Church and Christmas

I have recently come across many statuses on social media outlets showing pictures of church signs explaining the cancellation of services because of Christmas and now even has become a parody for many because those, like me, can not imagine a Sunday where church service is cancelled unless it was due to some really unsafe conditions such as very frigid weather this Winter in some areas and other natural disasters as well as being very ill. One famous person on Facebook that has make a post about this is Jon Acuff. Now I am not attacking Jon like possibly many others have on social media with his remarks. But I want many of us to begin to really think who are professing Christians on this issue and why this is important to ponder on.

First off, I want to come out to say that I agree that there is no basis where God says we shalt meet on Sunday of each week for service. It is important to realize though that we are called to be part of a body of believers which requires discipleship, accountability, and assembly with one another worshiping our Creator. All of these are sure signs of someone desiring to grow in Christ and becoming sanctified under His grace (Hebrews 10:25). Much historical account from writings in the Bible and even some outer sources pointed to how those of Christianity found it of importance to meet weekly at least once a week- maybe more than once depending on culture and events happening- to fulfill God’s work in their lives. Churches are missional and have been since God established it with the new covenant for we are no longer under to old covenant that the Jews held to over time since Jesus came to radically change it.

With the establishment of the Church- the bridegroom of Jesus- we are commanded on waiting for His return to earth, and by doing so, we follow God’s command to proclaim His teachings over the ends of the earth. A way we have for centuries claimed it is by meeting in local churches across the world and being ministered to as well as proclaiming God’s majesty. We proclaim God’s majesty by singing of songs and prayers that are lifted up to Him and that is accomplished by the gathering of believers at a local building. It does not necessarily have to be in a church building but we need a functional church running that requires a qualified pastor, teachers, elders, and deacons along with your regular members. This is stressed by Paul to many groups of people he wrote letters to, especially to Titus for the people in Crete for a healthy church.

If history proves to be correct that the church was commanded to meet in assembly of proclaiming God’s goodness we need to take this into consideration for this time of year when Christmas is going to fall on a Sunday. Many have seen no harm to just cancel service on Sunday because it comes as a time where people want to spend time with family, especially pastors. It seems many have lost the meaning of why we celebrate this day as Christians. While we can agree that the day of December 25th is not exactly the day Christ was born, we have adapted to make that day a time to reflect as we do with Easter. Wether these days were made to remove pagan holidays from the pagan cultures at those times is completely irrelevant at this time. When we practice the Sabbath and when we also take a day to reflect on God’s goodness to mankind it is merited that we need to meet as an assembly to proclaim His goodness like those before us have done in centuries past. We have universally, for the most part, have agreed to celebrate God’s gift to mankind by the coming of His son on December 25th, and for that reason is the more as to why we need to find a local body to worship. God is the source of many of us in our salvation and we are even commanded to give that thanks back to Him by singing praises as the early church did. To not meet with an assembly and refuse to set time of authentic worship with other believers in Christ just defeats the purpose as to why we are celebrating this day and we are then no different than the Pagans of the past and even the present when we decide to forsake this fellowship and worship the holiday rather the reason this holiday has been set.

I want to urge many Christians to please take your time to go to the nearest local church and worship to God for He is the reason for this season.

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Yahweh In The Terror

Many know that as you read this post you know the great tragedy that happened on Earth as we know- France faced another example of terrorist acts from the likes of ISIS followers. Stuff like this brings many emotional responses that make it hard to even contemplate what to come up or process what just happened or what our conclusions are about certain groups of people or how we should even respond to them. There is fear now against people from the Middle East and it is easy for us to respond in fear to put them with the same group as ISIS even though they are not supporting these things or possibly do not believe in the Islamic religion themselves (I am sure there are that small percent that are not Islam and we must be aware that not all Arabic people are Muslims just as not all American citizens would truly label themselves as Christians). We must remember that the terror the French people faced are the same terror that many of the Syrian refugees faced themselves and attempted to flee from.

This terror not only makes us begin to question people and their motives. Terror such as this brings many of us Christians to question God; we wonder if He is even there or even aware of the situation at hand. God can seem distant in these moments because we begin to believe that if God is good then He would prevent these things from happening and take care of those that will impose such a threat to us. This is a dangerous way of thinking about God. Main reason is because if we end up stating that then we are also saying that we should be taken care of also as the same way as terrorists.

Aside from this irrational thinking that creeps on us, we must put our focus on the true things when it comes to dealing with a catastrophe like this. What really comes to mind is the book of Lamentations- mainly focusing on chapter 3. Plenty of Evangelical Christians easily can point out to this particular passage in this book. While all of Jerusalem was dealing with torment and torture from the Babylonians, Jeremiah is trying to give his condolences while at the same time proclaim all that will come to place. The first few chapters touch on the terror and hardships God’s people will face. Then later, once we reach to chapter three, we see a paradigm shift. A glimmer of hope is found even through the pain and suffering they are going through. This passage from chapter three I believe is a perfect description to the terror we have all witnessed in France and what this proclaims about our Lord:

“All our enemies open their mouths against us; panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction; my eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people. “My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees; my eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the daughters of my city. “I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause; they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me; water closed over my head; I said, ‘I am lost.’ “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause. You have seen all their vengeance, all their plots against me. “You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me. The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long. Behold their sitting and their rising; I am the object of their taunts. “You will repay them, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. You will give them dullness of heart; your curse will be on them. You will pursue them in anger and destroy them from under your heavens, O Lord.” (Lamentations 3:46-66)

This passage has so much emotion, but it does not steer away from the truth. While terror is in the midst of people, Jeremiah never denies how God is still present and ever so concerned, especially for His redeemed children who have gone through the terror.

So while we are all coping from this as bystanders and citizens in another country (or possibly in France if anyone there is reading this), let us not forget this truth that ever draws us near to our Lord and let us be able to use this moment to even be a witness to the people of Paris and point them to our sovereign Lord in the disaster, because as even C.S. Lewis states, he “shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Neo-Paganism

It seems as if yesterday we were all talking about post-modernism in our classrooms and how it is really destroying society. The claim to make all truths relative was the main goal. While it strived doing so successfully, it only created a war that was never intended to be made. Culture war was now in the mix and it was only a matter of time until we returned to what was widespread in European cultures during the time of the Roman empire. Many Christians have been seeing this coming but very few have been outspoken of the return of Paganism in our culture. Not only on the outside world, but it is even seeping inside our churches. This can only explain the reason of downfall in many denominations and churches that have become apostate on their beliefs outside of orthodox standards that our early church fathers strived to establish because of the same things going on at their time. If we do not try learning from our past we can safely say we will lose the culture that surrounds us if we do not first start with our churches that are accepting to these ideals that represent paganism.

If we observe the root words for paganism in the greek and hebrew, they are defined the same way. They describe them as these listed: Heathen, idolater, and world-like. But one that does stick out into what pagan practices are is “world-like or “of the world.” The Pagan practice is so focused on being one with their surroundings such as the trees, people, and the list goes on and on. It has become a powerful force in today’s age. Ever heard of the saying “do what you feel is right?” This is more than just a saying. The saying of doing what you feel is linked to what pagan practices lean toward. They lean to just the emotions and allowing your body to take over. It is what we are warned by Paul to not walk by the flesh but by the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). This is not to say those who tend to be more emotional on things are pagans, this is to suggest the knowing of allowing your flesh to be response of our actions to things instead of allowing the Spirit of God work in us shows roots and strong signs of Paganism. Paul had to face this plenty in his missionary trek; he even had to deal with it at Galatia. Pagan practice was big at that time with the Roman Empire influencing many countries at that time. Another letter that Paul wrote as an example to all of it was the first letter to the Corinthians. That letter shows Paul trying to plead with the church there to turn away from many of the practices and retreat from pagan festivities that went on because Paul knew how powerful the influence they put on the new converts and how it was working inside the church. Paul wanted them to turn away and pursue genuine worship toward Yahweh. He was giving instruction to even go against much of the cultural norms at the time because of the harm it was doing to spread the Gospel.

The effects of this renewal of Paganism is hitting us in many ways today as it done before. One of the biggest ones is the destruction of the binary. This binary not only reached in a normal citizen level, it reached as far as many of our governments. It is argued that it was present as far back as the early 1990s. Many Christians are confused as to how to respond to this phenomena that is becoming a powerful movement.

Some of the responses that are told are to either embrace what the culture gives us and go along with it, others say we must retreat and rebuke it at all costs and don’t go near any of it at all. There is no middle ground to any of these responses and many Christians are even in debate as to what we should do. Christians know that the ultimate aim is to spread the Gospel and teach the world about Jesus but there is even disagreement as to how it should be done and when are we crossing the line and compromising our walk with Christ and following the world’s standards.

There is much that can be argued as to why we should not be involved in much of what non-professing Christians take part of. Examples are shown such as the arguments of the slippery-slope of our culture and how it is continuously getting worse and worse. People on this side say that the world is too far out of reach and there is nothing we can do anymore to implement change and have to start closing our walls to keep any influence from the outside world becoming dominant with our Christian communities. On the other hand, we are told we should engage to redeem and change culture; after all, Jesus hung out with sinners as well and we should desire to be that light to them in showing how Christ has redeemed us and is still sanctifying us each day. The approach we take on this issue will take great discernment and reading from His word on situation to situation basis. There will be multiple responses as to how to handle each conflict that will vary for each individual.

This movement in our world can not be taken lightly and ignored. Too long have we as professed Christians possibly been silent on this issue and/or willingly accepted it in our lives as if there is no harm. There is major harm- it is harm for us as ambassadors for Christ. It also drains us spiritually. There is a lack of satisfaction within our souls when we follow the Pagan path and many who follow it strive to fill that void in their lives with anything that Neo-Paganism will try to offer. Time after time will a person come empty handed and their soul is neither satisfied nor at peace. Christ is the only way to satisfaction. We see Jesus proclaim that in the Gospel of John when He states that He is “the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty” (John 6:35).

Christ Before the Bride

Marriage- That is a major theme that happens around this time of year in the States during this time of year. Weather is warm and favorable to have at outside venues and everyone has done extensive planning for this one special day of couples making a covenant before witnesses and our Lord. There is no better time to have these ceremonies since many are off school and use their vacation days from work to go to these ceremonies during the Summer months. For many who are proclaimed Christians, we understand the deeper picture of marriage and how it is supposed to be used to glorify God and live out the Gospel through our marriage relationships. While some are not married themselves, scripture reminds us of some basic essential we need to consider and not forget when we are pursuing marriage in our lives.

This will be mainly aimed for many single people out there but is also just as important for those in marriage to consistently pursue these attributes and actions in their lives that it will show evidence of God’s work of sanctification in our lives. So let us deep into the perspectives of marriage and how this implies to the Gospel.

First, you must be equally yoked. We have heard this phrase in many christian circles. I have come to believe we have forgotten or lost what it truly means- or what it should possibly mean for all of us who proclaim Christ our Lord and Savior. With divorce rampant in our generation more than any previous before us, we can see the big importance Paul states here about not being unequally yoked with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. But I would like to add to that. And this is based off other people’s stories and even wisdom I think God gives many of us who are going to actively pursue a marriage relationship to glorify and serve God.

When I see it saying to be equally yoked, I even look deeper concept for us Christians as individuals. Marriage is a life of sacrifice for the bride and groom toward one another. Paul gives some pretty clear grounds on what a godly marriage looks like in Ephesians as well. One example for believers need to look as if they are wanting to pursue marriage, they better be ready to serve the other individual and be willing to sacrifice things in life that could get in the way and hinder the marriage. The only person that should have any merit to be involved in your marriage or soon-to-be marriage is God. He will intervene and even take away things from our lives so that we may serve our husbands and wives as Christ intends in the context of marriage.

There is, even, another aspect that can sometimes be ignored: the importance that two people have to be on the same agenda in all things- even if one person does not favor the directions in which the marriage is going for their everyday lives.

Now, to clarify, this is not meaning one person manipulates the other and the husband does not use the passages out of context of the wife submission to the husband. What I mean by being like-minded is the importance of major details that might even need to be covered before the marriage. For example: if one of them has a goal and mission to do work overseas in “missions” or anything in that nature, the other should be behind their mate (spouse) with this decision if it is a decision that the Lord opens and is being followed to glorify God and spread the gospel. Marriage is a teamwork effort and should never be taken as our lives being separate entities. This is why it is emphasized that when a couple is married that they become one flesh as God decreed. Your life is not your own anymore. You are a combined life with your mate and your life becomes their lives as well. This is a very mysterious and even scary thought to ponder on but it is essential. Without it, the marriage does not prosper nor show any growth of God working in our lives.

Secondly, when we are equally yoked in not only in both of our salvations in Jesus Christ, but in these other major details, our marriage should be to push the other toward Christ. We should continue to encourage the spouse to seek God for guidance before seeking even our guidance and counsel. That, in itself, is powerful considering our sinful and broken nature tends to bend toward depending on other humans for our satisfaction and fulfillment. Christ is the one who fulfills all things. We are never truly satisfied unless we are satisfied in Him; even in our marriage is not complete without Christ as the cornerstone and anchor we hold on to. This is not to say we can’t give godly counsel to our spouses (which we should always be doing so), but if we are seeking Christ as well we become that avenue that God uses to help guide our spouse closer to Christ. They should be able to see Christ in us first and foremost as the influence to their guidance than the knowledge of man which can become faulty and not perfectly able to sustain itself. True and authentic wisdom comes from God alone. (Just read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to find out.)

For each of us individually, this should challenge us each and every day. Even if we are not married yet, soon to be, or in our first years of marriage, asking God to guide us with His Holy Spirit so that we may grow in becoming the husband or wife for whoever God has placed for us. When we are in tune with His leading, we can go with confidence no matter what doubts or any feelings of that nature that God is going to be glorified and that we will persevere in our current or future marriages. God has never intended us to go about life alone. This is why God created marriage; it is an effort of teamwork in guiding each other towards Christ. Doing so makes the marriage stronger.

Finally, let us not forget all these major points and apply to us. The mistake can happen often where we are worried about our spouse fulfilling their duties in serving and never reflect on our behavior and spiritual disciplines. But most importantly, all of us are the bride of Christ. He claims us- males and females alike- as His bride that He consistently comes to pursue our hearts and mold them after His image. We, alike, must do the same toward our spouse to help create the image of Christ toward one another.

Be Still and Know

“Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10a. Most who read their Bible regularly and have taken time to memorize passages would immediately tell you they know where this is in the Bible and have heard it from time to time. I find it surprising that this is one passage we as a society in America (and possibly just western civilization) fail to encounter and practice due to the noise of this world we have created due to social media, world news, and fast-pace societies that never seem to show any signs of slowing down. It seems as if our culture dictates us to believing that if we slow down and do nothing that we are missing out and not accomplishing anything. I feel strongly to disagree with this notion; I would argue that many things are accomplished in being still, in silence, and in meditation than there is in immediate actions. We will dive into a perspective that I feel satisfies and enriches our walk as believers of our triune God and all He has to offer to us based on what we see in this passage and what we can learn from this Psalmist.

Now let us put into context what this whole Psalm is telling us about God. He is stating on the mighty power of God through the whole passage and shows examples of His power such as the power to make wars cease (v.9) and have all the nations bow down to Him alone. The author is going into very deep, descriptive, and dogmatic detail about God’s sovereignty that makes it easier for many of us to grasp as human beings. This is how he starts with these verses and it is also how he ends it. But the very major and attention-grabing sentence all starts in verse 10. He tells us that God is making a statement to “be still and know that I am God.”

Notice how this statement comes near the ending of this Psalm? It seems to be very intentional that it was written there specifically for all of us. Why is that? It makes sense that the author wrote it in this part of the Psalm because he is trying to help us realize an encompassing truth regarding all the he proclaims about our God; he is making this statement in verse 10 most likely because He wants us to reflect and see that anything that happens can not happen without Yahweh’s approval and sovereign authority over things. It is placed there to help us realize the verses before would not have happened without God at work at all. If He did not have the power to do so, He would cease to even be God logically, metaphysically, and epistemologically. The author of this Psalm is challenging us to stop and ponder on our God and even the works of His creation. But that is harder to do for us in American and many Western countries. We are so ingrained on thinking about the next big thing or have our minds cluttered around everything else that we do not discipline ourselves to stop (or be still as the psalmist says).

The first action was centered around us pondering on many things. The next thing that we see the psalmist point out in doing is to “know.” This is not fully different from being still but has some areas of contrast. One reason it is different to some degree in nature is what the definition of the word, know, is. To know is to hold to the belief of something with full confidence after observing and recognizing absolute truths from your observations. The Psalmist recognized this truth He observed just from being still and stopping to reflect and think critically.

This is something we miss to do regularly in the U.S. We do not fare well with taking time to be still. We are a fast-paced society and I believe this has come to hurt us. There are plenty examples of this being a negative effect on many: Anxiety and depression is big on this generation more than any we have known, people are quick to see what is going on in social media the moment they wake up instead of just giving themselves time to wake up and cognitively be more aware of their surroundings, and we even struggle to read for even a long period of time and are more entertained with just seeing animations on a screen. This is not to bash those things in general and call them evil. We have just lost focus and knowing there is a time and place to use those things as well as think over things and being still. We have ran away from doing both of those. As Christians, this is important for many of us to bring back into our culture. Reason why is not only will this help us in our social lives, but also as well with our spiritual lives.

I challenge many of you as well as I: What is something you can do to help you bring back this discipline in your life? What do you need to give up or even cut down on in your involvement in this world today so that you may be able to make Psalm 46:10a ring true to your life as God commands us to do- “Be still and know that I am God.”

Entering The Great Commission

Hi folks, it is great to be back in business again and writing to my followers. I am sure many are already thinking they have the idea of what I am going to write about just because of the title of this article. While you might be correct, there is a lot more to it that I am sure you will be blessed as much as I have been the past few months and it has led me to write this. I must also prepare you guys to even possibly have your worldview or even beliefs shocked; I could be wrong and you might have already had this figured out and are way ahead of the game than I am. If you are, I want to congratulate and encourage you to now help other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with the Great Commission. It is time for us to dive into the “new perspectives” of this commission.

Many of us that are reading this are probably American citizens and know the catch of life here in America as we age: We go to college, find a job, get married, have children, become grandparents, and eventually die and leave this world. That sounds pretty simple enough, right? That line in the middle of our tombstones means that many things were going on between our date of birth to date of death. Would it sound depressing if someone gave a eulogy speech on our lives and it only consisted of that list of normal things that is always expected in American culture or even a good amount of western countries and societies? This is why we know that deep within us, many desire to do so much in their lives; people set goals and always want to achieve something to improve society and make a difference. I would also claim that we all want to believe that is in everyone. Let us explore this a bit further- as Christians we want to, and should, have the desire to make Jesus known through the Gospel and the new life that He offers to everyone. We know that was commanded by us through Jesus during his ascension: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus was clear to the early Apostles on His mission for them and it has now been passed down to us 2000 years later. This means that even in the most hostile places the Gospel needs to be shared and we need to teach all that Christ has taught us through what He taught the Apostles during His 3 years of ministry on Earth. The very moment we called upon the Lord to be saved from our sinful nature is when the commission happened to each of us individually. So take time to think of when you humbly asked the Lord to come into your life and make you a new creation. That was the moment that God called you to spread His word. No one who claims to be a Christian (little Christ’s) are excluded from this.

I am sure that many are beginning to wonder if I am now trying to shove missions down your throat. That is not the case. Each and every one of us has a special calling that God will place us in and it will not necessarily be vocational ministry field related. Your mission field could be working at the local fast-food joint in your local town. That sounds crazy but it sure is a possibility. I remember working at a part-time job here and I was able to instill some godly wisdom to a local high school teenager about my calling to living life to glorify God. He was really shocked that a person like me with my high morals would even want to even converse with him while we were working and doing our jobs. I found this to be a very impactful moment knowing that I do have a passion working with teenagers and really showing them the life that God calls all of us to live. This is what I mean of your working place as your mission field. Because, if I am honest, if you are not able to even make an impact and try witnessing to people you interact with every day at your work area or town I would not be sold to believe you are called to do any work overseas if you ever decide to do missions. I know that came out harsh but I rather know we are sending someone overseas that is already practicing discipleship and evangelism in their local areas before they go off somewhere else and try doing that there.

Now let us go even deeper. This is extremely important because it will really have an impact with your ministry so pay attention to this statement: Ministry starts in the family first! You heard it correct, you need to first start fulfilling the great commission towards your family. If you know of someone in your family that is not a believer and does not bear any fruit to provide proof that they have a yearning to follow Christ and His teachings you need to start witnessing to them. Don’t be confused in me saying you need to convert them. That is God’s job to change the heart of man and we as humans have no power to even convict a person to turn toward God; that is all His work and He receives all the glory for it. The family is very important to God. Deuteronomy is very outspoken in a few areas about the order of the house and how it is a big responsibility for the parents especially to teach their children the ways of Yahweh. I know though that this is different scenario than to what we have for many of us. We are not in Judaic times and many of us have even parents who are not truly Christians. I know how hard that can be for many people that face this and I would want to say to not be discouraged and witness as much as you can until it does not matter what you say and they are constantly just ignoring you and do not want to hear about it. This is when you know that you have done all you can and need to let God do His work by even bringing someone else into their lives or maybe they will remember what you told them one day and it sticks with them. God works in ways we would not imagine sometimes and works at His timing on things. We should never rush something that God has not planned yet.

With the list or normal expectations that our American culture gives us, we can get distracted at times and forget the main mission that God set before us once we became believers and submitted our lives to Him. I hope this blog post blesses many of you and that you come to a much deeper understanding on what to do with your lives because the souls of people matter way more than that job or list of things that are expected for a “successful” American citizen to be considered successful in the eyes of many.

I should possibly also add that since I was talking about the Great Commission and missions I ask for prayer as I have been feeling God’s calling to serve and do missions overseas. It has been something I have been thinking about for almost 2 years but have been really feeling the conviction and urge to go. I specifically want to do mission work in Ireland. I have a passion for Europe and particularly that part of Europe. I know God will provide the things to go and will bring me there in His timing. I just know that if you told me that I would eventually be planning to do any overseas work when I first went to college I would not believe you and shrug it off. It is really interesting how God works with His children in many different ways and in His perfect timing.

The Testimony

Hello folks. Hope you are all having a great start to this Easter weekend as we come in remembrance of our Lord’s ultimate sacrifice for us who believe in the saving power of Christ on the cross for our sins. We all know how much this time of year means great importance to us; it means more to us than Christmas to some of us. This observance continues to remind us about the sacrificial and loving act our Lord put for the many that have come to believe in Him and declare Him as their personal Lord and Savior of their lives. Without this ultimate act of sacrifice, our devotion to God is in vain and we are still stuck in our sins. I know many of you that are committed followers to reading my blogs have a personal testimony on how God saved you in repentance to Him; and I also know there are some who might read my blogs and have not made that devotion yet to our Lord. Today, you are in for a treat. I am going to give my personal testimony in hoping that my story gives God the glory for I can not boast of anything at all. Well, here it goes.

I start my story for when I was nine years old at the time. My parents were just about to go through a divorce and this impacted my life immensely. Confusion and anger built up in my heart. All of that build-up eventually evolved into hate. Hate had won my heart. I hated pretty much anyone and had no care to love anyone at all. I was giving hate for the reason that I did not feel loved at all. Nothing seemed to be going my way. Everywhere I turned, there was negativity in my life. Much of this internal struggle built up and there never seemed to be a solution to makes things in life easier.

On top of the hate that built up, I was also facing rejection and hate  from others. I was being bullied in elementary school constantly and I even had a kid tell me, “God doesn’t love you because you are ugly.” That phrase really struck me and I have to say I believed it. I even came to believe God hated me and wanted nothing to do with me. No hope or light was shining at the end of the tunnel for me as I was contemplating if living this life was worth it. This progressed to me beginning to have suicidal thoughts. I sure felt that if I give up my life right now that no one would really care and I won’t be missed. There was absolutely nothing I could turn to. God was not the first person I ever thought to turn to. I was never taught that at the time and I honestly thought God did not really even care about what happened to me. He appeared to me more of a deistic God at that time. All of this happened during my late elementary years and I know it is by the grace of God I am still here.

By the time I was 12, change started to come for the good. I can not explain much of it, but there began to be a more sudden peace and life started to point in a positive direction it seemed. It all seemed to be new to me as I was not used to peace. But the time I was about to hit my years in middle school, this is when the Gospel was presented to me in such a way that I can understand for the first time. Just hearing about the sacrifice that Jesus put on himself helped me to realize the truth about who God really is. God surely had this in plan I am sure from the start and I am thankful that He did. After hearing about who I am as a sinner in need of a savior because I can not face this life on my own, I immediately wanted to repent and ask God for help and that I desire Him and His promise of salvation. I still remember the day I walked down after service to publicly announce my conversion and faith in Christ. It was like God was waiting for me at the front and I began to be in tears as I felt as if God was telling me, “welcome home, son. I love you.” This surely was a love I never experienced and because of His mercy and grace, I am not only alive and here physically, but I am also now alive spiritually. I was dead in my sins, and now I am alive and redeemed by His grace through Christ who took my place to take on my sin and wrath of death that I truly deserve from the day I am born.

This, in a nutshell, is my testimony of How God saved me. It has been a great 10 years on this journey in life. I now know I am not alone and am always experiencing God’s love and mercy each and every day. I hope this encouraged many of you and you were able to dive into a “new perspective” of how great our God is. Feel free to share your testimony of faith with others. It sure will have a great impact to the kingdom and is a great witness tool for those who have not accepted the free gift of salvation.

Journey in the darkness Pt. II

Welcome, my faithful followers and readers of my blog. I know it has been quite a long time since I have written. It is something I sure need to improve on and keep you all updated on these blogs. These are not meant to just write for my benefit, but to have you all gain a deeper insight to the walk of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ no matter where you are at currently. You could be at a season that you are flourishing and prospering in life and careers. Or you can be in the same situation as I have been within the past couple of months. This area is pretty dark and can leave you to feel there is no hope at the end of the tunnel. If any of you have read my notes on via facebook, there is the first part to this that was written about 3 years ago so that is why this is names as part II. Feel free to read the first part on Facebook if you so choose. I believe this one is going to be much deeper than the previous one and will probably be more applicable to us all. Be prepared to delve into the new perspective on the dark times of our lives and be prepared to hear a bit of my story to gain a more in-depth insight of this and how we can help others who are dealing with this.

It all begins for me at around the time I was not sure what my future was holding. I was so sure things were heading one direction, and suddenly, it just turned a complete 180 on me. All I had hoped for and anticipations just seemed to not being going my way. I was so sure things were pointing up and all I could see was positive happening for me because of the many changes in life that were progressing at a very great pace. I thought I had done all these things that were right and that nothing could go wrong to what I was expecting. Slowly though, nothing seemed to be going my way. I did not understand. How could I be going through this? I was so sure it was not supposed to be this way because I either felt God was involved in all of these things for positive or that I had done enough that was necessary for God to make things happen that I was anticipating.

Not long after all that I hoped for was going away, depression really hit home for me. (Now I want people to know that I do not find it fun to announce my struggle with depression. At the same token, I do hate to pretend I do not deal with it because then I am just lying to anyone when I am saying I am doing good and that life is great when it is not at the moment). Life did just seem pointless. I really did not want to even continue facing many days. I would wake up for work and just completely want to fake sick some days just so I can just lay on my bed all day and not have to face the inside world. This is how I used to deal with depression and it sure does not help. I did not fake call in sick from work of course. I knew I had to keep on going. So, while I was at work, I had to continue having my depression affect me. Life just seemed really pointless. I continue to ask what am I doing here and why does everything seemed to be at a dead end. Luckily I knew I had friends I can share my depression with and ask for prayers. Was able to ask people I never had to ask before because it seemed at times I was always trying to be the strong one for my core group of friends. This time, I was the one asking for help and for support when I was going through my depression state.

Not only was I constantly asking for prayers and just talking for someone to listen and hear me out, I was also having many conversations with God as well about my frustrations. There were even times I was just upset with God himself. I continued to ask why for many things in my life. I then began to feel I was led to just fail in life and that just seemed to be my ultimate end. I began to ask God what was next- not the next as to what I should do now. I was asking God this as to what else was He going to have me go through just so negative can happen and that I could just suffer through depression again as that seemed to appear to be my theme for this past year- the past couple of months just have been the peak of my depression. All of this eventually led to a point when it seemed God was just silent and nothing was happening. I know and believe the truth that Yahweh is always with His children in all stages of life, but I did not feel that way at the moment. I had not felt this way in a long time- where God just did not seem to be there with me and all I was getting was silence from Him as if He does not want to speak to me or that He was upset with me. How could any Christian go on in life with hope when even God just seems silent. I know there are many places in Psalms where we see things close to this expressed in many of King David and many other’s writings- especially Psalm 22.

Now to the part where all the gloominess and darkness soon leaves. I know many of you were anticipating this part. After dealing with this for about close to 2 months, that morning was the moment when life would take a turn. I started my normal routine of getting up for work that day and get my stuff in order. While driving, I normally have my radio on. This morning I did not have my radio on as I was continue to have my little complaint to God and ask Him how long is He going to let me keep having this dark time in life. Of course there never seemed to be an answer or any signs of hope from that. Work that morning started out tough as I was then beginning to feel depressed and really sad. I am striving to hide it so I am not looking like I lost it to one of my co-workers. Finally I decided to walk over to the truck and looks as if I was just going to get some water to drink. I knew that was not what I was going to do. This time, I knew I had to let it all out and just cry it out and just beg God to be near for I needed Him. I went over and just balled my eyes out. I could not take it. I begin telling God, “Please help me, I am weak. I have no hope. I just can’t continue on like this. Father, I need you, please be near.” This was then a moment that for me was even more meaningful. While of course God is not physically there, I can not explain the felling perfectly; but I know that was the moment when it just really came that I felt myself metaphorically just crying in my Lord’s chest as He embraced me. This seemed to just be the assurance that He was still there and that He loved me always. After releasing all that I had, there came a sense of peace regardless if I was in a dark time of my life.

As of today, I can not say my high point of depression is gone, but this new perspective of embracing myself to God and all the love He has to offer during the dark time in my life just makes life not feel as pointless as it had the past months. I now get up and still feel depression come at times during some days, but I never begin to question if my life has any point. I also just continue to embrace to my heavenly Father when I am dealing with these moments. So to many of my friends dealing with your dark moments in life: keep going and just embrace in His arms. Yahweh is walking with His children in their worst times of life as well and has never forsaken us. Keep this scripture passage in mind as well:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” -Psalm 121

This passage shows a characteristic of God that is true for all of us to remember who are His adopted children. I hope you have been impacted by this story and you gained a new perspective on the journey through dark times in life.

Perfectly Loving

There has been many great and interesting conversations that have come up recently in my life that the only response that is necessary is to write about this topic; yes, the four letter word topic. With the culture we live in that tends to distort meanings of words and change how we interpret certain issues, it has now even become more hard to know truly what this four-letter word (love) is. As humans, we use love loosely to food, toward other people, to even our expression to God for those of us who are proclaimed Christians.

I have had insightful conversations with one of my good friends and we have been able to even bring up multiple times as to what it really means to love in God’s eyes. Now this can be probably the hardest thing for many of us to cope with because if we really take time to evaluate we know we are far off to what we really should be aiming toward according to Yahweh’s standards. I know I am still short to what He expects out of us and that really convicts me more than anything. I know my desire is to love as much as God wants me to love and I desire to give love among others. There are plenty of times though when the flesh comes in and takes force in hoping I fail to succeed in God’s commands of loving Him with my everything and loving others as myself (Matthew 22:37-40). We must keep in mind though that even though the flesh is there to make us fall short to our goal, we have His Spirit who has given us victory over these shortcomings.

Since I have given you a brief intro into what I am going to be writing about, it is now, I believe, time to delve deep into the study of love and what it means to God. We all need to remind ourselves as to the actions that follow along with love that is Christ honoring. We will start by looking at the most famous part in Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13.

Many of us are familiar with this passage and probably quote it plenty of times for many events such as weddings, valentines day, or any event that encompasses about relationships with others. I can argue that we overuse it and put it in the wrong context plenty of times as well that we begin to lose sight on what it really means. When the first part of it is read, we come to understand that “Love is patient.” Now what can this possibly mean? I believe it means so much more than what many people are even willing to submit to. The definition that we have for patient is this: able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. How does that sound? Accept and tolerate delays. Delays in what? It could be anything for all we know. I mean, Christ was patient with the people at his time that nailed Him to a cross. Did you also recognize the word suffering and problems in that definition as well. That completely goes against our normal instinct as humans. We always want to retaliate and hope for the best in that

Now we go into about love being kind. We all know that is quite easy to understand. But living that out is easier said than done. But to respond to people in just kindness is so easy for someone like me to really take for granted. It is easy being kind to those who are kind to you and are your close friends. But what about our enemies? Are we the same to them as we are to closer acquaintances? If we can really be honest, we know we are not. This is a problem. God wants us to even love those people. He even commands us to love our enemies. Yes, love them. So the next time you come around someone involved with ISIS (I do not really wish this upon anyone. This is just for example.), could you authentically give them that love that even God gave to you as a believer? I can admit that is the hardest thing for me to grasp. To even go beyond to the philosophy that Jesus presented love as giving your enemy a drink when he asks for it is quite absurd to us if we are truly honest.

The third point from that passage that sticks the most that is probably quite forgotten and not really paid much attention to is how love “rejoices in the truth.” I can admit when I first read this passage for the first time, this never crossed my mind to rejoice in the truth. For fellow Christians we can really live this out by living out truth. Living out truth can have many factors. One of them being that we should be open to share among our fellow believers God’s truth which we find in His Word and whatever else that God continues to teach us in accordance to what also scripture teaches us.

Another deeper perspective in rejoicing in the truth is how we do rejoice in God.If God is Love, then He is basically declaring Himself as truth in this passage that Paul is presenting here. So what does this mean for us all. If you are married, you basically signed a covenant with one another and your goal as spouses should be to help one another grow closer to Christ (the Truth). If you are single, you still have somewhat a same mission. It is just in a different context and with different people. Your goal will be to help others live out the Truth instead of having such a stronger focus on a spouse and your family if you are not married. Each of us have a role in sharing truth to others. It can be really difficult with an imperfect world, but it sure is not impossible when our God is in the mix and is involved in all of our endeavors.

After seeing these three main crucial points I have presented, all of this goes straight to the climax of this topic. We see many times in scripture and where Paul presents that Love never fails. It is eternal and if God is love, then we are not just saying love never fails, but that God never fails. That is really encouraging for me to know and not have to question. If we live out love, we are living out the image of God. He continues to be a stronghold of our faith and the cornerstone of our faith is held in Christ which is love.

Well, now that this topic is coming to a close, I would surely like reviews on this and maybe even more thoughts of wisdom you think is worth sharing on this. Either comment on this blog or even on any of the social media sites I post this up on. Enjoy delving into a “new perspective” on love and may you ever grow in Christ whoever reads this and takes it to heart.

Cry to Him

There are many things that we all seek to live authentically so that we may be able to allow Christ to be known and show the world our great need for Him and His grace. Guidelines are built on to how we should act and if we do not live to those standards, sometimes we are condemned for not putting our faith in God and being self-centered. One of the biggest lies in the church (especially for males such as I) is that it is not okay to let our emotions take over and use them to express them to our God. If we are crying over a very troubling situation, we either get a response such as “you must put your faith in God” or “Don’t worry, God will get you through this.” While statements such as these have truth in them, they are not needed to hear at the time. I am sure many who are Christians and put their faith in Christ and His redeeming work know these things. They do need to do something that God has created us for; that is the act of expressing.

Expression comes to me as something very artistic, heart-felt, and coming straight from the soul. Our soul is how we make life and move throughout the day. As Lewis tells us: “We are not a body with a soul, we are a soul with a human body.” Paul even does well in Galatians when he exhorts us to walk in the spirit and even in the letter to the Romans with the dual nature between the flesh and the spirit and how Paul had the internal struggle of the things he had done and left undone. There is just something about the soul and the life it can create with Christ, because apart from Him and the guidance of His Spirit, there is only death.

Now that I have gone in more detail as to the role of our inner being, I want to explain further why this is extremely important for expressions; especially with the emotion of sadness and grieving. We see in Romans 8 how Paul speaks on creation that has been groaning for redemption. Could this possibly be a way to even describe how people respond to brokenness in this world because they are striving for something better, something peaceful? Could the emotion of weeping and crying bring redemption? I would say that it could and should. Unlike any other created thing in this world, our emotions have many implications as to how life goes on and do even determine even our future. Holding emotions in only creates problems such as depressive disorders and many other therapy related issues. But why is it that we feel more compelled to bottle up our feelings and continue to create a strong resistance in opening up to vulnerability?

Plenty of reasons can be a result as to why we hold on to emotions, including the number one reason being sin since the fall of the first Adam. But the good news is that we are not alone in this battle. Many people face through this, including myself. I been continually thinking what I can do to help myself through this because I know it will come to affect me in the future if I do not know how I can approach allowing such emotions take over me during a time of season of grieving over any particular issue.

The first thing that should be done is allow yourself to cry. This is really touchy, including for males because we live in a society today that makes crying show weakness and that “real men do not cry.” I would argue that is a strength for us as believers in Christ because we are not looking to ourselves, but to Him most likely at this time of mourning. Whether we are looking to God in a positive or even a negative response in this time of mourning, we are directly looking to Him. Our response to grieving as Christians only puts us to look up to Him and begins to reveal who we are. We begin to see truth about us and how short of perfection we all are and how perfect He is.

Second is to not let society fully tell you what to grieve and not grieve on; especially if they do not have scriptural basis for their response. Many of us are in different stages of our life, including with our relationship with God. Someone could find making a C on a class something worth grieving over while another person has no effect over that. God has created us uniquely different and has made our passions so that they may be used for His glory. Sadly enough, we let sin control what God created for good and distort it with wrong passions. So when I talk about grieving, look up scripture and see all the things that God has created for Him and His glory that can be used to even grieve when we fall short.

The final and last advice I would say is be open to being vulnerable to your other brothers and sisters in Christ. This will go a long way into the life of a Christian. I do want to note that I am not saying being totally open to everyone with everything. There is certain limitations that even scripture tells and shows us how to open vulnerability. The practice is needed though. Without it, we will not begin to even grow in stronger relationships with friends and eventually our future wives/husbands. How we approach our vulnerability also plays along with how we are to God as well. Being open is an essential practice for us because as I explained earlier, being open is an artistic way we are able to express ourselves. We have many examples of such things from the Psalms and even the book of Lamentations from Jeremiah (who is known as the weeping prophet).

I know I touched on this topic very broadly and possibly vague. I would not say this is my strongest article pertaining to a certain issue in society today, but I think this is a good intro to how we need to really think over the issue of grieving and what we can do about it. Feel free to even comment on any other ideas that comes to mind with this issue.