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
forgiveness love

We live in peace when we become agents of peace in the world

Right after my conversion from atheist to believer, I had this group of friends who were Christian libertarians. They loved guns and hated minorities – just not publicly.

Being new in the faith, I took all that as normal human flaws and tried my best to be patient with them. But as my understanding of the word deepened, the strong shift from love to hate just didn’t feel right.

Friends, there’s a moment in our lives when we need to take a stand if we want to walk with Jesus. We can’t walk with Jesus and invite violence into our lives.

The first one you kill when you buy a gun

Following Jesus transforms the animalistic beasts that we are into the pacified, loving little Jesuses that we are meant to be. But when we’re not seeing this transformation in ourselves, we need to search our spirit, as God already does, to fully understand why we sometimes still shift from love to hate.

The one we claim to follow teaches us to love and pray for our enemies. If we can’t, we’re either pretending to follow him, or we are deliberating to follow that other one that he gave his life to save us from.

Thanks to God’s grace I found peace, in him, to fight the good fight and dare to love in an unforgiving world. It is a daily exercise, and one that we can absolutely achieve as long as we rely on him who makes everything possible.

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
faith love

Why gender is irrelevant to God

I know it is important that we feel comfortable in our own skin. But only love provides that comfort. When we are filled with love, we transcend the body and live peacefully in the spirit.

We, believers, know that this world is full of struggles, so we don’t wrestle with it. Being accepted, liked or even respected aren’t our battles. Our only battle is with evil trying to keep us enslaved to the deadly systems of this world.

We know that the one who has loved us from the beginning was neither accepted, liked or respected in this world. So why would we?

God invites us to live in spirit and truth. He doesn’t care whether our bodies or genetics spell male, female or anything else in between this world fights for.

We can start living an eternal life – in the spirit – while still in this temporary body. But instead a lot of us are attached to the body.

And make no mistake, friend: this attachment is not just random. This focus on the body takes away the focus from the spirit and is just another way evil finds to keep us trapped in its many cycles of self-destruction.

The good news is that instead of wrestling with our bodies, we can choose to thrive in the peace that only the reality of God’s love gives us.

All we have to do is accept his love.

When we are filled with his love, we are able to love ourselves for who we are as a path towards who we were always meant to be.

Our imperfect bodies might not be able to reflect our spiritual perfection, but we can live a fulfilling life regardless. We just need to choose love as our master instead of idolizing gender.

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
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
love

Only Love makes us perfect in our imperfection

I remember watching this Lisa Nichols video last year and feeling so deeply touched by her heartfelt speech. The key message in the video is to remind ourselves that we are enough, in spite of all the people that we come across in our lives that try to tell us otherwise.

Yet being enough is not a question that God ever had about any of us. We are definitely not enough, or else we would not need his grace, mercy and love.

We are only enough with God’s love.

On our own, we are not enough and should not aspire to be. It is only in God, through his love, that we become an expression of not just enough, but of perfection. God’s plan isn’t to rise us up to enough. That’s not enough for him!

This world can play tricks like this on us. And, yes, I still love Lisa’s heartfelt speech, but only if I consider it in the limited context of this world. We should certainly not listen to anyone trying to devalue us.

But as far as being enough goes, I would much rather not be enough by the standards of this world, which means so little, and happily count that as loss.

It is our humility of not being enough for this world that brings us closer to God, who fills us up with riches that enough could never account for.

Categories
faith love

Take what was once used for evil and use it for doing good

There’s nothing more powerful than the idea that even what was once used for evil can become a way for us to do good. We just don’t always realize how this power operates in us, transforming us into who we were always meant to be.

How do we know that everything that we don’t like about us and think shouldn’t be there isn’t exactly how things have to be? It might just be that what we use it for now is simply not what it was meant to be.

One of the most impressive displays of God’s power in my life is my writing. I used to write novels when I was an atheist. They were dark, bitter, arrogant and a perfect reflection of who I was and my lack of spiritual foundation.

Then after my conversion, I completely stopped writing. I just couldn’t write about those things anymore. Darkness lost its grip on me.

It took me years to realize that the gift I have for writing was always meant to be used as an expression of God’s love. I absolutely thrive at seeking the most loving and inspiring ways of wording a message.

When we accept God’s love in our lives, he brings back to surface the person buried underneath all the darkness of this world. He frees us so we can finally become ourselves as perfect expressions of his divinity.

All we have to do is want it. He does all the heavy lifting for us.

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.

Categories
faith love

A life too good for worldly words

I always hesitate to call myself a Christian. The first followers of Jesus, who is God incarnated, were coming from religious backgrounds and pagan practices. They were later referred to as “the way”, but Jesus himself didn’t give any names to anything. So why should we?

Being a follower of Jesus is about being freed by God’s love, a love that we are blessed with through God’s grace. Paul himself a religious man converted to believer describes the fruit of this spirit perfectly in Galatians 5:22-23:

When Jesus came, there was already an ongoing situation with religion and religious people that was not surprising back then – and it isn’t surprising now.

If we come off as stiff, judgmental, hypocritical and legalist, that might still make us Christians, but certainly doesn’t make us Jesus followers. Christian world leaders using their religion to justify violence and discrimination is just one of many red flags rightfully attached to Christianity.

Our attitude toward others ultimately depends on how much of a ‘fight’ we put up with the worst in ourselves. In other words, the evil that inhabits us is always there, but if we choose to live under God’s grace and not under the law or religion, we will make it – because the righteous will live by faith.