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

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 🙂

Judah – Part 3

Extremely long post

I think I have shared so many things lately, that I got sidetracked about Judah. But as I write, I am only trying to connect the dots. In one of my previous posts, I talked about my Muslim friend doing Istikhara on my behalf. I also mentioned the fact that in my own prayer time, God had guided me to the same account in both my Bible and my Quran.  I think you deserve to know what happened.

Not only that, I have to remain truthful to my word. In my very first post, I said that one of my goals was to explain what it meant to be a born-again person. One’s faith has to be palpable on an every-day basis, otherwise, our faith might as well be dead. If I cannot walk my faith in a practical, tangible way – as a woman, mother and wife – then what exactly am I striving for? This is a biblical truth found in James 2:18. You cannot separate your faith (belief) from the way you act (deed).

Discipleship in Christ is about responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine your thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. We have to walk the talk. Salvation is a gift from God. It is free. But that is only the beginning of the Christian life. Discipleship is looking at the Bible as a mirror, and asking yourself how much you actually resemble your Savior. Christ-likeness is the goal of the Christian life. It almost sounds impossible, but that is the standard. We will never look like Him, we are broken. Our hope is that one day we will.


Decisions, decisions


I cannot denny that I feel flattered when very close friends of mine tell me my faith is growing. Apparently they see things I see not. I personally have not felt strong in the Lord Jesus Christ for the past 9 months of my life. But I’ll tell you what, I have held on to Him for dear life. I have cried for Him, with Him and because of Him. I have cried myself to sleep not knowing who God really is. Who misled me into believing Jesus as Savior?

When I have looked into Muslim apologetics, I have found that Jesus never died. The Swoon Theory has Jesus passing out on the cross, but He did not die. He recovered later. The Legend Theory claims the crucifixion never happened. The Natural Death Theory argues Jesus died a natural death many years after. The substitution theory makes God a deceiver. God Himself made someone look like Jesus who was then crucified in the place of Christ.

God’s deception started right at the cross. But why would a great, loving God do that? Didn’t God know that a great movement called Christianity would emerge from all this? Why didn’t God stop it right on its tracks?


Was my God a deceiver like some Christian apologists claim Allah is? Or did Allah made someone else appear like Jesus in order to test us? After all, we are put in this life to be tested according to Islamic view.


I have had many answers to my prayers, but those answers came when I would read my Bible. My Muslims told me I was biased. They said I had to let go of Christ if I really wanted Allah to show me the right path. Without knowing, they were almost suggesting me to commit “Christian shirk”. The worst of the worst – rejecting the Holy Spirit. Their words came from a good place and a good heart. They love me. I know they love me.

I also know they are Muslims, but maybe I was biased. So I began asking God for answers while reading only my Quran. By no means I am an expert. I have only read sixteen juz-un out of thirty (53% of Quran content). I am sure I will still learn from the remaining fourteen parts. But believe me, after nine months of reading and thinking about it,  I know what Islam teaches.

Islam can get very complicated, but it is fairly simple. You submit to God. Then you follow the beautiful example of the life of Mohammad. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muḥammadur rasūlu-llāh. I even know how to pronounce that. I have actually uttered those words after my Muslimah showed me how. You pray five times a day. You fast during Ramadan. You give charity. You try to go to Makkah. You do good deeds. And by all means, you stop entertaining the pure thought of Jesus (PBUH) dying on the cross for your sins.

You do that, and you will be okay. You hope you will go to Heaven. In šāʾ Allāh. But you don’t really know.


You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound, as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?

– C.S. Lewis


So what? What was I supposed to do with all this knowledge in my head? I knew Christianity and I knew Islam. I was accountable to God for what I knew now. I was tired – my brain was tired, my soul was tired. I had asked God for wisdom, for discernment, but I was going one way, and then the other. I literally felt tossed by the waves of my own unbelief. And I almost gave up on Jesus.

God has showed me a great deal of things lately. The greatest, I believe, is that He loves me enough to give me free will. After Allah showed my Muslimah that I was heedlessly running towards Jesus, we talked about it. Through her Muslim eyes, that meant that I was not really looking for the truth. I was only looking for ways to justify Jesus as Savior. She never said this, of course, but I know enough Quran to understand that this heedlessness would land me in hell fire. Forever.


QURAN AND BIBLE – SIDE BY SIDE


Doesn’t Allah love me?, I thought. I know He does – Muslim or not – so I asked God one last chance. He had shown me many things before, but I pleaded with Him. I said that Moses got away with all his excuses for not wanting to go to Egypt. I reminded God – as if He needs my reminders – that Gideon was a mess asking for many signs. God showed him those signs, but then Gideon would question God again.

I knew that I had to make up my mind once and for all. What else was I looking for? I knew enough Islam. I knew enough Christianity. After a year of living in India, and all my knowledge, I had to make a choice. I was tired of learning for the sake of learning.


God, Allah, Jesus… whoever you are, I am up for grabs. Whoever God you are, you have to tell me right now. Show yourself to me. Answer me. You know I love you. Jesus, if you are God, show me. God, if Mohammad is your messenger, show me. I am afraid.  If you tell me Islam is the right path, I will give you my Shahada right now. I will start wearing my hijab right away, and I will wear it until the day I die. Jesus, if you are who the Bible says you are, I promise you, I will proclaim your glory and your praises to the top of my lungs until the day I die.


I would say it was the most sincere prayer I have prayed in the fear of God.  I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had to keep my word either way. And I knew these two books were put to the test. Quran and Bible were together, and both would show me the path to take.

This might be a hard pill to swallow for many, but I believe God prompted me to open my Bible in page 83, and read the second paragraph. This was a very specific command. It is not my intent for you to think that somehow I am special becasue God led me this way. I do believe, though, that God can lead anybody in many ways. God speaks to our hearts. He speaks through His Word, through His people, and through our circumstances.


Then OUR father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if OUR youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless OUR youngest brother is with us.’

– Genesis 44:26-26


These two paragraphs meant literally my life for me. This is Judah speaking. This is the same Judah who married a Canaanite. The same Judah who fornicated with her daughter-in-law, who he believed to be a prostitute. These are the accounts that make Muslims say the whole thing is corrupted. This is pornography in their eyes. I think this is beauty. The Bible narrates the lives of real people with real struggles. I still don’t understand why Islam wants to portray the prophets of God as sinless. If only Muslims read about David and Bathsheba

But concerning Judah, this is the same Judah who convinced his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, and to tell Jacob that Joseph was dead. I invite you to read The Skeleton in Judah’s Closet. Do not stop there. Continue with all the commentaries until The Final Test.

But in page 83, I saw a different Judah. A Judah that attempts to paint an accurate picture of the pitiful condition of their father by reporting his words as spoken to his sons (verses 27-29). Jacob’s beloved wife, he had said, had borne him only two sons. When the oldest went out from him (Joseph) and did not return, he was forced to conclude that this son had died, a victim of wild beasts. To take the only other second son (Benjamin), and not return with him would break his heart. Not only would he enter his grave in sorrow, but he also implied that his death would even be hastened by his grief.

At this point, Judah has no idea that he is speaking to Joseph himself.

Judah stands up for himself and his brothers and pleads for mercy.  This could have had him killed (verse 34). But Judah had promised his father to bring Benjamin back (Genesis 43:9). Judah has the chance now to keep this promise. He showed great courage and responsibility when he offered himself to stay in the place of Benjamin.


Thank you, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)


I wish I could tell you I figured all this out on my own, but I am not that smart. This year I had the privilege of studying the Torah in detail. Once a week, for thirty long weeks, I had to go to class, and deal with my children if they cried. I also had Torah-reading homework. So these two single verses might mean nothing for a Muslim who has never read the Torah.

But for me, these two verses meant everything. God brought all my knowledge of His Word to my mind in the span of less than 3 seconds. In forty-two generations, I went from Judah to King David, and from King David to Jesus.

God was no joke. I had asked, and now it was Quran’s turn. I felt moved to fold a page, and insert it in the middle of the Quran. I had no idea what to expect, but when I opened it, I was reading exactly the same account.


They said, “We will attempt to dissuade HIS father from [keeping] him, and indeed, we will do [it].”

Quran 12:61


The more I read, the more obvious it was portrayed that in the Quran narrative the brothers really never cared about Joseph or Benjamin (note 1721 – Yusuf Ali’s Commentary). The brothers kept on hating them. They believe Benjamin to be evil, and they call Joseph a thief (note 1747). The sons are cruel and heartless against Jacob as he deals with the pain of having lost Benjamin and Joseph (note 1759). The brothers do repent when they are faced with the reality of who Joseph is. Before that, tough, there is not a single sign of regeneration (note 1767).

This might not make much sense to you, but I knew what I had prayed for. Sure, maybe both narratives have a happy ending, but God was giving me the opportunity to choose a path.

1. Torah-Brothers. Self-sacrifice. Character changed. Ready to suffer for other’s sake.

2. Quran-Brothers. Selfish until confronted with the truth. Full of hate until they had no other option.

It was a no-brainer for me. I chose the way of Christ. I chose to give away my life for the sake of others. I am not trying to convince you that I made the right choice, but I am satisfied with the answer I received from God. I asked God to show me something, and He showed me enough for me to decide that Jesus will be my Good Shepherd.

Will the Jews agree? Probably not. Will the Muslims agree? Probably not. We will never agree on anything until the day we die. Apologetics are amazing, and I love that kind of stuff, but I need a break. My husband needs a break, and my children need a break.

I know the path that I have chosen. Most of all, I am owning my decisions. If my decision of following Jesus lands me in hell, so be it. I am at peace knowing that I will have no excuse on Judgement Day. I’m taking full responsibility for my choice.


Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’

Immediately the father of the child cried out and, said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-25


My faith-life will never look the same after India. Every day, I am asking God to help my unbelief. Rich Nathan seems to think this is the posture of the Christians until the day we die. And that’s okay. I feel I’m crawling to find my way again. I might not know much, but I’m following Jesus. And if that makes no sense at all to you, that’s totally fine. I can always keep looking for the truth. I can always be looking for counter-arguments for Islam or for Christianity. But it all comes down to faith at some point. It all comes down to a PERSONAL DECISION.

This has been a bumpy ride for me. It almost feels like I’m playing hide and seek with my Creator. He seems to hide and then BAM! God screams PEEK-A-BOO right on my face. And then He hides again. And on and off, we go. He likes surprising me. And if you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s totally fine, too. I believe, tough, that someone, somewhere, relates to me right now.

It almost feels like I am saying good-bye. I am.

Judah – Part 4 will be my lost post until further notice. My family needs me. I also feel God has something vey special in store for me, and I need to retreat. I need to recharge. I need to spend as much time with God as I possible can – without my brain overthinking Islam and Christianity.

Just God and me. Together. Hand in hand, like it was at the beginning. I want to fall in love again with the God who swept me off my feet with His Unfailing Love.

Don’t miss the last part of Judah 🙂

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.

Christians – Part 1

I heard the series CHRISTIAN from Andy Stanley two years ago, and it changed my view of Christianity. It was radical for me. It left me with two options: either to embrace Christianity as it stands now, or to think outside the box I was in. Was I a Christian? Yes, I was. Was it comfortable to be one? Yes, it was. Very comfortable. Did Jesus want me to be a Christian? No, He did not. 

The word Christian or Christianity is not defined in the Bible. It was never used by Jesus himself. Actually, the word Christian [from the Greek Χριστιανός Christianos] appears only three times in the New Testament, and it was used by outsiders as a derogatory term. This whole movement Jesus started was named after His title: the Christ [Messiah in Hebrew].

But now a Christian can be anything you want it to be. You can be a Christian and do or believe just about anything. Think about it this way. In just about any political argument, any war, any lawsuit, any issue… there are always Christians on both sides. People have killed other people in the name of Christianity. There are so many cults, so many denominations, and for the most part, it seems we cannot agree with each other.

This sadly happens everywhere. It also happens in Islam. Sunni Muslims think that Shia Muslims are not real Muslims. I don’t get why. They believe in Allah and the final messenger, Muhammad. But apparently, the reasons are not something that can be explained in a line, a paragraph, a page, or even an article. I will do my research and will let you know. Reading this kind of stuff, and drinking coffee in the morning while my children watch T.V. is my thing nowadays. I tell you, when it comes to religion, Christianity and Islam are not that different. 

Personally, I have hated Christianity at times. There ar dozens of people in my own peripheral world that hate Christians, and everything that has the word Christian in it. And here’s why:


Christians are judgmental, homophobic, moralists who think they are the only ones going to heaven and that secretly relish the fact that everyone else is going to hell.

– Andy Stanley


When I was far, far away from God, this was my first objection to God or Jesus or anything Christian. I don’t think the problem is God. People want God in their lives – at least most people. I think the problem is us. And when I say us, I mean all the Christians. Sure, nobody is perfect. But we were never called to be Christians. We were called to be Jesus’ disciples.

I have a friend whom I love with all my heart, and I want to share her story…

She has never believed in anything. But hey, she is in a relationship, and she is in love. The woman that she is dating wants them to go to church for whatever reason. My friend doesn’t know what to do. She hates church, but off she goes to please the girlfriend. She figures something good might come out of it. Therapy is working, but maybe God has His own way of helping her. Once they get to church, she sees wonderful things. But she also gets spotted as a lesbian. She is even asked if she had issues with her mom while growing up. You know, probably these Christians were also therapists trying to shoo her homosexuality away [sarcasm]. Then she’s told God dislikes homosexuals and that as women, we should marry a man, and obey that man. Because when we obey the man, then we are obeying God.

That’s not all. Heck, no… but I’ll stop there. When she told me all this – which I’m glad she did – I felt ashamed. I felt angry. I seriously think that regardless her sexual orientation, the questions these Christians were asking her are none of their business! That is just to start with; second, it is NONE of their business!

My friends are not going to church anymore. At least not in the near future. I wouldn’t want to go to church, either. I pleaded with them for not quitting on God. Quit church, but not God.


Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

– Jesus. First Woe

Matthew 23:13


The Teachers of the Law were very likely Levites. They were given the duty of instructing the people in the Law of Moses. They made sure the people worshipped God and fulfilled their obligations as God had instructed. The Pharisees competed with Jesus and with other groups for the influence of the people. Jewish Oral Tradition describes them as “destroyers of the world” and “Pharisaic plagues”.

In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus goes hard at them. Jesus tells the people to do as Pharisees say, but not as they do, because they do not practice what they preach. All they want is for people to applaud them and honor them. They want to be noticed for how good they are, and how other people are not. These teachers were supposed to bring the people close to God, but instead they drove them away!

Today I was reminded that I have been these Pharisees. I have been judgmental, I have been moralistic. I have felt better than thou. What makes these Christians believe they had the right to treat my friends like this? What gave us the right? Nothing. Who gave us the right? No one. Not God. Not Jesus. But our own sin of self-righteousness.

God took me as I was eight years ago: multiple sexual partners, an abortion, an addiction, and plenty of psychological issues. I wonder about the Christians who drove my friends away from God. Who were they when they found the love of God? Have they actually found it? I have passed judgment on these Pharisees and Teachers of the Law every time I study my Bible. But I sadly realize that we, Christians, have become the Pharisees of Christianity.

TO BE CONTINUED…