Monday, April 1, 2013

Thought - Christian Holidays Sidelined

Let me start by saying that I am not writing this to start any debate on this issue since it has many aspects and I don't think we need to waste our time looking into all aspects.

Last weekend was Easter weekend and many sites today had news items related to how Easter holidays are changed into Spring Bunny. On Easter Sunday, Google chose to honor an iconic figure on its front page –called the "doodle"– which of course is viewed by millions around the world.  Many would have expected that figure to be Jesus, or perhaps something related to Easter.

"Merry Christmas" is no more valid and its "Happy Holidays".  I heard a story that someone who came to US from a different country was asked to go for counselling because he was again and again using "Merry Christmas" and its offensive. Good Friday is no longer a holiday.  It's a holiday in a country like India but I worked on that day in US.  I don't want to elaborate on these points since it's a well known fact and my focus in this post is something different.

So as a Pastor and as a Christian what should I do? Am I concerned?  Am I worried that when my son grows up, Easter and Christmas will not be a holiday?

Before I answer all these questions let me share something here. When I became a real Christian, I was in a place where Christianity is in minority and it still is. Also my church was against celebration of Christmas and Easter. They argued that these two holidays has pagan origins and it was not celebrated in first century church. There are lot of materials on this subject and I don't want to elaborate here. I still believe that its true. Then I used to observe these days for others. It was a good time to share the message and love of Jesus with others. I just wanted to inform my readers that every Christian in the world does not celebrate it the way it is shown in television and other places.

So what should I do if Christian holidays are taken out from public life? I think this will do good for Christianity in long run. We will have to emphasize the gospel and resurrection every Sunday. I believe that's important since Sunday worship concept has its origin with resurrection day. As a Pastor I will have to make sure that important aspects of gospel is proclaimed through out the year and not only on some occasions. When church started on the day  of Pentecost, there was no holidays to mark any event. Holy Spirit had a big part to play and church grew. You take any nation where there is persecution and opposition, churches grow and quality is really high. I have personally seen that quality of churches under persecution and opposition is much better than churches in prosperous environment.  Commitment level of people is different. Miracles and demonstration of God's power happens more often since people are hungry and they can't depend on government or anyone for safety.

I still remember the day when I was in India and an uneducated village women came to me after a meeting and asked me to pray so that God will give her grace to get up early at 5:00 AM so that she can pray. In US, no one has asked me to specially pray so that they will grow spiritually.

I think gospel message becomes very dangerous and effective when it is opposed. Opposition brings a different dimension which cannot be explained but can only be experienced. History is witness to that and I believe it is because it is the 'Word of God' and no man can challenge or stand against God.

No political or man's agenda can stand against God's agenda of saving man through His son Jesus Christ. The Bible says that God so loved that world that He gave his son Jesus Christ. Holiday or no holiday, gospel message will continue to penetrate nations and people's heart. If name is changed or not, the message of cross will still appeal sinners.

So am I worried? No way! When apostasy and opposition increase, I believe God's time is coming to show His power. I can look forward for the move of Holy Spirit in this land also.

I am not worried if Easter and Christmas holiday will remain when my son grows up. My concern is to make sure that I pray and teach him the importance of the message of cross so that he will be a disciple of Jesus irrespective of circumstances.  With the current situation, I believe that opposition and persecution for faith will make him more committed and strong Christian, provided the gospel message makes an impact in his life.

I believe opposition and persecution will increase the quality which we badly miss now. We won't have any namesake believers who use God's name to justify their life style and compromise in every aspect of life.

So looking at the bigger picture, I am hopeful and excited!

MPA Bible Study 2013 Day 3 Conclusion

Summary of Day 3

  • God uses ordinary for extraordinary work. Example Moses, David etc
  • Your background doesn't matter for you to serve God. He can change you life.
  • Be an over-comer of the circumstances that stand against you.
  • When we take a step of faith, God will work in advance.
  • You have to move forward even when obstructions are there.
  • Be an over-comer of disappointments in your life.
  • Be an over-comer of doubt in your life.
  • Be a witness.
I can conclude that it was a great time sitting in God's presence and listening from the word of God. 

MPA Bible Study 2013 Day 2 Conclusion

Summary of Day 2 Session 1

  • You attitude in welcoming others and Jesus will make a big difference.
  • Going to church or meeting people won't change anything. Jesus coming in your life bring supernatural work of God in your life.
  • Sitting and listening at Lord's feet makes a big difference.
  • You presence at Lord's feet is more important that what you give.
  • Many have Jesus at home but their life is distracted.
  • Complaining shows our distraction and lack of sitting at Jesus feet.
  • When somethings ends in joy then God takes glory and victory.
  • When something end in fight and strife then enemy has taken victory.
  • Jesus will never become a problem after being invited. If you feel so then Jesus has the solution.
  • Sometimes God allows situation in our to reveal himself. Martha and Thomas only knew as a healer. But death and resurrection of Lazarus proved that Jesus can raise the dead.
  • People who have experienced resurrection power should be different.

Summary of Day 2 Session 2

  • Resurrection is fundamental to a Christian.
  • We should have hope of resurrection in our life.
  • After resurrection we will have glorious body.
  • Just like the birth of a person, resurrection will also be a display of the supernatural work of God.
  • We have a bright future
  •  We should ask God for wisdom before reading the Bible.
  • God observes and listens to our speech.
  • We need to believe in God irrespective of our circumstances.
  • God gives promise and fulfills them.

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 ...