Monthly Archives: May 2011

Forget Jesus

weeping JesusWho exactly was Jesus? An imaginary friend or a religious figure that was simply as good as Socrates or Gandhi? Did Jesus even exist? Maybe  He did just as an image that the early church used to justify its power. Or maybe as  a psychological crutch.

These are the concepts of Jesus which we manifest when we live lukewarm lives. These are the images of Jesus we romanticize to keep us from making our hands dirty and helping those who are in great need. Yes, this is the way that most of us live, behind a fabricated image of Jesus so that we can pretend we are “religious” or “spiritual” and do nothing for the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Forget Jesus” is what we claim when we live our selfish lives.  He is forgotten in prisons, where abuse happens all the time. He is forgotten on the streets where He has nothing to eat, no where to sleep comfortably, and no where to call home.  He is forgotten in foster homes and shelters where, at an early age, His parents abused him or neglected Him. He is forgotten in mother’s wombs where His life is determined to be terminated before being born. He is forgotten at every place where human trafficking exists. He is forgotten even where tornadoes and earthquakes devastate every home. It is easy to forget Jesus. It is so easy to remember about our own personal needs, our agenda, our dreams, our goals, and our ambitions.

Are we going to continue to forget Jesus?

” For I was an hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.
 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you  hungry, and fed you or thirsty?,  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 24:35-40


Inside Out

apple

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock”     (Matthew 7:24)

Let me explain a little bit more about by spiritual journey.  As a child, I have been taught so many things about God and Jesus.  I was taught to obey the Commandments, go to church, recite the Lord’s prayer, and give offerings.  Simply because I was told to do so.  The same way that children are taught to look both ways before crossing the street, study for a test, share toys, and finish a meal.  Simply because we were told to do so.  Then there was a time in my life when I started to make my own  inventory of things.  Is it true that I should look both ways before crossing the street?  Well there is a car coming fast and I don’t want to be hit, so the answer is yes.  Does it really matter if I study for a test?  Well, I don’t want to fail, so the answer again is yes. Should I really finish my meal?  Not if I am full.  How about sharing my toys?  If I want others to do the same, maybe.  But…. how about what they have taught me about God, Jesus, and the Bible?  Well….

In my teen years, I started to ask these last questions, and the doubts were bombarding me.  To make a long story short (and you can learn more from other posts in this blog), I came to the conclusion that I must experience God in  order to genuinely believe  Him, not just because I was taught to believe Him.  So this has been my journey.  This is why sometimes some of my comments do not seem like the typical Christian view. Because they are not, but that is ok.  My goal is not to conform, or to make anyone happy, but to live as it is lived in Heaven.  So by questioning and doubting , I started having a more honest and profound spiritual encounter in my life that I never had, which was introduced to me in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5).  I started to experience God in a more profound way.

Now I understand that “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” means that I must stop being the selfish and self-sufficient person I am inclined t to be by nature and start relying on God and  serve others (blessed are the poor in spirit).  I perceive “turn the other cheek” not as simply tolerating but as a way to show the power of making peace (blessed are the peacemakers). I am now having a new appreciation about “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”  (Mt. 22:39),  not because the Bible says so, but because it describes how I now feel we should treat each other regardless of differences (blessed are those who fight for righteousness).  I view “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” not as a nice way of describing a romance with Jesus, but describing how we must rely on what Jesus represents  and not on our own selfish ways (blessed are the meek).   When Jesus taught about forgiving 70 x 7, having faith to move mountains, being light of the world, and denying the self, it wasn’t to give us a ticket to heaven, but they are ways to experience Heaven.   These and many more scriptures started to make more sense to me, almost as if I started to actually live them instead of just mentally understanding them.  It is almost as if trying to learn a new language by memorizing words, but never fully understanding them, and then I start doing things that are described by the new words I just memorized, and the new words become meaningful to me.  Almost like experiencing God from the Inside Out.  I have gradually started living the Kingdom of Heaven from the inside.  It is hard to explain.  It is looking at the Gospel with new goggles.  It is tasting the Kingdom of Heaven, not just hearing it and nodding my head in agreement.  I hear music and can appreciate it, but I don’t fully live music until I pick up a guitar and create music from inside the guitar.  The same way, I don’t just read the Gospel, but pick up myself from the selfish lifestyle and live this Life from inside my soul. I don’t give myself credit for this change, but to God alone.  I have learned to praise God, not just with words, but by reaching out to others in need of service .

Please enjoy the following music video by Hillsong’s “From Inside Out”. It’s one of my favorite.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James 2:14

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” James 1:22


“Poor in Spirit”: A Further Review

prayerI have continued to reflect on what the following words mean in my life: “Blessed are  the poor in spirit…”  (Mathew 5:3).  In material terms, being poor means having few or no monetary or physical possessions.  It means to lack what is needed to survive. In spiritual terms, it means having few of what is required to feel alive, to feel worthy.  It means to lack what is needed to feel valued.  Without having what our spirit requires, we are truly not worthy. But our natural tendencies is to not be poor in spirit, but feel worthy, which is why we tend to fill ourselves with a sense of pride, self-sufficiency, control, and ambition, which leads us to arrogance and selfishness.  The same way that our physical bodies fight to survive by having more possessions (food, clothing, shelter) , our spirits fight to exist by having worth. But if we feel unworthy, if our value is at risk (poor in spirit), why is Jesus teaching that then we are blessed?  Because the Kingdom of Heaven is ours.

If we don’t have what it takes to survive spiritually, then we are empty.  And when we are empty, we can fill ourselves with something new (Revelation 21:5).  We won’t have anymore the false sense of pride, self-sufficiency, control, and ambition. We will then have room for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is opposite of what our natural being does.  We will then be able to fill ourselves, not with pride, but with humility (Proverb 11:2).  Not with self-sufficiency, but with dependence (Psalm 62:7).  Not with control, but with surrender.  Not with ambition, but simplicity.    Pride exalts us to a level higher than where we actually are, humility is allowing ourselves to be who we really are.  Self-sufficiency isolates and compartmentalizes us, dependence unites us (Psalm 133:1).  Control keeps us unsatisfied, surrender allows us to rest  peacefully (Psalm 46:10) .  Ambition implies a goal and reaching a goal requires strategy and planning for the future, simplicity allows us to clear our minds from wanting to live in the future and simply live in the present (Matthew 6:34).  We don’t “need” to define ourselves anymore, we simply live. We don’t need to claim that we “own” anything (not even the bodies we live in), because we then acknowledge we belong to something higher (Galatians 2:20,Haggai 2:8, Deuteronomy 10:14).  We are owned by something greater. We must give up everything, without reservation, in order to gain the true Life. (Luke 17:33)

In Summary, to be poor in spirit is to have a humble (realistic) opinion of ourselves; to accept that we are insignificant, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be worthy only because of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to accept the fact that we don’t own anything, to do everything for Him, through Him, and in Him.

Consider the following quotes which help me understand further what “poor in spirit” means:

” Too much pride can put you to shame.  It is wise to be humble” (Proverb 11:2)
” Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)
“but let it not be my will, but your will alone…” (Luke 22:42)
“Why do you call me good? only God is good…” (Mark 10:18)
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God'” (Psalm 14:1)
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord”   (Zechariah 4:6)

“To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it”                          (Deuteronomy 10:14).
“For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).
“The world is mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:12).
“‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:8).

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” Psalm 62:7

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it” (Luke 17:33)

 “But on this one will I look; on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Word. (Isaiah 66:2)

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
“Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them”. (Mother Teresa)
                                                “I gave in, and admitted that God was God.” (C.S.Lewis)

                                                                                                


My Servant Mother

On this coming Mother’s Day, I have been reminded something sweet about my mother. I was visiting her today and noticed how selfless she really is. While serving dinner, she insisted on giving me the best peace of meat. After arguing with her back and forth, she finally agreed to split the best piece in half, one for me and and one for her. She then would not sit down, making sure everyone, including her grandchildren, had everything they needed for dinner. Not for a moment did I notice my mom giving herself priority. My mom gives others the best, and keeps for herself what is left. She has always done that. My mom has been one of the prime examples on how Jesus wants me to be. A selfless servant. She has served my ill brother all of her life, and still does. She wants to give me money for everything. She wants to counsel me about everything in life. She forgives others, including my abusive father.  She prays and never loses faith.   She is a giver, not a taker. Is it just a mother’s instinct? Maybe. But it is service.  I am blessed to have an example on Jesus in my mom.  I will treat my own children the way she treats me. It is the way to live the Kingdom of Heaven.

“She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31



What Would YOU Do ????

aisle
Ok, I just had an experience at the supermarket that I have to share and get your opinion.  Have you seen the reality TV program, “What would You do?” with Jon Quinones?  Well, I just had an episode where I thought I was filmed by hidden cameras.  Here is what happened:  I was happily shopping at a supermarket (I won’t say which one) like any regular day.  I usually leave the cart somewhere while I go down the aisle  and pick up some items, instead of taking the cart everywhere I go.  So I returned to the cart with items on my hands, after maybe two minutes, and, Wham!! the cart was gone!!  I looked around, didn’t see it.  Walked up and down to different aisles, nothing.  I started wondering if I was going crazy or people were playing a trick on me.  I started thinking about hidden cameras and people watching me while they laughed.  I felt like an idiot.  So I left the items I had on my hand on a shelve and continued my search. Didn’t see it anywhere.  I thought, Is this really happening to me?  I tried to convince myself to calm down, because I was getting hysterical.  So I spotted the first clerk that I saw and told him that someone apparently accidently took my cart.  He looked at me with wide eyes and said: It was me.  What?  Why?  He said he asked people around about the cart and nobody claimed it, so he decided to take the items back to the shelves, because he didn’t want the meat to go bad.  I am thinking, “Are you kidding me?!”  So he apologetically went back and got some of the items back to me.  I followed him and basically started my shopping all over again.  I then told him I would take over from here, not to worry about it.  I was really furious!!  He apologized like 10 times to me.  I told him not to worry about it, but I really wanted to tell him:  Get another job, pal!  I even thought of telling other customers to hang on to their carts before it too disappeared.  But it did not end there, when I went back to get the items I left on the shelve, they were also gone!!!  This cannot be happening to me!!!

In the above real life scenario (which happened about half an hour ago), I felt tempted to complain to the manager.  I felt tempted to let other customers know.  I felt tempted to tell the guy what I really felt about the situation.  Couldn’t he just leave the cart alone ?  Who would leave a half full cart by itself in a supermarket?  Nobody.  Was this the guy’s first day at the job?  Many thoughts came to my mind that justified my anger.  Thoughts that fed my ego.  Thoughts that would tempt me to put this guy in his place.  But then I was struggling with other thoughts.  Other thoughts like:  This guy had good intentions.  This guy is probably still in training.  He seemed sincere when he apologized to me like 5 to 10 times. So I decided to let it go.  I really didn’t want him to get in trouble.  I actually saw him talking to a manager, but not sure if it was about the incident with the cart.  So maybe he explained it to the manager before I complained.  Nobody else came to talk to me about it.  I was angry, but decided not to act out of anger.

I am not sharing this to brag about me.  I am not writing this to show my readers what a good person I am for showing mercy.  I don’t want to assume self righteousness.  I just wanted to see if anyone would have done anything different. I actually thank God for this uncomfortable experience, because it tested me.  It gave me the opportunity to practice mercy, compassion, self control, selflessness. and forgiveness.  I put myself in this guy’s shoes, and I would have felt terrible.  So I decided to let it go.  I actually pray for this guy to learn from his mistakes.

Would you have done anything different?