“What’s your story?”

[“The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
Isaiah 60:19]

“So messed up.” We become so frustrated at times wondering how we manage to mess up royal-ly. Most times unawares, the F-word manages to burst out of the same mouth that receives the Holy Body and Holy Blood of Christ. Yet you and me is who He came for. Despite the hide and seek games we play with our merciful God, he wants us to know that we were meant for bigger (hearts), better (words), softer (thoughts towards ourselves) and deeper (commitment to the eternal).

The good news for the teeth-gritting, frustrated, f-word spitting, dissatisfied ones is that God knows better and He will show us better out of His everlasting love for us.

The dim lights of the weekend that blur rather than better our vision can be left behind. We can trade illusory charm of the distant, romantic moonlight for the warmth and beauty of the blazing campfire before us – God will be your light. No darkness; the true light that gives better than Ultra HD clarity to our misused/abused lives.

There is hope. There’s a new beat to dance to. A new music to swing to, as we hand over our lives to the redeemer.

Let your life story be a redemption story. May your transformed life reflect the everlasting beauty of God’s light.It starts by saying, “Today, I choose to give my life, as it is, into the hands of the Saviour- the one who will even die for me that I may live.”

What’s your story?


Prepare to meet your God.

“Prepare to meet your God. “
It is a privilege to be asked to write devotions. The passage that you are assigned is always a pleasant surprise. You add a layer of another surprise while discovering the topic assigned to you. So now you have a surprise passage and a surprise topic – a double surprise!
The joy in digging deep into a passage finding out what God has to say can be described as a backpacking trip. You can hitch a ride at the mercy of the discoveries that come your way.  You also have to follow intuition, as there are a million ways to reach your destination. Often times you are tired by the time you get there.  Some times you get a rare ride that gets you all the way ( a key word that illuminates the passage, for example!).  The most common experience is that you end up inundated in a sea of illuminating thoughts all of whom wage a war to be included in the 320 words you are allotted. It is, most times, fun, I tell you.

Continue reading “Prepare to meet your God.”

Why I will always be thankful to St. Augustine – perhaps, you will, too.

Why I will always be thankful to St. Augustine – perhaps, you will, too.

The 4th century Church Father, known as St. Augustine was not proud of his past. His nothing-to-be-proud-about past, fortunately became the basis of his reflections on God, as revealed in Jesus Christ.


I was going through Alister McGrath’s brilliant book named Heresy (London: SPCK, 2009) and came across St. Augustine’s response to the heresy known as Pelagianism, which gave me much hope, in my ministry, as recently as this morning.

Pelagianism, according to McGrath can be summarised in the following arguments (found mostly on page 163) :

  1. Human beings are completely free to act. To a great extent such an action is imperative for “moral action and spiritual renewal.”
  2. The behaviour of human beings is not influenced significantly by hidden forces, nor is it restricted by powers that ultimately lie beyond their their control.
  3. “Any  imperfection in human nature that might stop us from acting morally could reflect badly on God.”
  4. “The significance of Christ needs to be located primarily in his teaching and examples.”

In one of writings, Pelagius goes to the extent of saying, ” No one knows the extent of our strength better than God who gave us that strength… God has not willed to command anything impossible, for God is righteous; and will not condemn anyone for what they could not help” (page 164). Julian of Eclanum (386-455 ACE) is said to have further developed these thoughts in ways that it was turned into a gospel of self-improvement “that was adapted to the norms of the Roman culture,” a “sophisticated self-improvement with a strong spiritual core.”

Till here it sounds great, and I can’t help notice how much it sounds like the self-help books I have read. You have the power within you, given from above! We have been blessed by God with everything we need to make life better! Just do it! Heck, it even sounds like one of my sessions, which I believe are deeply rooted in the Bible.

Augustine’s take

Augustine takes a different stance, summarised as follows ( found on page 165 onwards):

1. We are created good, but the fact that humanity has sinned, causes contamination to our nature.

2. We seem to have, as a result, an inclination to sin, which is not the result of the divine creation, but of the fall. He suggests that the human will has been “weakened and incapacitated – but not eliminated or destroyed – by sin.”

3. He goes on to say that we need divine grace to heal that will.

4. We are not in control of our sinfulness and it contaminated our life from birth and dominates our life thereafter.

Instead, Pelagianist thought does not agree to human disposition towards sin, adding that failure to choose good and sinning could not be excused on any grounds.

A moment to reflect

I want to stop here and mull with you –  isn’t that most often where we find ourselves? We are not ready to accept our failures and sins, and often times do no forgive ourselves for the sins we commit. We berate ourselves on the inability to measure up to God despite the fact that Jesus has done everything he needs to do on the cross? As a pastor, this thought has been the most worrisome. Of course I do believe and accept grace, as Augustine does, yet somewhere, this aim to become perfect like Jesus finding failure is unacceptable to me, pulling one down into the abyss of self-condemnation and disappointment.

At this point, the Pelagian heresy reveals itself as moral authoritarianism, says McGrath. For Pelagius only morally upright persons should be allowed to enter the church, whereas Augustine pictured the Church as a hospital, “where fallen humanity could recover and grow gradually in holiness through grace.” (page 167). It also implied that life on earth was a time for recovery and complete healing will be achieved when we are finally in the presence of God. Till then, the Church must include both the sinner and saint.

These are the words that encouraged me:

“Augustine’s view of humanity is that it is frail, weak, and needs divine assistance and care if it is to be restored and renewed.. Grace, according to Augustine is God’s generous and quite unmerited attention t humanity by which this process of healing may begin… Human nature requires transformation through the grace of God…”

also the following words on page 169:

“God in an act of grace, then came to rescue fallen humanity from its predicament. God assists us by healing us, enlightening us, strengthening us, and continually working within us in order to restore us. For Pelagius, humanity merely needed to be shown what to do and could then be left to achieve it unaided; for Augustine humanity needed to be shown what to do  and then gently aided at every point if this objective was even to be approached, let alone fulfilled.”

I needed to hear these words at this point of time in my ministry. I did not want to do build this youth ministry on my own, with the burden that he has given me everything –  the circumstances, the possibilities, the gifts, the finance, the creativity… It is too much to do justice to. I wanted to hear that God, in  his grace, will guide me, and restore me when I fall, which I was bound to do. I wanted to hear that it was alright to fail, from the God of the Bible. Sometimes it is pastors who preach grace who keep themselves from experiencing any of it.

McGrath’s words on Pelagianism that follows, almost meditative and surely contemplative, are a chilling reflection of how deep rooted these thoughts are in our culture (page 170) :

“Yet Pelagianism continues to  be a deep influence on western culture, even if its name means little to most. It articulates the most natural of human thoughts – that we are capable of taking control of ourselves and transforming ourselves into what we would have ourselves be.”

It gives an idealised view of humanity, but Augustine seeks to capture the essence of the human predicament. And that is liberating, especially since, I am not to worry about my failing before God, since my nature is inclined to sin. This must not lead me to taking it for granted but to leaning all the more on his ever-sufficient grace.

Endnote : Disagreement in the Oasis

I do disagree with St. Augustine on his doctrine of Original Sin, just as most of the Eastern, especially Syriac churches would. J.N.D. Kelly in Early Christian Doctrines suggested that the Eastern Church was hardly impacted by his views, taking a different line of thought. I would like to write another post on the human predicament  from the eyes of the Eastern Church fathers.

This part of Augustine’s anthropology is definitely an oasis. It is a cool breeze on humid afternoon.

I am encouraged, humbled and strengthened.


Is your life Wabi-Sabi? A peek into a beautiful outlook on life

When was the last time we appreciated something for the way it is? In a world constantly craving for the glitter of newness, wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept exists as a counter-cultural movement.

Wabi-sabi is known as the art of imperfection. It accepts things the way they are. it “finds beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness” and reveres authenticity. In the words of Robyn Lawrence, “to discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may at first look decrepit and ugly.” The concept appreciates all signs that time and weather and use leave behind such as cracks, crevices and rocks.

Wabi-sabi reminds us humans of our transience on planet earth. One can practice wabi-sabi by choosing to focus on the wear and tear of an object that belongs to you such as a piece of cloth, a vase, clay/china items, etc. It could be anything for that matter. Observe it in detail and appreciate it for itself. Lawrence observes that “our universal longing for wisdom, for genuineness, for shared history manifests in these things.”

This beautiful concept is actually a state of mind. It encourages us to accept the beauty around us for what it is and live with a sense of peace with oneself and one’s surroundings.

This article is based on ‘Wabi-Sabi: The art of imperfection’ by Robyn Griggs Lawrence as found in his article here. The idea first appeared to me while reading ‘Viral: How social networking is poised to ignite revival’ by Leonard Sweet (Colorado: WaterBrook Press, 2012).

This piece was published on my Medium blog.


The Watchman | John 1:9-12

“Watchman… O watchman…” We hear that cry everyday. Paid peanuts, these men serve 12 hour shifts. While we have tea and snacks at the comfort of our homes, they’re served deprecative words in bowls of aggressive language. Some are lucky to receive smiles. Yet, very often, they’re a picked on lot.“Look, he’s dozing again.” “Lazy old man.” When he salutes us, we actually begin to think we are their superiors and that we deserve it.

Continue reading “The Watchman | John 1:9-12”


The “It’s possible” experience

It has been my dream to wake up early in the morning and begin the day fresh and fine. Get up, pray, read, study and write – that was the plan. It has not been easy getting there how much ever I have wanted.  Impossible has been the buzz word, leaving much regret at failed attempts.

That began to change with the help of Robin Sharma’s inspirational talks. Getting to your A-game, the 5 am club, The 90 rule and the like have been super exciting that I did begin waking up early in the morning. Invoking the power of the sub-conscious mind, the goals which were put down on paper began to happen. That was till December. In January some commitments caused my routines to change and then I got back to it last week.

It was like get, set, go. I would wake up at 5 am,  exercise -Really! That was sort of impossible for me somehow – and eat healthy. One day I just got up, I began automatically waking up at 5 am. The other day I felt as though my body was automatically dragging to my sports shoes and towards the door, that I did enjoy going out and running. What’s more? I even finished all the work I had  assigned for the day and it was only 8.15 am! Time just turned up, exactly as these guys said  it would.

Now the question is about consistency.  I have got this feeling that it is possible. I would correct it to say, rather than just feeling, my body seems ready before my mind is! This is truly amazing and I have been waiting for something like this to happen.

Since February 28 I have been sharing written devotions, here on my site as well as on facebook. I gave myself a Sunday off, but it has been consistent. Yesterday, I shut everything else I was doing and got to my computer to write. This is a good time, a season of change. Daily quiet time, prayers and affirmations really work wonders within us!

Today I ran all the way towards the local railway station and I did not for once feel, “Oh… too far!” In fact my body wanted me to ran and move and dragged me on. It was sort of weird, like there was someone else in charge of what I was doing. I feel good this evening, after the run and a cold shower. Back to my daily devotion writing now, a series called Jesus in Mumbai ( #JesusInMumbai ) where I try to seek an incarnational understanding of Christology  situating it within the daily living in Mumbai. It has been fun, meditative and creative.

The power of the subconscious mind, intriguing indeed.

A few steps would be:

Affirm to yourself

Write it down

Review it



Thank you God.


The Gola | Psalm 30

(With inputs from John Abraham, Chembur )

If you grew up, or perhaps, lived here in Bombay for a while, you would have had at least one Gola, no matter whether you were from Panvel, Virar, Ambernath or even Walkeshwar. I’d find it hard to categorize you as human if you haven’t!

Continue reading “The Gola | Psalm 30”