Marg Church Camp 2015 – Gospel Fluency

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Marg churches travelled to YMCA Lakeside, Nilshi on Friday, 18th December 2015 for our annual church camp. Our trip began slightly delayed, but finally all the saints from sundry workplaces arrived, all the children piled up into the LUV machine and all the adults stopped having pseudo-lunch. Soon, a convoy of cars was speeding towards Talegaon under the winter sun.

After a detour from the closed railway crossing near Kamshet (why do they have to repair the track when WE go to Nilshi, why? Last year, same drama!), we found ourselves sharing a badly maintained road with other vehicles and herds of buffalo. The road soon became better as it meandered splendidly between some hills and the Andhra lake.

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We arrived at YMCA Lakeside before sundown and settled down in our rooms that were surrounded by nature all around – literally. The rooms are underground and surrounded, even on their top, by grass and shrubs, making the campsite a natural green spectacle.

Over the next two days, we had three sessions based on the theme Gospel Fluency. You can read about the session details below. We also had enough time to go swimming and kayaking in the lake and to play some nail-biting and yet hilarious cricket matches. Some of us managed to play board games right into the night and sit in front of a bonfire under the constellation-studded, deep blue night sky. Nothing beats family time with one another in the church!

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One of the best things church camps can facilitate is the Biblical quality of reflection. Continue reading “Marg Church Camp 2015 – Gospel Fluency”

Three Pitiful States to Be Post-Christmas

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“Tis the season!”
scream Google and the malls in unison.

Christmas is around the corner. A lot of us are busy finishing year-end work projects, buying presents, bombarding colleagues with “Secret Santa” gifts, decorating and re-decorating Christmas trees, taking Christmas celebrations to old age homes and orphanages, watching blockbuster movies, attending midnight masses, or just taking to Facebook to say “Merry Christmas”.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been following the news, the world around us faces some level of Christmas-related drama. In Brunei, you could be punished for celebrating Christmas illegally. Is that just one Muslim ruler’s whim and fancy? Not really. Somalia has thought it best to ban public Christmas celebrations too. Countries like Tajikistan have happily banned Christmas trees, gift-giving and Father Frost (their Santa Claus – cool name huh!). This is sad, but I am mildly amused that these governments are expending energy and time banning paraphernalia.

If you’re thinking, “weird tyrants!”, try the US!

Certain states in the US will go miles to show you the inappropriateness of using the greeting “Merry Christmas”, which has been replaced with “Happy Holidays”  in order to not offend people of other faiths. A sparkling example of “tolerance”, I must say!

In about 10 days from now, a lot of us Christmas revelers will be left with a sense of deflation and all too familiar feelings of –

Oh-it-got-over-so-soon?

and

What-was-all-the-fuss-about?”.

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But right now, a lot of us are trying to celebrate all that we can, hoping the fanfare, the carols, the colours and the sounds will bring us a joy that will last long enough. But no; not even Christmas celebrations can satisfy the human heart. Continue reading “Three Pitiful States to Be Post-Christmas”

How Every Movie Ever Made Is Connected to Christmas

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My sister and I were almost certain that Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was real. We wished, even longed for Platform 9 and 3/4 to exist, for that solid wall to let us in to reveal a railway station that led to a world hidden to our muggle eyes and mysterious still.

As a teenager, I did not realize how engaging books in the Harry Potter series were. For the first time, I realized the depth and “realness” the author J K Rowling gave to Continue reading “How Every Movie Ever Made Is Connected to Christmas”

Why Should Any Christian Be Gospel-Fluent?

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Did you know that Christians can believe lies about God?

No Christian, I hope, desires to do so. But I am certain that whenever we sin, we have already believed something about God that is not true.

Lies and wrong IDs
We all live out the identities we believe in and find our purpose and satisfaction in.

A woman may claim to be a disciple-maker. She might say her aim is to be an exemplary employee and win souls for Jesus at her workplace. But if all that excites her is the monthly SMS notification about her account having been credited with a huge salary, God knows she has little to do with making disciples; she is living out the identity of a money-lover.

She has believed in the lie that money in her bank account will give her more pleasure or security than Jesus could.

A pastor might say he loves his wife and children to bits and might have provided a house, cars and all the snazzy gadgets they could enjoy in life. But at night when he has shut himself alone and his eyes and mind rove all over the dark side of the internet to get what his sexual desires want, God knows that he is living the identity of a pornography-lover.

He has believed in the lie that indulging in sexually impure fantasies will bring more pleasure to him than the presence of God could.

Scandal
It is possible that both these people are actually children of God. Oh, the scandal.

“How could you possibly say that someone so sinful is saved?”

Well, if you know me, I usually hesitate to say so. But to paraphrase John Owen’s observations – “Some lusts flare up over others… One lust can be greater in one man than another”. Chapter 6, Right Way to Kill Sin, Mortification of Sin in Believers.

We might be quick to say such people are definitely not Christians, who are supposed to be dead to sin and alive to God. I am tempted to say the same. And some might even be not truly Christian.

But I will fool myself if I promptly declare myself better than them. Selective amnesia is sinful amnesia. Surely we remember how we have easily repeated sins for years and how easily have swept them aside?

To continue- the people involved may feel “genuinely” sorry about their repeated patterns of sin and their self-absorption. They might feel the tearing guilt inside, the controlled-demolition of their conscience with the silent pleas of God the Holy Spirit in the background. They might fall on their knees by the bed, hands on the floor, saying through desperate tears –

“GOD, OH GOD I’M SO SORRY .. PLEASE FORGIVE ME. PLEASE FORGIVE ME, OH GOD OF GRACE!”

If the sins of over-spending, man-pleasing and lust had stopped, it would have made sense.
But maddeningly, this cycle repeats.

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Destroyed inside.

 

If you are a Christ-follower and are honest with yourself right now, you know sins can repeat in your life. Continue reading “Why Should Any Christian Be Gospel-Fluent?”