by Cynthia Buhain-Baello
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The other day I saw an old building being demolished so that a new, bigger, and stronger one can be built to replace it. All its former beams and foundations were slowly brought down and the land underneath was prepared for the foundation of the new building.
This reminded me of my own personal turning point in life as I came to know God through my relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. I was baptized a Catholic since birth and had grown up in the Roman Catholic religion from childhood. My education was based on the Catholic doctrines from grade school up to college. The Roman Catholic religion and its rituals were all part of our life and lifestyles. My family and all my relatives were Catholics.
I knew it and all its teachings and could defend all its doctrines (having taken up Theology & Apologetics from high school to college). My religious foundation was basically Catholic - but I had no faith. I did not know God.
I prayed the rosary to Mary and prayed novenas to Mary and the saints and asked them with all my heart to pray for me for God's answers to my prayers. I knelt before statues that would not speak and carried statues of the child Jesus (Sto.Nino) in processions thinking this will bring me closer to God. As a child we prayed the rosary every night and every first Friday we went to Confession and received "Holy Communion". It made me feel pious and good but it never brought me to the real knowing of God.
I have had many disturbing experiences with nuns and priests in school that would have rattled my religious beliefs, but still I held on to my religion. Many of us Catholics go to mass almost daily and when we go home, conflicts arise and we lose our cool. We try to be good but we cannot. We try to change our ways but we always fail. Such was my dilemma and in 1994, after a very great trial in my life, I had to seek the Truth.
God says in His Word "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
In times of distress, we seek God. Suffering is the catalyst that turns our life around. We shed off the flimsy foundations of the things we hold on to and earnestly seek the Truth that is God. And God is Faithful, if we seek Him He will be found.
I discovered that my foundations in life was just empty religion, religion that was powerless to change me inwardly. It was a religion that diverted my attention and devotion to other gods that were not gods. It was a falsehood of useless rituals meant to clothe me with outward piety but inside was a decaying soul. I was like the whitewashed tomb Jesus mentioned in Matthew 23:27-28.
The day was April 14, 1994. I watched a Lenten program titled "Christ is the Answer". At that time I was at the end of my rope, literally. I realized that there was a big question in my life that needed an answer. I prayed "God I want to know Who you are, the same way that Moses knew You and talked with You face to face. and I want to know why I am here on Earth. I know you did not put me here just to make me suffer all my life. Show me Who You are."
The tv host Gary Valenciano told the viewers exactly what I was praying - he said "if you want to know God, come to Jesus Christ His Son. Christ is the Answer. Pray with me today to accept Him as your LORD and Savior. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life." And I did just that. My salvation experience was drastic and awesome, unlike anything I have experienced in my life. It was like the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (I do not speak in tongues) and God is True to His Word: I was found by Him. My spiritual eyes were opened and I hungered to read His Word, which I did that night until 3 a.m. I was like a sponge that absorbed all the Scriptures relevant to my salvation experience. All the verses I read came alive and my mind retained them to the letter in amazing accuracy. Before anyone came to teach me or have a Bible study to clarify my new birth, I knew about it through the verses the Holy Spirit led me to read in the Bible. Strange? Yes. God is the Spirit of Truth.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may come to know You, the only True God and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent." (John 17:3)
The change that I wanted done in me was God's work. "He Who began the work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) "He Who called me is Faithful and He will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
The very good that I wanted to do, by the grace and power of God, I can now do. "For it is God Who works in you to will and to do according to His good purpose." (Philippians 2:13).
I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the old foundation was gone. The old foundations of my religion were demolished by every Word of God. I read the Bible and my questions were clarified. The previous fallacies that were taught to me were all demolished in the light of the Word of God, living, active, sharper than a double edged sword, cutting soul and spirit, joints and marrow.
(Hebrews 4:12). It exposes our inmost thoughts and desires, the lamp unto our feet, the foundation of our faith. God's Word is the basis of knowing Who God is because His Word reveals His character as God. The Holy Spirit guides us into all the Truth as Jesus Christ promised in John 14:15-20.
"And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate, Who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads all into the Truth." (John 14:16-17) The Holy Spirit also dwells in all who come to Jesus Christ. He is the Spirit that births "the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23.)
Religion is a worthless foundation. Faith based on religion is like a house built on sand. When the rains come (trials that demand application of faith) that house is washed away.
God's Word is the solid foundation that can never be washed away and as we live it, it is like a house built on Rock, Jesus Christ. It can never waver nor can it be shaken because it is founded on the Truth.
If you are truly searching for God, He will find you. He is a Faithful God Who keeps His Word, and if He said "if you seek Me with all your heart and with all your soul, I will be found by you." Ask Him to come into your heart and receive the free gift of Salvation, a gift offered to all who repent and believe, all who accept the Truth that Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the Cross and we cannot save ourselves by all the good works we do.
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