Thursday, April 5, 2012

a story I want you to read

One day a woman who didn't believe in Jesus Christ walked into church.  The band was playing, the people were dancing and singing, there was great rejoicing.  The woman couldn't understand it. Why did these people actually look happy? She found church boring.  She found Jesus to be beyond understanding, a possibly mythical man who wasn't even interesting in the first place.

I was that woman.  Like many, I was an unbeliever.   I sought security in philosophies and theories...anything from Atheism, Agnosticism, Taoism, Buddhism, Sufism, and New Age spirituality.  But one day, I met someone (her name is Ching and she blogs from everyday sunday) who forced me to look seriously into the claims of Christianity.  Here was a Christian who was so unlike the other self-proclaimed Christians I meet.  I found in her joy even in the midst of our daily stresses in the office. I saw in her a compassion that went beyond my understanding of what was supposed to be "fair". I didn't agree with her worldview. In fact, I constantly challenged it. But I couldn't deny reality...where did she get  the hope that I was desperately seeking in my theories and philosophies?  What was the source of this hope that I wanted?

When this woman pointed me to Jesus Christ, I had to investigate.  As I got to know Jesus better through the Bible and by attending a Bible-based church, I saw in Him the picture of a powerful, loving, and just God. Jesus gave me hope that my fallen world -- me included -- could be truly transformed. At the same time, I found in the Bible (which the Literature major in me once considered as myth) a logical, coherent human history. I found it incredible that the Bible could be so logical and coherent when the books were written by different people living in different time periods.  I also found in the Bible the most precise understanding of the human condition and our human tendencies. Who else could understand us in such a precise way but the One who created us?

It wasn't an easy journey. I had many questions, and I still do.  But every time I feel lost or run away, God seeks me and exceeds expectations. He proves, as He has proven over and over again in the Bible, that even in our doubts, He remains unchanging, faithful, and trustworthy.

There are still so many things in me that needs changing. Our spiritual crosses are not easy to bear alone. Thankfully, I know many people who are so genuinely sold out on their faith.  Someone who declares himself a God must be mad or made-up.  But if He was either, why did the Christians who led me to Him seem so real?    What was it about Him that made them so joyful? What was it about Jesus that transformed the hopeless into the hopeful? What was it about these Christians that drew me even when I didn't believe?

This cross was very heavy and hurt my shoulder  To think that this was only 1/3 the actual weight of the historical cross that Jesus bore!  I am grateful that I had someone to help me though I only carried this a few steps.  

I am grateful, because when I talk to these people, I don't merely see them as friends.  I see the Jesus of the bible -- compassionate, non-compromising, loving. Admittedly, they are not perfect, but I know that God is helping them in their own personal journeys.

Jethro - an encourager and mentor

Like my fellow believers, I am not perfect. But I hold on the promise of the bible that I am being perfected into Christ-likeness by the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. - 2 Cor 3:18

There are times when people fail me.  There are times when my own intellect, emotions, and even people  I love and admire fail me. The message of the cross is simple -- we fail, but God still loves us. He gave the perfect sacrifice, so ALL our sins (past, present, and future) can be forgiven and we can be reconciled to Him.

Because He is holy and just, God had to punish us for our sins.  But because He is also merciful and loving, He found a way out of our punishment.  He sent His only Son to take our sins, become sin, and take our punishment for Himself.

 Because of Jesus' death on the cross, we don't have to reap the consequence of sin which is death.  The sacrifice is done.  The prophecies have been fulfilled. Jesus, victorious over sin and death, was raised from the dead and reigns forever! IT IS FINISHED.

We don't have to scourge ourselves anymore and feel insecure about our future! The gift of eternal life is offered to all those who believe.We only have to accept the gift for our own sins to be nailed on the cross. This gift is what we call grace -- it is undeserved and unmerited...but it is freely given.

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved ~ Romans 10:9-10

The message of the cross is either a grand story that man created to explain away the things he couldn't understand. could be real.

It could bring repentance.  

It could bring reconciliation. 

 It could bring healing. 

It could bring hope.

It could bring love.

Because of how God transformed my life, denying Him would be the most untruthful thing I could do.  I can't imagine myself going back to being an atheist or agnostic when I've encountered God in such a transformative way. God is not memorized prayers or the rituals we are asked to perform. Nor is He the rules that seem to enslave.  God is our Creator, Provider, Strength, Deliverer, Friend and all the wonderful things we can attribute to God.  By believing in Jesus, I can have a direct relationship with Him.

When I reflect about all that God has done for me, I am given strength and hope for the future. When I let go of my selfish desires and focus on pleasing Him, I find myself complete and at my most joyful. I have more that I can give to others. My blessings and even my pains are given a sense of purpose -- they are all for the glory of God. Life is given meaning. Life is not wasted. Life is a delight when I live it for God.

My God is alive! He is a great friend.   He is faithful even when I am not.  He always comes through.  And I know, I am not alone.


If you do believe that Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected from the dead, the Bible promises that the old has gone and the new has come.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor 5:17.

Photos are from Walkway, an art installation/exhibit in Bonifacio High Street by a creative group of Christians called Church Simplified.  The Walkway event runs every Holy Week at Bonifacio High Street Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

All photos were taken by Gail Bitoon of Foreveryday Photography 

station 8

Please pray for this kid