The Soundtrack of My Life

PicsArt_08-06-02.40.45All of us have particular songs which speak to us at certain moments of our lives. These are not the kind of music we became fed-up of listening after abusing the play button. These songs are our life story, our unique history. These are us. My music playlist has a hundred songs but I deliberately picked ones which have a huge impact on me. I can’t imagine how I could survive the mess of life without having these songs to listen to. I would like to share with you my life’s 10 songs and each reason behind and I do hope that you will enjoy listening to them like I do.

1. All For Love – Hillsong United 

I was brought up a Christian but truly experiencing Christ was first happened on the day I attended True Love Waits youth seminar held in our campus and organized by our university’s religious organization which aimed to teach the youth about the importance of waiting for the right time to kindle love. I was high school sophomore when I first experienced shedding tears of joy as I sang All For Love during praise and worship part of the seminar together with my classmates. Listening to it brings back that beautiful event inside of our university’s chapel, knees bowed down, eyes closed and hearts overwhelmed with a different kind of unexplainable bliss no one can ever fathom but the one who experienced it.

Favorite lyrics:

How many times have I broken your heart

But still you forgive if only I ask

How many times have you heard me pray

Draw near to me

2. Still – Hillsong United

I was in college when this song began to make sense to me. Back then I’ve quickly become emotional whenever I’ve heard it sung in the church. This music reminds me that I am not alone in this battlefield called world because there is God in every storm.

Favorite lyrics:

When the oceans rise and thunders roar

I will soar with you above the storm

Father, you are king over the flood

And I will still know that you are God

I’ve often sung it with misty eyes when I was around 19 until I graduated from college. This song is like a warm hug from a father, the Heavenly Father (I lost my father at 18) reassuring me that He is sovereign in every hardship of life.

3. One Way – Hillsong United

As a teenager this was my favorite upbeat Christian music. I feel nostalgic listening to it today. I was angsty and skeptic before yet I couldn’t help but sing along every time I heard it played.

Favorite lyrics:

You are the way, the truth and the life

I live by faith and not by sight

For you, we’re living all for you

It became part of my teenage Christian life. This good music contains wonderful memories of my youth and hearing it again always gives me the same and familiar excitement and fascination my adolescent heart used to feel.

4. None But Jesus – Hillsong

This was my song for God when I was still single. I never looked for a partner because I was preoccupied by a lot of things. I seldom had crushes and committing to a relationship was my last priority. I sometimes regard myself as a plant, living and growing but no physical attraction, no apparent gender. It’s ridiculous to admit but I thought I was too ugly to have a boyfriend. I have been comfortable with plain jeans, t-shirts and sneakers and feminine clothes don’t suit my malnourished and curveless body. Like a plant, another plant isn’t required to get through life. Sunlight and water are all it needs and God was my sun and He ordered the clouds to pour water on me. I was boyish and a NBSB but little did they know, I just had poor self-concept. I thought nobody would love and accept me as who I was because I was hideous, nobody, no one, none but Jesus.

Favorite lyrics:

There is no one else for me

None but Jesus 

Crucified to set me free

Now I live to bring Him praise

5. You Are For Me – Kari Jobe

I found comfort from this song in my first months of working abroad. Frustration and exhaustion at work, culture shock, adjustment period distressed me tremendously but this music helped me carry on. I used to listen to it 10 times a day for many months. Every time I listen to it again I remember how weak I was, how I cried out to God because I needed strength to go on with my life. I remember my darkest days and through this music I found light. I remember how this music lingered in my ears like a voice of angel (Kari Jobe’s voice is angelic) from heaven reminding me of this fact: God will never forsake me in my weaknesses.

Favorite lyrics:

I know that You are for me

I know that You are for me

I know that You will never

Forsake me in my weaknesses

And I know that You have come now

Even if to write upon my heart

To remind me who You are

6. Your Love Never Fails – Chris Quilala

In 2015, I searched good music on YouTube and found this. This music sounds so good and its lyrics hit me like a bullet straight through my heart, bull’s-eye. I admired this curly-haired and handsome Chris Quilala of Jesus Culture for his passion for Jesus. I have listened to it when taking shower, eating meal, heading to my duty, going home from work, every hour and every minute of the day until its melody became the natural beat my heart.

Favorite lyrics:

You stay the same through the ages

Your love never changes

There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning 

And when the oceans rage I don’t have to be afraid

Because I know that you love me

Your love never fails

7. For the Lord Is My Tower – Steve Kuban

To me this is special because this was included in Steve Kuban’s concert on August 8, 2014 which was the first concert we attended together with my significant other. The next day, on August 9, 2014 we became a couple. Yes, I convinced myself to become an old maid but God has better ways and plans for us that we don’t expect. He does care about my love life, doesn’t He?

Favorite lyrics:

For the Lord is my tower and He gives me the power

To tear down the works of the enemy

In a difficult hour He will crush the devourer

And bring the power of darkness underneath my feet

8. Steady My Heart – Kari Jobe 

This is my heartbreak song but as my relationship with God grows maturer, my relationship with my boyfriend also grows stronger. God indeed steadied my heart. He taught me how to handle relationship because I was a novice. He taught me the true meaning of love. I wrote about it on my blog post 3 Things I’ve Learned from My Relationship.

Favorite lyrics:

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard

Even when the world just falls apart

I will run to you ’cause I know that you are 

Lover of my soul, healer of my heart

You steady my heart

9. Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship 

I wished I was the one who wrote it. This song is my prayer to God when my faith wavers and my doubt increases. Give me faith, Father God. If I would sing my prayer to Him, it would be Give Me Faith.

Favorite lyrics:

Give me faith to trust what You say

That You’re good and Your love is great

I’m broken inside, I give You my life

10. Here In My Life – Hillsong

The first time I heard it my soul knelt down to God and worshipped and since then this song got stuck in my head for several weeks. I am happily diagnosed with Last Song Syndrome. I can still hear my mind singing it if I will just listen. Its lyrics are my unspoken words for God. Jesus, You’re the reason why I live, I breathe, I love, I hope, I forgive, I strive, I persevere, I trust, I pray. You’re the reason why I blog. Without you here in my life I probably will jump off a cliff or ingest poison because there is no reason to exist. I can’t thank you enough so let me kneel down before You.

Favorite lyrics: 

You are my freedom

Jesus you’re the reason

I’m kneeling again at Your throne

Where would I be without You

Here in my life, here in my life

I may add more and more songs to this list as time goes by. God has been using these songs and many other Christian songs to bring us back to Him, to win our hearts, to know Him more, to remind our forgetful souls, to heal and restore our spirit. The song writers and singers are certainly talented people but without Christ in them their songs are merely noise. I am grateful for their lives.


When Praise and Worship Felt Fake

This photo is from Elevation Worship.

I grew up seeing church people freely dance, shout, clap and raise their hands while singing Christian songs in church. I’ve heard a lot of reactions from people with different religions. “I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting a live band,” I heard my friend said who is raised Catholic and is used to solemn Christian music. He was pertaining to our worship team with complete musical instruments include drums, guitars and keyboard. “It’s like a cult. They raise their hands and they murmur weird sounds simultaneously. It’s absurd,” some say. Others tell that born again Christians are insane because they notice that such people aren’t ashamed to express emotion like jumping with joy and shedding tears during praise and worship service. I’ve belonged to a born again Christian family since birth so this kind of church activity isn’t new to me but I tried to put my feet in the shoes of first timer attendees with dissimilar beliefs. I can imagine that they may feel self-conscious with their gestures. They may likely to clap awkwardly and reluctantly not to appear out-of-place with the crowd and they might lift their hands only if asked by the worship leader or a pastor. They may verbalize, “I’m not comfortable,” and decide not to come back again. I understand their comments and also understand the nature of our church service. I am one of the ‘crazy’ Christians who aren’t embarrassed to show emotions while singing. I clap my hands till my palms turn red and sing out loud till my throat hurts. I lift my hands high like I can touch the heaven and my eyes are often misty.

One time, everything seemed weird. I found myself in the midst of singing crowd. The worship leader was out of tune and the back up worshippers were staring blankly at the sheet of paper. The sound of drums were too loud I could barely hear the sound of keyboard. I felt like something was wrong. What were these people thinking as they were raising their hands? Were they doing it out of habit or pressure? Some appeared bored. Others looked like they were just obliged. Was this practice really a cult? Was this how a cult functioned? The way they were swaying their bodies and twisting their heads erratically were urging me to cringe. Was God pleased seeing us like this? I questioned all that I was seeing and I was standing still, stiff, uneasy, and unwilling to move. Was I deluding myself into thinking that this was how genuine Christians were expected to act? The worship leader was a snob before and she was praying like a total saint here. She was singing with eyes shut but I saw her rolled her eyes at me last week. All of a sudden the whole scene felt fake. My hands were too heavy to clap or raise. My eyes wandered every corner of the room like this was some kind of a joke. I couldn’t hear my own voice or someone’s voice next to me because the music was too loud it sounded like a noise. I couldn’t wait to sit down because my knees were sore. I wasn’t enjoying anymore unlike the good old times and I doubted if these people were enjoying too. The next song wasn’t a great choice because its melody was impossible to learn or was it because the musical instruments weren’t synchronized? Lord, if I didn’t dance and sing with them does it mean I don’t love you anymore? I thought. But You see my heart, God and You know that I have adored You since I have accepted You as my Lord and savior. Why do I feel like this? Am I turning away from You? My mind was troubled and images of food flashed in my memory and I was in the church but my heart was at home eating egg pie and melon shake. A song of Elevation Worship snapped me back to reality. I wasn’t like this before because the last time I remember I didn’t want to stop singing. I was ecstatic then. I closed my eyes now because I was distracted by colorful lights which resembled disco lights in the club which was odd because church must occur holy. Lord, show me the truth, I started to pray though everything was a distraction to me. Were You really here in this place or was everything futile? Words from scriptures flashed in my mind.

Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. -Psalm 150:1-5 NIV

The music was escalating.

I need you to soften my heart and break me apart

I need you to open my eyes and see that you’re shaping my life

I wanted to focus on the song and taste every word of its lyrics and my lips slowly curved into a smile for it was sweet. My tense muscles begun to calm as the beautiful music filled the atmosphere. The truthfulness and sincerity of the lyrics soothed my heart and I started to feel at ease as though a heavy load within was pulled out. Every beat of drum, every strum of guitar, every singing voice was now making sense. I kept my eyes closed as I opened my heart to discern the truth because my heart could see what eyes couldn’t. My eyes see what is visible on the outside but a heart sees what is beyond. Are You here, Lord? I opened my mouth to sing my prayer to Him.

Give me faith to trust what you say

I was singing along on top of my lungs and allowing my skepticism evanesced. If it was fake then why my heart and soul were now convinced that it was right? I was owning the music like a personal message to God. Lord, give me faith because there were many things I liked to doubt. Teach me to trust in You. Remind me of Your goodness and love.

Give me faith to trust what you say that You’re good and Your love is great

All the great things God has done and has given to me instantly ran through my mind and my heart was completely overwhelmed with delight.

I’m broken inside I’ll give you my life

I was broken and He made me whole and my heart might be broken again and again and He will not stop picking up the broken pieces of me and create something beautiful out of it. I heard everybody was singing in unison. I heard everybody was crying out to Him. I heard everybody was making sounds of praises. They felt it too! I wasn’t alone. These people were as broken as me but God also made them new. These people understood the pain of life and the happiness in Christ. These people love God as I love Him. I opened my eyes and everything I saw was spectacular. I felt like I was in a heavenly party and everyone was having a great time of their lives. We were passionately singing in harmony. These people were bold in their faith. These people were sinners but God changed their hearts. These fellows were the people I love to spend eternity with.

I may be weak but Your spirit is strong in me

My flesh may fail but my God You never will

I glanced at the worship leader and instantly desired to be like her. I wanted to sing for God. I wanted others to know that I was singing to God so that others would be encouraged to sing. I wanted to please God with my music like what she was doing. I couldn’t see anything in her but passion for Jesus. She was unashamed to be out of tune. She sang with confidence and grace.

All I am I surrender

With eyes shut I look into myself and I was reminded of my flaws and ugliness. Do You see the scars of my heart, Lord? This is all I am, this is all I’ve got. Will You still accept me and love me? My soul was rejoicing because I knew His answer all along. I felt this place was where I belong and this was the truest thing that happened in my life. The next thing I knew was my hands were lifted high in total surrender.

All I am I surrender

This was not insanity because insanity means irrationality. But worshiping and praising God reminds me of the most logical thing in this world: I am a child of God. I am not a piece of crap that stinks. I have a God, a good and merciful Father who knows me more than I know myself. Insanity is a condition of losing sense of reality. But only the heart can see rightly. My mind would persuade me that all was fake and I could criticize and doubt the genuineness of every living soul and went home tired and restless. But when I started to close my eyes and listen to my soul. My soul was yearning for the existence of its Maker. I couldn’t deny the longing in my heart that only my Creator can satisfy. When I began to open my heart and soul, everything looked perfect. Everything occurred marvelous I wanted to holler my thanksgiving, my praise, my worship. Insanity is a state of being sick. But worshiping and praising God refresh my soul. The heavy burden in me is lifted up as I lift my hands to God. I feel healing. I find refuge. No drug can cure a weak spirit. No medicine can cure a weak soul. But only the One who made it.

This is the song, Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship.


Run To You

PicsArt_03-31-10.22.34Is there a song that becomes a theme song of your week? During your idle times you find comfort from its lyrics and the melody makes your heart beat in happy rhythm. When you’re on the way for work you put your earphones on and listen to it eagerly and you become two times alive and for a minute you forget the stress and the burden becomes less heavy. I do have a theme song weekly. A song that I keep on listening for a week and I would like to share with you the song “Run To You” by Kari Jobe.

God created us with ability to enjoy good music. It’s like magic how people dance and sing along with a good sound and it amazes me how a song can change our mood and disposition.

“I come alive when I am in your presence.”

Amidst of the chaos and noise of the world which wrinkle my skin and weaken my physique I find myself going back to my hiding place, in God’s presence. I heard a preaching about hiding in the presence of God. Know where to hide. When everything seems dark, hide in God’s wonderful light. When everything seems unbearable, hide in God’s protective hands. I remember a pastor asking why people are running away from God. If only they would know how peaceful and comfortable to be in the presence of the Lord. I understand him because I know the difference of being away and being with God.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of theLord forever.” Psalms 23:2-6 ESV

If your soul doesn’t find contentment and bliss in God’s presence perhaps you haven’t felt the real presence of God yet. Because nothing in this world can give a kind of peace God gives, a kind of security Jesus provides, a kind of zeal God promises.

“Lord, I’m running… Lord I’m running to you… Draw me closer.”

Sometimes work and responsibilities steal us away from Him but Jesus assured that He is just a prayer away. Here is the song.

Everything Is Meaningless

Thanks for my model and my love, Marlon. You are an ornament on my blog.
I couldn’t remember how many pages of books I tried to memorize and summarize, how many cent I tried not to spend so I could give compulsory contribution for school projects and how many sleepless nights and hectic days I spent cramming for test and recitations. Passing all the requirements and examinations to be able to graduate on time is the ultimate goal of a student. When I was a studying I was dreaming of graduating and having a high-paying job to earn money so that I could buy all the luxuries I was deprived of. As a teenager I was so excited yet anxious about the future had to offer because I was looking forward to achieving all my ambitions that I knew could make me utterly happy and content. I couldn’t wait to finish school because studying was so much stressful and I couldn’t stand being a burden to my parents anymore. When I graduated college I dreamed of passing the board exam for nurses after a month of preparation. After I passed the exam I dreamed of a good job in abroad so I applied tirelessly in different agencies. After tears and sweat I got hired and flew to Qatar. My journey in this foreign land is another story. Life never ends after you completed certain goals because there will be another objectives after another which urge us to wake up every morning despite reluctance.

Clock is ticking and I can still remember the moment when I looked at my reflection in the mirror and I saw a timid and malnourished gal with sadness in her eyes because she had no budget to buy a new pair of sneakers she was drooling over for so long. She thought that getting that dream shoes would give her such happiness that she would forget how it feels like to be miserable again. Now, approximately five years passed I sleep with multiple pairs of sneakers sitting under my bed and the bliss I had right after purchasing the commodities was like everything else in this planet, expires. Felicity dies so our insatiable heart longs for bigger things to attain which will surely satisfy us more. Why should we settle for a pair of shoes when we can afford a department store? My eyes sparkle in merriment whenever I imagine myself dwelling in a house of my dream with enormous parking space for my polished black sports car. But there were moments when I felt like I could barely keep up the pace of life. My reflection in the mirror scares me now. I see things which aren’t there before, the fine lines in my forehead and under my eyes, constant eye bags and dry skin that scream how fast I have aged. Is working half of our lives to reach our ambitions enough to make us really fulfilled in life? I praise the Lord I got to encounter Him because if I don’t, perhaps I am still searching for the meaning of life. I may wander aimlessly to find real happiness only to find out that happiness the world brings is all temporary. Perhaps I can achieve my biggest dreams but still feel empty because at the end of the day, all the wealth of the Earth doesn’t matter. We will all return to dust and if I haven’t known God I was terrified of death because without Him, death is darkness but understanding His Word, death is going home. Rick Warren says ‘at death we won’t leave home, we’ll go home. In Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Perhaps if I don’t know God, my life is driven by selfish inclination and I may end up with depression because everything in this world is pointless.

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. -Ecclesiastes 3:19 – 20 NIV

Ecclesiates is written by King Solomon in his old age. If we read the book of Ecclesiates we will discern his depression that resulted from seeking happiness from temporary things. He was like most of us, seeking meaning of life in every worldly pleasure but none has given him sense of meaning.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. -Ecclesiastes 2:17-18

Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. -Ecclesiastes 8:17 NIV

Solomon was a king of Israel who was very wise and very rich but despite all those things that God had given him he had hated life. He had everything but he said that everything had no meaning. In conclusion he had written these:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. -Ecclesiates 12:13-14 NIV

In conclusion, without God in our lives everything has no significance. We are born to study, work, get married and have kids, work and work some more until we cripple and die. There’s no huge difference between human beings and animals because both have same destiny: eternal oblivion, death. But with the presence of God we see things differently. God is telling us that we are more special than any living creature because we have soul and spirit. When I lost my loved ones I asked myself, why is it very hard to move on and accept that we will no longer see the person who died? Then I understand that God put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) because we are created to spend eternity with Him. We are created to live forever but sin separated us from God (It is in the book of Genesis) but not anymore now because Jesus saved us from condemnation (Romans 5:9). Everything in this world is meaningless because everything in here is perishable but as children of the Lord, we are created with a purpose and a value. Our physical bodies rot but our souls will go back to where we belong.

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. -Ecclesiastes 12:7 NIV

Let’s end this with a music.

There Is No Christmas Without Christ

Photo credit:

Merry Christmas and let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Family reunions and parties are the ways we celebrate it but those are not the essence of this special day. Christmas is not merely about exchanging presents, togetherness and eating good food. It is a season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Some say Christmas is only for kids but the real essence of Christmas is about Jesus. The eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator came to earth in the flesh. He was born as an infant, lived and suffered with us and even died for us. Why would a God humble Himself greatly for our sake? Because His love for us is so great. I do believe that the spirit of this season is love because God first demonstrated love by coming down from heaven to save the world. We love because He first loved us.

The Birth of Jesus

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

-Luke 2:2-20 NLT

Three Reasons Why I’m Not Religious

picsart_12-08-08-21-10My secondary school teacher once said that being religious is different from being godly. There were two old women, she said, going to Catholic church, a little boy stumbled down and accidentally pushed the religious woman who was aiming to dip her finger into the holy water. Because of interrupting the religious woman cursed the boy. The godly woman in the other hand, helped the little boy to stand up before entering the church.

Dictionary defines religion as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Yes, it sounds Christianity but Christianity is much more than set of rules and beliefs used to worship God. I have been hurt by religious people masquerading as Christians. I have been disappointed by religious people who claim that their religion is the only religion acceptable to God so they hate those who have dissimilar beliefs. Religion teaches indifference. Jesus teaches love. Religion is man centered. Jesus is God-centered. Religion is fueled by fear and punishment. Jesus is fueled by love and mercy. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about Jesus who loves us with everlasting love and wants to be our father and friend, our Lord and savior. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. I am not religious and there are three reasons why.

1. I go to church not because it is compulsory.

The main reason why I regularly attend church every Friday (Friday is the rest day here in the desert instead of Sunday) is because I want to feel the presence of God and in His presence I feel most elated and content. Nothing in this world can give me such delight and satisfaction. Winning in a contest or successful career or having a beautiful face can’t offer infinite mirth that I can only feel in the presence of the Lord. A father’s presence overwhelms his child. His embrace warms his child. His promises give hope and courage to his child and his love keeps his child alive. I am a child of God and He is my father for eternity.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” -John 1:12-13 NLT

Worshiping God is not an obligation for me. It’s my happiness. Listening to His words is not a law for me that needs to be obeyed. It’s my life. Going to church for me is not merely a commandment that can’t be broken or a religious ritual that must be done. I am not driven by rules and laws of religion. I am driven by my love for God who loves me more than I love myself. Attending church services can make us religious but having a relationship with the Lord is what makes us a Christian.

2. I want to be a good person not because I want to be saved from hell.

Being a good person will not save you from eternal punishment because each of us has committed sins. Nobody can boast that he or she didn’t or will not ever commit sins. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” -1 John 1:8 NLT. But because of Jesus our sins are forgiven if we have accepted Him as our Lord and savior. Doing good deeds does not save us from hell but Jesus does. Salvation is not by works. It is by grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Given that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior, it doesn’t mean that I have a license to sin. God calls His children to be like Him, righteous and blameless. As children of the Lord, we should resemble Jesus. I want to be a good person not because I’m terrified of going to hell but because Jesus Christ bought me with His blood. He was hanged in the cross instead of me. He was cursed and punished instead of me. He paid the price that I should pay. He did it all because He loves humanity.

“Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law. In that way, the Law could not punish us. Christ did this by carrying the load and by being punished instead of us. It is written, “Anyone who hangs on a cross is hated and punished.” Because of the price Christ Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting our trust in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit He has promised.” –Galatians 3:13-15 (NLV)

He loves us that He gave up His life for us. No other person can do that except Jesus. His kindness leads us to repentance. I am not compelled by religion but I am captured by His love. I am not saying that I am faultless but His grace is sufficient for me. Being a good person can make us religious but having a relationship with Jesus is what makes us a Christian.

3. I read the Bible not because church tells me to.

Religion encourages us to read the Bible even without understanding its context. Religion tells us to memorize and recite prayers repeatedly even without emotion. Religion obliges us to do religious things even without love. I read the Bible because it is where I find wisdom. Religion obliges us to read the Bible but having a relationship with Jesus opens our hearts and mind to comprehend His words written in the holy book. Reading the Bible can make us religious but having a relationship with Jesus is what makes us a Christian.

Like parents and their children, husband and wife, friends and their friends, there is no relationship without love that binds them together. I am not religious and because of Jesus’ love for me I have known love.

When is a Time to Hate and a Time to Love?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8 NIV

I thought it was a mistake when I reaquote-i-hate-you-i-love-you.jpgd it for the first time. In the Bible I wasn’t expecting to read something that induces us to hate. Isn’t God commanding us to love our neighbor? The Lord has wonderful ways to teach us.

There was a period in my life when I battled between hate and love. I felt was I was drifting away from God because my heart was darkened and poisoned by hatred that I thought has vanished but I just unknowingly hid and by slightest trigger it was provoked. I let the evil win again, I thought and disheartened. I wasn’t doing what I’ve written. I had always followed my heart full of filth. Then I began to realize that this is really me, flawed, weak and imperfect, just like all of us. This is who we are. We’re not hypocrites. We are human with real emotions and struggles.

Hate is a natural human emotion.

If I would list down all things I dislike I would write a 500-pages book. I detest people who look down on others and treat them unequally based on physical traits and financial status. I hate those who regard themselves as highly superior and others are unimportant. I don’t like those who befriend others just for the benefit they can gain. I loathe narcissistic who often babble about themselves and cut off others while they’re speaking because they aren’t interested. I hate being compared. I hate being talked about behind my back and keep their mouth shut when in front of me. I hate gossips and rumors about me spreading by someone I’ve trusted but doesn’t understand my feelings or unwillingly tried to understand. I hate being judged. I abhor those who also abhor me. I detest those who hate the ones I adore. I hate those who are overly concerned about their image and what others think of them. There’s more to life than conforming to the world’s standard. I loathe those who can’t appreciate small things. Gratefulness is the key to contentment. I despise those who are insensitive to others’ feelings, so full of themselves, arrogant and self-centered.

Everyone hates being treated badly and unfairly and so do I. We aren’t robot that if a person disrespects or humiliates us we will not be angered. If a person threw stones at you that caused your head to bleed, our first reaction is not to laud that person. Our first idea is to get even. We wish to throw larger stones so his or her head will crack and bleed even more and feel the excruciating pain that we’re feeling. We long for justice. We want to treat him or her the way he or she treats us or much worse. We want vengeance. Even an animal has a natural reaction to fight back when threatened. How arduous for us to offer also the other cheek when they slapped us on the right cheek! We tend to turn away from the ones who hurt us and rage and hurt aren’t like little flames that can be extinguished right away. How can we kill a tornado inside of us? How can we stop the blazing aversion caused by the agonizing pain they inflicted on us?

Do you know that the Lord also hates? He also wants justice. God doesn’t tolerate evil. He has mercy on abandoned children, rape victims, the orphan, the oppressed and the poor. God abhors sin and wickedness.

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” -Proverbs 6:16-19

He knows our hearts and understand our pain and brokenness because He also hates evil things of the world. We loathe depravity as well as He does.

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” -Psalm 5:4-6 ESV

God Is Just

So if God hates depravity then why does He allow injustice, crime, inequity and corruption to happen? If He has mercy on us then why does He permit all kinds of evil things to exist? Many are turning their back out of confusion, bitterness, apathy and disinterest. Many people are questioning God’s existence because they can’t see and feel Him. If they only knew and understood God’s promises to us, they could find comfort and refuge in Him amidst sorrow and misery. God will punish the wicked in due time. The Lord will repay.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. -Romans 12:19 NIV

God has given us freedom to make choices and He will judge us in the final judgment based on those choices that we made.

But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” -Romans 2:5 NLT

But do you know that God is a God of second chances, third chances, fourth chances and many chances? Many are anticipating the coming of the Lord but He is patient and forgiving. He’s waiting for us to change and to become a person that He wants us to be. He’s waiting for us to find Him because we belong to God. He hates sin but He doesn’t hate us. God loves humanity.

When is a Time to Love?

If our decisions, actions and motives are affected by the hate that occupies our heart, we become a slave of it. We can become a slave of our dark emotions and the only way to be free from it is to forgive, to understand, empathize, to ignore our own hurt which opens door for acceptance of each other’s flaws and mistakes, to get rid of pride and to humbly admit our own shortcomings, to be selfless, to love.

It is always easier said than done. How can we forgive others that aren’t sorry? How can we empathize for those who aren’t empathetic as well but cruel? How can we understand others when we also long to be understood? How can we ignore our own hurt when it is disabling us? How can we be selfless when it seems that nobody cares enough but our own self? How can we love when we don’t feel loved? Thus, we nurture that hate. We harden our hearts with such rage and bitterness. It may take time. We can shed tears night and day or plot a massive revenge but in the end of the day, does it make us really happy and content?

I will be truly jubilant when I start to let go of all the negative emotions and let God take over. I know, Lord, I’m imperfect so teach me how to accept other’s imperfections. I am not a good person but He always forgives me every time I ask for His forgiveness, then why can’t I forgive other people who have hurt me? I’ve always hurt Him by constantly committing sins but His mercy and grace never cease. His love is so great that even a murderer, a rapist, a thief or an adulterer will repent and ask for forgiveness, they will surely be forgiven. He loves everyone including those who aren’t deserving like how He let the rain pour and sun rise on all kinds of people.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5:44-45 NIV

So when is a time to love? As soon as we remember that God first loved us even though we are unloving. He suffered and died in cross for the sake of our eternal life. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8 NIV.

“We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” -1 John 4:19-21 NIV

I love you not because you deserve my love but because God loves me even though I don’t deserve to be loved.