Categories
love

The freedom of Love

God is not forbidding us from doing things. On the contrary, he gives us the free will to make our own decisions.

Similarly in politics, a politician can be a follower of Jesus and yet give others the possibility of making decisions that are not aligned with his/her personal convictions.

I know a wonderful woman in politics who is exactly like this. I voted for her with my heart filled with hope and love.

It’s called free will. All else is judgment.

We have the freedom that God, who is Love, gives us. We aren’t called to advocate against each other’s freedom.

It is God’s love that is in control. Always.

We give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. And to God what is God’s.

Categories
forgiveness

The joy of forgiveness

How we talk about people who hurt us says a lot about whether or not we have a relationship with the One who made us.

I met a Christian man recently who has been divorced for four years and talks in a resentful and bitter way about his ex-wife. According with him, she had no right before God to divorce him.

It was hard to listen to him. His voice, no matter what I talked about, was full of judgment and condemnation.

What he is missing in his life is not his ex-wife, but the joy of forgiveness. This is a gift that we receive from God when we allow him to make his home in us.

He attends church every Sunday and tried to discredit my faith when I said I wasn’t religious.

Yet no regular attendance to a place or membership to a group will give any of us the divine ability to forgive everyone. It comes from God when we are humble and willing to receive it.

It is only when we forgive everyone, and genuinely love and wish them well, that we experience divine joy.

Once we have tasted it, we always come back for more.

When this joy overflows in our spirit, our voices become an encouragement for others who can’t forgive and, as a result, can’t find peace in their lives.

If you are struggling with bitterness and resentment, pray for the willingness to be filled with love and forgiveness.

And you will joyfully taste peace that exceeds all understanding.

Categories
love

Loving one another outside the box of religion

Living in the spirit is about putting Love first in our lives. It’s about being inclusive and merciful instead of judgmental.

After spending most of my life as an atheist, I have found Christian groups to display the least welcoming and most judgmental behavior I’ve experienced in life.

I have visited, joined and frequented a lot of different Christian groups and have found that they live in bubbles. It is difficult to make friends with them, because of how “concerned” they are about not living in the world and how much they avoid it.

I have found it quite difficult, as someone who breaths God’s grace everyday and who knows his love is not selective, to become close with Christians. Their tendency to single out people who do not correspond to their ways breaks my heart.

Yet God is love and he loves all of us. He calls and saves whoever he wants, however and whenever he wants.

When I experienced a conversion 7 years ago, I was alone and no one preached to me. God puts his word, which is the expression of his eternal love and almighty power, in people’s hearts however he wants. Including people who haven’t heard of Jesus.

The transformation that he operates in our lives is unique to each of us and entirely up to his will.

It is wonderful to read the word and experience the joy and peace that it gives as God reveals more and more of himself to us personally. However there is a lot of interference in this beautiful and powerful relationship coming from people in religion – even those from non-denominational groups.

Last year was decisive for me to move on from a number of such groups I had “trialed”.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

Matthew

If you have tried finding community in the “Christian world” and felt they were never going to let you in, don’t be discouraged. That’s likely not the place where God has called you to be.

Remember: God’s will is for us to love one another.

And there is a whole world out there where we can meet and, regardless of our differences, be inclusive as Jesus was. He is the incarnation of God’s perfect love and infinite mercy.

Categories
love

A fresh start with Love

On January 5th I celebrated 7 years since my conversion. It feels like I’ve lived hundreds of years, yet I feel so rejuvenated because everyday is a fresh start when Love is our master.

I’m taking the opportunity to share a bit of my story again today. I know it encourages believers and non-believers alike.

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
forgiveness

Mercy always triumphs over judgment

When we see others acting in ways that don’t align with our conscience in Christ, we are called to be merciful.

We were forgiven by a merciful God who carried our sins on the cross and set us free to live a spiritual life filled with his love.

The world might judge and condemn, but we live under the power of grace. We speak up for mercy, forgiveness and love for everyone being crushed by the destructive systems of this world.

We must not keep silent when others are being crushed. Indignation has its place as long as we don’t lose our minds and become hostile, giving way to expressions of evil.

When it is necessary to confront others to assert our values, we must do so with calm and loving words.

We should pray with a hopeful spirit and ask that the One who made us converts the perpetrators of hatred and the ones being affected by it into expressions of his love.

His mercy always triumphs over judgment.

And when we allow him to make his home in us, and seek him first, his mercy triumphs over our judgment.

Without him, we would be agents of destruction. With him, we are agents of his peace and cooperators for his loving word.

Categories
spirituality

Converting from Christianity to Jesus

There are many layers of understanding to uncover when we desire to have a relationship with God, but the hardest one to reach is the understanding that religion has nothing to do with God. This includes Christianity in all its denominations, and even its non-denominations.

Our lives might look a certain way from the outside, but only God knows what’s in our hearts. We are called to follow Jesus, not Christianity, which is a world system that tells us what our lives should be like and who we have to be to belong.

A lot of us seem to refuse to accept that Christianity is a religion and, as such, just as problematic as every other religion that has ever been created by men. Yes, religion is and has always been an obstacle between us and God’s love.

Jesus teaches us that we can not separate wheat from chaff. Yet being a Christian is largely about saying who’s living a godly life and who’s not. This is also why most churches are empty.

As Jesus’ followers, we are not called to tell people how they should live as a condition to be saved. God loves all of us and he saves whoever he wants. The transformation that he operates in our lives is unique to each of us and entirely up to his will.

I am often appalled by the oppressive Christian beliefs about our sexuality, which reveals their legalistic systems.

As a friend of loving people who are gay, I can absolutely not stand the oppressive Christian preaching that singles them out as if they were the worst sinners in the world.

What about the heart of stone ready to exclude and condemn someone for love, albeit same-sex? Is that not sinful? Remember, mercy always triumphs over judgment. God is not going to send a loving brother to hell because of his sexual orientation.

As a woman, I can absolutely not stand the oppressive Christian preaching about virginity and marriage for life. This is being preached among many who are abused, abusers or too conservative to promote a satisfying relationship.

When we pervert Jesus’ message of love to promote a deeply legalistic and religious lifestyle, it becomes evil and oppresses people instead of saving them into a gracious spiritual life.

But God puts his word in people’s hearts however he wants, including people who haven’t heard of Jesus. This truth is offensive to most Christians, blinded that they are by their religious arrogance.

Following Jesus and abiding to Christianity are thus mutually exclusive. Yes, there are followers of Jesus who happen to attend Christian churches, because there is a good community there. Yet the vast majority of Christians are not followers of Jesus.

Christians’ conviction that believing into Jesus requires religious knowledge and practice shows a profound lack of understanding of God’s almighty power and plan for every one of us.

Following Jesus, not abiding to Christianity, is what saves us from our own pursuits of adequacy and worthiness. He calls us to lose our lives so we can become a home to his life-giving love.

Remember, our God is a God of the lost. After he finds us, we still desperately need his loving grace to guide us along the way.

Categories
recovery

A lesson on resilience

I watched Schindler’s List for the first time a few weeks ago. The resilience of those people while facing the absolute worst of humanity could only have come from God. They would have never made it without him, and neither would we.

I believe all our sufferings are relevant. But watching a movie on such a horrific story really puts things into perspective. It is a tough watch, but a humbling experience. Our sufferings look so small compared to these dehumanizing events.

Another key aspect of our dark history is how often it takes a monster to defeat another monster. We know God has used ruthless characters to defeat oppressors of his people.

Although it might look like these ruthless individuals are doing what’s right, we are not in a position to justify them or rely on them. Their cruel actions have good outcomes exclusively because God can bring good out of any situation.

We should always remind ourselves that we can only trust and rely on God

It is God who gives us the resilience to walk through the most terrifying moments with the confidence that they will yield good outcomes of a spiritual nature in our lives.

Holding on to his love saves us from losing our ability to be grateful, loving and forgiving in the cruelest of circumstances.

As we walk with God, we know everything is going to pass. At the end of the tunnel, there is light, goodness and unfailing love.

Categories
Church of U2 faith

Our offerings of gratitude

Everything we “have” was given, so we don’t actually have anything in the sense that it’s “ours”, because it’s all gifts.

Living with this spiritual understanding humbles us.

Like in the worship song Gloria, by U2, we acknowledge that we don’t have anything. But if we did, we’d want to give it to God as an offering of gratitude for the eternity of love he gave us!

Oh, Lord

If I had anything

Anything at all

I’d give it to you

U2

When God calls us, we become expressions of his love by worshiping him with the talents he’s gifted us.

My offerings of gratitude to God are my writing and counselling/coaching with his Love as my “methodology.”

What about you, what are yours?

Categories
love spirituality

Prayer, a therapy of Love

Prayer is an intimate conversation with God.

Because he already lives in us, we don’t need to pray out loud. God doesn’t need us to utter words, he knows our minds.

Prayer is not the repetition of religious text. It is a moment of intimacy with God to express our love, gratitude and share our struggles to ask for guidance. 

We chat with God in our own way.

I do it all the time. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. It doesn’t have to be in a quiet place. I don’t move into a position or fold my hands. All I do is open my heart to God.

It is the safest and most powerful way of opening up.

It is therapeutical, because it helps us identify what’s troubling us. Yet God doesn’t need us to tell him our troubles – he knows.

His diagnostic is that we rely on ourselves instead of relying on him.

He treats us with his forgiveness and heals our brokenness with his love.

He also does’t need to be reminded of what we need – he knows and is already taking care of us in his own perfect time and way. We do what we can, then rest. God is in control. 

Prayer is a wonderful way to consciously connect with him and experience the peaceful hope that this connection fills us with. 

Although he already knows everything, he still wants to hear from us through our prayers, because he knows we need this.

God listens. God knows.

And he will gives us more than what we ask or need.

Categories
love spirituality

Rebuilding our love bonds with a spirit of repentance

Every relationship that we have will experience cracks in its structure at some point. But we can mend those cracks, or even rebuild a broken bond, with a spirit of repentance.

Love teaches us to repent and live life with a renewed spirit that makes possible what wasn’t possible before. We are given a chance to do what is right and move on with a hopeful spirit.

While the world puts a lot of weight on “telling the truth”, repentance is about actions, not words.

We are called to rebuild our love bonds with repentance through a change in our attitude. It is our actions that express love.

This means that if a hurtful truth from which we wholeheartedly repent is bound to break our love bond, Jesus isn’t calling us to tell it and crush someone with its unbearable weight.

We’re not called to tell a truth that crushes. Destructive truths can only destroy. Instead, we are called to live the truth of our repentance and rebuild our love bonds with love.