He is Risen!

Jesus is Risen

 I was planning to spend the day perhaps at the beach, going out and being out and about. Unfortunately I’ve had a long few days and I’m tired. While others are out enjoying Easter I’m recovering from my long week. All’s not lost, because as I sit here I started thinking about Easter, and the message I heard in Church yesterday. While I generally don’t lift entire parts from the Church message, I’ll make an exception this time, the academic in me is screaming plagiarism.

As I was thinking about the Easter holiday, I wonder how many people are celebrating it as the resurrection of Christ? Why is it now about Eggs, and Bunnies? The answer to those questions takes me to a place where I wanted to examine the Historical references of Fed-ex truckJesus and his life. There is a central point here, while there’s large disagreement among historians, they all seem to agree on a few facts. They agree that Jesus of Nazareth was real, and he was crucified. Where they depart is the resurrection, and that’s a central part of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, we’re not redeemed, and our sins aren’t forgiven. If Jesus didn’t die for our sins, and wasn’t resurrected the third day, then our faith is a lie. It’s interesting though, historians don’t disagree that his body can’t be found, they disagree that he was resurrected. That’s interesting to me, it reminds me of that old saying, “seeing is believing.” If I told you there was a hidden sign in the Fed-Ex symbol, would you believe me. Have you ever seen the arrow on the Fed-Ex truck? Belief is one of those amazing things, once you see it and believe it’s there, it’s hard to un-see it. That’s how I feel about my faith, I’ve seen God in my life and I believe he’s there, and now it’s hard to un-see him. For those who don’t believe there is a God, it’s mostly because they don’t see him. In the case of the sign on the Fed-ex truck not because you don’t see it means it’s not real, trust me it’s there and it’s obvious to me, but not because you don’t see it means it’s not real.

So why was the message from church so profound? For a reference read Luke 24: 13-34, it’s the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus with a few of his disciples. This story took place the day after his resurrection. Just like the example of the Fed-ex truck, his disciples who should have obviously known him, didn’t recognize him. As my Pastor Steve summarized, there could be a few reasons for this:

  1. Heading the Wrong Direction (verse 13): When you’re focused on sin and the carnal desires of our human nature, it’s hard to see God in everyday situations. Sometimes even when he’s right in front of us, if sin is our central focus in life, it’s hard to see God.
  2. Consumed with our Lives (verse 17): Sometimes life is busy, with work, family, bills, kids sports practices etc. Life gets too busy and God becomes secondary. Life is complicated and we inadvertently forget to put God first.
  3. Personal Agenda for God (verse 21): Do you pray for God’s will in your life, or do you go to him with a list of demands praying “Ok God make this happen.” Are our lives modeled after God’s plan for us, or is it OUR plan for what God should do in our lives?

This story is a great example of perhaps why it’s impossible for everyone to see God. There’s historical evidence for his life, Science and medicine has thought us more about the conditions surrounding his death. While there is still skepticism about whether he actually died, if you examine the evidence for yourself, common sense tells you it’s impossible to survive such torture. What you’re lift with is the truth, and some people see that and refuse to believe.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. Only a fool despises a parent’s  discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise – Proverbs 15:2;5

Another way of seeing that passage is to think of it this way:

  • A wise person hears the truth and adjusts their behavior: Presented with the historical and biblical evidence for Jesus, they choose to believe that he’s real, and they adjust their behavior. They stop living a life of sin, they live a life that is according to the bible, and they’re intrinsically motivated to do it. They choose to live a life that’s not filled with sinful desires. Additionally I find it interesting that there are secular laws also pointing that some of the sinful acts noted in the bible, are harmful to human coexistence.
  • A foolish person hears the truth and adjust the truth to their behavior: When presented with the same evidence, dismisses it, not because they don’t believe it, but because it doesn’t support the life they already follow. Take for example living a life of partying and drinking, drugs, sex and all other desires. Some may hear that the bible strongly prohibits that kind of lifestyle, so they choose not to believe, why because they’ll have to stop that life. It’s interesting take any celebrity that has embraced the life of partying, sex, drugs and the likes. Even society thinks they’re on the wrong road.

So as you spend this Easter Holiday, are you celebrating it by hunting for Easter Eggs, or are you embracing that Jesus is real. Are you believing that he died on the cross for our sins, and that he was resurrected! Since historians don’t disagree that Jesus lived and suffered, then WHY would anyone endure this torture. As a side note think about the beating he received, and what it would be like to be crucified, it’s a brutal scene. Sorry hope I didn’t ruin our Easter meal.

Seeing is believing

You only see as much as I let you See!!

I’ve always felt a bit hesitant to share my thoughts, writing a Blog is one of the scariest things I’ve done. It tells you how I’m doing, where I am in my dark corner and what are my thoughts. I’ve always been a private person especially when it came to my emotions. Whether it was my childhood, or my time in the Military, sharing my feelings isn’t easy for me. This year it’s about being more authentic, and also being vulnerable, letting people see the real me. I’ve been a bit hesitant to share my blog especially on Facebook. I think sometimes especially with social media, people tend to only show their best, you don’t see them when they’re in the trenches. What you see is only their best, the fun times, the laughs the cute pictures of their adventures. Of course that’s never the whole picture, you’re seeing it through the lenses they’d like you to see. It’s like taking a breath-taking picture of you at the Top of Mount Everest, we didn’t see you crawling to get there, and we’re definitely not going to see you fighting for you life to get back down.

I’ve been following The Daily Love for some time now, and I’ve found it to be a great inspiration. I especially like that the writers tell you aboutKathleen their struggles, you get to see them battle daily just to get where they are. For me that’s encouraging because I see an expert having a hard time, I’m no expert, so it makes sense why I would also struggle. In reading about their quests for happiness, I find that I’m not alone, we’re ALL struggling to make sense of our lives. Some people are just doing it for all the world to see, WOW and that’s extremely brave. One of my favorite writers by far is Kathleen Chelquist, I love reading her posts because she always seems to bear it all, she’s not afraid to be naked, and show who she really is. She published something today, it gives a bit more back story about who she is. I think she’s incredibly brave, and thought I’d share it. Here’s her newest entry in her blog: “Are You HERE Kathleen?”

Kathleen again gets to the heart of why I write, YES I’m struggling with the things I write about, however that doesn’t mean that what I have to say doesn’t have any efficacy. I can’t say that I’ve suffered with depression as she has, I have my moments when I don’t want to talk to ANYONE, and just stay in my room; yes I make a great roommate! I think it’s also important to let people in, life is about choices, I’ve chosen to live the way I do and for the most part I don’t regret my life. I write because I don’t want you to struggle if you don’t have to, have you ever said “I wish someone had told me this!” Well that’s what my writing is about. If you find that you’re focusing on who I am, rather than the message I’m passing on to you form God/The Universe (you believe or not believe in the things you do, the choice is your), you’re going to completely miss the message.

A Pleasant Surprise!!!

I just had an amazing experience in customer service and I thought I’d share it. Today’s my day off and I was not looking forward to spending it in line waiting for hours, but I know it’s something I had to do. As I stood in line waiting for my turn, I noticed some of the familiar scenes, others patiently waiting for their number to be called, many with the familiar look of doom and dismay. I couldn’t help but notice that the receptionists up front seemed different though. There was a woman with a small child ahead, and one of the receptionists even took the time to find the little girl something to color with while she waited with her mom. I have to admit I felt that warm tender feeling you get when someone is pleasant. Although there were a few people ahead of me in line, it was going relatively quickly, I was anticipating that I would still have to be there for another hour though, I was prepared I made sure to bring my headphones. My phone was fully charged, I was ready for that long wait I was anticipating. Then finally it was my turn, I walked up to the receptionist, told her what I needed, then 3 minutes later I was walking out the door, I was finished, no more waiting for hours. OH did I mention I was just at the DMV. Wait what just happened there, what do you mean I don’t have to wait for hours?

That’s right I just walked into DMV to renew my registration, and it took less time than it would have if I was sitting at home DMV Hellnavigating the website. There was no filling out the paperwork, then sitting for an hour before my number was called, then having to sit in another line to make my payment, then yet another line to get my new tags. She asked me to wait a minute while she helped the person behind me. She simply just scanned my paperwork, took my payment, and gave me my new tags; all while she was helping someone else. She even seemed very pleasant and cordial, “What the What??” But I was ready to wait for hours, I feel robbed. Sometimes it’s the little things, the unexpected experiences that makes your day. I do feel a bit bad though, I have no idea what the receptionists name was, but boy was that fast, efficient, and overall pleasant. I still can’t believe it, I spent less than 10 minutes at the DMV instead of the usual 2 hours minimum, I guess the times are changing. Well now it’s time to find something to occupy the rest of my time.

DMV

Please Forgive Me!!!

I'm Sorry

We’ve all been there where we’ve done something wrong, and we seek forgiveness. I’m currently taking a class through my Church, and I learnt something tonight that has totally blown my mind, and I thought I’d share it with you. We’ve all been betrayed by people before, even by someone close to us, and it has forever changed the relationship. From a Christian perspective we’ve always been thought to “turn the other cheek” and to not seek “revenge”, but when someone has wronged you, how do you turn the other cheek. There’s a story in Matthew 18:21-35, it’s about a rich master who completely wipes out his servant’s rather large debt (maybe millions in our present time). After he was let go by the master, the servant then finds another servant who owes him a rather small debt (possibly hundreds or a few thousands in today’s currency), and has the second servant thrown in jail. This story is to symbolize that God has forgiven us for all our sins, therefore we should forgive others for their sins against us.

While there is still plenty of debate about how to forgive someone, and whether you’re to seek retribution, the Bible seems to give plenty of examples of what not to do. Here are a few things I’ve previously known that were reiterated tonight.

What is Forgiveness:

  • To completely wipe someone’s debt away.
  • Although you’ve forgiven someone once, you’ll have to actively remember not to seek vengeance. (I’ve always felt guilty that I want to see the person pay, and couldn’t understand why that feeling seems to come back at times, I used to think that meant I haven’t forgiven them)
  • We can ask for forgiveness an unlimited about of time, there’s no number that God will say “Ok this is your last one.” (Some people, even many Christians find this hard to believe. I think this is because as humans there’s a point when we get fed up, but that trait doesn’t apply to God)

What Forgiveness is not:

  • Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you’ll feel good about them again. Unlike God even though we’ve forgiven someone, our emotions are still tied to the memory of what they’ve done to us. (This is a bit of a drastic example, but in cases of abuse, how do you forget that you were abused)
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re ok with what they’ve done.
  • When I forgive, I don’t repay the hurt I feel to punish them. (This is where I had my ah ha moment)

As I pointed out in the last one, not repaying a wrong with a like wrong, that’s the one that really resonated with me. I’ve had a false belief about this one for a long time now. I understand that if someone lies or steals from you, you don’t lie or steal from them. I also understand that their are consequences to people’s actions. My false belief was tied to the consequences, e.g if someone stole from you and caused you financial hardship, your consequence for them shouldn’t in turn cause some type of financial hardship for them. That would be an example of an eye for an eye, which according to the earlier passage, that is not a correct response. The consequence of stealing is possibly going to jail, instead of an action that benefits me. I’m not sure if I’m explaining this well, but it really got me thinking, if I’m to truly forgive someone, I can’t repay their bad behavior with my own bad behavior. Or better put I can’t gain an advantage or take any kind of retaliation. In other words Forgiving someone from  a biblical perspective, takes an active choice on my part not to punish or seek punishment for someone who has wronged me.

What I learnt tonight has fundamentally changed how I look at forgiveness. This seems to take a great deal of mental strength not to repay a bad deed with another, I foresee that I will have to really actively work on changing this part of my view towards forgiveness. If there is anything I can say for sure it’s that many times when we learn lessons from life or the Universe, it’s because we’re going to have to practice that lesson soon. I am going to have to work really hard on this one, in one night I’ve completely shattered a view I’ve held for 30+ years.

forgive me

Thank you for the Traffic Today!!!

Prayer

As the day comes to a close, because it’s a special day, yes I know it’s still Valentine’s day, I take time to say thank you. As most people lament about their love interest, or their potential ones, I wanted to take some time to say thank you. I’ve been pretty bold about talking a bit more about my faith, and telling others more about my journey, so this is no different. A few weeks ago I had seen a post where someone shared a kind of a conversation they had with God, they asked why he had let so many bad things happen to them. Like any loving parent God listened first, then he explained how each act, saved the person from something worse. What follows is a bit of a story like that one, but of my day. I tend to downplay many situations, and some of you are thinking “yeah right!” But I had to stop and think of what the situation could have been instead. So I hope this helps bring some comfort to each of your lives that read this.

This morning on the way to work the traffic was worse than usual, so instead of going my usual speed 70+, I was forced to go slower. It was also raining a bit, so I had to use my wipers. As the traffic began to free up, I noticed something strange, a weird flickering on my hood (As I listened to K-Love, they were playing a song by Tenth Avenue North “Times” made specifically for today, where God was talking to us, he was telling us how much we were beautifully made, and how much he loved us), when I sat up and looked closer, I made a horrific discovery. The hood for my car was not closed, it was starting to flap in the wind because I was now going faster. Although the latch is partially broken, the security feature still worked, and it was preventing it from coming all the way up. I pulled over, and closed it shut all the way (I had some work done on my car yesterday, and it looks like the mechanic didn’t close it all the way). There shouldn’t have been traffic at that point in my drive, but without traffic, my hood could have completely opened up, and I might not have been here to share this story with you. Even when we think things are bad, God could be saving us from something far worse. So today I said ” Thank you God for the Traffic this Morning!”

Even if you don’t believe in God, or you believe in Spirituality or that the Universe is looking out for us, you can appreciate this story. It shows that even when we think what we’re going through is bad, perhaps this bad situation could be preventing you from experiencing something far worse. Today I was thankful for bad traffic, and bad California Drivers, because I know that they saved my life. I choose to believe that God was working his way in that situation, you can believe in whatever it is you believe in. Regardless of our beliefs, what seemed like a bad start to my day, was actually a beautifully divine way to protect me from something much greater. So what about you, what bad is happening in your life? What’s the alternative, what other situation could you be in if you weren’t in this one. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that every bad thing is a way that God is saving your from something else. I know that there are some very horrific tragedies in life, but what I am saying is to think about the role God or the Universe plays in your life sometimes.