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How HONY Has Met Me in my Big Little World.

 20.2.15

I am pretty sure you are familiar with HONY (Humans of New York). It is amazing that as for this day, the minute I am typing this, Brandon Stanton has 12, 245, 305 people who have liked his page on Facebook and 2.6m are following him on Instagram -and 246k on Twitter-. So, I am not going to explain you what exactly his project is about (if you have no idea what I am talking about, I invite you to go see it for yourself. Instead I want to share what has been going in my heart, what has been stirred up in me as I follow him through his telling of stories.

I read the comments and I see, for the most part, common grace overflowing. We all want to do something. People send hugs and encouragement through their comments.  People  feel like they want to send money (and they do it generously!) to those in need. We all read and wish we could help in a tangible way, so we say a prayer (maybe?). But then we click another key and move on to the next thing, until another of his pictures reminds us that there is a powerful story behind each face, a fight being fought (as the cliché says). And God is there.

One of the things that this guy, this Story Hunter, does, is that in a few minutes like a magician, he pulls from the stranger's heart a story that probably no one has ever heard before. And we all hear, we all pay attention, because we love stories, because stories draw us together.

But maybe, while thinking that we'd love to do something for these people, we are just being infatuated by stories that are happening far from us. Stories that, as with any fiction book, end the moment we decide to close the book and move on. 

One of the questions I have as I read these story-pictures is not necessarily how he approaches strangers and draws out those stories from them. My question always is, "What does he tell them afterwards?"What words come out of his mouth after they share their fears, their dreams for the future or the nightmares from the past with him? Just  "'Thank you, may I share your deepest secret with millions of people?" I have no idea,  but sometimes I wish I could know.

So here is where HONY, meets me.

There are stories around me. Walking stories. Happy stories and dreadful stories. Dreams and nightmares.  Stories that have never been told, that have been hidden on purpose until he comes with his camera and unlocks the treasure chest. But you know what? I haven't taken the time to draw near to them and ask the hard questions. It is easier to feel empathy, and a huge desire to help without even thinking, the woman Brandon Stanton introduced to us through one of his pictures, a woman who lives in The Democratic Republic of Congo, rather than to offer my help to my neighbor.   I have the Gospel, Friends. I have Jesus. I know the God who redeems lives, who turns darkness into light. The God who loves resurrection stories. If only I would start looking into the eyes of the lady who does my hair, the woman at the cashier, my next door neighbor, the person that I see at church every Sunday but I don't even know her name.

I cannot help all these faces with dreams of their own, but I have other Dreamers, other Faces walking around me. What can I do to bless them? How have I reached out to them?

We feel like we cannot possibly trespass some privacy boundaries, and yet this great photographer has done it over and over, and over again, and people respond to him, they are willingly sharing their stories with millions of strangers. They want to be heard. They need to be heard. Maybe we, the people of God, should dare to be more bold, to reach out, to ask. At the end of the day we know what the answer always is: The gospel of Jesus Christ.


Under His sun and by His Grace,



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Christian Charity is our Duty. But....

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 I love this quote from the book I am using to teach in our Ladies' Bible Study, and thought that maybe you will find it useful too.

"The exercise of Christian charity is an essential duty, yet it is not to override everything else- God has not exercised love at the expense of righteousness. The exercising of love does not mean that the Christian himself is to become a nonentity; a mere straw blown hither and tither by every current of wind he encounters. He is never to please his brethren at the expense of displeasing God. Love is not to oust liberty. The exercise of love does not require the Christian to yield principle, to wound his own conscience, or to become the slave of every fanatic he meets. Love does not enjoy curbing of his own desires and seeking the good, the profit, the edification of his brethren; but it does not call for subscribing to their errors and depriving himself of the right of personal judgment. There is a balance to be preserved here: a happy medium between cultivating unselfishness and becoming the victim of the selfishness of others."  A.W. Pink, The Prayers of the Apostle (p.26) (emphasis mine).


My Pastor says it well, "Grace has a backbone."

Under His sun and by His grace,



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2015: Live Looking Up!

 6.1.15

©Blue by Annie Pliego
2015 is here and I am ready to live fully under God's sun and by His grace. 

This year is, for me, a year to focus in living with my eyes fixed on Jesus. This meditation by J.R. Miller sums my sentiments perfectly well:

"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" Luke 21:28
We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
  new toils,
  new trials,
  new temptations,
  new troubles.


In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up!"
Do not look back — as Lot's wife did.
Do not look within — as too many do.
Do not look around — as David did.
But "look up!" Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, "Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!"
Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.
Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.
Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God's will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.
Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.
Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.
Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.
Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.
Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.
Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.
Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.
Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, "Our eyes are on the Lord our God — until He shows us mercy."
Look up — for this will keep . . .
  the head from swimming,
  the heart from sinking,
  the knees from trembling,
  the feet from slipping, and
  the hands from hanging down!
It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but "Look up!" This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
  procure for us all that we need,
  secure us against all that we dread, and
  make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? "Look up" and hear Jesus saying to you, "Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!"

Are you discouraged? "Look up" — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle's, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!
Are you desponding? "Look up" for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.
Do not look too much at your sin — but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God's dear Son!

Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your perturbed spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!" Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!"

Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self — it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently — to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!


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Ruins, Spices, and Mysteries

 12.10.14

You can travel to faraway lands
and find mysteries unsolved:
some are hidden under tree roots,
stone temples,
hardened soil,
hardened hearts;
behind deep clouds of smoke,
and weak smiles,
and men whose legs are no more,
"an anti-human mine" 
they'd say. 


You can travel to faraway lands
and find new flavors and smells.
Sweet fragrances that transport you
To places you thought
Could only exist in your dreams.
Lemongrass and cinnamon,
Galangal and taro,
Sweet Basil and tamarind,
The children's dreams,
The women's pain,
The shame of men,
All mixed under the heat of the sun.
and the humidity in the air.






You can travel to faraway lands
And find how unanswered pleas
Are strangely mixed in the air with smoke.
A magic land indeed.
Black smoke.
It is incense burning here and there,
I tear up.
It is incense offered to gods who can not
See,
Hear,
Reach.
I am crying.
The smoke is heavy.
Black. Magic?
How can they see?
How can they breath?
Who will tell them?
A child covers her nose,
I tear up again.

And the woman is there again,
In this faraway land,
Day after day at the feet of her god
In the temple,
Selling to all passing men
The flowers and the food,
The charms and the incense,
The spices.
I watch and
See ruins all around me.
Mysteries unsolved in this woman's heart.
I murmur a prayer,
That she may see
Through the smoke.
Through her pain.
Through her years
The One and True God
With One face
Who needs no more
Offerings.
I pray through the smoke,
And offer her my smile.
Smoke again.
Black.
Ruins.


You can travel to faraway lands to hear
Of a prince who left his palace,
All his riches,
All his comfort,
To see and try to understand
The suffering of men.
And, yet, with his four faces:
Charity,
Compassion,
Sympathy,
Equanimity
This Prince could not see
Cannot see
The emptiness in his
follower's faces.
Smoke again.
Black.
Ruins.

This prince left it all
And cannot give anything back.
This prince with the many hands
Cannot carry the burdens,
The sins,
The deepest pains.
His chest is empty.
Smoke surrounds him.
Black.
Again and again.
Silence.


I stare at the prince's faceless figure,
"The robbers," they say,
"They cut his head."
And the incense burns,
And the women,
And the men,
And the children,
All bow down,
Again and again.
And their life remains in ruins.
Silence.
Smoke again.
Black.

That they may have eyes to see
Through the smoke,
Trough the ruins,
Through the silence,
Through the mysteries,
The Prince of Peace,
Jesus Christ.


Eyes to see the one face of the
King who left his palace,
Left it all
And became like us,
Suffered like us.
This Prince didn't fail.
His one face has
Eyes to see,
Ears to hear,
Mouth to speak life.
Come to Him!
Come to Jesus Christ!
Breath in life,
Not smoke. 

Jesus the King
Has two arms,
That hung from the cross.
His chest is not empty,
His heart was pierced
For the ruined temples,
For all the ruined lives,
The broken,
The blind,
The deaf,
The ones with empty hearts,
For us.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands,
To see find this King.
The Prince of Peace
Sees through the hardened hearts of men,
Breaks them in pieces,
And makes them whole again.
He turns ruins into palaces
For his glory to shine through.
He loves broken vessels,
And picks them up,
And makes them new.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands
To offer your prayers to a strange god
In hopes to be heard.
The King of kings, Jesus of Nazareth,
Rose again from the death
And He, the True God,
Hears the prayers of men.
Huge stones,
Hardened soil,
Disbelief,
Hatred,
Sin,
Could not hold Him back
In the grave.
He welcomes the broken men.
Offer your life as incense
To Him.
He hears the weary,
He bends the brokenhearted.
No more darkness.
No more smoke.
No more silence.

Come to Him,
To Jesus Christ,
The Prince who left
His home,
His heavenly palace,
And Became like us,
And died that we may die,
And rose again, and
Now lives so that we may live.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands
To find life,
Jesus is the Way to Life.
He is Life.
Through darkness and smoke,
His Light shines through.
And welcomes the
Needy the poor in spirit,
The hungry he feeds,
And the thirsty he refreshes
With everlasting water.

Hear Him, Jesus Christ,
The Prince of Peace,
Calling your name,
In this land,
In this time,
In this ruined moment. 
No more darkness.
No more smoke.
No more silence.







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Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

 21.8.14


I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa's response here...






Have a blessed day,



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Who is Becky?

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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