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On Titus 2: 6-10 -Living the Gospel in Community -part 2-

 30.3.12


"Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 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. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." Titus 2:8-10 (ESV)

One of the things that has been notorious after studying this epistle, is how many times Paul addresses the importance of self-control. The elders must exercise it (1:8), as well as the older men (2:2), the older women (2:3), the younger women (2:5), and the young men (2:6). This makes me think that one of the character traits that should define us as Christians should be "self-control." But how much we fail to be self-controlled. How much I need the Spirit of God to help me in this area!

J.R. Miller said,

"There are men who rule other men—but cannot rule themselves. They are victorious in battle—but they cannot control their own temper, restrain their own speech, or calm and quiet their own hearts. There is nothing beautiful in such a life. Nothing more effectually mars a life—than fretfulness, discontent, worry, or impatience. Nothing is more pitiful—than a life which is made to be strong, kingly, noble, calm, and peaceful—but which is, instead, the slave of every excitement, every temper, every resentment, every appetite and passion."

John Piper writes, (I encourage you to read this short article in its entirety)

"The very concept of "self-control" implies a battle between a divided self. It implies that our "self" produces desires we should not satisfy but instead "control." We should "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily," Jesus says, and follow him (Luke 9:23). Daily our "self" produces desires that should be "denied" or "controlled."

That path that leads to heaven is narrow and strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore Jesus says, "Strive to enter through the narrow door" (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for "strive" is agonizesthe, in which you correctly hear the English word "agonize."

The truth is that maybe we know not what "agonizing" over our sins and temptations is like; most of the times we just let them remain in a secret corner, somewhere in the depths of our heart. We let them stay... a little bit longer. Why not?



To close, I'd like to share the words with which Bryan Chapell concludes his commentary on these verses,

"Prayer, praise, instruction, fellowship, and the service of the church do not fulfill their purposes if we don't function corporately and in community. There is always the temptation to privatize and individualize our faith experience. We tend to make decisions about whom to hear, what to do, and where to serve largely based upon what will be good for us personally. Paul's instruction to Titus prick our consciences in order to make us sense the importance of responsible for others and living our lives in community. The hope we possess and pass in community should force us to consider the interests and needs of others than our own (cf.Philippians 2:1-5)."

Under His sun and by His grace,



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His Story of Grace in my Life

 29.3.12

Writing about the story of how His grace reached me took me more than a month; and you already know it wasn't because of my meticulous writing skills. It took me all this long because I did not want to sound like a woman sharing from the pulpit in one of those "Testimonies Nights." I remember well how it goes,  the hand-claps are "offered to God," but at the end, the glory goes to men. So I re-wrote this piece many, many times. It is His story, not mine. I did not choose it. He wrote it before I even existed. And I am so grateful for that!

Today I am sharing His story of grace in my life  over at Desiring Virtue; want to come read?










Under His sun and by His grace,


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Desiring Virtue

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A Prayer- That We May Be an Example to All-

 28.3.12



This is a prayer taken from William Barclay's Prayer Book,


Help us, O God, to rid ourselves of all the things which
keep us from being good examples of the faith which we profess.

Help us
        Never to demand standards from others which we
            never attempt to live up to ourselves;
        Never to contradict with our lives that which we say
            with our lips;
        Never to be one thing to people's face and another
            behind their back.

Help us
        Never to make a promise and then to break it
            because it is difficult to keep;
        Never to do anything dishonorable, either to avoid
            trouble or to make a gain;
        Never to be disloyal to a friend
            or untrue to a loved one.

Help us
       Never to teach or persuade anyone to do
           a wrong thing;
       Never to give an example which will make it easier
           for someone else to go wrong;
       Never to laugh at anyone else's beliefs,
           and never to hide our own.

Help us to live that we shall never bring disgrace to ourselves,
                                                      heartbreak to others,
                                                      or grief to you.

Amen

This is my earnest prayer today...


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Love is Easy Until it Demands Something from Us

 27.3.12



It may seem absurd to say that love demands something from us;  but this morning as I was reading 1Corinthians 13: 4-7(ESV)  I could not think otherwise.

Please read these verses with all attention as if you had never read them before:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Love is easy until...

It demands from me patience,
Until it demands from a me kind attitude,
Every day, every time, over and over again.

Love is easy until...

It calls me not to envy,
Or boast.

Love is easy until...

It demands from me humility,
And not arrogance.
It is easy until it doesn't call me
To ask for forgiveness, 
And set aside all rudeness.


Love is easy until...

It demands that I should die,
That I should not insist on my own way of doing things.
It is easy until it calls me to leave aside
my own "rights" for the sake of the ones I love.

Love is easy until...

It demands self control from me,
Until it calls me not to be irritable,
Until it calls me not to be resentful.

Love is easy until...

It demands that I should not rejoice at any wrongdoing,
It is easy until it calls me to love truth,
Even though this would mean admitting 
That I am wrong.

Love is easy until...

It demands from me to bear all things,
yes, all things,
every one of them.

Love is easy until...

It demands from me to believe all things,
To Hope all things,
To Endure all things.

This is the only kind of love that never ends.



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Cinnamon+ Cardamom+ Garlic+ Fresh Ginger= Best Spicy Grilled Chicken

 23.3.12

I promised to share this recipe with my friend Robin, and because it is so simple and so yummy, I thought YOU would also like to have it.



Spicy Grilled Chicken
adapted from the book Gold'n Delicious (a book recommended to me by my dear friend Teri)

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in stripes.
5 cloves garlic, minced.
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbs catchup
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp water

1. In a medium bowl combine garlic, ginger, salt, red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom (note: I used my coffee grinder to grind the cinnamon, pepper and cardamom... gotta love the fresh ground spices!)

2. Stir in the catchup, vinegar and water.

3. Marinate the chicken breasts in this sauce for about two hours.

4. Grill and enjoy!


I love to serve this with my sister's Couscous recipe:


Couscous with Cranberries and Chives

3 cups of couscous
3 cups of boiling water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup diced chives
salt to taste
olive oil

*optional: the juice of one lime


1. Add the boiling water to the couscous. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add the cranberries, chives, salt to taste and some olive oil (and the lime juice if you chose to add it)
3. Mix carefully.
4. serve at room temperature.


¡Buen provecho!

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A Love Song That Makes Me Close My Eyes When I Listen -Because I am So In Love-

 22.3.12

I read somewhere that Christian marriage is two sinners coming together under God's covenant, under His blessing, to grow in holiness. This is true, and because it is true I am amazed that even though we are broken and sin against each other, and seek our own interests many times, God's blessing is enough to restore things and make them beautiful. His blessing is enough to give us precious times with the one we love. His blessings reach every area in our marriages, even our marriage bed. Intimacy between husband and wife is a gift, a joy; not because we are sinless, but because Jesus has redeemed us, and has restored us to a place in which enjoying an intimate time with our husband is a gift, a good gift from above. And his gifts are to be cherished.

Our marriage is not perfect at all -don't even think that- Even after almost 19 years we are still learning, growing, dying, living. But one thing is sure: I am in love with the man who holds my heart.

This is one of my favorite albums of Kenny G. and this song, Everything I Do, I Do It for You is one that makes me close my eyes.




May we learn to whisper "I love you" more often, and do everything we do for the man who put a ring on our finger and a seal on our heart.


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On Titus 2: 1-5 Living the Gospel in Community -part 1-

 20.3.12


"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so 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." Titus 2: 1-5 ESV

We live what we believe in our community. We just can't live a godly life in isolation; we live and move among people: believers and non believers as well. We have heard so many times that "our relationship with God is personal," and while this is true in an extent, it has been carried too far as to deny our responsibility on how we live among the people around us, especially our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

In these verses Paul urges Titus, a young man, to teach in the church.  But there are some guidelines he must follow; first of all, he is to teach in accord with sound doctrine. Bryan Chapell explains in a few words what sound doctrine is:

"The words 'sound doctrine' are used by Paul to refer to the teachings passed on approved by Christ's apostles, teachings meant to guard and guide the church."

And John MacArthur says,

"[T]he theme throughout not only Titus but 1 and 2 Timothy is the teaching of sound doctrine and the call for consequent sound living, healthy doctrine which produces healthy living. That's crucial.

Now this is all set against the backdrop of unsound doctrine which produces unsound living, or unhealthy doctrine which produces unhealthy Christianity."

"So holy living is proper. Holy living is suitable. Holy living is fitting. Holy living is inseparable from sound doctrine. That's the point."

I firmly believe that the importance of having sound doctrine is not necessarily to crush someone else's arguments, win debates, point out those in error and so on. The most important reason for us to pursue sound doctrine is that we may live accordingly to it. That we may live holy lives in a day to day basis. Down-to-earth-holiness, if so to say.

Instructions for older men are found on verse 2 and I do not intend to explain these, because I would never like to teach "older men" their place in the Church. However, I would like to point you to one sermon that may help you understand more about this verse:  God's Plan for Older Men and Women by John MacArthur

Now we come to the instructions for older women -including myself-. These verses (3-5) are worth studying carefully as they are very practical and are a perfect guide that shows us how our sound doctrine must be manifested in our way of living. It is also a good way to help us choose our friends; we want to be close friends with women who display these characteristics.

1. Reverent in behavior:  A mature woman should always seek to honor God and demonstrate this reverence in all her conduct.  Our being close to God in prayer and through the Word, should be evident in all our manner of living.

2. Not slanders: No gossiping, not at all. MacArthur says,

"You know what the word is for malicious gossips? It's the Greek word diabolos, 34 times in the New Testament it appears as a name for Satan. Nothing is more Satanlike than slander. And whereas men tend to sin and violently react physically, men prove to be rough or violent in their action, women have a tendency to be rough or violent in their words. Satan is a malicious slanderer, slandering night and day. Don't be Satanlike."

3. Not slaves to much wine: Not slaves to much wine or to anything that may not be reverent and godly.  We must not lack self-control. Any behavior that is out of control will certainly "damage the credibility of the life-changing power of the gospel" in Chapell's words.

4. They are to teach what is good: And what is good? Those teachings that are in accord with sound doctrine. (v.1) Ladies, let's take the big books and study, Let us go deeper in the Word taking the time to study it in-depth. Let us not be afraid to be Theologians, and go beyond our most-loved passages.

5. They are to train the young woman to...

* Love their husbands and children: Bryan Chapell hits the nail on a very important issue concerning young men teaching, counseling or giving advice to young women:

"Paul does not tell Titus to teach the younger women. This non-instruction probably reflects Paul's concern that a young woman perceive her husband (or father-my inclusion) as the male who is her primary spiritual instructor (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:35). Paul also apparently desires to establish a pattern of instruction in the church that does not lead to sexual temptation."

Older women are called to train younger women in the matters of family -marriage and child-rearing- What an enormous privilege is this! We are not called to preach from the pulpit on a Sunday's sermon; we are called to train younger women how to live a godly, pious life that accords with sound doctrine in a day to day basis. What woman wants a pulpit to preach if she has a beautiful family to minister, children to teach, and young women around her to train?

* To be self-controlled: If we are called as older women to teach self-control, let us first of all, exercise it in our own lives.

* Pure:  It is true that many women struggle with pornography, but many more struggle with a false notion of what a romantic marriage should look alike. They are addicted to a romanticism that only happens in Hollywood. They are not pure, and in their hearts are not being faithful to their husbands, but are always in discontent, always wishing for a more "romantic" relationship.  This is not pure, and does not accords to godliness.

* Working at home, kind: These three go hand in hand. And it is important to note that real issue here is not if a wife can work or not outside her home. The heart of the matter here is this: Is her home her priority? If she stays at home what is her attitude? Kind or resentful?

Chapell has some good words here,

"Any woman who makes career status or financial advantage a higher priority in her life than the welfare of her marriage, children, or home transgress Scripture as well as the signals of a heart sensitive to God's Spirit. Perhaps this is the reason Paul urges that young women not only be taught to be productive at home but also to be "kind." A sensitive heart will not get so caught up in the routines of homemaking, that compassion for a husband's or child's needs get lost, nor will such a heart be dissuaded by the callousness of the secular world regarding the value of the homemaking routines."

* Submissive to their own husbands: Because this is such an in-depth topic, I would like to poin tou to Nancy Wilson, a woman who has written several books on marriage and child-rearing, as well as some great articles on submission, for example this one: Stick to your Duties, in which she answers questions such as: "[W]hat about the women who are married to men who are not interested in leading, who have neither drive nor direction? What can a woman in a marriage like that do?"  (other articles are: Submission Requires Courage, and First Duties)


All these lineaments are there so that the word of God may not be reviled. I love the way Chapell concludes hos commentary on these verses,

"The wonderful message implicit here is that what happens in the home as a result of a woman's care is a powerful tool for the progress of the gospel."

Let us not be deceived, sisters. Our duties at home have an eternal effect; let us be diligent in doing what we have been commanded to do. Our joys will be multiplied!


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A Family Prayer for the Lord's Day Morning

 18.3.12

Matthew Henry wrote a family prayer for the Lord's Day Morning   a beautiful and rich prayer that will sure bless your heart today. O what a blessing it is to prepare our hearts in prayer before we go come to the Lord's house to worship Him among the saints!

Moms, let us wake up earlier,  with a happy heart and set, with our readiness, a peaceful tune in our home before we come Church. Let no bitterness or resentment, or selfishness take hold of us. Let us serve gladly our Lord this day by serving those we love the most.


@Katie Lloyd Photography


Because this is a lengthy prayer, I am only sharing here some excerpts* from it:

Most gracious God, and our Father in our Lord Jesus Christ; it is good for us to draw near to Thee; the nearer the better; and it will be best of all, when come to be nearest of all in the kingdom of glory.

We bless Thee for the return of the morning light, and that thou causest the day-spring to know its place and time. O let the day-spring from on high visit our dark souls, and the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing under his wings.

We bless thee that the light we see is the Lord’s: That this is the day which the Lord hath made, hath made for man, hath made for himself, we will rejoice and be glad in it. That thou hast revealed unto us thy holy sabbaths, and that we were betimes taught to put a difference between this day and other days, and that we live in a land in all parts of which God is publicly and solemnly worshiped on this day.

Now we bid this sabbath welcome: Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest. O that we may be in the Spirit on this Lord’s Day; that this may be the sabbath of the Lord in our dwelling; in our hearts, a sabbath of rest from sin, and a sabbath of rest in God. Enable us, we pray thee, so to sanctify this sabbath, as that it may be sanctified to us and be a means of our sanctification; that by resting today from our worldly employments, our hearts may be more and more taken off from present things and prepared to leave them; and that by our employing our time today in the worship of God, we may be led into a more experimental acquaintance with the work of heaven, and be made more meet for that blessed world.

We confess we are utterly unworthy of the honour and unable for the work of communion with thee, but we come to thee in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is worthy, and depend upon the assistance of thy blessed Spirit to work all our works in us, and so ordain peace for us.

O Lord, we bless thee for thy holy word, which is a light to our feet and a lamp to our paths, and which was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope; that the scriptures are preserved pure and entire to us, and that we have them in a language that we understand. We beg that we may not receive the grace of God herein in vain. We bless thee that our eyes see the joyful light, and our ears hear the joyful sound of a Redeemer and a Saviour, and of redemption and salvation by him; that life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Glory be to God in the highest, for in and through Jesus Christ there is on earth peace and good-will towards men.

O that our hearts may be filled this day with pleasing thoughts of Christ and his love to us, that great love wherewith he loved us. O the admirable dimensions of that love; the height, the depth, and length, and breadth of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge! Let this love constrain us to love him and to live to him, who died for us and rose again. O that it may be a pleasure and mighty satisfaction to us to think that while we are here praying at the footstool of the throne of grace, our blessed Saviour is sitting at the right hand of the throne of glory, interceding for us. We earnestly beg that through him we may find favour with thee our God, and may be taken into covenant and communion with thee.

We humbly pray thee, for his sake, forgive all our sins, known and unknown, in thought, word, and deed: Through him let us be acquitted of guilt and accepted as righteous in thy sight; let us not come into condemnation, as we have deserved; let our iniquity be taken away and our sin covered; and let us be clothed with the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness, that the shame of our nakedness may not appear. O let there be no cloud of guilt to interpose between us and our God this day, and to intercept our comfortable communion with him; and let our lusts be mortified and subdued, that our corruptions may not be as a clog to us, to hinder the ascent of our souls heavenwards.

Let thy presence be in all assemblies of good Christians this day. Grace be with all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; let grace be upon them all. In the chariot of the everlasting gospel, let the great Redeemer ride forth triumphantly, conquering and to conquer, and let every thought be brought into obedience to him. Let many be brought to believe the report of the gospel, and to many let the arm of the Lord be revealed. Let sinners be converted unto thee, and thy saints edified and built up in faith, holiness, and comfort, unto salvation. Complete the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom.

Now the Lord of peace himself give us peace always by all means. The God of hope fill us with joy and peace in believing, for Christ Jesus’ sake, our blessed Saviour and Redeemer, who hath taught us to pray, Our Father which art in heaven, etc.

Grace upon Grace,


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*You can read Matthew Henry's: A family Prayer for the Lord's Day Morning in full here

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The Shallows: A Book you Need to Read but Will Disturb You

 17.3.12



I get the keys of my van out of my purse, get in the car, start its engine and push the accelerator. Green light, yellow light, red light. A bike. A turn. Keep going straight. A man crossing the street. Red light again. I look through the mirrors. Pass a car. Accelerate. Yellow light. 15 more minutes. I park at home and as if waking up from a dream, I think to myself, "How in the world did I arrive here? I don't remember the details; I just arrived home, thank God safely, but I drove in "automatic," not really thinking....

As I read the book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, I had the same feeling as that time when I drove my van home in "automatic", not knowing how it really happened; not knowing how I had arrived there.

In this book, The Shallows,  Carr gives ample proof, quoting from many different authors, doctors, researches, on how our brain, no matter if we are adults, keeps changing. It is still "plastic". Many new connections are made, and it does change. And he goes on to explain based on his research that maybe we have not change the way we read, for example, but that our way of thinking has changed. 

I came up with these questions from the first chapters:

When I am reading a book, does my concentration drifts after a page or two?

The more I use the Web, the more I fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing?

Do I find myself skimming through the books I once would read entirely?

Do I find myself having little patience for long, drawn-out, nuanced arguments?

Carr quotes Karp,

"Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind, is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in a dole out of information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts- the fastest, the better-"

Carr, does not write this book as one who suggests that we should get rid of all technology and go live as Amish in Lancaster, PA. His approach is excellent, engaging, well thought and convincingly. His goal seems to be, to pursue us to do something about the way we decide on how we will interact with technology.

This is an excellent book for everyone of us. It is in fact, a must read. We don't like to hear how the Web is changing the way we think, the way we read and write. The way we converse and relate to others; We don't want to read about this because it is really disturbing;  but we must know and understand all this in order to be able to do something about it.

This is a book I would highly recommend for those who love to read and write. It addresses many of the ways our thinking process -related to our reading, writing, memorizing- has been, or is in the process of being altered by the Web.

"In the choices we have made, consciously or not, about how we use our computers, we have rejected the intellectual tradition of solitary, single-minded concentration, the ethic that the book bestowed on us. We have cast our lot with the juggler."

The Shallows is a book for those of us who at times feel "proud" on how we have managed to be multi-taskers on the Web. The truth is that we are juggling around, and as Carr says,

"The Net seizes our attention only to scatter it."
"Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle; that's the intellectual environment  of the Internet."
"The division of attention demanded by multimedia further strains our cognitive abilities, diminishing our learning and weakening our understanding."
Carr now quotes Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor  who led a research on multitasking,
"Intensive multitaskers are suckers for irrelevance...everything distracts them."
In the words of Carr,
"[W]e ask the Internet to keep interrupting us, in ever more and different ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive, Tuning out is not an option many of us would consider."

For our family, tuning out is not an option. Our children take online classes, I teach online. We use Skype and Facebook to be in touch with many of our friends who live abroad. So what do we do? I pray, God will help me to discipline myself and be more focused. It is hard, it is true, because I do many different things on the Web. From working, to blogging, to keeping in touch with people I love. From listening to my music to looking at yummy recipes and ideas for my home on Pinterest. But, I must and I want to do something about this.

If you decide to read this book, I would love to encourage you to read another one that goes hand on hand with it. An excellent book by Tim Challies: The Next Story. I did not write a review on that one, but it certainly was on my list of favorite books last year.

It is my prayer that God will help me live a wise life. We only have one life which is made of thousands of minutes stringed together, the way I use each one of them really counts.

Under His sun and by His grace,



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Blogging when Your Children are Young Adults

 16.3.12

@Shiloh Photography


It has been kind of quiet in this blog lately, and the main reason for that is because being watchful demands time; and one of the things that I have had to set aside for a bit in order to be purposely watchful, is this blog -and at times reading yours-.

The second important reason is that 3 of our four children are young adults (I rather use this term than "teenagers"). When one is mothering young ones, one can easily share stories of the little people at home, their funny sayings and hilarious moments. A mom can easily share about how she is learning to take time to read the Word while cleaning the house and changing diapers; but when our children grow things change, and must definitely change. It would be the absolutely unwise for me to share how we are dealing with certain things going on in our lives here -or even at a coffee table- I cannot share with you the thoughts and struggles of my children to try to encourage you "in the Lord." God forbid!

Most of the learning and growing in my life at this moment happens around being a mom to three wonderful young adults. Each one of them living his/her own story. Yes, it is their story, not mine and I love to see how God is dealing with each one of them. At this point in life, I am learning that all the things my husband and I have taught them are there to stay; and that our children are now in a stage in which we can not really add more to that building process, but can only help them see clearly through the Light of the Scripture. Of course we must still give them advice and encourage them in the Lord, don't take me wrong, they are still our responsibility, but our role as parents is changing and we must see that and act accordingly while at the same time keep on praying that they will make the best decisions.

If prayer has always been a vital part in the parenting process, when you come to this stage in life know that prayer is almost the only way to parent effectively. Prayer is the only resource that never ends, that has no limits, that reaches to our Father' heart. When our children become young adults, it is not about "you and them", but about "he and God" and "she and God."

There are those times where you feel like you have a thousand good words to say, but the Spirit urges you not to open your mouth, it is then when words find their way in the prayer closet, in the kitchen, in the quiet. Murmuring prayers as the day goes by while hugging and kissing your children, and showing yourself available for a good conversation at night, are the ways we grow together in the Lord and in our relationship with them.

In this process, as I see my children growing into full maturity, I bow my head in gratitude for each one of them.  I am so grateful to my God because He has granted me life to see them grow in Him. I am grateful because of our many conversations; because love is always present. I am grateful because being their mom is one of the most amazing things that has happened to me. I am grateful because in spite of all my faults and shortcomings, their desire is to live godly lives, and have a family of their own that honors God.

May God grant us to live each stage of our lives with wisdom,



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On Titus 1: 10-16 - Stamp Eternity On My Eyes, O Lord-

 13.3.12

@Annie Pliego Photography

"For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.  One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.  To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."
Titus 1: 10- 16


Bryan Chapell in his commentary on Titus says the following about these verses:

"If our deeds do not conform to the gracious character of our God, then we deny his nature and deny ourselves the opportunity to serve him."

We know that is grace that upholds us, sustains us, and lead us to repentance over and over again. But this week, as I have been mediating on these verses, I kept thinking on how many times we -I- have hide under the precious truth of His never ending grace to excuse a sinful behavior in our lives. No, I am not talking about those who abuse grace by openly sinning against God saying that God is always merciful and all good, and will always forgive. No, I am talking here of the subtle lie, the one that is not easily seen. The one that hides behind a pious character, behind empty talks and deceitful appearances. I am referring to the sinful ways in which we live while excusing ourselves saying, "That is the way I am. I am a sinner. I am still living in this sinful body" while at the same time we wrong our families, and our family in the Lord's Church.

The Word of the Lord has rebuked me sharply. If by faith I live,  then I must live accordingly to it. My deeds must show Christ, and do not deny Him.

J.C. Ryle said,

"To say that we are sorry for our sins is mere hypocrisy, unless we show that we are really sorry for them, by giving them up. Doing is the very life of repentance."

Father, deliver me from loving Theology and not loving YOU. 
Deliver me, from professing that I know You while at the same time, 
I live denying You with my words (spoken or written) and deeds. 
Give my an obedient heart, 
one that pleases you, 
so that I may be fit to serve you where you have me this day.

Father, stamp eternity on my eyes so that all I view would be seen in the context of its eternal consequences.*

Under His sun and by His grace,



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*This last line is based on one of Jonathan Edward's prayers

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Praying the Psalms -Psalm 19-

 11.3.12

©Katie Lloyd Photography


Psalm 19

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Lord, I love to watch the sky you have created; the vastness of it compared with my smallness. You above all and yet so close to me. Your glory revealed in the firmament, in the formation of clouds, in the sun and the colors we see. Lift my eyes, O Lord, to the  heavens above and remind me of your magnificence, your power, your greatness. That I may never forget how small I am and how much of a need I have of you.
 

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.


More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

And even though contemplating the beauty of the heavens fascinates me, nothing compares with the perfection of your law.

Lord, the truth is that many times when we feel weary and fool, we draw away from your law. Oh, how foolish we are! It is only your law that can revive our heart. It is only your law, your perfect law, that can make us wise. Lord, many times when we are sad, we go looking for a friend, but Oh God, who can really turn our tears into laughter? Only you. Your precepts bring true joy to our heart. We seek advice from many and yet, we barely come to You in prayer, seeking you with all diligence, longing to hear from You in your Word. Lord, you alone can enlighten our path because You are the Light, and your Word is a lamp into our feet. Father, that I may fear your Holy Name, that I may walk upright before You all the days of my life; that I may seek your Word and your precepts above all.

It makes my soul good to examine the things that I value the most. Do I really desire your law more than gold? More than all the comforts I enjoy? More than any material things I have, because of your grace towards me? Do I really find it sweeter than honey? Is it my greatest delight?  Lord, you know my answer: No. Not always. Transform this heart of mine, that I may grow in love for you. Deliver me from the lie that knowing in my mind is enough. I want to love you, and your law, and your precepts, and your Word. I want to LOVE YOU more and more. Lord, that I may take heed of your warnings and abide in your Word; that I may rejoice greatly in the rewards you have promised to those who keep your Law and love it.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Father, I am so feeble, so simple at times, and so arrogant in my heart at other times that I don't even see my sin. Other times come when I love my sin so much that I just don't want to see it. Who can discern his own errors? Certainly not me. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that whispers me through the Word pointing to my sin and granting me repentance. Thanks for the conscience that is not easily put to silence. Deliver me, deliver me, Oh God, from all presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Cleanse me with the blood of Jesus, my Savior, and remember my sin no more.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

These three lines sum it all up...Yes, and amen to every word in them:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


In Jesus' name, my Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,


Amen.

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On Prayer and Fasting and Depending on God

 8.3.12



There are times when we must purposely fast, when we know we need to bring our bodies to submission to the spiritual things. But there are other seasons when fasting is the only natural way to come before God. Our bodies refuse to eat, and we have a greater need to pray, to fast, to come to the Word.

Being hungry for Him, and not hungry for food is a gift; a reminder that we are not of this world, that our flesh and all its desires will one day pass away. The heaviness of the soul is a reminder of how much we need His grace. All sufficient grace. Grace that satisfies our deepest needs, our longings. Grace that points our sin and grants us a repentant heart. Grace that lights up our way, that helps us think clearly.

In those days in which our bodies don't crave for physical food, in which they refuse a morsel of sweetness, those days are days for fasting; for entering the prayer closet and open our hearts before God.

Let us welcome the days in which our only desire is to be with Him, and cry. Let us welcome the nights in which we cannot sleep and can only pray. Let us welcome the seasons in which we are reminded by the Spirit of God on how much we need Him. On how desperately we need His all sufficient grace.

Seasons of prayer and fasting are here to remind us on how much we must depend on Him, and not on the physical world that promises to satisfy our soul but always leaves us with a greater and deeper longing.

This year I have prayerfully purposed to live each day with a watchful heart; and how can I watch with all diligence if I don't pray and fast? I welcome this season. I long for more of Him.

Under His grace, always clinging to Him...





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My prayer today, I Lift Up My Hands

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On Titus 1: 5-9 - The Character of a Godly Man-

 6.3.12



As you can probably imagine, I am behind my memory project. But you know what? That happens, and I will try to catch up pretty soon.

While enjoying the company of our friends these past weeks, I was not able to fully devote myself to memorization, but I did keep reading Titus and Bryan Chapell's commentary. The thing that really impressed my heart was to read all the characteristics that a godly man, apt for the service of the Lord, should display. As a mother of two sons I saw this list as a guideline on what I should strive to see in them. If you have young kids, focus on these character traits to teach them what a real man is; and if your sons are young adults living far away from you, pray earnestly that they will be able to display these characteristics, by the grace of God, in all their manner of living.


These characteristics are also a great way to teach our sons about what a true Christian friend is. Choosing our friends is not an easy task, we need the Word of God to help us discern who can truly help us grow in the faith and in our relationships with others.


Our daughters should also know this list of characteristics well, and keep it before their eyes. We certainly want them to marry God-fearing men and this list will certainly help them discern who could make a godly husband and father.


As wives, we could also use this list to pray for our husband. What a blessing to be able to intercede for them according with the Word of God!

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1: 5-9 ESV

Being "above reproach": Our sons must be taught that they only have one reputation and they must do all that is in their hands to keep it clean, above all men's reproach.

"Husband of one wife": My husband and I truly believe that we must teach our sons to have an "only-one-woman heart." They need to learn how to depend on God's means of grace to keep themselves pure for their wives, and because of the love that they will have for their wife, they should start now practicing self-control. We have taught them that the attitude of being faithful to their wife starts now, in their heart, not only after marriage.

"He must not be arrogant": Oh how much I pray that my sons and sons in law will be humble men! Always with a heart willing to learn, to seek and receive advice. Always open to grow and admit their faults and sins. Always dependent on God's all sufficient Grace.

"He must not be quick-tempered": Chapell says that "this is a reference particularly to the kind of temper that flares at others." We cannot stress the importance of this too much. It is vital. He who is quick-tempered will be like a city without a protection wall.

"Not given to drunkenness": Again in Chapell's words, "the phrase was used idiomatically to refer to any kind of outrageous, unconcerned-for-others conduct"

"He must not be violent":  Moms of young sons, please, please, please, never let your little one respond violently (even with tantrums) to you or anybody else. Let us be diligent in teaching our sons how violence goes beyond physical abuse. Words-or the lack of words- can certainly be violent. Actions can also be violent and destroy and bring death.

"He must not be greedy for gain": Our sons must learn the value of hard work. Let us teach them not to put their trust in riches lest they will fall (Prov. 11:28), and that they don't last forever (Prov. 27: 24).

Now we see in Paul's epistle to Titus six positive qualifications, all of them having an impact on others. Our sons must learn that a godly man influences others. Being holy and godly is not a "personal" thing, it always reaches out to others.

"Hospitable": Being hospitable is something that we talk about among women. But surprisingly, being hospitable is a characteristic of a godly man. And maybe it is more surprising that being hospitable is not listed in this epistle as a characteristic that a godly woman must have (see ch. 2: 3-5).

"A lover of good": Chapell says, "particularly loving virtue or what promotes good for others." What is it that they talk about among their friends? What is it that they enjoy the most? Paul in his epistle to the Philippians tells us what are the kind of good things that we must train our minds to think about (Phil. 4:8-9).

"Self-controlled": in Chapell's words, "Controlling drives that lead to impulsive and damaging behavior."  How I pray that my sons rely on God's Word to be self-controlled. To die to self and grow in Him.

"Upright": Teaching our sons to align their lives to the Word of God is a must. The world will always offer them an easier way to live, a more "pleasant" life to live. The only way for them to live upright, is to treasure God's Word in their hearts, pray and depend on God's amazing and unfailing grace.

"Holy": Separated from the world, not conformed to it. Willing to think and act differently than the fool who lives as if there were no God.

"Disciplined": Chapell says., "a term probably analogous to the practices of an athlete in training, meaning rigorous application of the Biblical habits, means and restrictions for growing in godliness"

These last six characteristics have to do with a blameless behavior, but how could it be possible for our sons to live up to that standard? 

Only by holding firm to the trustworthy Word as taught to them. Only when they hold fast to the Scriptures, in spite of all their shortcomings and sinful nature, will they be able to stand blameless not only before God, but also before the Church of Christ.

There is upon my shoulders a heavy burden to persevere in prayer for my sons and the future husband of my daughters; that they may hold firm to the Word of God and live an open life before our Most Holy God.


"Godly leadership proves that freedom from slavery of sin and selfishness is possible" Bryan Chapell

Under His sun and by His grace,


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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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