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Praying the Psalms -Psalm 5-

 30.10.11

 Shiloh Photography

Psalm 5

1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

My King and my God,
when my heart cries and groans,
when it is not easy to see You in the valley;
when the devil comes to tempt me,
let me rest safely,
knowing that You are King.

You reign over all.
You are Sovereign; 
You alone rule over every circumstance in my life.
My God and King, 
I pray to you this morning,
I come to you and seek your face,
early in the morning,
hear my prayer, O King.


4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

My King and my God,
You resist the sinner, the prideful;
evil can not dwell with you,
you hate sin, and those who speak lies.
My Lord, hear my prayer, 
hear me asking You for forgiveness.
Grant me a repentant heart, 
and do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.

My King, I confess my sins before your face,
and ask you to forgive me according to your many mercies.
Help me overcome my flesh, 
and live openly before your face.


7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8  Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

O God, your mercy reaches me, 
and the abundance of your steadfast love
opens a way for me to come before you this morning.
Knowing that you forgive me,
makes me love you even more,
and fear You more.
Lord, my King, make Your way straight before me; 
and lead me in your righteousness.
My King, that I may love your precepts,
your ways, your Word.


9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

My God, in these days
in which many deceivers walk among the sheep,
I pray, keep me, keep my family, my children,
keep your people from their lies.
Help us to abide in Your Word.
Help us not to fix our eyes on men,
but on Jesus.
Let your light shine on us,
that we may see clearly.


11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

O God, my King,
I take refuge in  You,
I find in You perfect joy, 
even in the darkest hour,
I know that your right arm protects me,
that you are for me.
I pray for my sisters and brothers in Christ,
for those who are suffering, 
who are crying,
and mourning;
I pray Lord that they will find strength in your joy.
Spread Your protection over them.
Father, that we may raise our voice today
to worship you.
O King, bless your people today, 
remember us,
hear our cry,
cover us with your favor as with a shield.

In Jesus' name, the author of our faith,










To see more posts in this series go to the Praying the Psalms page.

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Words to Live By...

 29.10.11

©Katie Lloyd Photography used with permission

In the vast ocean of words, let these words never fail to come out from our mouth...

"I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live."
Psalm 116: 1-2




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Friday: A Birthday Girl, an Invitation and Some Laughs.

 28.10.11

Today 8 years ago, our little one came into our family an God blessed us with her existence. So today we will celebrate it, and for dinner we will be having, either green enchiladas at home or Chinese food at our favorite place. She is still undecided. But she knows she wants pumpkin pie. And we are very happy about that.



Are you wondering about her having a birthday party? Yes, of course; she will have one this weekend. Wait to see pictures on Monday!

Now an invitation. No, it is not to her birthday party but to another wonderful celebration.  (You know how fun it would be to have you over, right?)

October 31 we celebrate Reformation Day, and my dear friend Christina (whose birthday is also today!) will be hosting, starting that day, a wonderful series entitled Women of the Reformation.

"In this series, you will be introduced to twelve women of the Reformation by Reformed women passionate about, what Martin Luther called, “the true treasure of the church” — the Gospel."

 Please, join us. It will be a joy to learn along with you from these 12 wonderful, godly women.


And I also said I would like add some laughs to your weekend; well here you have it:



And this one is for my friend Elle, who has been thinking about chocolate lately. And of course, I now feel that I must recommend you all to read my post on How to Eat a Good Chocolate Bar in case you have not done so.



Have a most blessed weekend!



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A Borrowed Prayer -A Prayer for the God-exalting Blessing of Unity by Scotty Smith

 27.10.11

After yesterday's post, I thought this prayer is what should come next.

Would you join me in prayer?


Katie Lloyd Photography © Used with permission

A Prayer for the God-exalting Blessing of Unity

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psalm133

Dear Lord Jesus, “good and pleasant” feels like an understatement—a woefully inadequate description of what happens when you show up and begin to thaw the tensions, deconstruct the divisions, and enable your people to move forward together in unity. I’d add words like, miraculous and beautiful; profound and magnetic; all-too-rare and so-very-needed.

It’s clearly obvious that where believers dwell in unity you bestow your presence and blessing. For unity is a revelation of life within the Godhead—the eternal life into we have been called, birthed and secured. It’s equally obvious that where there’s disunity, Satan bestows his darkness and evil; suspicion and distrust; cynicism and gossip; disintegration and separation. God have mercy on all of us…

Boldly and shamelessly, we ask you for a fresh outpouring of your Spirit on our churches—a downpour of humility, repentance and healing; a deluge of the sane-making power of your presence. Jesus, drench us with the humbling and unifying dew of the gospel. We want to be sopping wet, not merely damp. Saturate and satiate us with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t look to Aaron and his beard, but to you and your enthronement at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, you are our great High Priest who has received the Spirit without measure, so you can pour forth the Spirit without reservation. Do so without delay, we ask, for the glory of God and the fame of your Name.

As we think of our church families, we also pray for new church plants in their infancy and older church families needing renewal; for missionary teams under fire and in duress; for para-church ministries—even whole denominations. Jesus, bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear in observable, unmistakable and transforming ways.

No one has done more to secure our unity than you, Lord Jesus (Eph. 2:14-22). No one is praying more for our unity than you (John 17:20-21). No one is more glorified by our unity than you (John 17:22-26). Continue to heal us, reconcile us, and deploy us into your ripened harvest and broken creation together. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and gracious name.

A Prayer by Scotty Smith




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Find Scotty Smith book, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith, here.




















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On Disagreeing with Spurgeon

 26.10.11



I have been thinking and praying for weeks (maybe months now?), trying to find an easy way to write what is in my heart. This is a sensitive post, I know. I know many will agree and many will not, but it is burning deep within me, and I have decided to click the "publish button".

I will use a few examples of one of the men who has been a very important and strong influence not only in my life, but in the lives of many of us, to try to explain what is in my heart, the man is Charles Spurgeon.

What would you think of a preacher today whose chief project at a certain time in his ministry would be raising money for a new church building? Well, Spurgeon did this. The estimated cost to build the new Tabernacle was very high, so he started to accept more invitations to preach in many different places to receive more offerings.(1)

"Just before the building was ready to be opened, since the entire costs had not yet been met, a great bazaar was held to raise the remaining amount. This action caused questioning in many evangelical minds then, and it will do the same today." (2) 

I am sure, that if this were happening today, the next day we would see many, many bloggers pointing harshly at him.

The Tabernacle was a huge building with seating for about 3,600 people.(3) Yes, that is the number; a big one, right? Please, just imagine what many of us (and me too, probably) would be thinking of this today. We love the local church and most of us do not believe in mega-churches. Spurgeon, the man we all love to quote, however, pastored one.

OK, if by now you are surprised, read the next:

"People who wished to attend regularly paid for a seat on a three-months' basis and were admitted by ticket. Others remained outside till five minutes before the beginning of the service, at which time the restriction was removed and the crowd rushed in and filled the rest of the building." (4)

I dare to say I don't agree at all with Spurgeon on these practices. However, I must also admit that he has been a man that through his written word has influenced my life tremendously. I have learned so much from him, his teachings have been, without a doubt, a blessing to the Church of Christ.

So what is it that is in my heart?


I want to be free in this space to say, for example, that John Piper's teachings have been (and still are) a strong pillar in my faith. Do I agree with everything he does and with all the friends he has? No. But I would never dare to say that he is not a godly man. God forbid.

Mac Arthur, Carson, Horton, Tim Challies, The Pyro-Team, The Gospel Coalition, The Resurgence, my beautiful friends on the blogsphere, the Puritans, my dearest friends in another country, my sister, all of them have taught me something, and no, I don't always agree with every one of their words; but I am willing to learn from them, and even change my points of view when Truth demands so.

My family has been blessed greatly by Douglas and Nancy Wilson, by their ministry, their books, and the Church he pastors. We have not seen, anywhere, a church that practices the gospel in such a vivid way as theirs. They are an example to us on how to live the Christian life in obedience to the Word, with joy, practicing hospitality and living in community. Do we agree then with every single word we have read in their books/blogs? No, not necessarily; but we count it as a wonderful gift of the Divine Providence that our son is a member of their church.

I love Ann Voskamp, she is my friend, and has been a blessing to me many times; I always give thanks to God for her. I don't agree with some of the things she has written, but again, I cannot, no matter what, dare to say that she is not a child of God. Each one of us is still short-sighted; each one of us is still in the process of Sanctification, and each one of us will give account of our own words before the Lord.

I have a few friends who are passionate about contending for the truth, and I love them and respect them very much. I too was in the wrong church under false teaching for many years, but I do not always agree with their tone of voice. Does that mean that I love them less? Not at all; I need them as part of the body of Christ in which we belong together.

Let me come back to our dear Spurgeon again. He knew that none of us in infallible, and he dared to say,

"I am a great lover of John Bunyan, but I do not believe him infallible..." (you may read the rest here)

Note please, that I am NOT, NOT, NOT (yes, I want to make this clear) advocating for pluralism or relativism. Certainly not. I love doctrine very much and I believe in contending for the faith. At the same time, I pray I will grow in discernment every day, because the Bible says that the days in which we are living are evil. I read the Word, study it, memorize it in order to have the Truth well planted in my heart; I long to live by it and be obedient to it. Borrowing the words of Erik Raymond I say: "While I believe that in some cases controversy is not only helpful but essential (see the recent Rob Bell firestorm), I don’t believe a steady diet of it is." (emphasis mine)

Friends, I, too, once read the wrong books. I, too, listened wrong teachings for many years, but God had mercy on me when I did not expect  it. His grace reached my stubborn and prideful heart and granted me the gift of repentance. It is my prayer that God will reach deep into my heart even now, and change me more and more. I pray I will always have a teachable heart, humble enough to say, “I am still learning, I do not have it all right.”

We are still of this fallen world, and that is one of the reasons I long for Jesus to come. I long for the New Creation, because on that day, the children of God will be sharing one table. We will be able to see clearly, and we will feast and rejoice in the One who is the Author of our Faith. And those wolves who have deceived many while hiding among the sheep will be judged by the Only One worthy to open the seal of the Book, and He will cast them out into the eternal fire.

Meanwhile, let us be ready, abiding in the Word, spending more time in the Word than anywhere else; the only book that is infallible is God's Word.

"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." I Timothy 3:16- 17

God help us,



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(1) Spurgeon, A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore, Banner of Truth p.94
(2) ibid. p.97
(3) ibid. p.98
(4) ibid p.98

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Lessons Learned in the Quiet

 25.10.11

The morning has come, and with it the first frost on our yard. The pretty, gay green will soon perish. Seasons come and go,  and the only thing than can sustain us through all these inevitable changes is the Word of God.

Shiloh Photography @ Used with permission



I am still meditating on Psalm 4, the Psalm I prayed this past Lord's Day, but specially on verses 3-5:

"But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Selah

Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD."

It seems to me that sometimes, the hardest lessons to learn are the ones God teaches us when we are lying on our beds at night, pondering in our hearts in silence; when the Spirit speaks to us by string our consciences, and bringing back to our hearts His Word that pierces deep into our soul.



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Grace as Gift

 24.10.11



"What we do with a gift afterward is simply show our gratitude, our thanksgiving..."


And that is what I do today, publicly give thanks to God who has given me grace upon grace....

(#1397- 1415)

Gifts to bless others

This book

My girl's beautiful heart, music, and wonderful photography!



 Having a son who makes our days more interesting and is always up to something new, like making chainmail.

My son in a faraway land, seeing him so happy; and for the wonderful community of believers  in which he is immersed, who lives the gospel in such a vivid way.

Pictures and words that travel thousands of kilometers through the space to meet those that I love so much, in less than a second!

Having had our pretty Saint Bernard, Kima, for four years. She was a wonderful dog, and we will miss her very much. (She died last Friday)


Diligent students

The gift of being able to teach

A pretty wedding

Deep blue skies

A new coffee maker

The book of James in the Bible

Art on my window


Small verses that have me thinking, praying and mediating.

"Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another". Mark 9: 50

The Holy Spirit dwelling in me.

The Lord speaking to my heart through His Word.

These words:

"I doubt that there is such a thing as a measure of spirituality, but if there is, gratitude would be it. Only the grateful are paying attention. They are grateful because they pay attention, and they pay attention because they are so grateful" (Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet, quoted by Douglas Wilson).

I pray I will live every day paying attention...

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Endless Gifts, the Way of Contentment

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Praying the Psalms -Psalm 4-

 23.10.11



Psalm 4

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

God of my righteousness, God of all grace and mercy,
you have heard my prayers, 
and it has pleased you to answer them.
Father, I can say as David said, 
"You have given me relief when I was in distress",
You Father, you alone, are the God of all comfort,
only in You is my soul relieved.

Father, once more I come to you in prayer, 
through Jesus Christ, who is my righteousness;
and once more, I plead before the throne of Grace,
Hear my prayer, O LORD!
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!



2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
Selah

3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Father, today I intercede for those who love vain words,
for those who seek after lies,
for those who who dishonor the title that we must bear
with all dignity: "Christian",
who live professing one faith, 
but denying it with their deeds.

O Lord, God of my righteousness,
You alone are the Judge on the throne and not me, 
You alone know the hearts of men, and not me.
You alone know whom you have set apart for you,
and LORD, you alone can answer the prayers of your own.

Father, I pray that I will be wise and quick to discern 
good from evil,
lie from Truth,
vain words from those that bring life.
But at the same time, 
I pray, asking you to deliver me from the temptation of spiritual pride;
remind me every day of the days, 
when I too...
loved vain words and sought after lies,
when I was reading the wrong books,
and following false doctrine.
Remind me on how there is always hope in you,
do not let me forget that your Grace,
can reach and transform the hearts of men.




4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.

Father, forgive me,
forgive me because many times, 
seeing those who are walking against you,
I have sinned against them by judging them.
Help me to be bold, 
but never sin.

O God of my righteous,
tonight, as I go to bed,
in the quiet  and stilness,
bring all this to my heart,
that I may ponder,
be silent,
and trust in You for their salvation.

6 There are many who say, "Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Lord of lords, show us today,
as we go and worship you in the company of all the saints,
the light of your face.
That as we hear the Scriptures preached, 
we'll see your light shining upon us.

Fill us with your joy,
fill us with that joy that comes as we see
how mighty is your arm to save the lost!

And when the night comes, LORD,
I pray I will lie down to sleep in peace,
for you alone make dwell in safety.

In Jesus name'

Amen



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Awaiting a Savior - A Christian Response to Poverty-

 21.10.11

A Cruciform Press book


I am Mexican. My country is a country of contrasts, a country in which you can find the richest man on earth, as well as people living in extreme poverty not so far from the richest neighborhoods in the most important cities.

I drive to my parents' home once a week to have lunch with them, and every week, in the same corner, I see a poor family selling candy or some times just reaching their hand to beg for some money. The mom is always holding a baby in her "rebozo", while the "big kids" (around seven years old) are most of the time selling gum to the car drivers when the stop light is on. But my eyes always look for the little one, a toddler. He is always in a corner playing happily with empty milk cartons, or old toys. Every week, my heart aches. Many times we have brought food for them, or clothes, but there are always these questions in my heart, how can we really help those in need when you see them every where? Is there a real solution to all this poverty around me? Whom do we help? The family on the street, the friends that are going through hard (real hard) times, the children in a far away land with no drinking water? What is the Christian response to poverty?

Aaron Armstrong has written a book, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, The New Creation and The End of Poverty,  that has spoken directly to my heart. He has in few pages, answered many of these questions.

Armstrong says,

"Resources and awareness and policies are important, but poverty is not fundamentally about any of these things. The root of poverty is sin." (p.9)

The author understands the gospel's message well. He knows that the bad news always precede the good, so he keeps on saying,

"¨[O]ur good faith efforts to address legitimate questions of poverty and injustice must never lose sight of the fact that poverty will persist as long as the heart of man is ruled by sin.". (p.10)

This book is one that reminds us of the hope that should keep us pursuing biblical solutions to poverty. Armstrong says,  

"our only hope for an ultimate solution to poverty is in the return of Christ, when he will put an end once and for all to sin, suffering and death, and bring out the New Creation." (p.11)

And that is when I take a deep breath and keep on reading. Armstrong takes us back to Genesis, the Paradise, the Fall, and the curse that came as a result of it.

"Whereas the curse upon Eve is primarily about interpersonal relationships, Adam's curse spreads outward to all economic life... Prosperity will always be challenging and elusive. The very materials and processes we work with to try to create prosperity will resist us. And it will continue like this until the day we die." (p.18)

But physical poverty, as terrible as it is,  is not the ultimate poverty. Armstrong says,

"A fallen world inhabited exclusively by sinners; that is the essence of poverty. Sin, and the effects of sin throughout creation, is the Poverty from which all other poverty flows" (p.23)

This is the heart of the book, this is what makes this book so important;  Awaiting a Savior goes to the root of the problem of poverty that surrounds us.

This is a book that I greatly recommend as a tool to train the young people who want to come and do missions to poor countries. In Latin America, sadly to say, we receive many missionaries, many youth groups that come every summer to help build churches, and paint walls, and sing children's songs in poor areas; but we need to go deeper, we need to go to the root of poverty: sin in the heart man.

Armstrong deals, then, with the root of poverty, but also with the root of our inability to respond in a God-glorifying way towards poverty.

"Sin thus not only causes poverty but also poisons our attitude toward those suffering within it."
We try to help, but very often we loose sight of our real aim:

"Ultimately, poverty can only be addressed at the heart level, one person at a time, s salvation through the shed blood of Christ pushes back against the fall of man.  The ultimate answer to poverty is circumcised hearts that know the God who forms and keeps covenant with poor and undeserving sinners." (p.47)
Chapter Five, was probably my favorite. Armstrong reminds us of the Sermon of the Mountain and how "The gifts of love always precede the demands of love". Oh yes, Grace, amazing Grace that reaches to the poor effectively.

"That is what is so devastating about the Sermon on the Mount. It starts with grace..."

And as the paragraph continued, it brought me to my knees in prayer, conviction and thanksgiving. Grace is the starting point; it was there where Jesus found me. It is there where we should start if we want to effectively help the poor among us until the day we see Jesus.


Come, Lord Jesus!




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*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the author for the purpose of this review. I was asked to write an honest review.

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And a Book Goes to.....

Friday has arrived and with it, the news of the winner of the children's book give-away!

I did not have time to take a picture yesterday to announce the happy winner, so I pulled from my archives, a picture of one of our dogs. She is very pretty and I thought that your children might enjoy looking at her. (By the way, I took this picture two weeks ago, now look at the Fall colors in Mexico!)



Her name is Kima and she sleeps mostly all day; sometimes she is awake, and of course, as you can imagine, she is a pretty good eater.

Kima, then, is our "guest" today and she is happy to announce our winner.

Ready?

Well, the winner of last week's children's book give-away is :

Analucia! (Oasis' daughter)


Congratulations, Analucia! I pray you will be blessed by reading the beautiful story of the Prince's Poison Cup.


Have a blessed weekend!


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Your Word has Caused Me to Hope by Susannah Spurgeon

 20.10.11

Shiloh Photography©

"Not that we loved God — but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

As the precious balm of Gilead, or the cassia and sweet calamus of the holy anointing oil — so these blessed words came into my dull and aching heart this morning. Dear Lord, I thank You for them; You have taken them from Your own Book, and spoken them to me with Your living, loving voice — and they have quickened me to love You!

With shame and sorrow, I had brought to You my hard and insensible heart. I could only groan out my utter lack both of faith and feeling before You. The very desire to love You — seemed to lie fettered and powerless within me; only an occasional struggle revealing its bare existence. Then, Lord, while I knelt in Your presence, with bowed head and troubled spirit — tears and sighs my only prayers — and You whispered those sweet words in my ear, and they brought light and liberty to my captive soul! Blessed be Your dear Name for this glorious deliverance!

It is not my poor, cold, half-hearted love — which is to satisfy and comfort me; but Your love — great, and full, and free, and as eternal as Yourself! Surely, I had known this before, Lord; but I had shut myself up in unbelief until, in Your sweet mercy — You spoke the Word which released me from my bonds, opened my prison doors, and led me out into the sunshine of true peace in believing!

"Not that we loved God!" No, and that is the sad wonder and mystery of our unrenewed life, dearest Master. Not to have loved You — is our greatest guilt and shame. It was even worse than this with us, for we were enemies, by wicked works — to Him who claimed the most ardent and grateful love of our souls! We had put ourselves in an attitude of defiance against our best Friend; or if not openly defiant, we were totally forgetful of Him to whom our heart's allegiance was justly due.

"Not that we loved God!" Ah, dearest Lord, You know how deeply, sadly true this was of me — and how I mourn over the years spent without love to You, and at a distance from You! O hard heart, O blind eyes, O poor, dull, sluggish soul — that could be unmindful of the strivings of God's Spirit, could deliberately neglect the pleadings of a Savior's love, and see no beauty in One who is "altogether lovely!"

"But that He loved us!" Here is . . .
a blessed contrast,
the antidote for sin's sting,
light after darkness,
hope after despair,
life after death!

Lord, my soul flings itself on this glorious fact, this saving truth — as a drowning man seizes upon a life-belt thrown to him in the surging sea! If You do not love me and save me — I must perish forever. But there is no question of sinking — when Jesus saves; no fear of losing life — when He loves.

O my Lord, how I thank You for this precious Word upon which You have caused me to hope! Now, all the day long, my heart shall sing over the safety and blessedness of being freely loved — instead of fretting about the sad lack of my poor love to You.

"Not that we loved God" — is darkness, and bitterness, and eternal destruction!

"That He loved us" — is light and pardon, peace and everlasting life!

Susannah Spurgeon


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via Grace Gems




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On Books and Reading, -Suffering and Affliction-

 19.10.11

Marsha left a comment on Monday's post saying,

"Can you recommend some Bible passage and/or books that would give me a foundation on glorifying Him in the midst of suffering? I am having a difficult time with the question who is the author of suffering, etc.

Thank you for your blog which makes me want to dig deeper."


Marsha is not the only one struggling with these questions; when afflictions come to our lives, if we are not well grounded in the Word of God, our faith trembles and many times it falls, like a fine piece of China, into thousand pieces to the ground.

I was never taught about afflictions in the Church I grew up. For 20 years I only heard from the pulpit about the joyous, peaceful, and victorious life that we should be enjoying as children of the King. I heard all these years how we should confess to receive, and bind and loose; and claim promises and fight for them. How far I was from the teachings of the Word of God! But God had mercy on me and my family; and he opened our eyes to see and our ears to hear, and 9 years ago we started to really learn what the Bible teaches in many areas including suffering and affliction.

Our Father knew what was ahead of us. Last July we experienced the hardest trial ever, the loss of my sister's precious baby girl, an infant. The suffering and affliction has been hard to bear, but many years before this event, God starting preparing our hearts to endure the fire that tests our hearts, as we learned to abide daily in His Word, as we grew in prayer, and as we studied about the purpose of why affliction and suffering come to the lives of the Children of God.

So Marsha, you are not alone; and even though I don't you, nor your trials or afflictions, I pray God will give you a humble heart to receive from Him, not only the sweet providences, but also the bitter ones, knowing that even those proceed from a loving God.

Here are some good books and articles that have been helpful to me and my family; hope you find this list helpful.

Books:

How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D.A. Carson

Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life by R.C. Sproul

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and some friends

Facing Grief by John Flavel (1627-91)

A Place for Weakness by Michael Horton

Help Heavenward by Octavius Winslow

Grieving, Hope and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ by Albert N. Martin

Does Grace Grows Best in Winter by Dr. Ligon Duncan

A Word in Season to Suffering Saints by Thomas Brooks (1675) (ebook)

Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings


ARTICLES:

Understanding Suffering

Hope in Suffering

Why do we Suffer?

The Faithful Endurance of Suffering

A Refuge for the Weary Soul
 
Suffering Saints by Arthur Pink

Blessed Suffering by Bonar

In Affliction Look to Jesus by Winslow

Trisha wrote this, words that pierce and bring grace.

Rebecca Writes wrote this post today with some important links that deal with our suffering.



In this Blog:

Seeing God's Hand in Our Affliction

Preparing Our Hearts for Affliction

Peace Under His Sun

Doctrines in Action -Beyond the Kitchen-

Learning to Count Trials a Joy

Trial a Help Heavenward (on Chapter 5 of Winslow's Book)



"We also rejoice in our afflictions, because
we know that affliction produces endurance,
endurance produces proven character, and
proven character produces hope."
Rom. 5:3-4

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will glory all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak--then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10


May the Lord of all comforts be your Hidding Place today,



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A Small Advice Worth Gold -for Homeschool Moms-

 18.10.11

One small advice for moms who love to homeschool their children and work hard to give them a thorough education....


"Give your children due dates for certain assignments and teach them the importance of turning their homework on time always, always, always. No excuses."

May our day be productive, happy and God-glorifying.




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Thanking God for Those Who Endure Trials

 17.10.11

Facing fiery trials is part of our Christian life, and yet we must be reminded of Peter's words very often:

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" I Peter 4: 12


Today is Gratitude Monday in this blog, and I want to thank the Lord, with tears in my eyes, for my sisters in Christ who are going through trials and are enduring faithfully and patiently. I admire each one of you* and praise God for your faithfulness. You are an example to me and I continually keep you in my prayers.

(#1389- 1396)

Lord, thank you for the hope of your coming. Help us to wait patiently until we see your face.


Thank you for each one of my friends who endure trials with a humble heart.

Thank you, Father, for my sister, who recognizes that even the hardest providences are providences of love.



Thank you for my friend Trisha, who in the midst of many losses, acknowledges that your grace is all sufficient.



Thank you for my friend who is struggling with her health; and at the same time battles against the flesh because she does not want to sin against you in the midst of her trials.

Thank you for friends who are struggling and suffering, but do not raise their voices against you.

Thank you for my sisters in a far away land who suffer persecutions. Lord, have mercy on them. Hear their cry, and help them stand firm.

Thank you for those women, saints who have gone before us and have endured hardships, losses, and trials, but have never denied your name.

Thank you for their example. O how they bless the church when with their works, they show their living faith.

Thank you for ______________, you know her name; Lord. She reads these words of mine today and loves your ways. She is going through a hard and bitter providence but keeps a quiet spirit and a humble heart. Lord, strengthen her faith today and help her to keep her eyes fixed on you.


Humbly, giving thanks...



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*For the sake of prudence I am not mentioning all my sisters in Christ whose trials are many; but you know who you are and how much I love you and pray for you.


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Praying the Psalms -Psalm 1-

 16.10.11



Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

O God, how great you are; 
Your love for your own surpasses all my understanding,
You have called us, Father, out of the darkness into your light,
You have set our feet on the Way of Life,
and now you bless us for walking in this blessed path.

Lord, thank you because your children...
do not walk anymore in the counsel of the wicked,
thank you that now they are standing on the Way of Life,
and not in the way of sinners.
Thank you, Father, because we sit no more in the seat of scoffers.
O Father, thank you, because you have transformed our hearts by your grace,
and now we find delight not in the world, but in your Law.
Thank you, because this is not something that we have done, 
but you have worked it in us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now help us Lord, we pray,
help us not be distracted,
not to fall prey of the snares of the world,
the fears of our heart, 
the sorrows of this life, 
the prosperity, 
and the blessings that come our way,
Help us to mediate with all diligence in your Word day and night,


3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Father these are wonderful promises for your children,
nothing we desire besides you and yet it has pleased You to give us great promises,
you have promised us that we, those who have been saved by your infinite grace,
will be planted...
planted and not pulled out;
planted by streams of water, 
planted in Jesus which is the Living Water.

Than you, because you have promised that we will not have a bare life,
but that we will produce fruit to glorify your name.

Thank you, because even though our physical strength and our health may fall,
in our spirit we will be renewed day after day, and our leaf will not wither.
Thank you that it has pleased you to prosper our way, 
to prosper our daily walk with you.

Father, do not let us forget about the wicked who are like chaff,
give us a compassionate heart, so that we may go to them, 
and speak to them the Word that can bring them to repentance.




5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Lord, we intercede today for the wicked among us,
for those who hate your ways but love their sin,
Father, have mercy on them just as you had mercy on us.

My Heavenly Father, I worship you today,
I worship you because you have love me 
and clothed me with righteous.
My God,  I can rest assure in this life,
until I see your face in Heaven,
because I have confidence that You, O LORD,
know my ways.

In Jesus' precious and perfect name, I pray.

Amen.





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Good Books for Girls and Boys (8-11) -And a Giveaway-

 14.10.11



Earlier this week I posted J.R. Miller's exhortation about how we must be careful on which books we choose to read; and I am pretty sure that this is something we need to teach to our children pretty soon in life. We want them to be readers but wise readers. Readers that grow not only as independent readers but readers that love to read good books, books that challenge them to grow in virtue and character, and having this in mind let us look at these books.

My friend Hollie asked me which books I would recommend for her 9yo girl; so I thought I would share my answer with you all including books for both, boys and girls. But to make this list even richer, I asked some of my friends (most of them Classical educators) to list some their favorite ones, and they did add some good books to the list. Look at it, see what you think and why not, suggest few more in the comments.

The Long List:

Black Ships Before Troy (The Story of the Iliad) is a book that I really enjoyed reading with my girl. We found many good opportunities to talk about love, marriage, and faithfulness in the light of God's Word. (VP Comprehension Guide)


and also the Iliad retold for children by the same author, In Search of a Homeland.

If you would like to read and enjoy a good book of Shakespeare stories for children, I would really recommend you the series by Leon Garfield (book I and book II). I love the style, and the illustrations. Just wonderful!



Charlotte's Web (Isabel's suggestion)

Chronicles of Narnia

The Hobbit (Literature Guide here) Santiago and Isabel read this book together, and it was so much fun to see them enjoying themselves.

From Dark to Dawn. A Tale of Martin Luther and the Reformation

Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History


These Books from Ligonier

This book is in our wish list; maybe to celebrate Reformation day...

Ligonier Shop

Or this one as a fun introduction to Church History:

See more here


This is a favorite one here:

Ligonier Shop



How important it is to introduce our children to the great biographies of men in the Church History, and Simonetta Carr has done an excellent job writing an amazing series for our children.

Monergism carries all her books.


Another favorite, a rare jewel is Divine and Moral Songs for Children by Isaac Watts, an excellent book for memorization projects, or just to read aloud and reflect on the words. (I wrote more about it here and here)


Elizabeth @ Finding the Motherlode recommends these:

The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques,
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster,
The Trumpeter Swan by E.B. White,
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry

Elizabeth H. says "I love the historical fiction titles that Christian Focus Publications puts out."

Brenda likes the American Girl series, and I have to say that Annie enjoyed reading those on her leisure time when she was little.

Amy recommends: The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, and anything on Ambleside Online's reading list!

Katy says, "In addition to the classics like RL Stevenson, Lewis, and Tolkien, we have enjoyed Donita K Paul, most everything by Edith Nesbit, and even the new Theodore Boone by Grisham."

Norma likes:

Grandpa's Box,(by Starr Meade, and I would like to mention here that she is one of my favorite contemporary authors for children, who writes from a solid Reformed Theology background. See more books of her here)
The Building on the Rock series (5 books)
The Squire and the Scroll
And some classics like, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Sue, whose children are now in a Liberal Arts college, says,  "My kids liked the Redwall series...over and over again."

And Amy Lee said she liked, when she was that age, Grandma's Attic books by Arleta Richardson and Childhood of Famous Americans books (available used or at many public libraries).

Lastly, I must say that I am decided to read more fiction books to my little one, like the ones N.D. Wilson has written. My oldest have read them and love them, so I am thinking that even though fantasy is not my favorite genre, I really want to feed Isabel's soul with stories. (plus, I enjoyed reading Wilson's book Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, his style is one that captures your attention fully.)

Looking through all these wonderful books, and because in October we celebrate The Reformation and my little girl's birthday,  I thought I would host a giveaway. This time however, is for your little ones, which means the "rules" will be different.

Your child (8- 11 yo) must choose which book he or she would like to win (yes, call him and show him the options; or call your grandchildren on the phone -or Skype- and ask them which one will they want to read); then leave a comment with your child's favorite option. If you have more than one child entering the drawing, please leave a separate comment for each one of them.

The options are:

1. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R.C. Sproul

2. Boys and Girls Playing by J.C. Ryle

                or

3.  Trial and Triumph by Richard M. Hannula

4. The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul

 The winner will be announced next Friday, October 21.

Please, feel free to share the goodness with your friends!


May your weekend be full of good books and family time,


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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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