Sunday, July 31, 2011

When people we love hurt us

When people we love hurt us, the usual desire is to change their feelings. We think that if just strive harder, love stronger, be more positive, be more attractive, then they'll come around and stop hurting us.  Well, let me tell you something.  Love is not something that we earn by being more beautiful, being more loving, being more compatible, being more faithful, being more and more and more for the other person.  These actions are a natural outpouring of our love, but we can't force someone to return these feelings just because we felt or did these things for them.  Love is given freely to those we love.  When we love just because we're getting something out of it, then that's not love.  That's emotionally abusing the other party.

when people we love hurt us </3

The next reaction would usually be the desire to get back at the person who hurt us. We want to act all screamy bitchy and maybe, please, could you gouge his eyes out and cut open his stomach and remove all his entrails just to get some revenge?

I wanted to do that.  I wanted to shout and curse and make the other party feel the extent of my pain.  But I couldn't.  I would have done it before, but I couldn't do it now.  The command is clear: In your anger DO NOT sin.  I could tell the other person how I felt, but I COULDN'T SIN.  I couldn't run over him with a ten wheeler truck or ram him with a bulldozer.  The anger in me felt that I could though, and what's more, that I SHOULD. And to tell you frankly, I did hurt many people back with my actions and words.

I struggled with that command.  I felt that God was restricting me.  That it wasn't healthy, that God was unfair and that he didn't care because the other person was just getting away easily with every hurt that he did to me.
does God care?
credit: ilovedoodle@flickr

I couldn't accept that God was asking me to do such an unhealthy thing as repressing my feelings.  Is God really unreasonable? Does God want to restrict me and make me live abnormally?  Why would he create me with feelings in the first place if I can't act on them?

When Christians are hurt, should we just keep quiet?  I grew up thinking that aside from not sinning, I should also never ever question God when I didn't understand Him, as doing so would also be a sin.  The bible discussions I attended the past months revealed to me just how false this teaching was.   I can absolutely relate to David when he poured his heart out to God and asked,
"Will the Lord reject us forever?  Will he never show his favor again? 
 Has his promise failed for all time?" 

The prophet Habakkuk is another example, crying out to God accusingly,
"How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?"  

Yes, in our anger we shouldn't sin.  But in our anger, we can talk to God.  We can come to him and question him and struggle with him when the hurt doesn't make sense anymore.  Most of all, in our anger and grief, we can hold on to God and be assured that He is faithful.

God does listen and answer.  God answered me, but it took a while for me to understand, because it wasn't God  who wasn't listening.   I wasn't listening.  I didn't like what God was telling me, because it went against what I wanted. I wanted the other person to love me first and love me above all, but God was telling me to love Him, my God, first and above all.  I didn't hear God, because my eyes were focused on someone else.

In other instances,  God's answer became clear at a much much later time.  I'm sure that some of you had those moments when you said, "Ah, so this why this happened! I'm so happy that it did!"

 I don't understand many things until now, but I'm glad that I don't have a blind and mute wooden replica of a God who doesn't know how I feel.  Instead, I have a God who knows how it feels to be betrayed, denied and rejected by people that He loved.  I have a God who was whipped, crowned with thorns, mocked, jeered at, and nailed to the cross.  I have a God who called out to His Father, "Why have you forsaken me?"

True Love.
credit: flamable77@deviantart

When people I love hurt me, I CAN shout, scream, gnash my teeth, and just pour out everything to my Father.  Unlike other people who'll eventually get tired of my drama (I am such a drama queen when it comes to things of the heart, and you have this post as a reference) or who would just tell me to drink myself to death and party all night or to travel to forget my problems, my God offers complete healing.  What's more, I can be assured that I will eventually be redeemed from any pain, hurt, embarrassment and failure.

Christianity is NOT about hopping bunnies, bright sunshine and colorful flowers.  Christians also get hurt, mad, and angry.  We can spend seasons in the desert or in a battle.  Being a believer does not guarantee a problem-free life, but what it does guarantee is that we will always have a great God to help us go through anything.

PSALM 130. credit: Philip Davis

Monday, July 25, 2011

Music Monday: Jars of Clay

For Music Monday, I bring you unplugged versions of two of my favorite Jars of Clay songs --  Love Song for a Savior and Worlds Apart.
If the flash player below doesn't work, click on the following Youtube links
Love Song for a Savior (with lyrics) Youtube
Worlds Apart Youtube

I got introduced to Jars of Clay, a Christian rock band, way back in high school.  I wasn't a Christian then, and many of my friends weren't, but their song Flood just flooded the airwaves and got our attention.  In college, I heard another Jars of Clay song Hymn being played by our organization's guitarist.  I had that song in my head for weeks, and it's still one of my favorite songs until now.


The band's name was based on the New International Version's translation of 2 Corinthians 4:7:
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Their music is inspiring and uplifting without being cheesy or "religious".  I like Jars of Clay because of their contemporary rock rifts and poetic lyrics all written to glorify God.  If you like alternative rock and beautiful lyrics that would quiet your heart, listen to Jars of Clay. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My new job

The biggest surprise for me this year is that I actually like my new job. I'm presently part of the marketing group of a US-based company. My primary task is writing web content articles for the SEO team, and I'm actually enjoying it.  Here's why:

RPG mode everyday. An online marketing strategy is a lot like a role-playing game. Our goal is to get top rankings in Google search, and to do that, each player has to play his part.  The whole company is made up of marketing people, social media experts, customer support, web designers, etc. etc.  When someone does his job well, the whole company benefits.  What's more,  when we're tasked to do something, it actually goes somewhere. Efforts aren't wasted, and there are a lot of positive vibes going around. Each one plays to win and helps each other out, but there's some healthy competition too.  There's  no office gossip, because everybody's busy doing and enjoying their job.  What's more, the company's goals and plans are clearly communicated.    

go team! ragnarok guild photo from hol guild

Professional bosses.  For me, the biggest reason why the employees are professional is because the bosses are professional. Oh, our supervisors know how to have a good laugh, but they're also intelligent and know how to set the standard.  When it's work time, we work. But they also give us time to take short coffee breaks, rest our eyes, take a leave.  They don't like overtime because they don't pay you for that, which I think shows that they're fair to employees.  It's the first time that I was actually ENCOURAGED to go home and I didn't even want to.haha.And when I'm not doing anything, I actually want to be given a task, which I find really weird.  

Growing company.  Last year, the company received an award for being one of the start-up companies with the most potential to impact the world.  Everybody's excited about the future.

Perks.  I enjoy the little things, because I didn't expect them.  We have reasonable and generous employers, free coffee, free pizzas and lunches from good restaurants for meetings, and happy people to work with.

God.  Before I took this job, I prayed about it.  God asked me to take a look at my priorities and look towards the future and how it would impact other people and my relationship with God, instead of thinking only about what I want (i've been thinking only about what I want  for the past 11 years). After I accepted this job, I got a call for an interview for what I perceived was my "dream job".  I cried about that.  But a good friend and God reminded me about why I'm where I am right now.    I know that I'll get my "dream job" in God's time.

My attitude towards work.  No job is perfect. I know that I'll be experiencing more bumps along the road.  I'll probably get frustrated many times.  But this time, I'll recover with a better attitude.  God placed me here for the moment, and I can be assured that my work is lifted up to Him.   If He wants me somewhere else in the future, I'm praying that despite my hardheadedness, I would also be given the grace to obey.  For now though, chillax lang.

I honestly had hesitations about this career shift.  Since my previous work as a teacher required tons of creativity and 24/7 working hours, I was afraid that I would get bored.  Well, God is a God of surprises.  For the past weeks, He has shown me that He is my provider and that He knows exactly what He's doing.  Don't get me wrong though. Work is only a part of my life, and the rest can still be a struggle. But I have a great God, and He'll be the One to help me get through anything.

We do our work with the purpose of serving an everlasting God. We do this not to get something out of Him; we do this because we love Him. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Is it okay for Christians to read Harry Potter?

I used to have a secret fantasy. I wanted to teach History of Magic in Hogwarts castle and finally give life to the sleep-inducing subject. Blame it on the magic of Harry Potter. Was I sinning by reading Harry potter?

If you would allow me to make a sweeping statement, I would divide the major book crazes of this generation into three:

Harry Potter
and the most recent, Hunger Games

Another generalization I would make is that Harry Potter is the most widely-read book by both young adults and adults of this generation. You can call me biased, because I myself have devoured the Harry Potter books. Like a true fanatic (and geek), I debated over the political implications of Harry Potter 5 in the fansite, I got sorted into a Hogwarts houses through Harry Potter quizzes made by fans (I'm a Ravenclaw by the way), my favorite subject is Charms and Herbology, I find Divination stupid, and I reread the HP books before stepping into an HP movie.

Some fundamentalists and even evangelicals would probably condemn my fanaticism, saying that the HP books delve into the occult, encourage kids into witchcraft and homosexuality (yeah, Dumbledore is gay according to Rowling) and are the products of the devil. After all, the Bible itself condemns homosexuality, and specifically warns against witchcraft.

Some Christian defenders of the Harry Potter books have gone so far as to compare HP to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis' Narnia books which are Christian allegories and have Christian themes. They also cite the messages of love, courage, and friendship found in the HP books as proof of its "Christian message."

I myself would not go into either extremes. I have not gone into a full-length literary analysis of Harry Potter. But I do know that different literary theories could lead us to either conclusion -- HP as satanic, or HP as Christian. Before, I used to look at HP as communist since I was partial to that ideology before I got saved.

My point is that, from a Reader's Response point of view, we can look at books through different lenses. The Lord of the Rings books and Narnia books were written with our knowledge of the author's intention and Christian backgrounds in mind. These have contributed to the literary analyses that the books are Christian allegories. We can even go the way of condemning all fantasy books as demonic just by the characters' use of "magic". Heck, I have read analyses of other Christians condemning the New International Version of the bible as tools of satan!

Can fantasy and faith mix? (photo credit to:

If we condemn fantasy books as such, then let's throw all other books into the burning pile. Oscar Wilde's classic The Picture of Dorian Gray shows us a hedonistic world. Shakespeare uses witches in his plays, but we don't hear an uproar over his books. And if you argue that witches and hedonists in these books are seen in a negative light, while HP has witches and sorcerers as heroes, then we can do away with Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur and all other books mentioning the "good" sorcerer Merlin. And what do we do with our Greek mythology, science-fiction, the Qu'ran, and The Tale of Genji? They're not Christian at all. They offer a totally different world and faith view.

Personally, I never read HP as a Christian book. However, it espouses values we can call Christian. I love how Rowling, with her own unique storytelling, weaves a tale of good versus evil. These values and themes are not exclusive to HP. We see them in various myths, legends, and other stories around the world. They don't necessarily make Harry Potter exclusively Christian.

Rowling's Hogwarts is not C.S. Lewis' Narnia which has obvious Christian allegories (note: some Christians will still disagree on the Narnia as a Christian allegory premise). But I wouldn't condemn Harry Potter and his friends to the stake either. Books, and things of culture for that matter, are tainted by man. NOTHING created by man is holy or pure. We may focus on elements of HP which are "demonic" and thus, conclude the book to be demonic, or we may look at HP through a Christian lens as other Christian writers have done. Or we may not look at HP from any religious lens at all.  Given the influence of HP, Christians  are more concerned about looking at the HP books from God's lens.

Are fantasy books dangerous then? I agree that these books can be used by the devil to tempt us, as there are numerous ways by which the devil can make us stumble. Even "good" things such as friends and family can lead to temptation. We live in a fallen world, but we cannot put ourselves in an isolated bubble so that we won't get "corrupted".

Our biggest concern should be the state of our hearts and our relationship with God when we read these books. For example, I read the Da Vinci Code before I became Christian. Because the author of this book CLAIMED that everything he wrote was real, and I never read my Bible, I was drawn into believing that the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and other Gnostic Gospels should occupy the same importance as the other Gospels written in the bible. Compared to Brown's Da Vinci Code, Rowling never gave me the impression that her magical world was real. I read it fully knowing that whatever was written there was fantasy. Also, even the Da Vinci Code was used by God in my life so that I could have a firmer stand right now about my own faith. My faith was not made weaker because I learned about Gnosticism. God gave me the choice to believe Gnosticism, but by His grace, I didn't. Now, I could say "yeah I know about that belief, but I still choose being a Christian."

HP awakens my imagination and is a literary experience, but I am also aware that the fantasy is not real. I'm also not "addicted" to it as I was before. I believe it was God who made me realize that He is the only One worth getting addicted to. When I read HP, I admire Rowling's talent and I celebrate its metaphors and its message of love. When I read the Bible, I know that I have the greatest history book, love story and written creative work in my hand. Reading HP does not negate my experience of the Bible.

If we ban Harry Potter, we might as well ban fairy tales and other stories created by man. In fact, we might even ask ourselves, can a Christian read any other book at all without sinning? We might as well ban TV, Facebook, and interacting in the real world which is filled with pornography, violence, real witchcraft, etc. Let's face it, we're not in heaven yet. We are all in a spiritual battle and just like Caspian in Narnia, we need to arm ourselves against the enemy. If a Christian is drawn into witchcraft, astrology, or the occult because of Harry Potter, then maybe he should stop reading it.  This may be a reflection of his heart or his lack of maturity in faith.  Maybe he's still too young to be exposed to such ideas.  Don't take my word for it though. Ask your parents, ask your Christian friends, ask your pastor, ask God.

When temptations happen, a Christian should pray, seek God's help, and read his bible to be reminded of the Good News. No message in any other book, after all, can compare to the message of the Gospel if you have experienced its reality in your life.

Recommended reading regarding this topic:

Harry Potter vs. the Muggles by Mike Hertenstein

A similar debate once raged over whether Christians could eat food that had been originally offered to pagan idols. They most certainly can, insisted the Apostle Paul, provided they can eat with a clear conscience and be mindful of those "weaker brothers" who cannot. But Paul never suggested that weaker brothers must set the limits for everyone.
- Mike Hertenstein

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Silly Pet Quiz: Are you a chichi or a shobe?

I wanted to do a personality profile of my pets Chichi (a shih tzu) and Shobe (a halfbreed), but decided to create a personality quiz instead so that you can have fun too!

Everyone should take care of their pets...they give us much fun and comfort, and their personalities are so interesting! Answer the quiz below to find out which of my pets' personalities would match with yours :)

Quizzes by

chichi and shobe

Bible Verse for today

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. ~ Genesis 2:15 (New International Version)

Bible Reflection
In Genesis, God gave man the responsibility to care for all that He had created.  What do you do to fulfill this responsibility?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gossip girl

I think everyone can relate to gossip.  It's interesting and even exciting to know about the lives of other people.  Either we start the gossip, join in the gossip, or become the victim of gossip.  I admit that I've done all.  Many of us unintentionally take part in gossip.  We are deceived or deceive ourselves that what we are doing is not gossip, but if you look closely, IT IS STILL GOSSIP.  

Gossip is creating stories that are not true.  But it doesn't stop there.  GOSSIP CAN BE TRUE.  When you talk about or even listen to the personal details about someone else's life, you're participating in gossip.  When you do this with malicious intent, it makes it worse.  But even if you don't, if you don't have permission to talk about it, then it is gossip.  Gossip can be disguised as casual conversation, but as long as you talk about personal details, then it is gossip.  

Gossip is closely connected to slander. When you say something which is false or damaging to someone's reputation, you're slandering the person.  

 We justify this wrong by many excuses, or we may do this unintentionally because we think the following:
- it is a way of releasing emotions. Releasing emotions is healthy right?
- we're just asking "advice" from someone else
- it's our personal form of retribution or justice.  He/She gossiped about me, I'll do the same to him/her!

 Gossip is hard to control because many find it fun and interesting.  When things get boring, we gossip.  When things get stressful, we gossip.  When we don't know what else to do, we gossip.  Gossip becomes a bonding session, a punching bag, a way of revenge and even amusement.  Before we know it, gossip has become a habit.

Sometimes, gossip can start with "this and that person is so irritating".  Even if we say things which are good about the person after a gossip/slander session, it doesn't make it any better. Let's take the following illustration as an example.  In fact, this is a usual conversation I took part in before:

A: I want to kill this-and-that person...arrrraggghh!
B: Why, what did she do this time?
A: blah blah blah @(#!!!)$)W* and blah blah blah @)@_### and you know what else??!! blah blah blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAAAAAHHH!!!!! arrrhhhggg!
C: You know, I experienced that too with her!!! I can totally relate!!!blah blah blah blah blah....
(bashing session for one hour while eating....)
B: This is why we should pray for this person.   Let's bless her.

We put more time in cursing that person than blessing her! In fact, I think the blessing just came as an afterthought.  In the end, what was left were only bitter taste of our badmouthing and foul tongues.  It was hypocrisy and we weren't even aware of it, because we were thinking that it was a "bonding" and "de-stressing" session.  We did this every time we got together, as if there was nothing else to talk about.  But at the end of the day,  WE NEVER EVEN SOLVED ANYTHING, and WE FELT EVEN MORE ANGRY THAN WHEN WE STARTED. The person was still irritating, we still hated her guts, and we were all still miserable with her presence.  We didn't know it, but this person had POWER OVER US.  She was controlling our emotions and our thoughts.


When we gossip, relationships are damaged, and some even completely fall apart.  It's hard to restore a relationship when trust is broken.  The worse thing, I think, is that gossip can take us away from things which are more important or worthy of our time.  We concern ourselves about the lives of others and judge and assume so many things when there are more worthwhile things to dwell on than "the shocking pink headband this person wore with her orange blouse and how bad her taste is in shoes and did you notice her huge earrings which just overpowers her whole face..which is an improvement actually, she should just keep that face covered all the time...that's why her husband left her even if she got a nosejob which by the way makes her whole face resemble Chucky...and I heard she's going to get bigger boobs if that would make her husband come back, he's with a way younger woman now who does nothing all day but spend his money, that's why they had to rent that mousehole for an apartment....oh oh! Did you hear?!!! There's a rumor that the boss is going to finally reprimand her for her laziness! Serves her right! I have always said that she shouldn't even have been hired in the first place! You know what, I'm not really sure but I think I heard that she said that she's really irritated at you about something..didn't you notice, she wouldn't join you for lunch the other day? yeah, but you should ask her. I don't want to be the cause of gossip, you know"

There ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS than this.  Things like family, friends, faith, personal improvement, poverty, saving the whales, education, the state of the nation, the state of your heart!

Since I was also a victim AND promoter of gossip/slander, I can attest that gossip does more harm than good. There are psychological studies now that say that gossiping is healthy. But I find this self-centered.  Gossip can hurt, and sometimes, even the gossiper himself/herself is hurt by the gossiping he/she does.  I am very sorry for the times I even remotely joined in gossip.  I am just grateful that God enabled me to forgive myself, to reconnect with people I've hurt, and to pray for the people I am still irritated with. 
The only way to cure our gossiping and slandering is to renew our minds and our hearts.  What is in our hearts and minds will also inevitably come out of our mouths.  If we fill our minds with negativity or if we are constantly surrounded by negative people, then we will also exude negativity.  Sometimes, we cannot change our external circumstances.  Irritating and unpleasant people will always be there. We cannot control someone else's way of living. People or circumstances may be beyond our control, but there is one thing we have absolute control over -- ourselves.  Because God loves us so much, he didn't restrict us.  He gave us the freedom to choose.   We were given the freedom to choose what to listen to, what to believe in, what to absorb, who to hang out with, who are models will be.  

Admittedly, we also need to air out the stresses in our lives.  But we have to be careful about our motives and who to talk to.  Good friends will help us be stronger to deal with our struggles and will help us make right decisions...they won't fan the flames of gossip even more. 

I think it's good to be aware of the things we say that may intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally, hurt a person. Before we divulge stories, we may ask ourselves the following:

1) what are my motives for saying these things?
2)  is this true or merely assumption?
3) am I just saying these things out of anger, jealousy, irritation, etc.
4)  is this helpful or damaging? 
5) how should I phrase my words?
6) even if it's true, will it be more helpful or damaging if I say them? 

As a Christian, one of the biggest questions of course will be, will this please God?

I had to experience a lot of painful circumstances and some damaged relationships for me to think this way.  There are still times too when I falter.  My faith is one of the things which give me the hope that I may start over and be renewed in this area in my life.  It is not wrong to speak out against a wrong.  But there is a venue and place for everything.  When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and called them hypocrites, he didn't backstab them, he did it right at their faces.  His motive was to expose a wrong, and He did all these things out of love.  Maybe even to give them a chance to change their ways. This can be attested by the gospel message.   When Jesus died, he died for all sinners, including those who persecuted Him.  He gave us the gift of salvation freely.  We just need to believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord.  

I want to be corrected for my own personal gossiping.  I cannot place myself in an isolated bubble, but I can carefully choose the friends I spend time with and the things I talk about with them.  I can also devote my energies to better pursuits like music, writing, reading, reflecting...and you know what else is fairly interesting and needs a lot of fixing up to do? MY OWN LIFE.

Bible Verse for today
But whatever goes out of the mouth comes from within, and that's what makes a person unclean. ~ Matthew 15:18 (God's Word Translation)

Bible Reflection
Are you guilty of gossip, or have you been hurt because of gossip? Pray for the people you have hurt or who have hurt you because of gossip.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Indoor grilling!

My mom recently bought a new grill pan from Gourdo's in Trinoma

It's heavy, thick, and everything that comes out of it is yummy!

Now we can say hello to smokeless barbecue...and I just have to say that my brother's simple barbecue recipe is awesome.

My mom made this for lunch...even chichi and shobe enjoyed it:

Sorry for the uber-health conscious out there, but I like my barbecued chicken with slightly burnt skin..and yes, I love eating the skin too! haha.  Chicken was cooked just right, tender and moist, and the skin had that perfect barbecue flavor.  Cooking time was also drastically cut, by well I wouldn't know, because I don't cook hehe. But I can assure you that this pan would allow for quicker cooking time. Heck, maybe you can even have barbecue for breakfast before work. hoho.

I'm looking forward to some creamy dory drizzled with olive oil next time. Maybe my pescetarian, occasionally pollo-vegetarian, sister will want to cook that.

For those who love to grill, but don't have the space and time to do so with good ol' charcoal, this pan will be perfect for you. Get it at Gourdo's in The Fort, Glorietta 4, ATC, Gateway, Promenade Greenhills, or Trinoma. Your family will love it!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Face to Face: Protestants vs Catholics

      One of my greatest fears is to be blind.  To believe in something blindly that is.   When I was a Communist, I snubbed faith, thinking that it was the surest way to intellectual blindness and stupidity.  Now, with both my whole intellect and soul, I confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

      I am not a theologian or a professional apologist (and I don't really want to be one), but I am aware of the doctrinal debates between Protestants and Catholics.  For the past weeks, these have been  on the pages of my Google Chrome:

  • Is salvation by faith or works?
  • Should the apocryphal books be included in the Bible?
  • Do Catholics worship Mama Mary?
  • What is sola scriptura? 
  • What is sola fide? (and all the other solas...)
  • What is the one true church?

       I read both Protestant and Catholic blogs and websites. The links have taken me to other links including biblical translation, church history, the church fathers and even to debates on whether Lady Gaga is satanist or Christian and whether we should use pi or tau in our mathematical equations. The arguments are enough to condemn me to a lifetime sentence of squinty eyes and neuron overuse.  Not to mention, to make me into an armchair Christian for life (like an armchair journalist who doesn't experience the action but just relies on others' reportage) .

      Looking at the neverending commentaries on whatever commentary there is (you'll be amazed at how the comments can spread like fungus), I can empathize with people who would dismiss faith as man's grand myth, the philosopher's stone, the biggest hoax, or opium for the masses.  I can also understand why some are turned-off by how Christians spew verbal abuse at each other and still call themselves "brother", "sister" followed by the phrase "in Christ".   I was reminded of that local TV show called Face to Face which allows guests to proclaim their dirty laundry in public and go on a cat fight afterwards.  This was Face to Face online!   I was amazed at both the eloquence and the erudition of the language (some literary, some academic and some...well the best examples of slang and text language), but at the same time, I can't help but feel disgusted by all the verbal bashing.

      Then I wondered why I was feeling this way.  Doesn't the Bible itself tell us to test the spirits and warn us of false teachers and prophets? Aren't we just doing our Christian duty when we debate and try to search for the truth?  Shouldn't I also continue my search for the truth, so that I can confirm that my faith is real?

      Doing all this thinking made me stop and think about my personal testimony.  How did I have faith?  How did I know Christ?  How do I know that what I have now is real?  I was reminded of this bible verse:

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. Luke 6:44.

 A quick Google search showed parallel verses:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness Galatians 5:22

My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.  James 3:12

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. James 2:18.

      The bible is very specific about the fruits of the Spirit.   This may be a simplistic view for all other intellectuals out there who are raring to go on lengthy doctrinal expositions.  But when I see the fruits in my life, this is one way I know when I am going in the wrong or right direction. I realized that I was spending all the time poring over the debates, debating in my own head, that I have been distracted from my personal faith race with Jesus. I was also condemning people who were commenting on these doctrines (plus Lady Gaga).

     I  realized that I should also check my heart continuously whenever I go into scholarly study on doctrine or church history.   I understand that each denomination has a form of exclusivity because of biblical interpretation.   I also still believe that we should understand what we believe in.   In the midst of all these debates though, we need God's grace to do things in love and fix our eyes on Jesus who the Bible reminds us, is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

      My task as a Christian is to share the gospel, not to judge, condemn or convert anyone. God will do the rest of the work in that person's life, regardless of his faith.  For those who are going on a faith search, these debates may be important issues which deserve answers.  I trust though that the answers will come from God in a very personal way, edit: I HAD TO ADD THIS to guard against the dangers of putting primary experience over verifiable truth: AND IT WILL BE VERIFIED BY HIS WORD.   I may not give an adequate conclusion to this blog entry.  But I hold on to God's promise. It is not our lowly wisdom which holds the ultimate answer; it is God!

Truth is naturally divisive since it rejects what is false.  But in our defense of the truth, let's not forget that we should do so IN LOVE.  Maybe you will like this cartoon from as much as I did:

For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Luke 21:15