Tag Archives: jesus christ

McMass: Would you like fries with that sermon?

I thought I would share this interesting link about a church that plans to build a McDonalds in its facility to attract more church members.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/11/28/businessman-wants-to-build-mcdonalds-in-church/?intcmp=latestnews

The church is experiencing a decrease in its attendance.  I wonder why.

So… what do they decide to do then?  Do they pray harder for the “lost souls?” Do they start a campaign to reach out to the “least of these?” Or do they revise how they have been reflecting God’s message and try to be more spiritual and Christ-like?  If you think it may have been one of the above, you are completely wrong.

They are raising funds to put a McDonald’s franchise inside a place of worship.  Can you believe this?

Can I have fries with that order of holy burger, please?  Can I have holy water to drink?

“It’s time for churches to engage with entrepreneurship,” writes the group on its IndieGoGo site. “By combining a church and a McDonald’s we can create a self-sustaining, community-engaged, popular church, and an unparalleled McDonald’s restaurant.

It claims that, in the United States alone, three million people leave the church.  You can include me in that statistic.  So they think of combining church with McDonalds.  After all, this particular restaurant “brings communities together.”  So why not have a church use this company to help bring its community together as well?  I mean, who needs prayer and Bible studies, when you can have McMass?

What are they going to think of next?  DisneyMass?

This is an example of how screwed up  today’s church is.  They notice that they are losing members, so they start acting “in the flesh.”  Instead of focusing more on the spiritual, they think more about raising millions of dollars to buy a franchise.  Instead of thinking about how to send the message of love and compassion that God brought through Jesus, they think about how to attract people with burgers and fries.

Am I the only one embarrassed about this?  And we wonder why people, particularly skeptics, criticize today’s church.

What would Jesus do if he walks inside one of these McMass projects?  Would he throw out all the McDonald’s staff who work in the church, like he did at the temple in Jerusalem 2000 years ago?

“I’m loving it.”

You can see the full story on the Indie GoGo website  here.  http://igg.me/at/mcmass/x 

 

 

 

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“Blessed are the violent” : A book review on Zealot

Since it was published, I became interested in reading the book Zealot, by Reza Aslan.  I finally got the chance to read it and decided to share a book review with my readers.

The book starts with stressing on how the Roman empire took dominion over Jerusalem. It focuses on the fact that the Jews were jealous people who strongly believed they were God’s chosen people and that every foreign invasion and cultural “impurity ” had to be abolished at all cost. In spite of this nation wide grandiosity, Jerusalem was simply a small province at the corner of the great Roman empire. The author emphasizes that the Jews did not see this exceptionalism as arrogance or pride, but a direct command from a jealous God.  But out of this insignificant portion of human history, a great figure submerges which proved to influence history forever. In chapter two,  the author explains that Jesus was executed mainly for being one of many “bandits ” who rebelled against Roman dominion.  Jesus is then described as a leader who declared war on Rome by identifying himself as a Messiah or “King of the Jews “. However, Herod was the “king ” chosen by Rome (client -king) to maintained control and peace in Judea, although he was hated by the Jews for working for Rome and not God.  Herod was followed by one of his sons, Herod Antipas, who took over Galilee when Jesus became famous.  The idea that Jesus was originally a violent enemy of Rome brings a lot of questions to mind.

In chapter three the author writes that Jesus was born and raised in the insignificant town of Nazareth, and not in Bethlehem (which was added to link Jesus to King David and only mentioned in Matthew and Luke ). When Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem to the festivities, he admitted people knew who he was and where he was from (as opposed to what the scriptures say about the Messiah) but instead made emphasis on his heavenly origins.  So instead of being an earthly king and Messiah, he is described by gospel writer John more as a divine being or logos. (“The verb was with God from the beginning …” Jn 1:3).  The author then asserts that Luke’s story about the Roman census during Jesus ‘s infancy is inaccurate.  He mentions this to explain that these ancient authors did not write to show historical “facts ” but revealing “truths .” Readers back then were not interested in what actually happened but were more interested in what it means, which may have been the case.  In chapter four, the author talks about Jesus’s mother being raped, Jesus having siblings, and probably being married.  He also stressed on how impossible it is to say anything about Jesus ‘s early life because before he was declared Messiah it did not matter what kind of childhood a Jewish peasant had.  And after he was called the Messiah, the “only aspect of his childhood that mattered were those that could be creatively imagined to buttress whatever theological claim ” about Jesus’s identity as Christ.  Out of many rebellious gangs, the author then describes an extreme group of extreme rebels called “zealots “, thus the title of this book.

Chapter five starts with describing Pilate as a cruel and bloodthirsty governor, different from how the gospels describe him. After many massacres, the Jews declare war on Rome. Chapter six is simply a narrative going back and forth in history after Jesus’s death on how the Jews regained control of the Temple but lost their land back to the Romans.

In Part two, the author is fixated on the idea that Jesus was also an extremist or “zealous” rebel fighting for freedom and return the land to God.  He explains that when Jesus answered the question about whether to pay tribute to Rome or not, Jesus was “clear ” on the argument of God ‘s sovereignty over the land.  However the author does not point out the possibility that Jesus was probably wisely preventing to fall into the trap that his interrogators were desperately trying to set for him.  It was a tricky question very difficult to answer without creating more controversy.  If Jesus answered yes to paying tribute to Caesar, then he would be seen as a traitor and friend of the Romans.  If he would have answered no, then he was publicly claiming to be a rebel and a “zealot .”   Either way, Jesus was going to be targeted as a trouble maker.  But he apparently chose a more peaceful and neutral response, avoiding to engage in a political argument based on Jewish ambition to regain the land. Furthermore, the gospels don’t agree what kind of soldiers (Romans vs. Temple guards) came to arrest Jesus, but they all agree that he was targeted mainly because of his threat to the Sanhedrin, not to Rome .  The high priests tried to use political reason to justify execution, (“he called himself the King of the Jews! ” vs. …”son of God “) which worked.  But Jesus’s true crime did not necessarily involve a pure political rebellion against Rome, but against the Sanhedrin.  His mission was mainly emphasized on rescuing and serving the “least of these” or the poor, in my opinion.

In his notes at end of the book, the author stresses that those who perceive Jesus’s response as “apolitical ” are “blind to the political and religious context of Jesus ‘s times ” (pg. 241). He also argues that the “titulus ” above Jesus ‘s head on the cross was not a sarcastic sign because Romans were not humorous.  I wonder if this author remembers all the mocking and ridicule that Jesus received by the Roman soldiers before his death, which all four gospels wrote about.  This is another example of the author’s attempt to justify his view of Jesus as a political extremist rebel and threat to Rome among many other violent rebels on his time.

In chapter seven, Jesus is described as John the Baptist’s disciple, not the other way around, which may explain further Jesus fleeing back to Galilee after John’s execution.  Nevertheless, Jesus became much more powerful and influential than the Baptist.

In chapter eight, the author makes a statement which reflects more my understanding of Jesus ‘s teachings when he writes that Jesus was less concerned with the “pagan empire occupying Palestine than the imposter occupying the temple, ” specifically Caiaphas (Pg. 99). Jesus was clearly enraged by how the temple authority treated the poor. The author  then continues to describe Jesus as a unique teacher and leader such as including women as disciples, doing exorcism for free, and speaking with authority unlike the common religious leader in spite of being a peasant.  The author further emphasizes that Jesus ‘s miracles or magical powers were “something unique and distinctive” (pg. 111). They were done, which I could not agree more, as manifestation of God ‘s kingdom on earth as prophesized in Isaiah 35:5-6.  The author explains that Jesus healed a leper, for example, to make him pure and clean enough to enter the temple and be accepted in God’s presence, without all the traditional rituals, thus manifesting the kingdom of God.

However, in chapter 10, the author points out that, in addition to being a new order where the rich will be poor and the poor will be exalted, it will also be a total overthrow of the Roman Empire.  And this could only be done through violence.  The author explicitly writes that he thinks Jesus was “not a pacifist ” (pg. 120) and then uses one biblical verse to justify this view (Mathews 10:34, Luke 12:51) but does not include verses that point to the contrary, which are the majority ( Mark 9:50;  Mathew 5:9,  5:44, 11:28, 18:21-22, 26:52; Luke 6:35, 23:34; John 14:27, 16:33, 20:21, 24:36, ) . If the gospel writers and early church members were desperately trying to distant Jesus from a violent and “zealous nationalism ” as the author points out, wouldn’t they have omitted the few verses that mention swords and war? And yes, Jesus was a Jew, but his teachings were full of invitations that included Gentiles. He prophesized to a Samaritan woman, healed another Samaritan woman and also healed a Centurion’s servant. He also commanded his disciples to spread the good news to the “ends of the earth.” Israel was NOT all that mattered to Jesus. The author only presented questions as to whether Jesus was planning to become an earthly king in the Kingdom of God.  But he wisely mentioned that Jesus was clearly the personification of the new Kingdom as evidenced by his miracles and signs.

In chapter eleven, the author repeatedly points out that Jesus did not openly call himself the Messiah, which, as the author says and I agree, may have different definitions according to the time in history.  It was most commonly used to describe an earthly king who would deliver the Jews from earthly foreign domination, which Jesus did not accomplish.  The Son of God was also a title given to past kings such as David and Solomon (Psalm 2:7, 1 Chronicles 28:6).  Son of Man, on the other hand, was a self claim title more frequently stated by Jesus, which may have been a humble way of Jesus referring himself as a mere man, thus manifesting his humaneness. In chapter twelve, the author insists that most of what the gospels say about Jesus ‘s last moment is false, simply because he believes that early Christians were trying to avoid appearing as zealots themselves to the Romans after the Jewish war and so they’d depicted Pilate as a considerate governor manipulated by the “blood thirsty ” Jews.   It is more credible that early Christians invented some details to depict Jesus more as a Messiah.  But it is ridiculous to assume that early Christians chose to change Jesus from a violent revolutionary to a pacifist leader.

The author starts Part 3 by emphasizing that most of Jesus’s followers and writers of the New Testament did not meet Jesus or lived in Jerusalem during Jesus ‘s a time, which is an important key to point out.  In spite of this, this fact does not necessarily discredit what these authors wrote about what Jesus could have really represented. In Chapter thirteen the author interestingly points out that no where in the Old Testament is the messiah prophesied to suffer and die, like Jesus claims about himself.  The image of Jesus must have been evolved from being an earthly messiah to a celestial king seating at the right hand of God. The author is right by stressing that Paul perceived Jesus as not human , distant from the Jewish background and more like a cosmic being. And this makes sense since Paul admits he did not learn from any apostle but claims that God himself revealed it to him (Galatians 1:15-17).  Paul, in my opinion , created his own version of Jesus based on Roman pagan religion.   I agree with the author that Paul’s version of Jesus is the standard doctrine of today’s church.  In chapter fourteen the author is right when he  stresses on James ‘s role in the early church as the most accurate version of what Jesus is all about: helping the poor.

We  are all  guilty of interpreting, choosing and dismissing verses according to our preconceived ideas of what Jesus really taught and  who he was.  What must be kept in mind, however, is the inevitable conclusion that Jesus’s presence in human history, with or without some fabrication and embellishment in his story, has surpassed all other historical figure in the last 2000 years. Whether we perceive Jesus as a violent rebel (which I personally doubt), the messiah (which he did not fulfill according to Hebrew Scriptures), the son of God (which title was also given to king David ), or a peaceful rebellious leader concerned for the poor and sick of the whole world and not just Jerusalem,  Jesus was (or is) the manifestation of what God represents... Unconditional love.


Why Pray?

In my personal experience, I have noticed that prayer is not as great as I thought it was. I hardly pray anymore, not because I don’t believe that there is someone listening. I don’t pray as much because I lost faith in the act of praying itself. It simply does not seem to do much of a difference.
I mainly perceived it as a way to beg God to give me what I want.  Isn’t that what most people think of prayer these days? And if I don’t get what I want, then I must accept it as God’s will. But then, why ask for something as if God is a “vending machine”? Isn’t God supposed to be in control? Then why add more to his “control” by asking him to do certain things “my way”?
I was taught that prayer is composed of four parts: adoration, penitence, petition, and thanksgiving:

Adoration would be recognizing God’s greatness and power. It is all around us.  When I look at the stars, the mountains, a baby, and people’s charities, I see God’s manifestation on earth.  Now, why do I need to emphasize it even more by telling God about his greatness?  Doesn’t he already know?  Don’t I already acknowledge it by respecting each human being, admiring the stars, and taking care of the environment? I think by me living the greatness of God’s creation is the same as  “praying without ceasing.” I would not necessarily have to reserve a time specifically to acknowledge God’s greatness, if I live it on a daily basis.

Penitence is recognizing our sins and asking for forgiveness.  If I am already a believer, doesn’t that mean that I have already been forgiven? We are taught that Jesus died for all of our sins 2000 years ago, so why continue to ask for forgiveness? Some would say that we continue to sin, so we need to recognize our faults, even though we are forgiven.  But at the same time, no matter how much I sin, Jesus’ sacrifice should be enough to make me righteous, right? Or is it that we suspect that what Jesus did was not enough and, therefore, we need to make sure we are free from guilt through penitence?

Petition is the most interesting aspect of prayer.  We ask for things we want.  We ask for good health, stability, wisdom, and a lot more.  We sometimes ask in desperation when circumstances are difficult and extreme.  And when we receive what we prayed for, then we praise God even more and become more joyful (and religious).  When we don’t, then we are taught to accept it as God’s will and justify it by saying that “God is mysterious.” But then this puts God in a difficult situation, because it is almost like expecting God to meet our needs and demands, as if He works for us, even though we were created by Him.  It seems as if God owes us things.

I have heard many people deny the existence of God simply because he did not stop hundreds of children from starving to death, or did not prevent so many wars, or allowed the innocent to suffer from diseases.  And, because God did not meet our standards of what “God should do”, then we conclude He must not exist, or he is evil.  Petition is the most self-centered part of prayer.  It makes us almost like spoiled children who demand immediate gratification from the heavenly Father.

Thanksgiving is perhaps the part of prayer that makes more sense to me. It is simply the act of  appreciating what we have.  Instead of asking and begging for what we don’t have, like in petition, we give thanks for those things we already have.  I define true happiness as wanting what I already have, which is what thanksgiving is about.  Personally, I think we should do a lot more Thanksgiving, than Adoration, Penitence, or Petition.

So, rather than doing Adoration, I rather “live” Adoration by respecting God’s creation and living one day at a time.   Rather than doing Penitence, I rather accept my faults and ask others to forgive me and forgive as well.  Rather than expecting God to provide what I want, my way, and in my terms, I rather be content with what I have so that I can experience true happiness. And I will continue to give Thanks to God, for giving me what I already have, which is sufficient for me to survive so that I live a full life.


Conversations with God: A Review of The Shack book

I will try to give a brief review of this book without giving away the plot.

The Shack is a story about a man named Mack who suffers the loss of his daughter victimized by a serial killer.  While still grieving her death, he receives a note in the mail supposedly from God, inviting him to meet him exactly at the place where his daughter was murdered: an abandoned shack.  Mack decides to go and meets three individuals who introduced themselves as the three persons of the Holy Trinity.  The conversations are casual and friendly, trying to normalize the interactions as if there were four human beings talking to each other.

This book pictures God repeatedly condemning the idea of independence from Him.  In chapter 8, God says  “When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other”, implying that independence would lead to hierarchy and authority.  Mack reasons that authority is used to refrain people from fighting endlessly and getting hurt but God explains beautifully that in a selfish world, authority is used to inflict great harm.  I believe that the key word is not independence or authority, but selfishness.  Being selfish is the root of all evil.
According to God , we humans ” embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in our relationships” but our choices are not stronger than His purposes. We don’t understand it now, but one day we will. I think this is all a human author can say about the possible reason why God allows evil things to happen to people.  We can never fully explain or justify evil, which is why so many people conclude that God is evil or simply does not exist.

But going back to hierarchy, doesn’t the Bible teach about the man being “the head of the household” like Jesus is “the head of the church”? And didn’t Jesus relied on God the Father to do his miracles and fulfill God’s will? Doesn’t the Bible also teach about slaves submitting to their masters? Clearly, the Bible does teach about the importance of hierarchy.

In chapter 12, God uses the analogy of sinking in water and encouraging Mack to allow God to rescue him.  “When you start to sink, let me rescue you.”   While reading this, I ask myself : are we sinking?  Are we unsaved and desperately needing to be saved?  I believe we are sinking in our own selfishness and need to be “rescued” by learning to reach out and serve others in need. We need to genuinely rescue others from injustice, hunger, and illness so that we can be rescued from our egos. But God says we cannot do this with our own strengths.  I can believe that, except that we don’t necessarily need to be saved from “eternal damnation”, but we actually need to be saved from ourselves.  The ego gets in the way of genuinely helping others (which can be called sin if you want).  Emptying ourselves from the ego so that we can fill ourselves with genuine care and love can also be interpreted as being dependent on God so that we can live the Kingdom of Heaven (“blessed are the poor in Spirit” Matthews 5).

God also said in chapter 12 “I don’t create institutions…”.  This is an important statement to remind ourselves with.  Humans create institutions, including religion.  God, on the other hand, is about relationships.

In chapter 13, God teaches that lies are like fortresses that need walls (justifications) to make us feel secured, but it does not work.   God uses our choices to work perfectly into His purposes.  He says “All evil flows from independence, and independence  is your choice”. He also says “True love never forces” and He further explains that love has true meaning when He allows consequences of our choices be manifested.  But, does true love also permits God to allow people to suffer eternally in hell? What happened to grace?  And wouldn’t true love allow us to be independent somehow? For example, my love to my children would not be selfless and complete if I don’t allow them to live on their own and have their own lives outside of my house. I would want them to succeed in life without depending on me forever.  True love would mean being willing to let go.  Maybe God’s love does not function the same  way as a human father’s love.

In Chapter 14, conversations get even more interesting.  God states an important fact when he says that emotions are neither bad or good.  “Most emotions are responses to perceptions” and “Just because you believe something firmly does not make it true” are  statements I agree with.  The description of expectation versus expectancy nicely illustrates how important it is to maintain a relationship alive instead of killing the relationship with rules and requirements. If I perceive my relationship with God by simply being fixated on the rules that I must obey (the Law), then my relationship with God is based on fear.  But if I accept  the fact that I am imperfect and accept God’s grace while living a simple life, then my relationship with God is further nourished and deepened.  If I expect my wife to do certain things to make me happy, then I would be greatly disappointed and will quickly start building resentment towards her.  But if I focus on simply being with each other in good times and bad times, everything else becomes secondary.

Farther in this same chapter. God says “I don’t want to be the first among a list of values: I want to be at the center of everything.” According to this statement, God does not want to be #1 in my life, or be the most important thing in my life.  He rather be involved in everything in my life.  This idea conforms with the concept of not idolizing an erroneous image of God  by attending religious services , but simply living life to its fullest.  In other words, stop looking for God in particular places and during very long repetitious prayers, but live God in everyday life.  When we idolize God, we put everything else behind.  When we “live God” , everything else is included.  We can do this by practicing compassion, mercy, forgiveness, service, peace making, and simplicity when we interact with family, coworkers, strangers, and friends.  Everybody we commune with; everywhere we go; every time.  Otherwise, we run the risk of treating everyone else with contempt and hatred, while “loving” an idolized God.  Livng the Kingdom of Heaven instead of searching to go to heaven.

God says that religion uses the Law to condemn and accuse.  Mack asks “Then why did you give us those commandments…?” and God responds “Actually, we wanted you to give up trying to be righteous on your own.  It was a mirror to reveal just how filthy your face gets when you live independently”.    So this answer implies that the Ten Commandments were just another reminder of human’s tendencies to be independent through rules and regulations and controlling others.  So it wasn’t God’s attempt to keep us straight?  I understood that the Commandments were ways for God (or humans) to keep control of a chaotic mass of confused people in the middle of the dessert.  Anyhow, the book also implies that we don’t have to follow the Commandments anymore. So I don’t have to love God with all my might since Jesus forgave my sins and it is all about grace?  I believe it is true that God’s grace is unimaginable and enough to redeem us, but we should also not take for granted the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves, being truthful, avoid greed, honor our parents, etc. while we live the Kingdom of Heaven.

I also think that having a genuine love and care for others would automatically lead us into obeying the Commandments, without having to worry about breaking them.  It is almost like learning  a new language by trying to memorize a long vocabulary list and grammatical rules, versus simply speaking the language with others in everyday conversations and learning as you go.

“Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver…to release you from something that will eat you alive..” is a true statement that we should all learn from.  We should let God  help us “take on the nature that finds more power in love and forgiveness than pain.” At the end of the book, Mack pardons the killer by repeating himself “I forgive you, I forgive you…” To me this sounds simplistic and superficial.  Do people really forgive by simply repeating this phrase? Is this realistic?  Jesus taught in the Gospels that we should forgive 70 x 7.  I am not sure He meant to “fake it until you make it.”  Maybe Jesus did mean it like that.  At the end of the story the reader is left in the dark about whether Mack spent a real weekend with God, had a near death experience, a psychotic break, or simply a dream.

In the After Words page, the author talks about a “new revolution of love and kindness.”  This is what I call the Kingdom of Heaven.  The Life that involves a radical change of behavior that reflects selfless acts of service and compassion.  Whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim,  an Atheist, or whatever you decide to identify yourself with, we all can agree that this kind of revolution is essential in today’s world. I could say a lot more about other parts of the conversations that Mack had with God, but I will only limit it to what I have written  on this post.  I may have more input in another post.

The Shack is a book that clearly reflects the Christian’s interpretation of what God would tell us about suffering and His love (although not fully explained). However, it is fair to say that the author attempts to address life’s most difficult questions with kind words and reassurance which reflects an unconditional love from a graceful God.  It emphasizes on relationship instead of institutions and authority.  It stresses on dependence on God rather than independence and self-righteousness.  It magnifies  on grace rather than guilt. It reminds us of God’s unexplainable purposes being bigger  than our fruitless and selfish choices.    If I ever have a true conversation with God about suffering and His love for us, I think it would be similar to the conversation that Mack had with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu.


“Where is your God…?”

“How can you believe in  fairy tales like the existence of a  god?”

“If there is a god, there would not be  any suffering…”

“What scientific evidence do you have to prove God exists…?”

Have you ever been asked these questions by non-believers?  Have you ever felt challenged by people who demand proof, evidence, and mathematical formulas to prove the existence of “your God”?   It’s OK.  You don’t have to answer them.  Nobody really knows.

I sometimes wonder what is the nature of such questions and statements.  Could it be out of anger and frustration?  Could they be disillusioned with faith?  Why else would they ask where “my God” is?  These questions and demands are actually written in the Bible itself.   Job’s wife told him to curse God and to die in his misery (Job 2:9).  David writes about his enemies questioning where “his God” was? (Psalm 42:3)  The Pharisees demanded Jesus to descend from the cross if he was truly “the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:40)

What I suggest you do is simply express what your current views and beliefs are, without falling into the trap of engaging in a debate.  Because, I believe, debating is a waste of time.  We can debate all we want, while Life continues to pass by, and miss what is in front of us. Debating and trying to prove something to another person is another way of trying to defend the ego.

Speaking for myself, I don’t claim to “have a God”, therefore, I don’t own God.  If I say, “well my God is…”, then I am implying that I have my version of God already boxed conveniently in my possession, which I feel inclined to defend when others challenge “my” image of God.  He does not belong to me, but rather I belong to God.  I belong to the universe… I belong to  Truth…I am part of a whole… I am only a reflection of the ultimate Being.  I am just a tiny grain of sand in a desert.

Because it is truly fruitless to engage in apologetic discussions with non-believers, it is therefore better to simply be who you are at the present moment.  By this I mean, focus on the here and now.  Resist the temptation of trying to defend your beliefs, because by doing so, you are accepting a fight, and it takes away peace. Being in the Present is truly my salvation.  I live the true life by waiting and being still.  Reliving the past or worrying about the future keeps me away from salvation, away from God. Trying to defend my views of God, is the same as separating myself from God.

I also invite you to ask yourself the following questions.  And when you do, try to relate them to the idea that there is always some sort of dependence.  Nothing really exists by itself.  Not even our logic and reasoning :

Will a line ever get crooked by its own will?  Can the line ever be equal to the pencil and the hand that drew it?

Does 2 + 2 always equal 4?

Can the hole still be a hole without the donut?

Can rainbows ever rebel by appearing without the Sun?

Where in its curved surface does a circle begin?  What about a sphere?

How does  a painting ever separate itself from the canvas?  Can a painting exist without the painter?

Does a chess game ever take place without chess players?

Can we fully understand consciousness by using consciousness?

Can the character of a story be equal to the author of the story? Can a character also start questioning whether or not he or she has an author? Will the character ever understand the magnitude of the whole book?

Can we humans ever fully understand and live without God?

So… where is my God?  I don’t have one, because I belong to something bigger, beyond my comprehension.

I belong to God.


Extremes are foolish.

No matter how much I struggle with my faith in God… no matter how much I tend to use my limited reason and knowledge to try to find a logical explanation for things, no matter how I try to be a fool by relying on my own wisdom, I always end up going back to asking God for his intervention and mercy.  There is always the realization that my human knowledge and reasoning is only a limited ability in this limitless universe.  We are great beings, but not the greatest.

I recently was clarified by some friends in the blogging world that according to James and Paul in the New Testament, If we claim that we are Christians and have faith, but continue to live sinful (selfish) lives, it does not mean that we have faith and simply need works to be justified and be “saved”.  It actually means that we still don’t have faith in the first place.  Having faith in Jesus and the Gospel is equal to living a life of genuine surrender to what Jesus commanded us to do: love our neighbors as ourselves.  If we claim that we have faith in Jesus, but continue to cheat, steal, lie, hold grudges, discriminate, create war, etc, then we really do not have this faith, and we simply have faith in our own strengths to be “good”, even though we might try to say we are doing God’s will.

Faith involves a genuine surrender, a profound change of life, not a superficial or self pleasing change of life.  Let me use an analogy.  If the mirror says that it can reflect my face, but I do not see my face in it because it is too dirty, then it has no reflection of my face even if it says it does.  The mirror’s claim that it reflects is false.  The faith that it has that it reflects my face is false.  It is dead faith.  But if it truly and genuinely decides to clean itself, and then it says it can reflect my face, then it will have true faith, because I will see my face reflected on it.  The mirror’s faith is proved by the reflection. My true faith will be reflected by my genuine lifestyle.

Now, we can engage in religious debates about what does it mean to be “saved”, if hell exists, whether non-believers go to Heaven or not, and so forth…. while the rest of the world suffers from hunger, injustice, wars, corruption, greed, and other selfish and sinful acts.  We are still distracted with doctrinal debates and romantic relationships with an ideal Jesus, while the reality of the injustice of this world continues.  The real Jesus, I believe, commanded us to fight for righteousness, to make peace, to be humble, to have clean hearts, to mourn, and to be poor in spirit.  Jesus taught us to be perfect as God is perfect.  This is salvation.

Driving down the road, I came across a sign in front of a church that read “God: And you think it’s hot here?”  What exactly is this message supposed to do?  Encourage people to turn to God for fear of burning up in hell?  I rather feel intimidated by this sign instead of encouraged or ministered!  This is being extreme.  Foolish.

So my thought is that it is a matter of balancing my life between being too rational to the point of denying the existence of God, and being too religious limiting my spiritual growth.  Either way would be foolish.   But staying in the middle, by maintaining faith and still use reason, is the best way to grow spiritually. I must avoid being too rational or too religious. Either way would separate me from God.

” For merely listening to the law does not make us right with God, it is obeying the law that makes us right in His sight. ” Romans 2:13

“The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God'” Psalm 53:1

“Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

— Matthew 7:24–27


Am I losing faith?

losing faith

I am not the person I used to be.  I used to pray to God frequently.  I used to regularly attend church.  I used to read the Bible a lot. But not anymore. Does this mean I am drifting away from God?  Does this mean I am less Christian?  Or worse, I am not Saved anymore?    For those of you who have followed my blog ( and thanks for visiting and commenting), know that I am not a traditional believer.  I was raised Catholic, then turned to a Pentecostal, and now I consider myself a Reflective Christian.  Reflective because I have learned to welcome doubts and questions as a way to grow spiritually.  Christian because I strongly believe in the message that Jesus taught us about the Kingdom of Heaven.  But I have found myself not having a close contact with God.  However, I am strictly talking about the traditional kneeling down and praying.  What I have been doing is reflecting more, reading the Gospel with a different perspective (when I have time), and trying to serve the people I live and work with with more compassion.  But lately I have been so busy and so tired, that I have forgotten to reflect, or pay.  And I have felt more stress and more fatigue.  I can imagine people of “more faith” suggesting that probably I need to seek God , attend church more, and so forth.  I can appreciate these suggestions, but I have tried those things before and did not work for me.  It might work for others.  I am not sure what will work so that I feel closer to God.  But God himself is a mystery to me, which I long to know more about.

This is why I have started with the simple message of “loving my neighbor as myself” by serving others unconditionally.  I guess I am doing some of this by working with the mentally ill people at my job.  But it is truly exhausting.  But at the same time, who said that living the Kingdom of Heaven was going to be easy?  I try to pray that God somehow brings me extra strength to continue to work with these people.  But I remain careless about reflecting (or praying) more about this life. I know I am rambling here, but I just wanted to express my thoughts in this post.  Maybe I have already turned closer to God and I have not noticed it yet.  Maybe I am actually growing in my faith by reflecting more on how to serve others, instead of thinking about when to read the Bible and figuring out the next time I can attend church.  I am no longer a religious person, like I used to be, but I can safely say that I have become more curious and reflective about the spiritual world.  So the question remains, am I losing faith?  I rather say that I have a different faith, and that I am growing in a different way.

Am I not Saved?  Salvation is rather a complicated word, to me.  I used to believe that it involves being saved from eternal damnation in a physical hell.  Now I believe differently.  Being saved is more like being free from the selfish habits that keep me away from living the Kingdom of Heaven.  Being saved is no longer having to ask if I am saved. But it also involves a process that takes time, not a single event.  So turning to God, being saved, or whatever you want to call it involves a step towards the lifestyle of serving other human beings with genuine care and concern.  It is showing love and compassion without expecting an immediate reward.  It involves putting my own selfish tendencies aside and reaching out to others.  It is living the Kingdom of Heaven.  But it takes time and effort, and I think this is probably what I am going through.  Thank you for reading.