April 21, 2006

because God LOVES teci, 6: as the waters cover the sea

Saving Grace
by Australia Hillsongs

Night and day I seek Your face
Long for You in the secret place
All I want in this life
Is to truly know you more

As the waters cover the sea
So Your love covers me
Guiding me on roads unkown
I trust in You alone

My Saving Grace
My endless love
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with You
My one desire
My only truth
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with you

As the waters cover the sea
So Your love covers me
Guiding me on roads unkown
I trust in You alone

My Saving Grace
My endless love
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with You
My one desire
My only truth
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with you

And I will rise on wings of eagles
Soaring high above all my fears
I rest in Your open arms of love

My Saving Grace
My endless love
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with You
My one desire
My only truth
Deeper and deeper I'm falling in love with you

As the waters cover the sea
So your love covers me

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:9

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

April 19, 2006

teci's thesis, episode 14: THIS is what grace is

right now i'm doing my master's thesis again. :)

(okay, okay, so i'm taking a short break to do this... :) )

i'd just like to say, that four years back i was really expecting to be kicked out of a particular group. "come on and punish me already, and get it over with," i kept on thinking.

but no, my worst fears never happened.

now they're the ones who're even pushing me to do my best. as they have always done :)

i really, really have a sense of what heaven is like because of them :) total welcome, with open arms :) all my wrongs, as if they never were. yay :) :)

which is why i'm getting back to doing my best :) i don't have to, but it's the least i can do to show my thanks :)

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin." (Exodus 34:6-7)

"The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion." (Numbers 14:18)

"But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.." (Nehemiah 9:17)

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." (Psalm 86:15)

"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." (Psalm 103:8)

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." (Psalm 145:8)

"The LORD is slow to anger and great in power..." (Nahum 1:3)

"Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:13)

"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2)

April 18, 2006

hope this can be said about me too :)

I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.

For in Him you have been enriched in every way — in all your speaking and in all your knowledge — because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

(1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

April 14, 2006

i want that kind of faith :)

Now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."[Haggai 2:6] The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)

Soren Kierkeegard writes,
"Faith like Job's cannot be shaken,
because it is the result of being shaken."

i want that kind of faith :)

well, that's how i started to trust in God. (that's right, tsk, tsk, i only relied on God when i can't rely on myself anymore!)

my faith has been shaken time and again because i don't have much of it! i dwell too much on my problems, or on myself, and i forget to focus on GOD who's bigger than me and definitely bigger than my problems :)

so God, please grant me a photographic memory :) don't let me be shaken, and more importantly, don't let me forget Your promises and Your answers to my pleas :) in the name of Jesus, i believe :) :) :)

Jesus walks with us

Jesus Walks
by Kanye West

Yo, we at war
We at war with terrorism, racism,
And most of all we at war with ourselves
(Jesus walks)
God show me the way because the devil trying to break me down
(Jesus walks with me)

You know what the Midwest is? Young & restless
Where restless niggaz might snatch your necklace
And next these niggaz might jack your Lexus
Somebody tell these niggaz who Kanye West is
I walk through the valley of the shadow where death is
Top floor the view alone will leave you breathless
Uhhhh! Try to catch it Uhhhh! It's kinda hard hard
Getting choked by the detectives yeah yeah now check the method
They be asking us questions, harass and arrest us
Saying "we eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast"
Huh? Y'all eat pieces of shit? What's the basis?
We ain't going nowhere but got suits and cases
A trunk full of coke rental car from Avis
My momma used to say only Jesus can save us
Well momma I know I act a fool
But I'll be gone 'til November I got packs to move
I hope
Hook: (2x)
(Jesus walks)
God show me the way because the devil trying to break me down
(Jesus walks with me)
The only thing that that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now
(Jesus walks)
And I don't think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
(Jesus walks with me)
I want to talk to God but I'm afraid because we ain't spoke in so long

To the hustlas, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks with them)
To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks with them)
Now hear Ye hear Ye, want to see Thee more clearly
I know He hear me when my feet get weary
Cuz we're the almost nearly extinct
We rappers as role models we rap we don't think

I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way I need Jesus
So here go my single dog radio needs this
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played
Well let this take away from my spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out

(Jesus walks)
God show me the way because the devil trying to break me down
(Jesus walks)
The only thing that that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now

because God LOVES teci, 4: His love song

Love Song
By Third Day

I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done
I've never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of Calvary

Just to be with you, I'll do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'll give anything
I would give my life away

I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
All of those dreams are an empty emotion
It can never be done
I've never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea

Just to be with you, I'll do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give everything
I would give my life away

I know that you don't understand
The fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know that you don't realize
How much I'd give you
And I promise, I would do it all again

Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away

today i choose :)

(from “Fruit of the Spirit”, in ‘The Devotional Bible’ edited by Max Lucado, and ‘When Christ Comes’ by Max Lucado :) )

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

I choose peace
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so.

I choose kindness
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one.

I choose faithfulness
Today I will keep my promises.

I choose gentleness
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.

I choose self-control
I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I will be drunk only by joy.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

"easy" day

at times like this everything seems so easy.

i just prayed, and invoked the name of Jesus. because Jesus said that everything asked in His name will be given.

then i recalled that Jesus is our Savior, the One who died for our sins so we wouldn't have to.

earlier today (apr 5 '06) i just learned that i would be graduating with an MS Physics degree on time (an achievement in itself), with a grade point average of 1.991071. for the benefit of those who don't know, the best possible grade in our course is 1.0 and the passing grade is 2.0. woohoo!

i have to remember that it's not easy.

but it's just that God has promised, He has seen me through, and i have prevailed because it was He who fought all my battles for me. in studies, in relationships, and in everything else in between, i am blessed --- not because of any amount of goodness on my part (no way!) but because His grace is more than enough for any one of us.

it's not easy, but now that i'm looking back, i just find that it's all worth it.

thank You, God =) i wouldn't have it any other way =)

teci talks to a Catholic friend, 2

(this series is a set of real emails but the dates and names and other telltale details (aside from mine) have been removed. and of course i rewrote some phrases that weren't in English :) i'm posting this because these words apply to more people than just my friend and i :) )

Subject: the heart of the matter :)

before anything else, you asked in one of your emails that i keep an open mind. i ask of you the same, to read this all through first :)

i agree with what you said, that if there is no one authority (like the Catholic Church) to explain about God, faith, and other important issues, then there might possibly be countless interpretations which might even contradict each other! i agree that it's possible.

but i ask you, personally, to just read the Bible first for yourself. The parts mentioned in the liturgy, the parts not mentioned. it's written in a clear manner, actually. if we just take the time to read even a little, bit by bit -- you'll see that it's not really as open to misinterpretation as i once thought it was.

you mentioned about Assemblies of God, Methodists, and other Bible-believing churches. i understand your point there. the best way to reply :) is to give a counter-example: there is a Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP, an Immaculate Conception Church in Marikina, a St. Paul's Church...Catholic churches may even have the same name (ex: St. Peter's) without necessarily being related. But we know they are all Catholic, no doubt.

but what about the different doctrines/practices/emphases in these Bible-believing churches? how can they say they have one source – the Bible -- and diverge? again i'll give a counter-example: different religious orders for priests, nuns and lay people, with varying focuses and life ministries. Again we all know they are Catholic.

lastly, it's a sad, tragic fact that groups like Iglesia ni Cristo and Dating Daan are grouped along with Bible-believing churches. The Philippines is mostly Catholic, so the common delineation is "Catholic" and "others". in much the same way as, possibly, an atheist would group together the monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) – we know they're significantly different.

actually someone posed a similar question to me, but he immediately realized the answer before i did: "By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:20) when in doubt, about INC or anything, look at the 'fruits': does one's faith really show in his or her life? is he or she practicing what he or she is preaching?

all of the above is just an intro :) so my email is about "the heart of the matter", because the biggest issue -- salvation -- has already been mentioned. i feel like i have to say all this first because i'll be quoting much Scripture and i actually want to quote more! again, as you have asked me, i ask you to keep an open mind, and really, sincerely, deeply, i ask you to read the Bible too. i'd understand if you would think i'm just choosing and arranging Bible verses to fit my own 'grand plan' or what i've heard from others :) so i ask you again to just read for yourself, and understand beyond what anyone else is telling you, myself included :)

beyond the traditions, the history, the politics, and everything else, what is the one major difference between the Catholic faith and the 'Bible-believing'/'Protestant'/'born-again Christian' faith? it's "salvation by faith and good works" versus "salvation by faith alone."

Jesus asks, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). James also remarks, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!" (James 2:19)

i remember too when as a Catholic girl i've heard bits and pieces of what biblical Christianity teaches. it's controversial, to say the least, declaring that "faith alone saves" -- we all know of criminals, mass murderers, and even just those "very annoying" people (i'm just using a common argument, please bear with me) who say they believe in God and yet their actions are far from "good". surely, it's the good people who go to heaven and the bad people who go to hell -- not vice versa!

definitely, faith should show in actions -- we cannot say we are "followers" of Jesus if we do not actually "follow" His example and His teachings :) obedience and good works are litmus tests of our faith in Him.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock...But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." (Matthew 7:24,26)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)


salvation is more than that.

God is good, and we follow Him if we do good. But our own efforts are, literally, not good enough. Are we not struggling, still sinning every now and then, unintentionally or not? even as children of God we make mistakes. and we deserve to be punished. But God, like any loving parent, still chose to make a way for us: He sent Jesus.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)

why is it that Jesus -- God -- became flesh and dwelt among us? it's often been said that Jesus died for my sins and the sins of the world. but I never really got that until i was in my twenties! Jesus died for my sins -- He took the punishment that should have been mine! meaning...i can now live as forgiven; i can now live as free.

in Paul's letter to the Romans he knew the controversial aspects of grace (God's goodness and mercy completely undeserved). in much the same way that i was once scandalized by the implications of "salvation by faith alone". won't this be open to abuse? (to repeat James' quote earlier: "even demons believe!")

so Paul continues, still in Romans:
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with [or rendered powerless] that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:1-14)

Paul explains comprehensively, but still the shock, the scandal, the ontroversy remains. Isn't it even a little bit unfair that *merely* believing in Jesus, accepting that He died for me, would result in my forgiveness, regardless of how heinous and "unforgivable" my sins were? But i recall the stories that were hard to accept too at first -- the prodigal son (the father rejoiced that he came back), the workers in the vineyard (the last-hour workers got the same wage as the whole-day workers), the lost sheep (the shepherd leaves the 99 safe ones to look for one lost), also the thief beside Jesus on the cross (no more opportunity to do good works).

for the longest time i saw myself as righteous in always striving to do the right thing -- so i can relate to the "unfairness" of it all. i saw myself as the diligent brother of the prodigal son, the whole-day worker, one of the 99 safe sheep, the good citizen who did not do any crime and was not condemned to die on a cross.

i've heard so many people say to me, "but i'm not a criminal..." "i'm not a murderer or a rapist..." "i'm not as bad, as, say, ---..."

it's not enough. i realized that for myself, when i finally saw how sinful and unworthy i am. finally, my self-righteousness crumbled and i became sincerely grateful: the "unfairness" of God's goodness was in fact working for my favor!

the holiness of God is something that we cannot attain by ourselves. When Jesus came, He raised the old Laws (of the Israelites) even higher: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

how "perfect"?

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder [Exodus 20:13], and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca [an Aramaic term of contempt],' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery [Exodus 20:14].' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce [Deuteronomy 24:1].' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth [Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21].' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:17-48)

but God made a way. Jesus had to be in human form to take on the punishment of we who are humans as well. a writer said that He played fair -- because He imposed a justice system that He Himself was willing to be subject under. Sin deserves punishment. All of us, no matter how 'good', still have sinned and deserve an eternity away from God's presence. but to be fair, Jesus went and took on our sins so we don't have to.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17)

"[The disciples] asked, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Matthew 19:25-26; Mark 10:26-27; Luke 18:26-27)

salvation is a gift.

(a) it's not earned or deserved:
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)

(b) it's offered freely: not because we earned it (see (a)), for the only thing we deserve is punishment
"The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23)

(c) we cannot have it until we accept it. (this is so obvious we often overlook it!)
"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:9, 10)
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!" (Romans 10:13)

it's a paradox. we've often heard, "to see is to believe": but as people of faith we can testify that "to believe is to see".

similarly, it's mind-boggling, but i can testify to this with my own life, as people around me can see: "Christ forgave me, so i can be free to do good."

not the other way around.

"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement [or as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin], through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." (Romans 3:19-31)

"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about -- but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness [Genesis 15:6,22].' (Romans 4:1-2)

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith --- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God --- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10)

we are created to do good works but we are saved because we put our faith in the only One who can actually save us. :)

i don't want to point fingers at personal lives because there's a danger of using "bad" examples -- someone who misrepresents his or her faith. having said that as a disclaimer, there were several times you mentioned about my devoutness as a Catholic (or lack thereof), including my family's faith. just as a personal request, please don't drag my family into this discussion. since i'm the only one talking here, please direct all questions, doubts, even attacks, to me and me only. it would not be fair to them, would it?

again, i'd rather not go into picking at personal lives, but i understand that it's sometimes the most effective testimony. besides, the people around me, who see me day in and day out, would have a good idea whether i practice what i preach, or whether i've really been transformed, right? so here goes.

i have never been the ideal Catholic school girl. this is probably not surprising :) of course in a grade school run by nuns the religious activities were maintained, but afterward when i attended a secular high school and later a secular university (that's UP), i barely went to mass, and i rarely confessed my sins to a priest.

hence my knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith may be called into question. but all i can say is, i know enough of Catholicism and i knew what i was leaving behind. as we're discussing this through email even with ----, and you're giving explanations, i know of those explanations as well, even before i left.

we've agreed to keep an open mind. here's the thing: i've known about the Catholic faith since birth, and recently i've learned about the biblical Christian faith. then i made a decision.

you've also mentioned about your friends, who were also converted. did they also know what they were choosing, and what they were leaving behind?

i'm saying all this to let you know about the biblical Christian faith. it's a personal journey each one has to make; i'm just letting you know what it's about.

it's interesting that you also mentioned about the "way back home". loyalty is a virtue, and respect for authority is good in itself. in your eyes i might look as the prodigal daughter or the lost sheep, and i agree that i was once like that. perhaps we disagree on whether i was already saved, or have already found my way home.

where is home anyway? i may be seen as just another subversive, a rebel, someone who got lost. but we don't shake our heads at Peter and the others when they left Judaism for Christianity. we rejoice when an atheist finally accepts Christ. of course, this is not to say that we should disregard authority and tradition and the beliefs we grew up with.

but you see, i came from the same background as you.

and now i'm learning the depths of His power and grace.

and He has transformed my life for all to see.

if i found the Spring of Living Water, will i not rush back to tell my
thirsty fellowmen? :)

P.S. please feel free to forward this to ----- and everyone else! i don't mind it being sent to everyone! :) i want to tell everyone i know, even those i don't know :)

thanks again for the opportunity to hear me out :) God bless us all :)

On Mary&Co. [teci talks to a Catholic friend, 1]

(this series is a set of real emails but the dates and names and other telltale details (aside from mine) have been removed. and of course i rewrote some phrases that weren't in English :) i'm posting this because these words apply to more people than just my friend and i :) )

Subject: Re: [Fwd: Benedict XVI first encylical letter - Deus Caritas Est]

______ wrote:

Hello Tess:

I hope you can keep an open mind. A catholic material with universal appeal and content.


 Teci wrote:

ok! open mind it is :) pero as usual i might not be able to read it in the near future...(hope it won't take another two years to reply, hehe) :)

for what it's worth, thanks very much for replying :)


Subject: comments on Pope Benedict's encyclical

Teci wrote:

hi! i got to go over the encyclical a while ago...and i agree with what Pope Benedict is saying about love, divine and human. he used a lot of Scriptural verses which are also used by Bible-based Christians and so coming to the same conclusion. God made man and woman to be together, and it was good. there's just a lot of misconceptions so it's important to get back to the basics and the foundations, which is God's Word itself.

but i was truly, deeply saddened in coming to the end of his encyclical, because he ended with a prayer to Mary. sir, i also believe and would like to see the unity of all believers under one God. however, there are practices that i do not agree with and these are issues that are more important than unity. one of these is devotion or worship to those other than God Himself. sir, diba the first commandment is "you shall have no other gods before Me"?

yes, Mary is rightfully honored as the virtuous woman who humbly gave herself to be used by God the Father in carrying Jesus, God the Son. But honor should also be given to the other saints and martyrs, past and present, who dedicated their lives in loving service to God and humanity. And this honor and respect should not transcend, however subconsciously or unintentionally, to worship of something other than God Himself. this is idolatry, plain and simple.

and the second commandment is "you not shall make for yourself a carved image -- any likeness of anything...you shall not bow to them or serve them." in our attachment to physical things and places that may have been in contact, or used, or related one way or another to God, we have to be careful to not worship the things and places themselves. it becomes dangerous and unhealthy, and sadly, going directly against God's commandments, when we glorify the creation instead of the Creator.

i do not want to make sweeping generalizations about my religion versus anyone else's. i think you'll agree that it's not the name of the religion, or the church, or the division or sect et cetera, but the content of the faith. what am i believing? who am i following?

i agree that apostolating (is this the correct term po?) by example is best. :) real lives being transformed cannot be denied. :) still, Jesus warned against those who call Him "Lord" and do not follow what He said, unintentionally or subconsciously though it may be. the intentions may be good, but we still have to be careful. (remember when Jesus called Peter "Satan"? what a shock it must have been! i'm shocked even reading it, what more would he have felt? but it stemmed from Peter having the good intentions of not wanting to let Jesus be crucified and die. no one wants that! but it was Jesus' mission, and Peter, by "rebuking" his Master, had paradoxically the same view as Satan! Satan didn't want Jesus to take our sins' punishments so we could be free! i think it's stated more comprehensively in the book "brave enough to follow" =) )

besides, we are *ahem* intelligent, well-conversant people. we use our minds and healthy dialogue. the God of the heart is also the God of the mind, so if He speaks through logic and literal words as we're doing, so that we'll "get it more", then well and good. :)

that’s all, good evening. =)

April 13, 2006

the one, the only reason

i was *supposed* to be having fun, in a night out with friends, but i wasn't. i actually saw myself in a scene from a movie, you know the type, where someone suddenly just leaves the group and stares out at the night sky from the balcony...
ok, so i'm being such a drama queen (again! :p ) but i really felt bad over some little things that happened to pile up. those little things weren't really important then, and they're not now, so i won't elaborate :) still it's always good to just take a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.
if i'm not being happy over the things that are supposed to make me happy, then what else am i left with?
"Meaningless," a wise man once said, all the pursuits in this life are meaningless...this man had riches, wisdom, all kinds of pleasure...but at the end of his life he realized there was only one cause worth pursuing:
"Fear God and keep His commands, for that is man's all." --- Ecclesiastes 12:13
the one and only reason for living =)
as i looked at a beautiful moon and felt God's comfort (He is real!), He is all that matters, and He is more than enough.

taking a stand, 1: because God is gracious

the name "Jean" is French for "God is gracious".
yes He is. =) He truly is. =)
the mere fact that He still talks to me through comics and reveals things about Himself through them is yet another example of grace (which means undeserved goodness, or you-didn't-have-to-but-awww-thanks-so-much!). i used to see my comics as "my parable of a God-less existence", but now He's given me God-filtered glasses, so wheee =) yay =) (let's be clear: this does NOT justify anything, just giving things a so-what-can-we-learn-from-this perspective...)
so i'm so grateful that "jean" =D

building, not burning, bridges :)

to all the people i’ve hurt…

with my harsh words and with my judgmental silence…

with my aggressiveness to attack and my failure to admit mistakes…

i’m sorry.

especially when i've inflicted hurt in the course of talking about God --- how can i draw people to Him when i make such an awful ambassador? (sure, i could always hide behind the “nobody’s perfect” excuse, but still i could have been more patient, gentler, kinder, and yes, nicer. besides since i'm talking to them about God, i do what i do for their benefit, not mine.)

a dear friend told me it’s hard to discuss issues of faith because it deals with the very core of one’s being. in recent months, i've found out the hard way how this is true. disagreeing on critical faith issues (and even on trivial ones) is equivalent to rejecting the entire person. whether one feels strongly about God, or gods, or does not care at all, if your beliefs clash, then you clash.

if this sounds like a harsh generalization, let’s look more closely: a person who follows God knows about Him. an unbeliever or a skeptic does not know about God (yet!). if these two people talk about food, movies, and the like, they may have different favorites but it’s ok --- we’re entitled to our opinions. but God is not an opinion, He is the Truth. if the same two people disagree, the believer would hold on to what he is sure is true. this might seem like intolerance, or arrogance, to the skeptic/unbeliever. why can’t they both be right, or why can’t the unbeliever/skeptic be right (like in their favorite food)? because God is not an opinion, He is the Truth.

i've seen some of my friendships strained to the limit, or worse (hence the apology at the start of this entry). i felt so frustrated, and used to review scenes in my mind where “it all went wrong”: what did i say? how did i react? what should i have done instead? aside from knowing that i misrepresented God in my unloving ways, i can’t stand hurting people because there’s no second take, no time travel to undo things.

all this has been a lesson in humility for me: (1) i don’t have all the answers, and (2) i should let insults go out the other ear because it’s about God and about them (i’m just the messenger). and most importantly, (3) i’m not a savior :) let go and let God! even if a discussion did not end amicably (hope this becomes less frequent), it’s all in God’s hands :) BUT i'll pray and pray and pray :)

but i’ve also been blessed with relationships that affirm my value as a person even if we disagree on God, “the most important issue of all”. so yay =) i'm thankful for these because Jesus told us to love; that all will know we follow Him because we love each other (John 13:35). there's the rub: i can most effectively show God’s love to those who haven’t known or haven’t accepted Him yet, if i continue to love them as they are right now.

so there it is. help us, God, to love each other as You have loved us. Give us Your love, Your compassion, Your humility and Your grace. this is for Your glory and for their salvation :) amen :)