Homeschooling & Teaching Kids with Adventures in Odyssey – Historical Events Episodes & More

I remember when I was a teen I used to love listening to Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) so naturally, as soon as my kids were old enough (about 5 yrs old) I introduced them to the AIO club. Over the … Continue reading

We Were Not Meant Yo Stay In The Egg Crate – Thoughts on The Christian Walk

Reflections: An egg isn’t a pancake nor is it a muffin. Nope, an egg is just an egg. It can be used to make many things and can be eaten separately.

However, there is a certain beauty that occurs when we crack an egg open and mix it with other ingredients to create a delectable dish. The dishes final outcome depends on each ingredient used.

On its own, an egg is OK but get some sauteed veggies and a beef or veggie patty next to it and man are we talking. Couple that with a yummy salad and bam, you’ve got yourself a meal.

But, as fallen human beings we love being eggs, staying eggs and rotting as eggs.

We live in isolation.

Afraid to be cracked open so that God can reveal what we have inside and heal us physically and spiritually.

We act as if we were meant to be islands. Each one consumed by his or her own world.

And in doing so we never reach the full potential penned for us from the beginning of our inception.

We say we love others so lightly, so easily yet when people share a need with us we ignore it and act like we didn’t hear it. We are at times #uncomfortable with the truth that we live in a fallen world and bad things happen.

Marriages face hardships, people get cancer, children fall astray, depression creeps in. This is the reality of the world we live in.

If we were to ask our neighbors, our teachers, our co-workers, and fellow churchgoers if they are hurting from something the answer would be a resounding YES.

You see every single person is facing something, some of us more intense than others but we are all battling some darkness. And you know what?

We were not meant to stay in the egg crate, unused and untouched.

We were created by God and for his purpose and glory to be revealed through us.

And if we say to follow the teachings of the bible then we must understand that we were created to be part of our community of faith, to suffer with each other, to encourage and inspire.

To pray with a mom who is dealing with depression.

To encourage and help the couple who is struggling in their marriage.

To bring food to those who have nothing

to eat.

To share Gods love with one another.

We are meant to use our talents, strengths, and attributes to benefit the body of believers starting with those in our OWN home.

Parents, get off your cell phones and pray with your kids. talk with your teenager; he or she needs to know they are not alone.

Husbands, sit back and listen to your wife if she is nagging you about something it must be hurting her deeply so pay attention.

Wives, support your husbands, be their co-pilot, get their back when everyone else fails them.

Let’s stop being solitary eggs!

Let’s let God break us open so that we can be used in a greater purpose.

Let’s make a cake with our lives, not a rotten egg.

Mariana

Beloved, All Things Work Together For Good…

Friday Reflections

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Can sickness, death, homelessness, financial hardship, lost friendships, and traumatic experiences lead to anything good?

As I’m entering into my 5th day of juice fasting Romans 8:28 has come alive for me in a way I had not considered before.

Back in October after some troubling health news, I began to incorporate daily fresh vegetable juices into my diet at a whopping 80 to 100 ounces a day and 5 days ago I decided to consume only vegetable juice for as long as my body can tolerate it. I’m fasting mainly for health reasons but I am also using the time to pray more and hear from the Lord.

During my fast, I’ve had moments of wanting to give up, especially in the first three days. Having to cook meals for everyone including sweet treats has been hard. Working and dealing with the kid’s schooling has also been hard as I am low on energy. All in all, it has been quite the struggle but I know that what I’m enduring right now will only have a good impact on my overall health in the near future.

The idea of suffering in a small way during my fast made me realize that in God’s kingdom our spiritual lives are a bit like my fasting journey.

At times we face what seems like an unbeatable odd, a mountain too high to climb, a problem too big to fix and yet the Lord God Almighty whispers, “All things, yes all things work together for good.”

It is for his Glory that we are often thrown into the furnace so that in our obedience his name may be glorified. God desires that all of his children would learn to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it is hard and even when we see no end in sight. Because he is the master planner. He sees beyond the pain and frustration and when we seek his kingdom first, all things work together for good.

Although we cannot see through the stormy clouds we are enduring, although the sound of thunder seems threatening and never-ending, the Lord our God is seated above the clouds and he knows when the sun will shine again and when quiet streams will flow near barren valleys.

So let us take courage, for God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Mariana

Mama, Are You Struggling To Keep It All Together? Grab Some Coffee And Read This

Friday Reflections

For the mamas out there who are struggling to juggle all that life has so graciously placed on your lap, don’t lose your focus on Christ.

I can recall a time where my heart and mind were so overwhelmed I wished I was no longer alive. It was a dark and difficult time. As I’ve thought back to that experience I realized that during those months I had completely lost my focus on Christ, on what was most important.

My inability to handle my load of working full time, homeschooling full time, taking care of children and a sick husband while dealing with serious health issues myself, left me feeling defeated and depressed. I had so much to do and felt that if I could not accomplish all of it, I was a failure and wasn’t living up to Gods expectation of who I should be.

The enemy could not have crafted a better lie to keep me spiritually defeated and depressed.

Although my circumstances haven’t changed, if anything they have gotten harder, I can say that I’ve learned to see Christ as my anchor for all things, especially for those things that are burdensome and hard to carry.

I’ve learned and am still learning to trust who God is and believe that he will never leave me or forsake me.

I’ve learned not to pay too much attention to secular standards about how I should be living, homeschooling, dressing, keeping up my home and raising our children.

I’ve learned that I must renew my mind each and every day religiously, by prayer and by the reading of God’s word. Doing so allows me to filter out the junk and keep only what brings God glory.

I’ve learned and am still learning that even the slightest everyday worry puts me in a position of fear instead of a position of trust towards God.

I’ve learned that if we wholeheartedly seek first his kingdom, all the things we need to accomplish our everyday journey will be added unto us.

No matter where you are in your journey as a mom, whether its changing diapers or preparing your kids for college, know this:

The Lord God Almighty has ordained all of your steps according to his plan for your life.

All of the difficult moments and seemingly unbearable trials are simply preparing you to become more like his son Jesus Christ. All of the failures and struggles are part of the journey so embrace them. He is molding you into something beautiful.

One day you’ll be next to someone who is truly broken and suffering and you’ll know exactly how to minister to them and make room for the Holy Spirit to comfort and bind up their wounds.

One day your children will grow up and encounter suffering and you’ll know exactly how to guide them through and encourage them. You’ll be able to share the comfort and joy of the Lord in a tangible way.

Beloved the best thing you can do is to drop all of the things of the world that are burdening your heart and your mind. Drop them at the foot of the cross. Exchange them for Gods holiness, for a new mind, for strength, for direction, and for peace.

All that the world has to offer is just a counterfeit for what God offers us in his word. There is nothing that can satiate our craving for fulfillment and joy. Nothing but Jesus.

Trust Him, obey Him, seek him all throughout the day and you’ll begin to see a shift in what you think is important vs what God says is important.

Let him guide you through the mire and the muck, let him carry you for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

For more encouragement on this topic check out this post.

Mariana

Who Are We Devoted To? A Look Into How We Are Doing Things At Home

Friday Reflections

Who are we devoted to? Are we devoted to things and systems that oppose God?
Whose standards do we live by in our home?
Do we have high secular standards for our kids or high heavenly standards?
Do we pray about everything and seek Gods best plan for each and every area of our life?

Recently I was talking to someone about homeschooling. They said that I should meet a mother they know but they added that this mother had very high standards for her kids.
I asked the person what they meant by “high standards”.
“Do you mean that they invest thousands of dollars in expensive curriculum or do they work their kids for hours and hours a day to master pre-established academic goals? Do they have high spiritual standards?”
This conversation got me thinking.

So what exactly does having “high standards” mean?
What does it mean to the disciple of Christ specifically?

The first verse that comes to mind is in 1John chapter 2 verses 15-17:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

➡️Do not love the world…
➡️not in him
➡️the pride of life…
➡️is not from the father…
➡️the will of God…
➡️abides forever…

These snippets above jump out at me especially “the pride of life”.

The pride of life. Ah yes.
All the things we want and desire to have for personal gain and fulfillment.
Status, recognition, education, success, beautiful homes, enchanting gardens, fancy clothing, picture-perfect children, money etc. The things we pride ourselves upon.

But God’s standards are way higher, they are not of this world, they are not created in a university or in a laboratory.

His standards are simple and can be found countless times in his word. From the sermon on the mount to the apostolic exhortations throughout the new testament.

➡️We are called to NOT be conformed to the patterns of this world.

➡️We are called to NOT love what the world says we must love.

➡️We are called to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

➡️We are called to train up our children with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

➡️We are called to pray about everything and at all times.

➡️We are called to apply Gods standards to everything we do, not the world’s standards.

Within the chaotic movement and blinding noise of everyday life, we can lose perspective and begin to slip into worldly conformity.

Conforming to the world’s standards relinquishes the guiding of Gods Holy Spirit and puts us in danger of hearing “depart from me…I never knew you.”

➡️Remember that the son of man, Jesus Christ had nowhere to lay his head at night.

➡️Remember that many of his followers were uneducated men who did not even wash their hands before eating, who could not read or write. Most of them did not have a formal education but God used them in a profound way.

➡️Remember that Jesus turned away the wealthy man and praised the widow who in her poverty gave all that she had.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, please consider who’s standards you are following and why.
Please open up your bible to find out what God really expects of you.

And please don’t frown upon others who don’t meet worldly standards but are close to the heart of God.

In closing, I want to share a short story from a few years ago when I had the opportunity to work alongside a native South African missionary friend who ministers to orphans in East Africa.
I invited her out to eat lunch with several employees. She sat at the table and laughed while she ate. She chewed with her mouth open and savored everything even to the point of licking her fingers.
A few of the staff members commented afterward of her lack of manners and table etiquette.
I sat back and listened and I remember thinking to myself: “She is so precious in Gods eyes who cares how she eats.”
This woman missionary has endured several beatings, one that left her hospitalized for weeks yet she returned to her beloved orphanage and continues to work there until this day.
I believe she will be one of the great ones in Gods kingdom.

I can only hope and pray for Gods Spirit to lead and guide us every day so that we can bring him glory in the way we train up our children and in the way we honor and obey his holy word.

Set us apart Lord so that we may be acceptable in your eyes.
Mariana

No Stress Homeschooling – Thoughts On What I Have Learned & Free Resources

11107369_1411576342504043_7942726883185188231_nThis past year was insanely crazy. I mean with all the health issues going on, my fulltime job and 3 kids to educate, it was a busy year to say the least.
So this time around, I’m working on a no fuss homeschooling schedule. No fancy curriculums and no stressful books.
In spending about 10 hours researching, I’m amazed at everything available outside of expensive curriculums that can help kids learn. Last night after I finished researching and reading tons of articles online, I grabbed some mini dinosaurs I bought at a thrift store and in just 15 minutes I taught our preschooler some basic math skills. I had him write his answer on paper and that was it. That’s math class for him and it works great with his learning style and sensory needs.

He starts Kindergarten this year and we’ll be using a relaxed homeschooling approach with him since I noticed that he really dislikes doing worksheets for more than 5 minutes a day. So with him we’ll read books on each subject for 15 minutes a day and use thrift shop finds as visual aids in learning math, logic and science.
His entire homeschooling day will only take about an hour and a half and it’s something I can do on my lunch hour and in the evening after work, so that’s awesome.

When we started homeschooling last year we were sold into the idea that our kids had to follow an expensive, complicated and stressful curriculum. But it was not necessary and now I know that allowing them to grow in the areas they enjoy most makes more sense then forcing them to sit at a desk doing seatwork for 6 hours a day.  Although seatwork is important it should not be the only form of learning and it definitely should not be forced on small children as we were doing erroneously.

Biblically as I look at how Jesus taught his disciples and those around him I am convinced that traditional public school education is completely wrong and leaves many kids thinking they are dumb without maximizing their potential. When I look at Jesus I see a man who taught outdoors, who without having much had everything he needed even though he had no secure place to lay his head each night. When I think of who I want my kids to be like, I envision Jesus and his humility. His love for others, his simplicity and his amazing teaching style. I don’t want my kids to be like Steve Jobs or their favorite sports figure, I want them to be like Christ. To grow up and use their talents and strengths to impact the world for Gods glory.
Sadly, education today is seen and managed in a cookie cutter method. But unfortunately this method does not allow a child to grow, to question and to logically work through life’s ups and downs.

So for us, homeschooling this year will take on a whole new approach. It will be parent and student lead, relaxed yet enriched, full yet not stifling.
I am so blessed that the light bulb finally went off in my head and my “ah ha” arrived before we continued to damage our children’s educational process.

If you are on a home-schooling journey and you are wondering how it can be done, I invite you to check out these links below for some great articles on homeschooling methods, free curriculum, free worksheets and more.
May you be encouraged and inspired to make the best decision for your family.
God bless you!

(Pictured: our smallest child, happy to receive a beanie baby my aunt rewarded him with for sounding out new words.)
Below are some awesome links, I highly recommend you visit if you are wanting to homeschool or homeschooling already:

Teaching our children to write, read and spell

Links to educational sites, free homeschooling resources, fun interactive learning activities, information about homeschooling, and lots of other “homeschooling freebies!”

The best advice of seasoned homeschoolers and other educators

Considering Methods & Styles of Homeschooling

Free Complete Online Homeschool Curriculum List

Homeschooling High school

Preparing to Homeschool: Homeschooling Styles

Online Homeschooling via SchoolhouseTeachers.com

50 States Coloring Pages

KidZone Geography United States Printables

500 Free Printable Lunchbox Notes to use at the kitchen table or for a picnic in the park

Free Homeschool Geography Resources

“Devotions” or Devotion?

I just had to share this amazing video teaching by the late Keith Green. It is based on teachings by Charles Finney on what true Devotion looks like. The video is really great and below is a summary of the video teaching taken from the Last Day Ministries website. May you be blessed. by Charles G. Finney Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -I Cor. 10:31

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father… whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. -Col. 3:17,23 “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” -Rom. 14:7-8

These Scriptures reveal the true nature of what devotion to God really is. In discussing this subject, I propose to show: I. What true devotion to God is not. II. What true devotion to God is. III. That devotion, and nothing short of devotion, is true Christianity. IV. Several mistakes commonly made upon this subject.

I. What True Devotion To God Is Not.

  1. Devotion does not consist of reading the Bible, nor praying, nor attending meetings. These may or may not be specific instances of devotion, but are not to be regarded as devotion itself.
  2. Devotion does not consist of a private or public commitment of our lives to God. These are to be regarded as special acts – pledges or promises of devotion – but not as devotion itself.
  3. Devotion does not consist of individual acts or exercises of any kind. These may indeed be devotional acts, that is, “acts of devotion,” but let it be remembered that no acts or exercises in themselves constitute devotion.

II. What True Devotion To God Is.

Devotion is that state of the heart in which everything – our whole life, being, and possessions – are a continual offering to God, that is, they are continually devoted to God. True devotion must be the supreme devotion of the will, extending out to all we have and are – to all times, places, employments, thoughts, and feelings. Let your own ideas of what a pastor ought to be illustrate my meaning. You most likely believe that a pastor, in preaching the Gospel, should have only one purpose in mind – to glorify God by the salvation (and later the sanctification) of sinners. Since he professes to be a servant of God, you feel that he ought to study, preach, and perform all his ministerial duties, not for himself, not for his salary, not to increase his popularity, but only to glorify God. Now you can easily see that if he does not have this singleness of eye, his service cannot be acceptable to God. For it is not an offering to God, it is not a devotion to God – but a devotion to himself. Devotion then, in a pastor, is that state of mind in which all his pastoral duties are performed for the glory of God and where his whole life is a continual offering to God. Again, you feel that a minister ought to be as devoted to God in everything else as he is in praying or preaching – and in this you are right! For he not only ought to be, but really is only as devoted in the pulpit as he is out of the pulpit. If he is influenced by selfish and worldly motives during the week, then these same motives are surely in his heart on the Sabbath. If during the week his thoughts are centered upon his own interests, endeavoring to promote himself, you can be sure it’s the same on the Sabbath. You most likely also feel that if a minister’s devotion is merely an outward farce – that he preaches, prays, visits, and performs all his duties mainly for the purpose of supporting his family, or to get honor and attention for himself – you would say that he was a wicked man, and unless he is converted he would inevitably lose his soul. If these are your views on the subject, they are undoubtedly correct. Here, where you have no personal interest, you form a right judgment and decide correctly concerning the character and destiny of such a man. Now remember, nothing short of this standard is devotion in you! Bear it in mind that no particular acts or zeal or gushings of emotion – or resolutions to change, or promises of future obedience – constitute devotion. For devotion is that state of the will in which the mind is swallowed up in God as the object of its supreme affection – in which we not only live and move in God, but for God. In other words, devotion is that state of mind in which the attention is diverted from self and self-seeking, and is directed to God – the thoughts, purposes, desires, affections, and emotions all hanging upon, and devoted to, Him.

III. Devotion, And Nothing Short Of Devotion, Is True Christianity.

Devotion and true religion are identical.

  1. It is impossible for us not to be devoted to the object of our supreme affection. If we love God supremely, He will be the reason for which we live. If an individual loves God supremely, he will be as conscious that he lives for God as that he lives at all!
  2. Nothing short of this can be acceptable to God. Unless devotion be a habit or a state of mind, unless the whole being be an offering to God, He must have a rival in our hearts. This He will not endure. And to attempt to please Him by isolated acts of devotion (when it is not the habit and state of our minds) is far more abominable than for a wife to attempt to please her husband with an occasional smile, while she lives only to please and gain the affections of another man.
  3. A departure from this state is heart-apostasy. Whatever a man’s outward behavior may be, the moment he turns aside from sincere devotion to God – from a supreme consecration of his whole being to the service of God – he has, in his heart, renounced true Christianity. He is no longer in the service of God, but is serving the object upon which his heart is set; and this is the object of his devotion – that is, it is his god.

IV. Several Mistakes Commonly Made Upon This Subject.

  1. Many imagine that there is a real difference between “devotional” and other kinds of duties – as if a man could be “doing his duty” in that which is not devotion to God. The duties of devotion are generally supposed to be prayer and reading the Scriptures, together with singing and praying in the fellowship of God’s House. On the Sabbath, men imagine themselves to be devotional, while on weekdays (except for those few acts they call their “devotions”) they are serving themselves and are supremely devoted to their own interests. Now all such ideas arise out of a total absence of true devotion; and individuals who entertain such views do not yet understand what true Christianity is. Nothing is “duty” if it is performed for God. A man that is truly religious is as devotional in his daily business as he is on the Sabbath. The business of the world is performed by him with the same spirit and purpose as he prays, reads his Bible, and attends worship on the Sabbath. If this is not the case, he has no true religion.
  2. Now there are some people who really live for God and are obviously in a devotional state of mind, who do not seem to realize that every act devoted to God is as acceptable to Him as prayer or praise. If by necessary responsibilities they are kept from spending much time in prayer or going to a lot of meetings, Satan takes advantage of their ignorance and brings them into bondage. He tries to persuade them that they are neglecting their duties to God by attending to other things.  Now you who are devoted to God, should understand that if His providence should confine you at home to nurse the sick, or prevents you from observing those hours of secret prayer that you are used to keeping, you are not to be brought into bondage or condemnation by this – if you are conscious that these other duties are being done for the Lord.
  3. Others think that devotion can be sincere, but yet extend only to certain duties. That is, that a man may pray sincerely and from right motives, and yet be worldly in the transaction of business. Now a little reflection will convince any honest mind that this is naturally impossible. Devotion to God cannot be sincere any further than it annihilates selfishness. Devotion and selfishness are eternal opposites.
  4. Many mistake the religion of emotion for that of the will. You can see this from their lives – they weep and appear to melt and break down. They promise to change and offer entire consecration to God. But attempt to do business with them the very next day, and you will find them supremely selfish – they are not devoted to God at all, but to their own interests. They are ready to take any advantage, even of their brethren, to benefit themselves. Now it is obvious in this case that their melting and breaking down was merely a gushing of their emotions – not a will surrendered and devoted to God.

Some Helpful Remarks

  1. A spirit of devotion will turn the most constant cares and the most pressing labors into the deepest and most constant communion with God. The more pressing and tedious our duties – if they are performed for God – the deeper and more continual our communion with Him. For whatever is done in a spirit of devotion is communion with God.
  2. They are not Christians, who do not hold communion with God in their ordinary employments. If you do not hold conscious communion with God in your ordinary business, it is because your business is not performed in a spirit of devotion. If not performed in a spirit of devotion, it is sin. For “whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
  3. They are certainly not in a sanctified state, who cannot attend to the ordinary and lawful business of life without being drawn away from God.
  4. Whatever cannot be done in a spirit of devotion is unlawful. If you feel the inconsistency of performing it as an act of devotion to God, it is unlawful – you, yourself being the judge.
  5. Anything not right or wrong in itself may be either right or wrong, according to whether or not it is done in a spirit of devotion. Therefore…
  6. A selfish man may condemn a godly person for doing something that would be sinful if he, himself did it – because the motives of his heart are all wrong. The selfish man assumes that the other person’s behavior is also wrongly motivated. On the other hand, a sanctified person may give credit to a selfish person when it is not due, taking it for granted that, “when the act is right, the motive is right.”
  7. There is no peace of mind but in a state of devotion. No other state of mind is reasonable. In no other state will the powers of the mind harmonize. In any other state than that of devotion to God, there is an inward struggle, and mutiny and strife in the mind itself. The conscience rebukes the heart for selfishness. Hence, “‘There is no peace for the wicked, ‘says the Lord.”(Isaiah 48:22)
  8. They have “perfed peace whose minds are thus stayed upon God” (Isaiah 26:3) in an attitude of constant devotion. It is impossible that they should not have peace, for devotion implies and includes peace.
  9. And now beloved, do you have the spirit of true devotion? Do not reply, “I hope so,” for nothing but a conscious awareness should satisfy you for a moment. If you are devoted to God, you know it – and if you are not conscious of being devoted to God, it is because you are not devoted.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

(Article Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green) ©Last Days Ministries. All rights reserved.

How much more are we than a snowflake?

Photo credit: extremetech.com

Photo credit: extremetech.com

Does God see me?
Does he even know my name; what I have felt and endured.
My sadness, my sickness, my sorrows;
the pain hidden behind my smile.

I think that all of us at one point or another have asked these questions.
For some, these questions have led to a life of distrust and lost faith in a God we cannot see, feel or touch.
For others these questions have led to an even deeper faith and trust in God.

Sometimes the hardest part of having faith is letting go and trusting that an unseen power has the ultimate control of our life, and nothing we can say or do can interfere with his plans for us.

As I thought about this tonight I came across some absolutely stunning pictures.
Pictures of real snowflakes.
I reflected on the perfection and beauty of each snowflake.
Delicately crafted by the creator of the universe.
Just image the detail and love placed in the creation of each snowflake, each one displaying Gods radiance and splendid design.
How much more are we than a snowflake?
Our God, the designer of the universe finds pleasure in making each snowflake uniquely radiant.
And yet we his children wander the earth defeated and burdened down wondering where he is and why he hides his face from us.

Tonight I was reminded that he does not hide his face from his beloved.
He may be silent for a season but he is watching and still in control.
His blessings are all around us yet in our haste we miss out on them.

A snowflake, a river, a singing bird, a quiet stream all point to God’s marvelous hand and power.
We just need to listen, to be free from the constant noise our world throws at us. And when we lay still, we will be able to appreciate his graceful display of power and love in our life.

A snowflake, such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us.
A reminder that he cares even about the minute details of our life.

Let us then give thanks for our life, for breathing, for being able to smile even though sadness may crowd our hearts.
Let us give thanks for moments of stillness, when the world moves a mile a minute and God just rests besides us, waiting for us to let go and trust him.
Let us give thanks that his glory is evident even in a snowflake.
Amen!

PS – for an amazing collection of snowflake pictures click here.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Mariana

Silence is the Secret

We all long to be closer to God. But that requires something simple and often overlooked—the willingness to be still.

by Drew Dyck, In Touch Ministries 

I recently attended a large conference for church and business leaders, featuring big names like Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Jack Welch, Tony Dungy, and Rick Warren. But one speaker listed on the program seemed out of place. She wasn’t a prominent politician, business tycoon, or megachurch pastor. Rather than a suit, she wore a simple white robe and headscarf. Known as “Mama Maggie,” she is a diminutive woman who works in the slums of Cairo, Egypt.

When she walked onstage, the crowd erupted. Visibly moved by the reception, she stopped midway to the podium, pressed her hands together and mouthed words that were lost amid the thunderous applause. Then she lowered her body to the floor and prayed for a moment before rising to speak.

Silence is the Secret

She was worth the attention. Mama Maggie has dedicated her life to serving homeless, starving children in Manshiyat Naser (or “Garbage City” as it’s known in Egypt). She founded an organization called Stephen’s Children to help the countless boys and girls who roam the trash heaps looking for scraps of food. Today, the organization has thousands of volunteers, scores of whom were helped by the charity as children.

Of the many things she shared with us that day, one has stuck with me. “Silence is the secret,” she said to the crowd. “Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit. In silence, you leave the many to be with the One.”

That evening, I had the opportunity to interview her, and I was struck by the palpable humility and incredible gentleness of spirit she exuded. It was plain to see that everything about her grew out of a deep intimacy with God.

Quietness, both of mind and spirit, is essential for communing with the Almighty. “Be still,” the psalmist writes, “and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 NIV). I think it’s important to note that the stillness precedes the knowing—not the other way around. Without first quieting our hearts (and minds and mouths), we’ll never realize the deep intimacy with God we so desperately crave.

Unfortunately, however, we are rarely silent. After a few seconds of quietness, we get fidgety. We start reaching for our gadgets or talking to avoid awkwardness and boredom. We can blame our technological devices or hectic work schedules or busy family lives, but the truth is, we avoid silence at all costs.

Silence is the Secret

A recent study conducted at the University of Virginia testifies to this sad truth. Researchers found that people preferred pain to being alone with their thoughts, even for a few minutes. Asked to sit in a room with no distractions for 15 minutes, participants were offered the option of giving themselves electric shocks. Around half of the people—all of whom had felt the painful jolt beforehand—chose to zap themselves just to break the monotony. (One participant opted for the shock 190 times.)

As Christians, we should find this aversion alarming, because being silent is essential for spiritual maturity. Quietness is to our souls what sleep is to our bodies: It helps us heal and gives us time to grow. Silence—that essential pause from the torrent of noise and busyness—enables us to hear our Creator and move closer to Christ. But finding this silence amid the cacophony of life can be difficult when a thousand things compete for our attention. Even when we get alone with God and try to quiet the buzz in our brains, the mental clutter of worries, fears, and unfinished tasks surges to the surface. It takes concerted effort to cultivate silence, especially in today’s world. But it’s a challenge we must accept. Our spiritual vitality is at stake.

And there’s more. Silence is something even greater than a tool to deepen our spiritual life; it’s the natural reaction of mortals to the presence of a holy God. In Scripture, when people encountered Him, they fell silent or spoke in hushed tones, fearful their sinful lips would incur divine judgment.

Take Isaiah, for instance. When he saw the Lord “high and exalted,” the only words he could manage were ones of despair: “Woe to me!” he cried, “I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5 NIV). Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After seeing Him in His glory, the prophet said nothing; he could only fall face-first to the ground (Ezek. 1-3).

Another example is Daniel, who could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he “bowed with [his] face toward the ground and was speechless” (Dan. 10:15 NIV). Likewise, the revelations of heaven the apostle John received left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Rev. 1:17 NIV). And though there is no shortage of dialogue in the book of Job, silence reigns when God shows up. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?” Job says. “I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4 NIV).

Silence is the Secret

But their reactions are radically different from ours. Drop in on an average church service, and you’ll hear loud celebratory music sung by cheerful, upbeat worship teams. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. We need to be joyful. But there is little time spent standing in awe of God. Can we be shocked into silence by God’s unbridled majesty? Is it possible for us to stand in perfect stillness before His holiness? The answer to these questions is most definitely yes. Yes, we can.

But believe it or not, this isn’t a new issue. In the 17th century, a man named Isaac Watts complained about lackadaisical worship. He objected to “the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly.” His father challenged him to create hymns that would inspire more fervent worship. Watts did just that—and ended up writing some of the best-known songs of the English language, including “Joy to the World.” But it is the final stanza of “Eternal Power” that perfectly describes the worship that can come only with silence:

God is in heaven, and men below;
Be short our tunes, our words be few;
A solemn reverence checks our songs,
And praise sits silent on our tongues.

Watts understood something we would be wise to embrace—that worship sometimes demands wordlessness and that the purest praise often arises from hushed lips. Silence is an acknowledgment that we stand in the presence of a holy and remarkable God. It signals that we’re ready to listen, to receive, and to simply stand in awe of our Creator. It is when we intentionally close our mouths that we can experience a fuller measure of God’s greatness and grandeur.

 

Illustrations by Jeff Gregory

A Prayer for Weakness – Upon the Waters -& Amidst the Desert

Today I wanted to share a prayer I wrote for when I cannot see nor know what God is doing in my life. May you be blessed and your spirit made strong.

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown.
You called me apart to the desert…….to experience the arid climate of the human soul.

You called me to set my feet firm on sinking grounds.
To look up to you,
to keep my eyes fixed on you
regardless of the ground beneath me.

My heart yearns for you so
and is so heavy that I cannot sing my worship to you
only pray silently, that your spirit would govern over all the unrest,
weakness, fear, and uncertainty that has woven webs around your servant.

Hear your servant oh Lord, Let your glory shine down from heaven.
That this broken vessel would be filled with your power and made whole in your sight.

“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown
Yes, you called me to wander in the desert,
to witness your great hand at work.

And although the heat may wither a thousand flowers
and there may be no water to drink
I know that I am safe
under the shadow of your wings.

Although I cannot sing, your praises are in my heart
although I cannot see what you are doing
I know your spirit goes before me

Hear your servant oh Lord,
let your glory shine down from heaven.

Amen
(©)

I Am Who I Am

He whispers this to us, time and time again.
His gentle spirit reminding us of who he is and who we are.

“I Am Who I Am”, says the lord of the universe because he is confident in his plans for us, for a broken humanity.

He is confident of his plans for the woman who cannot bear her burden after years of bleeding and no remedy. (Mark 5)
He is confident of his plans for the woman who with a bowed head approaches the well to hear all that she ever was or did. (John 4)
He is confident of his plans for his humble servants who endure trial after trial and are broken into pieces like a loaf of bread.

“I Am Who I Am” he says to us because he is absolutely sure of who he is and who we are in his sight.
In our sinful humanity we are feeble, weak, dirty and blemished.
In his holiness he is pure, just, loving and merciful.

We need to encounter him,
to be cleansed by him,
to be made strong in his presence so that we may endure the many trials that confront us daily.

I may never be able to rest in my daily circumstances or find peace in them but I can certainly rest in “I Am That I Am”.
Although a thousand may fall at my side, (Psalm 91)
although rumors of war may fill the air. (Matthew 24)
although financial crisis may strike,
although laughter may turn to mourning;

I can find solace and peace in “I Am That I Am”.

———————————-

Friends, let us rejoice in our present trials as the apostle Paul reminds us. Let us find comfort in knowing that those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death are not alone and once they leave the valley they are made stronger.
I believe that God uses greatly those who have been thrown into a fiery furnace and have endured countless tests and trials.
No gold is made pure without fire. Let us then be persistent and keep holding on to the Word of God and to our salvation with fear and trembling.

To him be the glory, honor and praise now and forevermore.
Mariana
“In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, Our course be onward still”
Adoniram Judson

Because you have made the Lord your safe place Psalm 91:9

A reminder during difficult times:

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.  C. H. Spurgeon

When all hell breaks loose and everything around me seems like it is going wrong,
I need to remind myself that the Lord is my safe place.
My job may stress me, my friends may abandon me, my health may fail me
but in spite of it all I can dwell quietly in his perfect peace.
I don’t have it all figured out and I have no clue what tomorrow is going to bring
but I know that my redeemer holds tomorrow in his hands.
So during stressful and difficult times like these I must remember that although my strength may fail me his strength carries me.
Although my energy is lacking his spirit is ever present.
Although tomorrow may cause me to doubt I can trust that His word is true.

I must remember that nothing is impossible for God and although I don’t understand my circumstances I can renew my strength each morning and night when I pray.
I must remember that he goes before me in my battles and leads me to quite waters when my soul is weary.
I must remember that although I am imperfect, his ways are perfect and I can trust them.

Mariana

I know about God’s Design for Marriage but I Hate my Spouse

God designed marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church but sometimes all we want to reflect is anger, disappointment, and frustration!

Maybe it is when our husband ignores our needs and walks off in the middle of an important question or conversation. Maybe he ignores our needs because he believes that his work is more important.
Maybe we see an unjust or inappropriate reaction with our children and we want to discuss it with him,
and before we can finish or even ask a question, an argument starts and he walks away.

Seeing him walk away when we were about to express something that is troubling us can be devastating. It leaves us feeling unloved, unwanted and opens a Pandora’s Box for all kinds of trouble.
Our reaction?
Many women tend to clam up, and up goes the wall.
We grab a book or a magazine and while he walks around doing his thing as if he could care less about the conversation he just walked away from, we sit there,
our eyes peering over the pages we’re pretending to read,
pretending to be fine, and pretending that our heart is not hurt.
But boy are we hurting and in some cases we can become furious.

If he knew just how much his actions affected his beloved, he would never even dare treat her that way. She is left confused and if she has not guarded her heart and made her faith in Christ her rock; she may begin to entertain herself with those who treat her right and listen to her.
And, before you know it an adulterous relationship may arise and hatred towards her husband may begin to choke out her heart.

A few days go by and there we are again, still thinking about the conversation, the injury to our heart, the resentment we feel inside.
Other things may happen in that course of time that push us even farther away from our beloved.
And there we stay, letting old injuries fester.
Like crying children, we refuse to go to the doctor to get our injuries looked at and healed.

Maybe it’s the wife who constantly nags her husband into a mental coma. She knows how, where and when he should live his life. I mean really, this man left his momma’s house to marry a woman just like his momma.
If it isn’t done her way, he isn’t getting dinner with a smile or kisses in bed.
She disrespects him, belittles him and criticizes everything he does. His anger and sadness break him down and unlike the wall created by the hurt wife, this man becomes a home with a faulty foundation and broken-down walls. He is not trying to build walls to keep her out, instead, he lets his guard down and the corrosion and filth of the world slowly rip away the paint and begin to destroy the walls of his heart leaving him vulnerable to adultery and other sins.

Are you nodding your head right now? Maybe a tear streaming down your face because you know what I just expressed has happened to you?
If this is you right now or if you still are carrying old hurts that have seriously damaged the bond between the oneness of your marriage, please don’t delay going to the great physician.
Reading this and doing nothing about it won’t help you.
Thinking about how much you resent your husband or wife for things that happened years ago or yesterday won’t help you.

So what will help?
1. Getting down on your hands and knees and crying out to God with a broken heart.
2. Repenting for having an attitude guided by anger and unforgiveness.
3. Asking the Lord to complete the emptiness and remove the anger that difficult situations have created.
4. Asking the Lord to teach you to forgive as he forgave you.
5. Asking the Lord to help you become a better communicator so you can discuss these issues with your spouse in love and with respect.

You see our spouses were never created to fill in all of our empty spaces. They were not meant to substitute our relationship with the savior of the universe.
They can never be the loving and compassionate being that Christ is. They can only try to model it, but unfortunately, they will never be perfect.
Nothing but Jesus can clean away the spider webs we have allowed to grow around our hearts.
Jesus and his infinite and everlasting love is the only answer to our brokenness and frustration.

People are never going to be perfect and if we constantly focus on their imperfections we will live an utterly miserable life and by doing so never fulfill the plan God has for us on this earth.

Don’t be fooled my dear one. Marriage is no walk in the park. It is not a diamond ring or a nice honeymoon. It is not sexy lingerie or having children.
Nope.
Although the world has made it into this appealing romance fairytale it is not.

Marriage for the follower and disciple of Christ has only one meaning:
” To be a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church”
This is what the bible tells us.
In modeling Christ’s relationship with his church, we model the perfect love.
A love that comes from above and is made perfect in us only because of the greatest act of love ever displayed for humanity. The cross.

The husband who claims to love and follow Christ is supposed to love, cherish and care for his wife as Christ does the church.
He is supposed to protect her from harm and build her up spiritually. With love and care, he teaches her about Christ’s love through the way he treats her and honors her.
He does not belittle or ignore his wife’s needs. He does not yell at her or intimidate her by his actions and words.
He does not force her to do things against her will or aggressively impose his will on her.
Christ never acted that way with his apostles or with the people he encountered.
Men you got to own up. You are meant to follow Christ’s model of love towards his church. Your love to your wife should be how Christ loves His bride.

The wife who claims to love and follow Christ is called to respect and support her husband, to be his right-hand gal and help him through the rough patches. She is an encourager, a lover, a supporter. I believe that when in Genesis 2:18 the Lord mentions creating a helper for Adam, people have taken that verse and interpreted it in many different ways.
As I learned from a teacher in a women’s bible institute I used to attend, the word Helper in the original Hebrew is Ezer which originates from the word Azar, which means to:
Aid, protect, support, offer non-material encouragement, give aid in the form of military assistance in battle.

That changes things completely from the ignorant thought that men are to take on all of the responsibility for marriage and handle all the stress of the world on their shoulders while their loving wives stay home and say:
“Oh well, he is the provider, if he screws up it is his problem, I am called to raise my kids and get my hair done.”

No way Jose, we are called to be one and in that oneness, we are called to let the light, love, and longsuffering of Christ prevail.

Without the cross, there is no hope for true love,
there is no redemption for the lost and hurting soul.
Without the cross, there is only selfishness and despair.
Without the cross, our marriages will surely fail.

But with the cross there is hope. It won’t be easy but there is restoration. It may take time to get past the hurt and pain but I believe that with God’s help all things are possible.

Lots of Love,
Mariana

Hebrew 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Colossians 3:12-17 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Note: I wrote this post to express some of the frustration that all married couples face. However, this post is not directed to those people who are in an abusive marriage where physical and emotional abuse is occurring.
No man or woman should EVER have to stay in a relationship where they are being physically, mentally or emotionally abused.
If you are in an abusive marriage please seek help from your local church and local law enforcement agency.

Honoring the Biblical Call of Motherhood by Pastor John Piper

This is an amazing message I just had to share. It will inspire, encourage and give you a better sense of purpose in your journey of motherhood.
I really recommend you watch the video of this sermon. To view it click here

Pastor John Piper preached this message to honor his Mother Ruth Piper. I pray it blesses you.

May  8, 2005
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Topic: Wives & Mothers

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

My aim in this sermon is to honor motherhood and in this way glorify Jesus Christ who designed it, created it, and blessed it by his incarnation in Mary’s womb and by his words from the cross to John, in one of the most beautiful acts of final care for Mary: “[John], Behold your mother” (John 19:27).

What I want to honor in this message is the biblical calling on a woman’s life to weave a fabric of family life out of commitment to a husband and his calling, and commitment to her children and their training, and commitment to Christ and his glory. In other words, I want to honor the biblical calling that makes marriage, motherhood, and home-management, in the context of radical Christian discipleship, the central, core, dominant commitments of a woman’s life.

There are millions of single women, and many will stay single. There is a grace from God for that—a very special grace and for some even a calling. There are women who are single mothers and the marriage element in the calling I just described is painfully missing. Jesus Christ has a grace for that. There are women who are married and cannot, or, with their husbands, choose not, to have children. Jesus has a grace for that.

And there are mothers who weave together their mothering and their marriage and home management with part-time or full-time employment outside the home—some because they may have to (like single moms), others because they see it as part of their calling and have found creative ways to interlace schedules so as not to compromise their core commitments at home, and others, sadly, because they don’t have core commitments to supporting the husband’s calling, and pouring their lives into their children, and managing a home for the glory of Christ. They’ve simply absorbed the values of the world from television, media, friends with no biblical framework.

The Aim of This Sermon

May aim is not to address all of those circumstances. My aim to encourage the women—and there are millions of you—who believe that God’s call on your life is marriage, the joyful support of a husband and his calling as you display what the relationship between Christ and the church looks like, and motherhood, the transmission of a God-centered, Christ-treasuring vision of life to your children, and home-management, the creation of a beautiful and simple place and a living organism called a home which becomes, not only for the family, but also for the community a refuge of Christ’s peace and launching pad for God’s righteousness.

Those of you women who feel this calling are the ones I want to encourage with this message, and your role is the one I want to honor especially today, because you are probably not going to get the encouragement or the honor from the secular world. They don’t know what I am talking about. Marriage is a parable of Christ and his church? Motherhood as the life on life transmission of a God-centered, Christ-treasuring worldview? Home management as the creation of a living organism that nurtures the peace of Christ and the righteousness of God? The world does not understand these things.

This is a very high and holy and crucial calling that many of you embrace, with little understanding or encouragement from the world. You are the ones who have heard Titus 2:4-5 not as oppressive but as liberating. Paul said to Titus that the older women should “train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” You have heard that calling as rich and deep and precious and high and holy and confirming your heart’s longings, and as absolutely essential for the shaping of a God-centered, Christ-exalting church and culture.

To you I direct this message as a word of honor and encouragement. And to do that I want to spend part of my time in 1 Timothy 3 and part of my time, by way of illustrating the scripture, paying tribute to my own mother who lived out this calling so faithfully.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

First, look with me at 2 Timothy 3:14-15:

But as for you [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [mark those words] 15 and how from childhood [this signals to us who it was that taught him these things] you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

1. From Whom Did Timothy Learn the Word?

I want you to see two things. First, who is Paul talking about in verse 14 when he says, “. . . knowing from whom you leaned it”? He is talking about Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother. There are three clues that lead us to this conclusion. First, Paul refers (in v. 15) to this learning as happening “from childhood.” Second, we see in 2 Timothy 1:5 these words, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” So Paul has already connected Timothy’s faith with what he got from his mother and grandmother.

The third clue is the answer to the question why Paul did not refer to Timothy’s father. The answer is found in Acts 16:1 where Luke tells us about how Paul chose Timothy in the first place as missionary partner. “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” So Timothy is the product of a home with a believing mother and an unbelieving father. That’s why Paul did not say that Timothy learned the scriptures from his father. He didn’t. His father didn’t believe them. But his mother and grandmother did. That is who Paul is referring to in 2 Timothy 3:14.

2. Remembering the Character of Your Godly Mother Is a Great Incentive to Holding Fast the Scriptures She Taught You

Now the second thing to see in this verse is that remembering the character of your godly mother is a great incentive to holding fast to the scriptures she taught you. Let’s read it again so you can see this. Verse 14: “But as for you [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed”—that is, don’t give up your faith, don’t give up the scriptures, don’t give up your salvation. Then comes these crucial words referring back to Eunice and Lois: “knowing from whom you learned it.”

In other words, Timothy, one of the ways—not the only way—one of the ways to strengthen your faith and persevere through hard times and not give up on the scriptures is to remember who introduced you to word of God and the way of salvation. Remember your mother, and your grandmother.

So let’s make very clear: the apostle of Jesus Christ in this text bestows on motherhood and grandmotherhood a great honor. You have a calling that can become the long-remembered ground of faith, not just for your children—mark this—but for the untold numbers who will be affected by your children. And that’s in addition to all the other thousands of ripple effects of faith in your life.

A Tribute to Ruth Piper

Now I turn to illustrate this honor by paying tribute to my mother, Ruth Piper. I have two documents. One that I wrote about my mother and one that my father wrote, both of them written thirty years ago. I’ll read some quotes from my memories to illustrate some of mother’s virtues and commitments as she lived out this calling of wife and mother and home-manager.

First, God’s honor was paramount for my mother. I wrote:

“I never got spanked for makin’ mess in my pants, but I did for skippin’ church; which goes to show mama cared more about keeping; God’s name and my soul clean than she did her own hands.”

Second, she was never cynical about my weaknesses but always tenderly empathetic. I wrote:

When I had to give my first “part” in Training Union, right after promotion day when everybody is older, she showed me how to write the main points on a card and listened just before supper while I practiced on her; she never let on it wasn’t life and death.

Third, she had a Bible-saturated concern for my heart. I wrote:

Mama knew the Good Book—especially the Proverbs; years later when I was three thousand miles away she kept on quotin’ Proverbs in her salutations. The message was always the same—the pulse beat of her heart— Be wise son, be truly wise: Fear God and keep your heart warm.

Fourth, mingled with fiercely earnest faith in the realities in heaven and hell and the seriousness of the Christian life, my mother had an utterly uninhibited sense of humor. I wrote:

Maybe Paul couldn’t imitate baby-chatter or Mrs. Loren Jones or all the characters in a church play; but mama could—and then how she would laugh! Why I’ve seen her and Grandma Mohn— one hundred-thirty years worth of German sobriety— guffaw till their tears wet the table cloth. It would start with a short soprano burst that could split the eardrums; her silver head would toss backward and her long white teeth would flash under her sharp nose, and her tanned neck would redden as the tendons flinched. She was a vision of health and joy; and I never felt better than when mama laughed.

Fifth, she took right and wrong very seriously and held me accountable to the highest standards so that I knew in all the conflict I mattered a lot to my mother. I wrote:

And I seldom felt worse than when mama cried: I got a speedin’ ticket one night and mama wept like I’d shot somebody. All the way to the station at midnight she cried and made me pay it off right then and there. One thing was for sure: I mattered a lot to mama.

What I owe my mother for my soul and my love to Christ and my role as a husband and father and pastor is incalculable.

Now I close by reading my father’s tribute. Keep in mind my purpose—to honor and to encourage women who embrace the biblical calling of marriage, motherhood, and home management for Christ and his kingdom. I see what I am doing here in the same genre as Proverbs 31. I am celebrating a beautiful God-designed calling with the life of one woman who lived it.

A Memorial to Ruth, My Wife

by Bill Piper

She was a priceless gem, rarer by far than sapphire, ruby or diamond. Her radiance depended not on some earthly or external beam. Her glow was from within, shining from genuineness of character and purity of soul.

The dancing sparkle of her life resulted not from material stimuli. It came from a heart that gave and gave and gave again with never a thought of receiving. It reflected a life that loved and loved until there was just no more love.

Her beauty was that of expanded unselfishness. Her whole life was others, her loved ones, her friends, her neighbors and her church. She knew no resting place. The needs were endless and her devotion always equaled the demands. Deep weariness of mind and body never deterred her.

The enormous wealth of her character showed most in her unstinting kindness. All who knew her felt it, witnessed it, experienced and believed in it. Everyone coming within the warm glow of her influence was cheered, encouraged, lifted and blessed.

Her beauty knew no vanity. She disdained the cheap, the tawdry, the make-believe. She loathed everything farcical and hypocritical. Her genuineness was transparent. She radiated reality. Life to her was neither a mummery nor a charade but a daily expression of untainted sincerity.

Her glory sprang from a love of life. Her activities never ceased and her energy seemed boundless. Her spontaneous laughter and contagious smile delighted all who met her. She enjoyed being alive and her life had beauty and purpose.

She epitomized the virtuous woman. She was clothed with strength and honor. My heart safely trusted in her. She looked well to the affairs of her household. She burned the midnight oil. Her hands were never idle. Her mouth was full of wisdom and on her tongue was the law of kindness. Her children have risen to praise her.

She was modest, almost to a fault. Always the lady. Always the queen. She carried herself with poise and great dignity without pomp, piety or ceremony. Modern trends in styles were ignored if they offended her sensitivities or violated her convictions. She never sought praise or  popularity, contented always to serve in a spirit of congeniality and selflessness.

She was the practical woman. Never lavish. Never wasteful. I was the dreamer. She shunned the unnecessary and the excessive. Satisfied with simple things, she avoided that which was foolish and vain. Sound judgments preceded her decisions. Never one to parade, she abstained from the superficial, pretentious, needless and impractical.

Above all was the totality of her dedication. Devoted to her husband, her family, her friends and her church, she was supremely committed to her Lord. Her faith in Christ never wavered. Having trusted him as a child, she loved him more with every passing year. Her convictions held firm in the face of a changing world. The variances of life’s vicissitudes never altered her course. She remained steadfast, immovable, abounding always in the work of the Lord. She was a rock. She was found faithful. She walked with God and God loved her and took her. She now rests with him whom she loved and served.

The light from her devotion and the aroma from her character lives on to bless perpetually the lives of all who loved her. Her testimony will not be lost. Her commitment to Christ has not been in vain. Her husband, her children and all her descendents will rise to call her blessed.

This sermon is a fulfillment of that prophecy, and, I pray, is an honor and an encouragement to all of you women who embrace the biblical calling of marriage, the joyful support of a husband and his calling as you display the relationship between Christ and the church, and motherhood, the transmission of a God-centered, Christ-treasuring vision of life to your children, and home-management, the creation of a beautiful and simple place and living organism which becomes a refuge of Christ’s peace and launching pad for God’s righteousness.

Jesus Is Precious as the Foundation of the Family – A Must Read By Pastor John Piper

Source: DesiringGod
March 21, 1982
Scripture: Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Topic: The Person of Christ
Pastor John Piper

Jesus is precious because he removes our guilt. He is precious because he gives us eternal life. And he is precious because through him we become authentic. Jesus Christ is the most important man that ever lived. To know him is more valuable than knowing all the most famous and powerful people of history. To be known and loved by him is a greater honor than if all the heads of state were to bow in your presence. When this world is over and we all stand before the judgment seat of God, many of you will look back with shame and dismay at how small was the place granted to the Son of God in your daily lives: how seldom you spoke to him, how little of his Word you learned, how half-hearted your resolve to obey, how narrow the sphere of life in which you eagerly sought his lordship. And on that day you will wonder no more why you were so unhappy in this life: unhappy at work,, unhappy in school, unhappy at church, unhappy at home. It will all come clear: half-hearted allegiance to the lordship of Christ in the practical affairs of everyday life not only robs Jesus of the honor we owe him, but also robs us of joy and purpose.

The Lordship of Christ in the Home

If it is true, as we saw last week from Romans 14:9, that Jesus desires so much to be Lord in your life that he died for that purpose, then is it not plain that in every part of your life Jesus wants to be Lord? There is no time or place or activity in your daily routine where Jesus does not want to be your owner, your provider, and your commander. And you will never know joy and authenticity in the minute by minute doing of your daily duties until you are wholly surrendered to him. That is, until you say, “Anything you say, Jesus, at work. Anything you say, Jesus, at school. Anything you say, Jesus, at church. Jesus, I will do anything, anything you say at home.”

Everybody wants a happy home. And most people want a purposeful home—a home with a mission and destiny beyond the mere satisfaction of our own daily desires. We want homes where each person flowers rather than fades. Homes with the aroma of respect rather than the odor of continual belittling. Homes with laughter instead of bitterness, eye to eye conversations instead of sporadic comments, peace instead of conflict, a sense of common mission instead of festering introversion.

The importance of family life in society and church can scarcely be exaggerated. O how crucial in the development of a child’s personhood is the life of his family. And not only little children—but also the lives of husbands and wives are made more or less fruitful by their experience at home. We want a happy home and a family with a purpose and a mission. And my message today is that the lordship of Jesus Christ is the only lasting foundation of such a home. Trusting Christ as Savior, surrendering to him as Lord, and orienting all of your family relations on him, transforms the home into a little heaven on earth. And even if some member of your family is not a believer, there is more grace and power for your love under the lordship of Jesus than anywhere else. He is precious as the foundation of the family.

What I want to do this morning from our text in Ephesians 5 is make one main point and illustrate it briefly in the relationship of husband and wife. The main point is this: Christian family life is a work of God’s Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ’s sake.

A Work of God’s Spirit

Ephesians 5:21–6:9 is a fairly familiar text. It deals with wives and husbands, children and fathers, slaves and masters. In a typical household of that time, those were the three dominant relationships that needed to be regulated. Paul was answering the question: what difference doers it make in a family when its members become Christians? The very existence of such a text in the New Testament (and there are several of them—Colossians 3:18–4:1; 1 Peter 2:18–3:7; Titus 2:4–10) shows that God is not indifferent about the ordinary give and take of home-life. If Christ is your Lord, he is Lord of all your daily life.

But what is not as familiar about this text is the context in which Paul puts it. Look back to verse 15: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” And then comes a series of phrases which tell us the effect of being filled with the Spirit of God: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” And then most of the English versions do something that makes it very hard to see Paul’s intention. They put a period or semicolon at the end of verse 20 and translate verse 21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But in the original, “Be subject” is not a new sentence or a main verb. It is another participle like “addressing,” “singing,” “making melody,” and “giving thanks.”

In other words, verse 21 belongs with verses 19–20 as an explanation of what it means to be filled with the Spirit in verse 18. Literally, then, the passage says: “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The purpose of verses 19–21 is to spell out what happens when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. In verse 19 your heart overflows in song to each other and to the Lord. Verse 20 says that thankfulness is at the center of those heart songs. And verse 21 says that when you are filled with the Spirit, you will submit to one another.

When the Holy Spirit is holding full sway in your life, then your heart brims with a song of gratitude and your heart humbly submits to serve those around you. Submitting yourself to someone means not rebelling with a sense of superiority or a feeling that you are too good to stoop and help when someone puts upon you for service. It’s what Paul means when he says in Ephesians 4:1–2, “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called in all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love.” And in Romans 15:2, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him.” And Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” And Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in lowliness count each other better than yourselves.” That kind of humility and readiness to serve rather than be served, to honor rather than be honored, is a fruit of the Spirit. And when we are filled with the Spirit, we will be submissive to each other in this way. That is the connection between verses 18 and 21.

But now comes the crucial connection with family life. Verses 22ff. are clearly an extension and application of the principle in verse 21. We know this mainly from the grammar of the text. The command in verse 22, “Wives be subject to your husbands,” has no verb in the original. It simply says, “Wives to your own husbands.” Which means it is a continuation of verse 21. The flow of thought then from verse 18 to 22 would be: “Be filled with the Spirit . . . submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ, wives to your own husbands as to the Lord.”

So now it should be evident where I got my main point: Christian family life is a work of God’s Spirit. The submission of a wife to her husband and a husband’s love to his wife (vv. 22–33),the obedience of children and their nurturing by parents (6:1–4), the obedience of servants and the forbearance of masters (6:5–9) all are expansions of the principle in 5:21: “submitting to each other in reverence to Christ.” And this submission in verse 21 is a description of how people act when they are filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 18). Therefore, all of Christian family life is a work of God’s Spirit.

In Those Who Do Everything for Christ’s Sake

But my main point had another part. I said, “Christian family life is a work of God’s Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ’s sake.” Even though the Spirit of God is free to blow where he wills, there is a God-ordained correlation between submission to Jesus as Lord and the work of the Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus be accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Wherever a person bows in humility under the lordship of Christ, there the Spirit of God is at work. It is the mission of the Spirit to exalt Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 16:14, when the Spirit comes, “He will glorify me.” Therefore, when we are filled with the Spirit, we are in love with the glory of Christ and we delight to bow to him as Lord. Or to put it the other way around, if we desire to see the Spirit of God transform our family life, we must surrender totally to Jesus as Lord and turn all our daily doings into an offering of worship to him. When the Spirit reigns in your life, you do everything with a view to honoring Jesus. And in that way Jesus becomes the foundation and focus and goal of the family, and life at home is transformed.

Notice the evidence  for this in the text. After commanding us to be filled with the Spirit in verse 18, almost every verse that follows all the way to 6:9 shows that the Spirit’s work is to exalt Christ and orient all of life (especially family life) on him. Let’s follow his thought. First, in verse 19 the Spirit produces songs to the Lord (Jesus). Then, in verse 20 he produces gratitude to God in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, in verse 21 he produces submission in reverence for Christ. In verse 22 wives submit themselves to their husbands as to the Lord. In verse 25 husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church. In 6:1 children obey their parents in the Lord. In verse 4 fathers bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In verse 5 slaves obey their earthly masters in singleness of heart as to Christ. And in verse 9 masters leave off threatening because they too have a Master in heaven. When a family is filled with the Spirit, everything is oriented on Christ. Christian family life is a work of God’s Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ’s sake. That’s the main point.

A Word to Husbands

And now I want to look briefly at two of Paul’s applications of this truth in our text: first a word to husbands, then to wives, then a closing challenge to us all to be filled with the Spirit, yielded to the lordship of Christ for the sake of our families. The word to husbands is this: Be filled with the Spirit! Yield to the lordship of Christ! And then recognize this: your God-appointed headship in the family is to be exercised in love on the pattern of Christ’s love for the church. I believe many people today make the mistake of saying that since mutual submission of all believers to each other is taught in verse 21, therefore there is no distinction between the roles of husband and wife. But the text simply will not allow this. What verses 22–33 do is spell out the peculiar forms that lowliness and submissiveness of husband and wife will take. And they are not the same. The wife is compared to the church, the husband compared to Christ. The husband is compared to the head, the wife is compared to his body (v. 28). If all Paul wanted to say was “Submit to each other,” he could have left out verses 22–33 altogether. But we know from other letters he wrote (1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2) that Paul sees in the created order a God-appointed distinction between male and female that makes the man’s headship or leadership in marriage fitting and beautiful.

But what the apostle stresses here in Ephesians 5:25–33 is that husbands should be filled with the Holy Spirit, eager to exalt Jesus Christ, and therefore ready to conform their leadership to Christ’s. Christ fulfilled his headship or leadership over the disciples through sacrificial service. Jesus did not cease to be the leader of the disciples when he stooped to wash their feet (John 13:13–15). And when he hung on the cross, the weakest of the weak for the sake of his bride, the church, he was no less her head. Woe to the husband who thinks that his maleness requires of him a domineering, demanding attitude toward his wife. This is not the mark of a Christ-like head but a childish bully.

But the subordinate point of this text for husbands is just as needed today as the main point, namely, you are to be the leader and head of your household under Christ. Do not let the rhetoric of contemporary feminism cow you into thinking that Christ-like leadership in the home is bad. It is what our homes need more than anything. Husbands, for all your meekness and all your servanthood and all your submission to your wife’s deep desires and needs, you are still the head, the leader. What I mean is this: it is you who should take the lead in the things of the Spirit; it is you who should lead the family in prayer, in the study of God’s Word, in worship; it is you who should lead out in giving the family a vision of its meaning and mission; it is you who should take the lead in shaping the moral fabric of the home and in governing its happy peace. I have never yet met a woman who chafes under such Christ-like leadership. But I know of many women whose lives are unhappy because their husbands have no moral vision, no spiritual conception of what a family is for, and therefore no desire to lead anyone anywhere.

Have you seen the Camel Cigarette billboards—the curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with the cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth? The sign says, “Where a man belongs.” You know what I pray when I think about that sign? I pray that Bethlehem will be filled with men who, when they see that sign, say, “To hell with such lies!”—men who know that where a man belongs is on his knees beside his wife, leading in prayer. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is in the driver’s seat, leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God, seeking vision and direction for the family. Men, I challenge you in the name of Jesus Christ our King, be where you belong!

A Word to Wives

And now a brief word to wives. In its context Ephesians 5:22 means: if you are filled with the Spirit and yielded to the lordship of Christ, then you will be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. That little phrase “as to the Lord” has two implications. One is that a woman’s first and ultimate allegiance is to the Lord Jesus and that other allegiances are subordinate to and derivative from this one. The other implication is that, therefore, the subordinate allegiances are limited by the revealed will of Christ. This means that the form which a wife’s submission takes will vary according to the quality of her husband’s leadership.

If the husband is a godly man who has a biblical vision for the family and leads out in the things of the Spirit, a godly woman will rejoice in this leadership and support him in it. She will no more be squelched by this leadership than disciples are squelched by the leadership of Jesus. If she thinks his vision is distorted or his direction is unbiblical, she will not sit in dumb silence but query him in a spirit of meekness and may often save his foot from stumbling. For husband-headship does not mean infallibility or hostility to correction. Nor does the wife’s involvement in shaping the direction of the family involve insubordination.

But if a Christian woman is married to a man who provides no vision, gives no moral direction, takes no lead in the things of the Spirit, the form of her submission will be different. Under the lordship of Christ she will not join her husband in sin, even if he wants her to. And where she can, she will give a spiritual vision and moral direction to her children. But even in this she need not communicate a cocky spirit of insubordination. Even when she must, for Christ’s sake, do what her husband does not approve of, she can try to explain in a tranquil and gentle spirit that it is not because she wants to go against him but because she is bound to Christ. Yet it will do no good to preach at him. At the root of his being he is dreadfully guilty that he is not assuming the moral leadership of his house. You must give him room and in quietness win him by your powerful and sacrificial love (1 Peter 3:1–6).

In conclusion, there is a God-ordained pattern of headship and submission, of leadership and joyful support of that leadership, within the family. It has been conceived by God and revealed to us that we might discover happiness at home and a meaningful mission for our family. It is the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of those who do everything for Christ’s sake. Therefore, the question for you who want a happy home and a meaningful mission and destiny for your family is: Are you filled with the Spirit of God and yielded to the lordship of Christ?

If you would like to pray with one of the pastors and seek this spiritual enabling for new relations at home, I invite you to make that choice very definite by coming and meeting Pastor Glenn as we sing “Happy the Home Where God Is There.”

What is Pure, True and Good


It is the begging of a new week, new endeavors, new accomplishments, new struggles, and new ideas. My prayer for my friends and family is that we will be aware of those things that keep us away from what is pure, true and good.

Today is a big day for millions of sports fans and there will no doubt be many parties, drunken stupors, and bets all the while little eyes watch and record what is seen, heard and felt.  At the same time in various parts of the world, both women and young girls are being sold into sexual slavery.  Thousands of these poor souls will be exhibited and sold today while many drink their beers and cheer for their team.  My prayer? That we will see the evil and expose it. That we will protect our children from sick ideals brought to us by the local media, the popular clothing lines, and Hollywood.

You see people just don’t wake up and decide they are going to work in prostitution or become sex traders, criminals, and drug abusers.  There is a slow ripping away of what is pure, true and good, the degradation of the human soul and eventually this pushes away God’s love and truth, and before they know it, the enemy of our souls envelops the innocent and the willing and pushes them into some of the most heinous and sick crimes known to humanity.

Going back in history we can read that Hitler was not born a wicked man. He was made into one.  He was actually baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith as a child in Austria. But through a series of events, he grew up with a twisted view of what was pure, true and good. He sought to eliminate the God of the Christian and Jewish faith. To create his own ideals, to impose them on others with abuse, tyranny, and consequence.

When I look at mainstream media and at some people in power I scratch my head as I see their distortion of what is pure, true and good and as I read about their laws on how we should educate and raise our families.  Next to these outfits, the Political puppets, AKA the media continues to offer and embrace marketability of sex appeal by which they seek to indoctrinate our young children into liberal lifestyles and distorted sexuality.
Artists such as Jay Z teach our youth to adore money, crave for sex and mistreat women.  Don’t even get me started on Eminem, Madonna, and Katy Perry. There are too many to name but you get the point.Now I ask you, what are you allowing the world to teach the precious minds of your young ones?  Are they being robbed of their innocence by video games, music, and mainstream media? It saddens me to see all the young teenage girls completely engulfed in the fashion industries idea of fashionable.  Showing butt cheeks and cleavage because they want to be noticed and because they are hurting inside.  And what the heck are we doing about it?  Not a darn thing.

My prayer? That we would wake the heck up before it is too late for those we know and love. That we would seek to protect the minds and hearts of our family. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 That when we sit down and watch TV or movies we would be selective and diligent on what sounds and images we allow to come into our brains and be embedded into our hearts forever. Yes, my prayer is kind of long but a needed one.

So today as you come back from church, the park, the store or get ready to go to a Super Bowl Party be mindful of what you do and what you are teaching your family by your actions.  Standup for what is pure, true and good. For me, that means holding fast to my faith because it is the only thing I have proven in my life and the world to be true.  It is what guides me and shapes me day by day.  And although this vessel is lacking and imperfect I know that the redeemer of our souls is with me.  He waits patiently for his beloved people to turn their eyes away from evil and run towards the truth.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13

Homeschooling Preparation On a Budget – Upcycled Faithful & Fun – You Don’t want to Miss This

I like to think of myself as a pretty frugal gal. I despise waste and I love upcycling. From I was in diapers my sweet dad ingrained in me the art of upcycling and making treasures out of trash. He … Continue reading

Be The Change

All things happen for a reason and we are placed next to certain people for a purpose. Today as I left my little ones at school I ran into “the kid”; yes you know? Every school has a few of these kids that are rude, disrespectful, challenging and defiant.
He displays this poor behavior with everyone at school even his grandfather who takes care of him. Some people have just written him off as a nuisance and ignore him. But I can’t. Just like everything in life, I believe that he came to this specific school this year for a purpose.
Come to find out “the kid” has been in several foster homes. His mom up and left him when he was little and his father is a war veteran who has fallen into alcoholism and has abused him verbally and physically until the state took him away. After various foster homes, he was awarded custody to his grandpa.

Now, just looking at him from the outside and seeing his horrible behavior one could easily ignore him or better yet treat him like garbage.
But we should not.   
Every person is suffering through something and every person has a story behind the story.

Children especially are vulnerable and have difficulty dealing with such harsh realities.
Instead of criticizing “these kids” why not help them? I feel like every opportunity I have to make a lasting mark on someone’s life is diminishing the probability that they will grow up to be a thief, murderer, rapist etc.

Hurt kids grow up to be wounded adults who then turn to anger and burst into schools shooting, rob stores, defy authority and go on to committing heinous crimes.
But we have a play in that game. Do you know what your play is?
Just one random act of love and kindness can mend the brokenhearted and spark hope in the eyes of a child that might otherwise be ignored, mistreated and hated by others in society. Share if you Agree!

Lots of Love,
Mariana

Thank you for marshmallows, lollipops, cupcakes and waffles!

Nighttime prayers and our little one says:

“Thank you for marshmallows, lollipops, cupcakes and waffles.”
We all broke out laughing and he was like:
“Why are you guys laughing, my prayer is not funny.”

Oh the marvelous world of a child who just turned 4 and sees mere beauty in the simplicity of the overlooked and uneaten treats of life.
Just hoping to maintain that childlike view of life and be able to see the hidden beauties through the eyes of my little ones.
Never loose the spark of youth for it will take you far beyond the conceivable notions hidden in your brain.

Mariana

Seek you first the kingdom of God…

Matthew 6:33
But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

A man once planted two rose trees, one on either side of his house. The trees were equally strong and healthy, but after a time the one grew and prospered, the other withered and died. Then the man discovered that the living rose tree was on the sunny side of the house. Brethren, we must have the sunshine of faith and hope on our lives, or we cannot live. I have read of a little child who was often observed playing by itself, and laughing and singing with delight. They asked the child what it was playing with, and the little one answered, “I am playing with sunbeams.”
It would be better for some of us who are too apt to look on the dark side to imitate that happy child. If we allow ourselves to be always haunted by the shadow of fancied misfortune, we shall lose faith in prayer, since the black shadow will have eclipsed the face of God.

(Wilmot Buxton.)

Take All that I Am

What a Beautiful God we serve!
Let His praises be heard all over the earth and let every weary soul know the greatness and vastness of His love .

The more I know Him the more I want to love Him.  Yet at the same time it seems like the more I search for Him the more He undoes me.
It’s like trying to look straight at the sun and having your eyes burn.
Your Glory is far more powerful than my limited mind can comprehend.
In only ask of you that you would heal my heart daily, renew my mind every moment and that your word would always be the lamp unto my path.

Take all that I am Lord, that I may love you and you alone.
Teach me to walk diligently, trustfully, and humbly in your site.

Oh that my mouth would say only those things that bring you praise.
That my heart would mourn for those who don’t know of your endless mercies.
That my hands would work at helping others find you.

Be the light in me that quenches all my thirst and removes all the darkness that seeks to destroy me.

Amen!
Mariana

Uncertanty in Trials – Can I really Stand This Lord?

These last few years especially 2012-2013 have been extremely rough.  But this past year has been almost unbearable.  At times I find myself repeating It is well with my soul over and over again.  The words of this famous classic transcend time and manage to whisper its melody quietly to my soul.

This song was written by Horatio G. Spafford after losing all of his children and his business.
As he rode the waves on a ship to take him to his grieving wife he penned these powerful lyrics When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul.  

And so today as we encounter loss of life, disease, unbearable trails, depression or financial loss, we can look towards heaven amidst the sea of violent waves and proclaim It is well with my soul.

I do not know when trouble will cease or when good health will be restored but I know that my Redeemer lives and He is with me.
I know that like the apostle Paul I must boldly confess “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The last part is the key to learning to be content in every situation.  It is understanding that we can do all the things the Father has placed before us if we allow His power to make us strong.
That does not mean that I will not break down and cry or feel pain in my illness or suffer.
No beloved friends, it means that while I am in the valley of darkness He is with me.  He walks beside me so I can endure through His strength.

In my strength, I can only be irritable, depressed, angry and fearful.  In His strength, I can find peace, solace, joy, and hope.

The road is not always easy when constant suffering is involved, but we know that God uses greatly those who go through His school of suffering.
When we suffer we are closer to His heart, we are more human and we depend on Him more.

Let us suffer then, with Him beside us and sing:

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.It is well, with my soul,Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

    • It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

How Great is Our God – A Look at Creation and God’s Perfect Design

http://myworldatlarge.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/laminin.gif
This is such an amazing talk I could not wait to share it with you.  From astronomy to the composition of the cells in our body.  Everything on this earth and in the heavens points to Gods amazing creation.  You don’t want to miss this video especially parts 4 and 5.  Be sure to share with friends, family, scientists and anyone wondering about Gods creation.

Responding to a quote on marriage by Dr James Dobson


“Early Mosaic law made it clear that the emotional well-being of a wife is the specific responsibility of her husband. It was his job to “cheer” her. It still is!”
-Dr. James Dobson

My Response:

“…and the two shall become one flesh…” Genesis. “…no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for the body, just as Christ does the church…” Ephesians.
Many problems arise in marriage because both parties do not understand the true meaning of this sacred union. Marriage is to be for Gods glory and it’s the only earthly institution that reflects Christ’s love and relationship with his bride, the church. We are one with our spouse so we should seek to love and nurture the relationship because we are one and no one would hate their own body as Ephesians 5 states. 

When a Christian husband rejects, dishonors and does not treat his bride with love he is misrepresenting Christ’s relationship with the church. The New Testament is very clear on the roles of husband and wife. We don’t get married to have kids, be financially secure, prosper or to be happy. The only reason for marriage is to reflect Jesus Christ to the world and glorify God as a unit. Something both men and women fail at greatly.

To read an amazing book on marriage check out: This Momentary Marriage by John Piper.
Blessings to everyone.

Mid Morning Reflections – If I Wake up and Can Still Breathe

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will make every effort to smile more, argue less and love God with all of my heart, mind, and body.  

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will make every effort to treasure goodnight kisses and pretty pictures that my kids draw for me on a daily basis. I’ll pray more and ask God to increase my patience and wisdom so that I will know how to raise the children he has gifted me for a few short years.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will share morning hugs and nighttime kisses every day with my beloved and never go to sleep with anger in my heart.

If I wake up and can still breathe I won’t let moments pass without telling the people I love how important they are to me.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will pray so that I can see Jesus in every person I meet and never push aside someone who is in need.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will admire this beautiful earth that God created and praise him every time I see a butterfly dance in front of me. I will embrace the radiant rays of the sun and be thankful for the rain that cleanses the earth.

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will never forget that we only get one chance to live and live well.

A few weeks ago as we sat in church for a service to remember our brother who died and went to be with Jesus; I thought long and hard on my life.
I cried and felt a little bit closer to God, knowing that I too am dust and one day just like everyone else, this earthly vessel will return to dust. I cried as I thought of my father who also was taken suddenly and without reason or warning. I reflected on his life and the legacy he left.  I wondered silently, what legacy I would leave when I am no longer here. 

Sometimes we just don’t know how long a person has left with us. We waste time in senseless arguments and judgments that don’t belong to us when all God wants us to do is live and live for his glory.

Tomorrow may be too late and today may never come so let us live our life as if it were a gift and then give that gift away every day! Let us live knowing that we need Jesus and his transforming love in our life. With him, all things that were created came to be and in him, we have everlasting life.
Blessings,
Mariana

Why Hurt People Hurt People

It is an old adage that says “hurt people hurt people.”

It is well known that those who have been emotionally damaged tend to inflict their hurt and pain on other people. For example, a large percentage of those who have been sexually abused become the abusers of others; those who suffered under an alcoholic parent often themselves cause their future family to suffer because of their drunken stupors.

Until we as a church deal with the whole person as shown in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 our congregations will be filled with people who are spiritually gifted but act like emotional infants. As in other words, the church must deal with emotional health and not just spiritual health and power.

The following are common traits hurt people display in their interactions with others.

1. Hurt people often transfer their inner anger onto their family and close friends.

  • Often those around them become the recipients of harsh tones and fits of rage because they have unknowingly become the vicarious recipients of transferred rage.

2. Hurt people interpret every word spoken to them through the prism of their pain.

  • Because of their pain, ordinary words are often misinterpreted to mean something negative towards them.
  • Because of this, they are extremely sensitive and act out of pain instead of reality.

3. Hurt people interpret every action through the prism of their pain.

  • Their emotional pain causes them to suspect wrong motives or evil intent behind other people’s actions towards them.

4. Hurt people often portray themselves as victims and carry a “victim spirit”.

  • Often hurt people can cry “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” or often use the words “unjust” or “unfair” to describe the way they are being treated, even if there is no truth to this. (That is not to say that sometimes there really is racism or sexism in some instances; this is just used as an example.)

Hurt people have a hard time entering into a trusting relationship.
Hurt people often carry around a suspicious spirit.

5. Hurt people often alienate others and wonder why no one is there for them.

  • They often continually hurt the ones they love and need the most with their self-destructive behavior.

6. Hurt people have the emotional maturity of the age they received their (un-dealt with) hurt.

  • For example, if a girl was raped by a man when she was 12 years old, unless she forgives that man and allows Christ to heal her heart and allay her fears, in that particular area of her life (sexuality with a man) her emotional growth will stop; even when she reaches her later years she may still have the emotional maturity of a 12 year-old.

7. Hurt people are often frustrated and depressed because past pain continually spills over into their present consciousness.

  • In many instances, they may not even be aware of why they are continually frustrated or depressed because they have coped with pain by compartmentalizing it or layering it over with other things over time.

8. Hurt people often erupt with inappropriate emotion because particular words, actions, or circumstances “touch” and “trigger” past woundedness.

  • I have been in situations with people in which there was a gross overreaction to a word I spoke or an action that was taken. Although I was shocked and thought this reaction came “out of left field” it was really the person responding to an accumulation of years of hurt and pain that could not help but spill over in various situations.
  • I myself have been in situations where I felt hurt, troubled, or overreacted to something because it touched a nerve with what I was still dealing with because of a wound I received in the past. In these situations I have attempted to reason through the situation as objectively as I can with much prayer and introspection so I would not say or do anything damaging to another person or myself.

9. Hurt people often occupy themselves with busyness, work, performance, and/or accomplishments as a way of compensating for low self-esteem.

  • Often ministers are not motivated by a love for Jesus but a drive to accomplish.
  • It is important that pastors and ministers be led by the Spirit instead of being driven to succeed.
  • A minister should not preoccupy himself with making things happen. He or she should walk in integrity and humility and allow God to open up doors and provide a ministerial platform according to their assignment for their life and ministry.

10. Hurt people often attempt to medicate themselves with excessive entertainment, drugs, alcohol, pornography, sexual relationships, or hobbies as a way to forget their pain and run from reality.

  • Until the church learns to deal with and emphasize the emotional life and health of the believer, the church will be filled with half-Christians who pray and read the Bible but find no victory because they do not face the woundedness in their souls.

11. Hurt people have learned to accommodate their private “false self” or “dark side” which causes them to be duplicitous and lack integrity.

  • Often their private life is different from their public life, which causes hypocrisy and compounds feelings of guilt, condemnation, and depression.

12. Hurt people are often self-absorbed with their own pain and are unaware that they are hurting other people.

  • They are often insensitive to other people because their emotional pain limits their capacity for empathy and their capacity for self-awareness.
  • I have been in numerous situations when someone hurt me and kept on going in the relationship without ever apologizing because they had no clue what they were doing.

13. Hurt people are susceptible to demonic deception.

  • I am convinced that most of the divisions in the church are caused by saints who lack emotional health and project their pain onto others.
  • Satan works in darkness and deception, and stays away from the light. Hurt people often have destructive habit-patterns that are practiced in the dark. Hence, their mind becomes a breeding ground for satanic infiltration and deception.
  • If the church would deal more with the emotional health of the individual, there would be less of a foothold for demonic infiltration. Also, there would be stronger relationships, stronger marriages, healthier children, and a more balanced approach to ministry with less of a chance of pastoral and congregational burnout.

14. God often purposely surfaces pain so hurt people can face reality.

  • Whether it is because of a marriage problem, or continual personal conflicts on the job, God often allows conflict and spillover because he wants the infection to stop spreading and the person to be healed.
  • Often Christians are fighting the devil and blaming him for conflict when in essence God often allows conflict so that people would be motivated to dig deeper into their lives to deal with root causes of destructive thought and habit patterns.
  • God’s purpose for us is that we would all be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This does not just happen with Bible studies, prayer, and times of glory but also in painful situations when we have to face what has been hurting us for many years.
  • I have noticed that these periods of surfacing woundedness often take place when people transition into the mid-life years of their upper thirties and later. Perhaps this is because by then they are old enough to understand by experience that there is something wrong and also that it is not too late to redeem their pain and restore relationships and maximize their purpose. Rarely is a person able or even willing to deal with and face pain when they hit their senior years (in their sixties or older). Most at this age have already become cynical, hard-hearted, and/or become so depressed they have become hopeless even though God is able to help them at any age.

15. Hurt people need to forgive to be released and restored to freedom.

  • The Gospel of St. John 20:23 says that we have to release the sins of others if we are going to be released. This means that if we do not forgive others then the very thing we have become victimized with will become a part of our life. For example, alcoholic fathers breed alcoholic sons if their sons do not forgive and release their fathers.
  • The good news is that, through the efficacious blood of Christ, we can all be healed and set free from all past hurts so we can comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Truly our mess can become our message!

The above article was written by Joseph Mattera. Joseph has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a multi-ethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond.

His passion is to see the Lordship of Christ manifest over every realm of society so the church can fulfill the cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28. This has resulted in extensive ministry nationally and internationally, reaching out to many nations of the world including the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Turkey, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Holland, Ukraine, Canada, Mexico, and Cuba. You can visit his web site to read additional articles written by Joseph Mattera by clicking HERE.

Quotes on the “Unbelieving Spouse”

The following are quotes from various resources that we pray will help you in your relationship with your Unbelieving Spouse.

• If an unequally yoked wife is wise, she will take advantage of her domestic setting and use it as a womb in which the Lord can woo and win her husband into birth in God’s kingdom. She can use their home and her God-given position as a wife to counterbalance the worldliness that predominates her husband’s life. She must be open to the wonder of their love. She must devote herself to him, the same as she would if he were the greatest Christian who ever lived. She needs to learn to separate her personal reactions to what her husband does from the actual agitation of the Holy Spirit. And above all, she must do everything within her power to be the kind of helper, friend, and counselor to her unbelieving husband that God meant her to be. (Jo Berry, Beloved Unbeliever, pg. 35)

Nobody was ever nagged into the kingdom of God. Nobody was ever manipulated into the kingdom of God. We come to Christ because we’re shown grace, we’re shown love, and we’re shown mercy. If our spouse is on the receiving end of criticism and manipulation —they’re going to run. The harder we try, the faster they run. If I were coaching somebody, I’d say, “Stop, because God knows what He’s doing.” I didn’t come to Christ until I was 23. Somebody else might not come to Christ until they’re 33, 83, 93, or 103. It’s all in God’s timing. He has a plan, and He knows how He’s going to work it out, and He will use us. He doesn’t need us, and that’s a freeing truth —that God can run the universe without me.

I’m a newspaper reporter. My beat is religion, and I’ve written the Christian testimonies of well over 400 people. When I do a story of a man who has come to faith in Christ after his wife, I always ask, “What was it about your wife? What did she do? What did she say to help you come to faith?” Every single man that I’ve talked to says the same thing –”It’s not what she said, frankly, I tuned her out, but it’s how she loved me. She just loved me. Even when I was cruel, she loved me.” So what I would say is love your spouse into the kingdom and let God deal with him or her. (Nancy Kennedy, Family Life Today radio broadcast aired 06/04/03, titled, “What I Did Wrong,”)

• An area of battle is coping with the daily changes that occur within yourself, and how that interacts with your mate. As a “child of light,” you begin to see life differently through God’s filter. Things of the world no longer satisfy, excite, or challenge you. Your sights are set higher. Part of that is reflected in your relationship as a wife [husband] friend and lover. There unfortunately are things that you begin to dislike about him [her]. We are to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

There were times I had to pray, “Lord, give me a desire for my husband … help me to love him with Your love, because I don’t like him very much right now.” Remember, you have to “take every thought captive, unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Give it to God and then you will have peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he [she] trusts in You.” “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). You will have peace when you give these struggles to God and let Him keep them. (D. L. McCarragher, from book, “Mission Possible”)

• Pray specifically over the strongholds in your spouse’s life. Be bold. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Ask the Lord to give you a scripture specifically for them and turn them into a prayer. Insert your spouse’s name and give God’s own word back to Him for your spouse. Ask God to show you how to love them beyond their faults and flaws and to show you the battles you should face head on versus the ones you should walk away from and lay totally at His feet, to be dealt with in His time.

Know that Satan will try to distract you. He will try to frustrate you and unsettle you and discourage you. That is the time you need to press into the Father and seek Him with your all. It will be worth the sacrifice. (Rosheeda Lee, from the Spiritually Unequal Marriage email, Jan. 4, 2010)

• God never says, “Oops!” Perhaps the most difficult thing for a spiritually-single wife to understand is that God is fully aware of her situation. Your spiritually-mismatched marriage can “mold you into someone who looks and loves more like Jesus,” Nancy Kennedy says. When an unbeliever’s wife recognizes God’s presence in her situation, she can relax. “You’ll be able to enjoy your life and that will ease tensions at home. When that happens, you won’t have to talk constantly about your faith because you’ll be living it” (from Lifeway.com article “How Spiritually Unequal Marriages Can Be Whole“).

In our zeal to get our husbands saved, we do everything but show the love of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) is totally absent from the picture. In our efforts to be his savior, the fruit of the Spirit is not perfected in our lives. Although you really want to “be all that,” you still have growing to do. So stop thinking that you are better than your spouse —he can see right through you —and your superior attitude does not provide a warm welcome. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book “Can Two Walk Together?”)

• Some of our situations are far beyond us and beyond our ability to change. …There were times in our marriage when in my mind I was ready to leave, and I’m sure there were times when my husband may have wanted to leave. I had [figuratively] beaten him so badly with the Bible that he was probably saying, “Take the Bible and go.” Scripture says if the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, let him go. “But if the unbelieving partner [actually] leaves, let him do so; in such [cases the remaining] brother or sister is not morally bound. But God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). However, it does not say to put him out. I wanted to put [my husband] out. I said, “You are not a believer, and I am a believer, and this is not going to work. We are both struggling. Why don’t you go ahead and pack? God will understand.”

But that is not what the Scripture teaches. It says, if he wants to leave, it is OK to let him go. It did not say make him leave, encourage him to go, or tell him all the reasons why the marriage won’t work. Instead, you should be praying that God would move in the heart of your spouse, as well as in your marriage, and that He would strengthen you —give you endurance, patience and forbearance. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book, “Can Two Walk Together?”)

• If you’re afraid you’ll lose your spouse if you change and follow what God is telling you to do, be honest with your spouse! Be direct. Say, “Look, I’m making certain changes in my life right now and I don’t feel comfortable with x, y, and z activities anymore. But, I’m scared for us. I’m afraid that we’ve built our marriage on these activities and if I don’t do these things anymore with you, you’ll pull away and I’ll lose you. But these changes in my life are very important to me.” [A friend] explained that “Fear of losing your spouse is just Satan’s way of halting your progression. He convinces you that your spouse will leave you if you change and live the way God wants you to. So, if you ‘face the lion’ Satan loses his hold.” As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) (From the article “Facing the Lion in a Spiritually Uneven Marriage” written by Marnie Pehrson posted on Shelovesgod.com)

Question: What more can a wife, with an unbelieving husband do, besides trusting God that He’s sovereign, praying in faith – believing that eventually God will reveal answers to your prayers, and finding ways to respectfully building him up?

Answer by Nancy Kennedy: Find common ground, especially when the spiritual difference is so profound, and maybe there’s antagonism. I would suggest finding the things that you do have in common and not talking about Jesus all the time. You can speak the Gospel loud and clear by never mentioning the name of Jesus. And I always tell women to start building a bridge. Build upon that relationship, find common ground, even if the only thing you have left in common is that you both like chocolate chip ice cream. Build on that, and then just keep finding common ground. (Nancy Kennedy, from the radio program, Won Without a Word, aired 06/26/03 on Family Life Today)

• Pray for your unbelieving spouse. If your spouse is not yet a Christian, ask God to show your spouse his or her need for Jesus. Pray for God to deliver your spouse from evil that deceives him or her, and help your spouse to discover the truth of the Gospel, which will set him or her free. Pray that the way you live out your faith would be a good example to your spouse that will help him or her draw closer to Jesus. Ask God to give your spouse an unmistakable encounter with the Holy Spirit. Pray for Christian friends for your spouse who can influence them in positive ways. Never stop praying for your spouse’s salvation as long as he or she is alive! (Whitney Hopler, from the Crosswalk.com article, “Pray Big Prayers for Your Marriage”)

• During your time of “waiting on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), you must be courageous. This is not a time for whimpering and whining. This is a time to dig in and serve —and a time to dig trenches and fortify your position in Christ regarding your mate. The enemy is stealthy and clever in distraction regarding your mission. He will try to divert your energy and resources into other areas that might be good, but not GOD’s best! Be careful with too many church activities and over commitment.

Remember, your spouse does not understand your need to serve the kingdom purposes. Balance is crucial, when it comes to home, church, and work. Pray that God will prepare your husband’s heart and give you that understanding and favor regarding your “God assignments.” Use spiritual sensitivity and discernment when it comes to volunteering yourself for everything that comes your way at church. God will affirm to you the right things to do, and conversely, He will squelch those things which are wrong for you at the time. You must stay in touch with God on a daily basis through prayer, reading the Word, and seeking the Spirit’s leading to know His will for you and your household. (D. L. McCarragher, from book “Mission Possible)

• While perfection isn’t possible or even necessary, your behavior can attract or repel your spouse where spiritual growth is concerned. You’re living out what you’re experiencing with God. Is it appealing? Is your relationship with Christ making you a more enjoyable person to live with —or just a more religious one? (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)

• No matter what your husband’s spiritual condition may be, he deserves a wife who exhibits God-pleasing behavior. You don’t have to hold back any good thing from your husband just because he doesn’t believe in God, in fact your loving treatment of him may cause him to have a change of heart!  This is not to say that a wife has the power to save her husband’s soul; only the Holy Spirit can accomplish that, but you can certainly influence your husband (without words no less!) and show him the love of Christ. (From the web site Childoflight.org)

• The spouse who struggles with faith issues needs a gentle partner to come home to. A holier-than-thou approach is sure to deepen the divide —not only between your partner and yourself, but also between your partner and God (and it can’t do much for your own walk with Christ, either). Nobody wants to be smothered or judged or patronized. It’s not an issue of spiritual leadership or authority; it’s just human nature to pull away when someone invades your space physically or emotionally. (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)

Love really is the greatest motivator of all time. If you really want to see a spouse come to faith in Christ, it’s not going to be through cramming the Gospel down their throat. It’s not going to be through the Gospel ambush, through teaching a parrot how to present the Gospel, getting our toddler to be able to say, “Daddy, why don’t you go to church?” It’s going to be that spouse that allows the Holy Spirit to fill her, to fill him, and to be a mirror of God’s love to a man who doesn’t have spiritual eyesight.

He’s just a man, but you know what? He recognizes love when he sees it, and the real assignment for those listening to us right now is I want you, before your head hits the pillow tonight, I want you to sit down and write down five ways you can begin to aggressively show love to your spouse and none of them can be the proclamation of the Gospel verbally. They all need to be the proclamation of the Gospel through your life and through your actions and your heart and your respect and maybe even a kiss on the cheek for your spouse. (Dennis Rainey, from the Radio Program, Won Without a Word, aired on Family Life Today, 06/26/03)

• The Scripture teaches us that the Lord inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). If you want the Lord to inhabit your relationship, then a natural ingredient is worshiping together. Unfortunately, some couples don’t have the benefit of worshiping together. Perhaps one works or just won’t go to church. This is an area to keep on your prayer list; look for ways to find meaning together when you can.

I know of a husband who agreed to go to church with his wife once a month. Instead of nagging or condemning about the other three weeks, she made a big deal out of that one morning a month by serving fun food and turning it into a pleasurable event. Within the year he was going most Sundays. Today, after many years, he is a leader in their church. Set the tone for a good experience. Pray for God’s Spirit to inhabit your worship. (Jim Burns, Creating an Intimate Marriage, pg. 162)

• Before you sum up your spouse’s spiritual struggle as merely a “sin issue,” take some time to consider his context. What was his religious experience as a child? Was his faith nurtured or hindered? Was his parents’ faith meaningful or a chore? Has he experienced a personal relationship with Christ or mere religion? The Bible is clear: We’re not authorized to judge others (Matthew 7:1). Sometimes in marriage we’re prone to judge because of what we know —or think we know —about our spouses. We do know, however, that God cares about our mates. The struggle may take time, and may even challenge our faith. In the meantime, we can trust Him to nurture our spouses and our marriages. (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)

Most women who are involved in unequally yoked relationships have heard the Scripture that your husband may be won through your quiet and gentle spirit. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1). My caution is that Scripture says that he may be won, not he will be won. It does not say that because you are quiet, gentle, and meek your husband will be saved in two weeks or any specific time frame.

As a counselor, I see a lot of women who are carrying anxiety and guilt about their husband’s salvation. However, we must remember that there was a time in our lives when we were without God and didn’t know enough to know we needed salvation. Even if we knew, we could not save ourselves; and we certainly cannot save anyone else. Do not become burdened or feel responsible for your spouse’s salvation. I know you probably don’t fully believe that things will ever change. So go ahead, take matters into your own hands, tell him what he’s missing, brag about what the pastor says, and what so-and-so’s husband is doing! And after you have wasted your time doing these things —and it is a gross waste of time —trust in the Lord to draw your husband into the faith the same way that He drew us. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book “Can Two Walk Together?”)

• “How would you treat your spouse if you saw them as being autographed by God?” Gary Smalley posed that question as he spoke on the subject of marriage and it’s a good one to think and pray about.

• Can you look at loving your spouse as doing it for the very heart of God? (Goes with Matthew 25:40)

We often hear it asked, What am I getting out of this marriage? But the more appropriate question is: WHAT IS GOD GETTING OUT OF YOUR MARRIAGE? He’s seeking a colleague —a dedicated partner and coworker —in the ministry of loving your spouse, and YOU are the colleague he wants. Furthermore, He’s seeking a colleague to JOIN HIM in the ministry of loving you, and He wants your spouse to fill that role. (Never Alone – by David and Teresa Ferguson – Tyndale House Publishers)

• Big mistake!  Don’t ever compare your husband to other men, especially those at church, or you’ll be truly miserable and setting yourself up for some very harmful emotional situations.  It’s easy to idealize men you don’t have to live with especially if your own husband doesn’t seem to be matching up, but all men (and women) have their faults and foibles.  No one is perfect except Christ Jesus.

I have two pieces of advice here: One – Never make a man your confidante. Aside from conferring with your pastor, as a Christian woman you should confide in one or two trusted Christian sisters only.  There are many reasons for this but I’ll only mention the obvious here.  If you’re feeling your husband isn’t meeting your needs, unburdening yourself to a well-meaning and sympathetic male friend sets up an atmosphere of false intimacy that can lead to adulterous thoughts or actions.

Two – Don’t make it a habit to complain about what you perceive to be your husband’s “negative” qualities. Dwelling on and talking about your husband’s short-comings only re-enforces those thoughts in your mind as well as making him look bad to others, and you don’t want to do that to someone you love. (From the web site Childoflight.org)

• When you are in an unequally yoked relationship, one of the things that can really trip you up is looking at other people’s marriages. It is It is so easy to look at other couples and think, “I wish my spouse was a Christian and my relationship was like theirs.” Do not set yourself up to stumble. Do not look to the left or to the right; look up from whence cometh your help. Look up! Your help comes from the Lord. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 12:1-2 KJV).

Remember, if you look to the Lord and learn to praise Him for your spouse regardless of what is going on around you, you will have the abundant joy that He desires for you. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book, “Can Two Walk Together?”)

• As the wife of an unspiritual man, you naturally worry about how your children are going to come up. But God doesn’t want your children to be lost.  Though I’ve often worried about this, especially when I see signs that my children are developing ungodly habits, I remind myself that God Himself gave my beloved little ones to me and is watching over their hearts and minds protecting them.  Not only that but Jesus Christ died for them because of their ungodly habits.  In His Hands they are safe. (From the web site Childoflight.org)

• Just because our spouse isn’t a believer (yet) doesn’t mean we can’t have a God-centered marriage. You are the conduit to bring God into your marriage. Keep the faith and remember that through that very same faith, your spouse partakes in your sanctification (read, “Sanctified Unbeliever”) and God’s covering. (Dineen, from the Spiritually Unequal Marriage ministry)

There are times when you might question God’s timing. Don’t beat yourself up by asking why your prayers haven’t been answered yet. Don’t let the terrible trio of fear, doubt, and unbelief do a number on you. The enemy loves to torture you with those, so don’t be double minded (James 1:8). Take authority and just believe. Try not to analyze why your spouse won’t “take hold of the cross.” Was it pride? Anger? Resentment at God?

We are not the Holy Spirit. Only God searches the heart and tests the mind (Jeremiah 17:10). God knows the perfect timing and perfect plans He has for your husband. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Give it over to God today! (D. L. McCarragher, from the book “Mission Possible”)

• Question: Being mismatched can cause a marriage to be a roller coaster emotionally and spiritually. How do you combat those low times?

I stay close to God. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it. I find that a heavy heart is always uplifted by those precious words in the Bible. There’s so much in there, so many who have struggled before us and God put their stories and struggles right there for us to read and learn from.

Plus, it’s really hard to lose hope when God puts it on your heart to help someone who needs help or prayer. That helps me keep things in perspective. And the small group I’m part of is such a blessing in my life. These ladies are mismatched too. We pray for each other and hold each other up though it all.

The worst thing to do is to isolate yourself. I used to do that too. That’s where the enemy gains power and control in your life. We need other Christians to stay strong, I understand that now. Especially in a mismatched marriage.

But I’m noticing that the roller coaster is becoming more like a boat ride now. We have smooth waters most of the time, choppy waters occasionally. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, things smooth out and we sail along. (From “An Interview with Lexie Baltimore – Part 2″, as posted on Spirituallyunequalmarriage.com”)

• Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who hope in/wait on the Lord will renew their strength. That’s God’s promise of what time spent with him will produce. This is my pursuit right now… how can I live more victoriously in Christ and be a living and visual testimony to my husband of who Christ is?

Ladies and gents, we’re in a battle here. We can either stay alert at the feet of Christ or live in defeat. I know I much prefer Christ’s “feet” over “de-feat.” (Dineen, from The Spiritually Unequal Marriage email, April 14, 2010)

Source: marriagemissions.com

Is Our Identity In Christ?

identity
Where does our identity reside?  

Is it in a building, a person, a credit card, a location, a wardrobe or philosophical teaching?

I see a Christ that yearns for his servants to realize that true identity is only found and held in Him.  In his wounds that bled on Calvary.  In his blood that was shed for our filth.

It is at the foot of His cross that we find our identity.  It is there that we see the savior, hanging lifeless for all of mankind.  It is there, at the foot of his cross that we lose all that we are and gain all that He wants us to become.

Let us not lose focus on who the author and finisher of our faith is.  He is the Christ child, who grew up among Jews, gentiles, prostitutes, and heretics.  The Christ child who spoke with authority in the temple while others marveled at his wisdom and criticized him.

The child who grew up and spoke to crowds congregated in Jewish temples. The savior who rescued a harlot from being stoned.

The redemption of mankind who came into the world as a child and left as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

His identity was in His father and in doing the will of his father.  He was no less of a savior when he established his ministry among unbelieving Jews and Pharisees.  He was and always will be God incarnate.

Let us find our identity in him and in him alone.

Amen – Mariana

He is the Lover of Our Souls

It’s not always easy to do the right thing.

Sometimes we are ridiculed and mistreated by the world and by our own brothers, when we choose to take up the Cross of Christ.
But in all things we know that if we have Jesus as our CEO and CFO all things will work out for good.

The creator and lover of our souls knows the deepest desires and troubles of our heart.  He is the only one who can comfort, restore, clean, rebuild and heal those things in us that keep us apart from Him.

And we know that it is in the fiery furnace that we find Jesus walking among us, as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Love Mariana

Where God Wants Us To Be – A Message for Advent by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

acandle

    Where the understanding is outraged,

where human nature rebels,

where our piety keeps a nervous distance:

there, precisely there, God loves to be;

there he baffles the wisdom of the wise;

there he vexes our nature, our religious instincts.

There he wants to be, and no one can prevent him.

Only the humble believe him and rejoice

that God is so free and grand,

that he works wonders where man looses heart,

that he makes splendid what is slight and lowly.

Indeed, this is the wonder of wonders,

That God loves the lowly.

“God has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.”

God in lowliness —

That is the revolutionary, the passionate word of Advent. 

From a sermon preached by Bonhoeffer on the 3rd Sunday of Advent in 1933

Come Lord Jesus – A Prayer

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and reside in my heart.
Come and dine with your servant.  

Behold I lay at your feet, holding on to your garment, waiting for a release of your power in my life.

I lay at your feet, humbled and with a contrite spirit, asking for your covering.
Come and cover your servant as Boaz covered Ruth.

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and cleanse me from my sin
Come and bless your servant.

For I am here awaiting your call.
Let the power of your Spirit be restored in my broken heart.
Let the joy of your salvation be evident on my lips.

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and reside in my heart.
Come and dine with your servant, for I am ready to break bread with you,
now and forever.

Amen
Mariana

Bullying, Violence & the Degradation of Innocence – A Sad Reality

**WARNING – language and adult content portrayed in the video below**

Today I had an hour-long phone call with a friend of mine who is a single mom with two children.  She was explaining to me how her son was out in their neighborhood playing with the kids and all of a sudden things turned bad.  One of the kids proceeded to lower his pants and start peeing on my friend’s son. 

One thing led to another and my friend’s son found himself on the floor being beaten and kicked as other kids videotaped the fight on their phones.  A brave teenager who lived nearby arrived on the scene and intervened. 

My friend’s son walked away soaking wet, bruised, beaten up and bleeding.  The kid who attacked him also bit him which caused severe bleeding.  My friend ended up taking her son to the hospital and was told to file a report with the police which she had not done out of fear and also not wanting to get her neighbor’s son in trouble. 

This type of story makes me sick to my stomach.  The part that disturbs me the most is that while my friend’s son was being physically attacked, bitten and beaten, other children were watching and videotaping the event on their phones. 

In thinking about this sick reality it makes me ask the question:
What are we doing wrong with our kids?  How far have we come as a society that children find enjoyment in watching other children be mistreated and hurt?  It’s these children that later grow up addicted to pornography and some of them actually live out their fantasies by raping women and children. 

Parents we need to wake up and wake up fast or the little babies that one day rested in our arms may just find themselves resting behind a prison cell. 

Everything we do and say is recorded in their little minds from the time they are born.  Everything we allow them to see be it on TV or with friends is also recorded and imitated. 

The incidences of childhood violence are on the rise which I find related to the increase of visual stimulation and electronic devices. 

Kids these days are glued like zombies on their iPods or iPhone.  They are in a trance with earplugs, streaming the latest music with lyrics like the ones we hear from R&B artist Rihanna and Eminem in the below video:
“(Your) just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts”

Listening to this song makes me cry, feel nauseous and brings me back to a place where I was the girl in the song, being hit and yelled at in the name of love.  He would hit me, then start crying and say he was sorry. He would tell me:
“It’s just you and I, and we fight because we love each other.”
“YOU MADE ME HIT YOU”, he would scream while I cried uncontrollably trying to calm him down.  We lived the crazy Bonnie and Clyde relationship which left me bruised and broken inside for over a decade.  It distorted my view on love and pushed me to change the way I dealt with people.

Thank God that His love is amazing and after suffering in silence for so many years God was able to help me get through my painful past although ashes still remain the fire has died out and I am one step closer to being whole again. 

But today, there are girls and boys who will encounter similar abuse and not escape alive.  This is an emergency people.  We can no longer stand on the sidelines while our kids absorb all the crap the world has to offer them. 
We are called to a higher standard of parenting.  If we don’t work closely with our children, our community, our churches, and other families to stop bullying, violence and the loss of innocence then we might as well just abandon our kids on the street and let them take care of their own life. 

When we let the internet, music, TV, bad friendships, seductive clothing, and magazines govern the lives of our children, it’s just the same as abandoning them on a street corner.  So spare yourself the expenses and just abandon them from now! (I am obviously using rude humor, but you get the point.)

As a parent, we must be involved in the lives of our children.  This means making difficult decisions and guarding them against bad choices when they are young while planting seeds of wisdom so when they are older they will be able to make their own wise choices. 

The story at the beginning of this article could happen to anyone’s child.  As parents, we have to be involved in the lives of our kids and make sure we are not allowing them to be involved in things that feed into the dark and nasty world of bullying and violence we see spiraling out of control in our schools, university campuses, and workplaces. 

As parents, we must stop being passive and uninformed.  You can meet with your local school, church or community to work together against this growing problem.  The future of our children is counting on brave parents that will take a stand for what is right and will enculturate their children with Godly values and teach them about forgotten things like forgiveness, honesty, modesty, purity, respect, honor, courage etc…

Will you take a stand? 

Here are some resources:

http://tosavealifemovie.com/index.php

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/schooling/bullying.aspx

http://goldenrulepledge.com/grpresources/

Lots of Love – Mariana

Is It Decent or Indecent? – A look at Wise Women & Clothing

What Not to Wear Photo | Girls Gone Wise
What Not to Wear

In 1 Timothy 2:9, the Lord provides three guidelines that help Christian women figure out what and what not to wear: “She adorns herself with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” Let’s examine these three guidelines to help us ensure that our looks are in good order, properly arranged, and ready to display Christ.

Is It Becoming or Unbecoming?

Kosmio is the descriptive form of the Greek noun kosmos (to put in order, trim, adorn, or decorate), which is related to our English word cosmos—the universe. The Greeks regarded the universe to be an ordered, integrated, harmonious whole. Kosmos is the opposite of chaos. So when Paul told women that their adornment should be kosmio, he meant that like the universe, all the parts should be harmoniously arranged with the other parts. It should be “becoming”—that is, appropriate or fitting. Given the context, I believe Paul was implying that our adornment ought to be becoming on a number of different levels.

First and foremost, your clothing ought to be becoming, fitting to, and consistent with your character as a child of God. But it also ought to be becoming to your body type, becoming to your femininity, becoming to your husband, becoming to the other clothes you are wearing, and becoming to the occasion and place you intend to wear it. There’s a tremendous amount of guidance in that small word, becoming. It challenges you to evaluate your clothes, shoes, purses, makeup, and hair from multiple angles as part of the harmonious, integrated whole of your life—to line up the seen with the unseen and the temporal with the eternal. It challenges you to bring a cosmic perspective to bear on your everyday decisions.

I like the word Paul chose. It has enormous implications. Kosmio means that a Christian woman’s “look” ought to be consistently put together, inside and out. This challenges those who put an undue emphasis on external appearance as well as those who neglect their personal appearance. It’s a corrective to women who dress extravagantly. It’s a corrective to those who dress seductively. But it’s also a corrective to those who think that “holy” means frumpy, ugly, unfeminine, and out of style. Becoming indicates that running around in baggy jeans and T-shirts all the time is just as inappropriate as being obsessed with stylish clothing. It means that a woman’s appearance ought to be put together nicely. It ought to be pleasant and attractive—on the inside and the outside.

Is It Decent or Indecent?

The second word, aidous, is based on the Greek term for shame and disgrace. The word is a blend of modesty and humility. When I think about a word picture that personifies this concept, I think of approaching God with eyes that are downcast.

It involves a sense of deficiency, inferiority, or unworthiness. It suggests shame, but also a corresponding sense of reverence and honor toward rightful authority. It’s the opposite of insolence, imprudence, disrespect, or audacity. Downcast eyes are the opposite of defiant eyes.

So does dressing with your eyes downcast mean that you are self-conscious? No. It means that your clothing tells the truth about the gospel. Your clothing shows the world that Jesus covers your shame and makes you decent. Your clothes cover your nakedness as the clothing of Christ covers your sin.

Dressing “with eyes downcast” means that you choose clothes that are decent in His eyes . . . not clothes that are provocative, seductive, and that honor nakedness. When you dress decently, you recognize that God ordained clothes to cover, and not draw attention to, your naked skin. You cover up out of respect for Him, the gospel, your Christian brothers—and out of respect for who He made you to be. Decency means you agree with the Lord about the true purpose of clothing and set aside your self-interest to dress in a way that exalts Christ.

So in that dressing room trying on that skirt, take time to sit, bend, and stretch in front of that mirror, and ask yourself, Is this skirt decent? Does it do what it should do? Does it properly cover me up? Does it showcase my underlying nakedness—or exalt the gospel of Christ?

Is It Moderate or Excessive?

The final thing to ask yourself about clothing is whether it is moderate or excessive. Paul uses the Greek word sophrosunes. It means “of a sound mind; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.” The word indicates that our adornment should be reasonable and not crazy. We ought to rein in our impulses and avoid extremes in fashion, hairstyles, and makeup. We also ought to avoid spending crazy amounts of money or stuffing our closets full of crazy quantities of clothing. We ought to govern our wardrobe choices with a sense of moderation, simplicity, and self-control. If the outfit is crazy extreme, crazy expensive, or if it’s crazy for you to be buying another one, then you ought to pass it up.

Understanding the purpose of clothing and asking yourself the three questions, Is it becoming? Is it decent? and Is it moderate? will help you figure out how to dress. And don’t forget to include your “Helper” in the process. The Holy Spirit is an invaluable source of assistance when it comes to figuring out whether or not your appearance glorifies God. If your heart is right and you seek His guidance, He will be your personal wardrobe consultant and teach you what and what not to wear.

Source:
© Moody Publishers. Adapted from Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, pp. 103-108

Got Integrity? Find out what the bible has to say.


Integrity is a word that is not used much in today’s English. One definition of integrity is: “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity”So we can say that a good synonym for integrity is honesty.  In the ESVof the Bible most all of the verses that contain the word integrity are in the Old Testament, leaving only Titus 2:7 in the New Testament. Closely related verses containing the word honest or honesty are also primarily from the Old Testament. Take a look at these twenty important Scripture quotes regarding integrity and honesty.

God’s Promise

1 Kings 9:4-5 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ (The LORD speaking to Solomon)

Psalm 41:11-13 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity,and set me in your presence forever. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,from everlasting to everlasting!Amen and Amen.

Proverbs 2:6-8 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

Psalm 2:20-21 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it

Man’s Plea and God’s Defense in light of Integrity

Genesis 20:5-6 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (King Abimelech having a conversation with God about Sarah, Abraham’s wife)

Job 2:3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”

Psalm 25:19-21 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!  Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

Psalm 26:8-12 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;redeem me, and be gracious to me.My foot stands on level ground;in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.

Psalm 26:1-3 Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

Integrity Doubted and Judged

Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job’s wife mocking Job after great tragedy)

Job 31:4-8 Does not he see my ways and number all my steps? “If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened to deceit; (Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!) if my step has turned aside from the way and my heart has gone after my eyes, and if any spot has stuck to my hands, then let me sow, and another eat, and let what grows for me be rooted out.

Psalm 7:8 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.

Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Walking with Integrity

Job 27:1-5 And Job again took up his discourse, and said: “As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.

Psalm 101:1-2 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? Will walk with integrity of heart within my house;

Proverbs 20:7, 11 The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

Proverbs 28:18 Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (KJV) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Titus 2:7-8 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Christian Quotes About Integrity

“We must be the same person in private and in public. Only the Christian worldview gives us the basis for this kind of integrity.”  ~ Chuck Colson 

“Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed.”  ~ David Jeremiah 

“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.”  ~ John MacArthur 

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”  ~ Chuck Swindoll

Source:
http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-integrity-20-important-scripture-quotes/

Is Worry My Companion or Christ?

I remember not too long ago feeling extremely stressed out.  I kept taking deep breaths as if doing so was going to rid me of my worries and de-clutter the madness circulating in my brain.  As I drove I remember thinking to myself: 

“There is just so much to do, bills to pay, kids to register for school, tuition fees and medical treatments we can’t afford, health complications, searching for a home to move into, cooking, eating, remembering to sleep and in between all that, remaining faithful to God in prayer and devotion.”

I remember taking another deep breath and wiping the tears from my eyes as I drove into work and my thoughts continued:

“Lord, what are you doing with all of this?  I feel like we are juggling glass balls and at any moment one of those precious balls is going to drop and shatter.  Will it be the health ball that falls first or the financial ball?”

How many times have we been in the same situation?  Worried sick that things are not going the way we planned.

I know for me, life has been anything but easy this past decade, more so these past 4 years.  Time and time again, suffering has become my companion and tears my food.

There have been days filled with immense pain, hardship, and trials in the midst of days of sunshine.

But when days and seasons are draining my energy and destroying my hope; I pray for God to give me peace and I try my hardest to stand on the fact that my Redeemer, your Redeemer, He lives and He is with me and with you.  I can’t see Him or feel him or touch him in a direct way, but I can see His beauty as I observe the wonders of His creation.  Animals feeding their young and calling one another for companionship and help.  Birds chanting a mid-day melody.  I feel Him when I am embraced by a cool breeze on a hot summer day and when I hug my children I get a glimpse of His perfection and beauty.

So when worry fills up the hallways of my heart and I am consumed with doubt and fear I need to remember, we all need to remember that He lives and He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of might and of a strong mind! 2 Timothy 1:7

May you know that He lives, may we all know He lives and although the day may be at its darkest, the new morning is just around the corner.

Pray for me so I can remember these truths always.  If you need prayer, please just post a request under the section entitled Prayer at the top right-hand side of this site.

Lots of Love Mariana

Corporate or Christ Like?

Time and time again I hear the same complaints from friends of mine working in churches and Christian ministries.

Their complaint?  Well, it’s quite simple and quite sad if you ask me. It’s also a huge problem that we are all guilty of at some point in our Christian walk. 

The issue is the call to live like Christ within the corporate world and how Christian people in management adopt corporate over Christ-like behavior more often than not.

This is something that bothers me beyond what I can express on paper.  I could type all night and still not be able to express how distasteful and horrible it is to see well-meaning Christian leaders place their faith under their behinds and act out in ways that do not reflect the love, transparency, and honesty of Christ.

I mean really.  Did Christ lie about things when he was asked a question?  Did he live his 3-year ministry pretending to be someone he was not for the sake of the Cross he had to one day endure?  Did he tell little white lies to not cause riots in the streets where he preached?  How about His disciples?  Where they hypocrites for the sake of the people they ministered to or those who were under their discipleship?

Then why on earth do we think it is okay to act without honesty, transparency, and love for our brothers and sisters in our workplace?  If we are truly followers of Christ we should be the same people at work, church and at home.

The way things are done in the corporate world is not necessarily how Christ would choose to accomplish things.  I often wonder how our Christ would walk around in the streets of NY City or Miami Beach, getting shoved around and made fun of because of His teachings at bus stops and public places.  He would probably be arrested as He was over 2000 years ago.  And we see clearly by reading the gospels that he did all the things his Father called him to do for the benefit of mankind regardless of the consequences.

The apostle Paul explained it like this:  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24).  Christians in the workplace should be motivated by the desire to glorify God and to inspire others to desire to know him not push others away because of our false testimony.

In a book entitled Your Work Matters to God, Douglas Sherman and William Hendricks write:

“The key to bringing the culture and the church back together, to renewing the workplace and reforming the church—may well be a movement of people who are known for their hard work, for the excellence of their effort, for their honesty and unswerving integrity, for their concern for the rights and welfare of people, for the quality of the goods and services produced, for their leadership among coworkers—in short, for their Christ-likeness on and off the job.  What could an army of such workers accomplish?”

Friends, if you work in corporate America, don’t be corporate, be Christ-like.  The whole world is watching you, both Christians and non-Christians.  How you handle things in the office behind closed doors is Gods business too!
The people you may talk about, be upset at or intend on reprimanding unjustly are under the same sun as you and are part of God’s creation.  This is especially important to remember if God has gifted you with authority in your workplace.  Don’t think for a moment that God honors your corporate un-Christlike behavior.  If we follow Christ and are being discipled by Him, we are called to set aside the ways the world manages things and adopt Christ as our model and CEO.

Lots of Love 

For resources of God at work check out http://www.thehighcalling.org/work

Pagan Christianity?

This is a book I’ve  had in my Amazon cart for a very long time.  Recently I ran into an article online about the book and I decided to add it to my list of books to read in the coming weeks.

Here is some information courtesy of Amazon about the book in case you want to look for a copy at your local library or purchase it. 

Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we “dress up” for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, and choirs? This ground-breaking book, now in affordable softcover, makes an unsettling proposal: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is rooted, not in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence and extensive footnotes that document the origins of modern Christian church practices. In the process, the authors uncover the problems that emerge when the church functions more like a business organization than the living organism it was created to be. As you reconsider Christ’s revolutionary plan for his church—to be the head of a fully functioning body in which all believers play an active role—you’ll be challenged to decide whether you can ever do church the same way again.

Many Christians take for granted that their church’s practices are rooted in Scripture. Yet those practices look very different from those of the first-century church. The New Testament is not silent on how the early church freely expressed the reality of Christ’s indwelling in ways that rocked the first-century world.

Times have changed. Pagan Christianity leads us on a fascinating tour through church history, revealing this startling and unsettling truth: Many cherished church traditions embraced today originated not out of the New Testament, but out of pagan practices. One of the most troubling outcomes has been the effect on average believers: turning them from living expressions of Christ’s glory and power to passive observers. If you want to see that trend reversed, turn to Pagan Christianity . . . a book that examines and challenges every aspect of our contemporary church experience.

Here are a few commentaries courtesy of the Publisher from people that have read the book :

“Most contemporary Christians are massively ignorant as to how the church got to where it is today and of how much current church practice is due simply to accumulated tradition, with little or no roots in Scripture. This book provides a useful service in peeling back the layers of tradition, showing the origins of much that we today call “church.” Christians who want to be biblically faithful, regardless of their particular tradition or church form, can learn and benefit from the book.”
Howard Snyder, Professor of History and Theology of Mission, Asbury Theological Seminary, author of “The Problem of Wineskins” and “The Community of the King.”

“PAGAN CHRISTIANITY is a landmark, a true milestone in the overall task of bringing in a new style of responsible, interactive Christianity to replace the old, severely paganized ecclesiastical forms. Frank has done us a great favor, drawing together revealing tidbits from hundreds of sources to create a continuous picture of the formation of today’s institutional church. There’s nothing like it in print. It is now THE book on church history from the point of view of the underground, open church.”
James Rutz, author of “Megashift” and “The Open Church.”

“PAGAN CHRISTIANITY contains a wide variety of interesting and helpful historical information of which most Christians – or non-Christians – will be completely unaware. The book identifies – in part or in whole – the pagan roots of many of our current church practices, as well as indicates some borrowed from earlier Jewish or, occasionally, more recent Customs.”
Robert Banks, New Testament scholar, author of “Paul’s Idea of Community” and “The Church Comes Home.”

“This feisty book attacks the incipient paganism that has been absorbed into historic Christianity over the years. It exposes the syncretistic weak spots in what we assume to be basic in our way of doing church. Thoroughly iconoclastic, it is also at the same time a good apologetic for the house church movement which has strong restorationist impulses. My guess is that it will anger some readers and thrill others. I am one of the latter. Whatever, it won’t be too easy to dismiss as it is really well researched and substantiated. I think it is definitely worth the read even if I do think it is a tad purist in tone. Just don’t drop it-it is likely to explode.”
Alan Hirsch, author of “The Forgotten Ways” and “The Shaping of Things to Come.”

“Driving out demons is easy – compared with changing habits and traditions of man that develop into idols, to give us what only God should give us: identity, security, destiny. As in a child, the original God-given conscience is clean and clear. Many new born Christians feel the same and have an automatic feel for what is right. But in the case of organized Evangelicalism in the West, they are swiftly taken into a religious system that basically believes everything that Mom and Pap says — and happily embrace “church practices” that are not in the Bible. Many just “know” at some point something is terribly wrong with Church-as-they-know-it. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY not only substantiates these ill feelings in millions of Christians with hard facts, but it provides us with a road map for the journey ahead. Once we know where we went wrong, repentance and finding the right way forward comes much easier.”
Wolfgang Simpson, author of “Houses That Change the World.”

“Anyone interested in the worship of the New Testament church and how that was altered through the centuries will find Frank Viola’s PAGAN CHRISTIANITY very useful. The authors’ position is clear and quite well documented.”
Graydon F. Snyder, Professor of New Testament, Chicago Theological Seminary, author of “Ante Pacem: Church Life Before Constantine.”

“As a Christian Artist/Musician I’ve had a chance to experience many different kinds of churches all over the world, from huge cathedral services to bizarre charismatics and strange Third World stuff to stiff denominationals– and good and bad “house churches”. For nearly 35 years in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia I’ve been involved with almost every conceivable kind of Christian expression. I’ve even served on staff as Worship Pastor at a large church here in the U.S. The result? I’ve already learned from study and experience what Frank Viola and George Barna have proven by historical documentation in PAGAN CHRISTIANITY: The traditional model of how we “do church” is very wrong — and it’s strangling Christ’s Body. No matter where you are in your Christian journey, you need to read this book. It’s truth whose time has come. Those who have never experienced His tangible presence as a regular occurrence when they meet will find it hard to believe that there is something more than what they know: It’s very hard to walk away from what you’ve invested your life in when you don’t know anything else. And the very grace of God Himself can be confusing: He’ll fill whatever cup we lift to Him, no matter how small.”
Don Francisco, Christian musician/songwriter.

“It’s a great read and my copy has already been STOLEN by my neighbor who is probably just as fascinated in its contents as I was. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY by house church guru Frank Viola and researcher/author George Barna who have teamed up to give us the most thorough treatment yet of the pagan origins of many of our most cherished Sunday church traditions. Actually, Jim Rutz nailed a few of these in his book “Open Church,” but Viola and Barna have gone far beyond Rutz, or anyone I know, in exposing more elements of Protestant church traditions to the scrutiny of historical research. Like dressing up for church. Pulpits and 3 point sermons. Clerical dog collars. Church steeples and seminary training. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY lets George Barna unpack his argument why the new Revolutionaries mentioned in his previous book are not rebelling against God by setting up organic house communities. And it gives Frank Viola the chance to put forward his best thinking yet in a series that has already assisted thousands of people in dealing biblically and historically with accusations of “lack of covering” or “neglecting church” or more recently, of adopting “pagan” practices in starting emerging churches. Ha! Watch as Franky and Georgy turn the tables! Controversial? Yes . . . DUH! . . and the backlash has already started.
Andrew Jones, tallskinnykiwi

“Why do we ‘do church’ the way we do? Most folks seem to assume that our Christian religious trappings can be traced all the way back to the first century. But they can’t. The things we hold dear-sacred buildings to meet in, pulpits, sacramental tables, clergy, liturgies, etc.-were unknown among Paul’s assemblies. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY looks at our major church traditions and documents when and how they appeared in the ages long after the apostles. Haven’t you ever wondered why people dress up in their best clothes for the Sunday morning service? PAGAN CHRISTIANITY unfolds the answer to this and numerous other questions looming in the back of many folks’ minds. Reading PAGAN CHRISTIANITY will open your eyes to the fact that the ecclesiastical emperor really has no clothes on.”
Jon Zens, editor of “Searching Together.”

“In recent years, an increasing number of us pastors have recognized a major blind spot in the living out of our commitment to a Biblical lifestyle. That blind spot is ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church). As a former Presbyterian pastor, I believe PAGAN CHRISTIANITY will play a vital role in shaping the growing conversation on this subject now and in the future. Well researched and well written, this book is accessible to both church leaders and those formerly known as the laity.”
John White, former Evangelical Presbyterian pastor; Community Facilitator for LUKE TEN: A Community of Practice for Church Planters.

“PAGAN CHRISTIANITY documents specific areas where contemporary church life violates Biblical principles. It is painful to read because it requires taking a journey beyond the comfort zone of our present paradigms. Whether you agree with all the conclusions the author draws or not, you will have no argument with his documentation. It is a scholarly work with an explosive conclusion. Particularly for those of us in the modern cell church movement, this is a valuable tool to force rethinking the meaning of the word “ecclesia.” The Holy Spirit is not pleased with churchianity as we practice it, nor is the watching unchurched world.”
Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr., author of “Where Do We Go From Here?” and founder of the Cell Church Movement.

“Frank Viola and George Barna have teamed up to create an intelligent, readable, and yet challenging work about the historical roots of the many unbiblical modern church practices that hinder Christian growth in quality and church growth in quantity. Anyone who reads Pagan Christianity with an open mind and heart will never see the church the same way again. May those with newly-gained spiritual eyes not stop there, but go on to do something about it.”
Rad Zdero, Ph.D., Author of “The Global House Church Movement” and Editor of “Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader.”

“Frank has done a masterful job both researching and then weaving together the threads that have made modern church practices what they are – pagan substitutes for authentic church life. One nice thing about PAGAN CHRISTIANITY is that it provides the history behind a perception that many of us Christians share: The way the modern Western church does things has little to do with the organic life we see in the New Testament. The difference is so great sometimes that one wonders how one could possibly have transmuted into the other.”
Hal Miller, author of “Christian Community: Biblical or Optional?”

“This is an important book which demonstrates that many of the practical aspects of contemporary church life, ministry and structure have little or no biblical basis and are, in fact, inspired by a wide variety of non Christian patterns and ideas most of which are inimical to Christian life and growth. Many readers will find this book challenging in the extreme but all who are concerned with the future of the church should read it.”
Dave Norrington, Lecturer of religious studies at Blackpool and the Fylde College, author of “To Preach or Not to Preach.”

Here is an excerpt from the book:

I Need to Get this Off My Chest – Paying Attention To The Deeper More Important Things

As I mom and just a plain old gal, I feel the need to stand up and speak out about the world’s concept of beauty and our own superficiality, emptiness, identity, and broken hearts.  Most concerning is the message the world is sending to our girls.  “Buy this and you’ll be beautiful.”  “Use this lipstick and you’ll be desirable.”  Every day a young girl and or grown woman decides to take her life because of the feeling that she is not worth anything and that she doesn’t fit the mark of perfection drawn out for us by mainstream society. 

However, we (men and women) are not defined by fashion, money, beauty or social status. Our worth and value come from the loving Father in heaven who created us in His sight and according to His image and likeness! But there will always be people who take extreme care of their bodies and freak out about every single calorie that is eaten. Or they indulge in every single calorie in an effort to satisfy a deeper hunger.  

Being a health and wellness educator and researcher I understand this all too well because before God transformed me I found myself really consumed with my physical appearance.  I recall going to the gym every single day and spending 2 or more hours a day just to have the perfect body. At times even if I was sick I just could not skip going because in essence, my workouts were one of my idols.  And behind those idols were lots of things that I had not yet confessed and given up to my savior. Not that working out is bad, on the contrary, eating healthy, exercising and resting is good for our bodies but has very little impact on our souls.

Too often we are fixated with appearance and how we look on the outside. We try and compensate for how we feel on the inside by how we dress and act on the outside. That’s why so many people overeat, vomit their food and starve themselves because there is a deep wound on the inside, a scared child that has been masked by external things like food or lack of food which has no impact on the real problem. I must say that it is good to keep your body healthy because by doing so you will live longer and be able to accomplish whatever God has placed you on this earth to do. But no, your body is not everything because one day it will be eaten away by worms when you leave this earth.

It is unfortunate how many girls both young and old struggle with the feeling of not being beautiful and accepted in society and even in their own families.  They go through life aimlessly wandering trying every new clothing item, makeup, relationship and fad all in an effort to try to satisfy a need that only our heavenly Father can fill. This breaks my heart.

If I had a loudspeaker where the whole world could hear me, I would say the following:
It’s only when we understand the purpose for our lives and we remove the blinders, the need to be perfect, have financial status, the obsession with fashion for the wrong reasons, and superficiality that we are truly gorgeous in Gods sight.  And these changes can only come about by allowing Gods love to pour into our souls and by giving Him all that ties us to the world’s concept of how we should live our life.  After we accept His love and give him all that we are, we must repent for our sins so he can restore us and make us new.  Only then are we able to receive all that was planned for us to have from the day we were created, and once that beauty is discovered and accepted it will radiate from the inside out.

So please pay attention to the deeper more important things. Seek the help of a friend or counselor. Pray and ask God to reveal any hidden idols keeping you tied to the world’s standards. Remember, we are called to be in the world but not of it. We are also told: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

Regardless of where you are spiritually, know that those things that you can’t handle, you can give to God, the handler of all things ugly and difficult!
Lots of Love Mariana

God is Searching for Extraordinary Disciples – Are you One?

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9  

God is looking for men and women whose hearts are firmly fixed on Him and who will continually trust Him for all He desired to do with their lives.  God is ready and eager to work more powerfully than ever through His people, and the clock of the centuries is striking the eleventh hour. 

The world is watching and waiting to see what God can do through a life committed to Him.  And not only is the world waiting but God Himself awaits to see who will be the most completely devoted person who has ever lived: willing to be nothing so Christ may be everything; fully accepting God purposes as his own; receiving Christ’s humility, faith, love and power yet never hindering Gods plan but always allowing him to continue His miraculous work. 

There is no limit to what God can do through you, provided you do not seek your own glory. 

George Mueller at more than 90 years of age, in an address to ministers and other Christian workers, said, “ I was converted in November 1825, but I didn’t come to the point of total surrender of my heart until four years later, in July 1827.  It was then I realized my love for money, prominence, position, power and worldly pleasure was gone.  God and he alone, became my all in all.  In him I found everything I needed and I desired nothing else.  By Gods grace, my understanding of His sufficiency has remained to this day, making me an exceedingly happy man.  It has lead me to care only about the things of God.  And so dear believers, I kindly ask if you have totally surrendered your heart to God, or is there something in your life you refuse to release, in spite of Gods call? 

Before the point at which I surrendered my life, I read a little of the scriptures but preferred other books.  Yet since that time, the truth He has revealed to me of Himself has become an inexpressible blessing.  Now I can honestly say from the depth of my heart that God is an infinitely wonderful being.”

My prayer today is that God would make me an extraordinary Christian.  

 

Source Streams in the Desert

Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? John 18:11

To “drink the cup” was a greater thing than calming the seas or raising the dead.  The prophets and apostles could do amazing miracles, but they did not always do the will of God and thereby suffered as a result.  

Doing Gods will and then experiencing suffering is still the highest form of faith, and the most glorious Christian achievement. 

Having your brightest aspirations as a young person forever crushed; bearing burdens daily that are always difficult, and never seeing relief; finding yourself worn down by poverty while simply desiring to do good for others and provide a comfortable living for those you love; being shackled by an incurable physical disability; being completely alone, separated from all those you love, to face the trauma of life alone,: yet in all these, still being able to say through such a difficult school of discipline, “Shall I not drink the cup the father has given me?” – this is faith at its highest, and spiritual success at its crowning point.  Great faith is exhibited not so much in doing as in suffering. 

In order to have a sympathetic God, we must have a suffering Savior, for true sympathy comes from understanding another persons hurt by suffering the same affliction.  Therefore we cannot help others who suffer without paying a price ourselves, because afflictions are the cost we pay for our ability to sympathize.  Those who wish to help others must first suffer.  If we wish to rescue others, we must be willing to face the cross; experiencing the greatest happiness in life through ministering to others is impossible without drinking the cup Jesus drank and without submitting to the baptism He endured. 

The most comforting of David’s psalms were squeezed from his life by suffering, and if Paul had not been given “a thorn in the flesh” we would have missed much of the heartbeat of tenderness that resonates through so many of his letters. 

If you have surrendered yourself to Christ, your present circumstances that seem to be pressing so hard against you are the perfect tool in the Fathers hand to chisel you into shape for eternity.  So trust Him and never push away the instrument He is using, or you will miss the result of His work in your life. 

The school of suffering graduates exceptional scholars. 

Source: Streams in the Desert

 

Why Fast?

The bible speaks about fasting in the Old and New Testament but more often than not we have a blurry view on why we fast.  Many churches today hold a fast with the goal of obtaining an answer from God or to see Him work or simply to seek His face.  We see an example of this correct type of fast in the Book of Esther chapter 4 where a strong and fearless queen Esther asks Mordecai to tell the Jews to fast for three days while she and her maidservants do the same.  Queen Esther’s response to Mordecai about fasting comes after he challenges her spiritually by saying that she may have been placed as queen “for such a time as this.” 

Although what he was asking her to do went against the law per se, she had a higher calling on her life and was to be used as an instrument to save the Jews from annihilation. 

Her call to fast is one of faith while actively waiting in anticipation to see how the God of Israel will work to deliver His people.  Esther knew she could die in the process but she continues with Gods plan and fasting anyways. 

This is a beautiful story on how and why fasting is done.  If you finish reading the book of Esther you will see that after the 3 day fast the story takes an amazing turn that only God could have planned. 

However, there are those who fast for selfish reasons or to show others how spiritual they are.  By doing this type of fast, they violate everything Jesus says in the book of Matthew chapter 6 about fasting.  It reminds me of a favored quote from John Chrysostom where he says: “What good is it if we abstain from eating birds and fish, but bite and devour our brothers?” 

If that does not sum it up then I don’t know what will.  Fasting, therefore, is not just skipping out on meals, but it consists of a denial of all of our worldly passions for the Father to be glorified in and through us.  If we fast and mistreat others in the process then that is not the type of fast that God wants of us. 

Like Esther, we may fast to heed the Fathers calling and pray for His strength and His will to be manifested in us. 

Here are some great scriptures you can read and meditate on that speak about fasting.  I list the whole chapter because it is important to always read scripture within the context of the chapter and the book it is written in. 

Isaiah 58

Joel 2

Matthew 6

Acts 13

Lots of Love – Mariana

My Prayers are with you Aurora Colorado

We are a family that stays away from TV.  We have a TV but if it gets turned on, it’s usually to watch a movie on DVD or an old VHS movie.  

Yesterday when we were shopping at WholeFoods the gentleman in the meat area asked my husband if he had heard of the news about a shooting in Colorado.  My husband turned to me as I looked through the things in our cart.  I only half heard what he was asking and shrugged my shoulders and head as if to say no. 

The kids were carrying on asking: “Mommy can I have this, look mommy, look over here” so I really did not understand what he was asking me at first… 

“Shooting” I said to him, “no I did not know of anything like that.”  The gentleman in the meat area then went on to explain to us what happened. 

How tragic I thought to myself, my heart sank for moment.  But it was not until this morning as I was driving into work, amidst rain and slow traffic that it hit me.  I felt a deep pain in my heart and started to cry.  I kept thinking of the mother of the young man who is responsible for shooting and killing 12 people and injuring over 50 in Aurora Colorado. I thought about the dear parents who lost children and all of the people who lost someone or who are caring for someone who was injured the day of the shooting.  I thought about my own children, their sweet innocence and how I would feel if at this moment they were no longer here.  I cried even more. 

It’s a hard thing to grasp and understand.  So many questions remain unanswered about why this young man did what he did.  There are no words of consolation I can offer for those that have lost someone they love.  However, I can pray and will continue to pray for Gods healing balm to cover the broken hearted.  Brothers and sisters in Aurora Colorado, I don’t know who you are but know that you have a sister in Florida that is praying for you. 

I know how it feels to loose a loved one tragically and without warning.  It’s a crippling sensation in your gut that can leave you broken and angry. 

My prayer is that Gods peace which surpasses all human understanding would be with you and guard you.  My deepest condolences go out to those who have suffered through this tragic event.  I will continue to pray for you in the days to come. 

And for the rest of us who stand by and watch as this story unfolds, let us not forget for a moment that our life on this earth is like a vapor.  One moment its here and another moment it’s gone.  We know not the day when our clock will tick its last bit and we will be summoned home. 

News like this reminds me to stop majoring on the minors and truly live each day as God has planned for me, not wasting any time in selfish arguments and unimportant tasks.

Life in our physical bodies is God’s gift to us if we accept His redeeming love and salvation.  It’s life for our soul and a promise of his eternal love for us.  Let us not waist time on the foolishness of the world that surrounds us, let us instead seek to know God truly, understand His will for our life and commit to following Him so that through his Spirit and by His grace we can impact a hurting world that is desperate to know of His love.

The words from 2 survivors of this shooting sums this post up beautifully.

With a heavy heart for those who are now suffering,

Mariana