The Heritage Parenting Series- Wanowrie Experience

Marg Wanowrie church has been going through a paradigm-shift in our understanding about parenting. After a discussion on our Whatsapp chat group about practical tips on parenting, someone suggested we together watch a series of sermons that shows parenting from a Biblical world-view. The series is titled “Heritage- parenting wisdom for the ages”.

“Wait a minute. How is a sermon series on parenting even helpful if I am a teenager?”

“How will that help if I don’t ever get married?”

“I want to have children, but I will never be able to have them. How is this series of any use to me?”

I am certain that thoughts like these might cross your mind.
Parenting is a part of everyone’s life. All of us have had some sort of parents, and we might ourselves parent at some point, either as a reaction – “I will never bring up my children like my parents raised me”, or as an affirmation to parenting- “I am gonna raise my kids like my parents brought me up”.

But how does God want us to do parenting? Does it not make sense to go to the only Giver of life to learn how to handle new life entrusted to us?

Parenting, wrong, right, Biblical, God is the Best Father ever, God pursues us lovingly, Heritage, Video, Wanowrie, Marg, Josh McPherson, Jeff Vanderstelt
An undeserving reward

You see, Christ-followers lives in the light of the reality that God our Father made us His children at the ultimate price of His own Son Jesus’ death for our sins. And all of life, INCLUDING parenting, needs to be lived in the light of how this one truth affects us.
I believe that those who are not parents, will have an advantage in learning Biblical parenting, way before they enter marriage. Those who don’t see a future, with their own children, will benefit to know what God does teach so that they can raise younger people in their spiritual care, and also help other parents handle their kids.

Here is a summary of 3 sermons we at Wanowrie have heard so far. Each one of them have challenged whatever little basics of parenting we knew at Wanowrie. Here goes –

1. Video #1 – At the outset, Josh McPherson begins with the Bible being the authority he goes to and the truth of Jesus’ death to save His people as the basis of his sermon. The theme is from Psalm 127 – children are a heritage from the Lord, an undeserving reward. This may not sound like what the world might be telling us today. Having a lot of children is usually considered a hassle, an inconvenience, an interruption in our plans.
But God’s word unabashedly says just the opposite. Parents are, in the beauty of God’s design, the ONLY people who will have the maximum influence to shape the lives of generations after them.

2. Video #2 – The generation right after Israelites who crossed the Red Sea and were delivered from Egypt by God Himself, did not know God and did not even know His mighty deeds! This shocking fact shows that their parents, the generation who saw God’s might and care, somehow neglected to tell about about God’s work to their own kids, forget the world!
True success in Biblical parenting just depends on one goal: Raise children who hope in Jesus. But we don’t want to raise kids who think the world revolves around them, And this has one implication: Our children are not our highest value, Jesus is. This means they will also observe your life well and exactly worship what you in your heart, worship.

3. Video #3 – In this sermon, Jeff Vanderstelt explains with examples unhelpful ways of parenting – the use of shame, or isolating yourself from kids or the use of fear of punishment. This will give the wrong motivation for kids to live!
We want them to see God pursuing their parents with much love through Jesus. He pursued us, so we pursue our children with that same love.

What tools and resources have helped you understand parenting? Please share your thoughts with us.

‘PK’ – A Marg Movie Review

PK, Hirani, Christian, review, movie, Marg, Pune, Aamir Khan

“Believe in the God who created you, not the gods you have created.”

This line sums up the main message behind PK, Rajkumar Hirani’s movie that has the largest collection – Rs. 339 Crore in India at the time of writing this- and also has managed to stir up a controversy with some religious outfits calling for its ban claiming it had hurt their religious sentiments.

Plot

What then is PK about? The movie revolves around a benign alien played by Aamir Khan, who visits the earth to learn about it’s inhabitants. After the loss of his communication device, he soon gets named PK and begins experiencing human nature – and the human belief in gods who can help them. The movie is about his quest for the device that leads to encounters with a crowd of ”gods”, religions and godmen.

PK, Hirani, Christian, review, movie, Marg, Pune, Aamir Khan
PK Movie Poster

Enjoyable yet makes you think hard
Right from the beginning, the movie had my wife and I laughing out loud over PK picking up a local language, what with his hilarious questions and interpretations of all things Indian. Aamir Khan’s role of the child-like alien, caught unawares in a wild world, teeming with scheming people, grabs your attention. While the story is well done, this is not the only movie from Bollywood that has questioned godmen, idol worship and India’s religions. But unlike the Akshay Kumar starrer “Oh My God”, “PK” with its innocuous questions, scrutinises gods not just godmen.
The director Hirani claims to respect Hinduism. With PK, he seems to have tapped into a growing profusion of Indians who have seen through the powerlessness of idols in representing God. Indeed, that concurs with the Bible (Psalm 135:15,18, Jonah 2:8). I too believe idols can never represent the only God, who is the fullest expression of person, and therefore are a false front, a “wrong number”.

What didn’t make sense
All movies inform. They make an attempt to transmit to viewers the key message the director wants them to leave with. I feel Hirani does a great job asking questions we all need to hear about our gods. Unfortunately, I found PK’s answers too shallow.

1) PK leaves God undefined
“Worship the God who created us”? Well, WHO created us?

A main element of worship is finding satisfaction in the object of worship. Does he expect us to worship someone we do not know? In fact, almost every religion will claim to be the One direct link to the Creator God.
Is Hirani suggesting we chuck the claims of all religions because they are man-made? Is that not the creation of another man-made faith? Who is to say then, which man-made faith should we follow? Rubbishing all religions in a superficial manner is just throwing the baby out with the bath-water.

2) Will the real children of God please stand up?
While it would be ridiculous to expect ‘PK’ to be Christian in it’s world-view, PK uses phrases like “we are all children of God”. It seems Hirani doesn’t mind borrowing from religions for the sake of argument. But what if the Creator God has to say something about what kind of children mankind really are (Eph 2:3)? PK seems to question all assumptions, but this one is left untouched. Probably for good, because the movie would not have had the impact it generated. It’s after all a movie, not a documentary.

3) The total rejection of fear in religion
While there has been an abuse of fear for personal gain, which I strongly oppose,  is fear always manipulation? What if the Creator God values justice so much that He will not spare even His own Son Jesus to see that justice is done? Some faiths might value people enough to warn them about the God’s punishment for those who are unjust in any manner.
Maybe fear is not always bad. Is that not why we warn children not to play with fire?

4) Contradiction regarding the Christian faith
Hirani’s accuracy in relaying the message of Christ dying for the sins of people is commendable. But he has not done enough research on, at least, the Christian faith. One person in the movie actually says, “if God wanted me to become a Christian, He would have made me to be born in Christian family”. This misunderstanding of the Christian faith, now propagated, saddens me.

The notion that you become a Christian by being born into a Christian family seems to make sense, right? But can a child born into a family of doctors be declared a doctor?

That makes no sense at all! Hirani actually contradicts himself here because PK says earlier in the movie that “no one is born with the stamp of religion”. Then how did the Christian child come with the stamp of Christianity?

The Bible says we are ALL born sinners, displeasing God with our selfish hearts from birth. No one can become a Christian on their own without surrendering to Christ and believing in His mind-blowing sacrifice for their sins, displaying the Creator God’s true love towards people who don’t deserve it. I expected a noted film-maker like Hirani to not promote basic misunderstandings about faiths. I only hope his depiction of other religions in ‘PK’ have been accurate.

5) God is obliged to answer us. Really?
“PK” also portays the popular idea that God will help us in trouble, or when we are in need. Which is why we see Aamir Khan’s character running from temple to mosque to pray for his device. Interestingly, the Bible gives no guarantee of answered prayer.

Even Jesus’ final prayer to avoid his own murder, gets a ‘No‘ from his Father, God. Why? Does not God love people?

God loves us best by doing His good purposes, not ours. This is a hard pill to swallow for me too, but our nation needs to know this God, not some butler who exists to serve our needs.

Why I would not want to be PK
I loved the character ‘PK’. He is unassuming, something we all cannot be easily. He is shown to be the ideal we need to be. But I don’t need to be like PK. He seems to be content with enquiry after enquiry.

Though questions are important, we were not made to just ask questions.

I love being like Jesus, because my personal questions of life, death and true satisfaction have been graciously answered in Him.

Wish someone had taken the trouble to tell PK life is not about our questions or our needs- it is about a relationship with Jesus, that only He can grant us.

Go watch it!
But I realise it’s easy to throw stones at a movie that stands out shining among many others that ruin our lives starting with lousy posters. So, here’s to PK for raising some excellent, relevant questions, for talented acting and a hilarious yet touching story-line. Go watch it before that spaceship leaves.
And if you have questions that make your life lool , I suggest you bring them to the Bible.

What did you like or not like about ‘PK’?  Please share your comments below.

– Aravind Pulickel

Disclaimer: This blog post only expresses the author’s personal views for which the author claims sole responsibility. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the view of Margfamilies. Those who find any content here objectionable, may contact the author at aravind (at) margfamilies (dot) com for clarification.

What these orphans NEED

If you have had the privilege of serving regularly at orphanages, you would be familiar with the preparation that a small group does for a meeting with orphans. There is the planning, hopefully days before the visit. Some buy or prepare snacks. Others plan games and learning activities that will benefit the kids.

A tornado of activities for kids

Usually, Christian groups also keep in mind spiritual concerns and any pressing needs these under-privileged kids may have.

The Marg church family in Wanowrie has the joy of visiting a children’s home. Each Sunday evening with them is spent in an activity-blender similar to what’s described above. We also lend a helping hand-hopefully- in their school studies which a lot of them find particularly difficult.

tanga-102577_1280

We were doing fairly well, or so we thought, until a dear older lady in our church shared an experience in her heydays. Once when she was done with a busy day full of serving, she told her husband how happy she was to have been able to cook and serve in her Christian service. Her husband, now an able teacher with Marg, responded with something similar to these lines – “Did you realise that you have fed their stomachs well and sent them on their way to hell?

What have you done to share with them the amazing news of Jesus coming to die for their sins? You have accomplished nothing at all.”
She explained that her husband’s loving challenge hit her hard. We know he was not asking her to drop her acts of service- the Bible says true love will show itself in actions (1 John 3:18, NLT). But what is the need of the hour for kids who have no one as guardians, who may have material provision but little spiritual care?

What matters when it all ends

Do they not need truth AND love?

Should they not be told of the One who loved them to the end- Jesus?

We were guilty of over-looking their spiritual needs, Sunday after Sunday. In the light of Romans 10:13-14, it only made sense that we take the time to explain to these children in their language, that they have a stone heart that rebels against the God of the universe and that is why it is so easy for them to disobey authority.

They need to come to Jesus who alone can give them a new heart, eager to love and trust God, because He has loved them first by not even sparing His own Son, to save them from the consequences of their own wrongs!
And that is where we at Wanowrie find ourselves- we want to be responsible, spiritual parents to these little ones. But this is not yet another activity. It needs utter dependence on the Holy Spirit – Spirit of God, please help us make disciples of these children!

Have you interacted with orphans? How have you understood sharing the gospel with such children?

How The Republic Day is Connected to Movies, Conversions and Your Daily Life.

Anyone who has grown up in the last few decades in India would usually become nostalgic when Republic Day is celebrated on 26th January in India. Case in point- a dear family from Marg Wanowrie church, while on a trip to Sinhagad Fort in Pune today, remembered with fondness the morning parades in their schools and the National parade in Delhi which happens each year. With them, I too remembered the Flag hoisting at my schools, receiving the boondi ladoos and samosas (this I must admit, was what I anticipated the most!) and running back home to watch the parade in Delhi, with all its multi-cultural beauty and prowess on National television. I would look with awe as massive Army trucks and missile systems rolled by- wow!

But there is more to a nation’s Republic Day than fun trips & nostalgia. If you look up “Republic Day India” on Wikipedia, the first line goes – “Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.”

monument-140320_1280

“Freedom never comes for free”

A lot of sweat and guts went behind the labour of securing India’s freedom, but it would have all been in vain if the Constitution was not laid out- a book compiled by individuals, not claiming perfection- yet who ensured basic freedoms and scope for overall development.

This is cause for a good celebration, don’t you think? The Constitution of India, which is the ‘reason for this season’ is the cornerstone and the law-book this nation of a plethora of religions, castes, cultures and economic classes, pledges allegiance to. You cannot live in this nation while flouting this book- at least not for too long.

Is this a feel-good post that claims India can celebrate the Republic Day because all is well with our state? No. There is enough trouble on our platter- sinful nature rears its head in many ways. But-

Do you have the freedom to belong to any religion or faith you like?

Are you able to live without a shameful public life and foreign oppression because you are an Indian?

Can you choose to get an education in a field of your choice?

Do you have a job that helps meet the ends?

Can you watch movies like P.K, speak your opinion, travel in public transport, choose a government and use electricity and water?

If yes, you can thank God India has a Constitution. If you are really thankful about the reason behind Republic Day, leave a comment here to let others know.