Monthly Archives: June 2011

Quotes from a Great Servant

I have been inspired by a great famous servant, Mother Teresa, who shared the love that God wants us to live in his Kingdom.  Here are a few quotes that I strongly agree with and believe are the central theme of the real Gospel.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. 
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” 

—”Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” (This quote teaches us that NOW is the time to live the Kingdom of Heaven, not when we are ready or when we go to church)

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  (Nobody is better than anybody, but we are the same in the eyes of God)

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.  We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” 

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”  (This quote  is one of my favorite ones)

There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.” ( I love this quote because it points out how unimportant the particular religion, but what matters is living the life God wants us to live)

“People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.”

“If you have a sick or lonely person at home, be there. Maybe just to hold a hand, maybe just to give a smile, that is the greatest, the most beautiful work.

“Faith in action is love, and love in action is service.  By transforming that faith into living acts of love, we put ourselves in contact with God Himself, with Jesus our Lord.”

“Christ is hidden under the suffering appearance of anyone who is hungry, naked, homeless, or dying.” (Jesus said it himself)

“We must convert our love for Christ into deeds. We must express Christian love in concrete, living ways.” (Because faith without works is dead, as written in the letter of James)

“Love does not measure; it just gives.”

Let us live this Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you for reading.


Life Stinks (Sometimes)

Worries try to invade my head. Concerns about my job, the house, and the bills. I have thoughts about my extended family. I focus so much about my own affairs that I think nobody else could be having the same problems. I limit myself to only my personal dilemmas, that I forget about others’ lives. I get obsessed with my private thoughts. Then, all of a sudden, I hear a bad news about my wife’s friend who may have a terminal illness. My personal affairs, worries, and concerns suddenly become meaningless.

Then I start questioning all of this life.  It reminds me of my own mortality. It reminds me of the fact that my life could also end.  I think about all the things that I struggle for, my ambitions, and my goals can vanish any moment.  Money does not mean anything anymore.  It seems that, the only thing that counts is our health.  Life can be so fragile sometimes, that I am tempted to think that it truly “stinks”.

But what am I to do?  No wonder we tend to rely on the hope that there is an after life.  But in the mean time, what do we do?  Those who suffer because of terminal illness, like my wife’s friend, need us to simply be present.  And then what?  There is nothing to say to alleviate the physical and emotional pain.  How can you talk to someone about Jesus, God, or simply give them some hope when they just got diagnosed with a devastating illness?  “Hey, Jesus loves you”?. “don’t worry, God is going to take care of you”?  I am reminded of Job in the Bible, who remained faithful to God in spite of losing almost everything.  Can we do the same in today’s world?

I guess this is a test.  A big test to see how we would react to a difficult circumstance.  To see how much love we can still provide in spite of the loses.  Because it is no longer about our individual affairs, but about each other.

Wheelchair Bound

My brother, Wheelchair bound, gets excited only by knowing that he is rolled outside of his apartment so that he can get some fresh air and see cars passing by. He is joyful just knowing that his nephews are coming to visit him.

My brother, he is laughing out loud when he sees others laughing at his jokes.  He likes the company of others.

He is Wheelchair bound, yet he smiles when you look at him and acknowledge his presence.

He cannot pull himself out of bed.

He cannot feed himself or comb his own hair.

He cannot communicate fluently.

He cannot walk.

But he can make people laugh. He is an encyclopedia full of information. He can remember too much. He forgets little. He is humble, almost sinless.  He can teach you to appreciate life more.

My brother knows his condition, and I can’t imagine what goes through his head. Is he thinking: “Why me?” Is he questioning: “Why can’t I enjoy life like others do?”  I see him Wheelchair bound, and I feel sad. I want to cry, but cannot, maybe because I have pretended so much not to be touched, I have tried to suppress it, because it hurts too much to see him like this.  It hurts too much to be fully aware of the injustice, and I get angry at God.

He is an angel.

He is a mystery.

He represents the suffering of this world.

He is Wheelchair bound.

My Worst Enemy

Do you know who my worst enemy is?  Me.

What is tempting me to worry, and resent?  My nature.

Who is keeping me from  living the Kingdom of Heaven? Myself.

Where do I often indulge in my selfish affairs?  In my mind and body.

How do I drift away from what I am called to do?  By relying on my logic and reasoning.

Why do I keep disobeying God?  Because I have not emptied myself from preconceived thoughts and bias.

When can I finally surrender completely to God and start genuinely practicing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth?  NOW.

 ” I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
  Romans 7:18

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

Is God’s Grace Unlimited? : A Response to the book “Love Wins”

I can imagine why so many people criticized Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”.  I just finished reading it. The book seems simple and honest. It does not represent the popular Christian view about salvation.  Bell’s way of thinking and writing is based on asking many questions, and they are good questions.  We like to assume that we have all the answers.  We prefer to think that we stand firm in our Christians beliefs. But this is not the case.  I rather admit that I am at least heading towards the Truth. As a Reflective Christian, I have learned to welcome questions which I believe helps me to know God more.  Not allowing myself to grow and learn more would be spiritual suicide.

The first chapter has many questions which, of course, none of us can accurately answer. It resembles the numerous questions that the Christian faith raises.   We tend to crave for specific and clear answers, we want to know the whole truth, but I have accepted the fact that, as long as we are inside our limited brains, we would not handle the Truth.  Bell points out the fact that many Christians believe that God selects who gets saved or not, and that people have different views of Jesus (like the number of denominations I presume).  It reminded me of the question I have had about what would happen to people who live their lives serving the poor, like Jesus commanded, but never accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, either because they did not choose to or were never told about Jesus. Bell also seems troubled that the sinner’s prayer or  saying the “right things” can guarantee people to go “over there” (heaven).  Which implies, of course, that the suffering in the world would not matter as long as we do and say the right things to have a ticket to go to heaven. I read in the Bible that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but did not command us to say the “sinners prayer”.

In the second chapter, Bell stresses on the story of the young rich man’s question “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  which he says means not to go to heaven, but how to live heaven on earth. He believes that heaven will be lived on earth, as he quoted so many scriptures that supported this claim.   When earth and heaven will be one; life in the age to come. Jesus did include in the Lord’s Prayer “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.  I also believe that heaven can start to be experienced on earth, by practicing justice, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, etc.  But I also believe that Heaven is fully found “over there”, which it was not clear to me if Bell believes this or not.

I have heard about Gehenna, the city dump,  being the “hell” that Jesus referred to.  But Hades is then mentioned by Jesus when He spoke to Peter about building the church, but Bell does not explain if this is an actual hell or the city dump. Bell does imply that hell is experienced on earth (the same way heaven can be experienced on earth).  Just because hell is mentioned a few times in the Bible does not necessarily mean that it does not exist after life.  I am not ready to dismiss the possibility of a physical hell, or simply a state of being separate from God because of selfish actions on earth.  But is this separation eternal?

Is God’s grace unlimited? If so, I ask myself, why do some people miss going to heaven, and end up in eternal damnation instead? I was taught that the reason was that people choose to live without God (or not accepting Jesus regardless of condition of their hearts) and that we all have free will, which God respects out of love.  But Bible says that God wants everyone to be saved which brings up Bell’s question “Does God get what God wants?” Bell concludes that God gives us what we want, either heaven or hell.  But the author does not answer if eventually everyone will be saved, and I can respect that.  My question is: Is God big enough to show grace beyond what we can understand? Is He grateful only when we ask for his grace? The idea that God’s grace is greater than what we can imagine conforms with the concept of an everlasting, all knowing, all powerful God.

The idea of things in the world dying so that life can begin makes a lot of sense. We have to die to our old, selfish way of living in order to experience the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus talked about dying to live and he showed it in the cross and resurrection. Having Jesus manifested in different areas of life also removes the limitation of the Gospel and creates a more inclusive concept of God’s love.  But I can understand many Christians resisting the idea that Jesus can be found in other faiths simply because they believe people have to explicitly accept Jesus as Savior.  Like John says, Jesus always existed and through Him all things were made.  So Jesus did not start a new religion, He is much greater than that.  As Bell puts it, our “nearness” to Jesus (believing we have Jesus figured out in our own religious boxes) can actually separate us from getting closer to Jesus.

Bell uses the parable of the prodigal son as a way to illustrate the magnitude of God’s grace, which is not fair.  Are we going to believe what our experiences in life teach us about us, or are we going to listen to the unpopular way that God sees us, regardless of how little we deserve His love?  I am careful to not believe God’s grace is beyond any judgment simply because it is convenient.  But I have been questioning what exactly is the “good news” that Jesus came to teach.  And I felt it wasn’t simply to love our neighbors as ourselves.  I understand more that the good news is that, first of all, the story I have been telling myself about me is different from the story God says about me.   I am able to love my neighbor because God loved me first, unconditionally.  The question is: am I going to trust God’s story of love for me?