Monday, June 11, 2012

The Kingdom of God is like Kefir Grains..(A modern day parable)

The Kingdom of God is like kefir grains, that a man took and hid in a jar filled with milk, until it turned to kefir.

What is Kefir?

"What in the world is Kefir", some may ask! Kefir is a "living" fermented milk drink, which contains beneficial bacteria (probiotics), yeast, minerals, essential amino acids and easily digestible proteins. Consumers of kefir (including myself) tout the myriads of health benefits this drink provides. You can learn more about it at

But the purpose of this post is not to educate you or convince you of the amazing drink that kefir is. Rather, it is to share what I learnt about Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment of the Kingdom of God.

The Process

Let me explain the simple process of making kefir. You take a jar of milk and put a few kefir grains in it and set it aside for 24 hours. The bacteria and yeasts in the kefir grains start working in the milk and convert it to kefir. After 24 hours you simply strain the kefir for drinking and use the same kefir grains in a new batch of milk for another nutritious kefir drink . Another amazing thing that happens in this process is that the kefir grains, which is the source of life, so to speak, keeps growing. When it grows in quantity, you can either, (1) share some of your grains with others (2) eat the grains or (3) throw the excess (I don't think anyone would want to do that).

The Parable explained

The jar is our 'earthen vessel', our body. The milk in the jar, is the unregenerated human spirit within the body, which is dead in transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1), darkened in its understanding and separated from the 'life' of God (Eph 4:18). The kefir grain teeming with 'life', represents our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the treasure in our earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7).

Jesus, who is 'life' (John 14:6), the bread of life (John 6:35), came to give life to raise up dead mankind (John 10:10) . This "zoe" life is the very life of the God by which He exists. Jesus is the Tree of life, the vine that supplies life to the branches (John 15:5). He came so that we could once again eat from the Tree of Life and live.  He is the incorruptible seed or grain of wheat containing life, that fell to the ground and died. But on the third day that life burst forth and He became a 'life giving spirit' (I Cor 15:45). Just as the kefir grains give life to the milk in the jar and turns it into something new - Kefir, the seed of Jesus regenerates the human spirit, giving birth to the New Man, born from above - a brand New Creation. The life in the kefir grains permeates the milk, becoming one with it. He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit (I Cor 6:17).

The health benefits of drinking kefir are many. Consuming Jesus Christ, not only gives you His life, but you get all the blessings in Him as well, which impacts your overall well-being (Eph 1:4). When Jesus takes up residence in us by the Holy Spirit, He moves in with the whole package, the fullness of the deity (Col 2:9)!

The life of Jesus not only nourishes you, but just as the kefir grains grow, His life in us grows.  We begin to experience and manifest more and more of Him. This is what is called 'growing in grace' or 'growing to the fullness of the stature of Christ'. What do you do when the kefir grains grow? Of course you can eat them (eating more of Jesus individually). But you are so teeming and overflowing with His life that you can share the life giving grains with others. Those grains produce kefir(life) for them and they then share the grains with others out of their abundance and so it goes on and on..until the earth will be filled with the image of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why House Church?

P.S. Please note that the author says, "There is nothing wrong with meeting in a barn, a field, a cave, in a church building, or in a synagogue. The Lord is looking on the heart. But if we are encouraging a system that is stifling the life of the church by heavy-handed leadership and a deadening clergy-laity caste system, we will not have the fruit we are seeking."

What is a House Church?
The characteristics listed below are those of the church for the first 250 years of church history. When the church moved away from simplicity, it also moved away from much of its power and flexibility in evangelizing and discipling the nations. These are also the characteristics of house churches springing up all over the world today.

 No frills. No ceremony. No rituals. No symbolism. It is simply a time for the people of God to come together with Jesus in the midst. They talk. They sing. They pray. They eat a meal together. They take the holy communion together and study the Bible. They share what God is doing in their lives. They intercede for people and for all kinds of needs all over the world. They minister one to another through the gifts God has given each one. They love one another and seek to encourage and build each other up in their faith.

 It’s an easy place to have church. There are no mysterious emblems to explain. It is not a religious setting. No one feels uncomfortable about doing something unreligious. People feel at home, and just relax. Church starts the minute the first two or three people arrive because church is people and not program. Where born-again believers gather, there is a church. They are the “church gathered.” When they all leave, they are the “church scattered.” They come together to be strengthened. They go out to touch the world as salt, light, and leaven in the power of the Holy Spirit. They go everywhere preaching the gospel through words and deeds to those who do not know Jesus. They are fulfilling the Great Commission, which I’ll paraphrase this way: “As you are going, here, there, and everywhere, preach the gospel at all times, wherever you happen to be…NOW!”

 It is easier to get an unsaved person to visit a meeting in someone’s house than it is to get him to go to a sanctuary. The plan is to put a little church in walking distance of every person in every neighborhood. This is one of the reasons the church of the first century “turned the world upside down.”

It is good to knock on doors and lead people to Jesus. It is good to lead them to the Lord on the streets, in the parks, in huge stadiums, over the phone, or in casual conversation. But when we lead him to the Lord right in the place where he will be discipled, a church in a house, we have a distinct advantage. He has already been introduced to the church. He can be baptized right on the spot and led gently into a deeper walk with Jesus by the people who led him to receive Christ. The task of getting him into a church is already done.

The only name that is worthy of lifting up is the name of Jesus. We don’t need to think up a good name for our church. It is not our church. It is Jesus’ church. It is “the church that meets at someone’s house.” Everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to his church. Everything that Jesus is doing in our city is ours. We all have some responsibility toward it even if it is just to pray. We are one body. We are born into unity and we are to maintain that unity by receiving all the saints without regard to where they live or what group they attend. We all belong to each other.

We do not have to meet at the same house every week. It is not the building that holds us together. It is relationships that bond us together. We are flexible. We can meet anywhere. In this way we are exposing ourselves to more people in more places.

 Big is not always better. Big, however, is what we want. But we can get bigger faster by multiplying than we can by adding. A house church builds the big citywide church by dividing and multiplying. We will have large gatherings from time to time, but our basic church is still small. When more than twenty or thirty people attend consistently, it is time to “have a baby.”

We read of the church on four different levels in the New Testament. “The church” in the world (Colossians 1:24), “The church” in the country (Acts 9:31), “The church” in the city (2 Corinthians 1:1), and “The church” in the house (Colossians 4:15). The church in the house is a microcosm of the church in the city, in the country, and in the world. It is just as much the church as the church in the city, or in the country, or in the world. It contains all the essential elements and ingredients of church. The word microcosm simply means “little world” or “a universe in miniature.” The church in the house is church in the fullest sense of the word. That is how the apostle Paul saw his work in the first century. On his first missionary journey he left a little group of disciples in four different cities: Antioch, Iconium, Derby, and Lystra. He referred to each little group as the church in that city.

I did not say “New Testament Pattern” for I am not sure God left us a “pattern” to be followed as to how to conduct church. The true New Testament pattern is to pray, hear from God, and obey what he tells us. If he tells you to build a gigantic cathedral GO FOR IT! You will be blessed and so will the entire Body of Christ. The dynamic power of the early church was just that. They were not trying to follow a “pattern” that they read about somewhere. They were following the leading of the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis. Success followed. It is still safe to do the same in our day. Many churches have tried to find the formula for growth that Pastor Cho of Seoul, Korea found and built the largest church in the world. He gave it in six simple words: “I just pray and I obey.” There is nothing wrong with meeting in a barn, a field, a cave, in a church building, or in a synagogue. The Lord is looking on the heart. But if we are encouraging a system that is stifling the life of the church by heavy-handed leadership and a deadening clergy-laity caste system, we will not have the fruit we are seeking.

We will not find a simpler method of planting new churches. And we are using church planting as a means of evangelism, discipleship, and missions. It has been proven in the Church Growth Movement that the best method of evangelism is planting lots of churches. The best way to make disciples is also to start lots of new churches. When people gather in small, informal groups, discipleship takes place almost without a conscious effort.

This happened in Antioch as well as in Samaria. Also in the tenth chapter of Acts, we see that Cornelius was instrumental in starting a house church without even knowing what he was doing. This is happening in China and in many other places in our day. This does not rule out the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. We are talking about starting churches, not the ongoing success of these churches. We will need the ministry of anointed leaders appointed by the Lord if these churches are to succeed. These are some of the characteristics of house churches: Every house church will have its own personality. No two meetings will be alike. It is the Spirit of Jesus who guides us in all our gatherings. He brings all the excitement of his presence into each meeting by using anyone he chooses to minister.

Fitts, Robert; Carrier, Marc (2011-09-10). Kingdom Expansion Series (p. 79). Kindle Edition.

Fitts, Robert; Carrier, Marc (2011-09-10). Kingdom Expansion Series (pp. 78-79). Kindle Edition.

Fitts, Robert; Carrier, Marc (2011-09-10). Kingdom Expansion Series (pp. 77-78). Kindle Edition.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is the Kingdom?

Part 1

Part 2

Post-Constantine "Christendom"

By the end of the century (4th), the emperor Theodosus finalized the conquest of Christianity, making the faith of the Christians the only legal religion in the empire. Within one century, the Christian church had moved from the status of a minority, persecuted sect to that of the only legally sanctioned religion in the Roman Empire. Indeed, as some historians tell the story, Christianity had "triumphed" over its enemies. The Christian church had arrived, or so it appeared. Thus arose "Christendom" - an alliance between church and empire.

On the other hand, other historians and theologians recount these events as the "fall of the church." This type of story telling is perhaps too naive, simplistic, or sweepingly judgemental - surely there is much to be learned from post-Constantine Christians. Nonetheless, one finds in "Christendom" particular ways of thinking about Jesus that obscure (if not set aside) his teaching. In other words, some serious consequences came in the wake of the "triumph of Christianity." Painting in too-broad strokes, one might characterize some of these consequences this way:

  • "Christianity" increasingly loses the biblical emphasis upon discipleship and replaces it with an emphasis upon religious ritual.
  • "Church," rather than denoting the New Testament concept of a community of disciples living as the "body of Christ," begins to connote a hierarchy that protects "orthodoxy."
  • "Salvation," instead of being construed as the gift of a transformed, abundant life in the now-present kingdom of God, begins to be equated with an otherwordly reward. More crassly put, "salvation" is increasingly viewed as a fire-insurance policy, a "Get Out of Hell Free Card" guaranteeing an escape from the fires of torment and ensuring the receipt of treasures in heaven.
 In Christendom, the "whole world" may be dubbed "Christian," and yet it is un-Christlike.

We in the Western world are long removed from those days of governmentally established Christianity, living in the day of "separation of church and state." Nonetheless, such habits of thought remain.

by Lee C. Camp in 'Mere Discipleship - Radical Christianity In A Rebellious World'

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Can Only Imagine!!

I was just reminiscing the other day about how heavenly real estate, mansions, jewels, precious stones and crowns are offered as enticements for people to live holy. Now ofcourse, I know that people can point scripture verses to me for all the above mentioned things. But as mentioned in my previous post "The Missing Ingredient", fear and/or rewards shouldn't be our motivating factors to "live holy", rather, it should be love - a loving intimate relationship with Jesus born out of a revelation of how much He loves us.

When we see the love of our lives, Jesus, face to face, I wonder if any precious stone, crown or mansion would really matter. What could be more precious, lovely and awesome than the person of Jesus? Me thinks that we would lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus, because to Him belongs all the glory, honor and power. He alone is worthy to receive all praise. How can I hold on to that crown??

There are 2 songs that come to mind now:


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Missing Ingredient!

I was reminiscing the other Sunday, with the brethren, about my quest for holy living for almost my entire life. I grew up listening to the constant drum beat of "be ye holy, for I am holy" and "holiness without which no man shall see God." (Let me stop here and say emphatically that I am all for holy living). The carrot that was offered was "heaven" and the stick was "missing the rapture", "the great tribulation" and eventually "the lake of fire." I tried very hard to follow all the rules and commandments, made the best effort to keep every sin, intentional and unintentional, confessed. But the goal post always seemed to be elusive and the standard unreachable. Even though I put on a "holy" face, I knew in my heart that it was such a big burden to obey all the laws and commandments and keep every single sin of thought, word and deed confessed and I wasn't doing a good job at it. I tried to compare myself with others and console myself that I wasn't a big sinner as some others were. But my Christian life was like running on a treadmill, running hard but getting nowhere and honestly I was getting frustrated.

But thanks be to the Lord, that He opened my eyes to see that I could "never" live this holy life by my efforts. He also gave me a glimpse of how much He loved me and how much I was forgiven - not because I was a "good" Christian or was good at keeping my sins confessed, but rather while I was yet a sinner, He loved me and died for me. He saw me in my most wretched condition and yet He chose me. Now the words of Jesus, "but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" made sense to me. This revelation of how much I was forgiven and loved by Him caused me to fall in love with Him as never before. What was the result of this love relationship? - I started living holier "accidentally" and "effortlessly" than I ever did by my efforts, trying to escape hell. No wonder Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." I found out experientally that "love fulfills the law ."

Moreover, I found out that I was already holy, not by my holy living, but because He had washed me and made me holy and the Holy One had taken up residence in me. Now, the exhortations in the New Testament for holy living started making sense to me - "you are in light, so walk as children of light" and "walk worthy of your calling." In other words, live out who you are. You are holy, therefore live holy. All my life I was trying to put the cart before the horse. I was trying to live holy to "become" holy, not knowing that holy living was to be a fruit of my being holy. Not only that I was trying to do it in my strength, not knowing that the only Person (Jesus) who could live holy was now living in me.

Dear one, can you see the subtle difference between living under the drudgery of legalistic religion and living in true holiness? It is a simple yet subtle difference of either being on the treadmill of "becoming" holy by holy living or living holy because you are already holy. It is so simple that it is very easy to miss it, but if you get it, it will change your walk with the Lord forever.

So what was the missing ingredient in my quest for holy living? T'was Love! Say "Yes" to love and "No" to fear, because fear has torment, but perfect love casts out fear!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some benefits of Organic Church Life

We met with the brethren today and had a wonderful time sharing Christ with each other. One of the things that we are experiencing and realizing more of is the benefits of meeting organically under the Headship of Christ.

Each person has the freedom to express Christ creatively in their own way. One such form of creative expression is through writing new Christocentric songs or adding new verses to or modifying existing songs.

Since Christ is a multi-membered Person, He is expressed fully when every member functions by sharing and participating as opposed to one-man preaching a sermon. It is akin to how a person is not made up of just one part of the body, but all the parts of the body together.

Overfunctioning or underfunctioning of certain members of the body leads to atrophy or weakness in the underfunctioning members and abnormal growth in the overfunctioning members thereby affecting the overall well-being of the body.

Since Christ speaks through different members, the chances of erring in doctrine or teaching is minimized drastically as opposed to a large institution or sect where doctrines are handed down by a few elite people or a person. Even if there is a chance of error in an organic church it is confined locally to the group and not widespread as in the case of denominations, sects or institutions where huge masses of people could possibly be led into error.

Most of the New Testament exhortations of "one-anothering" like bearing one-another's burdens, edifying one another, loving one another etc can be lived out in a small community of believers.

Since there is no room to hide in an organic church, you are exposed and very vulnerable. You can't but share your life with your brethren and therefore open up yourself to the possibility of getting offended or offending others. It is here where the instrument of the cross can be allowed to work in your life to conform you to the image of Jesus. It is here where your flesh gets exposed and you learn to put it off and put on Christ and live by His life. You see the fruit of the Spirit - patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, love and other virtues develop in you by the Spirit. In short, this is the natural habitat for the believer where one grows and matures into the fullness and stature of Christ. This rarely happens without living in the community of brothers and sisters.

In short, you see DNA of the Trinity in the local church (ekklesia), since she came out of Jesus' side and lives by His life. You see the fellowship, mutual love, submission, sharing of life, laying down of life between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, manifest in the local ekklesia.

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."