Categories
love spirituality

Love is the only way

When I was an atheist, I nurtured a fondness and admiration for Jesus. Almost a reverence. I just didn’t believe that he was divine or that there was even such a thing as divine.

I remember a good friend of mine explaining to me that him being divine was the very reason why he was the way he was. Being an atheist and a well-read intellectual, I had a firm conviction that she was living an illusion that helped her find solace from the hardships of life. An illusion I associated with religion.

Since my conversion, my experience has radically changed. But it’s still obvious to me that many people talk about a Jesus, not the Jesus.

So next time you hear about Jesus, take your time and evaluate who they are talking about. When we seek to be of the same mind as the One who is unconditional love, people might not agree with us, but they will experience that love through us and feel a sense of peace.

But if we talk from a place of judgment, to exclude others and elevate ourselves, that’s coming from our own evil nature, not Jesus.

Jesus is a deeply personal experience that starts with a calling and becomes an entanglement with his Spirit. That’s how we share his divinity and are able to live through him, enjoying a transcendental freedom from the slavery of the evil systems of this world.

We already know about the love, mercy and forgiveness we received from the One who called us. So let us be expressions of his love for others who haven’t yet received his calling.

Categories
love recovery

We are not expected to be who we are not

A few months ago, I was at a home meeting with other believers whose company I always enjoy, because they are so full of love. And this young woman who was in distress kept talking in a gloomy way about how we need to nail ourselves to the cross with Christ.

Everyone in the room remained silent, which was very unusual. Normally each person shares encouraging words with an uplifting and hopeful tone, which is the very Spirit of the Good News.

Finally my friend’s husband spoke. He is that one believer that overflows with God’s light all the time. With a peaceful and loving tone, he said that God doesn’t expect us to be anyone but ourselves.

Friends, God does not expect us to be who we are not!

Yes, we know that not all things are good for us, yet we are allowed to do anything and it is up to us to be and live in accordance with the level of conscience that God has given us, not above it. That’s self-righteousness and it takes us in the direction of evil.

We are not called to bury ourselves alive. On the contrary, we are raised from the death of evil to enjoy life, the true life that the Spirit gives us as we rest in his peace filled with joy and hope in him.

The loving power who made us is transforming us and, while he does his mysterious work, we believe and rely on his grace to guide the way. He is not interested in sacrifices, but in spiritual worship.

Come as you are and seek him. His Spirit will make his home in you, so you can make your own home in the world under his grace.

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
love spirituality

Grace is an act of love that frees us from the slavery of merit

Being raised in the cause-and-effect systems of this world, where what we get is directly associated with what we put in, we struggle to accept grace. Indeed grace is not from this world.

When we know that we receive grace without deserving it, we experience a powerful humbling effect. And we are humbled further as we understand that there’s nothing we could possibly do to deserve it. Ever.

Living under God’s grace also means that the outcome of just about any situation in life will always contribute to our own good, as long as we love him. As a result, what we call good and bad times become completely relative.

God’s grace cannot be reconciled with the cause-and-effect ways of the world.

And it is the very self-righteousness of wanting people, including ourselves, to deserve what they get, or not get what they don’t deserve, that keeps believers from enjoying the freedom that God’s grace gives us.

As a believer, I know that struggles are particularly good at building me up, while the worldly good times I have add little to no growth to my spirit.

We can only transcend what seems to be an “incoherence” from a worldly perspective when we accept grace as the divine force that transforms us into who we are meant to be. And trust the ways of the one who made us.

Categories
love recovery

Loving one another doesn’t always mean walking with one another

When we become a home to the one who’s all good, all love and all light, we start experiencing everything through the lens of this transcendental reality.

And this can be tricky. It isn’t uncommon for believers to fall into the many traps set by their ego and become pathologically good, which is not good.

As a new believer, navigating the word and applying it to this world was quite a challenge. I was going above and beyond for people who hadn’t earned my devotion. I was there for people who had severe difficulty to recognize the toxic effects of their actions in my life. I was apologizing to people who couldn’t apologize to me. I was giving my all to people for whom no good was ever good enough.

I never realized that I was making sacrifices. And even when I did realize that, I still didn’t understand that we’re called to show mercy, not to make sacrifices.

We can love our best friends, people who hate us and the Ted Bundys of this world all in one shot because loving one another is not about merit. But we are called to love one another, not to befriend or marry our abusers.

When it comes to selecting our life partner or close friends, they must earn our company. Our love. Our willingness to go above and beyond for them. Forgive and stay with them. Nobody is perfect, but having the humility to admit one’s mistakes and repenting from them is essential.

It is a simple principle in place from the one who gave us our precious lives. We deal with what we can’t avoid. But otherwise we choose what’s good.

Categories
healing love

How you can put grief into perspective with love

Death ceases to have a pervasive grasp on us when we know exactly where we came from and the beautiful home we’re heading to. We just have to let love lead us there.

As contradictory as it seems, fear of death is the very cause of a lot of the self-destruction that many people inflict on themselves – and it rubs off on others around them too. Without the certainty of eternal life, this life becomes all about self-indulgence and, needless to say, that always leads to emptiness.

I have personally experienced the hurtful side effects of someone choosing the path of self-destruction while grieving. I tried to support this person that I was close to, only to realize – a little too late – that there was really no amount of support that could possibly help someone without a spiritual life. Someone who decided to treat himself and others as if their lives were meaningless.

I was traumatized by this experience, and I know there are a lot of relationships out there being shattered because of grief. It is traumatic to be around someone who chooses to bury themselves with the dead instead of choosing to live and love the ones who are alive. And who love them.

The separation from a loved one is painful, but we must remind ourselves that it is only temporary. And if we live our lives under God’s grace, we will not fall into the destructive darkness of grief. His love will strengthen us with the ability to hope, heal and love ourselves and others.

While we might miss the absence of a loved one, the gracious response to it should be an overwhelming joy for the fact that our loved one is with God.

This joy proves that we have a genuine relationship with God. On the other hand, its absence proves that we haven’t really accepted God as the master of our lives and still live deeply attached to the deadly systems of this world.

Everyday we are called to live our lives in spirit and truth by the one who conquered death and saved us from it. All we have to do is follow him.

Categories
healing love

God healed overnight what therapy couldn’t heal in years

When I was an atheist, two psychologists helped me navigate and cope with a series of life events that crushed me. But they never healed me.

To say that I was hanging by a thread would be an understatement. And although I have a lot of appreciation for deeply humane and loving psychologists like the ones who helped me, there’s only so much they can do.

I couldn’t imagine myself going one week without therapy. At that point I felt emotionally crippled. My life was a full-time burden.

That’s when I did the unimaginable. One night I surrendered and asked God for help. Being an atheist, I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a crushed, humble heart as I called him. And God listened.

God healed overnight what two different psychologists couldn’t heal in years.

For the first time in my life I knew that there was one who loved me just the way I always wanted to be loved. And his divine love set me free.

God’s love worked in me to forgive others who had been the root cause of a lot of emotional turmoil in my life. And he also taught me to forgive myself.

Without God’s love, I could never have healed.

It is his divine and eternal love in me that makes it possible to forgive everyone and the world everyday, regardless of merit. And heal.

Categories
love

Are you forgiving?

There are two fundamental things about forgiving others that most of us overlook:

1. Forgiving is not about merit
2. Forgiving is unilateral

So if a person has hurt us, we forgive her even if we don’t see any sign of repentance. We also don’t need that person to ask for our forgiveness, we just go ahead and give it.

When we forgive, we make a conscious decision to let go of that person without wishing for her punishment.

If there is mutual willingness to rebuild what was broken, with genuine love, we can invite her back into our lives.

The same way God has forgiven our sins without us meriting that, we forgive one another also without us meriting that.

Forgiving others “by default” is one of the wonderful fruits of God’s love in us.

With the beginning of a new calendar year, I invite us all to think about our ability to genuinely love and forgive others.

We must forgive everyone, including ourselves. 70 x 7 = always!

I pray for God to keep nurturing love and forgiveness in our lives going forward.

Categories
faith love

Focus on how you can do it right, not on how you are doing it wrong

One of the obstacles for people to live under God’s grace is our paranoid tendency to focus on what we are doing wrong and on ways to fix it ourselves.

Instead what God’s grace allows us to do is to focus on what we can do right.

Once you start focusing on your relationship with God and on loving your neighbour as yourself, which is how God wants us to love him, your choices in life will change.

However, this is the part where the great majority of people, religious and non religious alike, stumble. God’s grace doesn’t free us to be a ‘free run sinner’. It frees us from the weight of our guilt so we can be ‘born again’ and lead a different life.

We still do things wrong under God’s grace. But we are then blessed with repentance, forgiveness and the strength to persevere in wanting to be good regardless of our downfalls.