Good Sam – Friend or Foe?

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:36-37

It’s a classic, yes? Most people are presumably familiar with the story.

But what I’d like to briefly contemplate on is a view of this particular parable from an angle which I believe is quite easy to overlook. I know it is, for me.


When Jesus told of this venerated tale, he made a case for all believers to pursue. He established a standard of righteousness through the likeness of a particular individual. He carved a hero out of someone whom the Old Testament-era Judeans considered not only a cultic half-breed but a downright outcast, as well. Or, a despised enemy, even.

One might not realize it but in many levels, we, in today’s society, are no different at all. We desire to be heroes. We long to be inspired. However, we naturally look up to the usual suspects, don’t we? Our examples typically come from the ones that we’re able to relate to easily – our friends, our family or perhaps, even revered celebrities. But when do we ever seek inspiration from the ones we might consider outcasts or, quote-unquote, enemies?

Think about it. It’s an issue of relate-ability. A matter of familiarity and comfort zones. It’s subtle but yet quite obvious, really. It can be about race, status or beliefs. It’s our perception of others. Our cliques. Our prejudices. The things we don’t enjoy talking about – because we are fearful of the subject matter and have nothing explicit to say about it. Unaware, we create invisible schisms, chasms and walls amongst each other. It’s a heinous misdeed and I certainly admit my own guilt!

How compelling it truly is to behold Jesus’ upside-down ideology and how it instinctively goes against the grain of our fleshly perspectives and leanings! Surely, I am in constant awe!

There is something astonishing and miraculous when we elect to pry our eyes open and witness the unexpected. The good within the perceived bad. Yes! To befriend a sinner; to plant a tiny seed of faith; to love as much as we’ve been forgiven; to knock in perseverance on God’s door; to find treasure in the unseen.

Or yet, to simply be a good neighbor, just like Sam. Good Sam. It’s a great place to start, if you ask me.

Meat or Manna

Today’s contemplation…

“If only we had meat to eat! … But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” ~Numbers 11:4,6

Discontentment. Ingratitude. If we’re truly honest, we’ll admit we all have these in us to some degree. They can be elusive, invisible or incognito even. A bit hard to spot at times. I don’t know about you but I struggle against it just about everyday. Even when I try not to show it, I can be a grouch deep inside.

Sometimes, our choice between meat or manna can be a matter of life and death. It’s a tough battle. Choose wisely.

@2002 Chris Alma Jose

Tomorrow, you little stinker you!

This popped up on my phone early this morning…

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34

Happy Monday. Here’s your Verse of the Day. Eat up!

Okay, so I’ve probably nibbled on this little breakfast nugget more times than I can remember. It’s one of the most lionized passages in scripture and intrinsically embedded in my subconscious. Well, I hope so anyway.

But you know how it goes: Just because you’ve read something once doesn’t mean you’ve wrung out every possible ounce of flavor from it.

Well, a few moments after I’ve taken a quick and superficial gander at my phone, I couldn’t shake off a feeling that I might’ve missed something vital. Something that had been hiding in plain sight all this time! So I stopped what I was doing and sat for a moment. I read the verse a second time.

And a third.

Road Closed

Hmmm… possibly a couple more. But what I ultimately saw blew me away.

Tomorrow will worry…

Did you get that? Tomorrow will worry. Not me. Tomorrow will.

Worrying is not my business. Not my monkey, not my circus! Nope!

Whew! What a relief! Right?

Wait… easier said than done, you say? Yep, I thought the same. I hear you, my friend. But let’s read on…

It says: Tomorrow will worry… about itself.

Now, is it just me or is tomorrow being portrayed here as a bit ambiguous and problematic? Kind of a nutcase, if you will?

Think about it. It doesn’t say that tomorrow will solve any of my problems. It doesn’t say that it will resolve anything at all or that it will eventually sort itself out. It only says that it’ll worry about itself!

The funny thing is that tomorrow never really comes. It never arrives, does it? When you think tomorrow’s here, it’s already moved on.

Okay, so if tomorrow is indeed ambiguous and problematic, then am I not crazy to even worry about it, to begin with?

This is what I gather from all this: Jesus is saying not to worry because if you believe in him, the cares of tomorrow gets deleted from the equation and hope takes its place. As far as time is concerned, we are already there. Through hope, we are where we belong. In Him.

And that, I believe, is nothing to worry about.

Perfect Unity – Is that even possible?

Some friends of mine and I were in a conversation a few days ago regarding unity. Oddly enough, we found ourselves in a dialectic disagreement.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” ~‭‭1 Corinthians ‭1:10‬

Forget about the context of the entire chapter. Just think about the magnitude of Paul’s appeal here on this particular passage. Not to the first century disciples in Corinth, but to you and me, and today’s Christendom. Is this even possible? Maybe so, but in all my life I have not seen proof of this ever being put into serious practice by anyone. It may have been attempted at one point or another but I don’t think anyone’s ever been persistently successful.


Let’s just begin with all the denominations that have sprouted since the first century. Countless! The schisms, the factions. They’re endless. And this notion ranges from corporate to individuals.

Paul wanted Christians to agree with one another in whatever they say. Now who’s word should we collectively concede to? If I say one thing and another says something else, who do we yield to? And how does pride and humility play into this?

No divisions! If this is the law, then we’re all guilty of breaking it. Being the inherent sinners that we are, there’s just no way we could’ve avoided this infraction on any level. I may be wrong (and I hope I am), but I have yet to see otherwise.

And the final appeal… to be united in mind and thought. And perfectly at that! Indeed, Jesus! Increase our faith! I can’t even begin to unite my own mess of thoughts, let alone be perfectly united with those of others. Most of whom I have nothing in common with other than a fundamental faith in God.

I don’t mean to sound bleak, but we do have work to finish here. Seemingly insurmountable kind of work. After 2,000 years, we’re barely scratching Christianity’s surface. If at all.



It seems distant, yet it’s near. It feels far away, yet it’s here.

It’s a promise. It’s my hope.

And hope does not disappoint.

It will come.

Windows Section Panaorama


Change these colors of blue and grey
I can’t stand it anymore
The sun keeps rising on the wrong side of town
Don’t you walk out that door
I can’t breath, I can’t see
I call out your name
It’s alright you say, I can’t wait
I will be home someday

Have you been there, my friend
Searching high and low
Imagine closely a painless world
How can you say no

Don’t you run, don’t you hide
Don’t turn your back away
It’s alright you say, I can’t wait
Oh please come home someday

Let me take you to a land
With no castles in the sand
While there is still time
Won’t we do it today
Let me carry you away
From the scene of the crime

Take this rainbow away from the dark
Clear these clouds away
Let me smell your roses again
Send forth the light of day
I can’t breath, I can’t see
I call out your name
It’s alright you say, I can’t wait
I will be home someday

©2000 Chris Alma Jose

Who’s right? Who cares?

The other night, my wife and I were watching TV and out of the blue I asked her a question. Never mind what it was. My point is that her answer didn’t sit quite right with me and it got me all flustered. It happened a couple more times during that same hour. Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore and I started to raise my voice in protest. The next thing you know, we’re at it. Just like in the presidential debates, we both were spitting words out like broken arrows. Like empty bullets. Utter nonsense! We were trying to validate ourselves by squelching each other every which way we could. I was mad. She was mad. For a moment, we were both helpless.


I’m a little embarrassed to write about this now but in my experience, transparency heals the soul. I don’t want my emotions to rule over me. I want to respect them. To accept them. But to rule over my desire to do the right thing? No.

In anger, nothing right, or righteous comes out of the mouth. In a relationship, anger can make us unhinged. Detached. An enemy of each other. I know I have to fight inwardly every time. I have to fight for her. For us. For what’s right. And winning this fight means you have to feel the other person’s pain more than yours. It’s the only way to develop compassion and a way out of the mess.

Being a prideful soul that I am, it took all of my being to muster enough strength to stop this madness before we had to go to bed. I did not want us to sleep through this, I thought. So I apologized. And hoped for the promise of better days.

And that was it. Pain relinquished. Joy restored.

In the end, what matters is that I love her. Who’s right? Not so much.

To endure is what counts

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:7-11

Life is so hard, sometimes. Doesn’t matter how well you are on the outside, you can easily be struggling on an emotional and spiritual level. And that’s something you can’t hide from yourself. There is no running away from it. In the world, struggles are often unbearable because there seems to be nothing to hold on to. There is no hope and everything seems to come to a dead end. Yet, the degree of fear and pain doesn’t decrease in the life of a Christian. However, it offers an opportunity to gain inner strength, not through one’s self, but through a loving Savior. Yes, in Jesus, there is hope for the taking. There is faith to be had. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel. And the effort exerted is never wasted but always rewarding.

This life is not about ridding ourselves of our “problems.” That is a futile attempt, at best. It is about enduring the hardships that come our way. Without them, there is no reason to exercise our faith in God whom we claim to love and obey. I had to go through my divorce and feeling of loneliness for years, just to find out how far I would go with my God. Some people may have to go even farther, but to me, I have to fight to quickly see the big picture before things get worse. I cannot give up. My relationship with God is too precious to gamble with. If I lose that, what else is there to live for? Both here and the afterlife, that is. There is no hope without God. Only darkness. There is no better place. Only a dead end road. No forever. Only oblivion.

Each of us has a personal road to walk on. We live our own lives in our own personal deserts – with our own sacrifices, hardships and struggles to go through. No one is exempt. I am thankful for my own struggles for without it, God would not be in my thoughts regularly. My need for him would grow lesser and lesser each day. And that, to me, is scarier than having to go through the discipline God has put me under – because he loves me and wants me to know that there is someone who cares. It’s his way of getting my attention. And boy, does he need to do that on a daily basis. Talk about his own perseverance! And my “good deeds” is not what pleases him, by the way… but my brokenness and my desire to get up everytime I fall. That’s what puts a smile on his face. My desire to keep walking when I get tired. My desire to try it again, for the umpteenth time. Yes… my desire to endure. It’s what counts.

Group love

I remember a time when I would be in tears because there were people I knew who were searching, struggling and spiritually lost. These were people whom I’ve invested in and built close personal relationships with so I could share with them the overflowing abundance of fruit in my life.


Sadly, those days are now gone. Today, I don’t care. Or, maybe I still do. Only I don’t have any proof.

Recently, I thought of why this is. And I realized that one of the biggest reasons I was able to develop feelings that strong towards the lost, in the past, is because I was not alone. I was in the company of BROKEN disciples who were driven to spurring each other on, at all times; to leave our old characters behind and to renew our way of thinking. We had a single purpose and were united in mind and thought. And most importantly, our love for each other shined like a blinding light which made our evangelism utterly effective.

“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.”  ~ John 13:34-35

Group love. Obvious, embarrassing, inconvenient, silly, cheesy, awkward group love. Nothing less.

To this day, I still have the conviction that men will not care about our Christianity until we have something to show for it. And what that is – is love that is impossible to ignore. They may either appreciate it or loath it, but they can’t ignore it. You know why people sometimes persecute? Because they’re envious… whether or not they’re aware of it.

For a lot of us, one thing that we probably don’t think much of, in our little circle, is the fact that we are Christians today because that is how we grew up to be. We weren’t really converted, in a sense. Neither was there much struggling nor searching for our faith. Church was familiar ground. It was home. Jesus was and is a part of our household. We didn’t really eat much with “sinners” either. I mean, when was the last time we’ve changed the life of a Satan worshiper? Or someone who simply hates God with a passion, for whatever reason? Would we even give these people the time of day? Wouldn’t we be somewhat indignant if they were a part of our community? As opposed to having and showing compassion towards them instead? Let’s be real.

Anyhow, we know we can’t just talk about love. We need to show it and prove it. And the world will be the judge of that. Not us! If the world does not take notice… we can’t blame them. We can only humble ourselves to desire to find other means to meet them, where they’re at. The ball is always on our court.

Our church needs to act as ONE body, not as individual parts laboring individually. That is how strength and individual courage is built. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. The culture that is born of modern society subtly encourages lukewarmness towards God. This culture MUST change and conform to that of the first century Christians. And not the other way around. Unless that happens, I seriously doubt that spiritual growth, be it personal or that of the church, can be expected anytime soon.

So, what is Evangelism 101? To love the lost? I believe, before we can develop our love for the lost, we first have to develop our love for one another. A kind of love that the world can attest to. One that they cannot ignore, even if they tried.

Alas! We have work to do, don’t we?

1 Corinthians 12:12

Trust no one

When I first moved to Hollywood, CA back in the late 80’s, I remember it being a time of discovery. A time I was beginning to learn the ropes of life away from the comforts of my own hometown. I lived near Sunset and La Brea where, back in those days, the craziness was at its peak. Or so, it seemed. It was supposed to be a bit scary actually, but I wasn’t scared at all. I thought it was just festive and that’s what I liked about it.


One night, I remember driving to a Laundromat down on Sunset to wash my clothes. I had a boatload and needed a ton of quarters to get them all washed. So I used the bill changer to get my quarters. Now, most of the washers were in use at that moment, and I had to wait till they’re done. Since I had time, I thought I’d go next door to grab a slice of pizza. What I did before I went out is that I left all my quarters sitting on top of the washer. When I came back, the maintenance lady got on my face and said, “Are you nuts, leaving your money out here? This is Hollywood, boy! You’re lucky I knew it was yours and I made sure no one took it.”

Well, I thanked the lady and went on my merry way. Then it dawned on me later, I left the money there thinking it’s no big deal. Hollywood, schmollywood! Why would anyone steal it, I thought? I mean, that’s crazy talk! Who in their right mind would do such a thing?

Needless to say, I eventually learned that a lot of people, in fact, aren’t in their right minds, at times. Me, included! Imagine that. So now, I had to go from knowing nothing to knowing too much! I had to go from being naive to being suspicious. From being carefree to being careful. From trust to doubt. Smooth to scarred. It’s what the world calls… being wise.

But isn’t that what the world teaches, anyway? Really. To trust no one? I wonder sometimes, if the ones who consider themselves experienced, learned, wise… the ones who say, “enough is enough” or “no more”… I wonder if they still experience true happiness and contentment? I wonder if they’re still able to love unconditionally? To be sincere and compassionate? It’s hard to imagine. Or what if they are, indeed, wise enough to admit that they have been scarred? That they have certainly lost their spiritual virginity and have become a victim of this enslaving world that rejects God?

I am a victim. But I also admit to having allowed myself to be one. And I am just now getting myself back to where I used to be. Back to where it’s safe. Back to where there is freedom. And pure joy. Back to the world of trust. Hey, “wise” can sometimes be overrated, you know?

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?  ~ Psalm 118:6

Almost there… I hope you’re waiting.