October 23, 2007

Sportsmen place their faith in God and one another :)

ROCKIES PLACE THEIR FAITH IN GOD, AND ONE ANOTHER
by Ben Shpigel
October 23, 2007
New York Times


DENVER, Oct. 22 — As a Jewish player who attended a Catholic high school and a Lutheran university, Jason Hirsh knows what being a religious minority feels like. So last December, when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, Hirsh wondered if what he had heard about his new organization’s commitment to Christian values was true.

Now, as the Rockies prepare to face the Red Sox in the World Series beginning Wednesday, Hirsh said not once during the season had he felt uncomfortable.

“There are guys who are religious, sure, but they don’t impress it upon anybody,” Hirsh said. “It’s not like they hung a cross in my locker or anything. They’ve accepted me for who I am and what I believe in.”

The role of religion within the Rockies organization first entered the public sphere in May 2006, when an article published in USA Today described the organization as adhering to a “Christian-based code of conduct” and the clubhouse as a place where Bibles were read and men’s magazines, like Maxim or Playboy, were banned.

The article included interviews with several players and front office members, but team players and officials interviewed this week said it unfairly implied that the Rockies were intent on constructing a roster consisting in large part of players with a strong Christian faith. Asked how his own Christian faith affected his decision-making, General Manager Dan O’Dowd acknowledged it came into play, but not in a religious way. He said it guided him to find players with integrity and strong moral values, regardless of their religious preference.

“Do we like players with character? There is absolutely no doubt about that,” O’Dowd said during a recent interview in his Coors Field office. “If people want to interpret character as a religious-based issue because it appears many times in the Bible, that’s their decision. I believe that character is an innate part of developing an organization, and to me, it is nothing more than doing the right thing at the right time when nobody’s looking. Nothing more complicated than that.

“You don’t have to be a Christian to make that decision.”


Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd says his Christian faith
leads him to seek out players with strong moral values.

(photo: Jack Dempsey/Associated Press)

Even if the Rockies are not consciously doing it, reliever Matt Herges, playing for his seventh organization, said the team had the highest concentration of devout Christians he had seen during his nine major league seasons.

Every Sunday, about 10 people gather for chapel, according to reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and Tuesday afternoon Bible study sessions usually attract seven or eight players. Affeldt said players discussed life and their families as well as scripture.

“Certain guys attend chapel, certain guys don’t,” outfielder Cory Sullivan said. “I don’t think that’s any different from how it is in any other major league clubhouse. Nothing’s shoved down your throats.”

On the whole, players were relaxed in speaking about their religious convictions but said that faith was not a requirement for peer approval. They care more about whether a teammate plays hard, is unselfish and treats everyone with respect.

“I think that if they were Catholic or Baptist or didn’t believe in God but were quality players and good people and good teammates, there would be a place for them here,” Herges said. “But I do see a lot of quality people in this clubhouse. This is the tightest-knit group I’ve ever been around.”

Pitcher Mark Redman, playing for his eighth team in nine seasons, has been with the Rockies for only two months, but he, too, said he sensed a different chemistry. “I’ve been on teams with guys who you can’t wait to leave when the season’s over,” Redman said. “You don’t find a bad guy in here. I’m more than comfortable bringing my son in here. I haven’t been able to say that in the past.”

Like many sports franchises, the Rockies look for more than just talent and potential, and finding the right combination of ability and character took several years. Based on the franchise’s win-loss record early on his tenure, O’Dowd acknowledged that if he worked for another organization, “in 99 percent of other cases, I would not be here.”

In steering the Rockies toward contention, O’Dowd, who became general manager in 1999, credits ownership for supporting his plan of allotting additional resources to player development and for giving the organization’s top prospects a chance to play. He also points to his own faith for giving him the strength and patience to handle the lean years.

Only once before this season —at 82-80 in 2000 — had the Rockies finished with a winning record since O’Dowd became general manager. But one of the most embarrassing moments for the franchise came early on a December morning in 2004 when Denny Neagle, a pitcher with a $51.5 million long-term contract, was arrested here for soliciting a prostitute. It was his second scrape with the law in 14 months and it cost him his job. The Rockies terminated his contract three days later, eventually choosing to pay him $16 million to never again pitch in a Colorado uniform.

Worried that the incident would jeopardize the public trust, the Rockies redoubled their effort to emphasize responsibility and accountability. The team’s chairman and chief executive, Charlie Monfort, has said he rediscovered religion after serving 18 months’ probation for driving while impaired. The manager, Clint Hurdle, said he strengthened his faith several years ago after he quit drinking.

The team brought in free agents for face-to-face meetings and made sure their scouts were not seduced by talent without character. Along the way, the Rockies have decided not to pursue certain players, O’Dowd said. But he said no one was ever questioned about their religious affiliation.

“You can get to a point where that player’s talent is intoxicating to the point where you can make a choice to compromise,” O’Dowd said. “You begin to make yourself believe that those other things are there when they’re not. When you make character an important part of the criteria of making that decision, you have to slow yourself down because it takes time to find that out.

“I have a heck of a lot of an easier time accepting that than trying to win without that philosophy.”

To be sure, this is not a bunch of teetotalers, as demonstrated by the Champagne- and beer-soaked celebrations that followed their series-clinching victories. They do not censor the clubhouse stereo either. Everything from hip-hop to alternative music, like the Amy Winehouse song “Rehab,” played on a loop Saturday morning.

“This is still a baseball clubhouse,” Herges said.

It is also one where the players, bonded by shared experiences in the minor leagues, have a chemistry that Sullivan said reminded him of his college days at Wake Forest. No fewer than 14 slots on the Rockies’ expected 25-man World Series roster will go to those who came up through the system, but even those, like Affeldt, who came from a different organization, said he fit in immediately. Affeldt called the team “a band of brothers.”

“When you have as many people who believe in God as we do, it creates a humbleness about what we do,” Affeldt said. “I don’t see arrogance here, I see confidence. We’re all very humbled about where this franchise has been and where it is now, and we know that what’s happening now is a very special thing.”

October 22, 2007

the storyteller's daughter =)


"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." --- Romans 1:25


i knock.

"Ei, um, God? Do you have a minute?"

"Always." There's that serene, quiet confidence in the voice i have come to know so well, the voice that called forth the stars and the seas into being, and now lives in my heart as well.

"i'd just like to say," i started as i casually strolled through the squeaky clean ivory floor in mucky tattered sandals to get closer to Him, "that they were right all along. You *do* make better stories than we can ever think of."

"Of course." He looked at me. "But we both know that already, right?"

"Yes, i mean, sure i already know that, *theoretically*. Because You're *God* and all, and i'd even be more surprised if it wasn't like that...
But it's reality now. i mean, it's all becoming true --- *Your* story. And it wins hands down over mine. And, in the past i've already seen that, but...not like *this*. Not as much as now. *This* is too much. And this is all just the *beginning*.
Anyway, it's too much. It's too, toooooo good.
And i'd just like to say thanks."

i smiled. He smiled.

"Well, is that all you came to say?"

"Of course not. i mean, yeah, that's all i came to say, but i'm not finished. i'm not going anywhere just yet."

"But what about the story that I'm giving you to live out?"

"That can wait. There are more important things to do."

And i throw myself into His waiting arms.

"That's My girl," He whispered. "Me pinagmanahan." ["You got that from --- your Father."]


:)

October 21, 2007

being used by God to help the Filipino poor

Their vision is:
"To Free Every Filipino Child And Their Family From Poverty."

Wow.

Children. Poverty. Filipino. Three issues that are dear to my heart (though the second is something that should be fought, not inculcated!).

c

The Philippine Christian Foundation came into being when British Jane Walker visited the Philippines and saw for herself the country's poorest of the poor: begging in the streets, living in garbage dumps, barely surviving. Ten years later, Ms. Walker and PCF are featured in a recent Philippine Daily Inquirer article, entitled "Angel of the dump walks barefoot to save children".


I am so encouraged by stories of people who give --- especially in this dog-eat-dog and/or no-free-lunch culture we are told we should live in.

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. --- Matthew 5:38-39; Luke 6:27-29

I am challenged by people who give their entire lives to help others.

If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 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. And if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. --- Luke 6:29-31; Matthew 5:41-42

The question is NOT "what about their needs?"

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. --- Philippians 4:19


But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. --- Matthew 6:33

The question is, what must we do?


Like this thought-provoking article from John Rowell says:


God so loved the world that He gave—and so must we.


:)

October 20, 2007

Don't let shame over sexual sin destroy you. :)

No one is beyond His grace, His love, and His redemption. :) (If we let Him.)



Don't let shame over sexual sin destroy you.

October 19, 2007

letting God into our life is *this* simple :)

i saw this from a comment over at ThinkChristian :)


"A regular time and a regular place,

an open bible and your heart open to God.

Let God have you and let God love you.

Then don't be surprised if your heart begins to hear music you've never heard and your feet begin to dance as never before".


We give what we can so others may have what we have.

nothing else matters (or, it's not a condition, just a side effect!)

It's not a condition; it's an effect :)

(And only a side effect at that!)




The Verse of the Day over at BibleGateway is this:


Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.

--- Psalm 37:4

:)
i love that psalm :)

And that verse is often given as a cause-effect thing: "If you really want something, want the Lord first."

Which is hard, like having a genie in front of you, saying that before you wish for something, wish for something else.

Kinda like this other verse that many of us have been singing since we were kids:


But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. --- Matthew 6:33

But i've been a Christian long enough to know the following:

  1. Putting God first is what we're supposed to do anyway. (Y' know, like, let God be God!)
  2. God is goodness itself; where He is, all good things are too.
  3. When God is your center, bad/evil/suffering doesn't really matter.
  4. When God is your center, all other good things don't really matter too.
Wow. Am i surprised that these words are coming out from me! Ms. Prodigal Hedonist to the Max!

You see, dear readers, God just told me something. (Well, isn't this week just full of surprises!)


Which is a really, really GOOD thing.

And my soul rejoices in what is to happen, that thing which is good in itself...

But all the more, i rejoice in God Himself. :)

It's like, the more He really brings on the blessings, the more i realize that i don't need them anyway...the more i realize that they're not the things that make me happy, and they can all vanish for all i care.


Dear dear God,
thank You for helping me realize
that nothing else matters.

:)

October 17, 2007

worth the wait (and thank God, NEVER too late :) )

DADS HELP DAUGHTERS PLEDGE 'SEXUAL PURITY'
Dance this week will help drive home message about abstinence
by Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
Published: 10.07.2007



At the event, daughters sign this pledge to remain faithful to
"a lifestyle of purity that will honor God, myself, my family and my future husband."
PHOTOS BY Mamta Popat / arizona daily star


When they were 10 years old, twins Jessica and Jennifer Worcester received a gift from their dad — silver rings that they slipped on their fingers with a promise: They would remain sexually pure until marriage.

The Worcester twins, now 13, have made their abstinence vows an annual celebration. Along with their dad and other fathers and daughters, they will attend the annual Purity Ball in Tucson Friday night.

Proponents view Purity Balls as fostering healthy bonding between fathers and daughters and teaching girls and young women that they are valuable and worth waiting for.

They've heard what critics say, that the Purity Ball concept puts a girl's virginity in a metaphorical lockbox to which Daddy holds the key. But they say that's a misinterpretation of the event's purpose.

"It's not about a bunch of rules, about bolting a chastity belt on them," said the twins' father, Tom Worcester, 47, a Raytheon engineer. "That would really not be a successful approach. It's about a choice a young lady can make and stick with."




Jennifer Worcester, 13, shows the price tag on a dress to her father, Tom,
during a shopping trip to find something to wear to the Fifth Annual Purity Ball.
"It's not about a bunch of rules, about bolting a chastity belt on them.
That would really not be a successful approach," Tom Worcester says of the ball concept.


The Tucson Purity Ball, a Baptist-based event, began in 2003 and has inspired similar balls in Phoenix and Yuma. The Tucson event typically attracts 200 girls and their fathers, who wear their best dress-up clothes and sign "integrity and purity" covenants with one another.

They will each receive a white rose to place under a Christian cross, and the girls will receive silver-and-pink necklaces that say, "Worth Waiting For."



Daughters attending the Purity Ball receive a "Worth Waiting For" necklace.


"It's making a commitment, and they make it like a prom," said Jennifer, a student at Mountain Vista School.

"You are saving yourself until marriage — waiting for the right man to give yourself to," added Jessica, who attends Pusch Ridge Christian Academy.

Girls pledge sexual purity to themselves, God, their families and their future husbands. Dads vow to be men of accountability and God as they "lead, guide, protect and pray" over their daughters.


Though she can recall abstinence-only dances going back to the '80s, Abstinence Clearinghouse president Leslee Unruh traces the beginnings of the current Purity Ball movement to Colorado Springs, Colo., where parents Lisa and Randy Wilson first held a ball in 1999.

Unruh estimates 1,300 Purity Ball events have been held in the United States during the past year, and she says enthusiasm is growing. While Wilson's event, like the Tucson Purity Ball, is faith-based, most around the country are secular and funded with federal abstinence-only dollars, she said.

Some boys are getting their own events. Unruh says more and more "Knight to Remember" purity events for moms and sons are taking place.

"Where in our culture is the father exalted? The father is a buffoon. He's ridiculed, mocked, made the fool in the media," said Randy Wilson, a former pastor now with the Family Research Council.

"(But) girls whose fathers are in their lives are less likely to be promiscuous, get depressed, have thoughts of suicide. We believe a girl's identity and self-worth comes from the father.

"If the father is not there," Wilson added, "she will wander outside the home and look for the answer to whether she is beautiful and worthy of being pursued. She will be devoured."


Girls must be at least 10 to attend Tucson's Purity Ball. Most attendees are in their teens, but some young women in their 20s also take part.

Tucson native Jennifer Robison, a 24-year-old graphic designer in Phoenix, will drive to Tucson Friday to attend the ball with her father, Rod, who is a vice president of Family Life Radio in Tucson.

"Being 24 and an unmarried virgin is obviously rare," said Jennifer. "I'm guarding my heart and my body, and I want to be a role model for the younger girls."

From that standpoint, said Rod Robison, "she's pretty countercultural. But we've never put pressure on her in that way."
He and Jennifer, who is the eldest of five, have always had a close relationship, one that has been strengthened by "date nights" when the two of them go to dinner or a movie together.

When Jennifer was younger, the pair talked about subjects like how to be friends with boys.

"I have no qualms about my daughter understanding all options when it comes to sexual education, as long as it's within the context of knowing that the best option for not having her heart torn apart is abstinence," Rod Robison said.

Jennifer said her Christian faith has fueled her commitment, and she's not shy about her chastity. She sometimes wears a T-shirt that says "Virgins are Hot."

As she's grown older her decision has been reinforced by what she's learned from friends and acquaintances. Young women who didn't feel loved by their fathers will often seek attention from other men in their lives, and that can lead to problems, she said.

"Dads have a kind of practical wisdom. They can provide us with that sense of male protectiveness and leadership we need, versus trying to find it somewhere else," she said.

The first time Christie Raaum's dad invited her to the local Purity Ball she was 12 years old and still into Barbies and princesses. She loved the idea of a ball and bought a floor-length dress. Now a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Tucson Country Day School, Christie is about to attend her third event.

"I want her to pick the kind of man who treats her the way I did," said her father, Randy Raaum, 40, who is pastor of Pima Street Baptist Church.

Christie and her dad also go on date nights. Often they will go to dinner and a movie. Other times they just go to the grocery store or the hardware store.

Staying pure until marriage doesn't seem like it will be difficult, says Christie, though she's not even sure she'll get married at all.

"I have too many things I want to do — NASCAR driver, author, oceanographer, Egyptologist — I'm pretty independent," she said.

She added one more thought: "Without my dad, I don't know where I'd be."



Jennifer Worcester, 13, left, holds up a gown that might be just the one for the Purity Ball
she plans to attend this week with her twin sister, Jessica, at right.
Kim Worcester, the girls' mom, helps with dress selection at Macy's in the Tucson Mall.


Gospel Supplies in Tucson, where the Worcester girls found their purity rings, has several items related to purity, one of the most popular being a book titled "The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God's Gift of Purity." In the book, God gives a young girl the gift of a kiss, which her parents keep in a safe. The girl learns that the kiss is a valuable gift, and she must decide whether to keep it or give it away.

The Worcester twins don't watch much mainstream television, though they enjoy reruns of "Gilmore Girls" and "Seventh Heaven." They like contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James, who is passionate about sexual purity. Recently the twins have become involved in "Secret Keeper Girl," a Bible-based program that teaches girls not only about purity, but the power of modest dressing and inner beauty.

The Worcester twins' eldest sister, Ashley Ellingson, is organizing this year's Purity Ball, part of her job as development coordinator for Arizona Baptist Children's Services, which is hosting the event.

Ellingson, who is 22, says she remained pure until her wedding three years ago.

During the past year she's had media calls about the ball from all over the world.

"It's obviously not something our society is used to," she said. "It's so abnormal that I get calls about it all the time. I think people are curious. But what does that say about our culture?"

New Life Pregnancy Center, a ministry of Arizona Baptist Children's Services that advocates adoption over abortion, sees girls as young as 12 and 13 for pregnancy testing, and sometimes the tests are positive, she said, explaining why 10 is not too young to understand the Purity Ball.

Ellingson said she believes premarital sex leads to a whole host of problems for young women, among them poor self-esteem, a risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

But she added that girls who have had sex can always start anew and make purity pledges.

"To me, it's not about how many girls kept the commitment. This is important no matter what. It's still worth it to try," she said. "We are encouraging people to make healthy choices. STDs, teen pregnancies, those things are not good."

Tom Worcester jokes that any guy responsible for his daughters' breaking their purity promise will be buried in his backyard. Speaking more seriously, he said people make mistakes, and nothing would change his love or commitment to his children.

Randy Raaum, who has five daughters, puts it this way: "Even if they do break the promise, how could there possibly be a downside to having a close relationship with family members?"

On StarNet: Watch a slide show about the dance at http://www.azstarnet.com/slideshows.

● Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or at sinnes@azstarnet.com.

October 16, 2007

no power and no plans

It's that time again: time to change taglines. :)


The year 2007 was around the corner. Someone was sharing to me: "I know that God is telling me something when I hear the same verse/phrase over and over from different sources, say, three times..."

Hmm, i thought. When God speaks to me directly or through a powerful Bible passage or through people, it's usually clear enough at the first instance, right? Won't i get it already?

Uhm, no. :)

Not always (and not often?) :)

As the new year dawned upon us i have come to see this as kind of my motto/tagline/verse for the moment:



"For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." --- 2 Timothy 1:7


When i first started to *really* follow God, i learned what real love is *not*. The past year i started to learn what real love *is*. Throughout this year i was learning about balance, soundness, and completeness. (Please do not confuse balance with fence-sitting and compromise. Saying God is merciful *and* just is the complete truth; obeying God only 50% of the time means you are disobeying the rest of the time.) Fear was something i thought i was already over with, but the more i learn about God and the more i follow, i find that there is really nothing to fear.

And so..."OK, Lord, we'll have the 'power' part next..."

And so i keep on waiting for that 'power' thing.

Recently i am starting to sense a more appropriate motto/tagline/verse for the moment: as already labeled in my GTalk profile,



"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." --- Proverbs 19:21


"Ah, but Lord", i was telling Him as i was walking earlier today, "what about the power? That verse isn't really resolved yet for me right...?"

"Don't you see it yet?" He asked gently, with the faintest glint of humor, "The power comes from Me."

(Why is it that i don't get the simplest of truths?)

So...i guess that's it. The power is and has always been with God, which He supplies whenever He sees fit. In my simplistic and still self-seeking point of view, i was just hoping that He'd make me this Super-Wonder-PowerGirl, efficient and excellent in all i do and still having enough time to meet my friends in the mall.

Well, that's still possible, but the key here is His purpose and not mine. Which is exactly what my new, current life verse reminds me. :)



It's time to switch taglines. But these are all just facets of the same God anyway, Who is not completely comprehensible to us yet we still seek and pursue...For apart from His blessings there is no greater reward than experiencing God Himself.

And here i am; already starting to walk with God and now finding out that...*i am nothing*. i have no power of my own to use; no plans of my own to uphold.

Well, yeah. But the One who has all the power and all the purposes that stand firm? He's the One who gives me value --- the One who gives *us all* meaning and significance and the only lasting, real good.

*If*...we let Him :)

If we let God be God in our lives, if our will is freely submitted and conformed to His...



"But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." --- John 1:12


*Then* we can have the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Then we can see that even if we have so many plans, it is actually His purpose that stands...

And what exactly is His purpose?



"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." --- Romans 8:28


Which is another life verse of mine, by the way. :)

me vs. the Almighty


And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. --- Genesis 32:24


Why is it that every so often i find myself wrestling with the All-Powerful, the one i supposedly bow down to and recognize as Lord of All?

Why is that i find myself on the opposite side of the ring, but i wait for the all-too-obvious outcome of the match before going over to His side again?

As one who follows God, there are things, issues, details i do not understand. Following my own instincts and using my own understanding was way easier (though the results were disappointing, or worse!). A mystery buff and research scientist to boot, i just want to *know* everything --- is that too much to ask?! ;p



"Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?"


It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days." --- 1 Kings 3:9-14


Hmm, that doesn't seem *too much* to ask; God gave even more didn't He? Centuries later James the church elder and Jesus' half brother (yes, i have to point that out!) writes:



If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. --- James 1:5-6


So...it's OK to ask God if i don't understand. He'll give me wisdom as long as i trust that He'll do so --- and if i don't have enough faith, i can ask for that too! :) So far so good, but to be honest i have been behaving less as a truth-seeker and more as a stubborn brat. ("But Lo-o-ord!!!! That can't be! What about ---?!?!" in that whiny, overly dramatic tone!)

This looks like a much better (and more mature) way:


"Dear God,
i don't understand why things have to be this way.
i don't know the exact details of Your plans, or my part in them.
and sometimes, i don't think it can be done (sorry!).

But i know that You know.
i know that You are in control.
and i know that You are loving and just.

i want to know You more.
You said in Your Word that whoever seeks You with all their heart will find You.
But You will reveal Yourself to me, and give me wisdom,
according to Your own perfect timing.

So i guess what i need all along
is more FAITH
to trust You
Truly there is none like You,
i have seen more than enough
from experiences past and present.
But i am stubborn and skeptical and doubtful
and it's hard to trust in someone other than myself
and it's hard to believe in something i hadn't seen yet (because duh teci, it's in the future!).

Anyway,
please give me more faith
because i don't get it
i don't understand
and i can't do it (or i don't want to)
and
if it is Your will too
please help me get it
please help me understand
please help me do it.

Amen."

:)


Thankfully, i'm less confrontational with God now. (Um, that's only according to me though!) The wrestling/boxing ring has matured into a legal courtroom, where i present God with essentially all the reasons why i should not be trusting Him. (Yow! That sounds too...cold-blooded and heartless.) Call me the prosecutor who dares put God on the stand to defend Himself. (Oh boy. i thought my spiritual maturity was increasing?)

But all throughout the trial in my mind, my heart would be whispering to God, "Lord! i must be making a mistake. Or there must be a misunderstanding somewhere. Please resolve this. For me and for all of us. Please don't let anyone sin and/or turn away from You because of this. i already know that You're right, it's just that in this issue i don't know why...not yet anyway."



"But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."


And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible for one who believes."


Immediately the father of the child cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" --- Mark 9:22b-24


i have to emphasize that we will all be held accountable, for each of our actions, on Judgement Day. Yup, that includes each instance of doubt, delay, or denial.

But God knows our hearts, our lives, and exactly what we're going through. He loves us and is willing to accept us; the Father gave us the Son to take the punishment for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him. How much more will God explain what we need to understand...spell it out if need be? :)



They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?" --- Luke 24:32


Help me, Lord. i want my heart to burn too. You're the Answer to every little question i have.

Sorry if i keep using the wrestling analogy!

But You do know that i'm on Your side...already :)

You know that, just like Jacob, i just need to hold onto You, especially in the dark of night.

And You know that every time You win (and You always do!), i actually win too :) i find another reason or too why i obey, why i trust, why i seek, why i love You :)

So let's get it on! Life is too complicated for us to not have a rematch soon :)

October 11, 2007

when the bell rings...

"That's a nice idea, God. In fact that's a great idea. But Lo--ord, not now, ok? I don't understand physics yet. Why don't we do that when ---"

(Silence.)

"Uhm...okay. Now it is."

(He is the Boss, right? Besides i can't impose myself to wait for some things that just aren't happening! ;p Waiting for me to understand physics might take longer than the Second Coming ;p )

October 10, 2007

in the Land of Never Never Fear

There is no fear in love,
but perfect love casts out fear.
Whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19


Here's a confession :)

i used to think i was so fearless for being so upfront with guys. As in,
romantically. (Feel free to "tsk, tsk" at me, i'm doing so myself.)

And
then i learn that life revolves around the God who created and sustains it all, and everything will be all right if i just let Him be God in my life.

Ow-kay....

And
then...

God is gently reminding me that that includes my
lovelife.

Yipes...

Forget the fact that it was the pursuit of
"that" kind of love that led me really astray. Forget the fact that many times it is in the context of that kind of relationship that i now understand our own relationship with God.

Right now i'm facing the unknown, and it's not even a dreary, creepy place. The little i know of it has been more than good, it's mind-bogglingly wonderful, and beckons me to discover more.

And --- goodness! --- i find that
i'm still afraid.

Back then i was actually afraid:
what if that guy was the One and i let him get away? what if i never find anyone else? what if i missed out because i did not act right here, right now? My outward confidence and courage were actually driven by the most primitive of fears.

Now...now? i say i trust in God, for anything and everything. Yea, for all that has yet to happen. Yea, though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death itself.

But fear still rears its ugly face. i have
already seen glimpses of what is to come. And it is far from being the valley of the shadow of death. (Maybe in other things, true, but we're still talkin' luv life here...)

So...what's the problem?
What's the friggin' problem?!?!?!!?

Ah, 'tis me! i am the problem!

Lord, i am still adjusting to my new, full-time student lifestyle: having all this free time and much lighter pockets. i am still balancing the active, one-click-away status of a researcher with the be-still-and-listen-for-God approach of a writer. And isn't it true that as your beloved daughter, it's actually
You waiting for me (especially --- actually, only --- in this matter!) as opposed to me waiting for You?

Whoa. Who's serving Who, again?
Besides, according to the Big Boss, the time is coming. Do i not perceive it?

Perhaps it's also a sign that it's the real thing, because for once i am chickening out.
Ha. :)

It's time to fly. To the Land of Never Never Fear.

It's time to grow up. Leave Never Never Land.

Oh,
man! i'll be a full-fledged adult soon. *whimper*

It's time to take
that leap of faith.

At least let me close my eyes while i jump. :p

October 8, 2007

bishop's heretical sayings. (sorry, but we gotta wake up)

Dear Bishop Tutu: Please be careful to preach what's right, not what feels good. How can you say you serve God if you say the opposite of what He is saying? Am i now going to follow God's teachings or yours? Preaching about God means saying something in favor of something else; instead of saying that everything is right and good and we're all going to heaven anyway. What's the point of Jesus coming to earth if we're all already going to heaven? What's the point of Jesus suffering and dying for sins not His own if we don't need Him anyway? You are supposed to know better, sir.

[The two Q&A's were taken from the article below. my comments --- mainly just letting God's Word speak for Himself --- follow. Please forgive the poor quality of this article; but i'd rather publish this immediately and let readers look for the exact Bible chapter and verse (it's a simple Google search everyone!) than for me to let this pass.]



Desmond Tutu's Recipe for Peace
(A Beliefnet interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu)



Is your book relevant to non-Christians or people with no religious faith?
I believe so very much. Because love is universal. I mean, you don't have to believe in God to know that loving is better than hating. We are trying to remind them that all of us are fundamentally good. The aberration is the bad person. God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian! All of God's children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God. No faith contains the whole truth about God. And certainly Christians don't have a corner on God. All of us belong to God. Even the nonbeliever is precious to God. And one simply tries to remind them that they are made for transcendence. They are made for goodness.


What do you mean when you say that “God only has us”? Isn’t God all-powerful?

I mean that God works through us and through history to bring about God’s dream. God actually needs us. We are God’s partners. When there is someone who is hungry, God wants to perform the miracle of feeding that person, but it won’t any longer be through manna falling from heaven. Normally, God can do nothing until we provide God with the means, the bread and the fish, to feed the hungry. In so many ways, God uses each of us to realize God’s dream.

======================================
Point by point [teci]
We are trying to remind them that all of us are fundamentally good. The aberration is the bad person.
--- Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian!
--- behold this is my son, in whom i am well pleased. listen to him (baptism and transfiguration)

All of God's children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God. No faith contains the whole truth about God.
--- Deut. 27:28. The hidden things belong to the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah.
--- see http://www.jacksonsnyder.com/arc/Midrash/55.htm :) written by a rabbi :)

And certainly Christians don't have a corner on God. All of us belong to God.
--- to those who call on His name/ believe, He gave the right to become children of God....
--- unless you make your heart like a little child you cannot enter heaven
--- it is easier for camel through needle than for rich to enter kingdom of God!
--- not everyone who calls me Lord Lord but only those who obey my words...
--- Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No other way to the Father except through Him.

Even the nonbeliever is precious to God. And one simply tries to remind them that they are made for transcendence. They are made for goodness.
--- all will wake, some to eternal (heaven), others to eternal punishment
--- i long to hold you like a mother hen her children, but you were not willing. impending doom!
--- i have prepared a feast, but they ignored it (made excuses etc)
--- beware when the bridegroom comes to the banquet, those who are not ready will be left outside
--- it is God's will that all be saved; but how? only one way, through Jesus. so God loves ALL (sends rain on just and unjust) but not all will be able to enter heaven (up to that person if he will put faith in Christ first).

God actually needs us.
--- I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed — I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God.”- Isaiah 43:11-12

--- is not God's arm too short to save...?

--- amazing, are we more important/essential/significant than God Himself.

Normally, God can do nothing until we provide God with the means, the bread and the fish, to feed the hungry.
--- just say the word and my servant will be healed.
--- if you do not do anything, relief and deliverance will come from another place, and who knows but that you have come to position for such a time as this?
--- if you quiet them, the stones will shout.
--- in Jesus' miracles, He uses everyday ordinary people and objects pero does that mean He needs them? are these materials special after all? no! it is God who works in them to make them special and worthy; and definitely God does NOT need them because they are special. didn't He make everything in the first place?


==============================================================
arg. this is so blasphemous, coming from an international religious Christian leader of all people. i don't want to sound so high-and-mighty (although i'm sure i already do!) but please, we are supposed to preach God's Word! Where is it Bishop Tutu? (You have said many wonderful things about God's all-encompassing love, truths which come from God Himself, but please, "Speak the truth in love." A real loving parent will not let his child run loose in the kitchen (unlimited chocolate!), on the streets (parties forever!), or let her say whatever she wants and not be sanctioned for it. God is loving, but God is also just.
i was so tempted to judge you completely by what you were saying, but i have no right, and that is wrong as well. sir, we mean well but that does not necessarily mean we do well. fortunately we have JESUS who saves us from ourselves and enables us to spend eternity with Him still. sir, Jesus and only Jesus. (it wasn't my idea, it took a long time for me to agree, and i learned this the hard way. this is not *my* gospel.)
please sir, we have to be careful of what we are saying. what's the point of being bishop if there's nothing special or different about the truths that you profess? you will have to give an account of the people you led astray, accidentally or knowingly. more importantly, you are dishonoring God Himself and what He went through.
God still loves you. God loves you before you were born, God loves you as you were saying these things and writing this book, God loves you whether or not you admit your faults. But that does not mean that it's not wrong.

God is not a Christian --- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Talk about misrepresenting the God you serve and the faith you dedicate your life to uphold. We're talking major international religious leader here. Kudos to Mr. Telford Work, thank you for saying what needs to be said.



"GOD IS NOT A CHRISTIAN"
by Telford Work
05 Nov 2005


[shown is the lattermost part of the article; please click on title's link for complete version --- teci]

What broke my heart came at the conclusion of the evening, when Tutu took questions from the audience. One asked, "What can other religions teach Christians? What can Christians teach other religions?"
To the first part, Tutu responded with a stock answer – and to thunderous applause – "They can teach Christians that God is not a Christian."
Christians get angry when he says that, he then said; but who can look at the Dalai Lama and say his prayer and his holiness is something God will reject?
Now Tutu is right that the godliness and holiness of people like the Dalai Lama is real godliness and holiness. Christians need not belittle it. Tutu is also right that God's reception of these people into his kingdom is his prerogative. That future is not ours to deny just because these people do not call upon Jesus as Lord. Nor are we to force the label of "Christians" upon people like these if they do not embrace the label themselves. Jesus is not a coercive Lord.
Tutu is dead right that God does not belong to us who are called "Christians." But let's accept, for the sake of argument, a standard definition of a Christian as a follower of Jesus as Christ (meaning Messiah: "the Anointed One"). Is the God who is the Father of the Son, who loves and anoints him with his Spirit and exalts him with all things, not the Son's best follower? Is the Spirit who conceives him, who leads him along the Father's mission and indwells his body, calling upon him to Come and confessing him as Lord, not the Son's best follower? When it takes the Spirit to provoke our own confessions, how can we arrogate the title "Christian" to ourselves as a possession, as something our own? The term "Christian" was coined only in Antioch after Jesus ascended; but it belongs to God in the story of Jesus Christ, not to us. Tutu made the word our possession. But we take it on only with fear and trembling, knowing that the Messiah judges whether or not we know him and serve him and prove faithful to his office.
Tutu turned two different things into a false dichotomy: he left us with the choice of either making God the possession of Christians or acknowledging that good people are truly good. The Archbishop Emeritus left us with that agonizing choice because he chose not to tell us the story of Jesus Christ, a story that points somewhere else than those two horrible options. In fact, by winsomely forcing them on us he told us a different story, the story of pluralism, in which God floats free from his own beloved Church.
He gut-punched every Christian in that room with that throwaway line, and left a lot of us walking out at the end in stunned, devastated silence.
Even worse, Tutu did not answer the second part of the question, about what Christians might teach others. He went on to the next – to more applause from the delighted audience, and more devastation in me.
Why? Because we do have something to teach the world's other communities of conviction.
We Christians don't need to teach them our culture, our history, our apologies, or even our religion. We bear only one thing. It is not something we created or own. We are merely entrusted with it for a time and held accountable for its fruitfulness when that time is over.
That thing is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is his story and his name above all names that we offer the world with joy and expectation. It is through him that South Africa's and America's and the world's forgiveness and reconciliation come.
Thanks be to God for Desmond Tutu and the mighty works done through him in South Africa. My life will never remotely compare to his. But if he thinks the godliness of a Dalai Lama or a Desmond Tutu or (God forbid) a Telford Work will justify any of us, if he thinks the prayers or spirituality or deep thoughts of even the holiest of us will be acceptable to God on their own, if he thinks that Jesus' good news doesn't need to be taught because all these other good things are already all around us – then the Archbishop Emeritus is teaching another gospel. He is a prophet of justification by works. He has forgotten the one thing that matters most. Moreover, this man entrusted with the highest teaching office in his Church has invited us to do the same.
I decline that invitation.
I refuse to forget. I refuse to go home and sleep peacefully after even as godly a man as Desmond Tutu takes such a generous question and, when asked what might be worth teaching, shrinks back from naming the name of Jesus. I refuse to be complicit in the massive apostasy underway in this culture and even in our churches that would put any other story – or no story at all! – before our Lord's good news.
Jesus gets the glory. Jesus, not "Transcendence," is the name above every name. Someday every tongue will confess, "Jesus, Christ, Lord" to the Father's glory. South Africa's freedom from its demonic past is a sign of that Father's kingdom. It accrues to his glory. Desmond Tutu's vision has been a big part of that. But Christians don't own our name, our glories, or even our sins. The Dalai Lama doesn't own his spirituality or prayers. Progressives and conservatives don't own their Goodness. I don't even own this lousy blog. And none of us owns our futures. Jesus' blood got him the deed to them all.
If you learn anything from us "Christians," whether we are godly, enthralling Nobel Peace Prize laureates or intolerant, weak, arrogant, hypocritical bloggers, for God's sake learn that.

October 5, 2007

Remember Your Choice, Your Promise

Remember Your Choice, Your Promise
(from Joshua 24, the last chapter in the Book of Joshua)


Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:

...I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.'

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."

Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you."

But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."

Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD."
"Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.

"Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."

And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him."

... After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.

Click, Blog, and Give. (Pwease!)


Aren't they just the cutest? :)

Blogger (yes, which hosts sites ending in "blogspot.com" and powered by Google) has partnered up with DonorsChoose, whose home page features these two aw-shucks-too-cute kids.

For more information on how each and every one of us can help, please do check out this article.

Which reminds me of the Hunger Site, which enables people on the net to feed the hungry by just clicking on their site! No spam, no strings attached. Basically the sponsors count the number of clicks per day to determine how much they'll give. Of course the site encourages visitors to click on the sponsors' links too, to encourage the sponsors to continue their goodwill. :) But all perfectly legal sites, no hassle for the clicker-visitor; i can guarantee that as i've been one for almost ten years (but not regularly enough!) :)



Isn't it amazing that ending world hunger starts with a single click...

As amazing as ending one's own spiritual hunger starts with a single prayer. :)

Be strong and courageous, Teci!!!

The LORD Commands Joshua
(from the Book of Joshua chapter 1)


After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

So Joshua ordered the officers [and the people]...

Then they answered Joshua, "Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!"

October 4, 2007

Jesus Christ and the superstars

Major heads up to Pastor Michael Paderes who first mentioned this article, and to Anson for posting this online :)

Disclaimer: i, teci, am a member of Victory Christian Fellowship, which is described here. i suppose churchmate Anson says it aptly:

"My attention was turned to this article in the Philippine Star about the church I attend. It was interesting really as the writer focus on the number of show biz people that attend my church. While it is a nice article...flattering really...I wish it would be a bit more balance[d]. While the church does attract showbiz people, it also attracts thousands of students, office workers, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, soldiers, housewives, programmers and ordinary people from all sorts of background. Christ came to die for all and not just celebrities."
==============================================================

JESUS CHRIST & SUPERSTARS
HOT FUSS SUNDAE by Paolo Lorenzana
Saturday, September 22 2007 (www.philstar.com)


There’s probably enough dirt here to go around — enough to quash the significance of all those gossip shows, scandal-glorifying blogs, and rumor-fueled conversations that keep the showbiz kiln burning brightly. In such a pristine environment — a church heralding liberation from sin and spiritual sustenance from the imperfections of humanity — was a congregation scattered with the broken, the weary and, interestingly, the famous.

The woman singing from the expansive stage facing a couple hundred people espoused all of the above. Kitchie Nadal, no stranger to the public’s speculation and who’d resonated with the inner pain of female singers she’d once idolized, was now singing a song entitled Grace. This gig demanded no talent fee or attempt at promoting a new EP. She wasn’t even singing for an audience that, despite having its fair share of CD-purchasing youthful-demographic types, was diverse in all respects. No, one of local rock’s most regaled female denizens was singing for God.


Spotlightenment

What has stirred the showbiz community more than Gretchen Barretto’s dalliances, Ruffa Gutierrez’s caustic marital life, or any scandal worthy of Boy Abunda’s two cents, is God. Victory Christian Fellowship, which began in 1984 as a relatively tiny assembly of 150 students in Manila’s U-Belt, has become the leading purveyor of this movement, now evangelizing 24,000 adherents in 11 venues around the metro, including a flagship church located in Bonifacio Global City. Nationally, its church has grown in all regions, and globally, its track record just as impressive — Filipino missionaries setting out as far as Afghanistan to spread Christ’s word. Still, its most visible envoys are its celebrities — sexy ‘80s persona Carmi Martin, a smattering of basketball stars, and MTV alum Donita Rose-Villarama, one of the church’s most stalwart devotees — listening raptly to the preaching on the power of grace after Nadal’s exclusive performance; the “guest list” on this particular Sunday but a fraction of Victory’s stellar army.

With today’s most luminous personalities — namely Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga — having clung to this rampant conversion, subtly dropping their beliefs in interviews and raising the public’s speculation in a country whose culture is permeated with the sins of its stars and is buttressed by its solemn Catholic backbone, skeptics have been driven to taint Victory and the progression of Born-Again Christianity with the sort of celebrity domination that Scientology has harbored in Hollywood.

Yet in the ministry of Victory, there is no alien ruler or iconic member known for jumping on couches that have made it an easy target of ridicule. And though the church itself resembles any modern corporate structure — with elevators, escalators and high-tech audiovisual slideshows projected in an auditorium used for its regular services — its mission, put simply, is the development of a willing visitor’s personal relationship with Christ rather than the hawkish throttling of a new religion. This, as Victory’s senior pastor Joey Bonifacio declares in a service interspersed with comedic repartee and his enrapturing lilt, is “supernatural grace,” or rather, Christ’s call enabling a person to become what He has created him or her to become, no matter how littered with sin one’s past is.


Saved! No, Really...

Siguro the most attractive thing about all of it is that sinners are allowed in,” says Rica Peralejo, a Mary Magdalene of sorts you might be familiar with from movies like Balahibong Pusa and Dos Ekis, a week after Bonifacio’s preaching on grace. “I lived a hardcore life — everything you can think of — downing 11 glasses of Kurant and staying up ‘til 10 a.m., drugs and sleeping around ‘cause I thought that was the way to be somebody. My weakness was that no one protected me.”

She’d been around the Christian type before and initially reacted as many have — “turned off” by its “corniness”: members’ exhilarated sing-and-clap worship at the beginning of a service; the whole business of admitting you were a sinner and being “saved”; and having to make life all about God while denying herself the hedonistic perks that came with the celebrity lifestyle. She remembers the exact date she was “shaken” by God — May 1, 2006 — when, after much resistance, her “weakness” was neutered; Rica finally unshackling herself from her desperation for male adoration and, with discipleship from actress-turned-evangelist Coney Reyes, dedicating her entirety to Him.

Apart from suffering mockery from family and friends, her admission was one that laid her career under a guillotine, paring down her selection of roles as she declined dancing sexily on variety shows and the half-naked laddie mag features — an arduous transition after being known for writhing against a tree in Tatarin rather than baring her soul to the Lord. “People really saw me as stupid. And then a pastor said ‘Don’t worry, nothing can go against the miracle of a changed life’ and I was like, ‘Okay, whatever that means…’ But now, I know it’s real. If you were to come up with your own words, you can’t explain Him. There’s just so much change in me that was impossible.”

As Rica speaks, eyes glazed with childlike wonder, we are sitting at a cafĂ© across the Ateneo de Manila University, where the 26-year-old is a freshman majoring in creative writing; this second life of schooling she considers her “fuel and inspiration” and a decision she counts as one of the many dramatic transformations brought on by her faith. Indeed, that former starlet is buried six feet under but what has sprung forth is a rejuvenated star who admirably balances a demanding education with a morning show and a new teleserye entitled Pangarap na Bituin, a show that illustrates the rocky road showbiz may sometimes lead its stars down.

Boundless doubt to all of this is welcome, of course, and Rica realizes that, especially when the God of Born-Again Christianity seems to have become an all-encompassing manager and publicist in the realm of showbiz, shifting past scandal into salvation and turning sexy stars and drug-dredged lotharios into disciples. Still, Victory will relentlessly continue its fellowship in the hippest way possible, whether to the life-threatened Afghans or star-steeped community, and Rica, like each member of the celebrity stronghold who have sacrificed their careers for the sacrifice of Christ, will continue to keep the faith. “I have my human tendencies but the difference is that I’m well aware of the sinner I am. There’s a spirit in you that tells you that you gotta ask for help. For now, work is such a godly act for me. ‘Cause if you ask me, I don’t want to be in the business. But if I disciple and tell you there’s a God, so what? But He put me somewhere I can serve him best. It’s funny, and you may not believe me, but my job is where I see the hand of God move the most. Every damn day of this business, I see him.”

God as local Tinseltown’s most sincere endorsement may be a bit of a stretch, but maybe all the admission that results decrees a little admiration. It even makes all the dirt we’d sought all along seem irrelevant.