2. When I say I am a Christian
3. A Good Question
4. Searching for Love..
5. High School
6. Gain the World
8. Why did Jesus Have to die?
9. Most Deceitful of All
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”- 1 John 4: 9-10
“And this is my prayer for you: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”- Philippians 1:9-11
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him“
- Psalm 34:8
When I say I am a Christian – Carol Wimmer
When I say I am a Christian
I am not shouting “I’m clean living”
“I was lost Now I’m found and forgiven”
When I say I am a Christian
I don’t speak of this with pride
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide
When I say I am a Christian
I am not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and need His strength to carry on
When I say I am a Christian
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess
When I say I am a Christian
I am not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it
When I say I am a Christian
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my shares of heartaches
So I call upon His name
When I say I am a Christian
I‘m not holier than thou
I’m just a simple sinner
Who received God’s good grace, somehow.
A Good Question
“Have you ever come to a place in your life where if you were to die today and suppose you ended up in Heaven and God were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?”- What would you say? That’s a good question isn’t it? –Growing up in a Christian school since grade 6, one of the requirements was to be able to memorize quotes and many other Bible verses. I had become used to the Christian environment and being “a Christian” meant only meaningless routine never really digging deeper.
Searching For Love. .
Entering into junior high, I found love, or so I had thought. One day, the prettiest girl in my grade told me that she “liked” me, not just “liked” but “like liked”-kind of “liked” me! – That was seriously the biggest news I ever heard at that point in my life! I treasured this person. I had never been in a relationship before and did not really have a grasp of what a healthy, functional relationship should look like. But I tried to give the best that I could give of myself. Almost everything in my life revolved around this relationship. Just before mid-terms, the relationship ended. Words escaped me that day. They say that, ‘if you really want something, you have to be willing to fight for it’, and there are times when I reflect and asked myself if it was something that I had failed to do in that relationship for it to end. At some point I concluded that I had only myself to blame. Going into mid-terms I lost all motivation to study or even try. When report cards came back my dad noticed that my grades were dropping and he tried to confront me about it to see if there was anything going on at school and why had there been such a big decrease. But I made a promise to keep it to myself, thinking that I can only blame myself and be responsible for what was happening in my life. I tried to suppress what happened and that lead to depression.
Second year of junior high a number of my closest friends found their ”loves”. Often I would share in their happy times but also in their times of heart break over and over again. One day during Christmas break, one of my closest guy friends and a girlfriend I had known since kindergarten ended their relationship again. As I was on the phone with him that night and he asked me a question that placed a heavy weight on me, crying he asked, “What did I do to deserve this, Ryan?” – I didn’t know what to say but in my heart I had also wanted to ask the question “What did I do to deserve this experience of a failed relationship? To lose someone I had loved and trusted myself with, and then no more? Who did I have to even cry out to?” – But I remained silent and instead tried to comfort him. To this day I don’t know how much help or encouragement I may have been to him in his time of hardship. But I can only pray and hope that he would one day be made right in his relationship with God.
Months passed, and each day was just another day that I had to “get through” with this gnawing pain of depression lodging in my heart.
Entering into first year of high school, I thought that I have been healing from this pain but I soon found the girl I had loved in junior high was already in a relationship with another person. Looking back, I was the one holding onto the past and have not yet “moved on” because I was still hurting. But how does one just “move on” without any way of processing the hurt? Not having turned to anyone or anything for help? I dare not say that my kind of hurt is comparable to some of the physical, emotional, and mental hurt that many may have experienced in their lives but I do know that the hurt was real, and without any real Hope, there is no real Help. To add to my hurt, I saw the person I had loved showing physical affection to another person nearly every day and being in the same school, it was near impossible to avoid the person. So I began to look for things that would keep my mind off of the pain and bitterness, anything to “get the job done.” I developed an unhealthy habit for pornography and masturbation whenever I felt needed, but I felt ashamed afterwards and would mentally blame and excuse myself because of my hurt. Not knowing what I was engaging in was actually not at all helpful to my being, but rather I was participating and agreeing to the violent acts of hatred, degradation, disrespect, and objectification towards females. Not to mention that none of them were my wife, this unhealthy habit made me concerned about pleasing myself whenever I wanted and really, it showed how irresponsible and self-centered I was. Surely life is more than just self-gratification. Apparently I had forgotten that the females I had lusted after are also created in God’s image, in need of hearing about Jesus and the new life that He offers. But in my childish arrogance and pride I would turn to it whenever I felt. Later on in life I also learn that my wounds do not and should not justify my (selfish) behaviour. As I continued to look for things to keep my mind off of my depression, I found singing. And so I joined the school’s worship team where I sang praises to God but through the pain in my heart I had cursed God already. I also found badminton as a way to keep my mind off of the hurt, and in order to avoid seeing what I did not wish to see, whenever the gym was open I literally went and played badminton every day for the whole lunch period for that year. I would often skip eating my lunch and just played my hardest. I had never made it onto the badminton team before nor was I the best, but that first year of high school I got in. However that did not satisfy me, or heal me from depression.
At the end of second year of high school, I had an opportunity to enter into a new relationship knowing I was not in any condition to be in one, but partly desiring two things:
- To experience “love”, being “loved”, for the sake of being in a relationship.
- I had a dark desire to get revenge on girls because I was hurt by one. I wanted to be justified of my hurt.
So I allowed myself to enter into the relationship with these two desires and the relationship escalated quickly. I had set in my heart and my mind, boundaries of “how far I would go” in a relationship, one of the things I was set on was, no sex until after marriage. That became the standard for me and I thought as long as I do not have sex in any relationship, anything else is fine. However, in that relationship I allowed myself to engage in things that are reserved for the married couple. Over time as I reflect, I came to question myself:
- If I had entered into this relationship with two desires, had I achieved them?
- If I have, did I really honestly find a sense of meaning and satisfaction in them?
My answer was a strong no. Namely, this relationship was not genuine, I acted out of lust and not love furthermore, I had not treated this person as a person but more of an object to be used. She did not deserve to be treated this way. As much as I wanted revenge, I saw that ultimately I wouldnot be justified, especially not in front of a Holy, Righteous, Pure and Perfect God who says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I knew in my mind I had offended God.
Gain the World
I knew I had to end the relationship. I could not continue living life being in a relationship that is rooted in lust and hatred. So I planned for the day and apologized for everything. Feeling ashamed I began to isolate myself from others and turned back to the things that had brought me temporary relief in the past. These things defined me and consumed all of me, everything seemed meaningless. These things were only temporary. Surely, I was made for something more, and life cannot be for nothing, the hurt I was facing could not be for no reason. I thought if I had a relationship and did the all the things I wanted, I would be satisfied and that would bring meaning to me but what good is it if a man gains the whole world yet forfeits his own soul?
Continuing in high school, I became very prideful of my accomplishments and talents, by the end of my final year in high school I was already MVP of the school badminton team three years in a row, as well as being involved in many of the school’s music programs and events. I thought I finally had everything I needed, I thought I was self-sufficient. I entered into another relationship that was once again for the wrong –selfish, manipulative reasons. I would have liked to think that I had learned my lesson the first time but to make things worse, entering into this relationship I knew it would end because it was grounded on the wrong reasons. I was immature. I had a distorted view of relationships, thinking that a human person could fulfill my longings and desires emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. This distorted view creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that I will never find the right person who will fulfill every longing. Pascal was right when he said,
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
How could I be in any relationship where I am to give love, and act appropriately when I myself do not even have love in me to give to another person? After all, the Bible says, “let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The way I was living proved that I did not really know God. God was not the source of where I drew love from, but I was trying to draw love out of myself which is empty and self-defeating. My claiming to be “Christian” was tainting and the Name of God and did not reflect the life that God calls Christians to live. Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”- this meant to deny one’s desires, hopes, goals, and life to follow Jesus and in the way that He lived. Jesus actually gave up His life and died in the place of sinners. On the third day He came back from the grave proving that those who would believe in Him and completely depend on Him alone, are forgiven and made in a right relationship with God forever.
Why did Jesus Have to die?
“IF God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son (Jesus) to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice. His law demanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God.
Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is inﬁnitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness. Since God is just, he does not sweep these crimes under the rug of the universe. He feels a holy wrath against them. They deserve to be punished, and he has made this clear: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). There is a holy curse hanging over all sin. Not to punish would be unjust. The demeaning of God would be upheld. A lie would reign at the core of reality. Therefore, God says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26).
But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore he sends his own Son to absorb his wrath and bear the curse for all who trust him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). This is the meaning of the word “propitiation”. It refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn. Let us not triﬂe with God or trivialize his love. We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath against us. But when, by grace, we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the [wrath-absorbing] propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). ”
Most Deceitful Of All
Looking back, I could draw out so many things of me that were not patient, that did not display genuine kindness toward others, that was full of envy and completely boastful, totally self-seeking, rude, keeping record of every wrong, and resentful of the truth (that my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Thinking I was rich in my accomplishments and justified by my actions, I said to myself, “I am rich, I will do whatever I want, I am not dependant on anyone and lack nothing!” But I failed to see that in front of God, my sin is always before me even the good deeds that I do are considered like filthy rags and in reality I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked) and in turn I need God in my life. I cannot rely on my heart, or my own strength. I desperately need Jesus.
A year after graduating high school I found myself in a new environment where no one really knows who I am or the kind of life I was living. I found two options:
- Continue living life the way I had been, finding my identity and worth in the same, momentary things, accomplishments, and relationships again and again, knowing that in the end they would not be able to satisfy the longings and desires of my heart.
- To live the life that I had only claimed to be a part of (Christian), but being helplessly dependant relying on Jesus and not myself.
This time, for some reason I found the second option to be more logical. God is the one who created me so therefore He would know what is best, not my heart. The first option was what Albert Einstein called insanity “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, I was constantly going after empty wells and but becoming even more thirsty while expecting to be satisfied with joy and meaning.
Looking back, there have been many times where it seemed God had left me and He would have been proven just in doing so, but He didn’t leave, especially at times when I needed most by placing specific people in my life and allowing circumstances to take place that remind me of His being there for me even in my mess, His love and forgiveness. I am thankful for the hurt that I’ve experienced because through Jesus’s death and raising to life again on the third day, I can know that I am forgiven by God, made right with God. Because through Jesus, God sees me as spotless. By His blood my sins are washed away. Amazing Grace. And so on the day that I die and find myself before God and if God were to say to me “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” – I can say, “ I cannot do anything by my own strength, by my own will, and I certainly do not deserve any reward but because I know Jesus personally, and identify myself with Him even in His death, I am totally helpless without Him. I trust in Him who loved me and gave himself up for me.” It’s not always easy, but because I am forgiven I have reason to draw from that forgiveness to forgive others and say to those who may have hurt me in the past, “you intended to harm me, but God meant it for good.” Indeed God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and pleasure.
Thank you for reading, I really hope that this would make you perhaps start thinking more about God and your own relationship with Him. And seriously consider for yourself honestly, who Jesus is and what He has done for you. My hope is that you may come to the conclusion that we all need Jesus desperately in our lives not just as the only one who is able to save sinners but also as the only one who offers new life and a correct relationship with God to treasure Jesus as the ultimate supreme prize in your life. I close with Lewis:
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
“I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
- CS Lewis