Categories
god love

We are not in control of our lives, but there is One who is

We are not in control of our lives.

That’s a truth that will drive nearly everyone out there crazy. But this crazy is good because it defies the deadly systems of this world. This is the crazy of surrendering to the peace that trusting the One who is in control of our lives gives.

There isn’t a single plan that we can make that will happen without God allowing it. But don’t think of it as control in the worldly sense. Rather it is guidance from the one who is not constrained by spacetime and thus already knows the outcome for every step we take.

God is the only one who can guide us in the right direction.

Often times, what seems good to us would not do us good in the long term – he knows that and does not allow it. And then what might not seem good to us at a first glance ends up bringing the greatest good in our lives in the long term.

Being all good and expressing himself as love in our lives, God works all things for our good when we love him and put him first.

There is no reason to wrestle for control of our incontrollable lives. An eternal and divinely powerful wisdom is already operating in us and making a way.

And Jesus, who is God incarnated, advocates for us in our shortcomings. He understands us, because he is exactly who we are meant to be. We just need to follow him as he leads the way.

Categories
god love

The life that cannot be quarantined or claimed

Being alive in this world is not the same as having life.

When we follow Jesus, we learn to challenge the mindset of this world at all times. And this time is no different from any other.

The only thing that can be quarantined in us is already dead. And that’s our bodies and worldly desires. It is only a matter of time until we are physically dead, but we know very well that there is only one life to live, and that life is in the spirit.

Since life is in the spirit, our relationship with the One who made us does not require attendance to a place. This should become progressively clear for believers now.

And while it is wonderful to have a good community and gather at a place, this community doesn’t need that place to exist.

I follow a community from another country that is mostly online since 2014. I have only interacted with one of them twice, yet their preaching has been the best support system I’ve ever had.

And then there is the apostle Paul, who often wrote letters filled with joy from dungeons, chained, starved, ill, lonely.

Because his life is in the spirit, Paul’s joy is not circumstantial. And neither should our joy be dependant on our circumstances.

God’s love is the constant that fills our spirit with peace and joy.

Whether Paul is free to roam around or a prisoner in chains, he experiences the same life and the eternal joy that comes with it. The joy of God’s love when we live with him in our spirit.

Don’t be fooled, the darkness of this world rules just as much when we are having the “time of our lives.”

Times of struggle really are the perfect opportunity to draw us closer to the One who loves us unconditionally, because his power is perfected in our weakness.

It is God’s love that guides us to navigate this darkness and rescues us when he makes his home in our spirit.

We have his assurance that our suffering is going to pass along with the world when we believe in the One he sent to save us. And we live with confident hope while he grooms us for eternity.

Categories
god love

Pray and do your best

When I was an atheist, my mother would say things like “I’ll pray for God to help you write a good exam” and that was enough to upset me. I’d then ask her back “Will God write it for me?”

Yes, I was the typical insufferable atheist. I always thought of myself as wiser and intellectually superior to others who believed in God. I even thought I was good and that I would have a good life if it weren’t for all the others around me who were so bad.

It took a lot of being crushed in life to humble me down and make me realize I wasn’t good. And when I actually needed help and support, this world provided it to some extent, but the effect was very short lived. Until I reached the point of no return.

I was doing therapy at the time and I remember my psychologist asking me if I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to live without psychological help. And, yes, I was convinced that was the case. I was emotionally crippled without having a mental illness, depression, anxiety — nothing that warranted a diagnostic. I just felt the weight of this loveless world.

I bring this up because, nowadays, I understand why people get angry at the idea of prayer as a means to cope with difficult situations. Although they are too arrogant to see it, they are coming from the same place of hopelessness where I was most of my life. And my arrogance peaked as I reached rock bottom.

That said, when God calls us, he doesn’t expect us to pray and then sit around waiting for his deliverance. Everything good in our lives comes from God, yet we need to do what we can. There is a significant difference between hope and omission.

Only religious people will call for prayer and leave it at that when there are ways to offer pragmatic help along with prayer.

There is rarely any situation in this world when all we can do is pray. Normally, the Creator of the Universe also gives us the understanding of when and how to offer a hand to others in need.

As we share God’s divinity, his love in us keeps us away from these worldly extremes. We can neither behave as insufferably arrogant atheists nor as omissive religious people. Wherever these behaviours operate, a relationship with God does not exist.

Let’s remember it is God’s love that infuses balance into our lives, a balance this world knows nothing about. Armed with his love, we can pray and take action. We just need to let him guide us.

Categories
god love

When silence is the wise answer

I had a few moments in the past year when silence was the best answer to questions or comments that I found inappropriate. I also learned polite ways to delay answering questions as a strategy not to answer them at all. It takes skill, and courage too.

In our times, there is a generalized perception that we should address what people say at all times to express ourselves and be assertive about our values. There is little to no respect for our freedom to keep certain things to ourselves and share only with whom we choose to, in our own time.

And that is not only evil, but also a system to keep us at the mercy of other people’s unwelcome opinions and judgment.

Of course we don’t want to be omissive either. But living with the confidence that the Lord is the one in control helps us refrain from the obsessive-compulsive drive of this world to have a say in everything.

There is one particular situation when our silence is always more valuable than our words. It’s when what we have to say is not meant to build up and encourage.

It takes courage to choose not to speak and say what we shouldn’t say. If what we hear hurts us, let it be. Jesus teaches us that it is best to be hurt than to hurt. How wonderful is it that our faith encourages us to do what’s wise, and what gives us peace!

With God’s help, we can defeat the urge to answer questions or comments that we didn’t welcome in the first place. Only He can give us the courage to listen and act by not acting, allowing Him to do His work in ourselves as well as in others.

Categories
forgiveness god

We can only repent when God forgives us

Genuine repentance, sincere and fruitful, produces change of mind, attitude and posture. But we are only capable of repentance when God forgives us.

God’s forgiveness is what produces repentance.

The blessing of repentance comes from God. He crushes us, provoking our heart. He knows us, he wants us, and he forgave us through Jesus across time and space.

Yet we are creatures of spacetime and, every time we sin, we need his eternal forgiveness to provoke our repentance.

Repentance is always preceded by divine forgiveness. We have to be crushed by God’s sovereign forgiveness that turns us inside out to surrender. As we surrender, we are transformed.

Our spirit recognizes a sovereignty that comes before any human conclusion. So even those who don’t genuinely believe in God experience repentance. Repentance is God’s power at play.

When we repent, we know that God has forgiven us.

Categories
god love

We are not alone

We all have tasted loneliness at some point in our lives.

It isn’t simply about not having company, but about having quality company that does us good. And that is not easy to find.

But the good news is, we are far from being alone. We are meant to be. And this loneliness that clouds our judgment and keeps us from seeing with the eyes of faith can be defeated.

So how do we defeat it? Well, the answer is: we don’t. It is the One who made us with unconditional love who defeats it. But he can only defeat our loneliness when we humbly accept his love.

Our lives are transformed when we become conscious of this love and gain the confidence, through faith, that we are not alone.

When we follow his ways, there’s no reason to feel lonely, because he gives us every opportunity to be with others who reflect his love.

Yet if we still feel lonely at times, we just have to call his name and he will be there through the people he brings into our lives.

Categories
god love

Singing in the name of love

I hold music dearly to my heart. There was always a soundtrack to the most meaningful moments in my life, and of course the type of music I listened to would often reflect the state of mind I was in.

Take for instance my Marilyn Manson phase. I am sure you can imagine what I looked like, dressed like and thought like. Then came a Nine Inch Nails phase. And I will give it to Trent Reznor, his music truly is beautiful. But it is also full of darkness, despair, hopelessness.

Only one band made it through the years in spite of my various degrees of darkness along the course of my atheism. That band was, and is, U2.

After being an atheist for 15 years, and a U2 fan for 20 years, I didn’t quite realize what their songs were really about. Now counting 25 years as a fan, and 5 transformative years since God called me out of my darkness, I can tell that the depth and breadth of these guys’ faith is written all over their music.

How could this band that was always there, always around, be singing about love, the higher love without me ever getting it? Simple: I never believed in God and thus his message was concealed from me and incomprehensible, as obvious as it was.

U2 is the perfect example of how it takes God calling us for us to listen and understand his message. Their songs all have this air of mystery, but for anyone who knows the Word and listens closely, the meaning becomes as clear as day.

Many well-known U2 songs have passed as poetic work, but they’re way more than that. Where the streets have no name is a reference to heaven. In the name of love is a reference to Jesus. Who is God. Who is love.

It would not be an exaggeration to call these songs as U2’s psalms to God. Listen closely and your spirit will be touched.

Categories
god love

A relationship like no other

Every time I find myself in a situation where someone is trying to understand what I believe in, I realize how tricky it is to explain it with just words.

When we are called, we know who called us and we develop a foundational relationship with him. But there is no name for it, because this relationship isn’t a religious one or a secular one or a pagan one.

It’s a love relationship with the one who made us, who also happens to be the One who made everything in the universe and who came to the world he created to show what being his offspring looks like when we do his will.

There’s no name or even explanation in this world that could possibly do justice to such a transcendental relationship. And this is the point I want to make. Cause often times, we create road blocks for others to walk with us by accepting a religious label as a way to define who we are.

Being simply a follower living under God’s grace is also what’s helped me have inspiring conversations with others along the way who are seeking God, but don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing.

I personally like to keep it simple by saying I follow Jesus. Over the years it’s become easier to manage the expected confusion that most people experience when they notice I seem religious, but in reality am far from it.

We are God’s children, not Catholics or Protestants. Even calling ourselves Christians has its challenges. It is wonderful to find a congregation where we feel built up by our family of believers, but there’s no need to adhere to its label.

Categories
god love

Why our intentions can build and destroy at the same time

Acts of kindness have a genuine impact on the needy, but the intention is what will either build or destroy the people behind them. And that’s why it is important to know why.

God has called us to do his will with joy. If our intention is not out of love for one another, which is how God wants us to show our love for him, then there is no truth in it. This means that even when our acts of kindness build other people, they will do absolutely nothing good to us if the intention isn’t right.

There are a few common motivators for acts of kindness in the world, with pity, guilt and loneliness ranking high among them. But we’re not called to give because we feel bad for what others don’t have. And we are definitely not called to give as a way to boost our character.

We’re called, first and foremost, to love. Giving comes naturally when we love one another. And when we give with joy, out of love, we build each other. Only with God operating in us can we do what is genuinely good: his will.

Categories
god love

No one can take life from us

Suicide might not be an option for you, and it also isn’t for me. But it was an option on 13 Reasons Why, and it is an option in this fallen world for those of us who are crushed by loveless interactions and missing the life only God gives.

There are certain things that the vast majority of people don’t understand. One of them is the fact that some of us are extremely sensitive. Seeing the world for what it really is feels like a massive burden.

The reason why I am grateful for 13 Reasons Why is the fact it shows that burden. I remember when I was an atheist. Although not a school girl like Hannah, everyone got to me. I was so acutely aware of the world.

I was also deeply aware of myself and how my actions impacted others. And, contrary to what a lot of people like to believe, not everyone who feels this way has a mental illness or a low self-esteem. I didn’t.

At the time I used to go to psychologists and they were all puzzled too, because I had good self-esteem and no mental illness, anxiety or depression.

And the saddest part about this series is the response coming from viewers who judge Hannah. Yes, she was pointing the finger at others who hurt her, but it isn’t any better to point the finger at her for committing suicide.

She felt wronged the whole time and that was bound to crush her to death. It almost crushed me several years ago. And I am writing this because God’s love reached me just as it is reaching people like Hannah to lift that burden and save us from that deadly darkness where we can no longer see.

A God who is merciful with murderers who repent will also be merciful with a crushed human. If we think someone who couldn’t take this world anymore went to hell, I would be far more concerned about our merciless judgment.

None of us can know who goes where. Ever!

We are called to love one another, and we always can, because God’s love makes it possible. We are called to love all the Hannahs of this world and be willing to be the best that we can be for them and for all others around us.