born again

Born Again.

Such a controversial label. Such a controversial term. Yet one that is powerful. One that holds a lot of promise.

Too many people have been persecuted for this label. Too many have been misunderstood. Yet for those who understood it; those who embraced it – there is much freedom.

When I began to understand what being born again means, it dawned on me what predestination is.

While we claim that Christianity and getting saved is a choice we make, I really can’t help but be convinced that it is also a revelation that God makes or gives to each one. I have seen many people – mostly friends and even family – make that decision to accept Jesus. At the height of an emotional setting, perhaps overcame by the music or the feel of the event, or perhaps pressured by the others who respond to the altar call, they also make the decision to accept Christ.

And yet, weeks after, when the spiritual high fades off, they are back to their old habits – forgetting that they committed their lives already to Jesus.

What happened?

Sometimes I wonder if the conversion was real? If the decision to follow Jesus, to commit their lives to him was indeed, in fact, sincere. It’s different from Christians who simply lost fire and zeal. These Christians at least know that they are still saved and are aware that they are missing out on God by being distant.

But the ones I am talking about, they are not even aware that they are missing out on anything. They didn’t even experience the hunger.

I imagine being born again as being revealed something so wonderful you suddenly grew very hungry for it. You want to know more. You yearn for more.

You cannot be satisfied. Your spirit was suddenly awakened and you became so hungry. Hungry for God’s Word. And so you do everything necessary to learn more about the truth.

Sadly, I’ve seen people be born again yet continue to live spiritually dead lives. And I wonder, where they ever born again in the first place?

Encounters with an Agnostic

Is God real?

Is the Bible telling the truth?

Is there a heaven?

Do I really hear God or am I just talking to myself?

This and many other similar questions were forced to surface in my mind again as I had a conversation with an agnostic friend. I have been forced to evaluate my beliefs which I’ve had for years and had never questioned. It felt like 15 years ago all over again when my beliefs were questioned by another agnostic friend. Only that time, I didn’t had the answers and I was forced to seek for them.

This time, I do have the answers. And though they may not satisfy his curious and wandering mind, my faith will nonetheless, never be shaken.

For you see, it is not a question of how I can prove that God exist. It is not a question of how I can be certain that I am not merely crazy for claiming that God can speak to me directly. Whatever intellectual question is thrown at me will no longer faze me.

I am intelligent. And I am wise. And if believing in God makes me look like a fool, then so be it.

For what I have now is an experience, an encounter, that no one can take away. I may not be as deeply rooted in all the intellectual stuff concerning the Bible, if God exists, etc. (despite having finished a year-long Bible course) but I am deeply rooted in my faith simply because I have encountered Him.

It is an encounter that transcends human knowledge – that bewilders human intellect. It is an encounter that is so personal, I know for a fact it is real.

And nothing anyone says can take that away.

SUICIDE – How I Overcome It: My #Y Personal Catharsis Series

The main overriding theme of #Y was suicide. When I asked the director why he made a film about suicide – and if that is really the norm in my generation – he straightforwardly answered YES. Studying in the U-Belt area, he claimed that it was a normal occurrence for a student to simply jump off the building. In fact, the number of students who commit suicide are never really reported for most of these kids belong to well-known families who would rather keep everything private.

Come to think of it, suicide is a tough thing to deal with. From the person attempting to commit it to the people left behind after the act. So many questions. So few answers.

It appears that despite the socially connected world we live in, we still suffer from isolation.

Continue reading “SUICIDE – How I Overcome It: My #Y Personal Catharsis Series”

Heaven Is For Real

Is Heaven Real?

Growing up, I have always known that there is Heaven and there is Hell. We were even taught there is purgatory. As I got wiser, I started to question what I was taught. I started to research for myself the reality of the concepts I was led to believe.

For one thing, I knew there is no purgatory. The Bible doesn’t mention it. And the teachings all point to just two possible after life destinations – Heaven or Hell.

But is Heaven just a concept? Is it merely a state of being after death wherein heave would pertain to peace and Hell would pertain to, well, Hell.

I believe not.

Ever since I became sure I was going to Heaven, naturally, I wanted to know what was there. Don’t get me wrong. I love life and I celebrate the life I live here on Earth. But just the same, I was curious as well as excited to go to Heaven.

And so began my research – reading books mostly – on what Heave is like. Many are based on the Bible with some base on those who had their experience of Heaven.

Continue reading “Heaven Is For Real”

Death Plans

December 22, 2008

Death does seem to be in the air.

After my grand aunt’s birthday yesterday, and her unexpected death early today, it seems another distant grand aunt is on death’s door. Don’t get me too morbid though. I could just see that they have led long lives and they are suffering due to the complications sometimes accompanying old age that it seems death would be a most fitting and inevitable solution. Then again it must just be me being so brave and totally unafraid of death. In fact to me, death is about the sweetest thing that could ever happen to me in this life. Of course I can say all this with utter confidence for I know where I am going. And I am nonchalant about my own death not so much out of excitement to where I am going in the afterlife but so much because I want to escape so many things in this present life.
That’s the truth. The hard core truth.

So anyways I have been thinking about my own death and how I want it. Of course I do not speculate on the time it will come. Die young or old really doesn’t matter much to me so long as I know I’ll die. I cringe at the thought of immortality in an imperfect world – as wonderful as that may sound to others. There has really got to be more than just this life.

So anyways, I thought that my physical body must by all means be sold or donated to medical institutions. That way even in death I have contributed something. Of course assuming I died in excellent condition. Otherwise maybe parts of me could find itself in organ donation banks. The point here is I really do not give much damn about my physical body. In fact I am quite scared of the though of worms eating it. So I would rather it be put to good use in the name of science or otherwise cremated or if the funds does not allow it then burned.
This may very well served as a last will and testament except that I am writing about how I want my death carried out.

I know dying is expensive so as long as I have zero death plans that would cover my death expenses I want it to be as inexpensive as possible. I do not wish to lie in a casket and be viewed upon by people. I do not want their last memory of me to be some girl lying still in a coffin looking all white and ashen. I want them to remember me alive. Which is why I prefer not dying ill. So I want my wakes if I can call them that to be like a gallery show. Pictures of me, my journals, my mementos etc. displayed in walls and stands for everyone to see. I want the atmosphere to be like that in a gallery. Hushed yet comfortable. Not grieving. I want people to rejoice over the fact that I have moved on to a much better place and maybe get them thinking to following me there soon.

I want my death to be a relieving of memories – good and bad, and as I know it will turn out to be a reunion of sorts then make it a fun reunion. The point is: I do not want anybody to see me dead. Except maybe the anonymous medical students who would tinker away with my body.

Then being the business person that I am I got to thinking maybe I could profit from this idea. You know, maybe I could offer contemporary thinking people – those not bound by so many religious traditions, to actually buy my idea. Of course it will be up to them if they really want their caskets viewed but the main idea I will be selling is the though of having a gallery of sorts about you displayed on your wakes.

Mine really doesn’t have to be an overnight wake. It can have opening times like galleries. And I can even do the catering for the guests. So as to spare the dead person’s family of the grief of thinking about what food to prepare etc. hmm.. is this not a grand idea? I don’t know how sellable it would be though as death is a touchy subject for a lot of people.

But picture death this way. A person dies and his or her body is either embalmed into a coffin to be buried in a cemetery or cremated. Another option is donation to a medical institution. That part is not for me to decided upon. The part where my business comes in is the wake – so called wake that is.

The room is arranged as to a gallery – photos and mementos of the deceased are gathered and arranged ala art gallery style. Comfortable chairs such as sofas and high stools are strung about the room to accommodate guests yet mostly people are encouraged to wander around and look at the displays of the deceased person colorful life. They may see his travel photos, his growing up photos, the music he likes, his interests, his hidden talents and hobbies etc. The whole experience will be like relieving the dead person’s memory. Most people have set of friends who know only an aspect of their whole persona. This will be the chance where officemates get to know the deceased as more than just the stiff boss and see that he was also a piano player. You get the picture. I believe this would spur up more anecdotes, a couple of tears perhaps but happy memories as well.

I think it is a most fitting tribute to the deceased to be seen this way.

I can just picture my funeral parlor. A big building with a grand lobby leading to several rooms. And the entrance to those rooms would have huge portraits of the deceased face. And inside would be the “gallery”. And then it is the deceased choice to either have a coffin there where his dead body could be viewed or none at all (in case he doesn’t want to be remembered as dead as well).

I do not really know if this mars some religious belief but if a person is contemporary enough like me perhaps I think this would be well appreciated. Of course a person has to be alive and well to decide on having wakes such as this. And in order to make such decision one has to be comfortable in accepting his death however unexpected it may arrive.

And of course my contracts would have to be premediated. Most of the time. I have to be sure that this is the dying person’s wish and that it is clear with the family. I will never dream of fighting off a whole clan of grieving relatives over a dead man’s final wish. Full information of the family has to be condition. Meaning they understood the rationale behind such a wake and they know how much it would cost. Also the pictures and mementos must be available right after the death – again however untimely it may come. Afterall for me no death is untimely. All deaths are not accidents however accidental they may look. So everyone has to be prepared to die sooner or later.

Do you think this idea might actually work? Again the talk of death is a morbid topic. I know. But if you are comfortable with it then I think more than looking at it as the termination of a life, then maybe you can reformat your thinking into looking at death as the oppurtunity of a lifetime – pun intended. It is the chance to explore what no one for certain knows. What is out there. What is heaven really like? If you believe in heaven and are sure of going there. What is hell like? If you believe in it and think you are going there. Is reincarnation really possible. Is death just a dead end.

Well whatever you believe. As for me, this whole confidence in discussing my death wishes stems from the fact that I for sure know I am going to heaven and I have such high hopes about it. Where does this faith sprung forth? From knowing with absolute certainty that I am saved and I have a mansion prepared for me in heaven because I have accepted Jesus in my heart. I may not be a model Christian but I am sure of my salvation. The thought gives me comfort. The absoluteness and certainty of it gives me security.

How about you? What do you believe in? And are you ready to discuss your death plans with me?

No one knows the time or place

They say that in life we cannot be certain of anything. Even if we have our whole future or maybe just our day planned out, we still have to account for variable changes – things we cannot really foresee will happen. It can be as mundane as the sudden change in the weather – the sunny day becoming cloudy and oftentimes rainy (a common scene in a tropical country riddled with global warming) or it may be an unexpected job promotion or a pop quiz in class. Life is indeed full of uncertainties.

But one thing in life we can be certain of – and that is death. It may be a morbid topic for some, for some it may be taboo. No one alive really likes speaking about death, much less discussing it. It oftentimes bring many gloomy thoughts and some believe it disrespectful to be speaking of death amongst robustly alive individuals and all the more around ill ones.

The latest events in the lives of my friends – all from different social networks – has led me to consider that death is indeed an inevitable event in a person’s life. And as such one that merits much preparation. If we prepare for things which are uncertain – we study so hard in college but we are really uncertain if we can pass our dream medical or law school or maybe land our dream job – then all the more should we prepare for things which are certain in life – and as such our death.

I have seen friends who encountered sudden deaths in their families and they are suddenly at a lost on how to handle the death of their loved one. And I mean not just emotionally (although this is hard enough) but also financially and logistically (which I believe if one is not prepared is actually harder). Imagine the stress of having to decide on the coffin, on the wake services, on the burial manner – these are decisions hard to make if one is caught unprepared.

But more than the questions of how we would want our departed bodies treated on earth once we die, the more pressing question would probably be how we want our souls treated when we die. Now some may argue that there is no afterlife – that we vanish into thin air once our bodies cease breathing – but I beg to disagree. I believe in an afterlife – something far more glorious than this ruined habitat we call earth. So bear with me.

Now if we assume there is indeed an afterlife, how have we prepared our souls for it? Some would say, Oh I’ve been a really really good person here on earth – giving alms to the poor, not littering on the streets, saying kind words to people. I am good and I believe I deserve heaven. Or maybe some of us would say, Well I tried my best to live a good life here on earth, it’s up to God to decide where I’ll be. And even some of us would say, So what if I go to hell?

Can you see the various levels of uncertainties we have of our afterlife? So we are certain we would die – how we would die, we do not know. But we are uncertain what would happen afterwards.

I say that apart from the certainty of death, we can most be certain of what our afterlife would look like. That for me is one of the surest things we can have here on earth.

The afterlife is only two things: Heaven and Hell. They are real and certain places, very much opposite in character. Where in heaven there is eternal joy and prosperous living in the company of other people, in hell there is eternal torture and suffering – alone. Yes, in hell suffering is not in the company of other people but alone. So who would still want to go to hell?

Of course everyone would want to go to the place of bliss and joy. But how do you go there? It is easy to go to hell – live a sinful life and you are bound for eternal damnation. But heaven is a different thing. No amount of godly living will get you there. Contrary to popular opinion being good doesn’t merit a ticket to heaven. In fact no amount of good works will make the gates of heaven open wide for us.

So where does that place us? If we can’t get into heaven where do we go? There are only two destinations – it’s either one or the other. No gray areas.

The good thing about all this discussion of death and the afterlife is that there is a sure way for us to go to heaven. I am sure we all dream of heaven – I mean who dreams of going to hell? Or if we haven’t think about it, maybe we should start doing so, given all the deaths happening around us – open your eyes and look around and you’ll see dying people everywhere.

So what then is the ticket? *drum roll please*

Jesus and what he did on the cross.

Just that. Plain and simple. Believe in that single event two thousand years ago. Know it’s implication in our life. Accept his sacrifice. Pursue a personal relationship with a Personal Savior.

And you can be certain that your afterlife is well taken care of. All that’s left now is the logistics of your burial. *wink*