Men’s Life @ SJD

Before the Sun rises
The pace accelerates
The noise distracts

A bunch of men, with their coffee mugs
Get together on Tuesdays
To mull over the Questions of life

Questions that get drowned
In the noise and pace
But are loud and insistent in the calm of ones soul

Over hot coffee and cherished movie clips
They search for answers, answers that are
Disturbing to the being, but peaceful to the soul

The soul that seeks not to lose itself
For the sake of gaining the world
The soul that searches

Searches for the sacred ground of ones life
Along with other barrel-chested men
Before the sun rises on Tuesday mornings
This is Men’s life @ SJD.

Fired-up by Flowers and Francis Schaeffer who were ‘there’

Last Friday, at about 10:00 pm I was sleepy as I had had just 5 hours of sleep each day during the week. But then I really wanted to read Francis Schaeffer’s “Death in the City”. So I went to the 24/7 Starbucks near Galleria. I got myself a venti Mocha and sat down in a cozy corner armchair. I was all set for my date with Francis Schaeffer.
In “Death in the City”, I was enthralled by how Schaffer built the case that without the orthodox God being ‘there’, the existence of human personality is superfluous. This implied that the Christian message wasn’t just a message of love, joy and peace but one of ‘affirmation’ of the significance and the essence of human personality – striking the right balance between exalting and at the same time reigning-in the spirit of ‘human individualism’ and freedom.
This realization that the gospel is such an emphatic affirmation of (borrowing Schaeffer’s phrase) ‘the manishness of man’, was like fire burning within me. Without the orthodox God who is ‘there’ and who gives man the dignity of free choice and then ‘partners’ with man as the Sovereign co-creator of human history, man gets reduced to a clog in a gigantic machine. He becomes insignificant – a small ‘blip’ in the vastness of ‘space-time’ continuum, if he does not realize that he has in him the ‘image of God’, and so is capable of affecting the course of history, within space-time, using the ability of ‘free choice’ bestowed upon him by the God. The denial of this orthodox gospel-truth and rebellion against the God who is ‘there’, causes man to lose sight of the ‘image of God’ in him and is the cause for the disillusionment of the post-modern man who, in vain, having lost the ‘image of God’ in him, is scavenging the ‘material’ world for meaning and direction in his toils and for significance in the essence of his personality.
The message of the orthodox gospel to this post modern man searching for significance and meaning, it so help him realize that the essence of his personality is the ‘image of God’ in him. The good news will help him realize that even in his fallen confused state, the God who is ‘there’ gives the framework for finding meaning and direction in man’s aspirations for wonder and creativity. The orthodox gospel also paves way for the fallen man to be redeemed back to finding his essence ‘in the image of God’ as co-creator in space-time human history. Having found his true image/nature, this redemption becomes the means for man, to the find the greatest sense of meaning, significance and wonder through a relationship with the ‘supreme Lover’ who is ‘there’. Love joy and peace being the byproducts of this supreme relationship.
So there I was at Starbucks at 1:30 am, ‘fired-up’, with all these revelations consuming my mind, trying to make sense of this ‘rush of reason’. I was absolutely overwhelmed in the realization of how the orthodox gospel affirms the ‘manishness of man’ and how could provide for the lost post-modern man a means to see the essence of ‘personality’ that God has so specially imbued in him. I wanted to ‘cool-down’ and assimilate all of these thoughts that were clogging my mind so I took a brief walk outside Starbucks.
In the calm of the night, as I walked closer to the edge of the road, I heard a distinct hissing sound, the sound of the water sprinklers. I stood and ‘stared’ at the pretty flowers right in the middle of Post oaks gleaming in the darkness of the night. Behind me, was the distant chatter of people at Starbucks. They were probably 10 feet away from me, but it seemed that I was in an entirely different universe, mesmerized by the little white, yellow, red, cream, orange, violet, indigo, blue and pink flowers that were ‘there’ for me to see, amidst the beauty of the night.
It was awesome to be reveling at the beauty of the flowers and the depth in Francis Schaeffer’s “Death of the City” that were‘there’, co-created by man and the sovergin God who is ‘there’, so that I would be ‘fired-up’ about life and be grateful to the Sovereign.

911, Church and Family

On 9/11/2009, I was reading some articles on 911 and its impact on the world. There was an interesting article that said that 911 was essentially a war of the middle eastern civilization against the modern western civilization. The writer argued that the Jihadists do not have to have to repeat another 911 to achieve their goal – ‘to bring down the western civilization’. The writer says that to achieve this goal, all the jihadists have to do, is to ‘wait it out in the caves in Afghanistan and allow the western civilization to cave-in under its own weight’.
He says that the modern western civilization will eventually fall as people do not have enough children anymore, the population is stagnant. Any civilization where people don’t have enough kids will eventually fall because there aren’t enough young shoulders for the civilization to stand on. On the other hand, the middle eastern civilization which the jihadists are the protagonists of, is procreating at an amazing pace. The hypothesis of this writer is that when the western civilization collapses because there are very few people in the next generation, the children of the people representing the middle eastern culture would inherit the world by default. The writer says that the Jihadists don’t see a need for another 911.
This may seem a radical idea to some people, but I think there is some truth in this. No civilization can survive if the fabric of family life is destroyed. The institution of family life is needed for a sane stable society and for a thriving economy. Perhaps, the post-Christian modern civilization which is getting more liberal and moving away from family values would soon realize that the pursuit of radical individualism at the cost of family life is a formula for disaster and a violation of God’s first command to the first man and woman.
In the by-gone years of western civilization young boys and girls were trained and ‘conditioned’ to be family builders. Back then having a prosperous and joyful family was the greatest ‘pursuit of life’. But now, the greatest pursuit of life has become the ‘pursuit of individual pleasure’. Today’s young children in the ‘ultra-developed’ post-Christian world, aren’t trained or ‘conditioned’ to build families they are ‘conditioned’ to pursue their ‘radical individualism’. Radical individualism is the pursuit of individual wants and cravings, with absolutely no regard for the community, family or the neighbor next door. Radical individualism of this kind predisposes the young people less willing to undertake the hardships and the commitments needed to build a family.
In the post-modern post-Christian culture, we find many people conditioned to delaying marriage, of those they marry many delay having children, almost half the marriages end up in divorce, three fourths of the second marriages end up in divorce as well – all of this contributes to perpetually stagnant or reducing population. The reason for this trend of reducing population in this post-modern, post-Christian civilization is a fundamental problem with people’s idea of the most important ‘pursuit of life’.
Today’s young man needs to be willing to commit to and have the ‘spine’ (courage) to start and sustain a family with a young lady. Today’s young lady needs to be willing to be patient and in modesty wait for the guy that is worth starting a family with. The society does not instill in them the virtues of commitment, courage, patience and modesty. Sadly, often, the church does not help the young men and women either. It is a blatant irony that the Church should forget to help young men and women fulfill the first command that the Lord gave mankind – to ‘multiply and be fruitful’.
Putting my ‘critic’ cap on, I wonder why the modern Church has not addressed this problem. I have been a part of singles fellowship in a bunch of different Churches over the course of the past few years. Honestly, I can’t recall any place where I have been taught the basics of family building.
I wonder why the modern Church has a ‘singles fellowship’ at all. I understand the need for children’s Sunday class at Church. I understand the need for teens fellowship and youth fellowship. After youth fellowship, I think there should be family fellowship. But in most of today’s Churches, between youth and family fellowship, there is the ‘singles fellowship’. The Church, instead of trying to mitigate the need to have the singles fellowship, endeavors to making the singles contented in their singleness thereby slowing down the process of family creation.
I think building families within singles group at Church shouldn’t be left at the mercy of time, chance and opportunity. Rather, the Church should work in instilling the values and virtues in the young men and women to help curb their predisposition to radical individualism and help them find their life partners and build strong Christian families. If only the pervasive problem of radical individualism that is causing decadence from within is systematically confronted, this postmodern civilization may get closer to where God wants it to be.

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Night – Thank God

I just came home and I thank God that tonight was so beautiful. I was riding my motorcycle back from Tom’s house at 1:15 am in the morning. As I started my motorcycle, I realized that there was thick due in my motorcycle. I could ‘see’ the air was laden with moisture. I began to have a feeling that my ride back home on the I10 8 lane freeway was going to be awesome. There is a stretch of I10 where there are trees on either side. As I was tearing through the foggy atmosphere, with trees on either side and the whole 8 lanes to myself, the whole world racing towards me at 80 miles an hour, with the moon right up ahead, I felt like I was riding on a magic horse in a fantasy land.

I was supposed to take the Durham exit out of I10, but I couldn’t stop drinking into the beauty of the night. I decided to take the next exit, studentmonte. But even then, I decided to prolong the pleasure until the next exit. Even then I couldn’t get myself to get off the freeway. I decided to take I45 freeway and the take the Allen Parkway exit. But even then I couldn’t stop. I decided to take to 59 south freeway and then take the Kirby exit. But the night was just too beautiful. I continued on 59 and then took to 610 and from there I again came back on I10 were I started. I had taken a full circle around and was back at the place at started and I loved it afresh – the fog, the moon and the trees. Finally took the Studentmonte exit to get home I had been travelling for about 30 minutes between 70 – 80 miles an hour.

After taking the exit off the freeway I was slowly riding back home. I stopped at a traffic light and on the other side, there was a water sprinkler that was sprinkling water high up in to the air on to the right lane of the road. My first instinct was to take the left lane, but then I realized that I couldn’t allow the possibility of riding through this water foundation go past, without being enjoyed. I went right through the fountain and it was a surprising splash of water. I was brazing myself expecting the water to be cold, but the water was warm – a brief moment of suprising ecstasy.

I can’t help thanking God that the night was so beautiful and that I had a motor cycle to go about enjoying the 8 lane freeways in Houston at 2:00 am in the morning.

What I learnt at Fusion Fellowship

I original idea was to write a blog ‘What I like about Fusion’. Then it occurred to me that I can like many things ranging from the movie ‘District 9’ to Hamburgers, but I cannot ‘really’ like something enough to be appreciative of it unless I really learnt something from it which got me closer to living my life to ‘all its Fullness’. So I decided to title this blog as ‘What I learnt from Fusion Fellowship’. I think I would like to surmise at least four truths that I think I learnt through Fusion over the course of the past few months.


In the book club on John Piper’s, “Don’t Waste Your life”, I learnt that glorifying God is not about going to Church and participating in the worship session and then doing some ‘Christian good works’ outside church. Rather, glorifying God is to be ‘supremely satisfied’ in the relationship with God, even if it means loosing all comforts and privileges of life. A soldier forsakes all the comforts and secure privileges that life has to offer because he is ‘supremely satisfied’ in the cause of his serving his home land. A country that has such soldiers is the one that is truly glorified. When God has soldier-minded conscientious Christian who are so satisfied in God that they’ll sacrifice anything for Him, He is indeed glorified. Even the legitimate pleasures that we enjoy in such a Soldier-like way glorifies God because the soldier is grateful enough to realize that legitimate pleasures in life don’t come cheap – they are bought with the blood of Christ. A life crux of which is in such glorification of God, isn’t a wasted life. It would be a life lived to ‘all its fullness’.


In Kemper’s class on the Maledictory Psalms, I learnt that to indubitably acknowledge the Maledcitory Psalms (breaking heads of babies… etc) as the inspired Word of God is to acknowledge in humility the inability of the unaided human reason to make a correct moral judgment on that which is right and that which is wrong, that which is fair and that which is unfair and even that which is of good taste and that which isn’t. Perhaps Kemper intended folks listening to learn a lot more than that, but this is all that has remained ‘stuck’ in my mind.


Truth Three: Ever since my early youth I have at times wondered ‘how’ I knew what I thought I knew. I wondered to myself, “if I do not know that ‘how’, then how could I trust that I ‘really’ know that which I think I know”. If I followed this David Hume-ian polemic, it would cause me to question how I could really ‘trust’ my faith in God. Why couldn’t my faith in God be an illusion created by my unaided reason. After all, history tells me that at one time, led by unaided human reason, people in the west thought the earth was flat, people in the east thought the earth was the back of a tortise.


During Chuck’s class I learnt that faith is God isn’t so much about ‘my’ faith in God as much as it is about God engendering in me a faith on Him. So, this revelation, that my faith in God has little to do with my unaided reason but more to do with God’s work in me, was liberating. It absolves me of the need to try to figure out if my faith is indeed trustworthy or not.


Lastly, but most importantly, I learnt from Cheryl that I could use the word ‘happy’ before any noun in the English language. Happiness is not just a habit, it is the overflowing expression of the well-being of the soul. It is only when the relationship with God fosters the well-being of the soul that such expressions of overflowing happiness is possible.


So as we look forward to a ‘happy’ new season of Fusion Fellowship, I look forward to learning more age-old ‘happy’ truths, that are new to me, which I think would help me look at life from a better vantage point and as promised, live out life to all its ‘happy’ Fullness.



Waiters say, “Church going Christians suck”

Disclaimer: For the sake of the case being make, please bear with me as I make some blatant generalizations about Church going Christians.

It is said that Church going Christians are the ones that tip the waiters least when compared with every other category of restaurant goers. I do not know how true this allegation really is, but I would think that there seldom is smoke without fire. After Church, as I was sitting with fellow Church goers at a restaurant having lunch, I was wondering why church going Christians had this reputation when it came to tipping waiters. Below are my meditations.

Perhaps it is an interesting irony that a Christian who comes out of an awesome Church service is often the most mean guy walking on earth because this is when he feels most self-righteous. It is when the Christian thinks that he is indeed the Christ-ian that he is least likely to be a one. Though this is one of the causes for the notorious reputation of Christian tipping, I think that the reason for stingy Christian tipping goes deeper than this. Even those Christians who are penitent enough to not feel too self-righteous are often prone to a bigger Christian Evangelical pitfall – being lead by ‘the spirit of entitlement’.

When a Post Enlightenment, Post Reformation, Post Christian Evangelical Christian goes to Church, he exudes with a sense of chronic entitlement. He feels entitled to a great worship service, he feels entitled to a good message, he feels entitled to communion – all of this free of cost. Then he goes a step further, just because he is able to say ‘Halleluiah, Praise the Lord’ and then claps hands when he sings or perhaps jumps about during worship service (perhaps in his mind, trying to mimic King David) he thinks he is entitled to the ‘presence of God Almighty’.

When he walks out of the Church with this spirit of entitlement of having even earned God with a few easy techniques, he, possibly quite unwittingly, is prone to be the most snobbish being. The worship leader, the priest and God have served him without expecting a tip (unless he goes to a mega church where the pastor invariably always makes a claim to the attendee’s tithe). Nevertheless, he is most pampered and attended to at the Church, he thinks that the Church exists to pamper and re-charge him at the end of a tiring week.

All of his burdens are laid down and he is in the mood of ‘post-awesome-worship-service cloud-nines’, lead continually by the spirit of entitlement he is insensitive to the kindness and the service of the waiter gives him and consequently does not feel ‘moved’ to tip him. On the other hand, on a Friday after a week’s tiring work which breaks down his sense of entitlement to anything in life, if the Christian were to go to a restaurant, he would be more appreciative of the service rendered by the waiter and would feel ‘moved’ to tip him.

Isn’t it an irony that the harsh realities of the world that teaches him that there is ‘no free lunch’ would better minister the Christian than the comforts and pampering of the Church. If only Church going Christians would understand why the waiters think they suck.

Beautiful Little Things of Life

A couple of weeks back, on a Friday evening, when I was reading C.S.Lewis’ “Till We Have Faces”, it dawned on me that it was heavily raining outside. Prior to this, every time it rained in Houston, I would be in my office looking at the rain from the glass window wishing that I was walking in the rain rather than looking at it from the glass tower.

So here was my chance. I closed C.S.Lewis’ book. I knew he would forgive me for preferring to walk in the rain which is one of the most beautiful and legitimately natural pleasures ‘under the sun’. I changed over into my shorts and flip flops and walked into the rain. Walking in the rain is when I feel close to nature. Somewhere a few miles above earth out of thin air a water droplet gets formed and pulled by gravity, travels all the way down to earth to create a ‘cool’ sensation on my skin, reminding me that perhaps, even the manna that fell from the ‘heavens’ created a similar sensation.

As the rain became a drizzle, I decided to get into the pool. To float around in the pool when it is drizzling is an awesome experience. I lay in the water, floating about. As I was weightlessly bobbing up and down, face down, ears and eyes within the water, feeling the rain droplets on my back, hearing the slow rumble of the thunder from the high heavens and seeing the splash of lightening lit up the pool, it seemed that the beauty in this little experience of life was more profound and real than that of the Roman empire in all of its glory.

God has created so much of beauty in so many little things of life, if only man would ‘stop, look and relish’.

Ps: Well, looking back, I am glad I did not get electrocuted. J