The Leftovers – Part 1

In Mark 6:30, you have the disciples gathering around Jesus and reporting Him all that they had done and taught as He had commanded them to do. They had been busy preaching to people that they should repent. They had been driving out demons and healing the sick (Mark 6:6-13). They were so busy they couldn’t eat so Jesus tells them to go to a solitary place with Him to rest. But many people saw them, recognized them, and began following them by foot. In ancient times only the men were counted, so theologians and historians argue that including women and children, the multitude must have been around 15,000 people.

Matthew actually mentions that there were five thousand men, besides women and children. The Greek in Matthew’s word for children is παιδίον which denotes a little one, a young infant or at least a child younger than seven years old. Oh, boy… I can only picture myself 3 years ago, tagging along my 17 month-old daughter while I carried my newborn son in my arms, because we needed to go grocery shopping.

Can you picture that? Thousands of people running after Jesus because they want to hear Him talk. When Jesus saw the big crowd, He felt moved. He felt compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and so He began to teach them many things.


INTERESTING FACT: Sheep have a natural tendency to wander off and get lost. When sheep go astray, they are in danger of getting lost, being attacked, even killing themselves by drowning or falling off cliffs following one another. Sheep are very slow animals who cannot escape predators, are easily frightened and become easily confused. Shepherds in Bible times faced incredible dangers in caring for their sheep, putting their own lives at risk by battling wild animals such as wolves and lions who threatened the flock. David [Dawood] was just such a shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34–35).


But it was already late. Who knows how long Jesus had been preaching already, and the disciples were hungry. We know they were hungry because the text said they did not have a chance to eat (Mark 6:31). I can relate to this. Sometimes my Muslims and I talk so long about the Quran or any of these things, that I have to look at the clock to see if it’s time for my husband to come pick me up at their place. Other times, when I start talking about Jesus, my mouth never stops. My Muslimah even makes fun of me when I say, “Long story short…“, because it is never short once I start talking.

I am not Jesus, and I can talk for hours. Could you imagine Jesus’ teaching moments? I’m sure they lasted for a long time. So the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to release the people since it is already very late.

“You know, Jesus, you’ve been preaching for hours, and we are hungry. So just stop talking, tell the people to go toἀγοράζω [literally the market place] to buy something to eat” 

To which Jesus responds, “You give them something to eat”. The disciples actually think Jesus is telling them to go to the market place to buy food. But Jesus didn’t mean that. And probably this is where Muslims all around the world might have different opinions, but Christine Caine‘s interpretation of the passage really spoke to me.

Christine says that the fact that Jesus gave them that instruction is very interesting. Sometimes when we pray, Jesus tells us we are the answer to our prayer. We don’t really realize that sometimes – not always –  we are the ones supposed to do something about our circumstances. God, I am confused. You do something about it. But God, there are so many people and they are hungry. You do something about it. But God, what about Islam? You do something about it. Sometimes we turn to God, and all we say is I can’t. 

In verse 37, they told Jesus they couldn’t feed the crowd, that it would take two hundred denarii to feed them all. But Jesus never asked them how much money it would take to feed them. Jesus’ instruction could not have been clearer: You feed them. It was a directive, not a discussion on their ability to do it.

Sometimes God gives me a directive and I question my ability to make it happen. But God, I’m busy with my children. But God, I am not very eloquent. But God, it’s not convenient… But when I do that what I am actually saying is that my limitations are greater than God’s supernatural ability to do something awesome through my life. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus ignored the disciples’ excuses. In verse 38, He asked them, “How many loaves do YOU have?”

Jesus clearly taught that the ingredients for a miracle are always in our midst. But God cannot multiply what we don’t recognize. We look at what we don’t have, but God already knows that. It’s like I want the harvest without sowing the seed. But within the seed lies the potential for the harvest. I don’t see the potential come to pass because I never sow it to begin with. Right now I feel God is asking me, “How many loaves do YOU have?”

What if this blog is something like that? I am really bad at many things. I suck at organization. My computer is a mess, dirty spots everywhere. My children are sure to get PB&J’s on a regular basis. I wish I were better at homemade. Oh, boy… but I can talk. A LOT. And I can write. Surprisingly, I am being able to organize my scattered, clumsy brain when I write in here.

God is awesome.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The leftovers – Introduction

I think I have been investing so much of my time learning about Islam, that I have tossed Jesus out of the window. The Jesus I know. The One who offered me hope eight years ago. I miss Him. Sometimes I cry mourning for Him, like when someone you deeply love has passed away. Other times, though, I feel so strongly about my relationship with Him, that somehow I think that documenting my faith journey doesn’t really matter in the scope of time.

I have a very clumsy brain. For the most part, I have tried to change that part of me, as it gets me in a lot of trouble with my husband. I haven’t succeeded so far, at least not to his satisfaction. He is a very organized, almost OCD-like person. Sometimes I think he doesn’t share things with me, but he does. It is me who usually forgets about what he said. I guess that’s what got me into writing. So I need to write down some events that have happened in the last two weeks. I do not want to forget.

To start with, I want to talk about how Jesus fed the five thousand in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6:30-52. Before that, though, I need to make sure all of us – Christians and Muslims reading – are on the same page. In case you didn’t know, Muslims do agree with some teachings of Jesus as long as they don’t contradict the Quran. At least the Muslims I’ve watched on YouTube.

There is a lot of chit chat on the subject of how the gospels have evolved from Mark to John. According to Muslim apologist Shabir Ally, the Bible has changed over time. Here are a few examples:

  • In Mark 9:5, Peter addresses Jesus as Rabbi, but in Matthew 17:4, he addresses Him as Lord.
  • In Mark 13:35, Jesus describes the owner of a house, but in Matthew 24:42, the Lord will come.
  • In Mark, you have Jesus praying in the Garden so that God would take away the cup that awaited Him, but in John Jesus is even willing to die.

I love Shabir, by the way. It would be awesome to meet him one day. I guess you get to really like people by spending countless hours watching their YouTube videos. I have some sweet Muslim connections in Canada, but they are not in Toronto where Shabir is. Anyways, if you know Shabir, I would love if you could arrange a meeting. I am not kidding.

So the Gospel of Mark is the first one that was written (between A.D. 55-65) and the Gospel of John is the last one (between A.D. 85-90). One day I will talk about why the gospels are so different. People, however, need to know that Christians have never claimed the Gospels are THE WORDS of God. The Gospels were written by men, and were inspired by God. But I just need to say three things:

1. It is very double-minded of Muslims to refer to the Gospel of John as the most corrupted and the most unreliable one since John has made Jesus into God. Yet at the same time, it is EXACTLY the Gospel of John the one that Muslims LOVE to quote to find a prophecy for Prophet Muhammad from the own lips Jesus. The Counselor, the Helper, the Advocate who Jesus promised to send in John 14:26 is NOT the Holy Spirit. According to Muslims, it is Prophet Muhammad. If you are a Christian, your jaw must have dropped. Mine dropped for sure when I first heard of this.

I’ve got to ask… if Christians corrupted the Gospels so successfully (changing thousands of manuscripts in many different languages), isn’t it really dumb of them to leave Prophet Mohammad right there in the open in ALL the manuscripts? If they really wanted to corrupt the whole thing, you make sure to erase ANY prophecy of ANY other person after Jesus. That is the only way of making Christianity a sure hit. Muslims, though, seem to accuse God of not being able to protect His words as He said He would (Quran 18:27). Many Muslims will say that this verse refers to the Quran. I agree. But Quran 6:115 also says NONE can alter Allah’s WORDS. Sometimes the Quran refers as the Torah and the Gospel as Allah’s Words. So, did Allah or didn’t Allah protect His Words?

And If you are going to tell me that the original Gospel, the Injil, that Allah gave Jesus got lost or somehow Christians corrupted it, and that it was that Injil the one that the Quran talks about, then I still have the same question. Why couldn’t Allah protect it? Sure, I do not know what I am talking about because I do not understand Arabic. I am getting tired of listening to that. I want to get closer to God, but I refuse to embrace the idea that God would only be known in Arabic. People worldwide are hungry for God. If Islam is the religion for all mankind, I should be able to understand it in plain English, right? Or Spanish. I am also fluent in Spanish. I also read French. Still, it breaks my heart to ponder over the idea of Allah not loving me in French.


Dis: “Si vous aimez vraiment Allah, suivez-moi, Allah vous aimera alors et vous pardonnera vos péchés. Allah est Pardonneur et Miséricordieux. Dis: «Obéissez à Allah et au Messager. Et si vous tournez le dos… alors Allah n’aime pas les infidèles!

– Le Saint Quran 3:31-32


2. I could never live in limbo like some Muslims live. If I go for Islam, I will go full throttle. I will not put my foot in some parts of the gospels as revelations that Allah was able to protect. I just couldn’t live with the doubt, you know. Because if some parts are corrupted, who is to assure me which parts are not? If they are corrupted, then tell me who corrupted them, and when. My conscience would not let me live in peace having the best of both faiths as far as Jesus is concerned. Even my Muslim and I have had conversations about what Prophet Muhammad said, and most of the time I end up telling him, “Yep, that’s in the Bible” or “Yep, Jesus said that”. But how do I know those teachings have not been corrupted?

Oh! They are not corrupted, because they confirm the Quran!

Of course they do. And that is a very convenient, but not a very consistent way on how Muslims or any person regarding of his religious background should approach the Gospels. I have a brain, a very clumsy brain, but I dare not misuse my intelligence. My Muslimah told me once that Islam was a religion that made sense. Even the Quran promotes logical thinking and reasoning. Some websites even call Islam a religion for grownups. But it is impossible to have such a conspiracy to change or alter the Word of God in all of these Bible manuscripts without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or even attainable. It doesn’t make any sense.  And so my brain and my soul will have to forfeit the Jesus of the Bible, ALL of Him, if I embrace Islam. I just couldn’t live with myself to have it otherwise.

3. Muslims don’t like John, and they pick and choose from Luke and Matthew. Oh, well… I guess Mark will do for now. I will talk about my life and the feeding of the five thousand in the next post 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…

Christians – Part 2

I think the definition of Christian I gave in the last post struck a cord with many of my friends, and I am glad. Here’s the unfortunate truth. As Christians, we need to understand that when people outside the church (people who are non-religious, people who have never called themselves Christians) look at us, sometimes they expect more of us than we expect of ourselves. We can hide behind the word Christian. We say, I am a Christian. But they say, Yes, but you don’t look like Jesus. 

Andy Stanley never defined Christian as such, but somehow it is true, isn’t it? I know not all Christians are like that, and that’s awesome. Unfortunately, outsiders see one Christian acting like this, and the tendency is to ditch the whole thing based on that. The relationship with my sister suffered because of this. And I had to ask her to forgive me. Now we don’t even talk about Jesus on a regular basis. Our relationship has improved. A LOT. It improved once I realized my sister is not accountable to me for what I believe. Her life and how she deals with her life; the decisions she makes and the reasons behind those decisions are NONE of my business. 


A Christian is about what a person believes. A disciple is about what a person actually does.

– Andy Stanley


When the whole Jesus’ movement began, the apostles began scattering throughout the whole region preaching what they have seen and heard. They did not had any Bible. The New Testament as we know it hadn’t even been put together yet. All they had was the apostles stories of Jesus, the eyewitnesses accounts of all the people who saw Jesus resurrected, and some letters that the apostle Paul had written to different churches – the letters to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, etc.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes to the followers of Jesus living in Corinth. In the apostle Paul’s day, Corinth had several nicknames.  It was known as Carnal Corinth, Sin City, or Vanity Fair.  What happened in Corinth stayed in Corinth. Come sin here.  Come indulge hereThat was my kind of city back in college. There was commercialized gambling, debauchery, drinking, and prostitution. Sex was practically considered a religion in itself. The apostle Paul had to instruct them on how to live their faith in a city like this.

Sexual immorality, however, had found their way into the Jesus’ followers community. A man was sleeping with his father’s wife. Probably not his mother, maybe his ex-wife, but it might have been an ongoing relationship. The Christian community, however, was not addressing this issue. They all knew about it, but nobody was speaking up against it. It was so bad that not even the non-followers of Jesus in Corinth sinned like this.


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife.  And you are proud!

1 Corinthians 5:1-2


The apostle Paul continues to tell them that they are not supposed to dissociate from the people who do this kind of things because in that case, they would have to leave the world – let alone Corinth. But Paul makes sure that they understand that this is a behavior they cannot tolerate in the Jesus community. In other words, there are standards. The man can do whatever the heck he wants, but if he has signed up to be a disciple, there are rules to follow. The Believers in Corinth have to disassociate from this man until he repents and stops that behavior.  Then of course, he can come back to the Jesus community.


As one who is present with you in this way [in spirit], I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this

1 Corinthans 5:3


I thought the Bible said you are not supposed to judge, you might say. Well, according to the Bible, Paul judged this man in the name of Jesus. Sure, Jesus said, “Do not judge or you will be judged”. Every time we judge the heart of people based on their behavior, we are stepping over God’a arena. That kind of judgement belongs ONLY to God. But Paul is talking about accountability within the church. We, Christians, are supposed to hold other Christians accountable for their actions.

Paul continues in verse 12, What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside“.

You see, Andy believes – and I agree – that we have found something amazing. We believe you can have peace with God. We believe broken marriages can be restored. Bad relationships can be healed. Your children can come back. We believe God can land in the area of your money, your profession, your whole life. Addictions can be broken. We believe you can have peace with God. We believe God loves you, and we feel compelled to tell you. But unfortunately, our approach has not always been the best.

We have to understand that in the first century, Jesus’ followers never expected non-Jesus’ followers to behave like them. Our mistake as Christians is that we expect everybody who has never signed up to follow Jesus to behave as if they have signed up to follow him. We were doing great for the first three centuries. The disciples won people to Christ by loving them. People felt drawn to this type of community, they never felt coerced. People may have felt guilty, but they never felt condemned. But when the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion, everything went bad. Once the church had the power, we went from God is love to God will getcha

I want to tell you, my friends – you know who you are- that Jesus does not condemn you. He loves you. He died for you. And whether one day you will sign up to be His disciples or not, my Jesus community wronged you. They sinned against you. I am deeply sorry that they did not show you what it is to be His disciple. I am sorry they were not able to love you like Jesus has loved them.

As an insider, I am holding them accountable for that.

The Muslims who changed my life

It was a hot and humid afternoon at the playground when I finally decided to approach her. It had been at least a month since I had seen her everyday taking care of her son. And she was always alone. I was always alone.

As much as I tried, there was something not clicking with the moms at my daughter’s school. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was that I didn’t speak Tamil. They spoke English, but they were not very chatty with me. They were chatty among themselves, but not with me and of course I felt left out. I wanted to hang out with people. I had recently moved from Houston to Chennai, and I was eager to experience the world of preschool with my daughter. But so far, it wasn’t looking very good.

However, I was not the only unsuccessful mom at the playground. And, please, do not read between the lines. I know success as a mom doesn’t come from having random conversations with other moms at the playground. I only mean that I actually wanted to make friends, but it seemed more difficult than I thought it would be. So I finally took the courage to approach this other woman.

She was always wearing sunglasses. Who is she anyway? A Bollywood star? I don’t really remember what was the very first thing I said. But I do remember she took her sunglasses off, and for the very first time, I saw those darn big black circles under her eyes.

We began chit chatting, and she told me she was from Pakistan. During the conversation I came to tell her that I was Mexican, and that my husband’s work was what had brought us to India. I found out she had lived in Dubai before. And then, I opened my mouth too much…


Dubai? I’ve been in Dubai. Well, only at the airport. Man, I was impressed with those women… They are so beautiful, and their eyes are so dark, so deep. That’s the only thing I saw. They were all covered with a robe-like dress. They are Muslims. I like your necklace. What does it say?


The necklace said Allah… 

Over the next couple of weeks we continued having random conversations – probably about the weather. Somehow I invited her to my apartment to have tea or something, but she never came. She would always give me an excuse. Her husband went to the office later in the afternoon since he owned his own business, and she mentioned they had breakfast together every morning. So I understood that maybe she just wanted to hang out with her husband.

But one day she actually decided to meet me at Tryst Café and she brought her husband along. No offense to all the Muslims who are reading this (if there are any), but this man looked really Muslim. No topi, no beard like your prophet… just his face. It was like looking at Islam right in the eye.

She introduced us, and for the most part, we were having a really nice breakfast. My son was being such a good boy. No crying, no drama. No interruptions. She mentioned to her husband that I was very interested in different religions. That I had been reading a lot about Hinduism and even Islam. A little. We probably talked about school a little bit more, and the conversation changed little by little to friendship. They were interested in the fact that I was not really hanging out with the expatriates in India. It wasn’t that I didn’t know any, I just felt like I wanted to mingle with the locals. I wanted to experience India and the people. I didn’t want to be isolated in my own world, where everything was like I knew it, and with people who looked like me. He said I was a different kind of Westerner. I took that as a compliment.

We also talked about their diet. It finally made sense what Kosher and Halal meant. They were very easy to talk to. The husband intimidated me a little bit, but I guess it was because I had just met him. Both of them spoiled my son so much that day, that was very sweet. She asked me if all Westerners dated many people before getting married. She had always intrigued by that.

Oh, boy, where to begin?, I said.  She was laughing so hard.

He asked me many questions about America. They have heard so many things in the media. We cleared up many misconceptions they had about them. It is natural to assume that most Americans are awful after you watch the news. I am not American, but I feel like one. Except for the last year, I have lived there for the past eight years – my whole married life. My children were born there, and most of my best friends are Americans.

The conversation was relaxed and he was very calm. To make a point about the media, I asked him if he was carrying a bomb under his shirt.


If you are carrying one, I would really appreciate if you waited until I finish my croissant before blowing the whole place up… He got my point, and he smiled. You see? Not all Americans are awful. I guess not all Muslims are terrorists.


To be very frank, I don’t know if it was him or if it was me, but somehow the conversation turned to religion. They asked me about my faith. I told them I was a Christian, but that I was kind of not wanting telling people I was one. I didn’t want to call myself that anymore. I told them it was a long story, and that eventually I would explain it to them. But yes, technically, I was a Christian. I was a follower of Jesus. He was my Lord and Savior.

Then he said something that would change the course of my life forever. But not only my life. Also their lives. Their whole family life, and my whole family life. As a very good Muslim (I should have known), this man looked at me right in the eye, and told me something I had never, EVER, heard before in my entire life.

You know your Bible has been corrupted, right? 

I had no idea what the heck he was talking about. The Bible – corrupted? What nonsense was this? This man told me something that in the Muslim wold is accepted as a universal truth. My Bible has to be corrupted because if it is not, then Islam and everything is built upon is false. This was a very bold approach on his part, but I’m thankful that he did that. Without knowing, he introduced me to the world of Christian Apologetics.

This conversation was a little bit over six months ago. And since then, my life changed. I spent almost all my free time with them, and they became my best friends in Chennai. Our families have spent so much time together over dinner, over tea, over boat rides and water slides. They are great people.

In this part of the world, nobody dislikes Jesus. They dislike the Christians. I think a lot of people feel that way…  I should start by dissecting Christianity.

My Jewish husband- Part 3

For the last two parts in this mini-series, I have tried to describe how related wine is related to Jewish celebrations. I hope I have done that successfully. The first celebration I mentioned was Passover. On that day, Jewish people remember the night they became free from slavery and actual physical death by sacrificing a lamb. The wine on that night represents promises of deliverance God had given them, and also represents the blood of the sacrifice they offered.

The second celebration I talked about is a Jewish wedding. There are many parts to it, but particularly, two cups are really important. The firs cup of wine, from which the bride and the groom drank, represented the Betrothal Ceremony. After drinking from this cup, they were committed to each other and legally married. The Bride would make herself beautiful while waiting for her groom. And the groom would go away for a log period of time. When he came back, there was a big uproar on the streets. Once they gathered at the groom father’s house, they would drink from a second cup of wine. After this they would live together happily ever after.

Based on that, I would like to tell you that I am amazing, and that I know it all. I am not and I don’t. That I have read my Bible, and understand everything there is to understand about Christianity. I have, but I don’t. A friend told me a long time ago, that the reason she could never be a Christian was because Christianity could not answer all her questions. Christianity didn’t make sense…

I wish I could tell you that Christianity makes a lot of sense to me, and that it answers all my questions. But that has not been the case. A guy dying and coming back from the dead does NOT make any logical sense at all. They day I can figure God out and explain why He does or does not do things – THAT day- I won’t need God at all.

If God has to make sense at all for me to follow Him, then my approach might need a little direction. But I tell you what, My God is a faithful God. My God is a Mighty God. My God is a powerful God. You cannot put My God in a box. My God is inviting me to have a relationship with Him because He loves me – in spite of me!

And He loves you. He loves everybody. I am telling you, when you want to pursue God and really want to find Him… He shows up. Tonight, I guess, I had one of those nights. 


Then [Jesus] took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them [the disciples], saying, Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom

Matthew 26:27-29


All these years I never EVER saw this. I knew the Last Supper of Jesus had happened during the celebration of Passover, or at least that’s what the writers of the synoptic gospels tell us. Now a days, however, historians are concluding that the meal Jesus had most likely was not a Passover Seeder, like the ones Jewish people celebrate now. That practice began around 70 AC based on rabbinic sources.

Seeder or not, Jesus is telling his disciples to drink from a cup that represented his blood. These were Jewish boys. They knew about the Temple, and about the Law of Moses. They knew about sacrifice and atonement for sin. Jesus is asking them to drink for the forgiveness of sins.  But why? Jesus had forgiven sins before. He had healed many people before. Why in the world was He talking about pouring out His own blood for forgiveness?

Not only that, but then He tells them that He won’t drink again from that cup until He drinks it with them in God’s Kingdom. Is this making any sense to you? Am I making stuff up?


Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I [Jesus] go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:2


The greek word for room is μονή. It represents a dwelling place. An abode. Jesus, as they drink, is inviting them to join in a wedding celebration. Their own. Jesus, as the groom, will go and prepare a place in God’s Kingdom for them. Not only for them. Jesus is preparing a place for everybody that in faith has placed his/her faith in Him as Lord and Savior. No wonder why communion is so important and full of meaning.

In the New Testament, The Church is referred as The Bride of Christ, and Christ is portrayed as the groom. God wants to be married to us. That’s why marriage is one of the most delicate and intimate relationships you can ever have with someone. That’s why God talks about sexual purity and inner purity. That is the relationship God wants with us. I am not making this up. Jewish people believe God married them at Mount Sinai, as told in My Jewish husband – Part 2.

Tonight, as I realized these things, I felt like God was smiling. If not smiling, then singing at the tune of B.T.O’s song. He totally blew my mind away…


You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

B-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-nothin’ yet…

Here’s something that you never gonna forget,

B-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-nothin’ yet…


I am married. If I’ve learned something from following Jesus as Lord and Savior, is that you don’t quit on marriage. Marriage is hard, and even harder when you have children. But the rewards of keep on trying, keep on making peace, keep on forgiving, keep on hoping, keep on loving a spouse and children unconditionally… The rewards far exceed the sacrifice. I will never quit on you, my earthly husband. I will never quit on you, my son and daughter.

I may not understand many things, and I don’t have all the answers, but the groom I chose is coming back. He might explain things once He is here. And if He doesn’t explain, does it really matter? He’s coming back!

Of course I’m not quitting on my Jewish husband!


Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Revelation 19:6-9