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Praying Ephesians -Ephesians 4:1-16-

 28.4.13


@Katie Lloyd Photography

Father, thank you for your Word which is perfect and pure, and which teaches us how to walk as Christians in this fallen word. Father, I ask you to forgive me because many times I have not walked in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience.

Oh Lord, help me, through the Grace that saved me and sustains me, to walk every day with all humility. Forgive the many times I have looked down on someone; forgive when I let pride and self-righteousness have dominion over me. Forgive me when I walk haughtily, with a heart blind with arrogance. Give me a humble heart, a teachable heart, the heart of a servant.

Forgive me when I don't walk or speak with all gentleness. Forgive me for my harsh attitudes, for my rudeness. Work in me, Oh Lord, and create in me a humble and gentle heart. Let my words be sweet to you and to those around me.

Father, forgive me when I lose my patience, when I want things to be done promptly and my way. Lord, help me! That I may not see my loss of patience as something that is not grievous to you. Help me to see how it shows the condition of my heart that doesn't want to wait for your perfect time. Father, help me to wait in silence knowing that my hope is in you. Help me to trust in you at all times knowing that you are sovereign over the time frame in which we live.

Lord, teach me to bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters in love, help me to persevere in prayer for them, to intercede, to remember with a compassionate and grateful heart those who are going through trials. Help me to reach toward them in love to help them with their burdens. Help us, Lord! Forgive me, O Lord, when I have turned and have decided not to bear with my brothers in Christ with love. Give me a heart that reaches in prayer and hands that reach to serve promptly and with a joyful heart.

Father, that I may eagerly seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That I may not forget that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. That I may not forget that you alone are over all, and through all and in all. Help me, please, Oh Lord. Help me, to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace without compromising the Truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Lord, help me, because this is so hard to do in this era in which many voices are raised and a dense cloud of confusion makes it hard for us to discern how to do this. I need you, Lord. I need you, so much!

Father, thank you for the grace that you have bestowed upon each one of your children. Thank you for the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, the teachers, all given in time to equip us for the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ until we all -each one of us- attain the unity of the faith and come to the full knowledge of your Son, Jesus Christ. Father, thank you because in the Word, in the prophets and the writings of the apostles, through the exposition of your Word, we can grow in grace into mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Graceful Father, help me to hold fast to the Truth, to the words that have been revealed in the Scriptures, deliver me, deliver us from an apathy towards your Word, which will restrain us from growing in grace. Help me, Lord, to hold fast to your Word in a time in which deception keeps knocking at our door disguised as piety and is adorned with seductive words. Help me, help us, so that we may not be like children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried away by every new wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes that seems so inviting.

Oh, God, help us, help me! That I may dare to speak the truth in love for the sake of building and not tearing down. Help us, help me, to hold fast to your Word, to the unchangeable Truth in a time in which people, even in the Church,  are trying to redefine what your Word clearly teaches. Lord, it would be so easy to fall into deception, help me!

Father, this Lord's Day I intercede for your Church. Help us grow joined and held together by your Truth. Help us, work properly and function as one body. Make us grow in all submission to our Head which is Christ Jesus, and help us build ourselves in love to bring glory to your Name.

In Jesus' Name, our Lord and Savior,

Amen


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Declaring War on Anxiety -A Meditation on Job-

 24.4.13

Canon Press
Continuing with more wise words from Toby J. Sumpter's book, A Son for Glory (the context is Job 2-3):


 "Paul himself disagrees with a stoic passivity to every event in our lives, and he does not contradict himself. He says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). Paul does not say that we should not be anxious because God is in control and does whatever he pleases (though there is a sense in which that is true). Paul says that we should not be anxious because we are constantly pouring out our anxieties to God. Paul instructs the Philippians about how to fight anxiety through prayer. This is the same exhortation that Peter gives his readers. They ought to cast all their anxieties on God, because He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7). Paul is making the same point. There is to be thanksgiving, but faithful prayer does not ignore anxieties and pain. Faithful people will let their requests be made known to God; they will cast their anxieties upon Him. Also notice the goal of voicing these fears and pains and anxieties to God: the peace of God... Crying out to in anguish and fear to the God of heaven is not giving in to anxiety; it is declaring war on that anxiety. It is refusing to give up the fight.

Job is going to go on fighting for the rest of the book. Job is a warrior... Faith looks to God in hope, but faith is not blind, and faith is not lifeless. Faith doesn't pretend it doesn't hurt, and faith isn't apathetic about the gifts -friends, family, health- that God has given us. Faith loves those gifts of God, and when they are threatened or taken away, faith cries out to God, "Why are you doing this?" Faith is hungry for goodness and justice and mercy. Faith is the woman who won't stop bringing her requests to the master, because he is the master and because he is the Lord."



Praying without ceasing and giving thanks...




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Job Consecrated His Children Daily to God- A Meditation-

 22.4.13

"His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually." Job 1: 4-5

Jim LePage Art and Design
Toby J.Sumpter in his book, Job through New Eyes: A Son for Glory says,

" [S]in is also a directional thing, a geographical reality, a sort of teleology. Literally, the verb in the Hebrew means "to sin" means "to miss the mark"; it means you've veered off the path. To sin is to be going in the wrong direction, to be in the wrong place.

So what does Job do? Job is saying, God, I'm not sure what my sons have been doing, but want to reorient them to you again. I'm not sure where they've been , I'm not sure what they've said. I'm not sure what's going on their hearts, so I'm offering them back to you again. This one for my firstborn son, this one for my secondborn son, this one for my thirdborn, and I am offering them up to you. I remind you of them. Consider my sons, and draw them into your presence...Job did this regularly."

And so do I.


Amen.



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Elisabeth Elliot and Nancy Wilson on Journal-Keeping

 18.4.13



This very much summarizes what I believe on journaling...

"I was very cautious about what I put in the journals. I don't think it was because I feared someone else would discover my secrets. I think I was afraid to articulate, even for myself, feelings I might have to get rid of. Better to stick  with what God was saying to me than what my heart was saying. It seemed the safer course. I do not repudiate it now. The only way to build a house on the rock is to hear the Word (I couldn't have heard it if all I listened to was my feelings) and then to try to do it..."

Elisabet Elliot, Passion and Purity (p. 54)

Nancy Wilson also wrote a while ago two posts on journal-keeping that are worth considering:
Part One. Part Two (if you only have time to read one, read part two. It is excellent -a must I would dare to say-.

"[W]e should and must guard our tongues in all things spoken and written: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life” (Prov. 13:3). Psalm141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Our pens need watchmen and guards just like our mouths. And the fact that a journal is “private”does not mean the words can be left unguarded." -Nancy Wilson

"Life is short. Write good words." -Nancy Wilson




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Because of Easter... I Can Wait

 17.4.13


Albrecht Dürer, The Entombment (1504)
 “But God works in surprising ways, and sometimes he demonstrates his love by delay.” D.A. Carson, Scandalous (p. 121)

Whenever I read of the days between the death of our Lord and His resurrection, I find it easy to understand the weariness and disappointment in the hearts of the disciples. How many times we have been there, between the promise and the fulfillment of it? The waiting, the days in between, when heaven seems closed and we just don’t know where to turn because all the roads seem closed and all hopes appear to lie dead behind huge rocks. In those days of waiting we must not despair as if we didn’t know that our Lord lives, that His promise to conquer death and sin was fulfilled on an Easter Morning.

         Continue reading at Desiring Virtue...









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On Living Quietly - Quietness of Heart-

 12.4.13

I came across this short meditation by Ray Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition today and I just needed to share it with you. It ministered to me as I am -slowly- learning what it means to Live Quietly.

“In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

The greatest power in all this world is not military or political or sexual or commercial. The greatest power, which will outlast all others (“above all earthly powers”), resides deep within the simplest believer. Quietness of heart before God, trusting in him, is our strength, and there is no greater strength.

Alec Motyer comments insightfully, “Quietness is the absence of panic and restlessness. It is the product not of refusal to face life but of insistence upon taking God into account in trust.”

This quietness is not denial but indeed its opposite. It is facing God, taking God as God fully into account, treating God as more real than everything so firmly set against us, including our own needs and sins, because he is more real.

Quietness of heart is not outwardly impressive. Which is why we sometimes get nervous, why trusting in God can feel like skating on thin ice. But it is God’s good wisdom — and there is no other — for the display of his all-sufficiency.

Quietness of heart before God is where fugitives stop running, and start resting, and become stalwarts and overcomers, because God himself is there.

Learning under His sun and by His grace,


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Five Links -On Justification by Faith, Titus 2 Women, and Bible Apps- and Two Questions

 11.4.13

This is my new favorite breakfast recipe: Raspberry Ricotta Scones!


This week I came across some great articles that I thought you might enjoy and benefit from as well.

We talk about being justified by faith alone, but maybe you are not really sure what it is meant by that phrase. Well, our friend Christina Langella has a guest post at Theology for Girls which is worth reading (please don't even try to skim through it, read it carefully. You will not regret it. ;) ).

"Whether you have been serving God for a little while or a long while, it doesn’t matter. The whole of your Christian faith is grounded in this one doctrine.It is the truth of God’s grace in Christ towards sinners, and it will not only deliver you from the darkness but it will also keep you on solid ground."

My dear friend Trisha Poff wrote an excellent and timely article on the need of becoming Titus 2 Women.

"I'm watching women dismiss our home-centered calling as they insist on blurring the distinctive roles God has given men and women, sometimes in the name of being "Gospel-focused," as though biblical womanhood is void of the Gospel dwelling in us richly."

On the same line, The Gospel Coalition has an article (from February 28, 2013) for women in need of a mentor: How to Be Mentored Without a Mentor that is very practical and encouraging.

"You may be longing for a formal mentor, someone who can sit down and speak into your life each week. Pray and ask God for that tremendous gift. He may grant it. But if he doesn't, or until he does, seek out resources already available to you in order to be mentored—even at a distance—by other Christians. I often challenge young, busy moms to read one chapter of a good book each day. You can work your way through a number of books that way. And you're giving your soul something nourishing."

Lastly (from the archives at Desiring God -2011-) an excellent encouragement to become "addicted" to God's Word: Man Shall not Live by Facebook Alone

"Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day."
My favorite, favorite, app that has helped me do this and also has helped me with my memorization projects is Fighter Verses, also by Desiring God. I love it!


Now the questions:

Considering that two of my links this week have to do with becoming a Titus 2 Woman I thought maybe we could share some about that here.

1. Who have been the most influential mentors -in your vocation as a Christian wife/mother- in your life (women you know personally and/or authors)? 

2. Are you purposely mentoring younger women?

My Answers:

1. In my life, I can quickly point to my sister and Nancy Wilson (I am not mentioning men authors, since this is a question about Titus 2 women). I think also of a friend who reminds me (even the way she speaks!) of Elisabeth Elliot. Elisabeth Elliot, by the way, is becoming a mentor to me in this stage of my life. I have also learned (and still learn!) a lot from different godly friends: there is one who always listens attentively while looking you at the eye with her apron on and a "beautiful tomato" on her hand; another whose mouth is full of the Word of God and with whom sometimes I talk on the phone for hours -she is my life editor of the sort-. There is one who prays without ceasing and cooks the best carrot soufflé ever! Others whose example of love and dedication to their children (biological and adopted) and their perseverance in prayer for them -and even hard physical work- have always been a silent challenge that speaks loudly to my life.

2. Yes. But not enough. I am now almost solely focused on my daughters, especially on my oldest who is leaving for college next fall! So much to talk and pray about, so many hugs to give and laughs to share.


Blessings to you and thank you for stopping by,




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But God, But I.

 10.4.13


©Shiloh Photography

I love the "But God..." moments in the Bible* -and in my life!-. Each one life-changing, each one comes, and brutally transforms whole situations turning them up-side-down (or if you permit me, down-side-up).

This morning I read in Psalm 88 these words, "But I..." and I paid attention to what came next (just as I do every time I read the opening words, "But God..." in a sentence), and I found in the next words, words that I am sure should be the natural response of one who knows the Living God, the loving God who breaks into a situation and powerfully changes it for His glory.   This is the response that should be in the lips of the one who knows God and is known by Him, by those whose God is the God of the "buts..."

Note that David was going through a pretty tough time, he is not hiding his anguish; he knew God himself had put him in the depths of the pit in which he was now, he knew that God himself had caused his friends to shun him out. And yet his response was:

"But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer 
comes before you."  
Psalm 88:13

May we learn to respond like the Psalmist did...

That is my prayer today,



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*This is a wonderful little book that I recommend about the "But God.." moments in the Bible.



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When God Surprises Us

 8.4.13


©Annie Pliego Photography

Sometimes our good Father surprises us with situations that we have been praying for: the job we asked for, the marriage we dreamed about, the children we asked for after years of waiting,  the announcement that the adoption papers were finally ready, the scholarship for college, etc. But many other times He, our good Father, surprises us with the most unexpected circumstances: the death of one of our children, a sickness, a "no" to one of our prayers, a divorce, suffering. But no matter how God "surprises us," we must never forget that He is a good Father, and He always gives us what our soul needs the most.

D.A. Carson writes in his book Scandalous,

"This is a truth not to be passed over lightly: God often surprises us; he is not to be domesticated by reductionistic theology; he takes the common things and turns them into surprising things. That is why large swaths of the Bible are written with various kinds of twist: you think you know where the words are going, and then the text jumps in another direction. Could anyone have predicted how the story of Job would turn out? Or how Habakkuk would turn out?"

 I don't know the twists that my story, or my children's story will have. How many things that I am "sure" will happen in a certain way will turn out differently? I don't know. But it is so incredibly comforting to know that my Father in Heaven is good, perfectly good and He has promised that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, for those who have been called according to His purpose. 

We don't know the words in each one of the chapters of our lives, but we sure know the ending:


"And they lived happily ever after in the arms of their Heavenly Father and sin and death were no more."


Resting under God's Sovereign hand,


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Walking the Christian Life

 6.4.13

Walking is not that simple. It takes practice.

Walking like the world... that looks easy.
      You create your own truth
      and then you live by your own standards
      always trying to choke back guilt.

Walking like a nominal Christian... that is not so easy.
      You choose what to believe from the Truth,
      and then you live by your own
      standards most of the times trying to suffocate the Truth.

Walking like a Christian... that is not easy.
      You don't get to define Truth,
      and then you are called to live by its standards
      and proclaim Truth, never drown it.


I think of my children when they were little, and how their brains and legs knew how to walk. I loved to be there to hold their hands, and push them a little bit, and  hug them happily whenever they took a step. I was there too when they were insecure and fell, and cried, and were afraid to take a new step. And this is how our Christian life is.

We, Christians, are born of the Spirit. We can walk in Truth, our new nature is built for that, but it is also true that we need help and encouragement, someone to hold our hand and teach us. Someone who will hold us tight when we want to avoid the Truth. Someone who will pray with us whenever we are afraid to take another step.

Our Father in his goodness provides us with relationships that help us walk this Christian life; but more importantly, He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to teach us and encourage us to walk in the Faith.

Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave us some instructions on how our walking should look like. As I read his epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, I marked down these verses, and I encourage you to read the whole epistles (not only the verses! That would be like cheating :) ) to find them, meditate on them, pray about them, and put all diligence to walk in them:

Ephesians 2:1-2; 2:10; 4:1-3; 4:17; 5:1-2; 5:8-10; 5:15
Philippians 3:17
Colossians 1:10; 2:6-7; 4:5
I Thessalonians 4:10

Today is Saturday and maybe it is a good time to do this; read the epistles in one sitting, just like your favorite book, that one that is hard to put down, and find your delight in abiding in the Word.

I will be digging in the rest of the epistles this weekend to search more about how this walking in the Lord should look like.

We must be ready, this walk is not always easy, let us hold tight to the Father's hand and depend on Him.

"Growth in grace is to know more of Christ, His excellence, preciousness, and fullness, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Growth in grace is to know more of our wretched, lost condition, our helplessness and unworthiness." Mary Winslow

Have a most blessed weekend,


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From My Reading Corner - The One Wrong Thing to Say-

 4.4.13


Reformation Heritage Books
What a great book Jessalyn chose this month for the book club at Desiring Virtue. I don't want to put it down!

Here is a good quote that got me thinking...

"We live in an age where the one wrong thing to say is that somebody else is wrong. One of the impacts of postmodern epistemology is that we all have our own independent points of view, and we look at things from the perspective of our own small interpretive communities. What is sin to one group is not sin to another group. But not only does the Bible insist that there is such a thing as sin, it insists that the heart of its ugly offensiveness is its horrible odiousness to God—how it offends God."

And this other one is powerful too:

 "The cross spectacularly displays God’s love, but it also displays God’s wrath against sin; it massively underscores God’s condemnation of sin...We are all guilty before God, and the cross is our only hope."

Maybe you would like to join us at the book club this month as we dig deeper into the powerful message of the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord. We would love to see you there.


Under His sun and by His grace,


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Praying Ephesians -Ephesians 3-

 3.4.13


Probably Valentin de Boulogne, Saint Paul Writing His Epistles

Father, I praise today your glorious grace and give you thanks for revealing the mystery of redemption to your church: that now we, Gentiles in the flesh, who were once separated from the commonwealth of Israel and were strangers to the covenants of promise, are now -through the blood and resurrection of Christ Jesus- fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. How wonderful these news are! Because of this, because it pleased you to made for yourself a people out of the midst of the unworthy, is that we are alive and have been made your children. Thank you, Father! And I join the voice of a saint who said after meditating on this passage of the Scriptures, How great our obligations to sovereign grace!

Lord, thank you for the gospel. I ask you to please have mercy on me and give me grace to proclaim the gospel, the unsearchable riches of Christ with all diligence. Help me so that in every word that comes out from my mouth, in every work I do, I will be a testimony of the grace that saves. Help us, each one of your children, to live a life that will not bring shame but glory to your Name. Oh Lord, help us make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings!

Thank you, Father, because we can come before you with all boldness and confidence through our faith in Jesus. Thank you for calling us by name to enjoy fellowship with you. How is that we sometimes neglect to come before you, when it was through the blood of Jesus, through that enormous sacrifice, that we can now have access to your presence! Forgive us for so often neglecting prayer and instead embracing anxiety and fear!  I ask you to help us endure through trials and tribulations and to continue to pray for one another as we proclaim the good news to the broken world. Help us, Father through your Holy Spirit, to grow in the grace and in the saving knowledge of Jesus, our Lord. Help us to seek you with all diligence through out our day.

Father, because of the way that now is open for your own children, because now we can come with all boldness to lay before you the petitions of our hearts. I humbly bow my knees before you, Father, and pray for my husband, for my children and their future spouses. I pray that according to the riches of your glory you may grant them today to be strengthen with power through your Spirit in the inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Oh Father, help us to be well rooted and grounded in love so that we all may have strength to comprehend (what is humanly impossible) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that we may be filled with the fullness of God. That knowing You in the Scriptures becomes the daily longing of our heart until we awake to you likeness.

Father, what a blessed assurance it is to know that you are able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. Let you glory shine forth in your Church and in the future generations, forever and ever amen.





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Truth and Love -Ephesians 4:15-

 2.4.13

John Stott writes in his commentary on Ephesians (referring to Eph. 4:1-16):

"Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself 'the spirit of truth,' and his first fruit is 'love." There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity." (emphasis mine)

I read the Word of God and the words of godly men like Stott and Bonhoeffer, and many others, and I still feel like a broken vessel which knows not how to love others while embracing His Truth, while upholding God's Word, while giving it preeminence and not compromising it. Stott says that "this should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers," I think that is the only line in this quote with which I do not agree. I find it one of the most difficult things to learn. I pray I will always be brave enough to stand strong on the Truth that is so often changed, but humble enough to recognize when I am not loving like Jesus would.

The more I ponder on these things, the more I recognize that only in God we can find perfect justice and perfect love.


Learning under His sun and by His grace,



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 *Thanks to Tim Challies who shared this quote on his blog today and to my friend Melissa who pointed it to me.





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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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