From March 6th, 2016 A.D., Marg churches, which operate in three different geographical locations in Pune have, for a season, started meeting on Sundays at our usual Koregaon Park hall.
If you are a newcomer and you want to find us on a Sunday, come to K.P. And where do you find us through the week? In these locations.
Marg takes church life and makes it biblical! Ok, wait.
It doesn’t sound biblical. Sounds more like a setback, doesn’t it?
“What happened to the local missions?”
“What went wrong with the local Sunday church meetings?”
“Why have we joined up to be one church again?”
These are some questions that might come to mind.
I think it’s best to remind ourselves of the church leaders’ announcement and it’s purpose. And I hope this will encourage readers, especially from the three Marg churches, to set their shoulders to the plow and plow away for the Kingdom of God to come in further fullness in Pune.
Sheetal and I have been reading this book ‘Sensing Jesus’, in which the author Zack Eswine writes about a pastor’s insights on the value system he had been noting in his church. The culture involved professionalism to an extreme where hardly any grace was shown when mistakes were made. Something the pastor said struck me as oddly familiar:
We tried recently to invite folks for dinner and then spend time together with no agenda other than to get to know each other. 85% of the folks left immediately after dinner. Many… told us that, as pastors, we were wasting their time because we gave them nothing to do but sit with people.
Eswine was pointing to our tendency to embrace what is popular and Jesus’ disdain towards living the celebrity life. But I realized that the same tendency which the pastor saw in his people in that church ran deep in my spiritual veins.
“Why should we do holidays and (sinfully?) enjoy long fun trips?
Isn’t that all wrong?”
I tend to go there often.
The devil is the prince of extremes. He will teach us that the absence of enjoyment and celebration is a holy life. Then, anyone who appears pious should go to Heaven. Why does God command His people to celebrate His goodness in various festivals in the Old Testament which were practiced even in the New Testament? Why does then Jesus gladly participate in a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-3)? Jesus never stopped worshipping God, the Father. Can celebration be worship?
It’s the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in a person and His fruit that is indicative of His holiness in Christians. Along with this goes the growing hatred against and absence of sin. And God sees through fake appearances all the time. As the Marg membership handbook reminds me, it’s what or who we celebrate that matters. More than mere actions, the motives matter. Continue reading “The Marg Goa Trip – 2016”
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.
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!
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.
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.