To Muslims, on Ramadan

I’ve been hesitant about whether or not to write this post. There’s pain involved – my pain and others’ – and I’m not sure I will be able to communicate exactly how I feel. But being Ramadan, I felt compelled to write this piece. It will be long for sure. I wanted to share this for the sake of my own memory keeping. It’s easier to write down my thoughts once they’ve been processed.

I know some things about Ramadan. I spent a Ramadan in India. I wanted to fast with my friends, but I just didn’t seem to have the guts. I know it is one of the pillars of Islam. I know it is a time to get closer to Allah, and that Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sex to purify their souls. They feed the poor and the homeless. They make a big deal out of family. They help each other and the community. They pray. They give.

If you’re Muslim, I say to you, “Go for it”

Fast. Pray. Thank God for what He has given you. I love the idea of you wanting to please the Lord of the universe – The Creator of this world who is above all names. The God who made this Earth – so immense and full of glory. I love the idea of celebrating Him and Him only. I love the idea of worshipping Him with all our might.

Make no mistake, though, you will never be able to earn God’s favor. So watch your motives this Ramadan. I pray the LORD will reveal His glory to you this month. That’s exactly why I want to share what has been of me during the past few months: I’ve been in counseling.

I’ll skip you the details of how I got there, but there were some behaviors towards my spouse, and my children that were not right, or good, or healthy. I did not know this, of course. I thought my spouse was the only one in the wrong, and I wanted his behaviors to change. I was angry, but mostly sad – heartbroken. A friend who came alongside me encouraged me to get some help. So I did.

I was terrified of going to counseling. I think I had a panic attack while driving one night. I couldn’t take a deep breath. What am I gonna do? That is all I could think of. I had no idea about my future or my children’s future. I could only see what my fear was allowing me to see – a divorce. I mean, what else, right? If you go to counseling, and your husband doesn’t ever change… What did that mean? It obviously means he doesn’t love you enough to change.

Right?

I cried myself to sleep some nights thinking I was a liar. I had lied to my children… All those times in which I had told them Mommy and Daddy would be together forever might not be fulfilled. But what was I going to do as a divorced woman? I did not work. I had forsaken every single thing that could have allowed me to work. Plus, I was in a country that was not even my own. If I divorced my husband, that meant I was getting out of the country. Would I then stay with him just for my children? And I was so fearful of everything. Of every possible outcome. Then, if we divorced… my parents, his parents.

Oh, God! What was I going to do?

Why would God be doing this to me?  Maybe I didn’t pray enough. I always said I’d pray more for my marriage or my children, but I end up forgetting to pray more. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. Maybe God was just testing my faith. Maybe I just had to persevere… Persevere? Doing what? I didn’t like my situation…

I just read an article this morning so full of everything I am feeling. You can read the original article here.

You might be feeling that if Jesus really cared so much for your comfort, then you would not be dealing with such pain. But that is not true. What is true is that you likely prefer the comfort that comes from the absence of discomfort, while Jesus prefers you to have the ultimate comfort of your holiness.

So while you might feel frustrated over a very uncomfortable situation you’re being forced to deal with, Jesus is actually pursuing your long-term comfort through that very situation.

That did not make sense six months ago. That Jesus wanted to achieve something in me through pain. Yet, in my counselor’s office, there’s a plaque that says:

Every true strength is gained through struggle.

The article continues:

If you’re a Christian, you are a disciple of Jesus. And by necessity, a disciple undergoes discipline. If a disciple is a student, then discipline is training. Jesus’s discipline for you, however severe (and it is severe at times), is not God’s wrath against you. If you are tempted to believe that, don’t. It’s your unbelief or the Enemy talking to you.

No, discipline is training. Training in what? Training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The unique training course that Jesus has designed for you (he designs a unique course for each disciple) has one great aim: to teach you to trust him in everything. That’s his goal for you. Jesus wants you to learn to trust in him in all things at all times. For the more you trust Jesus, the holier you become.

And this is horrible. It has felt terrible at times. To trust God in everything…

Fearful, yes, but I went to counseling. Alone. I thought my marriage needed help. I needed help. I needed perspective. Hands down, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Of course, I wanted my counselor to tell me if I was gonna end up having a divorce. Or for her to tell me if the situation that had led me to finally look for help was really that bad. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, you know? Maybe I was overreacting, or maybe I was making a big deal of something that was not a big deal.

During my very first session I learned that I am prone to make idols of things or people. And that was so weird. My counselor said, “If you cannot say NO to something or someone, you have made an idol out of that thing”. She then told me to go, and ask the Lord to reveal things to me. I was supposed to do that for the next week. Just to ask the Lord.

“Why do I make idols, God?  Why do I get in these kind of relationships? Why do I feel the need to rescue or care for people?”. 

I kid you not, the word CODEPENDENCY came to my mind. I am familiar with the word because my sister has always said my mom is codependent. I had no idea of what that word entailed, though. And, of course,  I never thought it would involve me. But after reading about it, I realized the condition fits me quite well. Like a 100%

I have always felt that I’m stupid. That I am unworthy. That I am a failure. That I am not enough. I have always felt the need for approval and recognition, the need to control people, and how dreadful it is to make a simple decision. I know about low self-esteem, and compulsive behaviors like trying to be the best mom, or the best cook, or the best wife. Always trying to find purpose in something outside of myself because it helped me to avoid dealing with myself. Pleasing people.

It’s taken me some time to read about codependency, and the reasons that drive my behaviors – specially with my husband and my children. My family of origin played obviously a big part on that. My dad is an addict, and my mom has always enabled him. I can’t generalize a whole culture based on my childhood experiences, but my culture revolves very much around shame.

 I lived in a very dysfunctional family where pain, and anger, and fear – feelings in general – were not to be expressed. There was never confrontation. I learned to repress my emotions, and disregard my own needs. I became a survivor. I developed behaviors that helped me deny, ignore or avoid difficult emotions. I don’t think I had every trusted anyone for real – not even my husband. Just until recently I thought self-control was meant to be swallowing what you were feeling. Stuffing it deep down inside you, and you never talk about it. That was not right.

But that’s how I learned to do life. I asked my counselor, “Where is God in all this? Where has He been?”. She said, “What do you mean? He is in the middle of it…”

I did not understand what she meant at that point, but little by little it’s beginning to make sense that God IS the One revealing all these things to me. He is the One guiding me through all this process. And I’ve been given the opportunity to face who I am – to know who I really am. I heard a sermon the other day in which Rich Nathan said that we really are worse than we think. But God loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Also, God has been singing a lot of songs to me. With me, I think. So I will share many of those lyrics…
Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face. Just don’t turn away.
Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?

Idols. My husband. My children. My friends. It all made sense. I am always trying to make people happy. Somehow I grew up like this. Trying not to rock the boat. It has become clearer than water that all I have ever wanted is for someone to love me. And the need for love has been so great that I went way too far in so many relationships to make that happen. I would lose myself – if that makes sense – so that other’s would love me.

It was painfully obvious with my husband. He never asked for this, but I put him on a throne. The throne that God deserved. I was expecting my husband to fulfill something that God did not create him to fulfill. I was setting my husband for failure really – expecting him to make me happy and to satisfy my most deepest need for love.

Dear God, won’t you please…  Could You send someone here who would love me?

Who  would love me for me, not for what I have done or what I would become. Who would love me for me… ’cause nobody has shown me what love really means.

I know you’ve murdered, and I know you have lied… And I watched you suffer all of your life. And now that you listen, I will tell you that I – I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or what you will become. I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.

What love really means

After my first session – that obviously rocked my world – I told my husband that I was going to start making changes for me, and that I hoped that we could really have a good relationship, and work through the challenges that lied ahead. I said I did not want to be afraid anymore of anybody or anything. I was going to follow God wherever He would lead, even if that meant that our relationship would have to come to and end. I never felt that God was telling me to divorce my husband – let me be clear about that.

The Lord has been very gracious to me, showing me that it was not my husband who needed to change, but me. Mainly ME. It was liberating to see that this person I thought was perfect, was so imperfect. It opened my eyes to the fact that I had been trying to get my worth based on my husband, or my children, or my friends. On what people thought of me. Counseling has really changed my life. The Lord is changing my life through it.

God has shown me that even when I had been so unfaithful to Him (basically breaking the Shema Yisrael, and the first three commandments since EVER), He still wanted ME. God wanted ME. He was pursuing me. He was like a husband in love with His Bride.

And I was His Bride! 

I have always wanted someone to love me like this. And I was so angry at God, because this love that He was offering to me, I wanted it. Yes. But I wanted it from my husband. I wanted to be everything to my husband. God showed me, very gently, that I would always be disappointed if I kept on expecting this from my spouse. That was not my spouse’s role. He was not meant to make me happy. That was not what marriage was all about. Marriage meant something much deeper. Marriage was about intimacy.

An intimacy that I had never had – not even with my husband. Intimacy meant more than sex. Intimacy meant feeling wholly accepted just the way I was. Marriage was a mirror, like a reflection of the intimacy God wanted to have with me. But all those dreams, and hopes and expectations were for the Lord to fulfill – not my husband. I would keep hitting a wall if I expected somebody else to fulfill them. Only the LORD was perfect to meet and surpass my expectations of love.

Another thing was I didn’t even know who I was. And I’m still learning. I know this might sound weird, but it’s difficult for me to know what I like or dislike. I was raised to mirror everybody else. I am afraid of making mistakes,  I’m afraid of being rejected. I was rejected as a child. I felt rejected by the people who were supposed to love me the most – my parents. I was abused emotionally. It’s difficult to say those words because maybe it wasn’t that bad. I’ve tried to find memories – good memories – but it is so difficult. I cannot remember my dad telling me he loved me while sober. And I cannot remember my mom not being worried, or angry, or crying, or yelling, or taking care of him. And it hurts.

But it was bad.  Yes, it was that bad. It was not okay. It was not normal to go through what I went through. No child should ever need to hear a parent calling her stupid. No child should ever have to beg for forgiveness from a parent. No child should ever have to wake up in the middle of the night, and decide if she should stay with her dad or go with her mom. I think I faced these feelings and for the first time I said, “Yes. It hurts. And no, it was not okay.”

I had never done that before.

Do you dream of a home you never had?

An innocence that you cannot get back

The pain is real. You can’t erase it. Sooner or later you have to face it down. Down.

You have to face it down.

You are loved.

Do you keep your thoughts inside your head? Will you regret the things you never said? You have a voice. You have to use it. You have a choice. Don’t let them shut you down. Down. Don’t let them shut you down

You are loved

Do you feel the ache inside your soul? You know you’ll never make it on your own.
Sorrow is too great for you to hold it. You’re gonna break. Why don’t you lay it down?
Freedom comes in letting go. Open up the window to your heart.

Freedom comes in letting go. Open up your heart.

Loved

Why would you want to be with me, God? Don’t you know who I am?

I cannot relate to a loving father. Let me be fair. I know my dad loves me – in whatever his idea of love is. I give him that. But then you tell me about a Heavenly Father who loves me. Uh… I know what the Bible says. I know.  It is the very first time that I am experiencing this kind of love, though.

God also has revealed to me that I know nothing about unconditional love. I grew up learning behaviors, and I made them my own to survive. Making people feel guilty, putting people down in order to feel better myself, I manipulated and controlled others. I basically knew emotional blackmail very well. I have blamed others for my lack of self control, and I have let others abuse me. I have tried to fill my need for love and acceptance the best way I had known so far. I don’t forgive. I always remember so that I can bring it back.

God has been been so very gentle and sweet while giving me a reality check of who I am now. I feel like I should not use these corny terms to describe the Maker of the Universe, but He has been so very gentle. Like if I was dating somebody for the very first time, He would be the perfect date. He has shown me that He has loved me forever. That even though I have rejected Him, He is still waiting for me to come back. That now that I had a clear picture of who I was, I was able to walk towards the woman He made me to be. And all this, He does because He loves me. Nothing else.

God is not codependent, that’s for sure. He doesn’t need me. And He loves me. Unconditionally. So it began to make sense. This intimacy thing. This is what it means. It means that God knows who we really are, and He loves us. There’s acceptance. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It meant that I didn’t fear divorce anymore. Becasue the truth is that my husband is a gift God gave me. He is my husband, and I want to know him, and I want him to know me. So I’ve been open in sharing with him these feelings and issues, and he says he loves me. It means conflict and arguments are there. It means I don’t need perfection. It means I feel accepted. And I also need to work on being accepting.

God loves me. I wanted this with God. Yes, with my husband, too. But God. With God. This is the relationship God wants with me. Why would I say NO to that?

I bought myself a ring. I married God. My other marriage is fine, by the way. We are learning to communicate better, and I’m not stuffing my feelings when I am angry. I’m learning to be assertive, and we are not divorcing – this goes beyond divorce. God is changing ME.

I am the Lord’s wife first. He is the one that will fulfill ALL the expectations of love I have. He is actually showing me what love really means. He has been faithful to me even when I have been a spiritual prostitute. He has shown me what a Covenant Keeper He is. He does not leave nor forsake me based on my performance. He has lived with me the book of Hosea. Even after I had gone after my Baals, my lovers, and forgotten Him; He has betrothed me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy.

He is a devoted husband.

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold,
like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old.
Your love is enduring through the winter rain,
and beyond the horizon with mercy for today.
Faithful You have been and faithful you will be.
You pledge yourself to me, and it’s why I singYour praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You Father the orphan. Your kindness makes us whole.
And you shoulder our weakness, and your strength becomes our own.
Now you’re making me like you, clothing me in white.
Bringing beauty from ashes, for You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You will be praised. You will be praised.
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord!

You see it? It is LOVE. It is nothing else. If you know what I am talking about, if you have struggled with acceptance and your self-worth, you understand the need to be loved. And you understand that you would give yourself to people, and do things in order to get a tiny crumb of love. You may not be aware of it, but you stay in relationships that deep down you know they are not good for you, or you don’t even like to get something – acceptance, praise, whatever it might be.

I have given myself to get something in return. Always. Becasue I want to be loved. But God? What does He need? He doesn’t need anything. Why would God give Himself to me like this?

He wants me to be FREE

All my Christian life, I have been a slave. To my idols. I had failed to see that Christ died to set me free from my sin, but also from the things, and behaviors, and patterns of thought that have entangled my earthly life. This is what it means to walk with Christ. Yes, I get heaven, but I also get to enjoy my life here and now. My Lord and my Savior died so that I could be free to choose Him.

That’s what God’s more interested in – my freedom. I understand slavery. I have been a slave to my anger, and to these behaviors that I’m working on changing. Along the way, I had been raising little slaves… They don’t deserve this. No child deserves what I went through. And while I am not and will never be the perfect mother, I do want to change my family history. Without realizing it, I had been encouraging the same patterns of family disfunction that both my husband and I were raised in. It is so clear now.

On my last session I was so very happy to share with my counselor some changes that I’ve made, and some tough conversations that I had with people I was afraid of. I felt different. I turned around, and I read a verse that meant a lot to me:

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19-19

This is in the context of the prophet Isaiah speaking to the Israelites. God is telling them He will deliver them AGAIN from Babylon – another “exodus”. Where there is no clear path ahead of me, God will create one. He is always a step ahead of me. He knew about all this. He knew about my fears, and about my shame. He has covered it all.

I am learning a lot about being a parent in counseling. I am learning to show my children who they are, and who God is. To show them, not to teach them. I was teaching them one thing, but showing them a completely different one. I was being harsh, laying down the law. If they did something, they paid. Again, God is changing ME.

I am being more patient. More forgiving. I think that can be mistaken as if I’m letting them off the hook many times, but I don’t think I am. I am just showing my children what I have been learning myself. I am showing them how to regulate their emotions, and really, how to manage them. I just feel that I haven’t been very gracious to them in all these years. I have been expecting a behavior that it is right -like obedience – but I don’t think I have taken enough time to cultivate what it takes for that behavior to develop.

Basically I haven’t been a very good listener. It’s taking a whole lot of help from the Lord to wait fifteen minutes by my son’s side while he cannot stop crying. Waiting until we can talk about what triggered that anger explosion. It was easier to spank him because he pushed his sister, and then make him apologize. And then he would cry more and more. And sometimes I do think, “You know, all this emotional Let’s-talk-about-it-crap takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort…”

And the truth is I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t. Then I close my eyes, and I’m like, “Yeah, well… nobody showed you how to deal with your emotions. You have stuffed them all your life and when they explode, it has been disastrous – in family, in friendships, in marriage… “

The Lord reminded me of this the other day at the library:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:8-13

 

I have been treated so tenderly by my heavenly Father. He is showing me how forgiving He is. I deserve the worst, but I don’t get what I deserve. He loves me. Are there consequences? Yes. Is there discipline? Yes. But I am just happy that God is working something in me through both my children and their strong will. He is showing me how to be more like Jesus. Isn’t that the point of the Christian life anyway? Jesus will not leave me alone…

So yeah, feelings are not being stuffed anymore. I think it is being particularly difficult for my husband. Sometimes I think that what I do here at home does not really have an impact on anyone. But I am realizing, basically, that God is helping my husband and I to get closer to each other, and also to potentially change future generations. God is helping me to break away from the cycle of abuse and codependency of at least four generations on my side.

I’ve been swimming, so this next song means a lot to me. I’ve never swam before, so learning to breathe correctly and all that was very challenging for me. All those feelings of inadequacy, of being a loser, would continually come to my mind. But I kept on trying and I’m getting much better. In my class, sometimes we practice drafting for triathlons. When there is a lot of people swimming next to you, the water gets really choppy. And even though I know how to breathe correctly, sometimes when I open my mouth all I get is water inside. No air. I have to put my head back in the water, then lift it up again, and try harder.

This time in my life has felt a little bit like that – like swimming in choppy water trying to get air. But God has been with me every step of the way. We are not done yet. I’m sure He will keep on revealing things to me, things that as of right now I have no idea about.

I like swimming because God showed me that I can swim. When I see a lake or a pond, I feel like swimming there, even though I have never swam in open water before. The idea of drowning in an open-water swim terrified me, but I can’t wait to try it now.

One final thought. I began this post with Muslims in mind. If you are Muslim, and you are reading this, I think you can relate to a lot of the issues I talked about. We do share honor and shame societies. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have been treated like this. I pray that one day you will be able to relate to God in this forgiving, accepting, and unconditional-loving way.  There is no other way,  but through Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Life gets choppy at times. Being Ramadan I know you want to please Allah. I know. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him for a dream. Test Him on that. Dare to call Him Father. And always remember that if God calls you to swim, He will keep you breathing above the waves.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep. My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise. My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

Oceans

Jesus and the Historical Method – Part 8

For the past several weeks, we have been investigating how the historical Jesus of Nazareth fares by being tested by the traditional historical method. Before wrapping up our investigation, NT scholar Michael Licona provides two additional tests that need to be considered. This article will investigate those two additional tests or methods and will offer some concluding thoughts on our quest.

1. Arguments to the Best Explanation.

Licona notes that the Arguments-to-the-Best-Explanation method “makes inferences and weighs hypotheses according to specific criteria.”[1] In other words, the data is compiled and examined according to a particular hypothesis made by the historian. The criteria include:

Explanatory scope: Examining the most relevant data according to the hypothesis.

Explanatory power: Looking at the “quality of the explanation of the facts.”[2]

Plausibility: How much confidence can the historian possess that a certain event took place? For the skeptic, if they are to be honest historically, they must suspend their skepticism, and allow for the possibility of the miraculous if they are to become unbiased.

Less ad hoc: Covering only what the data suggests without going “beyond what is already known.”[3]

Illumination: Where one piece of data strengthens other areas of inquiry.

Speaking of this method, Licona goes on to say that “Arguments to the best explanation are guided by inference and can sometimes be superior to an eyewitness to an event. Testimony to the court does not provide truth but data.”[4]

Examining the data that we have presented already when using this method demonstrates that the best historical explanation is that Jesus of Nazareth existed and walked out of the grave the first Easter Sunday. Licona, in his work The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach , comes to the following conclusion in his over 600 page work:

“I am contending that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the best historical explanation of the relevant historical bedrock. Since it fulfills all five of the criteria for the best explanation and outdistances competing hypotheses by a significant margin in their ability to fulfill the same criteria, the historian is warranted in regarding Jesus’ resurrection as an event that occurred in the past.”[5]

Thus, from using this method, Jesus’ historicity as well as Jesus’ resurrection are confirmed.

2. Arguments from Statistical Inference.

The Arguments from Statistical Inference method evaluates all data in question and evaluates the probability that an event could have happened. If one eliminates the possibility of God’s existence and God’s involvement in an event, then the odds that a “miraculous” event occurred goes down dramatically. However, if one holds that a greater power was involved, the odds go up drastically. Licona gives the illustration of one evaluating whether his son could lift 200 lbs. over his head. While such may be improbable, if one is willing to add that a bodybuilder assisted him, the added datum allows for such an event to become much more probable.[6] If the historian is going to be unbiased, then one must allow for the possibility of God’s existence, and the possibility that God may have an invested interest for raising Jesus from the dead.

While this method will always be somewhat subjective, the historian can make an educated synopsis of how historically certain an event is. McCullagh uses the following grades:

“Extremely probable: in 100-95% of cases

Very probable: in 95-80% of cases

Quite or fairly probable: in 80-65% of cases

More probable than not: in 65-50% of cases

Hardly or scarely probable: in 50-35% of cases

Fairly improbable: in 35-20% of cases

Very improbable: in 20-5% of cases

Extremely improbable: in 5-0% of cases.”[7]

 

While it must be admitted that in history one cannot hold 100% certainty that any event took place one could argue that one cannot be 100% certain of what a person had for breakfast. However, one could say that it was extremely probable that a person had Cheerios® for breakfast if one sees a used bowl and spoon with bits of Cheerios® cereal, accompanied by used milk at the bottom of the bowl, with an empty Cheerios® box sitting beside the bowl.

So, what can we draw from our investigation?

Concluding Thoughts

So, does Jesus pass the historical method? I would say so. In fact, so much so that I think one can logically hold the following premises.

It is extremely probable that Jesus existed. One can say with over 95% certainty that Jesus existed. To claim otherwise is to hold a level of skepticism that will disallow one to know about anyone or anything in history.

It is extremely probable that Jesus rose from the dead. The strength of Jesus’ existence is coupled with the strength of his resurrection. In my estimation, I would say that one holds a very strong case for the resurrection of Christ being an actual event of history.

It is extremely probable that Jesus’ disciples saw him risen from the dead. Some may argue that this point deserves to hold the level “very probable.” However, I feel that given other data to consider that it is extremely probable that Jesus’ disciples encountered the risen Jesus.

It is very probable that we have good eyewitness testimony telling us about the life of Jesus. While we have fantastic eyewitness testimony for the life of Jesus, particular debates surrounding the Evangelists’ identity and the like take down the probability a notch. In my estimation the eyewitness testimony deserves to have the highest ranking, but to be fair to all the data involved, I give it a very probable ranking (95-80% certainty).

It is extremely improbable that the Jesus Mythicist campaign has any leg on which to stand. Even agnostic Bart Ehrman has confessed that the Jesus Mythicist campaign is erroneous. While the historical data does not prove Jesus to be the Messiah (that comes by faith), the data provides solid grounding for accepting such a belief. In stark contrast, one can claim that the idea that Jesus was a myth is extremely improbable (0-5%).

Therefore, one may deny Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, one may reject his claims as divine, and one may pass off his miracles as the work of a magician, however one cannot deny that Jesus of Nazareth existed and one will be hard-pressed to deny that this same Jesus walked out of the tomb the first Easter Sunday.

Jesus of Nazareth passes the historical test with a solid A+. 

© February 15, 2016. Brian Chilton.



Note to self and others struggling with faith: In my darkest moments, I held for dear life to the fact that the most certain thing about Jesus historically is that He died by crucifixion. And if He died on that cross, then Islam was false. I still had to deal with the fact of Jesus being divine or Jesus resurrecting… But if He died then Islam was false. That did not make Christianity true but Islam was false. I felt joy. And the best argument that Islam gave me about the cross was that God wanted to test people. Allah went all the way deceiving everybody to think that Jesus had died, but it wasn’t really so. Of course, Islam said Allah loved Jesus PBUH so much that He had to rescue Him from the shame of the cross and whatever, that’s why He had to raise Jesus to Himself. 

Okay, fine. But why? Why would Allah make other guy loo like Jesus? Why the secrecy? Why the lying? Why not be open about it and say, “Look, this is Jesus, I’m taking Him up to me”. No. Allah made other look like Jesus. That was deception in my eyes.

If that was God I would rather go to hell than to follow Him. Didn’t Allah know that by making other person look like Jesus many people would start a movement called The Way? Didn’t Allah know these people would follow Jesus as Lord and Savior? Didn’t He know I would be deceived as well in to worshipping this Jesus? And He still did it – just to test me? Why would Allah put so many obstacles between Him and me? I decided I would rather follow the Biblical Jesus and go to hell – even if that Jesus was a product of my own imagination – than to embrace the Islamic understanding of Allah and the non-historical life of  Jesus in the Quran.

As it turns out, Jesus did die for my sins and did rise from the dead. My head went ahead my heart, and the Holy Spirit kicked in later as I came back from India. I am now on fire for my Lord Jesus and I will forever proclaim Him as my Savior 🙂



Bibliography

Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010.

McGullagh, C. B. Justifying Historical Descriptions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

[1] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 108.

[2] Ibid., 109.

[3] Ibid., 110.

[4] Ibid., 114.

[5] Ibid., 610.

[6] See Licona, 114.

[7] C. B. McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 52.

What is The Gospel?

I had the opportunity to go to a Missions Conference this past weekend. It was truly awesome. I learned many things, and definitely felt the call of God for my life – which is something that I had probably known for the past seven years. I had never been to a conference, tough 🙂

Ever since I became a Christian, I have enjoyed talking to others about God and how much God loves them. At times, I guess, my family and friends have thought that I am crazy, brain-washed or just a “lost cause”.

But that is what happens when something radical is observed in your life. I was the worst of sinners. I know that is how Paul describes himself… and maybe he was, but I also killed a baby in my womb. And I have a history of sexual immorality that does not make me proud. I had a history… of so many things. But I am not that person anymore. I have no other explanation for the radical change in my life that the fact that I gave my life to follow Christ almost eight years ago.

I would like to encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

I understand it might be too long to post it so I won’t, but I will definitely talk about it – even if it’s little by little.

One [Jesus] has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.

I no longer live for myself, but for the One who died for me. He died for my sake and for everybody’s sake. But you have to believe – you have to trust in His Death and Resurrection. You have to trust that His death takes your sins away. It doesn’t cover them – it wipes them away.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.

It is Christ’s death what actually made me have peace with God. It is trusting that God is good, and that He actually wanted to be reconciled with me what made me follow Christ. If you owe someone a huge amount of money, and He himself hands you a ton of cash to pay Him back – wouldn’t you take the money? Wouldn’t you say “Thank you for paying yourself what I actually owe You?”  Why would you be proud and try to pay off a debt that you know you will never be able to repay? God forgave me everything that I rightfully owed Him.

Do you see how I cannot longer live for myself? Do you see how I cannot do anything but to live for Him who died for me?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come… in Christ God entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.

I am not the woman I was when I was 20 – thank God. And I am not the woman I was when I was 24. My life was radically changed when I trusted Jesus as my Savior. And at times, I forget that God has a purpose for my life, but He never forgets. At times, I don’t trust Him, but He has proven Himself faithful to me. If Jesus died to reconcile me with God… now He trusts me to reconcile the world to Him.

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He [God] made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul implored the Corinthians, I implore you – make peace with God. What is it that you feel you are going to loose? What is it that you feel you will have to give up? If you don’t believe in God, of course, I cannot convince you. I would argue, tough, that the evidence for God is huge. But if you do believe that this life is not all there is, then, what are you waiting for?

Salvation is a free gift from God. Why wouldn’t you take it? Is it because the cost of following Jesus is too much for you? You know, I get it. In all honesty, i never consider the cost of following Him. This Following-Jesus- thing sounded great at the beginning, but then it became hard. It became hard to stop thinking about me all the time, and let the Spirit of God control my anger… It was hard to hold back my tongue, and to be patient, and kind. And you know what? I still mess up… But God knew that, and He still choose to die for me. He still died for you. But you have to make a choice: Will you choose to be reconciled with God through Jesus?


This past weekend, I felt so happy that I had decided to go to the conference. I was completely exhausted after spending my Friday night – and literally all Saturday – talking about Jesus. We were actually joking about having a Jesus overload. There was so much information and even theology given – it blew my mind.

I actually bought a book of one of the speakers – Jackson Wu. His lecture impressed me so much. It was something that I had never listened to before. He basically said that if Jesus did not die then God is a liar. 

God gave a promise to Abraham. God told Abraham that though him all nations would be blessed. Abraham always believed and he was declared righteous because of this. All through Israel’s history, the LORD (YHWH) always saved His people, and it was not because they deserved it, but because of God’s name sake. It was always because of God’s sake – because God promised to bless them.  

So if you fast forward to all the events in the history of Israel – the slavery in Egypt, the exile in Babylon… all until the moment God Himself enters history in the person of Jesus… God has always been in the business of keeping His promises and saving His people – all the nations. So if Jesus (God in the flesh) does not die, then God cannot keep His promise.

Of course, there are a thousand objections if you have other worldview, like if you’re a Jew or a Muslim or whatever. But then, that is a discussion that might have no end until Messiah comes (which at least is something that Jews, Christians and Muslims can partially agree on). Of course, Muslims and Christians would rather say until Messiah comes back.  Again, this is not an apologetic post.

In my life, there have always been two Bible passages that make my heart beat faster, and I have always known that is definitely something God has purposed for my life:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1,2,5

What exactly does that mean? I don’t know. I don’t think I have been called to be a Pastor. I am of the idea of male leadership in the Church, but I also agree that there were a lot of women that did very important things in the years of the Church in Acts.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:1,13-16

I know what this means. It has always been obvious to me or maybe not. I don’t know. But I want to go.

Salvation comes when somebody listens to the good news about God wanting to be reconciled with them. They only have to take action – Repent from their wrong doings, and Trust in the name of Christ.

But how are they gonna call in the name of the Lord Jesus, if they don’t know about Him first? And how will they know if nobody tells them? Somebody has to go and tell them! Somebody has to be sent… I know the Lord Jesus. I wanna go and tell them.

What does that look in my life? I have no idea. I think I will figure that out with my pastors. I am definitely telling my computer right now, ha!

That Romans chapter has so much meat. In Romans 10:13, Paul quotes directly from the Prophet Joel 2:32, “Everyone who calls in the name of the LORD shall be saved”. This is in the mind of Paul, along with other Christians, understood as events described for when the Messiah comes. In the Hebrew Bible, this is a Messianic prophecy. Do you see how LORD is uppercase? That LORD means YHWH.

It is YHWH who saves. But Paul is applying the ability to save to Jesus Himself. People need to hear about Christ in order to be saved. How can Jesus save unless He is more than a mere human being? You see? Jesus is YHWH in the mind of Paul.

But if you think that Paul made up the divinity of Christ, then how can you explain away Acts 2:21, where Peter ends up quoting Joel 2:32 also? This is within the context of believing in Jesus as both Lord and Christ for the forgiveness of sins (verses 36-38). In Peter’s mind the name who saves is Jesus. This points to Jesus’ deity – for who can forgive sins but God?

I will end with my deepest thoughts.

During the conference, it was really humbling to see many people walking forward when an African missionary asked them to respond to God’s call in their lives. I saw people responding to the call of being pastors, and leaders. I saw people answering the call of becoming missionaries. And I cried when people responded to the call of going to places where they know they might die.

You see, these people don’t feel like dying. They do not want to kill or be killed. They don’t gain anything by going to these places – they have everything. They have peace with God already. They have salvation already. They have been reconciled with God. And that is exactly the reason they are going. They want to reconcile others with God.

They want to go because there are people who don’t know about Jesus. And they actually want to tell them – even if it costs them their lives.

You can watch this beautiful video about what the GOSPEL is all about.

YOU were Jesus’ destination when He left heaven 🙂

The Leftovers – Part 3


Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn, He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified.

Mark 6:47-49


Basically the disciples are freaking out in the storm. I don’t know how to put it any other way – they were freaking out. The storm was more than they could handle. Sometimes I have the same feeling, but to tell you the truth, I am not afraid anymore.

I was looking for some information on hell – why not – and I stumbled upon the concept of the afterlife from the Jewish perspective. I am still planning on writing about that, but something struck me. For Jewish people, this life is more important than the next. Heaven and Hell are not mentioned specifically in the Five Books of Moses (The Torah), but only in the books of the Prophets, the Writings, and the Talmud.

Why is the afterlife absent form the Torah if it is such a crucial part of Jewish philosophy? Heaven is not discussed in the Torah to emphasize that Jews do what’s right because it’s right. As simple as that.

We are not meant to dwell on the reward and punishment that awaits us in the next world. I can be a “righteous” person my whole life, do every single commandment, stop hunger, bring about world peace, save the ozone and cure all diseases. I can go to church every single Sunday, pray in the name of Jesus, and give my money to the poor – but if I did it all for a reward in the next world – I have lived a selfish life.

A story is told of a Jew who gave away his portion in the World to Come in order to rescue a kidnapped family being held for ransom. When asked why he was not sad over losing his place in Heaven, he responded, “I was always concerned that I was serving God for the wrong reasons. Now that I don’t have a portion in the World to Come I can serve Him reassured that I am doing it purely out of love and devotion.”

This is true service of God. God will judge our actions as well as our motives.

Even from the Muslim perspective, I found a poem from a Sufi poet. My Christian friends: You should know Sufi Muslims are the Charismatic Muslims. They are the Mystical Muslims. I met a Sufi Muslim in Delhi, and we had a wonderful conversation, I will write about that too – as God allows me. Sufis do not constitute a separate sect of Islam (as do, for example, the Shi’ites), but can be found within both the Sunni and Shi’a sects. All Sufis stress the supreme importance of religious experience, and distinguish themselves among other Muslims by their insistence that experience of God can be achieved in this life.


O my Lord, if I worship you

by Sufi Rabi’a Al-‘Adawiyya

O my Lord,

if I worship You
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship You
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You
for Yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.


I think that the more I see the world, the more I want to follow Jesus. And don’t misunderstand what I mean by that. Does that mean I believe Jesus is God? Or that He died for my sins? Or that He was crucified? I don’t have the answer to those questions as of now. But I will continue to hold on to His teachings. It’s like a marriage, you know. If Jesus is indeed who the Bible portrays Him to be, I have been betrothed. I am a Bride waiting for my Bridegroom. Would I dump my husband because He is not coming back just yet? Would you dump your wife just because someone told you they saw her with another man? Would I get a formal divorce because I heard rumors of my Bridegroom not being the person I have thought Him to be after all these years? No. Of course not.

When you have marriage problems, you deal with your own problems as a couple. You fight, and wrestle with each other, until things become clearer. You stay there if you really love each other because marriage is sacred in the eyes of God. You try, and keep on trying, because when you married your spouse you made a promise to God. That is what marriage is for me – commitment. For better or for worse.

If Jesus is the Savior- if He is the Savior of the world- then nobody can snatch me out of His hand. Nothing spiritually evil can touch me. My body, you can kill it if you give me a poisoned red velvet cupcake – but not my soul. Nothing will be able to separate from the love of God. Not death, not life, not angels, not demons, not things present, not things to come, not any powers, not height, not depth, not any other created thing (call it human beings, jinns or Shaytan himself), will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Jesus the Messiah.

Isn’t that awesome? That if Jesus is the real deal, then the love of God for somebody can be so wide and long and high and deep that God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. And that this love surpasses human wisdom, knowledge or human understanding – because it doesn’t make sense that God could love this much! And that by knowing this love, you might actually be filled with the fullness of God.

If someone misguided me to worship Jesus – the church or a pastor – then I will deal with that. Not alone, but with YAHWEH who knows it all. I hope my blog helps other people to see this fearless faith – even if you don’t agree with it.

The Christian faith is NOT just a blind leap in the dark, you know, like you are gonna run to the end of the cliff hoping there’s something there to catch you. No. The Christian faith is also rational. 


Faith is trusting what we have good reason to believe is true. It provides us EVIDENCE that appeals to our minds. The Christian faith is not an ALL or NOTHING proposition. You don’t have to be TOTALLY CERTAIN or else, you have NO FAITH AT ALL. That is not the faith that Jesus talked about…

– Rich Nathan


This has been my struggle. But what if Jesus saw His disciples in the storm and thought, “I wish you would just look down in the boat, ’cause you’ve got your sack full of broken pieces…”

They had the evidence for the miracle of feeding fifteen thousand people. They had just witnessed it, but they were focusing on the storm. In the middle of my own storm, I should not focus on my circumstances. I will focus on the things that Jesus has done for me before. I will take my basket full of broken pieces into the storm of tomorrow. The same God who was with me back in the storms of yesterday is the same God who is with me in the storms of today. The same God who brought me to where I am now is the same God who will get me through this.

Jesus climbed into the boat with them, and told them DO NOT BE AFRAID.

There have been times when I have asked God who He really is with only a Bible in my hand. I have also done that with only a Quran in my hand. Was He Allah as revealed in the Bible? Without corruption theories… Or was He Allah as written in the Quran? With Quran as the final revelation?

My Muslimah has been so faithful praying for me through all this. She prayed something called Istikhara in my behalf. In love, she asked Allah to guide me. After finding out what Allah had revealed to her, I asked God to reveal to ME who He really was – Bible and Quran side by side. I am thinking that If Allah gave HER an answer in my behalf, then Allah would have to give ME the same answer. Otherwise, we were not talking to the same Divine Being.

Call me crazy, but on my own prayer time, Allah guided me to the same account in both Quran and the Bible. The account of Judah as he offers himself to protect Benjamin during the famine in Egypt. The accounts are SO different in both books and Judah WAS NOT a mere coincidence for me. God did not lie with His revelation to my friend. He was so truthful with His guidance to me as well. In His loving character, and being faithful to Himself, Allah showed me the two paths.

And I chose the LION OF JUDAH.

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…

Fear of death

Fear

I have only been VERY afraid three times in my life. You know, that kind of fear that overtakes you and you cannot sleep. The first time it was when I thought I had cervical cancer. I had been diagnosed with HPV, and the possibility of developing cancer was there. My mind is a very powerful mind. It takes me places where I know I shouldn’t go. It was fear what made me think I might have cancer. I went through a cryosurgery, and the lesions were taken care of. Ever since then, I have a very healthy cervix. I am not afraid anymore. But if I have to be honest with myself, when the time for my yearly pap-smear comes, I always grow anxious until I see it’s negative.

The second time I was very scared was when I didn’t feel my first child moving anymore around 30 weeks into the pregnancy. We rushed to the hospital and I was given steroids in case the baby had to be taken out. My amniotic fluid was at a very low-level, and I remember feeling alone. We decided not to tell our parents mostly because they were a thousand miles away from Houston. Literally. They were in Mexico City.  But I remember a sweet woman who came to the hospital to pray for me. At that time, we were doing a 30 week study of the Book of Isaiah. I was so afraid lying down in my hospital bed when she began praying over me. She did not pray for my baby to be healthy. She did not pray for my baby to stay inside my uterus. She did not pray for everything to be the way I wanted it. She prayed for God’s will to be done. Up to this day, that prayer has been the most difficult – and the most beautiful – I had been prayed over.

That day I realized that if I was going to follow the God of Israel, I had to agree with Him in many things, whether I understood them or not, whether I liked them or not. It made sense to me that sometimes bad things happened to good people, but there was nothing in this world that would happen to me if God had not allowed that to come my way. The problem with this statement, of course, arises with the different views people have of God. But I believed God was good all the time. I trusted Him. I knew Him. I knew He was for me and with me. So I was not worried anymore about the outcome. Of course, it was pretty sweet when they released me from the hospital with a big baby that I had to carry for ten more weeks.

The third time I was afraid happened just recently. A sudden pain in my back got me by surprise. I ended up with the gastroenterologist who suggested some lab work, an ultrasound, and an endoscopy. I was afraid of eating anything with fat, and guess what? Yes. I was afraid I had stomach cancer. My grandma died of stomach cancer so it was possible. My mind took me to scary places and I lost about 10 lb. in about two weeks. Even after the endoscopy showed only a mild gastritis – that I think everyone has- I kept on losing weight. I was eating even more than before, but kept on losing weight. I was afraid of dying.

I wanted God to help me. I just did’t know how He would do that. I remembered the two years that I went for counseling every single week. The lady mostly just let me talk forever, and she would just lead the questions, but I often ended finding my own answers. So I figured God had to be the best counselor. So every morning, before my children got up, or when they were napping, I made myself a cup of coffee and talked to God for hours. I asked Him to show me something, to tell me, to guide me to the root of my fear. If only I knew the root of my fear, then I would know how to stop being afraid. The Lord guided me through some Scriptures…


Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you;

He will never let the righteous be shaken.

– Psalm 55:22 of David


I was afraid for my children. I did not want to die because I feared they wouldn’t remember me. I would be such a distant memory. My oldest one was not even two years old, and my youngest was not even six months old. They would not remember the words I had spoken to them everyday. They would not remember about how beautifully they had been created in God’s image. They would not remember how infinitely they had been loved by God. As much as I tried, I couldn’t remember my parents at their age. The freshest memories of my parents that I was able to really remember (without looking at photos) were when I was about four or five years old. But I wanted to be remembered. How did I want to be remembered? That was the kind of mom I needed to be.

“I know one day this will be over. I will conquer it because you are helping me”, I wrote down. Yes, I keep logs of every single thing I have prayed. I need to remember God’s faithfulness to me. I often forget.

I argued with God – as if I could bargain – that maybe if my children were fifteen years old I wouldn’t be afraid anymore. I just wanted them to be saved. You know, I just wanted them to accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Then it would be okay for me to die. But somehow, in my Christian psyche or whatever (we call it the Holy Spirit) I knew that was not right. Even if they were fifteen and they had decided on their own to follow Jesus as Savior, I knew I would still be afraid. My fear was that I wouldn’t be there to help them choose right all the time. It hurt to realize that this children were not my own as much as I wanted them to be. It became obvious to me that I had to teach them to follow God on their own. God showed me that even if they were thirty and, I was still alive, they could reject my faith. They could say they were Christians, but only God could see their hearts.


The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.

– 2 Peter 3:9,15


Every person has the free will whether to choose to put their faith in Jesus as Savior or not. Once I realized I was not in control anymore, and that it was their choice and not mine, the fear disappeared. I had found the root of my fear: I did not trust God with my children.  The only solution possible was to trust God. I had to trust God to make Himself known to my children. God had been patient with me. What made me think He wouldn’t be patient with them?

Fear and doubt is something that you don’t make an appointment with, if you know what I mean. Nobody says, “Today, I’m gonna fear and doubt my salvation at 3 pm”. But I am afraid. Fear and doubt are gripping my heart like never before. I believe hell is real, and I used to believe I wouldn’t go there. But I am reading things and hearing things that have made me put into question every single thing I felt so sure about.

Jesus’ death and resurrection has been my hope. Without His resurrection every single Christian’s hope is futile. There’s the slight possibility that my faith is all a lie. But if not Jesus, then who?

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.