Tag Archives: the poor

To Seek or not to Seek…?

Here is a dichotomy in my mind…

I can remain calm , through acceptance, self denial, and simplicity.  This will include being satisfied with what is, and refusing to desire so to avoid suffering.

 

Or I can live this life seeking for meaning through prayer, reflection, reading, and studying.  Being unsatisfied and wanting more in life, but feeling hopeful and maintaining faith that I will find more satisfaction .

I can let life continue to be without necessarily trying to “find ” God , or live by trying to discover who and what God is and hoping that a divine intervention will come.

What would be the correct path? I can decide to remain calm and accept life as it is, meditating and simply being.  I can do  this by being aware of the present moment.  Living in the here and now.  I can also remain calm by refraining from desiring and wanting.  Happiness would then be wanting what I already have.  Being a minimalist.  Believing that less in more.  Letting things pass through me… letting go…. without resistance… without judgment.  And experiencing peace.

But I am suddenly aware of the injustice of life.  I am aware of wars… hunger… terrorism …. and famine.  I then become more sensitive to the “evils” that poison this world.   I  start feeling anger…. frustration…. and disgust.   And then  I am motivated again to fight for justice and peace.

Which means I cannot just be. I have to move and do something.  So the question remains: Should I seek justice and peace?  Or should I simply be and accept?  Should I turn the other cheek, or fight for equality and justice? Should I remain calm, let go and let God…  or should I stand up and take action?

Blessed are the poor in spirit… but also are the ones who fight for justice.  Blessed are the meek, the ones who mourn,  and the peace makers… but also the ones who reveal the hypocrites, give to the poor, and speak the truth.

Maybe there is a time for everything.  A time to fight, and a time to make peace.   A time to speak, and a time to remain silent.

Perhaps we are called to act and not act according to the circumstances.  According to the needs at the moment.  But who decides?

Maybe it does not have to be a dichotomy, but a more fluid, mixed approach of seeking and not seeking according to our calling.

 


What kind of Atheist or Believer are you?

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/15/the-six-types-of-atheists/

The above link has been a popular blog post that CNN published recently regarding a new study that identified different atheists.  It invites some of us to try to identify with a particular type of atheism.

It looks to me like the beginning of the development of various “non-religious” denominations.

In the “religious”  or Christian world, there are those who identify themselves as Catholic, Pentecostal, or Episcopal.  There are also those who prefer to be called Baptists, Lutherans, or Methodists.  There is also the Church of God, The Church of Christ, the Assemblies of God, and the Church of the Nazarene.  Furthermore, there are others who attend the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Unitarian Church, the Orthodox Church, and the Scientology Church.

There are people who are labeled as conservatives, moderates,  liberals, creationists, evangelicals, and missionaries.  There are those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, and those who believe in the symbolism of the scriptures.  There are those who believe in the story of creation, and those who believe in evolution.  There are those who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments, Baptism in water, praying to saints, and the intervention of angels and saints. There are those who believe in the Rapture, others in the second coming of Christ, and others believe in the Resurrection of our bodies in the latter days.

Not to mention Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jewish, the Baha’i faith, Wicca, and many other organized  religious affiliation.  The list goes on and on of the different kinds of churches and belief systems.

How much more division and labeling are we going to embrace?  How much contrasting are we going to endure?

According to CNN’s article, there are six main types of Atheists (is it a coincidence that they came up with the number 6?).  There is the “Intellectual”, the Activist,  the Seeker/Agnostic (which does not sound like an Atheist since it implies seeking something transcendent with an open mind), the Anti-theist, the Non-theist, and the Ritual Atheist.  What will they come up with next?

This is why I don’t necessarily like the idea of using labels to identify myself.  It tends to separate us from each other and from ourselves.   I have written that I call myself a Reflective Christian.  This does not imply any particular religious denomination or philosophy.  I am just a person who seeks and strongly believes in serving the poor, like Jesus, Ghandi, and Buddha taught.  Period.  If this description is not enough to fit the popular method of labeling and categorizing, too bad.

Do you identify yourself with a particular religious group?  Or are you more like one of the six kinds of Atheists?  Are you an “ABC” (Atheist, Believer, or Confused)?

I would like to hear about your opinion on this matter.

Thanks for reading.


What is Happiness ?

A lady who dreams of spending time with family who lives hundreds of miles away.  She is delusional about her family coming to visit her. She is disoriented and paranoid.  She relies on medication to remain fully functional.

A drug addict who gets excited for simply receiving extra food during the holidays. He has no family members to spend time with.  He sometimes sells food and medicine to support his drug addiction.

A man who prefers to spend time by himself on Christmas. He is depressed and actively psychotic. He is sometimes suicidal.   He has an elderly mother who no longer can visit him as she used to.
These are just a few examples of the suffering that surrounds us on a daily basis.  We complain about every little thing that happens to us, but forget about  the people who dream of having the basic things in life such as food and shelter.  How unappreciative can we be?  How much more are we going to ignore our suffering neighbor?  We remain fixated on what would make us happy, and disregard the needs of the “least of these”.

We tell each other “Happy Holidays!”, “Happy New Year!”, but are we really wishing each other happiness of are we simply being polite?  Are we happy when we receive the Christmas gifts, or simply being spoiled? Do we care about other’s basic needs or about our desires and wants?  The truth is, all we really care about is our own comfort and self indulging behavior.  Let’s admit it.

We don’t know what happiness really is.   We rarely think about the ones who need real happiness in their lives, not because they have less money, dirty clothes, or fewer friends, but because they have nothing at all.

Do you know what it’s like to have nothing at all?  Ask a homeless person.    Ask a severe mentally ill person.  Ask an orphan.  They will surely educate us on what happiness really means.  They would say happiness would be something like a hot meal.  Or a warm bath.  Or spending one hour with distant family members.  Or having a clear mind without hallucinations or delusions for 30 minutes.  This is what happiness really is.

Unless we are starving, freezing, depressed, petrified, or in unbearable pain, we will never appreciate what happiness really is.


It’s not all good

Sadly, it is not all good.

Speaking with my wife today, it was a harsh reminder of the reason for my existence.

She has always felt she is here to help orphans.

Since she was a preteen she felt it in her heart.

Similarly I have felt that the reason for my existence is to serve the needy.

Should I perceive our individual callings as a sign from above?

Strangely we both feel we have wasted most of our lives with selfish agendas.

Simultaneously we have seen how much suffering continue  in this world.

Sickness, hunger, injustices, poverty, natural disasters…the list goes on.

Since when did we humans forget that we are all the same?

Strangely  I hear some people say “it’s all good” when it is not true.

Selfish lifestyles keep us from seeing the truth.

Sincerity and humility is what we need to practice.

Spirituality and not religion is exactly what we should endorse.

Sitting down with my wife and discuss about our calling is my next plan

So that we can finally start living the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sensitivity to the suffering is my urgent message to my readers today

Simplify our lives and Serve the needy

Surrender to the realization that it is not all good.


Church? Help Jesus instead.

The other day,  I met many Jesuses.   They were hungry and lonely. I helped to feed them.  They were mentally ill, physically sick, confused, wheelchair bound, and desperate.  They were all in great need.  I drove one on them to his deteriorating house.  I listened to another one who complained of stomach pain. I could have been at home enjoying a relaxing day with my family.  But I was blessed to have the opportunity to serve these Jesuses instead.  I felt the presence of God, and did not set foot on a church.  I am sharing this to give God the glory, not myself. Please do not congratulate me or praise me for this, I just want to get this message across: Church should be on the streets.

This is why I strongly believe that attending church should involve the following:

Instead of raising hands in praise….take the hands and reach out to feed the hungry.

Instead of going to a temple or synagogue… go to prisons and nursing homes to visit the forgotten.

Instead of kneeling to pray… kneel to talk to orphans and homeless people who sleep on the cold floor.

Instead of singing hymns…. sing to a crying baby whose mother just died of AIDS or is waiting to be adopted.

Instead of listening to a preacher’s sermon…..listen to the cries of a beaten man or a raped woman.

Instead of listening to what a particular church has to say about how to handle your money…..  listen to your heart when a smelly, unkempt  person asks for a quarter.

Instead of worrying about how to have people “saved”…. worry about how to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

Instead of reading and memorizing Bible verses…practice what the Bible says.

Before you shake hands with your “brothers and sisters in Christ”…remember the Jesuses that are waiting outside the church.


Is this all there is to Life?

I admit it. I am the man that is double minded. I feel closer to God one day, and farther away the other. I have faith one day, and doubt the next.  I feel encouraged to pray or reflect today, and tomorrow I don’t want to hear anything about God or Jesus. I am easily influenced by circumstances. I am the man described by the book of James in the Bible which says that “because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (Ch. 1:7-8).”

I need to be honest about who I am, I don’t want to do what I used to do in the past.  I used to pretend that I firmly believe in everything that other Christians claim to be the ultimate truth.  I used to force myself to pray in certain ways simply because it was what was expected.  It was strictly religion.  But what I do now is to be open to various interpretations.  No, I am not creating my own religion, although I may be doing exactly this without noticing it.  Neither am I agnostic, because I believe there is a God. But I am not sure who or what this God really is. Although sometimes I can feel Him very close to me.  And sometimes I do not.  I am inconsistent.  The book of Revelation  claims that Jesus says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Ch. 3:15-16).” This is a strong message, stating that Jesus will reject me when I am inconsistent.  It says He wishes I am either hot or cold.  Does this mean he will accept me if I am consistently away or close to God?  I don’t believe so.  But this same chapter continues with Jesus saying that people who are lukewarm say they are “rich”.  I don’t claim this, although I sometimes fall under the erroneous presumption that I am already heading towards that right direction, failing to be “poor in spirit”, as Jesus said he prefers us to be in order to have the Kingdom of Heavens (Matthew 5).  I understand also that this chapter refers to a particular early church in Laodicea. Should I interpret it pertaining exclusively to this historical church, or also to the present lukewarm church, like myself?  Don’t know.

But I read further in this passage, and feel a strange inspiration when I come across the statement that says “  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  Sometimes I hear the door knocking, but I am afraid to open it.  I am afraid that when I open the door there is nothing on the other side.  I am afraid of living an illusion.  But I am also afraid of not opening the door, because I might miss the greatest opportunity ever.  You see, I have opened the door before, or so I thought, and the joy was there, but with time, it disappeared, because of my double mind.  I feel tears in my mind while reading this passage, because I don’t want to reject God/Truth/Life.  But I don’t want to fool myself with empty hopes.  If God truly loves me, then He must be rebuking me and disciplining me, like this last verse says.  This is probably why I going through a spiritual tribulation.

I am also like Thomas, the disciple who doubted until he saw the resurrected Jesus. He told Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed (John 20:29).  Could this mean that I am not blessed if I keep looking for evidence instead of having bling faith?  I am certainly not completely happy and content.  But at the same time, if I am content, then I will not feel motivated to seek more of God.  I may be blessed and happy to simply believe, but I will not know more of God.  I also recently understood that having faith like “a seed of mustard”,  will enable me to do great things, which also means I don’t have to have great  faith (Luke 17:6).   I am not necessarily underestimating God’s power by looking for evidence, I may actually be glorifying Him even more if I keep searching to know more about the nature of His power.

If I am wrong for being double minded,  I can accept that.  What I cannot accept is that knowing God is simply believing everything that other “believers” claim.  I want more from God.  I want to actually feel closer to God, not be content with a few doctrines that is convenient to our selfish desires and cultural norms.  I don’t want to claim to believe certain things in order to be politically correct.  My goal should not be to please others, but God. I live in a constant spiritual struggle, which many might say is the “evil” versus the “good” in my body, like Paul describes in the letter of the Romans (Ch.7:1524).  But, is my doubting an evil thing?  I cannot accept this either. My understanding of evil is to be selfish and to exclude other people.  Doing good is to be inclusive, to love others regardless.  If I claim that my faith is the right one, and everyone else who thinks differently is wrong, then this is true evil.

So what I still have firmly is the thought and belief that I must serve others to live the Kingdom of Heaven.  This I don’t doubt.  It also does not mean to expect a reward, like this world only knows to do.  But to simply and genuinely reach out and help the poor, the hungry, the needy, the sick, the homeless, the mentally ill, the handicapped, and everyone else who is considered “the least of these”.  Jesus identified himself with these people.  I still hope that, by doing this, I will know God more, in spite of my many doubts.  In spite of my double mind.  Because what I see with my physical eyes cannot be all there is to Life.


 


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