Saturday, May 26, 2012

Self-Promotion contradicts Jesus' teaching

We are living in an age where promotion is important. You take any discipline, without promotion, it won't be successful. Events are promoted, films are promoted, TV shows are promoted and even churches are promoted by advertisement and other media. Promotion is not bad in itself. I also promote by blog or website by adding a link as signature to my email.

In this article I want to deal with an issue which has crept so much into the Christian world that sometimes we get frustrated with it. I want to call it as self-promotion. Sometimes it is done under the cover of preaching gospel and other times it is done to bring glory to God. What a contradiction it is! The creator God gets glory through the cut out poster or promotion of a preacher. Have you ever thought about it?

Nowadays almost all organizations have what they call publicity coordinator. They are needed, but sometimes we stretch it too far. Few years ago an incident happened. A sister was looking at the song book of a conference and initially thought it is a photo album. It was for the first time she saw a song book of that type. The outside title said it is a song book but less than 25% pages contained songs. Now you may think I am ignorant about why we need advertisement and all financial things attached to it. I am well aware of it and I will explain why I am highlighting such things here.

At another time I saw an advertisement about a small camp attended by about 35 people. The advertisement came in many leading papers and newsletters with the photo of all officials involved and also the preachers. When I asked someone about it then they said we want to let outside people know that we also conduct such meetings. Other official of an event told that it is just a show of strength of their church. I came across a newsletter which had the photo of an official twice on the same page. We see advertisements about meetings with photos of all preachers. It may be 10 days meeting, but you will find 15 photos. 10 preachers and 5 organizers. Sometimes I feel that it is too much of a show.

Another thing is with mission reports. Sometimes it is the testimony which people give about what they do. I am not saying it is wrong every time. Many times the motive is not correct. Sometime ago I was in a church and a person came forward to give testimony about his mission trip. He said everything about what he did. It sounded like he was glorifying his efforts and not God.

I see this trend on Facebook. People think they are really smart. They pray for 5 minutes and they want the world to know.  They do if for the sake of encouragement but is that the real motive?

The big question is how much should I advertise what I do or did for the Lord? Should I go around and tell people what I did. Many times we say we are telling what God did but are we really saying that or   promoting our-self. By now I am sure that you got a good idea of what I am trying to convey.

Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mathew 6:1-4

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (NIV)

Jesus was not talking about ministry here but about charity. There is an important principle we need to learn out of it. In simple language - Do not show off to others.

I feel anything which is done to show off or promote a person deprives God of the glory which belongs to him. Any action which is self-exalting should be stopped in our life. Even if I pray and move a mountain, it should not be advertised since it’s not I who did it but it is God. Then a question can be raised. If I don't tell people then how will they know that God can move mountains? There is a very thin line. If this testimony makes me humble and at the end leaves people focused and praising God then I am on the right side. Contrary to that if at the end focus is on me then I have failed to convey it in a way which brings glory to God. How many times I heard about such and such man or woman of God praised by people. Some people are so trapped or addicted with this problem that they praise people more than God.

I can write many more things about it but I want to focus on the scriptures.

Mathew 6:5-6
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)

Mathew 6:16-18
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)

I want to conclude by giving some practical advices. I am not saying you should do it but you should think about in the light if the issue I raised in this post.

  1. Avoid all kinds of self-promotion in life.
  2. Avoid and doesn’t delight when your photo comes up in someplace where you know that it should not have some.
  3. Do not enjoy and rejoice at fake exaltation or praise you receive.
  4. Be careful that your testimony does not end up being a promotion for yourself.
  5. Check who was in spotlight and who took maximum appreciation through what you did. It could be a message or preaching.
  6. Have the boldness to reject and correct if people say things about you which are not true.
  7. If you give charity then make sure they do not publish your name.
  8.  If someone asks you to give personal advertisement in a songbook then if you want to help them then give money and avoid the advertisement part.
  9. Make sure you do not do anything to show off yourself, your family or your church or your ministry to others. No one will get saved seeing how great you are. If someone comes to Christ like that then they won't stay long since only Jesus can attract and bring people to his kingdom.
  10. Never start or do any ministry to show others that you are doing something or to promote your name among others.

May the Lord help you to reflect and think about this issue and I want to conclude by saying that self-promotion always contradicts with Jesus teaching.

God Bless You!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wycliffe and contextualization issue in Bible Translation

Recently I heard about a Wycliffe Bible for Muslims which has been contextualized for Muslims. What an idea! So what did they do? They just changed few things.

For example, these so-called translations change Matthew 28:19, the Great Commission given to us by Christ, from this: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” 

to this: “cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.

Just imagine if this was done with some other religious books. Just imagine if this happens with Koran or Bhagwat Gita. I can't imagine the uproar which it could have caused.

You can read about this from the lings below:-

If you do a search you will get lot of information.

I wish Christ comes before more contextualization comes and there will be Bibles for different religions and may be different other things based on people and language. Don’t want to write more about this since it’s a sad news which people of God should be aware of. It's for readers to read and see if Wycliffe people are justified for the reason they give.

How far will this generation go before judgment comes? 

OT Teachings: Restitution

Numbers 5:5-10

5 Then the LORD said to Moses, 6 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people—men or women—betray the LORD by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. 7 They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged. 8 But if the person who was wronged is dead, and there are no near relatives to whom restitution can be made, the payment belongs to the LORD and must be given to the priest. Those who are guilty must also bring a ram as a sacrifice, and they will be purified and made right with the LORD. 9 All the sacred offerings that the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Each priest may keep all the sacred donations that he receives.” (NLT)

During OT times, saying sorry or confessing to God was not enough. You betray or deceive someone. What should you do?

  • Step 1 - Confess the sin.
  • Step 2 - Make full restitution + 20%. Example you deceived $100 then its $100+$20=$120/-
  • Step 3- Return it to the person
If the person is dead, what to do? - Give to relatives of person who can accept or receive it.
  • Step 4- If no one is there then give the money to priest + also bring ram for sacrifice (more expensive). So it goes to God.
So a simple sorry was not enough and restitution was needed.

Few things from NT:-

Luke 19:8
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”(NIV)

What did Zacchaeus do? For cheating $100, he gave back $100 * 4= $400/-. God asked 20% in OT but he gave 300%.

So what should we do? Just say sorry to God and be assured that Jesus paid it all on cross so I don't need to worry about whom I actually cheated? Is it fine if I give some money to poor or send a check to a third world country as mission support? That's what most people do. Is it enough to receive Christ and take baptism or become a church official while restitution is not made?

Again it’s the issue of restitution when someone is cheating or doing wrong to other people. 

May God help you to think about this in your practical life!

What is OT Teachings?

What is OT Teachings Series?

OT teaching series is a collection of specific teachings from Old Testament to reflect on the way God dealt with people. Lot of these things has different meaning in the New Testament age but my focus will be to understand how it worked in OT times.

It's not to say that we should do like this now it will give us an insight on how things worked during those times under the Old covenant (I am referring to Old Testament times and not to a convent theologian’s old covenant).

Note:- this is a reference post to many OT Teachings post I will add.

May God Bless You!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thought - Two Options in front of a preacher of gospel

If I had to go to Babylon and start a church among the captives who came from Judah then I will have two options.

  1. Option 1 - Start a conservative Jewish church which has all God's law in its statement of faith and which follow everything law demands.  This church preaches against sin and call people to repentance and genuine spiritual life. Then I will have only four members in my church. They are Brother Daniel, Bro.Shadrach, Bro.Meshach and Bro.Abednego.
  2. Option 2 - Next option is to start a seeker friendly church  (I can name it like Babylon Jewish Community or Nebuchadnezzar Assembly or something which does not reveal what the church is all about). It only has few things in its statement of faith and it accepts everything. Mostly preaching will be about prosperity and giving people hope that captivity is going to end soon.  You will get to hear things like this often -Get ready for something amazing, unexpected, Babylonian power will break because of you, God is going to use you etc. Only condition is come once in a week. I don't care if you bow down to king and worship or what you eat and wear. Come once in week and don't forget your offering. This church may have hundreds in attendance.

Which one is better?   Starting and maintaining a Jewish church in Babylon is not easy. There will be so many challenges. Then the challenge and pressure of number of people. Today everything is measured in quantity and not quality.

If I hold Calvinistic view then I don't need to decide, whatever I choose does not matter since I will choose what was  predestined by God. If I hold Armenian view then I need to decide on one option.  Option 1 seems more aligned with Bible but Option 2 looks more aligned to and desirable in today's world. You may say Option 2 is what we need today to reach the world. What to do?

It’s a challenge which a conservative minister of gospel may faces daily in ministry!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thought - My Past and My Attitude

There are times when it is really difficult to keep past things out of our mind. If it is about bad things others did to you and if it is something which can be compared as Reuben and other brothers roaming around free at their father's house when poor Joseph is in prison, then it gets tougher. Only revenge and wrong idea comes to your mind. You may feel helpless. If you find yourself in a similar situation then you need to remind yourself of the story of Joseph and decide that real forgiveness will allow safe passage to people even in your mind, even to those who did to you what Jacob did to Esau (deceived). 

What should I do? If I am a child of God then I need to behave and react like Joseph and not like Cain. Sometimes this will require intentional prayer and seeking God's help.

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 ...