The writer to the Hebrews writes, ‘Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral’ (Heb. 13:4, NIV). This is a clear call to sanctify the marriage bed! That means that there is no room in the marriage bed for anyone else apart from your spouse. To cite an example: You cannot watch porn to spice up your sex inside marriage for that is akin to having a porn star in your marriage bed (recall Jesus’ words which makes lust, adultery in Matt. 5:28).
Duke Jeyaraj writes, ‘You cannot watch porn to spice up your sex inside marriage for that is akin to having a porn star in your marriage bed (recall Jesus’ words which makes lust, adultery in Matt. 5:28).’
The same Bible that calls us to sanctify our marriage bed, calls us to electrify it as well! Let me explain: by saying that I mean there are clear calls in both the Old Testament and New Testament to celebrate inside-marriage sex! Can I briefly take you through a survey in this regard, which I believe, will be memorable!
The Call from the THE FONDLING STORY:
We read that Isaac – he was not exactly young – fondling his wife Rebecca in Genesis 26. Genesis 26:8 goes this way: ‘When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.’ The word ‘caressing’ here implies sexual foreplay. It is talking about a physical intimacy that may not necessarily lead to a sexual climax! It is sad phenomenon that among many Christian couple, the touching leads to super-fast sex without the lingering in the acts like caressing. As a couple, Isaac and Rebecca explored each other’s bodies in an unhurried way! That is indeed a biblical way to electrify your marriage bed!
The Call from the FOUNTAIN JODI:
The Proverbs-writer compares the wife to a fountain. I call the couple talked about in Proverbs 5, ‘the Fountain Jodi’ (the Fountain Couple). He writes in Proverbs 5:18-20: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son is intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?” (ESV). Why is the wife called a fountain? The fountain was the source of clean drinking water in Biblical times. The implication is direct: the only guilt-free place that God has ordained for sexual thirsts to be quenched should be inside the boundaries of marriage. Men, from time immemorial have visit prostitutes, had affairs with the ‘wayward woman’ because of their thirst for sexual variety. And that is a sin against God as this above passage and other Bible passages would clearly teach. But what Proverbs 5:18-20 teaches is this: the husband and wife should together make their sex life so exciting that it would make a visit to a prostitute or affairs with wayward women/men a big bore! And what is more, this passage calls us for the only sin-free intoxication which is to enjoy sex within the boundaries of marriage! All other intoxication, alcohol and drug intoxication included, is sin according to the Bible. Have you ever realized that intoxication with sexual love for your spouse, is a God-commanded intoxication! Yes, Proverbs 5:18-20 is a biblical call to electrify the marriage bed!
The Call from the Fragrance of En Gedi
I refer to the Song of Songs couple here. The woman says in 1:12 to 14 this: ‘While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.’ This book uses word pictures to depict actual sexual intimacy situations. So, what is the meaning of Song of Songs 1:12-14? It is this, according to me: The husband becomes a sachet of good smell emanating myrrh who celebrates every curve of his wife in electrifying sexual union (the curves are explicitly named in the above passage). Myrrh used to drive away bad smell from dead bodies. But in this passage, myrrh represents the husband himself who transforms into a pleasing aroma which exhilarates his wife as they enjoy sexual union. In short, the perfume the wife wears not Victoria Secret (the famous perfume brand) but Victor (if Victor was the name of the husband)! What is more, in all the eight chapters of Song of Songs, there is no mention of a birth of a child. That tells me, that God created sex inside of marriage, not just for production of children but also the enjoyment of sexual pleasures! Have you heard the call from the fragrance of En Gedi to make your marriage bed, electrifying?
Finally, the call from FIRST CORINTHIANS ISSUED CALL OF ‘MISSIONARY’ DUTY
Apostle Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthian believer underlines a call of duty for both husband and wife: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (I Cor. 7:3-4). This passage is akin to a missionary call. The only God-ordained ‘missionary’ that can deliver and demonstrate the ‘goodnews’ of sexual joy to your husband is you, wife! The only God-ordained ‘missionary’ that can declare and demonstrate the ‘goodnews’ of sexual joy to your wife is, husband! So, if not you, then who will excite the sexual life of your spouse?
The clear call not just to sanctify but electrify the marriage bed has come from different parts of Scripture.
Are Christian couples listening?
Duke Jeyaraj, a fulltime Bible Teacher, itinerant Revival Preacher, who is the author of this piece, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission). This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Duke’s book, Straight Talk, brings frank Bible Teaching wrapped around contemporary events on sex, love, marriage, porn, phone addiction and the like. Duke is married to Evangelin who also works fulltime with G4 Mission. They have two children – Dale, 18 and Datasha, 14. They currently live in Chennai. Email us at email@example.com if you need further information.
“Hello Brother! Thanks for organizing this kahoot quiz! It was a great joy to be part of this event… was really inspired by young boys like Jerome, Jaaziel, etc. taking God’s Word seriously (by preparing hard for this quiz and doing well). And finally your short yet powerful and direct snippets-in-between was really useful!” – a young married man and working professional, Chennai.
“Good questions and a lot of learning!” – a young woman, Hyderabad.
“Yesterday’s (kahoot quiz) session was really useful and was really fun uncle. This quiz helps me study and know the secrets hidden in that Bible book assigned for the quiz. It is indeed a soup for the soul! It really encourages us to complete reading of that Bible book!” – a young woman, Chennai.
“Thank you so much for the Amazing session, Duke anna!” – a young woman, Mumbai.
“Thank you Duke for painstakingly preparing such a thrilling quiz on the book of Ecclesiastes, yesterday. By conducting such quizzes, you have motivated us to read the particular Bible book assigned for the quiz and try to ascertain the theme of the book, etc. It is amazing how with the Spirit’s leading you are able to relate verses/parables from the Bible with something contemporary from today’s world. Looking forward to the next quiz.” – a young working professional woman, Cuttack.
“Thanks sir for the efforts taken towards the quiz. It really helped me study and understand Ecclesiastes better than I did before. Also the questions were so engaging and fun! Our whole family enjoyed doing it together. My kids who are under 7 want to participate next time.” – a home-maker and mother, Chennai.
“During the Kahoot Quiz, God spoke to me through you as I explored Scripture to answer the questions asked.” – a young working professional woman, Hyderabad.
“I really enjoyed the Kahoot quiz. It was interesting and very different. So much brain-work you had put in. Looking forward to having many more!” – a College Professor, Vellore.
We are encouraged to receive all your kindly-worded testimonies. Thank you for taking time to write-in. All glory to God. Now we welcome you to the next quiz on the book of Nehemiah (all 13 chapters) on Wednesday 27 April 2022 from 9 PM India time. Use this link to register now – :https://forms.gle/38msjE4hw2TPYo7a7 — and WhatsApp, Bro. Duke and 91-8886040605 once you have registered so that you can be placed in a WhatsApp list where regular updates about quiz will be sent. THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED FOR THE NEHEMIAH QUIZ PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER AGAIN!
The last Bible reference of Money according to the ESV version of the Bible comes from Hebrews 13:5. It reads this way: Keep your life from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
What a glorious promise comes at the end of that verse: I will never leave you nor forsake you!
The presence of God is the best blessing we can have! The Bible often talks about the blessings that the presence of God brings.
It brings into our life a joy which the world cannot give. David writes in the Psalms: “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Psa. 16:11). Lasting joy does not come from presents we receive – that gadget, that device – but from His presence!
The Presence of God in our lives distinguishes us from other people. That was Moses’ point. He said, “For how then can it be known that your people and I have found favor in your sight unless you go with us? How else will we be distinguished from all other people on the face of the earth!” (Ex. 33:15-16). You may be working in a company with thousands of employees. But the presence of Jesus in your life distinguishes you, sets you apart from others!
We are talking about the blessings of having God’s presence in our lives. King David penned a moving Psalm after he sinned with Bathsheba – Psalm 51. In that Psalm he refers to the Presence of God often. He writes, “Do not cast me from your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:11). Stubborn sin would take away God’s sweet joy-giving presence from His life, David knew. So, the loss of the sense of the presence of God when we indulge in stiff-necked sinful behavior motivates us to live Holy.
Another Psalm by David leads us to yet another angle to the blessing of God’s presence. David writes, “You hide them in the protection of your presence. Your presence can conceal them in a shelter from the schemes of men from quarrelsome tongues” (Psa. 31:20). In David’s life, the presence of God protected him from the repeated assassination attempts which King Saul launched onto him under the influence of an evil spirit (I Sam. 18:10; 19:9). The presence of God in our lives serves as a shield against the evil schemes of cunning co-workers in our offices.
The book of Jonah revealed to me something about the presence of God, something which I had not noticed before. God’s presence is already there in the location that God wants us to be present preaching and living the Gospel in the one life we have. Why do I say that? I say that because Jonah 1:3 says Jonah fled from the presence of God as he disobeyed God to go to Tarshish. That means God’s presence was already in Nineveh waiting for Jonah to do his missionary work! God’s presence waits to empower us to do what he has called us to do in the one life we have. I have witnessed that when I have executed his calling upon my life – grabbing the Google Generation from going to Gehenna (the word Jesus used for hell).
So, the promise of Hebrews 13:5 is the promise of God’s presence which brings in a bag full of blessings as the above paragraphs show!
But as it is true with every promise in the Bible, there is a condition for this promise as well. What is the condition? Let me copy paste the same verse under discussion here again: Keep your life from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
The first condition for this promise is COOPERATION. This verse reads this way, “Keep yourself…” It is talking about your cooperation with God’s already available power! The Bible is full of things that God does for us. I call these things as our privileges! But don’t forget that the same Bible is also full of things that we must do in response, having received those wow privileges from God! I call these our responsibilities! The Scripture is full of both God’s Charis and God’s Commands.
The New Testament is dotted with “keep yourself” commands. Here is a sample: keep yourself in God’s Love…. (Jude 21); keep yourself pure (recorded twice – I Tim. 5:22 and 2 Tim. 2:21); keep yourself from ‘such things’ and one such thing is sexual immorality (Acts 15:29). Keep yourself united in Spirit (Eph. 4:3). Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit and life that is pleasing to the Lord. Then, the promise of his presence is ours!
The second condition for this glorious, ‘I will be with you’ promise comes from this phrase found in Hebrews 13:5: ‘and be content with what you have….’ CONTENTMENT is the second condition found in Hebrew 13:5 for the Hebrews 13:5 promise of “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
There is a reason why contentment is the focus of the book of Hebrews. It was written at a time when Jewish believers were backsliding from their newfound Christian faith and wanting to become Jews again. It was easier to be a Jew than being a Christian during that time because the Roman government recognized the Jews but not the Christians. This government of that time started persecuting the Christians. The properties of Christians were being “plundered” after Government orders (Heb. 10:34). It was quite possible that Christians lost out on a job promotion and increase in salary because of their faith during those times when persecution against them was slowly but surely increasing. So, Christians had to learn to live contented lives managing with what they had.
Such times are already upon us. If they have not yet come, they are bound to come, sooner than later, no matter which nation you live! We could be persecuted for our Christian faith by the State Government as well as the Central Government. This is quite possible. This persecution could lead to loss of income. But we need to learn to live with contentment. And when we do that, we have this glorious promise from Hebrews 13:5: I will never leave you, nor forsake you! What else matters?
Mulk Raj Anand, senior journalist wrote, ‘We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like!’ How true! Let’s inculcate contentment in our lives. If we have to buy an iPhone because that does the job well for us, let us see if we can be content with a smaller size screen edition of the same and a lesser memory edition of the same! If we need a compact SUV car we could choose to be content with the frills-free model of the same!
Let us not forget these two ‘C’s: Cooperate and be Content! Then, the glorious promise of Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you nor forsake you – will be ours!
(This article was published by Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India in its March 2022 edition. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is an itinerant preacher and writer. His book, Straight Talk, covers 50 taboo topics including porn, sexual temptation, masturbation, homosexuality, boy-girl physical intimacy boundaries, wise life-partner choice, sex inside marriage, and much more. You can get this book by WhatsApping 91-8886040605 following which you will get a payment link. Duke preaches ‘promise’ messages from the Bible that are balanced during the Month-End Midnight Prayer which starts at 11:45 PM of the last day of each month. WhatsApp +91-8886040605 to receive the link to join this meeting where people from different parts of India and the world – a small group – join together to enter the new month in God’s presence.)
Jesus used the word “Year” twice during his earthly ministry.
In a synagogue in Nazareth, he read from the scroll of the book of Isaiah this: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). He particularly chose this passage to read from the Scroll (Luke 4:17).
What was Jesus’ point? During his first coming, he came to announce the period of God’s favor; at that time, everyone has the opportunity to turn from sin and trust him as Savior. But when he comes back the second time, he will come as a judge. The writer to the Hebrews explains this further. She writes (I think it is Pricilla): So Christ was sacrificed once totakeaway the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, notto bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Heb. 9:28). While Jesus would bring Salvation to those who are waiting for him, he will also bring judgment resulting in Hell for those who spurn ‘the year of God’s Favor’ – the time between his first coming and second coming!
So, let us use the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives to proclaim the year of God’s Favor! How do we do that? We do that by proclaiming Jesus through our life and lips to as many as possible! We do that by building God’s Kingdom using our time, talent and treasures! We must also clearly mention that this ‘year of God’s favor’ can come to an end the second Jesus returns to the earth. And the New Testament is clear that Jesus can return any time. It is there in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ (Matt. 24:44). This truth is so important that it is repeated. See Matthew 25:13: ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour’. The ‘thief in the night’ imagery is used by both Paul, Peter and John to underscore this truth yet again (I Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:15).
We must also take time to mention that the year of God’s Favor will come to an end if someone dies outside of an ongoing relationship with Jesus. This is so, because there is no salvation after one’s death. After death, there is only judgment to look forward to (Heb. 9:27). Also after death and after the commencement of eternal punishment in the hell there is no change to cross-over from hell to heaven. Jesus himself mentions this in an incident he narrates in Luke’s gospel where we read, ‘And besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that even those who wish cannot cross from here to you, nor can anyone cross from there to us’ (Luke 16:26, the words of heaven-dwelling Abraham to hell-dwelling Rich Man).
So, this understanding – that the year of the Lord’s favor can end any second – should motivate us to race to the lost with the Gospel this year!
So, make it a point to join your local church’s evangelistic outreaches! Join hands with a para-church organisation involved in direct evangelism activities like gospel tract distribution! That’s one ministry we in Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission) do each month – the ministry of tracts distribution. We welcome you to join us if you happen to live in Chennai. If you live other cities, please reach out to us and we can supply with gospel tracts which will appeal to the Indian English reader which we have published.
During your many travels this year, share the Gospel with the person sitting next to you. I do that by showing the ESV phone app on my smart phone. I read Psalm 119:165 to the person sitting next to me in the flight, train or bus. And finish off with these words, “When I read this book – God’s Word in human words – I have ‘great peace’ which this verse talks about. While others pointed out the way to peace, the Bible proclaims that Jesus himself will be our peace. Jesus and the peace He offers is unique and you must experience it!”
So, let this be a YEAR of FAVOR-PROCLAMATION.
There was yet another time, that Jesus used the word “Year” as he went about his earthly ministry. He did after talking about two disasters that took place during his time: an building crash that kill 18 people and the butchering done by an evil ruler who sought to mix human blood with his religious sacrifices (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus told this to the people who heard him this: “Just because that building did not fall on you, it does not mean you are better than those it fell on to take their lives! Just because the evil ruler did not kill you and mix your blood in the sacrifice he wanted to offer, it does not mean you are better than his targets. No way! Unless you repent, you too will perish!” (my paraphrase keeping the context in mind).
Let the Voice version of the Bible take over to explain to you what happened after this:
(following up with this parable) A man has a fig tree planted in his vineyard. One day he comes out looking for fruit on it, but there are no figs. He says to the vineyard keeper, “Look at this tree. For three years, I’ve come hoping to find some fresh figs, but what do I find? Nothing. So just go ahead and cut it down. Why waste the space with a fruitless tree?” The vineyard keeper replies, “Give it another chance, sir. Give me one more year working with it. I’ll cultivate the soil and heap on some manure to fertilize it. If it surprises us and bears fruit next year, that will be great, but if not, then we’ll cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9, The Voice).
So, there you have it, the second time Jesus used the word ‘year’ from his mouth! He does so in the context of giving those of us still alive a fresh opportunity to make up for the times who have goofed up and blow away opportunities to bear fruit for him! So, the new year should be a time of FRUIT-BEARING, and not just FAVOR-PROCLAMATION.
How do we bear Fruit?
For that we need to send our roots far down below in Christ. Apostle Paul writes, ‘Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude’ (Col. 2:6-7).
We send our roots deeper into Christ by increasing our times of intimacy with him evidenced through prayer and Bible meditation this new year – thanks to our ever-growing love for him.
Recently, I discovered that the Bible can be divided into ten parts: Genesis through Deuteronomy are the Law Books. From Joshua till 2 Kings are the pre-exilic History books of the Bible. From 2 Chronicles to Esther are the post-exilic History Books of the Bible. From Job till Song of Songs are the Poetry Books of the Bible. From Isaiah to Daniel are the major prophetic books of the Bible. From Hosea to Malachi are the minor prophetic books of the Bible. From Matthew to Luke are the Gospels – we know that. The book of Acts is the lone New Testament History book. From Romans to Jude, constitute the Letters or Epistles. And the book of Revelation is the lone Prophetic book of the Bible. Why not try and read one chapter each from each of these 10 different sections of the Bible? This way you Bible meditation time will have a 10-fold flavour and boredom will be blown away! We must read from every section of the Bible regularly because “ALL” Scripture is God-breathed and is useful (2 Tim. 3:16).
So, have a blessed New Year of Favour-Proclamation and Fruit-Bearing!
(This article was published in Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine edition of January 2022. Duke, the author of this article, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more about this reader-supported Indian ministry at www.dukev.org)
Virat Kohli was unceremoniously sacked from his position of ODI Captain of India and his position was given to Rohit Sharma in Dec 2021. Earlier on, he himself gave up his role as the captain of the Indian T20 team. The reason for his demotion was not hard to find. While he had one of the best ever win-loss percentages in ODIs among modern captains (over 70 percent), most of those wins came in bilateral series. In multi-team tournaments, like the ICC World Cups, India could not win the Cup when Kohli captained. In short, Kohli could not lead his team to wins in important games. ‘Chasemaster’ and Captain Kohli became ‘choker’ and the-cause-of-pain Kohli when he scored 5 off 9 when India chased 339 for a win in the Champions Trophy final versus Pakistan in 2017. That’s not all. He made 1 off 6 when India chased 240 for a place in the World Cup ODI Final 2019 versus New Zealand. We are not done yet. He made 13 off 29 balls in the crucial second innings in the World Test Championships Final 2021 after India and New Zealand scored almost equally in the first innings. However his counterpart Kane Williamson made 52 runs to take his team, New Zealand to the Test World Cup win. Kohli made underwhelming 9 off 17 when his team depended on him to reach a match-winning first innings score in the crucial T20 Super 12 game versus New Zealand in the World Cup T20 2021. So, Kohli has had a sub-20 score in four crucial innings for India as a Limited Overs Captain (a far cry from his average as a ODI Captain which is nearly 73 runs per innings). This analysis tells the story clearly: when the game gets big, Kohli as Captain underperforms as a batsmen very badly. When his team needs him the most, that is when Kohli would get out early. Hence this unceremonious sacking and handing over of mantle to Rohit Sharma, an accomplished captain who is known to take the team he captains to big tournament wins (He has led Mumbai Indians to five IPL Titles already while Kohli has never led his team RCB even to a single title win).
Kohli reminds me of Samson of the Bible. While Samson was so keen to keep ritualistic laws as a Nazirite he was not not that keen to keep far more important laws which concerned his personal holiness. He would often talk about not having his hair cut (see Num. 6:1-5 and Jud. 13:5) but he did not cut off his sexually immoral relationship with many women (a violatation of two of the 10 commandments given to all including the Nazirites – ‘You shall not commit adultery’ – Ex. 20:14; ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife’ – Ex. 20:17). What was easy to do – ritualistic purity part – Samson did with great consistency till one point. What was even more important – moral holiness is, see Micah 6:7-8 – Samson blew it. Are we like Samson? Empowered by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16), let us please God in key matters such as sexual purity (I Cor. 6:18b). When we sin sexually we directly oppose God’s clearly expressed will (I Thess. 4:3) which is one the same important level as his will to welcome everyone for salvation (3 Peter 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). When we live stubbornly in sexual sin we will go to hell (Rev. 21:7-8). But that is not God’s desire for us! God’s desire is that we overcome sin when sin’s allurments come knocking!
(Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this article is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission, a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Or WhatsApp him via 91-8886040605. )
On thanksgiving day 2021, I want to thank God for the fifteen different houses I have been privileged to stay in during two decades of my married life (2021).
The house we stayed in Saket, New Delhi, in 2001 – we just had one room in a house of three bedrooms. From there Evan and I organized tracts outreach to one of Delhi’s earliest malls, the Ansal Plaza. I wrote the first version of the Bubbly tract sitting in that room using Evan’s desktop. Young people we pastored would home and once we took them to Nirula’s. The fruit market outside our home had the best fruits from all over India.
From there we moved to another house in Lado Sarai behind the Central Bank of India in Delhi. It was a village which had a lot of kids who benefited from the Compassion International project which Evan managed then. As we waded through that village, the kids would come running behind Evan crying out ‘ma’am, ma’am’! We got our first set of furniture there – from a sale with furniture used by international diplomats who had left India. We still use a tall stool which I got for Rs.800/- in that sale!
We moved to our third house in New Delhi – it was not even one year since we had gotten married! This first-floor house was so close to the electric lines above, that I could have reached out and touched them, if I wanted to! It was a house where I realized my call was not to be a pastor in the long run, but to be an evangelist or a travelling Bible Teacher! So, I say bye to my pastor role, from here.
By 2002 July we were in house no. 4 . We stayed in one-room in Kannamoola, Trivandrum. Our things were shipped from Delhi by Agarwal Packers in ‘Hunter Douglas’ boxes. We were now missionaries with a leading missionary organization.
The next house was searched out for us by Uncle Sarasam who lives in Trivandrum. A first floor house in the Museum Bains Compound with the approach road that gave an impression we were climbing a hill. We could hear the roar of the lions from the nearby Zoo. We went to the nearby park and gave out xeroxed versions of the Bubbly tract. We drove in Uncle Arthur’s Vespa to nearby Shengamugham Beach. And had lots of coffee in the Indian Coffee House which almost kissed the breath-taking beach there. I wrote a lot in this house including articles that became lead articles of the famous Blessing magazine. Our son Dale was born when we were here.
House number 6 we lived in for rent was in Jabalpur. I lost my cool when the owner’s dog was about to bite our little son, Dale. That meant we had to shift our home again. It was back to packing yet again!
House number 7 overlooked a church in Jabalpur. It was a first-floor house with a nice terrace. Evan and I with little Dale in tow were in cross-roads then. We knew we could not be travelling missionaries with an organization. We had to be on our own to execute what was God’s unique call for us – to grab the google Generation from going to Gehenna (the word Jesus used for Hell)!
House number 8 we lived in was in the city of Hyderabad. There was no water in this house! When Dale’s backside had to be washed, there wasn’t a drop of water in the rest room! This situation pushed us move to House number 9. This house in Ashok Colony, Kapra region of Hyderabad became the first office of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. We stayed in this first-floor house exactly for 11 months. The first issue of The Days of Your Youth magazine was published from here. Our board member, Franklin, visited us here. We met our long-standing friend, Bro. Christopher here!
House number 9 Evan and I stayed in was near the A. S. Rao Nagar Railway reservation center in Hyderabad. Datasha was born here! The Daniels drove down to meet us here for the first time. I was invited to lead Bible Studies in their centrally located home. I started off with the Bible book summary of the book of Amos. Seven years later we would complete doing short Bible Studies summarizing every book of the Bible. We had an open air on-terrace meeting in this house on Datasha’s first birthday. We shared the story of her miracle birth to neighbors who came. This was just days after I quit my HSBC job not able to cope with both a secular job which I had picked up to support the new ministry I started and the fulltime ministry with our new organization. A dear annan (elder brother) walked into this house and left us an offering the size of which left us stunned. A secular college classmate of mine sent some offering – the highest monthly support we received then – and said he could do that every month! God prepared us for faith-living in this house!
We invited neighbors and told them about the miracle story of Datasha’s birth wrapped with the Gospel in our AS Rao Nagar home in Hyderabad on 12 Nov 2008.
As Dale would often doze off when he returned home in the School bus – the ride took him 45 minutes – we thought it was a good idea to move near his school, St. Andrews, 8 kms away towards the center of the city. We got a house near the Subhash Nagar’s Kallu compound (Arrack shop). A techie was in our home and Evan spend hours counselling her and praying with her. The rains lashed continuously that year – it was the 2009, the year Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr. YS Rajashekar Reddy died in a helicopter crash. And as the waters threatened to enter the living room of this house – the tenth house we lived in post our marriage – we knew we had to move, even though we had lived there only for two months. So we moved. We moved to a house closer to the main road – the Military Dairy Farm Road in Hyderabad. This house was just behind the Indian Oil Petrol bunk. This house was put for sale, but the owner was kind to allow us to stay there till it got sold. We ended up staying there from 2009 till 2015 – the longest stretch we have stayed in any home so far. Both Dale and Datasha received Jesus as their Savior in our family prayers as Evan and I led them into sinner’s prayer following the explanation of what salvation meant. I graduated with a Doctor of Ministry degree from here in 2014.
In this house – house number 11 – God blessed us. He gave us a confidence to pay rent that touched five figures for the first time. And we did that before the 6th of the month. We never missed this deadline and all our house-owner’s loved this about us. This house was a triplex house – three floors. It had four bed-rooms. God filled this house with Google Genners. As I led Bible studies, people would even sit on the steps leading up to the second floor and hungrily lap up the Word of God served without compromise. We would pray for healing. Couples without children received babies. The Fountain of Tears Against Mountain Of Fears event started off here as our neighbor, Sister Sandhya, encouraged us to start it. The month-end midnight prayer where a small group of corporates entered the new month in God’s presence was begun here. Evan and I travelled to Singapore for ministry from here. The already-paid-for i10 car came to our parking lot in 2011 and the gifted-to-us Yellow Vespa came in 20212. Joel Jaideep would faithfully come and teach me to drive the Car. Sister Arlene Stubbs, our local church’s Senior pastor visited us when we were in this house and our kids recited Bible verses to her!
Finally this house (number 11) got sold and we had to move to house number 12. This house was just across the road in Ved Vihar – a colony of five hundred flats run by Army Professionals. Our owner Vishal was an absolute gem. He would forget to increase our rent and pay promptly for all the repairs we would do in the flat. He had stocked his house with wardrobes and interiors like we never had in any house we had lived until that point. The Bible Studies continued. The Fasting prayers continued. My travels to India and beyond continued. The tracts outreaches to different locations of Hyderabad continued. We would give Bibles and tracts to those who were willing to receive them. Sunny Karumanchi our video volunteer who works in the Corporate world became associated with our ministry here. We would shoot short videos on hot topics right here and elsewhere. God blessed our home with items from the famous Swedish store that opened an outlet in our city – Ikea.
Arul Johnson and his dad attend the Fountain Prayer in Ved Vihar home!
Evan leads in the online Fountain prayer in Ved Vihar
And then the pandemic of 2020 hit. We continued the work of God online from there. When we thought we would live here for a long, long time and do God’s Work, God ensured we moved from there. We moved to house number 13 in Gundlapochampally Village in the outskirts of Hyderabad. Our grandmother, Miss Edith Mary, the person God used to conduct our wedding lived with us there in a home which was like a Spanish villa. One of our neighbors from the next street saw the WhatsApp status on Evan’s phone and asked her, “Do you pray for people?” Evan replied in the affirmative. Then she said, “Can you please come and pray for my daughter?” We were overjoyed!
Our grandmother returned to her village for a visit and the Lord decided to take her to be with him. The date was May 16, 2021. This event would be a trigger for us to make a big decision. We decided to move out of Hyderabad where we served Jesus among the Google Generation for over 16 long years. We decided to move our base to Chennai in what was a largely online world where one stayed hardly mattered as long as there was good internet. What was more we got to see our parents – both retired missionaries – who stayed in nearby Vellore more often.
House number 14 where we stayed was in Velachery, Chennai. We have memories of going to the terrace and praying under the massive tree that covered that house! We gave the Bubbly and Dhoni Gospel tracts to small groups of people who walked into the Pheonix Mall in Velachery. We drove to Vellore and visited our parents when we got the opportunity. We sold off our AP-registered i10 and Vespa from here. It was an emotional moment. As this house also got sold, we had to move again.
And I write these lines Evan and I have moved to house number 15 in the span twenty years of marriage. We feel blessed to stay close to a compact, cool flat close to the School that Datasha goes to. We are blessed to stay here. Dale leaves home to join St. Stephen’s New Delhi from here.
We thank you Lord. We thank you for the nice owners you sent along the way! We thank you for the kind neighbors you surrounded us with!
On September 10, the World Suicide Prevention Day is observed. We live in a world where we meet a lot of people who show suicidal tendencies. And we also meet a lot of people who are into gaming addiction. What I present below is one way we can bring the good news to those who show suicidal tendencies or those who are gaming addicted:
Blue Whale. We are not talking about the big fish in the sea. The “Blue Whale,” referred to in this piece, is an online game that ultimately dares its players to act out a death-wish – their own! This smartphone game pushes the users of this game to carve an outline of a Blue Whale on their skin and eventually drives them into suicide. That’s one reason this game got the name “whale” – a fish with suicidal tendencies that is known at times to deliberately swim towards beaches only to die. If a player refuses to obey the “dare” for a dangerous task, threats such as, “We will have your parents killed…” rapidly follows. Yes people – including children and teens – World-over are either talking about the Blue Whale challenge or playing it.
The Blue Whale is ultimately indicative of a “true tale” – certain truths about Life – life about living with capital L. Only a person deeply disillusioned with life would take the lead from games such as this and eventually decide to end it. But the Bible, God’s Word in human words, presents Satan as the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. It is quite possible that Satan uses online games such as the Blue Whale, get unsuspecting folks to fall-in-line with his plan of destruction. In the Bible, we read of a demon-influenced man ‘cutting himself with stones’ – attempting suicide (Mark 5:5). Satan does not just sow inside of us thoughts of suicide. The Bible teaches that His primary goal is to lead us towards fleeting-pleasure offering sin – something that separates us from God and robs us of all lasting joy. “Joy” leaving our lives, when “Sin” enters is not just a fact found in the Bible (Lamentations 5:15; Psalm 51:12) but an relatable experience in our day-to-day lives.
No, we do not read of anyone in the Bible narrative playing the Blue Whale game. But we do read of some folk who ended up committing suicide. The circumstances in which they committed suicide gives us key-perspectives about why people think of taking their own life. Abimelech (See Judges 9:54 in the Bible) did not want to be killed by a woman, and so he asked a young man to kill him instead. We see here PRIDE (the first ever sin of the universe, according to the Bible) cannot give us purpose and meaning in life. But, tragically can be instrumental in the finishing of our life. King Saul feared torture by enemy forces as a prisoner of war and he decided to fall onto his sword while on a battle field to finish his life (See I Samuel 31:4 in the Bible). In his case, PANIC (the result of sin according to the Bible), robbed him of his desire to live and he chose to put a full-stop to his own life. Ahithophel, a professional Counsellor to the king, upon discovering that his advice was not followed, decided to hang till he died. He chose to hang, instead of a life of having to hang his head in shame. However awesome a PROFESSION is, it cannot bring that person’s meaning, purpose, lasting joy in life. The fifth person as per the records of the Bible, who committed suicide was Judas. The hole in his heart became bigger after receiving a PAY for leading an arresting party to the place the only God-in-flesh Jesus often met with his disciples. We have talked about a number of Ps in the above paragraph in connection with suicide. However there is another P who enables us to overcome suicidal tendencies. That is the Prince of Peace.
When he knew for sure the prisoners entrusted by the Government under his care – including the preachers of Jesus, namely, Paul and Silas – has escaped the prison he was incharge of, following a massive earthquake, this jailor we read about in the Bible, drew his sword and was about to end his life (Acts 16:25-27). That’s when Paul shouted, ‘Do not harm yourself’ and introduced Jesus, the Prince of Peace to this Jailor who immediately abandoned his suicide plans (Acts 16:28-31). When Jesus really comes into your life every thought of suicide will fly away! And life will become meaningful! Instead of choosing the suicide rope, choose hope that is only available in Christ Jesus!
This leads me to a well-known statement that Jesus made that is found recorded in the Bible: “I have come to give Life – Life to the full”(in John 10:10). This implies, apart from the “alone and apart from everyone” Jesus (Jesus said he was the ONLY WAY in John 14:6 of the Bible) no one can find that paramount peace, that supreme serenity, that maximum meaning, that Himalayan happiness. Apostle Paul, a Jesus-follower, wrote about the “purpose in each step” (I Corinthians 9:26, NLT, The Bible) that Jesus gave him, when he followed Jesus through the smooth and stormy phases of his life.
One of Jesus’ names in the Bible is this: “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15). He is also the maker of life – this the Bible teaches (John 1:3). Human Life was made “for” Jesus Christ, the Bible notes (Colossians 1:16-17). When we wade though “the book of life’s journey” with a living “for” Jesus, life will become meaningful and purposeful!
The same Jesus who said, “I have come to give you life,” also mentioned that he came to die as a ransom for the sins of the World. This, the Bible records (Mark 10:45). That was how he could offer us a meaningful life – through his cruel death on the Cross. When Jesus shed his precious, sinless blood for us, he opened the door for each one of us to escape from living an “empty” life on this earth, the Bible declares (I Peter 1:18).
Jesus rose from the Dead. Jesus promised to return again to judge the World. Those who firmly and finally reject Jesus, the name of the only person who qualifies to save humankind by the virtue of his absolute sinlessness, will live a life of “living” hell here and now and go to a “literal” hell. This the Bible, a book which has never gone wrong when it comes to predictions, predicts.
What should we do now? Turn from sin (Luke 13:1-5, The Bible). Come to Christ in faith (Matthew 11:28 & John 1:12, The Bible). Come now (2 Corinthians 6:2, The Bible).
(This article was published in Aim Magazine, Sept 2021 issue. Aim is published by Evangelical Fellowship of India, the umbrella organization for all major churches and Christian organisations in India. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
Do you call yourself ‘Christian’? Do you brand yourself as a Christian?
What does that word mean? To answer that question we must turn to the Bible – the book which used that word first. In the Bible, the word ‘Christian’ is used three times. When we study those three instances we get to see three characteristics that cannot be separated from any true ‘Christian’ – a biblical Christian.
Let’s race to passage number one: Paul stands before King Agrippa as a prisoner. His crime – preaching Jesus. Paul gives Agrippa a blow by blow account of his conversion experience: the ride on the road to Damascus… his passion to persecute followers of Jesus… the blinding light from heaven… the voice that said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!”…. his U-turn… his repentance…etc etc.
After having shared his terrific testimony Paul did not stop. He did not shut up. He went on. He got a touch personal with King Agrippa. He posed a personal question to him: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe!” You see, Paul was not just trying to save himself from further imprisonment by sharing his testimony – he wanted to save King Agrippa from going to hell too! After this abrupt and daring invasion of his private space by Paul, King Agrippa said, “In a short time, would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28). There you bump into the word we are trying to understand the meaning of – the word ‘Christian’. Ask King Agrippa what he meant when he used the word ‘Christian’. This would be his answer: “To be a Christian for me is to be someone like Paul – to be someone with a CONVERSION experience!”
Yup, the word Conversion and ‘Christian’ go together. A Biblical Christian cannot be a Christian without the conversion experience. Absolutely. Do you call yourself a ‘Christian’ without an experience of conversion?! If so – forgive me for being blunt – you simply are not a Christian. You are just pretending to be one! You don’t have to hire a horse and ride on the road to Damascus to make this experience your own. Right now, I invite you to kneel down by your bedside with a repentant heart and ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart and life. If you have done that, you too are converted! You too are a Christian!
Let’s talk about yet another time the Bible used the word ‘Christian’: The setting now is the city of Antioch. A new preacher is sent to this church from the church in Jerusalem – the headquarters. His name? Barnabas. What was his message? “Remain faithful to the Lord!” In other words, he was trying to help believers graduate from merely being a believer into a disciple. One believer he searched out and discipled was Paul. For one full year, Barnabas preached messages that typified what his name meant: encourager. He preached messages that encouraged wobbly believers to become solid disciples. Who could be called Jesus’ disciples? Those who remain faithful to Him – no matter what the cost is or how challenging the condition is. Such COMMITTED folks were nicknamed Christians by the folks in Antioch (Acts 11:26)!
Are you the sort that will desert Jesus at the slightest provocation – such as in times of a tantalizing temptation or perturbing persecution? Then you can’t be called a Christian according to the Bible. Christians, according to the Bible, are those who stay committed to Christ, even when the going gets tough!
Christian or a celebrating Christian?!
This aspect of being a Christian was so important that another Bible writer also talks about it. Yes, Peter also brought together these two words: commitment and Christian. He did by writing his first letter thus: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name!” (I Pet 4:15, 16). If you have carefully read those two verses you will grasp that Peter’s understanding of the word, ‘Christian’, goes one step further than that of Luke – the author of the book of Acts, the source of our first two references for word, ‘Christian’, in the Bible. Here is how: a Christian is someone who CELEBRATES God even while suffering because he stays stubbornly COMMITTED to Christ! Yes – a Biblical Christian is someone who glorifies God even when the going gets rough and tough! Are you that sort of Christian? Are you a complaining Christian or a celebrating Christian?!
Stop. Think. Introspect. Look inwards. Are you a Christian merely by name? I pray that after you have read this piece, your understanding of the word ‘Christian’ is never the same! Would you surrender your life to Christ so that He will change you into a Biblical Christian? Would you do that, right now?!
(This article was published in the Aim Magazine – October 2021 edition. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
In a month when the world celebrates Friendship Day, it may be a good idea to think about handling peer pressure.
Peer pressure. Each day it jabs at you as you rub shoulders with your pals at High School. Time and again it nudges you as you walk hands on shoulder with your buddies at College. Repeatedly it bumps into you as you jostle with the people at your work-spot. There are friends in your world who pressure you, prod you to do things that you pretty well know won’t please the Lord. “A sip of Rum won’t rub away your saintliness,” your associate remarks in an attempt to make you somehow join him in drinking. “What’s your opinion about him? Come on speak up!” your mates coax you to join their round table conference where nothing but backbiting and gossip are going on. “You really haven’t lived if you haven’t yet made a visit to this salacious site,” your Internet-insane chum says cajoling you to copy his porn-site visiting habit. One of the reasons why urban 13-17-year-olds have sex is because their “friends have it” (according to a survey published in Outlook magazine). Well, don’t tell me that you haven’t faced peer pressure in your life and existence. You certainly have. And absolutely will. Hey listen – Jesus actually predicted that each of his followers would encounter peer pressure! He did not preach, “If the world hates you…” Instead He preached, “When the world hates you…” (John 15:18). Did not our Lord say, “Everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved” (Math 10:22)? Can we not say that on the basis of this verse handling peer pressure (among other sorts of pressures) is a matter that is so important it concerns our eternal salvation?
A DIRECT COMMAND
Did you know that there is a direct command in the Bible that we must not bow to peer pressure? The Bible does not mince words when it says, “Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are in the witness stand, do not be swayed by the opinion of the majority” (Ex. 23:2). Caleb took those words from the Law of Moses pretty seriously it seems. Otherwise, these daring words would not have flowed from his mouth when he stood in the witness-stand with the entire nation of Israel watching him, following his crew’s return from scouting the land of Canaan: “Let’s go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it!” This was in direct contradiction to the report given by the rest of the members of the spy crew. They all were unanimous in saying, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that is what we looked like to them!” (Num. 13:30-33). But Caleb refused to bow to the sheer peer pressure that would have been mounting on him to alter his report so that it too would sound negative like his colleagues’! And mind you Caleb was forty years old when this event happened – an extremely youthful age when you take into consideration that people lived for many hundreds of years in those times (Num. 14:6). Oh, for more Calebs in this crooked and depraved generation of young people! Calebs who will take God’s command that we must not follow the crowd in doing wrong, come what may!
What do we do when our buddies burden us to do things that our Master won’t have us do? Clueless? Got no answers? Well in God’s Word we certainly have some clues and answers to this perennial problem of youth. Want to hear them?
Making Jesus as our best pal ever is the best defence against the lures of Peer Pressure! Wondering how? Take a good look at Peter and you get to know. See Peter closely and this lesson will sink into your system. There were times when Peter and Jesus were close and cozy. Peter knew that it was a foregone conclusion that Jesus was going to be forced to carry the cross and he would finally be crucified on it. So in his heart he too decided that he would “deny himself and take up his cross” and follow His Master just as His Master taught them to (Mk. 8:34). That was why – I suppose – he flatly said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you!” when Jesus predicted that one of the twelve disciples would betray him (Luke 22:33). He felt that close and committed to Jesus. But then as we pretty well know Peter ended up denying Jesus. Three times out. What went wrong? Simple. Mathew records that when Peter was following Jesus he was following him from “far behind” after his arrest (Matt. 26:58). Mathew – I believe meant more than a geographical distance. He meant there was a spiritual distance between Jesus and Peter. He was drifting away from a warm and wonderful relationship with his Master. Just 11 verses and a short while later, Peter ended up denying Jesus (Matt. 26:69-75). This was the message that crystallized in my heart as I kept reading Matthew 26:58-75: “If you follow Jesus from a distance you would soon end up doing things that would displease him.” If only Peter had maintained his closeness with his Master he would have withstood the pressure put on him as he sat in the courtyard with those who were not clearly in sympathy with Jesus. From the way they eyed him suspiciously Peter knew he would be in trouble if he admitted that he was indeed Jesus’ most outspoken disciple. Peter was hanging out with a crowd hostile to Jesus without being close to Jesus. A potentially deadly combination that ultimately bust Peter’s spiritual fuse and rocked his commitment to Christ. The result was predictable: he ended up swearing that he did not know the Man who in his very first recorded sentence to Peter in Mathew’s Gospel told Peter to make him known (“Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!” – Mathew 4:19).
Have you made Jesus your best friend as yet? Well if there is anyone who can be called “a Friend who sticks closer than a brother,” it’s got to be Jesus (Prov. 18:24). Only sin will increase the distance between Him and you (Isa. 59:2). And if you ask Him to forgive your sins and stick close to him, the pressure from your pals to do things that displease Him will dwindle away, I bet. How do we get close to Jesus? By spending lots of time with him. By lapping up His Word hungrily. By taking the deliberate time-off from our busy worlds and standing still in his presence to have heart-to-heart talks with Him. If we inculcate this habit of constantly enjoying a close walk with our Maker, there will come a point in our life when we automatically say what the Psalmist said, “One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin!” (Psa. 84:10, MSG). Yes, it is living in his presence day in and day out that defuses the pressure on us to dwell in the “tents of the wicked” (Psa 84:10, KJV).
In summary, if you fall in love with Jesus chances are that you will not fall in line with the lousy ways of your filthy friends!
In order to escape the deadly effects peer pressure can have on our lives there are some friendships (actually fellowships) we must break. That is right – destroy outrightly! But I can almost hear you arguing, “But even Jesus was called as a ‘friend of sinners!’ – wasn’t he? ” Of course, he was! But his closest pals were never the cheating tax-collectors and the captivating prostitutes but Peter, James and John – three men who left their all to follow Him and later would not hesitate to die for Him! Jesus tried to lift the sinners to His level in the times He spent with them – He never stooped to their level. His goal of mixing with them freely was to evangelize them and not let his morals be eroded by them! Also, we must note that He reserved his thick friendship only for His disciples. In fact, he met them “often” in an olive grove – something He did not do with his “sinner” friends (John 18:2). Following the model of Jesus we can have a circumspect friendship with our unbeliever pals without having close fellowship (while reserving that with friends who closely walk with the Lord)! He by His personal example and model teaches us to say “No” to friends who call us for “ungodliness” thereby helping us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11,12).
Ask Rehoboam why he brushed aside the sensible advice to ease the great pressure his father Solomon put on the people of Israel. He would talk about another kind of pressure – peer pressure. His youthful buddies boosted his ego and tutored him to reply to a delegation that had come to meet him in this harsh manner: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist – if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I’ll be like! Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions!” (I Kings 12:1-14). This peer-pressure-inspired rude reply eventually led the split of Israel into two Kingdoms – we can say that.
Oh, how many times foul friends have lured many a Christ-following youth to sin? Countless times. What is the solution? It is to willfully sever yourself from friends who seduce you forget your devotion to Christ. That is what Paul has taught us to do. Paul warned that the Corinthian believers must steer clear of some folk who argued that one could just feast and get drunk – enjoy life to the full – the reason being that “tomorrow we die” (and there was no resurrection from the dead and judgement before God to panic about – I Cor. 15:32). He plainly wrote, “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t even know God” (I Cor. 15:33-34). One version of the Bible renders that passage this way: “Don’t let yourself be poisoned by this anti-resurrection loose talk.” What Paul was teaching the Corinthians was in line with a present-day proverb that goes, “If you sleep with dogs you will get fleas!” Jesus would agree with Paul’s suggestion that we should cut ourselves from corrupting chums for he said, “Even if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…” (Matt. 5:29). What was Jesus getting at? It is probably this: “Your friend may be as dear to you as your eye. But cut your relationship with him if he causes you to sin against me!” (The imagery of “eyes” being compared to people is very much in the Bibles – See Dt. 32:10, Psa. 17:8 and Zech. 2:8). Your buddies may seem to you as the apple of your eyes. But it what they say is against what God says, you must steer clear of them because we are told to “guard” the Lord’s teachings which are to be the “apple of our eyes” (Prov. 7:2).
In short, one sure way of sending peer pressure packing is to pack off our persistently perverted pals!
When young people give in to peer pressure, they feel good for the moment. In fact, Jesus himself said, “If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own…” (John 15:19). But even some of the worldliest people will tell you that the warmth the world showers on you will be at best temporary. For example, famous American actress Marilyn Monroe once said, in an interview given at the fag end of her life: “Fame doesn’t fulfil you. It warms you a bit, BUT THAT WARMTH IS TEMPORARY!”
The story of the younger son – the prodigal son – which Jesus narrated is very familiar to us all. This son too was probably incited by his friends to somehow parcel away his portion of his Pop’s property. Armed with a lot of cash he threw parties (for who else, but his comrades). But when he was low on cash, and it is quite possible his so-called friends left him. One day he was feeding his pals. Pretty soon he was feeding on what was given to the pigs! Sad story, indeed! Had he had contemplated on some of the proverbs of Solomon, which he must have surely had access to as a Jewish youngster, he would not have wrecked his life. He must have read these stirring words in Proverbs that directly warned him of fair-weather friends. He had no time to chew and act upon these well known Proverbs: “My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!…Don’t go along with them, my child!…The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many ‘friends’ (meaning so-called friends who are not really friends)…Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them away…” (Prov. 1:10-15; 14:20; 19:4). In short he missed the repeated message of Proverbs: the very same friends who egg you on to commit a sin may not hesitate to throw an egg on your face when you suffer as a result of your sin!
Quite often we bump into characters in the Bible who were let down by their close friends. You cannot miss how hurt David was when you read this: “As for this friend of mine, he betrayed me; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as cream, but his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers!” (Psa. 55:20-21). Job (6:15-23) and Jeremiah (20:10) had similar experiences.
Go over these sob stories of those ditched by their bosom buddies at the time when they desperately needed them. Once you have done that – contemplated that – chances are that you will not be pressured by these very same people to let down “the Friend closer than a brother” – Jesus! Agree?
Apart from his family (seven of them) no one took seriously Noah’s preaching that there would be a flood seriously. I am sure there were quite a few to make jokes about this judgment-preacher (II Pet 2:5). Some probably told Noah, “Look at those short pants! Hey Noah, expecting a flood?” Sure these sort of jokes must have put pressure on Noah to quit. But he did not quit. He kept doing what God wanted him to do. Faithfully.
Nehemiah was busy rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. It was then that he heard this acidic remark from Tobiah: “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked on top of it!” (Neh 4:3). Would Nehemiah yield to this pressure that was put on him to quit doing what God called him to do? By no means. The wall rebuilding project was completed (Neh 6:15).
Like Noah and Nehemiah did, it is my prayer that you would withstand peer pressure to complete what God has called you to do and consequently enjoy the divine pleasure in your life.
Well, peer pressure can be handled perfectly well only if you will draft into your life these simple, Scriptural and pragmatic steps. You can count on it!
(This article by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj was published in the August 2021 edition of Aim Magazine published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India; Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Or WhatsApp +91-8886040605).