limit and boundaries of the ethics I follow. At times I wanted to speak out words which I normally don’t use or speak but I know are used by people when they are angry. After this I could stand in front of anyone and justify the reason for me being angry and argue that I was correct and there was nothing wrong. I was sure at I would win my case in any court which may put me on trial for getting angry.

Then came the difficult part. I went to God to pray knowing that I did nothing wrong. I could not pray with my heart, with my lips I could, but my heart and my conscience was wandering. What I knew in theory started arguing with me. I knew theoretically that I should not get angry or shout rather I should always be sober and kind and patient. But the situation made me to overcome all those things and justify my action. What my flesh wanted to do was trying to prevail over what God wanted me to do. The way my flesh wanted me to react was overpowering how God wanted me to react. Finally I had to surrender and confess that I was wrong in what I did and asked for forgiveness and more grace and strength to react and behave better next time. I could sense and experience the peace of God. Fake lip service to God changed to heart felt service. I could understand that I was wrong. None of my justification or law points could stand against the word of God which was working in my heart. Holy Sprit was reminding me everything I have read and I knew theoretically and asking me to make it practical in my life. I gave up and said, “Lord have thine own way."

You may ask what it was. It was God working through the Holy Spirit in a person’s life reminding him of Scriptures to transform him into his likeness. It was the Holy Spirit at work to change me so that I can be transformed more into the image of God and reflect the character and attitude of Jesus Christ through my life. I am glad God works even today through the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can resist that work easily and lose our sensitivity. We should try not to lose in and make sure we are reaching out toGod with our hearts and not only with lips.

Some people may question the need of confession and reconciliation for such matters. The Bible is clear on these things and I believe that the beauty of a Christian life is not only in having theoretical knowledge of different terms like justification, grace, sanctification, dispensation etc.  An important aspect is walking with God and hearing His voice and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives resulting in transformation.    

God Bless you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thought - Theology and Confusion

Completed a paper on Wesleyan and Reformed theology and tradition. My conclusion - I finished it by grace alone. I reasoned and experienced that it is complete because traditionally people who finish and submit it have completed it. But only my paper can validate if it’s complete or not. In order to validate, you will have to read it and understand. Then your method of reading and understanding may not be same as the way I wanted you to read and understand. So you may read in a different way than I wanted you to understand. I wrote in based on my culture, education, understanding and by circumstances.

If you are confused then I am sorry and you are like me. But if you understood what I just wrote then you are a theologian.

Note:- This is my way of appreciating people who spend countless hours dealing with theological issues.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thought - Close to God with Heart or Lips

You may say that you prayed today. What about your heart? Did you reach out to God with your heart or just with your lips? In Mathew 15:1-20, Jesus stated what is more important. If we reach out to God only with our lips and not with our heart then we should go on our knees. It is a serious concern which needs to be resolved on our knees. We should not allow fake spirituality to prosper in our life. We should seek God in prayer and meditation of his Word and arrest the growth of fake spirituality and cultivate and nurture true spirituality. What is the test of true spirituality. One simple test is to check if you are close to God with your heart. What dominates your thought life?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thought - Balance in Theology

Can we embrace love of God and reject His justice? Can we embrace justice of God and reject His love? Can we embrace mercy of God and reject his judgement?   Can we embrace judgement of God and reject his mercy?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thought - Dealing with others bad behaviors

Every day you hear things which makes you upset or spoil your mood. What to do? Be upset thinking why you can't do anything or just trust in God that He is in control and enjoy the day as a gift from God. Well I am not going to spoil my day because of someone’s actions or word or thought. I will trust more in God and rejoice in Him. Is it easy? No. It becomes easier as you trust God more and believe that He is in full control.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Changes in TNIV and NIV 2011 Versions

Last time I wrote about why Bible versions matter for a student of the word of God. Every believer should be a student of the word of God. Our taste and convictions should be biblical. For that to occur we should spent more time in studying Bible than other things. If you spend more time with TV or internet then you taste buds will be developed for that and your convictions will be based on that. Many people struggle to enjoy God's word and find it very difficult to focus and read it for even ten minutes. There are so many distractions in our life that many times we feel comfortable being busy and spending time on things which feed our flesh and give pleasure to us. So it’s very important that we develop a taste for the word of God if we intend to grow in our relationship with the creator God.

I want to share with you some concerns which will help you to think and guide you as you select a Bible for yourself or for your family. I do not claim to know everything about this but just want to share the things I found out.

New International version (NIV) is one of the most common used Bible versions. I have used it for a long time now and I have a Study Bible and Life Application Bible of NIV. Wikipedia says that "The New International Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible. Published by Zondervan in the United States, it has become one of the most popular modern translations in history." One thing which NIV tried to do and continues to do is that they try to make language easy and appealing to modern culture. Most common version is the 1984 one. In 2005 they came out with another version which was called Today's New International Version (TNIV). Among other differences from the NIV, the TNIV uses gender-neutral language to refer to people. Confessional terms for this kind of language are such as gender-inclusive. Two examples of this kind of translation decision are found in Genesis and Matthew.
Genesis 1:27 reads: "So God created human beings in his own image." Older translations use the word "man" to translate the word ’adam employed in the Hebrew language, the same word used as the proper name of the first man married to the first woman, Eve.

Matthew 5:9 reads: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Here, the Greek word huioi is translated "children" rather than "sons" as found in other modern English translations such as the New American Standard Bible[8] and the Amplified Bible.[9] However, the 1611 Authorized King James Version also renders this passage as "children" rather than "sons". Masculine references to God, such as "Father" and "Son", are not modified from the literal translation in the TNIV.

The original Hebrew of Psalm 1:1 has the word ’ish (man). This is translated in the TNIV: "Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers."

This year they came out with a new version which is much based on TNIV. It’s called NIV and they have discontinued older version. So if you go and buy a NIV bible today most probably you will get a NIV 2011 version.

Note this difference in three versions.

NIV(1984) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

TNIV(2005) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.

NIV(2011) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

NIV also has the issues with words or verses deleted. Some claim that they have deleted about 40 verses. See here .


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Bible Versions Matter

All Christians read the Bible daily or they are supposed to read for growing in their spiritual life. There are many languages in which we do not have a full Bible. There are many in which we only have one version. In English we have many versions. I have 3 or 4 with me and can access more than twenty five online. Bible Gateway has about 25 versions as I am writing. Many times we wonder which one is the best. There are professors of theology who prefer one over another. Some of them even hate other versions. My first Hermeneutics class is next week. So just thought doing some research about it.

My first Bible in English was a NKJV given by my parents. At that time it was kind of luxury for me. Later one person from my church gave me a NIV Bible because he was not using it and gave it as a gift to me which I still have. At that time I knew that there are some study Bibles available but I could not afford one. So I borrowed one NKJV Study Bible from a family which I used to study. Later they asked me for it because I kept it with me for a long time. I badly wanted to buy one but was not able to.

Later I purchased many Bibles and few as gift from people. I have NIV study Bible, NIV Life Application Bible, NLT Life Application and ESV Study Bible. I also have a Malayalam and Hindi Bible. I use it all at times for study and sermon preparation. Nowadays I use ESV more for personal study. I am very comfortable with NIV since I am reading it for many years now. I also use other versions which are available online sometimes.

Now the question is- does it matter? Initially I was of the opinion that you should read what you feel most comfortable. In my case it is NLT since its very easy. Now is that the correct way to decide? Now I would say NO. I want to bring to you attention one of the most famous verse. Its John 3:16. Let us see it from few Versions.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (Amplified Bible)

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (HCSB)

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NET Bible)

All bold effect is my addition to bring clarity.

Do you see any difference? For serious students of the word of God there is difference. Is it "God So much loved the world" or "God loved the world in this way" or "this is the way God loved the world" ? Where is the focus? What was the reason for sending the son? Was it his "love for the world" or is it that sending his son demonstrated his love for the world? Who is the focus? Son coming or God's love? I know that both are important but I just wanted to show you an example of how this can change focus and meaning at times. Sometimes it can promote misreading of important facts.

People who use another language do not have much option but those who use English have many options. There are many custom made bible's available in the market. We even have a PG13 Bible. You should be very careful when you buy new Bibles coming out in market. I will be writing another article about problems with NIV 2011 version later. When you want to buy a Bible for your children do not go with the easiest and most fancy one available. Go with the one which does not distort the message.

We can see many examples like this. So you may ask me which one is best. I don't know since I am not a scholar yet to advice you on that. I will definitely recommend that you use more than one version for your study. When it comes to important passages, make sure you read it from different versions. Again this is for serious students of word of God. This is not to say that there is contradictions between Bibles but language and style can make a difference.

If you have some suggestions then let me know. I will be more than happy to research on it. Any way remember - EASY IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST.

God Bless You Bible Study!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New turn in my Life

In our life we see many turns. Some turns are very sharp but some are just another diversion. One question we should ask ourselves before we take is turn is - "Am I in God's will?"

Many times turns can be new chapters in our lives which we never expected to start. With every new chapter there is an expectation and anticipation. This week I started a new chapter in my life. I started with Master of Arts in Theological Studies at North Western College in St.Paul, MN. It all happened so quick that I could see the blessing of God in this matter.

It was a promise which God gave me many years ago, around ten I think. He said you will study in a Bible college in USA. At that time I couldn't imagine that I will ever study in a Bible College. But years have passed and times have changed. He has finally opened a way for me to study.
It was great to start this program. Some times we think if its necessary for men of God to study to serve the Lord. I now think that to effectively teach others you should learn first. I can write many points in support of that. I don't want to do it now.

So lot of challenges are ahead as lot of assignments and reading and research is awaiting me as I go through this program. I am excited as well as nervous. Going back to class room after so many years was great. But it was a fulfillment of God's promise. I want to say it again - My God is faithful in fulfilling all his promises. I know its tough with my job and taking care of a growing church and then to do this program. But I remember what Paul said, "I can do all things through the one who gives me strength" (Phil 4:13).

Keep me in your prayers!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monk Habits for Everyday People

Last week I completed reading my first book this year. I didn't buy it but picked it up from Public Library. When I saw the title i.e. - Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm, I was curious. I started reading it and I can tell you that after a long time I found a book which was so interesting to me that I finished reading it in a few days. I am not a bibliophile or bookworm. I can't read all books and can see it to completion only if its awakens my interest.

I just thought of writing few things about it here. Firstly, if you are a person who gets scared or maybe you feel old fashioned with the word "Monk" then this book is definitely for you! The book is very good in making a person understand what Benedictine Spirituality is and other things which is practiced in monasteries. You will get a very good idea about why monks do certain things. The intent and the reason behind many things can be understood easily.

Evangelical theologian and educator Dennis Okholm offers this spiritual memoir of his pilgrimage into monastic culture in an era when a chorus of evangelical voices are crying out for changes in their branch of the church. Various evangelical writers are arguing: The movement's become stale. It's been hijacked by political operatives. It's turned Christianity into an easy-bake recipe for prosperity. And, where many of these writers wind up trying to take us is back into centuries-old Christian traditions that once were considered exclusively "Catholic." And, when evangelicals said that word in the past, they often sneered.

Don't mistake Okholm's book for one of those angry evangelical books trying to shake up the movement from its foundations, but not offering much of a pathway through the resulting rubble. No, this is a thoughtful, careful, mature memoir. He admits that, at that time, he suspected monastic life was a tired old "relic of the Middle Ages."

He suggests how Benedictine spirituality can overcome the star-power trend he sees in many Protestant churches. He suggests that if more pastors held obedience, balance, and listening at the heart of their ministries, the dissent that strikes many congregations could be kept at bay, and the Gospel of Christ better served in our mission fields.

He has chapters on listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, and balance; he gives Protestant readers a perspective on the values of Catholic spirituality. I especially liked and appreciate a final chapter on why the Protestant reformers, made a break from monasticism, as it can help to set Protestant perspectives on monasticism in historical perspective.

Who was Benedict? Born around 480 C.E, he was first a hermit (A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society) who later gathered a community of followers. He apparently didn’t intend to establish a community but when he did, he developed his Rule.

If you ask me if I learned anything from it then YES! It helped me to evaluate my life with many teachings of the Bible and if I am it following in the right sense.

If you are a person who comes from a protestant or evangelical or Pentecostal background then you should read it. I don't think it will encourage you to become a monk but it will definitely help you to evaluate and understand many things in your own lives which you are supposed to do but don’t. It will help you in looking at your own life if you don't read it from a critical view.

As humans we can always learn from different people and culture. Monk habits have lot of things for a Christian to learn from. You may think I am impressed by Monk habits. Yes I am by the intention behind many things they do as they correspond to what Jesus taught us. I don't want to mention more here. I want to conclude this post by saying that if you get a copy of this book or get a Chance to read it then go for it. You will learn a lot.

After writing about it I found this link which has a presentation about this book. If you don't read the book then at least read this Monk Habit Presentation .

God Bless You!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year 2011 and Message

Happy New Year 2011!

I wish you all a blessed new year. Another year has gone by and we are in a new year.
Whenever a New Year starts, people take decisions and we see fresh energy as people hope to do things in a new way. Sometimes it is the decision to read the Bible or pray regularly. Sometimes it is about giving more to charity or going to church regularly. It could also be things like exercising regularly. But if we are not disciplined then the enthusiasm dies in 2-3 weeks and we get back to our previous lifestyle. But the New Year always presents us with an opportunity to start or plan things in a new way. It
encourages us to take some new decisions.

At our church (Minnesota Pentecostal Assembly), on New Year eve, I spoke about getting genuine or real in this New Year. Getting real is important to have a consistent relationship with God. Many times people are either thinking or acting below what God has given to them or where God has placed them; sometimes they are thinking above what God has given to them. Either way it prevents us from fully realizing God’s primary call and purpose in our life. Few important points I shared during the message was -
1. Phil 3:16: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” – Know the purpose of your life, forget the past, and live in reality

2. Acting below what one is could be in the form of underestimating God’s primary purpose and call in one’s life, pride in the form of false humility, making excuses about having to learn more, to name a few.

3. Acting above what one is or where God has placed them could be in the form of fake spirituality, not realizing the reality, acting out when one is actually struggling, to name

You can listen to this message at MPA Website

May God Bless You!

Be Alert: Do not fall into this trap!

Introduction Recently, a Pastor visited me, and I took him to the Mall of America, the biggest mall in America.  As we were walking, we met ...