Culture and Creed

May 10, 2006

This is a copy of the speech that I wrote for a Korean student. I'm not sure if it is good enough to win the contest (to be held on May 19), but I'm somehow confident that the message will accomplish its objective of serving as an an eye-opener to the Koreans who will attend the event. By the way, the word "remnant" means "Christian."

It is not very unusual that we would hear about something similar to the story of a twelve-year old boy who, for no significant reason, suddenly performed a “suplex,” a very dangerous wrestling move, on one of his schoolmates after he jokingly proclaimed himself to be a wrestler. As far as I could recall, that boy referred to himself as “John Cena,” the current World Wrestling Entertainment Champion.

The fact that it was only child’s play is beside the point. What bothered me about this particular incident was how the other boy, who was hurt during that brief “wrestling match,” couldn’t fight back just because he was a year younger than the boy who called himself “John Cena.”

Of course, this kind of situation doesn’t surprise me anymore. I mean, how many times have I been hit by a senior for fun? In addition, how many times have I also whacked someone else for the simple reason that a person smells bad or looks ugly?

Sounds familiar?

We see this kind of stuff happening everyday back in our hometown, and there is no doubt that we are experiencing the same here in the Philippines. But in the end, we manage to laugh about it or forget it because we have been taught that it’s normal. It’s a part of who we are. It is our culture.

Yes, saying that it’s our culture makes it all right. It takes the pain away. No matter how a certain custom seems wrong, we accept it with open arms because society says it’s ok.

Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve learned how to deal with it a long time ago. But thinking about it now makes me remember those times when I used to ask myself everyday, “why?” Why couldn’t I disagree with older people even if I knew I was right? Why couldn’t I defend myself whenever I was hit or offended for no cause at all? Could you imagine how pitiful I felt about myself during those times? If you’re a Korean like me, I’m sure you do.

Behaving in a particular way due to the influence of one’s culture is not always a bad thing. Actually, there are many aspects about our way of life to which without it would have made us a weaker nation. But whether or not our culture has made us a great country is not the issue here. My main concern is not our identity as Koreans, but of who we are as Remnants.

Bearing the title of “remnant” has a big responsibility attached to it. It requires more than just attending worship services and forums. It is definitely greater than our prayers and offerings to God. Becoming a follower of Christ entails each and every part of our being to be in line with His will.

In the Book of John 13:34-35, Jesus said to his disciples, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

The dilemma here is quite obvious. As you can see, it is quite difficult to convince another person that we are remnants if our actions speak otherwise. If we truly want to uphold the Word of God, then we must start becoming a role model to other people. That means love, kindness, and respect for all men, regardless of age. In the words of Paul, we must not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Are we willing to do away with a bad tradition in order to follow God’s teachings?

So now, at this very moment, let us all reflect and decide who we really want to be. Are we going to be Koreans? Or are we going to be Remnants? Those are two different things.

For me, I’m going to be both. But I will always make sure that I am a Remnant first and a Korean, second. For when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I understood that I am no longer a citizen of this world, but of heaven. Therefore, my loyalty and allegiance starts and ends with God.

What’s wrong with Religion?

April 28, 2006

 picture courtesy of interfaith.foolmoon.com

Choosing the right religion these days almost feels like walking through a flea market – it’s enough to drive you crazy. It’s like hearing from more than ten vendors simultaneously as they recite their respective lines to persuade you to buy their items. They entice you with different offers, but when the talking stops and the decision-making starts, you soon realize that they are all selling the same thing!

Now, I’m not trying to mock religion here. There’s no point in doing so, anyway. But to be honest, I think the mocking goes the other way around. It’s these so-called spiritual, God-anointed ministers who are making fools out of us. They think we don’t know the difference between a church and a circus. Try to open your televisions and you’ll see what I mean.

Our religion, before we had the chance to choose it, had most likely chosen us already at birth. Perhaps it is true that we have the freedom to change our minds later on when we become more mature to make our own decisions, but it is almost certain that our upbringing as a child, to a great extent, would influence our future choices. Let us also not forget that religion is intertwined with culture, which shapes human thinking and behavior.

Theoretically, if every religion could perfectly satisfy the spiritual needs of their respective members, then there is no way that we can put one religion above the other. But even if that be the case, it is still impossible to have a world where different religions can peacefully coexist. A religion is always presumed to be founded on truth, and having two or more versions of “truth” is not acceptable. Eventually, a debate as to which religion is the true one will take place sooner or later.

So again, we go back to where we started.

Choosing the right religion is very difficult especially since “choosing the right faith,” for most people, would mean “departing from their original faith.” The decision to change one's belief can bring horrible consequences like rejection, persecution, and alienation.

Afterwards, when we already made up our minds on what to believe in, can we say to ourselves that it is worth the trouble? Or are we going to find ourselves "walking through the flea market,” where after going through all that hardship and confusion, we would be given the same object that we wanted to get rid-off with in the first place?

Perhaps you have already found out what I was trying to say all along.

No matter how we look at it, all of this world's religions belong to only one category. While it is true that they have their own doctrines and call their God (or gods) with different names, their paths to heaven or paradise are still one and the same. All religions teach that God can be reached by an accumulation of noble deeds.

There is really nothing wrong about trying to please God, only that salvation is about God's conditions and not ours. We may assert that different actions produce different results, but deeds alone cannot remove our sinful nature. Only a Saviour can do that. Only Jesus Christ can.

A similar situation can be found in 1 Samuel 15:22-23, when Samuel rebuked Saul for attempting to cover up his disobedience to God by offering sacrifices. Samuel said:

"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

So, if you will be given a choice between trusting your own actions and entrusting yourself to someone who can save you, which way will you go?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Answers in Genesis

April 20, 2006

Were there human beings on Earth before Adam?
Were the "sons of God" and/or the nephilim of Genesis 6:4 aliens?
What was the Star of Bethlehem?
Is the Bible infallible?
Were there dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?
If God created the universe, then who created God?
Is Jesus Christ the Creator God?
Who is the original "unknown" God of China?
Was Hitler a Christian?
What was Darwin's real message?
Should Genesis Be Taken Literally?

Intriguing topics? Actually, I found this website, answersingenesis.org, three years ago while doing some research on evolution. The site, without a doubt, is very informative, reliable, and up-to-date. Anwersingenesis also has other features such as book reviews, quotes, biographies, and audio downloads. To make their site more accessible to the people, they included language translations and handheld versions (Palm Computing or Windows CE device). For people who are encouraged to study more about Creationism, they can access the site's Education Center to learn more about their curriculum (not free). Recently, they added a "fun section" where you can read and download comic strips.

Please visit answers in genesis. I highly recommend it!

Is there really only one Saviour?

April 19, 2006

  picture courtesy of picturesofjesus4you.com

One prevailing ideology that shapes our modern world is our freedom to choose. We are now living in a day and age where options are always present and alternatives are plenty. From the simple task of choosing the right mobile phone to the more complicated responsibility of deciding our career path, the opportunity to choose which is which never seems to diminish. To some extent, we are fortunate.

The same principle applies to our choosing of the right faith or religion. I think this so called "freedom of expression" has somehow permitted us to worship almost every creature, regardless of whether the object of faith is real or imagined, to our own convenience. We can argue all we want on the basis of preference, culture, and sincerity, but if we truly believe in a Supreme Being, then our belief must conform to Him and not He to us. That or else, we are just fooling ourselves. We would then soon realize that the person who we call "God" is not really "the God" but instead, "ourselves."

Our desire to know the one true God shouldn't be pursued just for the simple purpose of self-fulfillment or spiritual bliss. It is so unfortunate that in such a circumstance where our eternal destinies are at stake, we could still manage to regard faith and religion like it is some kind of recreation or fad. We must seek God not only because we need to know Him, but also because we need to be saved.

The consequences of sin is not something to be taken lightly. Actually, this should be our main concern above all things. The effect of sin to the whole of mankind is so serious, that it is even possible to "know" the true God and still remain unsaved. Scary, but true. In John 8:24, Jesus warned the Jews about "dying in their sins." Now the Jews, in their arrogance and ignorance, failed to understand this at first. They were wondering why they need to be set free from any kind of bondage, when they are the descendants of Abraham and part of the covenant of God. Logically speaking, if there is any nation that God favored at that time, it must be Israel. But did God or Jesus really thought of it that way? Based on Jesus' response to the Jews, no. In Jesus' own words, he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." For God, what matters is sin.

So if the root of all of our problems is sin, then what should we do? Can we do it on our own? Can we do anything to make it up to God? Actually, we can, but we must do it God’s way. Hebrews 9:22 says that “the law (old testament) requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This is the reason why people in those times offered animal sacrifices to the priest once a year. It was God’s requirement. Moreover, yearly sacrifices were necessary because the offerings were imperfect, and therefore must be repeated over and over again.

But of course, the old covenant was only a preparatory stage to a more superior covenant, where Jesus is mediator (Heb. 9:15). The new covenant perfected (completed) the old one. This perfection could have not been possible without a mediator who is holy and unblemished (Heb. 9:14). Only Jesus Christ is qualified to accomplish all these. And that’s what He did, when He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people (Heb 9:28). Imagine if another person would take the place of Jesus. Then he must have the ability to resurrect himself every time, so that he could sacrifice himself again for us once every year.

In the end, there can be no other conclusion but this: Jesus is the Christ; He is the Savior. There can be no one else, for He alone is holy, perfect, and pure . . . because He is God.

“. . . and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Reconciliation with God

April 15, 2006

 picture courtesy of agapewebpromotion.com

Whenever I think about my childhood, I usually ponder upon all the happy moments. I believe that there is a kind of bliss that can only be experienced while young, and that can never be relived ever again. But now that I am writing about this topic, I remember another important ingredient that became a part of my growing-up years – "house rules.”

House rules are meant to guide the whole family, especially the young ones, to do what is appropriate. Now imagine what would happen on one Saturday afternoon where the mother, after finishing with the weekly general house cleaning, would see one of her little boys enter the bedroom with mud all over his body. Certainly, she would get to her son as quickly as she can and give him a bath before letting him roam around the house again.

Now this may not be a perfect illustration for this topic, but I’m sure that you will be able to understand why I mentioned about it.

Sooner or later, all of us are going to experience death. Our bodies, as beautiful as it may be, are also fragile and temporary. God knows that, and that is why He promised to someday replace this corruptible body with an incorruptible one, a body that is glorified and is immortal (1 Cor. 15:54). Likewise, since our world will not last, He prepared us a new home, a new heaven where there are many mansions (John 14:2), and a new earth where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying and pain (Rev. 21:1-4).

These promises are our only hope in this very short life that we have. But unfortunately, man left in his original state is not worthy to receive any of these blessings. We have Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12) and our own sinfulness to blame for making us fall short from the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). As a result, we were alienated from Him (Col. 1:21), and became His enemy. Yes, we are God’s enemy. Chapter 5 verse 10 of the Book of Romans clearly spoke about it. We can insist that God loves us (John 3:16), but do we really think that God will allow sin to enter His Kingdom?

Of course not! We need to be reconciled with God first. We have to, if only to spare us from God’s wrath (John 3:36), God’s judgment (Rom. 2:5), and the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). We need to be saved from this very sin that will permanently separate us from God.

We can’t do it on our own; we need Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30, 31). We can’t do it by our own efforts; it’s by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8, 9). We can’t do it after we die; our only chance is now (Heb. 9:27).

And just like the little boy in the story, who must be bathed first before beng allowed inside his parent’s house, so must we also be cleansed first before being counted worthy to enter God’s Kingdom – our eternal home.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10 KJV)

Thanks for visiting my site!

April 15, 2006

Hi there! My name is Alexis, and I am glad that you took the time to visit my blogsite. Whether you visited this page with a clear objective, out of curiosity, or just by accident, I hope that you will try to spend a few minutes in reading the topics that I wrote here. My site is all about the Word of God, Christianity, and the important issues that concern the Christian Faith.

Now I know that there are thousands of Christian websites out there which you can visit and learn from. I also encourage you to do that. Nevertheless, I am confident that I'll be able to contribute significantly in providing ideas regarding this subject matter. I believe that my knowledge and experience about the Christian Faith will be able to encourage and help other people who seek answers to their questions.

So what separates my blogsite from other Christian websites? I really can't tell. But what I can say is this: I am not a pastor, nor a seminarian, nor a bible whiz. That means that whatever you will read and learn from this site didn't come from a "bible intellectual." What you will see in these pages are ideas from an ordinary person who happens to be a believer of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Lastly, I would like to stress that the purpose of this blogsite is not to showcase my intellectual ability about the Bible. For whatever that I know about God's Word, I cannot boast about, even if I wanted to. I don't think that anybody should. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 explains that spiritual things can only be explained by the Spirit of God, and this wisdom is freely given by God to those who received Him. This is my service to God and to my fellowmen.

Happy reading, my friend!! God bless you!