For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek"..........   [ Romans 1:16 ]
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(The Auspicious time)


The much awaited New Year came… and the excitement that built up to that day is almost forgotten.  Now we hardly remember the thrill we experienced when the clock struck 00:01 on the 01st of January this year.


We took ‘brave’ decisions or resolutions to start a new course of life in the New Year… probably a change of lifestyle, beliefs, attitudes, habits, etc.  Those ‘critical’ decisions may have been taken after months of thought, meticulous preparation and fervent prayers.. and vigorously pursued and practiced in the initial days of the new year.  As we have completed a few weeks thence, it will be worth reviewing the status of our New Year resolution.  A majority of us may have gone back to square one… or are very near to being there soon.  How many times previously have we taken decisions, sometimes the same ones… and how many more times do we need to repeat this resolution, before we finally succeed (if).


We all rush to tell ‘our’ testimonies on the last day of every year.. and it goes like…

  1. God was good

  2. God was merciful

  3. God was faithful, loving, ……………..God, God, God


I had problems, sorrows, difficulties, but…

  1. He led me by his hands

  2. He blessed me

  3. He shielded and guided me……………, He, He, He……


There is not one word about YOU and what you did for God.  All of us issue a merit and good conduct certificate for God and are satisfied that our obligation to God for that year is over.  All that we got to tell about ourselves is that we have been unfaithful, succumbed to ‘human failures’ and end the testimony by trying to fool ourselves (and God) that if another year is given… we will …??


This reminds me of my very dear friend who I knew from my childhood.  He was a very straight forward man with a strong conviction in whatever he did, helpful and had a great heart.  One thing though, I disliked.. he smoked.  This was a habit he picked up for fun in his school days, as early as he joined the Upper primary school.  Slowly, it became a requirement to be accepted among his peers and also formed part of his he-man status symbol (or so he thought when he compared himself to the Marlboro Cowboy, Hollywood Hero, Bollywood Superstar and Charismatic neighbour).  As years passed by and he reached his teens, it was a fashion statement.  Holding a filtered cigarette and blowing out through his nose and in circles gave an impression of being part of the rich, educated and modern upper-class society.  After he finished college, smoking was a habit.  Very soon… it was a part of his life… a daily routine and a part of him.


Several years later when he felt the evils and dangers of this habit, he decided it was time to quit.  After all, everything that kept him going viz. the peer pressure, fashion statement, he-man feeling, etc. no longer existed.  He was now mature enough to realize the harm already done but it was so much a part of him that it was near impossible to get rid of it.  Every night before going to bed he would think… “Smoking can cause cancer to several organs of the body, it stinks so much that it keeps friends away, it causes my skin to wrinkle at a very young age, my teeth and lips get blackened, my parents, relatives or community will not accept this behavior and I am cheating them, I am a sinner in God’s presence, it takes away a good part of my income…. And so on.  Before he slept… he would conclude that the smoking should stop.  Then he would look at his calendar and say.. today is the 6th of March and my birthday on June 8th, hardly 3 months away, would be a great day for me to remember that I had stopped smoking.   So I will put this evil habit to death on the same day as my birth.  Wow!.. what a date to remember!


3 months swiftly pass by and he would reach the 7th day of June, his last smoking day.  Every cigarette he pulled out of the pack… and every puff he took… he reminded himself that it was a countdown… and the new life was just a few hours away.    At 11:57pm he would take his last cigarette, say a word of prayer and before 11:59:59, he would throw the burning cigarette on the floor and crush it with his feet.  Then with a sign of relief he would say… “It’s over.  Thank you God for making this possible.  Help me stay put”.


Very next morning, there would be an air of achievement on his face… and he would tell everybody of his achieved goal.  As the minutes pass by, he would get the urge to search his pockets for a cigarette… but he would say… NO… never again.  With each passing hour… the urge would increase… but his response would also be louder… that the decision was final.  This was his first attempt to stop smoking and hence the hardest.  Every part of his body would ache… for that regular dose of nicotine… his hands would twitch for holding on to something he gracefully held all these years… his tongue reminded him of some bitter taste of not getting its share of the ‘tasty’ tar…. His lungs reminded him of its suffocation for missing the cloudy atmosphere… his pockets felt empty without the rectangular box feel in it…. the clear air around him made him feel out of the world… and his friends looked at him like a stranger!!  Some booed at him and asked … “Have you become a Pastor??”  He would have found pride in being called a “Villain” or a “Rowdy”… but definitely not a Pastor!!  The pressures were so great… that very often, he would get the urge the return to his old self.  His mind would come up with loads of justifications like….


  • “Stopping it all of a sudden is difficult and impractical.  Why not reduce the numbers gradually until one day it is very easy to give up?”

  • …”That Doctor I know smokes 4 cigarettes every day for the last 38 years but does not have any health issues till date…”.  The Doctor is educated and if does it, definitely there can’t be anything wrong in smoking limited number of cigarettes.

  • ’’..anyway we are all destined to die, then why not do it to my heart’s content without fear…  Let me live for now and leave all worries for tomorrow.”


. .. the reasoning went on and on.  There were so many of them… that it was more justified to continue smoking (with certain conditions being met)… at least for the time being.


The conflict would continue and the torment became hard to bear.  Slowly he would give up on the tough resistance… trying to justify with any one of the arguments in favour of continuing smoking.  It was just day 2… and he failed.  Miserably.  But his ego did not permit him to accept defeat.. so he said… only 4 cigarettes per day like that Doctor and I am safe.  At least I have achieved part of my commitment… which is great.  Moreover, I am going to reduce the numbers soon… and stop it.  Aha… he says, it is July now… and 11th September is my wedding anniversary.  What better day to stop smoking declare victory to my wife.  What better gift do I give my loving family… ??  So he ran back to the grocery, purchased a new pack of cigarettes… and got started.  After all it’s a matter of just a few months… and that’s a better day of this lifetime to remember.


Came September… and the eve of that much awaited day.  The countdown would begin…. And there would be a repeat of the same process that he went through on his birthday, from beginning to end.  Yes…  it again ended in failure.  This time, he had more compelling reasons to justify his fall… He had extreme tension at work and was thinking of resigning, his wife was going to undergo a major surgery and he was tense….  the mental pressure was sooooo much that smoking was the only way he could see to ease his worries and relax.  As usual, there was another reason for backup… Dec. 31 was round the corner and what better Muhoortam to stop!!!  This cycle of making resolutions and breaking them would go on and on…. As he could find valid excuses to keep his habits alive forever.


We are in the same league as this addict.  


Initially we start accepting ungodly behavior, styles, attitudes, etc. in a gradual but ascending degree of acceptance as a necessary part of our living on this earth.  Watching Reality shows becomes acceptable, wearing a ring on any one finger, having a facebook account, bunking Church meeting to study for the next day exam, spending the evenings with girl/boy friends and reaching home late at night, wearing those low-waist pants or factory torn Jeans or low neck blouses, following the rapper hairstyle, sitting and drawing or sleeping or sending text messages or chewing gum during the Worship meeting, …  and so on and on are acceptable to us.. We make our own list of things acceptable to God, which we justify, does not contradict the teaching of the Bible.  In due course, when these habits seem to have been accepted and followed by our other co-believers and no questions asked by our Elders, we move on to the next stage wherein these can be done proudly and in full public view.  Have you heard of any person feeling ashamed to change his/her dress in front of their spouse after 5 years of marriage??  Similarly, we come to a stage when there is no need of being ashamed of what we do, even with our co-brethren watching and we don’t feel awkward discussing these matters including in the Church compound.  Over time, all these habits become a part of us and we then start seeing things as worldly, keeping these acceptable habits & practices as a benchmark for holiness.


Every now and then we are reminded through God’s word that we have gone wrong somewhere and need to repent and mend our ways.  But like my addict friend, we find excuses… a new one every time.. and stick to the habit we dearly know as evil.  Time and again we take decisions and soon find ourselves … back to where we started.  We justify the failure with excuses such as “çoz we are human”… “many more muhoortham’s (auspicious occasions) are still available, OR ..”this is not such a big sin that I should be so worried of”, OR.. OR …


To all those of you who have realized that there is something in you that needs to change, something missing that you need to achieve or something unwanted in you that you need to discard… DO NOT wait for an auspicious occasion NOR postpone it for tomorrow.  Tomorrow never comes and we know not what lies ahead for us in the next second.  My Lord has not guaranteed even that one breath you took in… will come back.  On what guarantee do you want to postpone this major decision until the next muhoortham?  It may never come.


2 Corinthians 6:2

………….I tell you, NOW is the time of God's favor, NOW is the day of salvation.


The muhoortham is NOW.  If you have kept aside any decision for the next auspicious day… do it now as there is no better and guaranteed muhoortam; than NOW.


God Bless.

  StanLee     10 Jan 2012