Love Defined from the Source

woman sitting while showing heart sign hands
Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Depending on the source, the idea or definition of love can vary. From childhood, to being a teenager and into adulthood. From inside our home to outside of it, the depth of what love is can be so broad leaving one forever seeking out the true definition.

As a child growing up in America, I was exposed to many Disney movies and for those familiar with it, most of those movies were about a princess and a prince who met, had “love at first sight,” then got married and lived happily ever after. All those stories plant a seed in us to carry on in life believing there’s that love at first sight and happily ever after, neglecting the dynamics of two people that come from different backgrounds coming together and trying to become one.

It is usually a walk-in-the-park at the beginning, smooth sailing on the intense curiosity of the other person, but after most of the mystery is gone, things begin to change, reality sets in and you begin to look at your life rather than the other person. Maybe some personal issues start to come up, then the past, then you begin to see the bigger impact that the environment that you grew up in has on your view of what love is.

Maybe that environment was full of anger, bitterness, sweeping things under the table or never coming to resolutions, but silent treatments, temporary or permanent separations or maybe love in the household had conditions attached to it. Then, stepping outside of the house, the source for defining love may have been through movies watched or music listened to with friends or in the car. If it’s not happily ever after with Disney, maybe it’s defined through the explicit lyrics of a song making some believe that love has something to do with, on clean terms, sleeping.

Sometimes lines are drawn when it comes to loving someone, which is usually followed by, “I will or won’t love you if…” told by a significant other or by a parent. I can still remember getting off of the plane with my sister and my Mom telling us that she didn’t love us because we were misbehaving on the plane and not listening to her. There were other times that my parents would make us feel unloved because we did or didn’t do what they wished so I grew up believing that love was conditional. With all the movies and music around me, my definition of love was all the more tainted.

It wasn’t until Jesus came into my life, that I finally found the meaning of love. As I read His word, the Bible and spent time with the Lord in prayer, the meaning of love became clear. His love is unconditional, pure and so powerful. He is merciful and gracious. Nothing we do can ever separate us from His love.

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?…..35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:32,35, 38-39

He is the definition of love and the expression of it was when Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sins. He gave himself fully to us, nothing held back. Although we may not see the value in ourselves, God sees otherwise. Who better to know us than the Creator who created us for love. He is the pure definition of love.

He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8

The act of love is defined in 1 Corinthians. In most versions, the word, “love” is used, but the old King James version uses the word, “charity”. It is a good source to compare our own acts of love and where our heart stands.

Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails: ….. 13 And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13

Without knowing what love is, who love is or how to love, how do we love others? It starts with finding love. With all the laws, Jesus says that the greatest commandment can fill all. When you love God, He will begin to fill you with His love, then you will be able to love others. His greatest commandment is this:

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

We are all valuable in Christ as He deemed us worthy to die for all of us. All of us, including what the world thinks is the worst. This is love, that He gave His all. If God is love, then the more you get to know Him, the more you know love. The next time you find yourself feeling unloved, look up at the sky and know that God is there and that you are loved by Him. If you want to know Him, just ask Jesus to show up. Believe and receive.

The King Within

Transformation of Jesus painting by Vange
Transformation by Vange L.

If you’ve ever watched the movie, The Gladiator, that is one of my favorite movies. What I like about it, is how it focuses on a character by the name of Maximus who went from a commander of an army to a slave; yet although he became a slave, he still had the same ability to lead a team in a fight to victory. He did not loose his identity because he was no longer a commander. He was still the same man that a dying emperor had chosen to take his place. Although Maximus was not a prince nor in the blood line of one, the man on the inside had what was needed to rule a nation and being a slave did not take away what was already embedded inside of him.

Watching the movie jogged my memory back to a story told by my pastor at church. Occasionally churches do outreaches, where they distribute many items to those in need, within or outside of the country. It takes money, volunteers, preparation and time. Sometimes people choose to volunteer their time, others donate money or personal items. The need was announced at the beginning, then at the end of service, a man who wanted to financially help out requested to meet with the pastor. When the pastor first saw the man he noticed his rundown looking clothing and his scruffy facial hair. He could have passed for a homeless man so when he told the Pastor about the amount of money he wanted to donate, it was an absolute shock. The homeless looking man wasn’t just rich, but he was a King from another country.

Before Jesus came into the world, He sat on a throne as king, but He chose to come into the world as a peasant. He did not come dressed as a king with gold and expensive clothing or with a palace. Some came to the realization of Jesus as King by being around Him. Some experienced His miracles and others, His love and grace. He came for everyone: the rich, the poor, the lame, the sinners, even the ones that the world would consider scum. He hung out with a few people that society abhorred, like a tax collector or a woman who once sold herself for money. He touched and healed lepers or what society considered, the unclean. He did not live extravagantly, although He could have by turning water into wine, healing the sick or by being all knowing. He did not need riches to accomplish His purpose, nor clothing to get people to realize that He is the Son of God. People saw that He is Lord, when they looked at His heart. He took the cross as a criminal would and along with it, the sins of the world: the hatred, anger, pain, bitterness and everything else that needed to be washed away in order for us to be clean and right before God. The sin that would have killed us, He took it upon Himself on the cross. With that powerful love comes surrender and worship.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Understanding the Bible

Many years back, in middle school, I was handed a tiny New Testament book, which is the other half of the Bible, beginning with Jesus coming into the world and God’s message that spread like fire after the death of Jesus. Although, I must add, the other half of the Bible, the Old Testament, written before Christ was born into the world, foreshadows His birth and purpose.

I kept the New Testament in my room, not intending to read it. We had a Bible at home, which was gigantic and heavy. It seemed to just serve the purpose of decoration for the coffee table. No one ever read it, just opened it to look through, the rest of the time, it collected dust.

There was a time when I opened up the tiny New Testament sitting on top of my radio. It was a hard time for me, one of those emotionally heart aching times when It felt like things were never going to improve. It was a King James Version, the hardest version to read with the old English. After trying to understand the few versus I read, I got frustrated and just threw it, and questioned, “Why God?”

My recollection of Bible reading was just watching both of my Grandmas read it. I always thought it was something to read when one gets closer to potentially passing away. I didn’t hear a testimony from either of them about what it does for them and just assumed it was preparation for them before leaving this earth.

Many years I spent without knowing the treasure it contained, that it is like a guide for life. It has been said that the BIBLE stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and that it is. It reveals who God is and answers life’s questions. Although it’s been written decades ago, the words still apply to life today.

The Bible holds the message of faith hope and love, which remains. There are many theories and philosophies about life, but the Bible holds the truth. When something it true, it can never be denied. Of all books, the Bible is the only one that actually reads the reader. It goes hand and hand with a relationship with God. I’ve heard many say that they’ve read the Bible so many times and they cannot understand it. It’s not just any book. It doesn’t matter how intelligent someone might be, the message speaks to the soul, not so much the mind.

When I first started reading it, I had others interpret it for me, but I questioned their perspective of the message behind the words. I question what sounded contradictory. I question Jonah being eaten by a fish and the donkey speaking to a man. There are many stories in the Bible of the miracles of God, but from a world that looks at a dependency on God as a weakness, pride and self-righteousness can be a blindfold to the truth.

It wasn’t until I restarted my prayer life and kept seeking God and His truth and who He is, that the Bible, the Word of God started to seek me. The situations in my life, the confusion or trouble I was facing would be eased as I opened up to the perfect verse in the Bible. When the eyes of my soul started to open up and I started to realize that God is actually speaking me through His word, it started to make sense. Over an over again, consecutively, I would open up to the few words I needed to read at that exact moment. I could no longer deny His existence. I could no longer deny that God didn’t know me by name.

It took me walking out of a totaled car, after God was telling me about it two weeks before it happened and even that morning, that I finally realized who He is. That He loves me. God loves the world as said in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” A year later I fully surrendered my life to Him and was baptized. That day I opened up the Bible and for the first time, I could clearly understand the scriptures. Although some passages can be straightforward, there are many that can only be comprehended by the spirit and not the mind.

I pray that anyone questioning the meaning behind the scriptures will start on the path to finding the truth, to seeking out who God is and eventually come to the point of realizing that God is love and He knows your name. I would suggest finding a Bible study to join. I pray it would have a good leader strong in interpretation of the Word. The book of John is usually a good starting point, then there’s the book of Romans and Psalms. There are churches out there with small groups/Bible study groups to sign up for through their church website. May this is a a starting point for many to start walking in the truth and the light of God.

From Spiritual Darkness to the Light

For a few weeks, the lights have been nearly out in my closet. Finally, I went out to get new bulbs and after starring and contemplating on which LED lights to get, I went with the soft white, 1800 lumens. While standing in line some random guy walked up and asked me to purchase something hygiene related that he couldn’t afford to buy. He was asking around for almost a hour and everyone said no. He claimed that he was homeless and just recently got a job, but not paid yet.

Before this, I’ve had thoughts about helping someone out at the cash register short on cash so the fact that something similar happened in reality, I decided to accept the opportunity.

While waiting in line, we started chatting. It started with his necklace, which looked like silver formed as an upside down cross and a pentagram at the front center. I kind of knew what it meant, but wasn’t completely sure so I asked him about it. He told me he’s into some occultism, basically he’s a satanist. I told him I’m a Christian and that even if he’s a satanist, Jesus still loves him.

There’s always a reason for someone to get into stuff like that so I asked him what made him start getting into that? He said it was the dark times in his life. Then he told me about how his Mother died of cancer, which was what happened to my Mom as well. When my Mom died I started watching dark videos like ghosts caught on video or some poltergeists stuff. Eventually the Lord spoke to my heart about it and helped me to see what it was doing to me so I had to stop. I could’ve easily gone down a dark path as loosing my Mom was the most devastating event in my life. There were times where I felt my heart stop beating as I was extremely stressed by emotionally distraught. But I’m thankful for the Lord being my backbone and holding me back from falling and loosing my mind. If I didn’t have faith in God, I may have even gone down the same or similar path.

It was interesting how I was buying light bulbs to light up a dark closest as Jesus is the light of the world. “John 8:12 in the Bible says, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” What perfect significance for that moment.

It sounded like after life hit this guy hard, he got off track and walked into darkness. I hope and pray that this will mark a turning point for him as he is mislead. He even was convinced that Lucifer loves him, but I told him that’s not true. Lucifer wants to ruin every human beings life, bring to ruins and end in hell. God is love and Jesus taking the cross is the expression of God’s love for us. He would give his own life for us like taking a bullet along the path to our heart.

I believe that the moment was of no coincidence, it was God’s perfect orchestrating of time, for while he is walking in darkness unable to see the way, he needs to know that even in the darkness hour, God is there reaching out to him. I hope that he will realize and remember that God is still there thinking about him, no matter what his past or present is. God’s love for whom the world may consider unworthy, is unfathomable, but that’s who God is, His love is unconditional. My prayers go out to him. May he find his way to the light.

Emotionally Vulnerable In the Right Hands

Some may believe that life is about accumulating saying, “whoever dies with the most toys wins,” yet the Bible says otherwise, it’s the bold truth that never leaves your face. You can run and hide from the truth, but it always seems to catch up and find you.

The truth of the matter is that life is more than collecting tangible items, as God’s greatest commandment is in Matthew 22:36-39 KJV, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

For some, emotions are like a volcano waiting to explode, yet others, like the ice sitting in Antartica, frozen for millions of years slowly melting away. Being vulnerable can be scary sometimes as it can bring about two extreme opposite results. If you can’t handle the worst result, you may hold yourself back to receiving the best. But my oh my, it’s a sad thing when our emotions get attached to the wrong people or things as they are here today and gone tomorrow…or maybe just eventually. Even if someone stays in your life for so long, no one lives forever. So why attach ourselves? We are bound to love our neighbor, basically, be in communion with other beings.

However, there can be seasons where people have failed us, for some that season never ends, and so we’ve placed our faith to bring about happiness in our lives through things or other non-human beings. Although pets bring much joy, entertainment and companionship, human interaction is still a part of the livelihood of our soul.

For many without pets, money or other tangible items become the reliance for joy, like that new car, new watch or purse, but we all know, that high doesn’t last for too long. We know material items can never love us back.

Then there’s money, probably the number one on most of everyone’s list. It can be the fuel to fulfilling the emptiness inside of us with material items and if that’s not enough, mind or mood altering substances.

After toiling trying to fill that empty hole inside that seems to grow larger, we repeat the same actions, only to realize for the hundredth time that it still leaves us all the more empty.

So why keep doing it? For the many things or people we can loose, we can never loose God and He will never leave us. Which is why, above all things we can subject our own vulnerable emotions in the hands of God and who better than the one that lives forever, the incorruptible, the one who will never leave us or forsake us who’s love for us is always unconditional. He never changes.

So the next time you think you can’t live without someone or something, ask yourself, is your heart in God’s hands? That is where it will be protected. Scared of your emotions? Let God have all of it and give a small portion of it to whom the Lord chooses.

The Bondage of Unforgiveness

It’s hard to face pain. It’s hard to forgive someone who hurt, corrupted, manipulated, stole…etc. from you. How rotten that person is to do such a thing! Or if it’s not a person, sometimes it’s anger toward God for allowing it to happen. Whatever the case, as much as we feel some person doesn’t deserve it, we must let go and forgive. We may not forget or let that person in our lives again, but we need to forgive. Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Bitterness or un-forgiveness is like plaque in our heart. In a similar way, bitterness is like the plaque, not so much clogging up our arteries, but when it sits in our heart and keeps storing up, it blocks up all the love inside of us. We become angry inside for so long that we begin to loose remembrance of why. Instead of thinking about how someone doesn’t deserve your forgiveness think about someone who needs to forgive you. If you want to be forgiven by that person and or by God, then you should also forgive others, even if that person does not deserve it, but do it for freedom in your heart.

If it’s too hard to forgive, pray for a miracle, that God will give you to ability to forgive that person/s. Sometimes in doing so, He will help you understand that person & things will change. I pray that anyone who’s been harboring un-forgiveness will find the strength in God to release it and be set free.

Testimony to Love and not Dictate

For as long as I can remember I always felt in my heart that God exists, but my thoughts of who He is changed throughout the years. My first experience of God’s answered prayers was when I was five years old. We were locked out of our house and as my Dad went to try to find the way of getting the spare key, it started to rain. As we were all standing underneath the eave outside in the rain, I felt a push to pray for it to stop raining so I looked up to the sky and I asked God to make it stop raining. Shortly after, it did. That could’ve been a coincidence, but interestingly, I can never forget about that moment.

My parents were Catholic and forced my siblings and I to go to church. I felt like it was a waste of my time, as I could be at home watching my favorite cartoon TV show, the Simpsons. Eventually I was forced to go to Saturday school at church for classes that would lead to being “confirmed.” I went religiously, but instead of learning, I slept in class. I never got confirmed. Actually, I stopped going. Somehow I convinced my parents to stop bringing me.

Even if I stoped and my “confirmation” didn’t happen, I still reached out to God, but not with repeated prayers or what I read from a book. It was a normal conversation. It didn’t make sense to pray in repetition it’s like talking to someone repetitively…that’s annoying, that’s not a real conversation. I kept on having conversations with the Lord for years until my freshman year in college when I started an anthropology class. I didn’t realize that my faith was dwindling and I wasn’t praying much. That same semester I met a girl named, Yanni who asked me if I know what the meaning of life was. She invited me to church and from there, I met other women and studied the Bible with them. I was so surprised at the words in the Bible. I’ve always read the King James Versions and never understood the old English, but studying with others helped make the meaning behind the words clear to me & started to gain an understanding of it.

They seemed to emphasize sin and confession and to me it seemed like I needed to submit my life to Him because I was too weak to stop myself from sinning. I started to hide myself from theses women as I felt they were pushing bible studies on me without even asking if I wanted to or not. So I ran away from them and as I continued to read the Bible, I kept seeing contradictions. I made an attempt to not turn my life over to God but looking for words that I can use to justify not following Him. Living for God in my perspective was about living a tight path with dos and don’t rules. I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to stick to the idea that I have full control over my life, but not too long after, I realized that I don’t.

I went to University in the South Bay, but lived in the mid-Bay Area. My commute to school took about 30 minutes. For two weeks I felt that I was going to get into an accident. Every time I felt that I would pray for God to protect me. Then one morning I woke up to take a placement test at school. As I was getting ready to go, I felt a push to dress with sturdy clothes so I wore my denim jeans, a hooded sweater and most importantly, my boots with a thick sole.

As I merged into the freeway, there we’re a few cars closely surrounding me. As I turned the wheel back and forth, my car spun around with each turn. It wasn’t raining but somehow, I seemed to have lost control of my car no matter how I turned the wheel. There I was, thinking I had full control over my life. When I realized that I didn’t have any control over my car, I reached out to God, surrendered control to Him and put the protection of my life into His hands. I saw my car going straight to the tail end of a van and letting go, I prayed, “God, please protect me,” then shut my eyes.

I don’t remember feeling much after that except my car tumbling around and a heavenly embrace. All sounds disappeared around me except for the sound of chimes. When my car stopped tumbling , it landed upside down and when it stopped moving, the sounds around me came back, the traffic and everything else. I opened my eyes to shattered glass everywhere and hanging from my seatbelt upside down. I moved my legs to step on all the shattered glass on floor of the freeway. With sturdy boots, my feet were heavily protected. As soon as my feet touched the ground, I was able to release the seat belt I was hanging from.

Shortly after I got out of the car, there were people that came asking if I was ok. A man put a blanket over me to help with the shock. Eventually the paramedics came and the people that were there to help me disappeared. I don’t even remember them leaving, but as soon as the paramedics arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. I still wonder from this day if some or all where angels.

I remember being in the back of the paramedic van. There was one man in there, telling me how my condition was a miracle, that car accidents similar to the one I’ve just been in, usually result in death or in critical condition, usually an eyeball or brain left behind on the freeway.

When I got to the hospital, they tested my urine for internal bleeding. The results showed that I was completely fine. The only marks I had were tiny red dots on my hand from the broken glass and small bruises on my knee that hit the steering wheel. The doctor said it was a miracle, as did many other people involved. My car was totaled. The van that my car hit flipped to the side. The couple inside was perfectly fine. Thank God!

This was a turning point in my life. While I was on the freeway being interviewed by highway patrol, that was my first proclamation that I was going to follow Christ from now on. That moment helped me to realize that God does not want me to surrender to Him so I can live a life of do and do not, but the truth that was made clear was that He loves me and that I don’t know what’s best for me. My surrender meant God taking my hand at times I’ve gotten off the wrong path and leading me back to the path leading to life, joy, peace and love. Who am I to doubt the one that created me. He knows me more than I know myself.

Several months later, I gave my life to God through baptism & I’ve never been the same. After I got baptized, I see, feel and hear the Lord with me. I’ll never forget sitting at the park the day after and instead of my mind being filled with life’s troubles, all I could hear around me was nature: the birds singing, the water moving and the leaves swaying in the wind. That was the first time I felt God’s peace and when I stepped out of the totaled car that day, that was the first time I felt God’s love for me & my faith came that day as I realized that what the Bible says about His love for us…is the truth. His love is as a Father to His child in a pure and incorruptible way.