Categories
love recovery

Be a message of love

We know that we rely on God’s grace to do anything good, to ourselves and others. But our lives also embody a message.

When we follow Jesus, we become a message of faith, hope and, above all, love. It is our willingness to become better that makes a difference and that willingness should transpire in our lives.

Being a message of love is the very foundation of our calling. God is love and he came here in human flesh to show us the way.

Yet the way is not a path, but a person, Jesus. He is who we were always meant to be. He is who we are called to be.

Being of the same mind as Jesus turns us into a message of love.

For us that’s impossible, because it is God who makes all things possible. We can only start being of the same mind as Jesus when God makes his home in us and shares his divinity with us. For that to happen, all we have to do is accept his love.

As we accept and seek him with a humble heart, his Spirit deepens our roots in that loving mind and we become expressions of his love.

Does that mean we’ll never fall again? Of course not!

We are not called to seek perfection, far from it. Trying to live beyond the level of conscience that God has given us will lead us to crash and burn. And falling is always a lesson in humility.

Although we will fall, seeking the Lord as our life supply will give us the peace of mind that we are forgiven. Because the righteous will live by faith and express God by loving one another.

Merry Christmas, friend!

Categories
love spirituality

Love is the only way

When I was an atheist, I nurtured a fondness and admiration for Jesus. Almost a reverence. I just didn’t believe that he was divine or that there was even such a thing as divine.

I remember a good friend of mine explaining to me that him being divine was the very reason why he was the way he was. Being an atheist and a well-read intellectual, I had a firm conviction that she was living an illusion that helped her find solace from the hardships of life. An illusion I associated with religion.

Since my conversion, my experience has radically changed. But it’s still obvious to me that many people talk about a Jesus, not the Jesus.

So next time you hear about Jesus, take your time and evaluate who they are talking about. When we seek to be of the same mind as the One who is unconditional love, people might not agree with us, but they will experience that love through us and feel a sense of peace.

But if we talk from a place of judgment, to exclude others and elevate ourselves, that’s coming from our own evil nature, not Jesus.

Jesus is a deeply personal experience that starts with a calling and becomes an entanglement with his Spirit. That’s how we share his divinity and are able to live through him, enjoying a transcendental freedom from the slavery of the evil systems of this world.

We already know about the love, mercy and forgiveness we received from the One who called us. So let us be expressions of his love for others who haven’t yet received his calling.

Categories
love recovery

We are not expected to be who we are not

A few months ago, I was at a home meeting with other believers whose company I always enjoy, because they are so full of love. And this young woman who was in distress kept talking in a gloomy way about how we need to nail ourselves to the cross with Christ.

Everyone in the room remained silent, which was very unusual. Normally each person shares encouraging words with an uplifting and hopeful tone, which is the very Spirit of the Good News.

Finally my friend’s husband spoke. He is that one believer that overflows with God’s light all the time. With a peaceful and loving tone, he said that God doesn’t expect us to be anyone but ourselves.

Friends, God does not expect us to be who we are not!

Yes, we know that not all things are good for us, yet we are allowed to do anything and it is up to us to be and live in accordance with the level of conscience that God has given us, not above it. That’s self-righteousness and it takes us in the direction of evil.

We are not called to bury ourselves alive. On the contrary, we are raised from the death of evil to enjoy life, the true life that the Spirit gives us as we rest in his peace filled with joy and hope in him.

The loving power who made us is transforming us and, while he does his mysterious work, we believe and rely on his grace to guide the way. He is not interested in sacrifices, but in spiritual worship.

Come as you are and seek him. His Spirit will make his home in you, so you can make your own home in the world under his grace.

Categories
god love

Singing in the name of love

I hold music dearly to my heart. There was always a soundtrack to the most meaningful moments in my life, and of course the type of music I listened to would often reflect the state of mind I was in.

Take for instance my Marilyn Manson phase. I am sure you can imagine what I looked like, dressed like and thought like. Then came a Nine Inch Nails phase. And I will give it to Trent Reznor, his music truly is beautiful. But it is also full of darkness, despair, hopelessness.

Only one band made it through the years in spite of my various degrees of darkness along the course of my atheism. That band was, and is, U2.

After being an atheist for 15 years, and a U2 fan for 20 years, I didn’t quite realize what their songs were really about. Now counting 25 years as a fan, and 5 transformative years since God called me out of my darkness, I can tell that the depth and breadth of these guys’ faith is written all over their music.

How could this band that was always there, always around, be singing about love, the higher love without me ever getting it? Simple: I never believed in God and thus his message was concealed from me and incomprehensible, as obvious as it was.

U2 is the perfect example of how it takes God calling us for us to listen and understand his message. Their songs all have this air of mystery, but for anyone who knows the Word and listens closely, the meaning becomes as clear as day.

Many well-known U2 songs have passed as poetic work, but they’re way more than that. Where the streets have no name is a reference to heaven. In the name of love is a reference to Jesus. Who is God. Who is love.

It would not be an exaggeration to call these songs as U2’s psalms to God. Listen closely and your spirit will be touched.

Categories
god love

A relationship like no other

Every time I find myself in a situation where someone is trying to understand what I believe in, I realize how tricky it is to explain it with just words.

When we are called, we know who called us and we develop a foundational relationship with him. But there is no name for it, because this relationship isn’t a religious one or a secular one or a pagan one.

It’s a love relationship with the one who made us, who also happens to be the One who made everything in the universe and who came to the world he created to show what being his offspring looks like when we do his will.

There’s no name or even explanation in this world that could possibly do justice to such a transcendental relationship. And this is the point I want to make. Cause often times, we create road blocks for others to walk with us by accepting a religious label as a way to define who we are.

Being simply a follower living under God’s grace is also what’s helped me have inspiring conversations with others along the way who are seeking God, but don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing.

I personally like to keep it simple by saying I follow Jesus. Over the years it’s become easier to manage the expected confusion that most people experience when they notice I seem religious, but in reality am far from it.

We are God’s children, not Catholics or Protestants. Even calling ourselves Christians has its challenges. It is wonderful to find a congregation where we feel built up by our family of believers, but there’s no need to adhere to its label.

Categories
love recovery

Are we being kind or just sugar-coating the bad stuff?

I believe anything is possible with love as our sole master in life. But I also believe we need to face what’s in front of us instead of finding a way around it and acting as if it didn’t affect us.

When we don’t like, don’t want or don’t agree with something that’s happening to us or around us, we should act truthfully and with love. If we sugar-coat it to make it seem as though we are peaceful about it, when in fact we are not, we are essentially lying and misleading others.

After my conversion, I found myself taking on far more than I could take and not taking a stand for fear of being unkind. At the time I thought I was being good to others, when in reality I was being pathologically good.

To be good, I mean genuinely good, we must set boundaries that align with our spiritual values. When we don’t, we end up throwing our pearls to pigs, who will trample them, then turn and attack us.

In life, we need to know where we stand and take that stand. So when we say yes to something or to someone, we should wholeheartedly mean yes, and when we say no, we should wholeheartedly mean no.

We are not called to be who we are not. Or to fake it until we make it. The world around us might be satisfied with that, but that’s not the standard that we have come to know as we live under grace and divine love.

Whether we speak with kind or assertive words, we should always act lovingly and truthfully to build relationships with gracious truth and not with illusions.

Categories
faith love

A life too good for worldly words

I always hesitate to call myself a Christian. The first followers of Jesus, who is God incarnated, were coming from religious backgrounds and pagan practices. They were later referred to as “the way”, but Jesus himself didn’t give any names to anything. So why should we?

Being a follower of Jesus is about being freed by God’s love, a love that we are blessed with through God’s grace. Paul himself a religious man converted to believer describes the fruit of this spirit perfectly in Galatians 5:22-23:

When Jesus came, there was already an ongoing situation with religion and religious people that was not surprising back then – and it isn’t surprising now.

If we come off as stiff, judgmental, hypocritical and legalist, that might still make us Christians, but certainly doesn’t make us Jesus followers. Christian world leaders using their religion to justify violence and discrimination is just one of many red flags rightfully attached to Christianity.

Our attitude toward others ultimately depends on how much of a ‘fight’ we put up with the worst in ourselves. In other words, the evil that inhabits us is always there, but if we choose to live under God’s grace and not under the law or religion, we will make it – because the righteous will live by faith.

Categories
love spirituality

Is everything we call love really love?

Love is a buzz word nowadays. Everyone says they love everyone, even in cultures where there was never even a habit of saying ‘I love you’ to anyone outside the realm of family. It all looks really good, but is it true?

A believer knows that love is an expression of God, and that any expression of genuine love is divine in nature. We also know that, since we are limited, we can only love in part. But as we love one another, we share God’s love by doing his will and grow in our ability to love everyone.

We also know that love is conscience, not feeling. We might not like certain people, but we are called to love them. Love takes transcendence. And not surprisingly this is where people can be completely misguided.

For instance, take people who say they love more than one person at a time, romantically, and want to be with both. They believe that they have transcended this world, and some call themselves spiritual, but no sane person would do what they do. In reality these people are not yet able to love.

A loving conscience understands that, in our world, competing for a partner’s attention is hurtful. We resent betrayal, both sexual and emotional, and we are troubled by the very thought of our partner desiring others.

Pagan cultures are being rebranded in our times, but they are very old. Friends with benefits, casual relationships and polyamory are non-committal and non-monogamous behaviour that show both a lack of spiritual transcendence and a strong disregard for human nature. They are destructive for a loving conscience and enslave an unloving conscience to darkness.

But I’m not talking about saving ourselves for marriage either. Trust me, God knows how skilled people are at selling themselves to get what they want. The number of people out there who get married to someone who turns into a completely different person shortly after is statistically impressive.

Knowing the horrors of this world, God takes us by the hand to navigate it in the best way possible. We should absolutely get to know someone well in all aspects of life before we decide that they are worthy of marrying.

As we navigate this world with a loving conscience leading us, genuine love fills us with the joy to give ourselves completely and exclusively to another person. And that’s what we can truthfully call love.

Categories
spirituality

Say no to what you don’t want to make space for what you want

It’s Friday. It’s the weekend. And there is no better occasion to talk about how much this world pushes all of us to seek enjoyment, often at the expense of meaning.

Of course any healthy activity can be fun if we do it without casting aside our spirit. But a closer relationship with God raises the bar really high for us. We become selective in a good way: the quality of the company matters a lot, and how the activity contributes to our well being is crucial.

We also have the understanding that spiritual joy doesn’t always translate into worldly happiness and smiles. Being more acutely aware of life’s struggles, we learn to feel content in each and every situation.

It is certainly important to share our lives with others. We are called to be lights in the darkness, not to hide ourselves from the world. And yet we have to be mindful of where, how and with whom to share our lives with.

So if on Fridays and weekends you always feel like you should be with others, but you rarely, if ever, feel peaceful during, or afterwards, take a step back. There is nothing wrong with being alone. And we need to learn to say no to what we don’t want in order to make space for what we want.