Everything Is Meaningless

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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

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Photo credit: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

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.