Why Easter is Unbelievably Believable

Andy Stanley said, “From a distance, the Easter Story seems so unbelievable.  But when you look at the details of the narrative closely what begins as a story that’s so unbelievable, becomes so unbelievably believable.”

When you think about Easter what comes to mind? Some of our minds immediately race to new spring outfits, Easter egg hunts, and Easter baskets dropped off by the Easter bunny (Easter Fox, Rooster, or Stork depending on where you are from) that left us digging for that last Cadbury’s chocolate egg and handful of jelly beans.

For some of us that may have grown up with some type of church background, similar to the Evangelical Church in Dubai, we may have similar memories, yet the majority of our celebration revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A story that is in many ways overwhelmingly unbelievable.

For many, the Easter story has left a taste of disbelief in our hearts. Although it’s often agreed Jesus was a prophet, a good man, a historic figure even, it’s still pretty hard to chew on the fact that he was the Son of God. Religion asks us to believe the Easter story simply because the Bible says its true.  However, we as a Non denominational church in Dubai believe the Easter story because the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the people that knew the eyewitnesses, believed and gave their lives for what they believed.  Two men in particular: James, the brother of Jesus and Paul, a man who persecuted and killed Christians for a living.

Think about it. What would it take for your brother or sister to believe that you were the Son of God – God in the flesh? James had this very problem. He wasn’t a follower of Jesus.  He didn’t believe his brother was God. He believed his brother Jesus was crazy! Now think about anyone you’ve ever come into contact with that absolutely hates Christians; like with all they are can’t stand them. The apostle Paul, the same Paul regarded as a Saint in the Catholic Church, hated Christians so much that he tracked them down all over the Middle Eastern region to kill them.

The Easter story is not a sugar coated fairy-tale or fable. It is a story full of shame and messy stories of liars (Peter), killers (Paul), doubters (Jesus’ disciples), pride, scandal, and the testimonies of people who saw it all with their very own eyes; yet lived to tell what they saw that made them believe. Paul confirms this in his letter to the followers of Christ in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:7-9 says:

“… he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have fallen asleep); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.”

It is their belief that makes your childhood faith, your current faith, your lack of faith, your curiosity, your consideration, or your conviction of faith not exist in vain.

 

 

Family Matters

It may sound cheesy or old-school, but it’s true: your family is still the most important people you’ll have in your entire life; it shouldn’t take a lecture in an evangelical church in Dubai for you to realize that. But because of the many dynamics of adult life, we get sidetracked, forget that fact, and struggle with our relationship towards your spouse and children.

Don’t let that happen to you. With these pieces of advice, you’ll experience the least possible difficulties with dealing with your family and have a harmonious and happy life with them.

What’s Yours and Yours Alone

There is no denying that your career is a vital part of your life as an adult, a professional, and a family man or woman. After all, it gives your life purpose and brings food to the table. But don’t think, not even for a second, that it’s going to be the most defining aspect of your life. That is because there will come a day, whether you like it or not, that you will leave your job and the people who are in it; somebody is going to take your place, and the people who once found you valuable will no longer be in contact with you.

On the other hand, your family will always be there, and you will always have to be there for them. You are the only one who can do the things that make them truly happy, and they are the only ones who can do the things that truly make you happy. And while someone can do the work you left, no one else can take care of your children and spouse in the same way you do. After all, if some people’s legacies are their work, yours is who you raised.

First Name, Not Last

Aside from career, another important concern for a lot of adults would be their reputation. And because of their concern for this particular aspect of their life, it interferes with how they raise their children, especially if a kid of theirs has attention-catching problematic behaviors.

What they don’t understand is that when they discipline their children, the concern shouldn’t be what other people think of the family name, but instead it should be the welfare of the child. The same principle follows when you’re encouraging your child in his or her chosen endeavors. Are you cheering for them because you are proud of them as your children? Or is it because their success would bring the family honor? Think about it.

The Two of You

Another problem that is usually encountered in domestic life would be the lack of time between spouses. This arises because couples don’t realize that you shouldn’t find time for each other; instead, they should be making time for one another. And if both your calendars don’t include anything for just the two of you, then there’s something wrong with your schedule and it might affect your relationship .

Contrary to popular belief, family life isn’t always simple. But with the proper time allotment, mindset, and love, home life will be a joyous and satisfying one.

Right in the Eye: Made to be Ruled

Even until now, philosophers still debate whether there truly is an absolute freedom or not. From what is being taught in modern Christian churches in Dubai and everywhere in the world, however, there is no such thing; that means doing whatever with whomever, wherever, and whenever you want to isn’t the right way to live.

Aside from the fact that such a way of life is destructive, it’s literally impossible, because doing what you want with complete disregard for consequences and other people doesn’t mean freedom. In fact, that means being subjected by ugly yet powerful “kings”.

Heeding Joshua’s Words

To illustrate this point, let us go to Joshua 24: 14-16. In these verses, Joshua instructed the Israelites to fear the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts and asked them to choose which gods they will choose to obey – the one true God or the false idols, which are either the ones their ancestors or the Amorites served. The Israelites, realizing the goodness of the Lord, vowed to abide by Joshua’s words and obeyed Him.

But considering the Israelites’ relationship with God – one that is a cycle of faithfulness and unfaithfulness – it didn’t take long before they broke the vow they made and emulated the religion and culture of the Canaanites. They served Baal and Asthoret, gods who demanded blood sacrifice, and practiced sexually immoral rituals. And because they broke their covenant with God, He sold them off to the very people they idolized.

To Be Ruled

So, why is this related to the wrongness of doing anything you choose to do whenever, wherever, and with whoever you want to? Because the things we want to do that are not aligned with God’s will are like little kings that take control of our lives. And they will only able to do that if we relinquish God’s power over us. You see, God created us to be ruled by Him. And if we are not being ruled by Him, then we will be ruled by different principalities – greed, sloth, lust, pride, just to name a few. We let ourselves be controlled by these things because they allow us to do the things we want and the things that we think and feel are good for us.

Without Mercy

What people don’t realize, however, is that these kings are nothing like the One True King. Unlike Him, they are evil. They may seem kind because they permit you to do whatever things you please, you will someday realize that the very things they have allowed you to commit had already run you to the ground. At worst, the damage they have let you do to yourself could be so great that it can no longer be reversed.

Thankfully, God offers freedom from all of these things, these kings. Through His grace and mercy, He can save us from ourselves. And when we let ourselves be covered under his rule, He is more than able and willing to free us from the self-destructive power of these principles over us.

Filling the Gap: Trust and Suspicion

Trust is a very important issue every person in an organization – whether it’s a corporate enterprise or a non-denominational church in Dubai – must have. However, not a lot of people are applying this trust right, as it is usually misunderstood or too easily defeated.

In order for you to know what it’s truly like to be trusting of your coworkers, your superiors, as well as your subordinates, it’s important that you know more about what the word truly means first.

Expectations, Reality, and Disappointments

There will always come a time when the people within your organization will fail to deliver what is required and expected of them. Whenever they do, there will be a gap between our expectations and the reality of their failure.

As coworkers, superiors, or subordinates, whether unconsciously or purposely, we fill that gap with things that can erode our confidence in that person, and in turn the entire organization. Thankfully, there is one thing that we can fill the gap with and instead strengthen the person to not do the same mistake again, and ultimately help build up the group. That would be trust.

Suspicions

The problem with us, however, is that we are not ones to readily give away trust, so instead we fill the gap with suspicion. This causes us not to believe any reasons the person who has failed us says no matter how valid and supposedly understandable they may be.

It’s not that people choose to not believe in others; it’s just that they have been raised to be untrusting of those around them. It could be because their caregivers or authority figures when they were young weren’t trustworthy, because they just happen to be untrustworthy by nature, or because they do not believe that a particular person is not worth their trust because he has failed before, or even worse – do not trust them to begin with.

And since they fill the gap with suspicion, the organization becomes a lot more vulnerable to collapse, as there will be people that you will choose not to believe in.

Filling the Gap: Trust’s 3 Commitments

Therefore, instead of filling the gap with suspicion, like what most of us automatically do, we should fill it with trust. And when you do, you need to keep in mind these three things:

You Choose to Trust:

When you choose to trust, you choose to believe in a person. And when you believe in a person, you empower him or her to do the right thing.

Come to That Person’s Defense:

When what the person you trusted delivered less than what is expected of him or her, you should directly ask that person what happened, as proof of the trust you bestowed upon him or her.

Confront the Person:

If the person has been repeatedly failing the trust he or she has been granted, it’s only right that you confront that person in order to restore that trust.

Trusting is never an easy task, but it is an important one if an organization is to thrive. After all, people don’t expect to rely on anyone that isn’t trusted, and at the same time they don’t wish to support anyone who doesn’t trust them.

Right in the Eye: A Story Rarely Told

Do what you want wherever, whenever, and with whoever you want to – that is our society’s concept of freedom. After all, as long as there’s nobody getting hurt, it’s all good, right? Unfortunately, if you follow that twisted notion of freedom, people will get hurt – including you.

You may find that hard to believe, but it’s true. To show that doing anything and everything according to how you see them fit is wrong. Here’s a story they don’t teach often in a Christian church, be it in Dubai or anywhere else in the world.

A Levite and His Concubine

This is a story in the Bible that is written in Judges 19-21.

There was a time in the Old Testament when Israel had no king. They had no state laws or a leader to obey. And in those times, there was a Levite who lived in Ephraim together with his concubine, who came all the way from Bethlehem in Judah, a country that Israel didn’t have good relations at that time.

The Levite’s concubine was unfaithful, so she went back to her family in Bethlehem, and after four months the Levite went after her to get her back. On the day they left, however, they began their journey quite late into the day already, so they were forced to stay in the town of Gibeah for the night. Nobody wanted to take them in at first, save an old man from Ephraim.

Unfortunately, some wicked men wanted to make the Levite feel unwelcome by pounding on the door of the old man’s house. Concerned, the old man told them to stop and offered his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine; he told them that he can do anything they want to with the two as long as they don’t harm the Levite, and so they did. They abused her the entire night, and come morning light she arrived at the door of the old man’s house, where she died.

Outraged by his concubine’s death, he sent a letter to the eleven tribes of Israel, telling them what happened. To make a statement, he sent the letters together with severed parts of his concubine’s body. In response, the eleven tribes sent armed envoys to Gibeah, asking their leaders to give up the perpetrators. They refused, so war broke between Gibeah and the eleven tribes of Israel. The latter lost for two days, but on the third day, as vengeance, they burned down the cities as well as the other cities of Benjamin, effectively wiping out the tribe – or so the eleven tribes thought.

Realizing that what they did was wrong and discovering that there were 600 men who remained from the tribe of Benjamin – soldiers who were able to escape the conflict, the eleven tribes decided to repopulate the Benjamites by giving them the women of Jabesh-Gilead, a town that was supposed to be put to death for failing to assemble before the Lord in Mizpah.

A Bloody History, A Destructive Reality

So, what was the point of telling you an obscure and brutal biblical story? Because it’s the perfect example of what happens when people do whatever they want to whenever, wherever, and with whoever they want to – pain and destruction abounds.

Think about it; the ones who advocate such a paradigm are the privileged – people whose lives won’t reel so much from wrong decisions. Your parents, teachers, boss, and other regular folk, especially those who are concerned for your welfare, would never tell you this. Why? Because at the very least, it never helps, and at worst, it harms. After all, there are many things we do with wanton disregard for others in the name of freedom, and it hurts them. And then there are things we do that although do not harm others, harm a very important person: you.

There are many things you can do to yourself, especially awful ones, that you think won’t affect others. Except they do. But why and how? Because people care about you – your friends, family, and God. Doing things that do not affect others but at the same time harm you in the long run makes them worry and hurts them.

We do not live for and by ourselves alone. Therefore, in everything that we do, we should always think of the consequences. After all, our actions, regardless of how big or small they are, affect everyone.

 

Are you Where You Want to Be in Life?

Life is an exciting and colorful journey. It comes with one problem though: it doesn’t come with a guide, a compass, or a map. That means you’re going to have to figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be all by yourself. Of course, you have your loved ones, and you can ask an evangelical church in Dubai or anywhere near you for help, but the most they can give you is advice; the rest is still up to you.

And since there is no way for you to tell how to get to where you wish to be in, there’s a chance that you are already there; you just don’t know it yet. So, how do you know if you’re already in the spot you’ve always desired to stand on, the place you know you’re destined to be in? Maybe taking these things into perspective will help.

Are You Happy?

This doesn’t just mean being in a good mood most of the time; this means being in a constant state of joy and contentment because you know that being somewhere else wouldn’t give you the same feeling. After all, you can be living a life that is considered by society as successful, but if you find no satisfaction and pride in it, then you’re definitely not theree yet.

Is It Difficult?

The places where we want to be in take a lot of effort and sacrifices to reach.

But why does the path have to be paved with thorns? That’s because it’s a test. How much do you want to get there? The answer to that question is how willing and able you are to overcome every hardship that is standing in your way.

Imagine Being Somewhere Else…

A lot of people have a lot of wishes and what ifs. These aren’t just the usual playful thoughts and hypothetical questions they ask themselves from time to time; these are their unfulfilled desires, and one of those things would be the point in their lives that they are in.

Now, have you ever thought and felt the same way? If so, then maybe the life you are living isn’t the life you have envisioned for yourself. And if that’s the case, then don’t worry; it’s never too late to turn things around.

Within Yourself and God

No matter how much you tell yourself that everything’s alright and you’re where you think you want to be even though you’re not, then maybe it’s time to listen to yourself. What is it that you believe is your purpose in life? Search within your soul. And if you can’t seem to find your center, pray to God. He is always looking out for you, and Hhe is more than willing to bring you to where you want to be, to where you’re meant to be.

Some people look for their purpose their whole life and never find it. You can’t blame them; after all, it’s never easy to do so. Difficult, however, doesn’t mean impossible. And surely enough, you’ll find it.

Marriage and Commitment: What “I Do” Truly Means

You’ve heard this question a thousand times before, both in real life and in movies: “do you take this (man/woman) to be your lawfully wedded (husband/wife), for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness, and in health?” Unless this is a rom-com, a romantic drama, or a bizarre yet possible real-life situation, then there’s only one answer: “I do.” And now that the two have said their vows to each other, it’s a certainty that they’re going to have a good and lasting marriage, right? Wrong.

It doesn’t matter whether the wedding was held in a pristine white sand beach or a modern Christian church in Dubai; if either or both newlyweds don’t have that one thing to make them able to keep their promise, then that marriage is going to fail. No one who has already tied the knot or wants to do so in the future wants that to happen. So if you’re either of the two, then we ask that you  read up to make sure that your vows remain unbroken.

Commitment = Overrated

Don’t get it twisted; commitment is important. However, a commitment is only as good as the ability to uphold it, and preparation is one of those things. Unfortunately, a lot of newlyweds lack preparation. After all, if you do not have what it takes to fulfill all the things you said during your wedding day, then you will unintentionally break them.

That is what happens to a lot of married people. They’re honest men and women who either have or had tried their very hardest to keep them, but because they weren’t prepared to back up their talk, they fail at it. It’s not that they thought that they don’t need to prepare for married life; it’s just that they didn’t know that they have to.  And once they find out that they do, it’s sometimes too late.

Changing Your Ways

One of the most important ways a person can prepare for married life is by changing his or her ways. These are a person’s habits, choice of words, actions, likes and dislikes; these are the things that define a person, the things that make him or her predictable in a way. And it is very important for you to take note of your ways, and change them if need be, before you get married. After all, you’ll be sharing the rest of your life with someone and will be building a family with him or her, so it’s only right that you calibrate your ways in such a way that you’ll be able to peacefully and joyously live with the most important people in your life and fulfill your responsibilities for and towards them.

Dealing with Issues

As what has been said before, some marriage issues are not actually marriage issues, but instead are actually issues from peoples’ single lives that were brought into a marriage. And when not dealt with properly, these can cause a lot of trouble for couples and families.

Maybe you have issues with your parents, friends, or past relationships. Maybe, because of them, you became untrusting, worrisome, or distant – some of the few things that you a hard time interacting with your spouse.  Therefore, before you tie the knot, make sure that it will not be brought into the marriage by dealing with it and confronting it. And remember that your friends, family, and spouse-to-be will always be there if you need support.

Marriage is a commitment, and commitments mean just as much as both parties’ ability to keep it. So before you say “I do”, make sure that you mean it and you can fulfill what those two words truly mean.

Giving Honest and Sincere Appreciation for People

Some people fail to realize that without the people around them, they wouldn’t be able to reach the heights they are in now, and they wouldn’t have the many things they are enjoying. Now ask yourself: are you one of these people? Well, let’s assume that you’re not, you’re probably just  finding it difficult to express your gratitude to them.

If that’s your problem, then don’t worry. Non-denominational churches in Dubai or anywhere else in the world, seminars, leadership workshops, or just your trusted friend and counsel have emphasized how important it is to let other people know that you appreciate everything that they’ve done for you. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make everyone who gave you their time, attention, and love feel important.

Write a Note

If you can’t seem to put into spoken words the sense of appreciation welling deep in your heart because you were never an affectionate person to begin with, then that’s okay because you can always write down what you feel. It doesn’t have to be a deep and elaborate poem – a note should be more than enough. And don’t sweat it too much with the words, the grammar, or the penmanship – what matters is the thought and the sincerity.

Do Something For Them

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” – an age-old maxim that is used by anyone who is in a mutually beneficial relationship. Family, friends, and romantic partners, well, you’re technically in mutually beneficial relationships with them too, but they’re not exactly bonds built on exchanges of favors. Nevertheless, since these people have done a lot of good in your life, it’s only right that you do the same for them so that you can show that you are thankful for all those things they’ve done.

It’s up to you how simple or grand the gestures are, because what matters the most is that you’re doing these things from the bottom of your heart.

Lend an Ear

Perhaps one of the most underrated but also one of the greatest things we can do for a person is to listen to him or her. Yes, this is a big deal, because all of us have our own share of problems and sentiments, and keeping them for ourselves can make us feel heavy and suffocated. Thankfully, we have our loved ones to unload all of these baggage, and your loved ones, whom you tell your problems to, consider you as a loved one too. So when they’re telling you about something they’re going through, have an open ear.

Be There

You may not realize it, but you and your company matter to those who you love and love you. They feel lonely when you’re all they have and you’re not there, and they feel sad when everyone they love is there and you’re not.

Of course, doing something for them or telling them how you feel about them sends a clearer message of appreciation across, but being there is always a good place to start to make them feel your gratitude.

On Love and Intimacy

“It’s just sex, right?” This is a common notion for a lot of people nowadays, especially the single youth. That is why this generation does one-night stands, have “friends with benefits”, and other catchy terms for casual sex. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it. After all, it’s just sex, a part of our human nature. It’s just sex, a purely physical thing wherein we use our bodies to make us feel good, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The Christian church in Dubai, America, and many other organizations have been trying to confront this reality: sex isn’t just a physical activity, and that you can get hurt if you treat it as such.

Scars from the Past

Think about it; if sex really is as purely physical as a lot of people say it is, then why is it that a lot of people get hang-ups as well as emotional damage from it?

There are cases where it is clearly evident that it isn’t just a physical activity but has emotional and psychological underpinnings. Cases of sexual abuse are sensitive and serious examples of this. It takes years for victims to recover from it, sometimes even almost their entire lives.  The most heartbreaking part is that it happens to women, men, and children; and not a lot of people are discussing the dangers of it. In fact frustratingly, it is the victims that are being shamed for this and it is a topic that is being shunned and shelved because of its very sensitivity.

Clearly, sex needs to be taken seriously because it can have an even deeper effect on people.

Something Deep to Something Physical

Well, if that’s not the case, then why is it that a lot of people – probably including you – think that it’s just an act where you use your body to feel good with somebody, nothing more and nothing less? That’s because we live in a culture that claims that sex is just a simple, superficial, and physical activity. And for a lot of people, that’s a very convenient mindset, as it would allow them to think that they can have sex recreationally. But at one point or another, the reality that sex goes beyond physical comes crashing on them.

Going Beyond Feeling Good

Of course, sex is something that should be enjoyed, but its purpose for human beings – God’s most precious creation – is a lot deeper, a lot more special. It’s for a word that we don’t usually hear anymore: intimacy.

The main purpose of sex is for us to be able to express our intimacy with someone in a physical manner. In fact, if you take into consideration the Creation Story, it was first the animals that had sex. But when the gift was given to Adam and Eve, and ultimately to us, it was on an entirely different level. It’s not just about procreation, but about an expression of intimacy that is passionate, fearless, and incomparable. That is why sex, a wonderful thing, can be so damaging when misused, and so beautiful when it’s done in the context of true intimacy – between two people who truly love each other.

Sex is supposed to feel good. However, it’s not supposed to feel that way just because the body says it does, but because it is the greatest physical expression of intimacy. Love and intimacy is always  good, and that is why it must be treasured and cherished and not be treated as a sport.

Managing Tension

Whenever the word tension is heard within any organization, whether it is a corporate business or an evangelical church in Dubai, people usually think that it’s something that must either be avoided or resolved right away. That, however, shouldn’t always be the case, as there are times – and there are many of them – when they’re actually beneficial for an institution.

However, like fire, for tension to become beneficial, it needs to be harnessed properly. And in order for you to be able to do so, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

No Tension is a Problem

If the institution you’re in is sailing a little bit too smoothly, then there may be something wrong. It’s not that you’re looking for people who disagree with each other in your organization; it’s just that the lack of tension could mean that your organization is beginning to stagnate, that there is no longer anyone in it who has enough passion to bring up their ideas and risk being at odds with a person or two for what they believe could help everyone.

Healthy Tension Isn’t Conflict

It may not seem like it, but there is actually a big difference between healthy tension and conflict. While both of them naturally occur in any organization, tension usually happens because two opposing persons or groups both have something to offer to the table, it’s just that they happen to be contradictory with each other. Conflict, on the other hand, happens because their disagreement has reached a personal level. And once things get personal, that’s when they get problematic.

Be an Advocate for Both Sides

As a leader, it’s only right that you’re not biased between two parties that are in tension. However, being unbiased doesn’t mean not siding with either; instead, it’s about supporting the good ideas both sides can offer. For in the same way that healthy competition improves the services offered by two rival companies, healthy tension helps cultivate the ideas and suggestions of each side.

Two Important People

However, it’s never enough that two opposing sides both have something good to offer, as each of them should have these two important people: the ones who are very passionate about a particular idea, and the ones who are mature enough to both take into consideration the suggestions of the other side and recognize when they have to either revise or relinquish their position.

These two kinds of people balance each other out, allowing each side to provide fresh insights and have a respectful dialogue with each other. Without the former, each side won’t be able to provide helpful insights, while the lack of the latter could spell conflict. In fact, if there is conflict that arises from tension, it’s not because of the tension, but because people on each side – or even worse, both – have a personality problem, which must be resolved.

Without tension there could be no, if not much less, innovation and revolution within an organization. However, just like every necessary element in an institution, balance and proper management is needed to make the most out of it.