Valentine Day – A good day to die hard

When one thinks about Valentine day, thoughts of romance and love often flood the mind. Seldom is death thought of on Valentine’s day, yet in the entertainment industry, Hollywood released on Valentine day this year (February 14, 2013), the action blockbuster as part of the action blockbuster ‘Die Hard’ series, the movie – A good day to die hard.

Come to think of it, not just valentine day, but each day is a good day to die hard – die hard to self and sin. The Bible counsels us to not live after the flesh but if we  live through the Spirit, we need to mortify the deeds of the body so that we shall live (Romans 8:13). We must mortify earthly desires and vices such as fornication (sexual immorality), uncleanness, inordinate affection (lusts), evil concupiscence (desires), and covetousness which is idolatry, anger, rage, malicious behavior, blasphemy (slander), and filthy conversation, and everything that brings the wrath of God. (Colossians 3:5-6). The Apostle Paul writes that he faced death daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) and so not just on valentine’s day but each day, we must mortify the matters of the flesh, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice as our spiritual act of worship, so that we can live by and through the Spirit of God, conforming each day into Christ’s image.

Points to ponder:
Jesus said, “No greater love has one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) and as friends of God (John 15:15), we must lay down our life for Jesus our friend, mortifying our selfish and sinful desires, for the One True God and Savior of the World, in whom is life – life eternal. Valentine day is a good day to die hard – to our self and sin; for our Savior. No greater gift can you give to God than this. Happy Valentine day!

Romans 8:13 (KJV)
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Colossians 3:4-10 (KJV)
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
John 15:13 (KJV)
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

A calculated Choice – Die or Live

After the movie, The Passion of The Christ was released, mistakenly, an antisemitism notion was evoked, but the Holy Bible teaches us that Jesus was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God into wicked hands that took, crucified and slew him (Acts 2:23). Thus the crucifixion of Jesus was a calculated choice of God and not a mere tragedy orchestrated by men.

The choices Jesus had was either to “Die so man will live forever with God.” or “Live and man will die forever, separated from God.” Jesus chose to die so that man can live, and he expressed this, when he said, “I lay down my life on my own free will and no man takes it from me.” (John 10:18).

Points to ponder:
What is your response to this God who willingly gave his life for you? Out of his own free will, Jesus gave his life for you. Out of our own free will, are we willing to die to self and sin, so that we may live forever with God? Whoever gives up his life for Jesus’ sake will save it, but whoever tries to hang on to their life will lose it. (Matthew 16:25). If to die for man is God’s calculated choice, then to live for God should be our calculated choice. Is it?

Acts 2:22-24 (KJV)
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

John 10:18 (KJV)
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Matthew 16:25 (NLT)
25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Die to Live Another Day

One of the quotes in the 007 James Bond movie, Die Another Day is “So you lived to die another day …” Come to think of it, while many may relate to this motif of living in the present as if the present was the model of the future, the Bible actually counsels us, quite the contrary. Christians who are followers of Christ Jesus, should not live as if the present is the model of the future, but instead, as if the future is the model of the present. We must not be seeking to live now to die another day, but instead we must die now to live another day. We must die to our sinful desires and deny self (Matthew 16:24; Colossians 3:5) so that we may live another day.

Jesus said, he whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for his sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25).

Points to ponder:
Are you living now to die another day or are you dying now to live another day? The latter assures eternal life.

Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Colossians 3:3-10 (KJV)
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

The Last Samurai – I will tell you how he lived

One of the entertaining movies, that I like to watch is The Last Samurai. It is the story of an American military advisor, Captain Nathan Algren (played by Tom Cruise), who embraces the Samurai culture that he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle and spared by the Samurai leader Katsumoto (played by Ken Watanabe).In the final scenes of the movie, Captain Algren is on his knees (out of respect), in the presence of the Emperor, Emperor Meiji (played by Shichinosuke Nakamura). The Emperor asks Algren about the Samurai leader Katsumoto and the dialogue transpires as follows:
Emperor: The Samurai is gone. The spirit of samurai lives forever. Tell me how he died.
Algren: I will tell you how he lived.

Like the emperor, many today want to think that Jesus, the Last and Only Samurai (whose fought and won against death and the devil) is gone and they are more interested in knowing about his death than his life or resurrection. Are we responding as did Captain Algren and telling all who question, “I will tell you how Jesus lives.” We can respond in such manner only if Jesus lives in us. The Bible says, that if we love Jesus and keep his words, then God the Father will love him and God as Father and Son, would come and live in us (John 14:33). This means we can tell about the life of Jesus in us, only when we love him and keep his words.

Points to ponder:
Do you and I love Jesus and keep his words (commandments)?
Can we resolve to be like Apostle Paul, who said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This way, our lives will be able to tell How Jesus lives (in and through us) and others will stop asking, “Tell me how Jesus died.”

Galatian 2:20 (KJV)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 

John 14:33 (KJV)
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him

Jesus in the NT :: Mark

The book of Mark gives us a glimpse of who Jesus is in the  New Testament (N.T).

Attributed to be written by John whose surname was Mark (Latin Marcus) (Acts 12:25), the book of Mark has a dual focus on the work of Jesus; His SERVICE and SACRIFICE. The crux of the message of Mark can be found in one verse, in Mark 10:45, which reads “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark portrays Jesus to be the Servant and the Savior.

In the vision that Ezekiel had, one of the faces of the creatures with four faces is that of an Ox (Ezekiel 1:10). For those who have been raised in India, the sight of oxen being yoked with one another and plowing the field in servitude is a common sight. Jesus said I am the Father are one (John 10:30), meaning that he was One (yoked) with God (1 Timothy 2:5), in God’s mission of reconciliation of man to Himself and He came to serve unto Salvation (1 Timothy 2:6). In other words, Jesus was yoked and serving God.

In Mark, Jesus is The Servant of God, who came to SERVE and to SAVE. He is THE perfect Servant, with whom God was well pleased (Mark 1:11) for His great faithfulness in finishing the work of Salvation that God has ordained unto Him (John 19:30).

In Mark, Jesus is The Servant-Savior!

Points to ponder:
We have to be yoked in carrying the Cross with Christ and and we must serve Him. I believe the account of Simon the Cyrene carrying the Cross with Christ, along via dolorosa (the way of suffering) is to demonstrate to us that we are to share in the suffering of Christ and carry the Cross with Him. Simon the Cyrene, in the recorded account is said to have been compelled (forced) to carry the Cross (Mark 15:21). In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, the actor who played the part of Simon the Cyrene says the following words, when he is forced to carry the Cross of Christ: “Let everyone know that I am an innocent man forced to carry the Cross of a condemned man.” How ironic? It is we (and Simon the Cyrene) who are all condemned, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but it was Jesus Christ, an innocent man (2 Corinthians 5:21) who carried our Cross, not the other way around. We are the condemned and our Cross was carried by an innocent sinless man.

Now the turn is ours to repay that kindness and grace as we are called/commissioned, not compelled, to carry our Cross and follow Jesus. (Mark 8:34)

There are many Christians who want to serve, but not carry the Cross. As Christians, i.e., followers of Christ, the cross should be on our shoulders as we are co-laborers with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9) plowing the field to receive the seed and be fruitful, i.e., preparing the hearts of those who hear the good news of Jesus, the Servant-Savior. We are called to SERVE Christ as he served and become his voice to SAVE others from condemnation by sharing the good news of Jesus’ SERVICE and SACRIFICE.

Our duty is to be yoked with Jesus Christ and be a faithful servant of The Perfect Servant so we can receive the accolade “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:23) when the Lord returns.

Are you an astronomer or an astronaut Christian?

On our drive back from Dallas to Austin, our cherished five year old son, Reuben asked my beloved wife Sangeetha and me, a question. He wanted to know if he could jump and reach the Sun that was setting beyond the horizon. This led to a discussion of how no man can reach the Sun, although man kind has reached the moon. We explained to Reuben, that those who go to outer space (like to the moon) are astronauts, while those who stay on earth and observe outer space are astronomers. It reminded me of the movie, Jurassic Park III, in which, Dr. Grant (played by Sam Neill) explains to Erik (played by Trevor Morgan), that there are only two kinds of boys, those who want to be astronomers and those who want to be astronauts. The astronomer (or the paleontologist) gets to study these amazing things from a place of complete safety, but never get to go into space.

As astronomer is a spectator, while an astronaut is a partaker. In our Christian walk as well, we can function as an astronomer or as an astronaut. Many of us (including myself), many a times, merely function as a spectator, observing the wondrous and amazing things, ordained by God, from a place of complete safety, without getting involved in the Kingdom business of snatching souls from the doorposts of hell. We function as astronomer Christians, pleased to hear of God words, instead of functioning as astronaut Christians, doing God’s work. The Bible is very clear on the need to be a doer; to be a partaker in God’s mission of reconciling man to God and restoring man back into a relationship with God. To be merely a hearer (spectator) and not a doer, is in essence, the worst kind of deception; a deception where one deceive themselves (James 1:22).

Points to ponder:
We need to be doers of God’s work, and not mere hearers of God’s words.
We need to be partakers, and not mere spectators.
We need to be astronaut Christians not mere astronomer Christians.
Are you an astronomer or an astronaut Christian?

James 1:22 (KJV)
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The Prime Asset

On my flight to Dallas from Toronto, I watched the movie “Wall street: Money never sleeps” which was about corporate trading and raiding, unlikely alliances, and family re-unity with an undertone of payback. One particular line in the movie that caught my attention was by the character Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) who tells the young trader (played by Shia LaBeouf) – “Payback. Except I’m not in that business anymore – because the one thing I learned in jail is that money is not the prime asset in life. Time is.

Recently when I asked the question on “What is life?” to my family and friends, my beloved wife, Sangeetha responded “Life on this earth is a short journey to our eternal life with Jesus.” and some of my friends reiterated “Time was all that mattered!” Time indeed is the prime asset in life.

Time interestingly is also the equalizer. Every one of us is given the same amount of time (24 hours in a day) and how we spend our time matters not only in this lifetime but in the one to come as well. When we meet Christ Jesus, face to face, we will be required to give an account and that account will be measured against how we spent our time.

The adversary of God and His people, the devil, does not have to do too much to derail us of our focus on Jesus Christ because one of the strategies that he uses against God’s people is that he robs us of our time (for God and for His will/work). An appropriate title that the devil can be given is ‘The Time robber. ‘ We often find ourselves saying, that we are busy, spending our time on things that don’t matter or matter less in God’s kingdom business, many times in the pursuit of money, the love of which is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10) .

The Bible counsels us that we need to redeem (recover/repossess) our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). Time is the prime asset and our efforts should be focused on paying back to the Master Lord who has commissioned us to invest wisely so that we can payback in five or ten fold measures, when He returns. When we treat Time (our life on earth) as the prime asset, we will be less prone to whiling it away and we can look forward to hearing the Master say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Life on this earth is a short journey to eternal life with Jesus. How will you/I invest our prime asset?

Ephesians 5:15-17 (KJV)
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

To be still or not to be

In the movie, The Karate kid, Jackie Chan expresses that to be still does not mean you are doing nothing. When training his student, he asks the boy to look into the water and asks him as to what he sees. The boy replies that it is his reflection that he sees. Now the master stirs the water and asks the same question, to which the boy responds that the image is blurry. It is only when the water is still and clear, can the reflection be seen. Unfortunately, from the time of Adam in the garden, man’s selfish pursuits have often put him in a grind for things that don’t matter. We are constantly seeking answers to all unanswered questions and a solution to every problem we encounter. Sadly, to be still is often misunderstood to be “useless”, “non-engaging”, or even worse “doing nothing”. So what does it mean to be still?

When Jesus rebuked the raging storm of wind and waves that threatened His disciples in the boat, He said, “Peace, be still” and the wind ceased and there was great calm (Mark 4:38-41). When the winds and the waves obeyed Him and became still, the disciple questioned “What manner of man is this?” In the stillness and the calmness of the elements was a question that surfaced which sought to answer and exposit “What manner of man Jesus is?” a.k.a. “Who Jesus is?” God’s image was reflected in Jesus, in the calmness of the sea and they questioned as to who He is. Likewise when we are still, our calmness needs to reflect who Jesus is and have those around us, ask “What manner of man/God Jesus is?”

In a world that is constantly on the rush with its ephemeral pursuits,  we often blurry the image of life that God has ordained us for. To be still does not mean we are doing nothing. When we are still, God’s image can be clearly (not a blurry image) seen and this should lead those around us to recognize who Jesus is, the (manner of) man in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily (Colossians 2:9).

Point(s) to ponder: Is your/my life calm that we are reflecting Jesus Christ and making those around us ask as to who Jesus Christ is.

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

In a world that is constantly on the rush with its ephemeral pursuits,  we often blurry the image of life that God has ordained us for.

Eternal life – defined

In the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the storyline is built around the pursuit of what is referred to as the Holy Grail, the chalice from the last supper of Christ and supposedly anyone who drinks of the cup shall live eternally. A true adventurer kind of entertainment, no doubt. It is important for us to recognize that it is not the chalice of Christ, but Christ the source of living water and all who drink of him are the ones who attain eternal life.

In fact, Jesus explicitly defines the meaning of eternal life.  He defines eternal life as follows. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). 1 John 5:20 reads “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Point(s) to ponder:
Do you have eternal life? a.k.a., do you know Jesus Christ and the only true God who sent him?

Defeating the lion

Inspired by a true story, Wisegal is the story of a single mom who gets caught in the mob for the sake of her family and in the end says no to the mob for the sake of her family. The movie starts with the son narrating the following lines “My mother always says, people are not fools. Nobody chooses the devil. The devil always chooses you” and the movie ends with the lines “When the devil shows up with a truck load of promises, it is harder than you think to say No”

The Bible counsels that the adversary, the devil is a roaring lion, seeking (choosing) whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). And when he does show up, he shows up with promises. He even promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world and the glory of those (Matthew 4:8). And just as Jesus did, we are to say No and let let our No be No (Matthew 5:37). We are to resist the devil (James 4:7), armed with the armor of God wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) for It is written. We are to be wise guys and gals for God.  

1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: