Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas (Feliz Navidad)

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
-Isaiah 9:6


"Porque nos ha nacido un niño,
se nos ha concedido un hijo;
la soberanía reposará sobre sus hombros,
y se le darán estos *nombres:
Consejero admirable, Dios fuerte,
Padre eterno, Príncipe de paz."
-Isaías 9:6

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gifts (Regalos)

With Christmas approaching, I know we're all thinking about preparing gifts for others. I love this time of year, and I love to give gifts. But Christmas also reminds me that God is the ultimate Gift-giver! Not only did He give His Son as the gift of our Savior, He continues to give us good gifts every day of our lives.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." -James 1:17

One special gift God has given me during my long health trial is the gift of writing. In my limited and isolated life, it's such a blessing for me to have something worthwhile and enjoyable to do. When I was younger, I never dreamed I'd be a writer, but it is a precious gift God has given to me in my suffering.

And the best part is that I know God is using this gift to bless others as well!

This month we've released a new book, a children's devotional -
"He's My GOD! - Knowing God Through His Names."
I'm very excited about this devotional! My sister took amazing photos of children for the illustrations, and my mom helped me make sure the concepts were in kid-friendly language. I'm praying God will use these truths about who He is to bless the lives of many children!

(You can order it online at -
http://www.deeperroots.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=819&osCsid=a11ef45c04353284db8ca92503283868
or you can email me.)


If you need a special gift for someone who is suffering, my first book, "Grace In Time Of Need - Encouragement For Those Who Are Suffering" is also available online in hard copy:
http://www.deeperroots.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=732&osCsid=ca66bc409b39b7e01e1b896024cbaf5f

Or as an ebook:
http://www.deeperroots.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=823&osCsid=ca66bc409b39b7e01e1b896024cbaf5f

Recently a 94 year-old man who had read this book called me, and we talked for over half an hour. He was blessed by the book, and I was blessed as I talked with him. That's how God's gifts work, they continue to give and to remind us of our Father's generous heart!


I enjoy posting on my blogs, and I'm so thankful God gives me strength to work on other projects little by little.
(I'm still trying to finish a book about Job that I started almost two years ago. I appreciate your prayers that I can complete it soon!)
God has given me so many ideas, more than my limited energy can keep up with. But I know He gives me exactly what I need in order for Him to accomplish His purposes. I'm grateful for His sweet gifts!


As we give and receive gifts this Christmas, I hope we'll all take time to praise God - the source of all gifts - for His wonderful, giving heart!


"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." -John 1:16


What gift from God are you thankful for this week?


P.S. I'm sorry my books are not yet available in Spanish. At the moment we can't afford to have them translated. But whenever God works that out, I'll be sure to let you know. =)



Regalos
 
Con la navidad acercándose, sé que todos estamos pensando en preparar regalos para otros. Me encanta esta época del año y me encanta dar regalos. Pero la navidad también me recuerda que Dios es el ¡más grande dador de regalos! No solamente dio a su Hijo como nuestro Salvador, sino que sigue dándonos buenos regalos cada día de nuestras vidas.
 
"Toda buena dádiva y todo don perfecto descienden de lo alto, donde está el Padre que creó las lumbreras celestes, y que no cambia como los astros ni se mueve como las sombras."
-Santiago 1:17
 
Un regalo especial que Dios me ha dado durante mi larga prueba de salud es el regalo de escribir. En mi limitada y aislada vida, qué bendición poder hacer algo que vale la pena y es agradable. Cuando era más joven, nunca soñé que sería una escritora, pero es un regalo precioso que Dios me ha dado en mi sufrimiento.
 
¡Y la mejor parte es que sé que Dios está usando este regalo para bendecir a otros también!
 
Este mes vamos a sacar un nuevo libro, un devocional para niños –
¡“Él es mi Dios! – Conociendo a Dios a Través de Sus Nombres”.
¡Estoy emocionada acerca de este devocional! Mi hermana tomó maravillosas fotos de niños para las ilustraciones. Y mi mamá me ayudó a asegurarnos de que los conceptos sean dichos en un lenguaje amistoso para los niños. ¡Estoy orando que Dios use estas verdades acerca de quien Él es para bendecir las vidas de muchos niños!
 
(Puedes ordenarlo en línea en –
http://www.deeperroots.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=819&osCsid=a11ef45c04353284db8ca92503283868
o me puedes enviar un mensaje.)
 

Si necesitas un regalo especial para alguien que está sufriendo, mi primer libro: “Gracia en Tiempo de Necesidad – Ánimo Para Aquellos Que están Sufriendo” también está disponible en línea.
http://www.deeperroots.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=732&osCsid=ca66bc409b39b7e01e1b896024cbaf5f
 
Recientemente, después de leer este libro, me llamó un hombre de 94 años y hablamos por más de media hora. Él fue bendecido por el libro y yo fui bendecida al hablar con él. Así es como funcionan los regalos de Dios, ¡siguen dando y recordándonos del corazón generoso de nuestro Padre!
 

Disfruto publicar en mis blogs y estoy muy agradecida con Dios por darme la fortaleza para trabajar en otros proyectos, poco a poco. (Todavía estoy tratando de terminar un libro que comencé hace casi dos años, acerca de Job. ¡Aprecio sus oraciones porque pueda completarlo pronto!)
Dios me ha dado muchas ideas, más de las que puedo manejar con mi limitada energía. Pero sé que me da exactamente lo que necesito para que Él pueda cumplir sus propósitos. ¡Estoy agradecida por sus dulces regalos!
 

Mientras damos y recibimos regalos esta navidad, confío en que todos tomaremos tiempo para ¡alabar a Dios – la fuente de todos los regalos – por su maravilloso y dador corazón!
 

"De su plenitud todos hemos recibido gracia sobre gracia."
-Juan 1:16
 

¿Por cuál regalo de Dios estás agradecido esta semana?
 

Post Data. Siento que mis libros todavía no están disponibles en Español. En el momento no podemos costear la traducción. Pero cuando Dios lo haga posible, me aseguraré de hacerles saber.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Still Thinking About Thanks... (Todavía Pensando en Gracias...)

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
-Psalm 50:23

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
-Colossians 3:17

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him."
-2 Corinthians 2:14

Amen.



Todavía Pensando en Gracias...

"Quien me ofrece su gratitud, me honra; al que enmiende su conducta le mostraré mi salvación."
-Salmo 50:23

"Y todo lo que hagan, de palabra o de obra, háganlo en el nombre del Señor Jesús, dando gracias a Dios el Padre por medio de él."
-Colosenses 3:17

"Sin embargo, gracias a Dios que en Cristo siempre nos lleva triunfantes y, por medio de nosotros, esparce por todas partes la fragancia de su conocimiento."
-2 Corintios 2:14

Amén.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Courageous Pilgrims (Peregrinos valientes)

As those of us in the US celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we generally focus on giving thanks for what we have and for all God has done for us. I love this holiday and its simplicity. But this year I'm meditating on something a little different than being thankful.

As I thought about the Pilgrims, I realized they had a very important characteristic, without which there never would have been a first Thanksgiving. They had courage.

It took courage to follow God's prompting and leave their homes.
It took courage to persevere through a difficult sea voyage when some wanted to turn back.
It took courage to work hard at settling a new land.
It took courage to watch loved ones die of disease and not give in to despair.
It took courage to persevere when they had no assurance of success.

Those men and women displayed extraordinary courage!

Because of their courage, and the supernatural grace of God in their lives, they not only made it to the first Thanksgiving, they founded a new country. We still remember them and honor them hundreds of years later. Not just because they were thankful. But because they were courageous.

What about you and me? We too are Pilgrims, journeying through this world, headed for our true Home. How are we living?

I confess that many times I lack courage; I look for the easy road; I shrink from difficulty.

Before Joshua entered the Promised Land, God said to him,
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land...Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you...Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
-Joshua 1:6,7,9

Three times God told Joshua to be "strong and courageous." Joshua knew he was following God's will. He knew God's presence would be with him. But that didn't make it easy. He still had to step into unknown territory. He still had to fight battle after battle.

Joshua's role was not an easy one. Perhaps that's why God emphasized his need for courage.

I think courage is the willingness to do the hard things, trusting that God's grace will be sufficient for us. As a dear saint said, "Wherever the will of God leads you, the grace of God will sustain you."

I want to be a courageous pilgrim - to step into unknown territory, to do the hard things, to willingly fight the right battles, and someday to know that others have paused to give thanks for my courage and the supernatural grace of God that sustained me.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men [and women] of courage; be strong."
-1 Corinthians 16:13



Peregrinos valientes
 
Como los que estamos en los Estados Unidos celebramos “Acción de Gracias” esta semana, generalmente nos enfocamos en dar gracias por lo que tenemos y por todo lo que Dios ha hecho por nosotros. Me encanta este feriado y su sencillez. Pero este año estoy meditando en algo un poquito diferente a estar agradecidos.
 
Pensando en los peregrinos, caí en cuenta que tenían una característica muy importante, sin la que nunca habría habido un primer “Acción de Gracias”. Tenían valor.
 
Necesitaron valor para seguir la instrucción de Dios y dejar sus hogares.
Necesitaron valor para perseverar a través de un difícil viaje en el mar cuando algunos querían regresar.
Necesitaron valor para trabajar duro y establecerse en una nueva tierra.
Necesitaron valor para ver a seres queridos morir a causa de la enfermedad, y no ceder a la desesperación.
Necesitaron valor para perseverar cuando no tenían ninguna seguridad de éxito.
 
¡Esos hombres y mujeres mostraron un valor extraordinario!
 
Por su valor y la gracia sobrenatural de Dios en sus vidas, no solamente llegaron al primer “Acción de Gracias”, fundaron un nuevo país. Todavía los recordamos y honramos cientos de años más tarde. No solamente porque fueron agradecidos. Sino porque fueron valientes.
 
¿Qué de ti y de mí? Nosotros también somos peregrinos, viajando por este mundo, dirigiéndonos hacia nuestro verdadero hogar. ¿Cómo estamos viviendo?

Confieso que muchas veces me falta valor; busco el camino fácil; me retraigo ante la dificultad.
 
Antes de que Josué entrara a la Tierra Prometida, Dios le dijo:
“Esfuérzate y sé valiente; porque tú repartirás a este pueblo por heredad la tierra. . . Solamente esfuérzate y sé muy valiente, para cuidar de hacer conforme a toda la ley que mi siervo Moisés te mandó. . . Mira que te mando que te esfuerces y seas valiente; no temas ni desmayes, porque Jehová tu Dios estará contigo en dondequiera que vayas”
-Josué 1:6,7,9
 
Tres veces Dios le dijo a Josué que se esforzara y fuera valiente. Josué sabía que estaba siguiendo la voluntad de Dios. Sabía que la presencia de Dios estaría con él. Pero eso no lo hizo fácil. Todavía tenía que pisar territorio desconocido. Todavía tuvo que luchar batalla tras batalla.
 
El papel de Josué no fue fácil. Quizá por eso es que Dios enfatizó su necesidad de valor.
 
Creo que valor es la disponibilidad para hacer las cosas difíciles, confiando en que la gracia de Dios será suficiente para nosotros. Como dijo un querido santo: “Dondequiera que la voluntad de Dios te guíe, la gracia de Dios te sostendrá”.
 
Quiero ser una peregrina valiente – entrar en territorio desconocido, hacer las cosas difíciles, voluntariamente pelear las batallas correctas, y algún día saber que otros han hecho una pausa para dar gracias por mi valor y la gracia sobrenatural de Dios que me sostuvo.
 
“Manténganse alerta; permanezcan firmes en la fe; sean valientes y fuertes.”
-1Co.16:13 (NVI)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good Read (Buena lectura)

November is National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of people will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Crazy? A little. But obviously there are a lot of people who want to write books and a lot of people who want to read books.

I enjoy good Christian fiction, but it rarely moves me or changes me in some way. When I need encouragement or inspiration for my spirit, I read missionary biographies.

I love to read the stories of men and women who walked with God through intense challenges and watched Him do the impossible.

One of my top ten favorite books ever is "In The Arena" by Isobel Kuhn. She was a missionary to China in the early 1900's. In this book she shared stories from her life and ministry following the theme that we are all "on display" as Christians. Our lives are a platform before both men and heavenly viewers.

Her spiritual depth and personal style make a powerful tool for encouraging the saints. I hope you'll pick up a copy and give it a try. Let me know how you like it. =)

(I couldn't find "In The Arena" in a Spanish version, but I found other missionary biographies in Spanish at this website:
http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=missionary+biographies+in+Spanish&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCN&nav_search=1&cms=1&search= )



Buena lectura

Noviembre es el Mes Nacional de Escritura de Novelas (en los Estados Unidos – Nota de la traductora). Miles de personas intentarán escribir una novela de 50.000 palabras en un mes. ¿Locura? Un poquito. Pero obviamente hay mucha gente que quiere escribir libros y muchos otros que quieren leerlos.

Yo disfruto la buena literatura cristiana de ficción, pero muy pocas veces me mueve o me cambia en alguna manera. Cuando necesito ánimo o inspiración para mi espíritu, leo biografías de misioneros.

Me encanta leer las historias de hombres y mujeres que caminaron con Dios a través de intensos desafíos y lo vieron hacer lo imposible.

Uno de mis diez libros preferidos siempre ha sido “En La Arena” por Isobel Kuhn. Misionera en China al comienzo de los años 1900s. En este libro ella compartió historias de su vida y ministerio siguiendo el tema de que todos estamos “en exhibición” como cristianos. Nuestras vidas están en una plataforma tanto delante de los hombres como de observadores celestiales.

Su profundidad espiritual y estilo personal lo hacen una herramienta poderosa para alentar a los santos. Tengo la esperanza de que recojas una copia y hagas un intento. Cuéntame cómo te parece.

(No pude encontrar una versión en español de “En La Arena”, pero encontré otras biografías misioneras en esta sitio web:
http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=missionary+biographies+in+Spanish&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCN&nav_search=1&cms=1&search= )

Friday, November 11, 2011

Perspective (Perspectiva)

(FYI - I'm putting this post on both of my blogs this week, since it applies to both.)


This week marks 7 years since my health collapsed. 7 years of feeling like my life is on hold. 7 years of learning, changing, healing. 7 years of a strange journey I never would have chosen.

In some ways it feels like I've been in a time warp, stuck at age 25, while the rest of the world moves on. In other ways, I feel like I've aged 15 years, not 7.

Most of my friends are now married with 2 or 3 kids, serving on the mission-field or active in ministry somewhere. They're living the kind of life I always expected to live.

I confess, sometimes I feel impatient with God. Other people with health challenges similar to mine have gotten well in a matter of months. Why must my healing process take so long?

Then I think of my friends Sam & Nathan (twins). They recently turned 37. They've been living with Environmental Illness for almost 20 years. They didn't get to finish high school, never even got their driver's licenses. They've missed out on so many "normal" things in life. They've been enduring and persevering through their illness, day by day, for close to 20 years.

When I think about them, I sometimes get more upset with God than I do over my own situation. What is He thinking? What kind of life is that for my dear friends?

As always, my heavenly Father is faithful to gently rebuke my wrong thinking and remind me of His truth.


- "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." -Psalm 139:16b

- "LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup...." -Psalm 16:5a

- "You are good, and what you do is good...." -Psalm 119:68a

- "Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them...When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?'
Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.'” -John 21:20-22


God's plan for each of us is different, but His call is the same - to follow. Wherever our Shepherd leads us....


Is God's plan for my friends in missionary service good?
Certainly.

Is God's plan for my friends Sam & Nathan good?
By faith, I believe it is.

Is God's plan for me good?
How could I doubt it.


I know my 7 years have not been wasted. I know God is working out His perfect plan for me.

And I've learned that it's not the passing of time or my circumstances that matter most - but rather finding joy in the fellowship of my Savior, one day at a time.


"Surely you have granted [me] eternal blessings and made [me] glad with the joy of your presence." -Psalm 21:6



Perspectiva
 
(PSI- Estoy colocando éste en mis dos blogs esta semana, ya que aplica a ambos)
 
Esta semana se cumplen siete años desde que mi salud se derrumbó. Siete años de sentir que mi vida está detenida. Siete años de aprendizaje, cambio, sanación. Siete años de un extraño viaje que yo nunca habría escogido.
 
De alguna manera siento como que he estado en una deformación del tiempo, atascada en los veinticinco años de edad, mientras el resto del mundo avanza. Otras veces, siento que he aumentado quince años en edad, no siete.
 
La mayoría de mis amigos se han casado y tienen dos o tres hijos, están sirviendo en el campo misionero o activos en el ministerio en alguna parte. Están viviendo la clase de vida que siempre esperé vivir.
 
Confieso que a veces me siento impaciente con Dios. Otras personas con desafíos de salud similares a los míos han mejorado en cuestión de meses. ¿Por qué mi proceso de sanación tiene que tomar tanto tiempo?
 
Entonces pienso en mis amigos Sam y Nathan (gemelos). Hace poco cumplieron 37. Han vivido con Enfermedad Ambiental por casi veinte años. No pudieron terminar la secundaria, nunca pudieron siquiera obtener su licencia de conducción. Han perdido muchas cosas “normales” de la vida. Han estado soportando y perseverando a través de su enfermedad, día a día, por cerca de veinte años.
 
Cuando pienso en ellos, a veces me siento más molesta con Dios de lo que me siento por mi propia situación. ¿Qué está pensando? ¿Qué clase de vida es esa para mis queridos amigos?

Como siempre, mi Padre celestial es fiel en redargüirme suavemente por me manera equivocada de pensar y me recuerda Su verdad.
 

- “Todos mis días se estaban diseñando, aunque no existía uno solo de ellos” -Salmo 139: 16b (NVI)
 
- “Tú, Señor, eres mi porción y mi copa. . .” -Salmo 16:5a
 
- “Tú eres bueno, y haces el bien. . .” -Salmo 119:68ª (NVI)
 
- “Volviéndose Pedro, vio que les seguía el discípulo a quien amaba Jesús. . . Cuando Pedro le vio, dijo a Jesús: Señor, ¿y qué de éste?
Jesús le dijo: si quiero que él quede hasta que yo venga, ¿qué a ti? Sígueme tú.” -Juan 21:20-22
 

El plan de Dios para cada uno de nosotros es diferente, pero Su llamado es el mismo –seguirle. Donde sea que nuestro Pastor nos guíe. . .
 

¿Es bueno el plan de Dios para mis amigos en el servicio misionero?
De seguro.
 
¿Es bueno el plan de Dios para mis amigos Sam y Nathan?
Por fe, creo que sí.
 
¿Es bueno el plan de Dios para mí?
Cómo podría dudarlo.
 

Sé que mis siete años no han sido desperdiciados. Sé que Dios está obrando Su plan perfecto para mí.
 
Y he aprendido que no es el paso del tiempo o mis circunstancias lo más importante – sino más bien encontrar gozo en la comunión con mi Salvador, un día a la vez.
 

“Porque [me] has bendecido para siempre; [me] llenaste de alegría con tu presencia” –Salmo 21:6

Thursday, November 3, 2011

MK's Are From Mars (Los hijos de misioneros son de Marte)

Okay, not really. But sometimes it feels like it.

For most missionary kids, myself included, the single worst question anyone can ask us is "Where are you from?"

I'd rather have someone ask me my social security number. At least that answer never changes.

All my fellow MK's know what a challenge it is to be a 3rd-culture person - not fully from here, not fully from there, not really "from" anywhere (thus the Mars comment).

So for my MK friends, here's a little poem I'm sure you can relate to. (For everyone else, here's a tiny glimpse of our transient lives.) I hope it makes you smile. =)

Above all, may we each remember the truth of where we're from and where we're going!


The Dreaded Question

So, where are you from?
It’s a common question,
quite ordinary in fact.
But it’s one I always dread.

There’s the place I was born,
Which most people can’t pronounce,
“Papua New what?”
Who cares, it’s on the other side of the world.

There’s the town where my parents grew up,
So small it’s not on most maps,
“Conway—never heard of it.”
Then I won’t bother to expound.

There’s the state I used to visit every year,
But be careful who you tell -
“I’m from California.”
To them you might as well be from Mars.

There’s the country I loved,
Not known for its tourism,
“Colombia—as in drugs & guerillas?”
Sadly, that’s why we had to leave,

There’s the town where I attended college,
Deep in the South,
“Birmingham, of course, ya’ll.”
But I really didn’t get the accent.

There’s the state my family finally settled in,
Though we moved three times,
“Which Florida town was it again?”
Just pick one, I guess.

There’s the country I moved to after college,
Which felt more like home than most places,
“Hablas espanol?” Um, not very well.
I can’t really say I’m from Mexico.

Or, there’s the place I was created,
Where I belong, and I’m destined for,
“Your citizenship is in Heaven.”
Heaven is my true Home, that’s where I’m from.

-by Joanna K. Harris



Los hijos de misioneros son de Marte

Bueno, en realidad no. Pero a veces eso es lo que se siente.

Para la mayoría de los hijos de misioneros, incluyéndome, la peor pregunta que alguien nos puede hacer es “¿de dónde eres?”

Preferiría que me preguntaran mi número de identificación. Por lo menos esa respuesta nunca cambia.

Todos mis compañeros hijos de misioneros saben el desafío que representa ser una persona de una tercera cultura – no completamente de aquí, no del todo de allá, no realmente “de” ninguna parte (de ahí el comentario de Marte).

Así que para mis amigos hijos de misioneros, aquí hay un pequeño poema con el cual estoy segura que se pueden identificar. (Para todos los demás, éste es un pequeño vistazo de nuestras vidas pasajeras). Espero que les haga sonreír.

Sobre todo, recordemos cada uno la verdad de ¡de donde somos y para donde vamos!


La Temida Pregunta

Entonces, ¿de dónde eres?
Es una pregunta frecuente,
De hecho bastante frecuente.
Pero es una que siempre temo.

Está el lugar donde nací,
Que la mayoría de la gente no puede pronunciar,
“¿Papua Nueva qué?”
A quien le importa, es al otro lado del mundo.

Está el pueblo donde crecieron mis padres,
Tan pequeño que no figura en la mayoría de los mapas,
“Conway-nunca oí hablar de ése.”
Entonces no voy a molestarme en explicar.

Está el estado que acostumbraba visitar cada año,
Pero ten cuidado a quien le dices –“soy de California.”
Para ellos es lo mismo que si fueras de Marte.

Está el país que amé,
Conocido no por su turismo,
“¿Colombia, como en las drogas y la guerrillas?
Tristemente, fue por eso que tuvimos que salir.

Está la ciudad donde asistí a la universidad,
En lo profundo del sur,
“Birmingham, por supuesto, todos ustedes.”
Pero en realidad no obtuve el acento.

Está el estado en el que finalmente mi familia se estableció,
Aunque nos mudamos tres veces,
“Otra vez, ¿en cuál ciudad de la Florida fue?”
Simplemente escoja una, creo.

Está el país al que me mudé después de la universidad,
En el cual me sentí más en casa que en la mayoría de los lugares,
“¿Hablas español?” Ah, no muy bien.
Realmente no puedo decir que soy de México.

O, está el lugar donde fui creada,
A donde pertenezco y para el que estoy destinada,
“Tu ciudadanía está en el Cielo.”
El Cielo es mi hogar verdadero, de allá es de donde soy.

-Por Joanna K. Harris

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wondrous Love (El Amor Maravilloso)

I love these words from the old hymn:

"The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
  And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
  And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
    The saints' and angels' song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
  Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  Though stretched from sky to sky."

(Words & Music © 1923, Ren. 1951 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188.)


"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
-Ephesians 3:17b-19


"Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD."
-Psalm 107:43



El Amor Maravilloso

Me encantan estas palabras del antiguo himno:

"El amor de Dios es mucho más grande
   De lo que la lengua o la pluma pueden nunca contar.
Va más allá de la estrella más alta
   Y llega a las profundidades del Seol.
La pareja culpable, se inclinó con cuidado,
   Dios dio a su Hijo para ganarlos;
A su hijo descarriado reconcilió
   Y perdonó de su pecado.
        
  Oh amor de Dios, ¡tan rico y puro!
   ¡Qué inconmensurable y fuerte!
Por siempre perdurará
     La canción de los santos y los ángeles.
        
Si pudiéramos con tinta el océano llenar,
   Y si los cielos de pergamino fueran hechos;
Si cada tallo en la tierra fuera una pluma,
   Y cada hombre un escribano de oficio;
Para escribir el amor de Dios allá arriba
  Drenaría el mar hasta secarlo;
Tampoco podría el pergamino contener el todo,
   Aunque se extendiera desde el cielo hasta el cielo. "
 

(Oro) "para que habite Cristo por la fe en vuestros corazones, a fin de que, arraigados y cimentados en amor, seáis plenamente capaces de comprender con todos los santos cual sea la anchura, la longitud, la profundidad y la altura, y de conocer el amor de Cristo, que excede a todo conocimiento, para que seáis llenos de toda la plenitud de Dios."
-Efesios 3:17-19
 

"¿Quién es sabio y guardará estas cosas, y entenderá las misericordias de Jehová?
-Salmo 107:43

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Persevere And Conquer (Perseverar y Triunfar)

Winston Churchill is probably most well known for the famous speech in which he said,

"...never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in...."

This British attitude of perseverance and determination halted the flood of evil in WWII and changed the course of history.

I don't know about you, but I really don't like the fact that I live in an ongoing spiritual war. It'd be nice to have a day off from the fight now and then.

Just like in WWII, in our spiritual war some face fierce battles on the front lines, while others wrestle with smaller challenges on home soil.

My personal battlefield is relatively small. It's the field of little, daily choices.
- Will I give in to fatigue, or write an encouraging email to a friend?
- Will I put off my writing project til tomorrow, or work on it for even five minutes?
- Will I thank God for my small hardships, or complain about them?
- Will I persevere when I'm weary, or give in to discouragement?

Some days it's hard to remember what's at stake in my little battles. Every day it's easier to give in than to keep fighting. The good news is that we have already been given the victory! The hard part is that we must live it out.

In the same speech I quoted above, Churchill also said this:

"There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer."
-Winston Churchill
(from - http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/speeches/speeches-of-winston-churchill/103-never-give-in)

In Christ we are already victors. But we must persevere to conquer.

Lord, give us the strength that only comes from you to persevere in our daily battles - never giving in, never giving up - knowing that the victory is worth the fight. Amen.


"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
-1 Cor 15:57-58


Perseverar y triunfar

Winston Churchill es probablemente más conocido por el famoso discurso en el que dijo:

“. . .nunca se rindan, nunca cedan, nunca, nunca, nunca, nunca - en nada, importante o sin importancia, grande o pequeña – nunca se rindan. . .”

Esta actitud británica de perseverancia y determinación detuvo el flujo de maldad en la segunda guerra mundial y cambió el curso de la historia.

Yo no sé de ti, pero a mí no me gusta nada el hecho de que vivo en una constante guerra espiritual. Sería bueno tener un día libre de lucha de vez en cuando.

Igual que en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, en nuestra guerra espiritual algunos enfrentan feroces batallas en el frente, mientras otros luchan con pequeños problemas en casa.

Mi campo de batalla personal es relativamente pequeño. Es el campo de las pequeñas opciones diarias.
- ¿Voy a ceder a la fatiga, o a escribir un mensaje de ánimo a un amigo?
- ¿Voy a posponer hasta mañana mi proyecto de escribir, o voy a trabajar en él aunque sea cinco minutos?
- ¿Voy a agradecer a Dios por mis pequeñas dificultades, o a quejarme por ésas?
- ¿Voy a perseverar cuando estoy débil, o a rendirme al desánimo?

Algunos días es difícil recordar lo que está en juego en mis pequeñas batallas. Cada día es más fácil rendirse que seguir luchando. La buena noticia es que ¡ya se nos ha dado la victoria! La parte difícil es que debemos vivirla.

En el mismo discurso que cité antes, Churchill también dijo esto:

“No hubo vacilación ni pensamiento de rendirse; y, por lo que pareció casi un milagro para aquellos fuera de estas islas, aunque nosotros mismos nunca lo dudamos, ahora nos encontramos en una posición en la que digo que podemos estar seguros de que solamente debemos perseverar para triunfar.”
-Winston Churchill
(de - http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/speeches/speeches-of-winston-churchill/103-never-give-in)

En Cristo ya somos vencedores. Pero debemos perseverar para triunfar.

Señor, danos la fortaleza que solamente viene de ti para perseverar en nuestras batallas diarias – sin rendirnos nunca, sin darnos nunca por vencidos – sabiendo que la victoria hace que la lucha valga la pena. Amén.


“Mas gracias sean dadas a Dios, que nos da la victoria por medio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Así que, hermanos míos amados, estad firmes y constantes, creciendo en la obra del Señor siempre, sabiendo que vuestro trabajo en el Señor no es en vano.”
-1 Cor. 15:57-58

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dreams (Sueños)

I have a very imaginative dream life. Perhaps it's because my real life is so limited. Or maybe it's hidden creativity bursting through. =)

For whatever reason, rarely does a morning pass that I don't have some wild or entertaining dream to tell my mom about.

One time I dreamed I was eating my shoe. It was pretty tough, but I kept gnawing away. People around me were giving me strange looks. I just gazed back at them like, "What? Doesn't everyone eat shoes?"

Another time I dreamed I was in a chariot race, except instead of horses, my cart was pulled by four little dachsund dogs! I don't remember who won....

In another dream two well-known, professional tennis players both asked me for a date on the same day. ...I said no, gently of course. =)

Sometimes I have scary dreams about people I love and wake up praying for them and hoping they're ok.

And every once in a while, God gives me a dream that is a special gift from Him. Like the time I dreamed that everything and everyone around me was in utter chaos. Jesus stood in the middle of it. I walked over to Him, He held out his hands, and I put both my hands in His. I woke up encouraged to keep trusting Him and not hold on to anything but Him.

At different times my dreams are hilarious, scary, or sweet. Dreams are strange things. But God created them for our benefit, I believe.

I know dreams aren't reality. But I think they can speak to us about reality.

And those other dreams we have - those plans and desires for our future - they aren't real either...yet. But they're an important part of who we are, and who we will be.

And the best dream of all? You. Me.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, "God is the Dreamer. And you are His dream."

God is reality. We are His imaginative, creative expressions to the world, revealing who He is.

So dream on, my friends, dream on. And never forget that as God's child, you are always "living the dream!"

"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!"
-Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)



Sueños

Tengo una vida de sueños muy imaginativa. Quizá sea porque mi vida real es tan limitada. O puede ser creatividad escondida, irrumpiendo a la superficie.

Por cualquiera que sea la razón, muy rara vez pasa una mañana sin que yo tenga un sueño salvaje o entretenido para contarle a mi mamá.

Una vez soñé que me estaba comiendo mi zapato. Estaba bastante duro, pero yo seguía royendo. La gente a mi alrededor estaba mirándome de manera extraña. Yo simplemente les devolvía la mirada como diciendo: “¿Qué? ¿Todos los demás no comen zapatos?”

Otra vez soñé que estaba en una competencia de carruajes, solamente que en lugar de caballos, ¡el mío era tirado por dos pequeños perritos dachsund! No me acuerdo quien ganó. . .

En otro sueño, dos famosos jugadores profesionales de tenis me pidieron salir con ellos el mismo día. . . Yo dije no, gentilmente por supuesto.

A veces tengo sueños asustadores acerca de personas a las que amo y me despierto orando por ellos y confiando en que estén bien.

Y una que otra vez, Dios me da un sueño que es un regalo especial de Él. Como la vez que soñé que todo y todos a mi alrededor estaba en total caos. Jesús se paró en medio de ése. Yo caminé hacia Él, Él extendió Sus manos, y yo puse mis manos en las suyas. Me desperté animada a seguir confiando en Él y no aferrarme a ninguna cosa sino a él.

En diferentes ocasiones mis sueños son cómicos, asustadores, o tiernos. Los sueños son una cosa extraña. Pero Dios los creó para nuestro beneficio, creo yo.

Sé que los sueños no son realidad. Pero creo que nos pueden hablar acerca de la realidad.

Y esos otros sueños que tenemos – esos planes y deseos para nuestro futuro – tampoco son reales. . . todavía. Pero son una parte importante de quienes somos y quienes seremos.

¿Y el mejor sueño de todos? Tú. Yo.

Como escribió C. S, Lewis: “Dios es el Soñador. Y tú eres Su sueño.”

Dios es realidad. Nosotros somos sus expresiones creativas e imaginativas para el mundo, revelando quien Él es.

Entonces, soñemos mis amigos, soñemos. Y nunca olvides que como hijo de Dios siempre estás “¡viviendo el sueño!”

“¡Cuán preciosos son tus pensamientos acerca de mí, oh Dios, no se pueden contar! Ni siquiera puedo contarlos; ¡Superan en número a los granos de arena! Y cuando me despierto, ¡todavía estás conmigo!
Salmo 139:17-18 (NLT)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grace Quotes (Citas sobre la Gracia)

I discovered many years ago that my name "Joanna" means "God is gracious." And this precious truth of the grace of God has become the "theme song" of my life. For me there is no sweeter tune. =)

I love to read and write about God's grace. Today I want to share some thought-provoking and encouraging quotes about grace. I found so many good ones, that I may have to do a second installment soon. =)

I hope they are a blessing to you, and I'd love to hear which one is your favorite!


“Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” -Benjamin B. Warfield

"Grace says, 'I love you,' reaching down. Faith says, 'I believe you,' reaching up." -Adrian Rogers

“Grace stands in direct opposition to any supposed worthiness on our part. To say it another way: Grace and works are mutually exclusive. Our relationship with God is based on either works or grace. There is never a works-plus-grace relationship with Him.” -Jerry Bridges

“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God's store of grace from day to day as we need it.” -D. L. Moody

“Lord I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better I'd have come running with a bucket.” -Nancy Spiegelberg

“A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.” -Charles G. Finney

“Grace binds you with far stronger cords than the cords of duty or obligation can bind you. Grace is free, but when once you take it, you are bound forever to the Giver and bound to catch the spirit of the Giver. Like produces like. Grace makes you gracious, the Giver makes you give.” -E. Stanley Jones

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” -Anne Lamott

“Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.” –Jonathan Edwards


(Some of the quotes in this post I found on this website - http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/grace_quotes.html )


Citas sobre la Gracia
 
Hace muchos años descubrí que mi nombre “Joanna” significa “Dios es lleno de gracia”. Y esta preciosa verdad de la gracia de Dios se ha convertido en la “canción tema” de mi vida. Para mí no hay una melodía más dulce.
 
Me encanta leer y escribir acerca de la gracia de Dios. Hoy quiero compartir algunas citas que nos hacen pensar, a la vez que son de ánimo. Encontré muchísimas buenas, voy a tener que hacer una segunda entrega pronto.
 
Espero que te sean de bendición, y ¡me encantaría saber cuál es tu favorita!
 

“La gracia es un favor soberano y libre para quienes no lo merecen”. Benjamin B. Warfield
 
“La gracia está en oposición directa con cualquier supuesto mérito de nuestra parte. Para decirlo de otra manera: La Gracia y las obras son mutuamente excluyentes. Nuestra relación con Dios está basada o en obras o en gracia. Con él no hay nunca una relación de obras-más-gracia”. –Jerry Bridges
 
“La gracia dice: ’te amo’, mirando hacia abajo. La fe dice: ‘te creo’, mirando hacia arriba” –Adrian Rogers
 
“Un hombre no puede tomar más provisión de gracia para el futuro de lo que puede comer hoy para que le alcance para los próximos seis meses, tampoco puede, en una inspiración, inhalar suficiente aire en sus pulmones para mantener la vida durante la semana siguiente. Se nos permite retirar del depósito de la gracia de Dios día a día a medida que la necesitamos” –D. L. Moody.
 
“Señor, me arrastré a través del desierto hacia ti, con incertidumbre, pidiendo una pequeña gota de refrigerio. Si te hubiera conocido mejor, habría venido corriendo con un balde.” –Nancy Spiegelberg
 
“Un estado de ánimo que ve a Dios en todo es evidencia de crecimiento en gracia y de un corazón agradecido.” -Charles G. Finney
 
“La Gracia te ata con cuerdas mucho más fuertes de lo que el deber o la obligación pueden atarte. La Gracia es gratis, pero una vez que la tomas, estás obligado para siempre con el Dador y obligado a captar Su espíritu. El Gusto produce gusto. La Gracia te hace dispuesto a dar gracia, el Dador te hace dar.” -E. Stanley Jones
 
“No entiendo en absoluto el misterio de la gracia – sólo que se reúne con nosotros donde estemos pero no nos deja donde nos encontró.” -Anne Lamott
 
“La Gracia no es más que la gloria comenzada, y la gloria no es más que la gracia perfeccionada.” –Jonathan Edwards
 

(Algunas de las citas en este mensajelas encontré en esta página web http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/grace_quotes.html)
 
 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Servant (Una Sierva)

Have you ever sung that little praise chorus, "Make Me A Servant"? We sang it a lot when I was growing up. I had a pretty small concept of what it meant to be a servant, which is probably why it didn't bother me to sing that chorus all the time.

As I've gotten older, my understanding of servanthood has expanded. Still, every time I read Matthew 20:28, my mind is astounded!

"just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." -Matt. 20:28

How can this be? The Almighty God of the universe came to serve us? He created mighty angels! He holds galaxies in place! Yet He became a Servant to unworthy sinners?

It's hard for me to wrap my brain around that.

But lately I'm starting to realize that Jesus wasn't just a Servant when He was on earth. No, He continues to serve us. He sits at the Father's right hand and intercedes for us.
What about the Holy Spirit? He also prays for us, comforts us, convicts us, guides us....
And the Father? He continually forgives us, provides for our needs, encourages our hearts, strengthens us day by day, and so much more.
Are not all these things acts of service?

How strange that the only one who truly deserves to be served, is the only one who is truly capable of serving.

God Himself is the Servant. We are simply His chosen instruments, that through us He might continually demonstrate His servant-heart.

The question is, do we want to be servants? Do we want to partner with our awesome God and let Him serve others through us?

During several years of chronic illness, my life has been pretty self-centered. I've been the needy one; I haven't had much energy for serving others. I confess that most of the time, I haven't even wanted to pray "Make me a servant." Until recently.

As the Lord has revealed more of His servant-heart to me, He's been changing my heart. I'm still not very good at living like a servant. But praise God, at least the desire is there. With Jesus living in me, I know He can take the desire to be a servant and turn it into a lifestyle.

Yes, Lord. Make me a servant.


Una Sierva
 
¿Alguna vez has cantado ese coro que dice “Hazme un Siervo”? Lo cantábamos mucho cuando yo era niña. Creo que, como tenía un muy pequeño concepto de lo que significaba ser siervo, por eso no me molestaba contarlo todo el tiempo.
 
A medida que me he ido haciendo mayor, mi comprensión de la servidumbre se ha expandido. Todavía, cada vez que leo Mateo 20:28, ¡mi mente se asombra!
 
“como el Hijo del Hombre no vino para ser servido, sino para servir, y para dar su vida en rescate por muchos” –Ma. 20:28
 
¿Cómo puede ser? ¿El Todopoderoso Dios del universo vino a servirnos? ¡Él creó ángeles poderosos! ¡Mantiene las galaxias en su lugar! Sin embargo, ¿se convirtió en siervo de pecadores indignos?
 
Mi cerebro no alcanza a captar la dimensión de esto.
 
Pero últimamente he empezado a darme cuenta de que Jesús no fue siervo solamente cuando estuvo en la tierra. No, Él continúa sirviéndonos. Está sentado a la diestra del Padre e intercede por nosotros.
¿Qué del Espíritu Santo? Él también ora por nosotros, nos consuela, nos convence, nos guía. . .
¿Y el Padre? Él constantemente nos perdona, provee para nuestras necesidades, anima nuestro corazón, nos fortalece cada día y, muchísimo más.
 
¿No son todas estas cosas actos de servicio?
 
Qué extraño que el único que verdaderamente merece ser servido, es el único verdaderamente capaz de servir.
 
Dios mismo es el Siervo. Nosotros somos simplemente Sus instrumentos escogidos; que a través de nosotros Él pueda constantemente demostrar Su corazón de siervo.
 
La pregunta es, ¿queremos ser siervos? ¿Queremos asociarnos con nuestro maravilloso Dios y permitirle servir a otros a través de nosotros?
 
Durante varios años de enfermedad crónica mi vida ha sido bastante egoísta. He sido la que está en necesidad; no he tenido mucha energía para servir a otros. Confieso que la mayor parte del tiempo, ni siquiera he querido orar “Hazme una sierva”, hasta hace poco.
 
A medida que el Señor me ha revelado más de Su corazón de siervo, ha estado cambiando mi corazón. Todavía no soy muy buena viviendo como sierva. Pero gracias a Dios por lo menos el deseo está. Con Jesús viviendo en mí, sé que Él puede tomar el deseo de ser sierva y convertirlo en un estilo de vida.
 
Sí, Señor. Hazme una sierva.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What We All Need (Lo que todos necesitamos)

Don't you hate it when you do or say something without thinking (or acting in the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit), and you unintentionally hurt someone's feelings? You didn't mean to offend or wound them, but the damage has been done.

I really don't like those moments.

I would never intentionally wound someone I care about. But the fact remains that I am not perfect. I still sin. And as a result, at times I end up hurting people.

On the flip side, sometimes people I love unknowingly hurt my feelings. I try to remember that they didn't mean to, it was unintentional. But too often I hold others to an impossible standard. Especially when I view people as godly, mature Christians, I expect them never to mess up or make a mistake. But they are not perfect yet either. They still sin. And as a result, they sometimes wound me.

I think it would greatly improve our relationships if we could stay mindful of this concept - I still sin, you still sin.

Let's not expect ourselves or others to be perfect.
Let's be mentally prepared, knowing that hurt and conflict will happen.
Let's learn how to ask for, and extend to others, what we all need - Grace.

Grace says,
- I forgive you
- I won't hold this against you
- I love you regardless

Grace. What a wonderful gift!

In Christ, God has given us unlimited Grace. I pray we will keep learning how to receive and give Grace to each other. It's what we all need.

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
-2 Corinthians 13:14



Lo que todos necesitamos
 
¿No te sientes muy molesto cuando haces o dices algo sin pensar (o actúas en la carne en lugar del Espíritu Santo), y sin querer hieres los sentimientos de alguien? No tenías la intención de ofenderlos o herirlos, pero el daño ya está hecho.

Realmente no me gustan esos momentos.

Nunca heriría intencionalmente a alguien que me importa. Pero sigue presente el hecho de que no soy perfecta. Todavía peco. Y como resultado, a veces termino hiriendo a la gente.

Por otro lado, a veces sin saberlo, la gente que quiero hiere mis sentimientos. Trato de recordar que no querían hacerlo. No era lo que pensaban, no fue intencional. Pero con demasiada frecuencia quiero que los demás mantengan un nivel muy alto, imposible de alcanzar. Especialmente cuando veo cristianos piadosos, maduros, espero que nunca estropeen una relación o cometan un error. Pero ellos todavía no son perfectos tampoco. Todavía pecan. Y como resultado, a veces me hieren.
 
Creo que mejorarían muchísimo nuestras relaciones si pudiéramos permanecer conscientes de este concepto – yo todavía peco, tú todavía pecas.
 
No esperemos que nosotros mismos, u otros, seamos perfectos.
Estemos mentalmente preparados, sabiendo que habrá heridas y conflictos.
Aprendamos a pedir, y extender a otros, lo que todos necesitamos - Gracia.
 
La gracia dice:
- Te perdono
- No haré nada contra ti,
- Te amo sin tomar esto en cuenta
 
Gracia. ¡Qué regalo tan maravilloso!
 
En Cristo, Dios nos ha dado gracia ilimitada. Oro que sigamos aprendiendo la forma de recibir y dar gracia a los demás. Es lo que todos necesitamos.
 
"La gracia del Señor Jesucristo, y el amor de Dios, y la comunión del Espíritu Santo sean con todos vosotros."
                                            - 2 Corintios 13:14

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lone Ranger in Spanish

Did you know that the Lone Ranger tv show also aired in Spanish? Pretty cool. =)

Today I'm including the Spanish translation of last week's Lone Ranger post.

Now that I'm caught up on the translations for recent posts, starting next week each post will be in both English & Spanish.

Thanks for your patience during this transition. =)

Adios amigos! =)


Sept. 9, 2011
El Llanero Solitario no estaba tan solo
 

Soy una gran admiradora del Llanero Solitario. Creo que he visto cada episodio por lo menos dos veces.
 
Probablemente hayas escuchado el dicho: “No hay cristianos llaneros solitarios”. Bueno, cualquier admirador verdadero te dirá que el Llanero Solitario en realidad no estaba solo.

Se le llamaba el llanero "solitario" porque fue el único llanero de Texas que sobrevivió a un cruel ataque de bandidos. Pero él sabía que no debía tratar de luchar solo contra la injusticia.

Tenía un compañero- Toro.
Tenía ayudantes – uno de ellos, su sobrino.
Contaba con apoyo - un banquero que cambiaba su plata por dinero en efectivo, y alguaciles y gobernadores que le daban cartas de recomendación para otros.
Sin mencionar que tenía un fiel corcel - Plata, sin el cual no podría haber cruzado la frontera o corrido en ayuda de los necesitados.

Ok, tal vez esta sea más charla sobre el Llanero Solitario de la que querías. =) Pero el principio que vemos en su historia es importante, y es algo que Dios ha enfatizado en Su Palabra.

Jesús envió a sus discípulos de dos en dos.
Pablo siempre llevó un compañero con él en sus viajes misioneros (y muchas veces ayudantes).
Los cristianos somos llamados “cuerpo” de Cristo, cada parte es necesaria para las demás.

Contrario a la opinión del mundo, necesitamos colaboración. Necesitamos ayudantes. Necesitamos apoyo. No puedo ser un show de una sola mujer. No puedes ser un show de una sola persona (o de una sola pareja de casados).

A pesar de que he escuchado esta verdad durante años, finalmente estoy comenzando a asimilarla.

Aunque va en contra de nuestro orgullo, creo que cualquier trabajo / ministerio que Dios quiere hacer a través de nosotros va a ser mejor, y vamos a estar mejor, cuando lo hacemos en colaboración con otros. Ese es el plan de Dios.

Así que creo que está bien ser un cristiano como el llanero solitario. Porque ahora sabes que el Llanero Solitario nunca cabalgaba solo. =)

"Y considerémonos unos a otros para estimularnos al amor y a las buenas obras." -Hebreos 10:24
 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great News!

Praise the Lord for my wonderful friend, Martha, who has agreed to translate my blog posts into Spanish! I'm very excited about this opportunity to encourage even more people! Praise God for the Body of Christ working together! It's a wonderful gift. =)

So if you have any Spanish-speaking friends, feel free to send them my blog address. You can let them know that each post in English will be followed by the Spanish translation.

Also, if you have Spanish friends who don't have internet access, feel free to print a copy of the post and share it with them.

Today I'm posting the Spanish translation of September 3rd's post - "Not To Us."

Thanks for reading my blog. I pray God will continue to use it to bless many.

In Christ's love,
-Joanna


No A Nosotros

Alguna vez has tenido muy grandes deseos de lograr algo por ti mismo, sólo para poder levantarte y gritar: "¡Lo hice!"

Así me siento yo a veces. Quiero sentirme bien conmigo misma. Deseo recibir el reconocimiento de los demás.

Pero me he dado cuenta que esto es realmente una forma de idolatría. Quiero tomar el crédito por algo. Quiero que la gente me alabe.

Pero ¡sólo Dios es verdaderamente digno de alabanza! Si trato de tomar el crédito por algo, estoy negándole la gloria que merece - eso es idolatría.

No sólo no merezco ninguna gloria, tampoco puedo hacer nada que valga la pena por mi cuenta. Jesús dijo: "separados de mí nada podéis hacer." (Juan 15:5 b)

Cuando trato de hacer cosas por mi cuenta, deshonro la gloria de Dios y me robo el gozo de dejar que Cristo actúe a través de mí.

A pesar de lo mucho que me encanta ver a Jesús vivir a través de mi vida, todavía a veces me siento atraída por esta tentación de actuar por mi cuenta. ¡Tal vez por eso es que Dios me da tan a menudo las tareas que no puedo hacer en mi propia fuerza!

Cuando estoy frustrada y queriendo golpear mi cabeza contra la pared, estoy aprendiendo más bien a caer de rodillas y orar, “no lo puedo hacer, Señor. ¿Lo harás a través de mí, por favor? ¡Yo te daré todo el crédito, la alabanza y la gloria! "

"No a nosotros, oh Jehová, no a nosotros sino a tu nombre da gloria...

Pero nosotros bendeciremos al Señor, desde ahora y para siempre.
    ¡Aleluya!" - Salmo 115:1,18
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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Lone Ranger Wasn't So Alone

I'm a big Lone Ranger fan. I think I've seen every episode at least twice.

You've probably heard the saying, "There are no Lone Ranger Christians." Well, any true fan will tell you that the Lone Ranger really wasn't alone.

He was called the "Lone" Ranger, because he was the only Texas Ranger who survived a cruel attack by outlaws. But he knew better than to try to fight injustice on his own.

He had a partner - Tonto.
He had helpers - his nephew for one.
He had support - a banker who exchanged his silver for cash, and sheriffs and governors who gave him letters of recommendation to others.
Not to mention, he had a trusty steed - Silver, without whom he never could have crisscrossed the frontier or raced to the aid of the needy.

Ok, maybe that's more Lone Ranger trivia than you wanted. =) But the principle we see in his story is important, and it's something God has emphasized in His Word.

Jesus sent His disciples out two by two.
Paul always took a partner (and often helpers) with him on his missionary journeys.
Christians are called Christ's "body," each part is necessary to the others.

Contrary to the world's opinion, we need partnership. We need helpers. We need support.
I cannot be a one-woman show. You cannot be a one-person show (or a one-married couple show).

Even though I've heard this truth for years, it's finally starting to sink in.

Though it goes against our pride, I believe that whatever work/ministry God wants to do through us will be better, and we will be better, when we do it in partnership with others. That's God's plan.

So I think it's fine to be a Lone Ranger-like Christian. Because now you know that the Lone Ranger never rode alone. =)

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." -Hebrews 10:24

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Not To Us...


Do you ever desperately want to accomplish something all by yourself, just so you can stand up and shout "I did it!"

I feel like that sometimes. I want to feel good about myself. I want to receive recognition from others.

But I've realized that this is actually a form of idolatry. I want to take credit for something. I want people to praise me.

But only God is truly worthy of praise! If I try to take credit for something, I'm denying Him the glory He is due - that's idolatry.

Not only do I not deserve any glory, I cannot do anything worthwhile on my own. Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5b)

When I try to do things on my own, I dishonor God's glory and I rob myself of the joy of letting Christ act through me.

As much as I love watching Jesus live through my life, sometimes I'm still drawn to this temptation of acting on my own. Maybe that's why God so often gives me assignments that I can't possibly do in my own strength!

When I'm frustrated and feel like pounding my head against the wall, I'm learning instead to fall on my knees and pray, "I can't do it Lord. Will you please do it through me? And I will give YOU all the credit, praise, and glory!"

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory...

It is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.

   Praise the LORD." -Psalm 115:1,18
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Presence


"Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob."
-Psalm 114:7

How quickly I can forget that the Presence who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and causes the earth to tremble, is right here, WITH ME.

"The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies."
-Psalm 118:6-7

Words fail me....

Lord, help me live in light of your Presence.

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD."
-Psalm 89:15

Amen.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Epiphany

I've been thinking...trying to reconcile complicated life situations with God's unchanging truth. Not having much success...until suddenly the Holy Spirit turned on the light and it made sense!


If the Lord is my Shepherd and I will not lack for anything...
(Psalm 23:1)

If the Lord withholds no good thing from the upright...
(Psalm 84:11)

If my God will meet ALL my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus...
(Phil. 4:19)

If I shouldn't be surprised by painful trials...
(1 Peter 4:12)

If God works ALL things for good in my life...
(Rom. 8:28)

If ALL things are from God, and through Him and to Him...
(Rom. 11:36)


THEN - God will always give me exactly what I need in my life in order for Him to accomplish HIS eternal purposes!


...I will have the Health (or lack of it) that I need for God to accomplish His purposes.

...I will have the Finances (or lack of them) to accomplish God's purposes.

...I will have the Relationships (or lack of them) to accomplish God's purposes.

...I will have the Trouble (or lack of it) to accomplish God's purposes.

...I will have the Understanding/Kwowledge (or lack of it) to accomplish God's purposes.

on and on...


The purposes God desires to accomplish for us and through us are much bigger and broader than we usually expect. Thus, the tools He uses to accomplish His purposes are often not what we expect either.


This is so clearly illustrated in the life of Paul.

-He was beaten and put in prison - he was definitely lacking in some things, like freedom, water, food, sleep, etc. BUT he had exactly what He needed for God to accomplish His purpose of saving the jailer and his family. (Acts 16)

-He had an illness - definitely lacking in health in that moment. BUT he had the (lack of) health he needed in order to preach to the Galatians. (Gal. 4:13-14)

-He experienced a trial that made him despair of life - definitely lacking in hope and confidence. BUT he had the trouble he needed to learn dependence on God. (2 Cor. 1:8-10)

on and on...


This truth has been at work in my life all along. It just finally clicked with me. I may lack in things that are necessary and important, but I will never lack in what I need to see God's purposes accomplished.

The sovereignty of God rules over all.
He always gives us what we need, or He allows need to give us what is best.

I don't always understand God's purposes.
I don't always like the tools He uses to accomplish those purposes.

But I can rejoice in knowing that today, right now, I have all I need to see God's plan for me fulfilled.


"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -2 Corinthians 9:8

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Me-Attitudes

Me-attitudes are different from beattitudes. But I think they are also important. =)

Me-attitudes are the attitudes I have toward myself, what I think about myself, how I see myself.

I noticed this week that many times I have a
- poor-me attitude
- sad-me attitude
- wimpy-me attitude

What I really should have is a
- I'm so thankful me-attitude
- I'm fully loved me-attitude
- I'm confident in God me-attitude

We all know attitude makes a big difference. I'm trying to pay better attention to the attitudes about myself that I'm carrying around. Because the wrong attitudes sure do weigh a ton.

Lord, help us to see ourselves as YOU see us. Give us me-attitudes that reflect your truth and bring you glory.
Amen.


What me-attitudes would you like to have this week?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Many Kindnesses

"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for [me]— yes, the many good things He has done for [me], according to His compassion and many kindnesses." -Isaiah 63:7

I don't think I speak often enough of the many kindnesses of the Lord toward me. I keep praying He will teach me how to live as the Psalmist did, who said, "My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long." (Ps. 71:8)

Today I want to remember and share with you some of the wonderful things God has done for me in the last few years.

- Three years ago God worked a miracle and I was approved for disability! With it, I was able to pay all my medical bills from the previous years, I finally had health insurance, and I receive a small monthly income.
This has been a huge blessing for me! And the Lord continues to faithfully provide for my needs.

- Almost two years ago, after "wandering" for more than a year, I was finally able to move back home! During my travels, some days I thought I'd never stop being allergic to our house. But the Lord kindly made a way, and I am SO thankful I can live at home again! =)

- A little more than one year ago, God worked a miracle in my heart and set me free from a lie that had caused bondage in my heart for almost 16 years! Without my health trial, I might never have recognized that deception. God kindly used suffering to bring freedom! Hallelujah! =)

- Seven months ago, God finally delivered my body from needing the Cortef medication that I'd been taking for over 7 years! I can tell you there were many months when I despaired of ever getting off that medicine. But the Lord worked a miracle, and I am Cortef-free! =)

These are only a few of the "many kindnesses" of the Lord toward me. Some days it's easy to forget how much He has done for me. Thank you for letting me "declare His splendor" and for rejoicing with me! =)

Blessings,
-Joanna

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Happy Place

No, I'm not talking about the playground at MacDonalds. =)

For me the "happy place" is what some people call the "sweet spot of grace."
The place where David said "I sing in the shadow of your wings" (Ps. 63:7).
What Paul meant when he wrote "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Phil. 4:12).

My "happy place" is where I find myself when God performs His miracle of grace in my spirit - so that my heart is truly happy in Him and I am "well content" with my circumstances, whatever they may be.

I wish I could say that I live here always. Unfortunately, sometimes my focus wanders and I become unahppy with my circumstances, wishing I was elsewhere, wishing I could change things that are beyond my control. It only takes a moment of wayward thinking to dislodge me from the "happy place." But thankfully, it only takes a moment of turning my eyes to Almighty God to bring me back "home."

I wish I could describe more eloquently what a precious gift it is to have this Refuge, this place of joy and gladness in my spirit, regardless of the storms that blow around me. But if you've ever been to your own "happy place" with God, then you know exactly what I mean. =)


Lord, thank you for the supernatural happiness you give us in You, completely apart from our circumstances. Please keep us in our "happy places" of trust and contentment, so that others might see how completely fulfilling you are!
Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gideon

Have you read the story of Gideon lately? (Judges 6-7)

I think it's a story full of irony.
-God called Gideon a "mighty warrior" - even though Gideon was hiding in a winepress from enemy raiding parties.
-God told Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal - Gideon obeyed, but he did it at night because he was afraid of the townspeople.
-God told Gideon to lead Israel's troops - then God said, you have too many soldiers, send all but 300 of them home.
-Gideon overheard the enemies saying how afraid they were of him - when Gideon was the one who was afraid of everyone!

See what I mean? Ironic.

At the same time, this is a story full of grace.
-God appeared to Gideon and called him - though Gideon was the least important person in his family and the least likely leader.
-God told Gideon to go, but Gideon was afraid and kept asking for signs - God graciously gave him two specific signs.
-Even when Gideon was ready to fight, he still was unsure - God sent him to overhear a conversation of the enemy saying how afraid of him they were.
-When Gideon obeyed at last - God routed the enemy with ease.

Can you see the grace all over?

It's easy for me to judge Gideon's fear and need of constant reassurance. When I read this story, I think, "What a wimp!" But really, I'm just like Gideon. Ironic. Thankfully, God is still the same today in His approach to "wimps" as He was then. Grace.

Do you ever feel like a spiritual wimp instead of a "mighty warrior"? It's ok. God likes to choose us wimpy, unlikely people to be His "soldiers," so that He can display His grace - and so all of us will know that HE is the one who routes the enemy!

Hallelujah!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pure Religion

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being pulluted by the world." -James 1:27

I memorized this verse several years ago, and it comes back to my mind often.

I'm thankful to say that I have watched many people over the last 24 years who put this verse into practice by minstering to my mom and our family in our distresses.

I know what it is to be a father-less child, to rely on the kindness of others to help meet needs, and to see the love of the Father displayed through those with "pure religion."

What about me? What about you? What can we do demonstrate true religion to the orphans, the father-less, and the widows in our midst? We have been given so much. How can we share those blessings with others in need?

Our loving God wants to display His Father heart through us. This Father's Day, let's take a moment to pray for those who are without husbands and fathers. And let's ask God to enable us to live out Pure Religion, to His glory!
Amen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not to us...

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." -Psalm 115:1

"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” -John 3:21

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." -2 Corinthians 4:7

"LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." -Isaiah 26:12


Not to us, O Lord. We claim no glory for the good things you do through us. Thank you for using these jars of clay to display your awesome power and grace!

To God alone be the glory!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Compassionate God

I was sitting in our backyard yesterday in the shade of our oak tree. The two mockingbirds who have a nest in the tree kept flying back and forth between the tree and the roof of the house. At one point, one of them came and perched on the lawn chair next to me and looked right at me. I figured they're just not used to having people in their "territory."

Then a few minutes later, I noticed a tiny rustle in the grass a few feet away. I looked closer and saw a little baby bird! He must have fallen out of his nest and was hiding in the tall grass. This explained why the parents were acting so nervous.

The poor little thing was so small and helpless, my heart just went out to him! I wanted to help him, but I knew there was really nothing I could do. If I got any closer the parents might attack me, and if I touched their baby then they would probably reject him.

So I did the only thing I could do. I prayed, "Lord Jesus, please take care of this little bird!" Then I left, hoping the parents would go feed him once I was gone. I kept thinking about him all night, hoping he was ok.

It's strange how in one moment a helpless, little bird completely captured my attention and filled my heart with compassion. I can't begin to imagine how much more God cares about me!

Isaiah 30:18 says,
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion."

The compassion God has for us is infinitely greater than what we feel for others. Just like that baby bird, we are weak and helpless, but God LONGS to pour out His grace and love on us. He delights in showing us His compassion, in taking care of us, and loving us.

Just like the little bird, I'm on His mind and in His heart. And so are you.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." -Matthew 10:29-31

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Words

I love words...

- like a painter loves colors
- like a musician loves notes
- like a sculptor loves clay...

I love words because they instruct, encourage, challenge, and inspire.

I love rearranging words, combining words, and studying words.

I love it when God gives me His words - whether for an email, a journal, a poem, a chapter or a story.

I love the ancient words God gave His people centuries ago that are still blessing my life today.

And in those rare moments when there are no words, I love The Word - who knows all words, sees my heart, and loves me still.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." -John 1:1,14
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

waiting...

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
-Psalm 27:13-14

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lead Me

I realized this week that many times I feel "driven" to do something, like there's this pressure to do it now, no excuses - to take action, to accomplish a task, to complete a project.... But with my limited energy, there are a lot of things that I have to leave undone.

As I was praying about this, I believe God showed me that when I'm feeling "driven" to do something - that's probably coming from my flesh (sinful nature) or from the world's pressure. But when I'm feeling "led" to do something - that comes from God's Spirit and from my Shepherd.

I think this explains why I can do the very same task and sometimes feel stressed out about it, while other times I feel at peace and empowered to do it.

I don't want to be someone who is "driven" by my own voice or the noise of the world. Instead I want to listen to the Shepherd's voice and follow where He leads, knowing He will always enable me to do what He leads me to do.

I guess these days of limited energy are my "practice" time, learning how to listen and follow His leading in so many little ways. I pray I'll be ready for the day He leads me out of this little pasture into the broad fields beyond.


Lord, teach me to listen and follow. Lead me, faithful Shepherd.


"The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of His sheep...the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice." -John 10:2-4

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Good books

I've been enjoying reading a lot of different books lately.

A.W. Tozer is probably my favorite author, and I recently finished his book, "Pursuit of God," which is excellent. It's the kind of book I need to re-read at least once a year.

But I've also been reading "Seeking The Face Of God" by Gary Thomas and it's amazing! I read it several years ago and thought it was good, but I think I'm more ready now to appreciate its full impact.

He quotes many of the Christian classic writers, such as Fenelon, John of the Cross, Thomas A Kempis, etc. These Christians wrote centuries ago, yet they have so much insight that is lacking in our modern Christian culture.

So far the chapter topics have been things that are somewhat rare today - joyful surrender, cultivating the quiet, the value of humility, the sweet side of suffering....

I've been so moved, encouraged, convicted, and instructed by this book! If you can, I encourage you to get a copy and read it prayerfully. It's a feast for the soul.


I thank the Lord for godly men and women who put in the hard work, prayer, sacrifice, and perseverance necessary to write encouraging books!


What are you reading right now that is promoting change on the inside of you?

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Blessing

When I was in college I went on a mission trip to Northern Ireland. One of my teammates had an interesting habit. Whenever anything difficult or bad happened, she'd just smile and say "What a blessing!"

* We get a flat tire - "What a blessing!"
* It pours rain - "What a blessing!"
* Our van was broken into and wallets stolen - "What a blessing!"

At the begining of the trip, most of us rolled our eyes whenever she said this. But gradually it began to affect us. By the end we were all saying it with her!

When I got home, I continued this habit...for a while. But eventually I reverted to my old habits of complaining or frustration. Ocassionally the Lord would remind me of this phrase and I'd try again to use it.

Then today I realized something - Jesus never had a bad attitude!
- not when He was mocked or persecuted
- not when His disciples did stupid things
- not when the Pharisees tried to "trap" Him into saying something wrong...

Jesus always had the perfect response to every situation. Maybe that's because He knew His Father is in control of all things. And living in the Father's care is always a "blessing."

Now, through Jesus, we have the same privilege as Jesus - to live in God's perfect care, love, acceptance and favor. Everything that happens to us comes through His gracious hands. And we even have Jesus living in us!

We have everything we need to be able to lay down our bad attitudes and to say at all times, in all things - "What a blessing!"

Will you join me? Let's start a "blessing" revolution! =)

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." -John 1:16
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Overflowing...

Lately I've been learning more about how powerful gratitude is. It seems it's the best remedy for just about every negative thought or attitude.

Maybe that's why God said to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess. 5:18)

Obviously thankfulness helps us combat complaining and grumbling. But I've also been seeing it work for -

- impatience: instead of wanting something NOW, give thanks that God knows the perfect timing for me.

- a critical spirit: rather than picking apart some thing or someone, thank God for it (or them) and for how He's working in and through it (or them)

- sorrow & grief: when my heart is breaking, thank my Father that He knows my pain, that He is my Healer, that my sorrow is only temporary because one day He will wipe away all my tears.

- worry: instead of fretting about things I can't change, give thanks that my Heavenly Father is in control of all things, and that HE can change anything!

These are just a few of the ways I've been trying to practice gratitude lately. I know it's so simple, I've heard it for years, but I thought it was just something I SHOULD do.

Now I think I'm finally beginning to see what a precious gift it is. Not that it's always easy, but when I do give thanks, it always brings good results in my heart and mind. Like God said in Psalm 50:23:

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

Giving thanks honors God, but it also prepares our hearts for more of Him.

The passage about gratitude that continues to stand out in my mind is Colossians 2:6-7:

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

I don't want to just give thanks at meals or when someone reminds me I should. I want to OVERFLOW with thankfulness!

Lord, make it so. Amen.

Whatever you're experiencing today, I pray you'll have a joyful Easter, OVERFLOWING with gratitude to our Lord Jesus for His love and power!

Blessings,
-Joanna
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Friday, April 15, 2011

The "Right" Thing

I love it when, by God's grace, I actually cooperate with Him and rely on His help to do the "right" thing.

Sometimes doing the "right" thing means choosing between what's "right or wrong." Other times it's deciding between "right or left." Either way, I believe God will always direct us in what HIS will is, through His Word, His Spirit, godly counsel, etc.

What are the benefits of doing the "right" thing?

Some specific times when I did the "right" thing, I -
- gained an unexpected but lifelong friend
- got an excellent Bible college education
- touched a life desperate for hope
- was freed from bitterness
- watched God do the impossible!

It isn't always easy to do the "right" thing. At times I've had to -
- humble myself instead of protesting my innocence
- take advice from that other person
- open my mouth when I was afraid to speak
- forgive though I never received an apology
- stand in faith, believing with God ALL things are possible!

Because of who He is, God will always give us the ability to do everything He asks us to do. And the cherry on top, is that then He blesses us with benefits we can't foresee from doing the "right" thing!

There's never been a single time when I've regretted doing the "right" thing. I guess that's why I love it when God helps me do it! =)

Whether you're facing a decision of "right or wrong" or of "right or left," I hope you'll remember (and you can remind me too) that -
The "Right" thing is always the right thing!

- What do you love about how God works in your life?
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Power

Recently I was reading a publisher's blog, and he made the statement that unlike all the other forms of media, books can be life-changing. He commented that you never hear someone say "that movie (or TV show, CD, blog or twitter post, etc.) changed my life!" But you frequently hear people say, "that book changed my life!"

I heartily agree that books can change lives. I could list several books that had a life-changing impact on me. However, I think that all the other forms of media also change our lives, just not in the same way. Media like TV, music, & internet may not affect us immediately with a big punch, but they do have a very powerful cumulative effect.

How many movies have you watched in your lifetime? 217? 356? 1074?
We may not realize it, but all those movies (and songs, magazines, internet sites, etc.) , are communicating and reinforcing subtle messages. Depending on how careful we are about what we watch, read & listen to, we may be taking in all kinds of wrong thoughts - things like,
- when you find the "right" person, you'll be completely fulfilled and happy
- dishonesty and immorality are ok
- violence is justified
- disobedience and rebellion have no consequences
etc, etc, etc.

So while, reading one very good book can have a positive impact on our lives, often the cumulative effect of everything else we take in has a very negative impact on us, and we don't even realize it.

Jesus said, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

Whatever we watch, read, or listen to becomes part of us, ultimately changing our thinking, our character and our actions. We don't see ourselves as evil, but if we keep 'storing up' evil things in our hearts, eventually they will overflow out of us.

I think it was Beth Moore who said that purity = power; no purity = no power.
God takes purity seriously, and purity starts with what comes in, not what goes out.

Lately the Lord has been continually pounding away on this theme of purity in my life. I wish I could go back 10 years and erase many of the things I allowed into my mind and heart. Instead, I'm asking God for strength to resist impure media and grace to 'store up' in my heart all the GOOD things He wants to fill me with.

So, by all means, let's keep reading those good, powerful, impacting books. But let's also resist the cumulative effect of stubtle, deceptive, worldly media.

I long to see God raise up a generation of Christians whose lives are Powerful in impact because of their pursuit of Purity.

Lord, let it begin with me.

"And this is my prayer: that...you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
-Philippians 1:9-11

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Surrounded

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds His people
both now and forevermore."
-Psalm 125:1-2

'Nuf said.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Desert

Something that encouraged me this week was Luke 3:2, "the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the desert."

It's a simple verse, but it got me thinking. Where was John when the word of God came to him? I've learned that so often God speaks to us when we're in the "desert"!

Like Moses and the burning bush, the Israelites at Mount Sinai, Paul in the desert of Arabia, and even Jesus when He was tempted in the wilderness.

The "desert" is often a time of hearing from God. It's also a time of preparation for something greater that is coming.

Even though the desert is lonely, barren, difficult, exhausting...it's part of God's plan for us.

The Lord wants to speak to you in your desert. He wants to reveal more of Himself to you. He is preparing you for something grand, something He can only accomplish through you after you have walked through the burning sand and the scorching wind.

The desert is the road to the fruitful harvest.

I hope that encourages you today like it encouraged me! In everything you're going through, God is right there with you. And He has a good purpose for all things, even the desert.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fragrance

What's your favorite smell?
To me the best smell in the whole world is horse.
Yep, you read that right. I love the way horses smell!

Now, most people think I'm crazy. They think horses smell like dust, dirt, hay, etc. But any horse lover will tell you that horses have a special fragrance all their own.
I love to stand right next to a horse and breathe in their rich, earthy aroma. It always leaves me with a smile and a sweet sigh of contentment.

In 2 Corinthians Paul wrote,
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." (2 Cor. 2:14-16)

To God, the best smell in the world is the life of His Son, Jesus. And God has chosen to use us to spread that divine fragrance.
However, just like non-horse people think horses stink, so non-God-fearing people will often think we stink. To them we are the 'smell of death.'
But not to worry. Other people will smell in us the 'fragrance of life.'

A horse doesn't worry about how it smells. It doesn't put on perfume or use scented lotion. It just lives as a horse. Those who love horses appreciate the smell. Others don't.

I think in the same way, we shouldn't worry and fret about how people perceive our 'smell.' As we focus on just knowing Christ, He will spread His divine fragrance through us, attracting some, repelling others.

I pray that those who do come, will be able to breathe deeply of Christ in us, and be left with a smile and a sweet sigh of contentment.


Question: What do you think Jesus 'smells' like?
(See John 1:17 for my opinion.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

my heart

"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice" (Ps. 116:1)

"We love (God) because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

"I love you, O LORD, my strength." (Ps. 18:1)

"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Pet. 1:8)

"Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." (John 21:17)


Yes Lord, I love you! You have my heart.
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Friday, March 4, 2011

Happiness

Today I thought I'd post an excerpt from my book ("Grace In Time Of Need"). This chapter is about something I need to be reminded of often.
I hope it will be an encouraging reminder for you today too.
Blessings,
-Joanna


Happiness

When I was a kid, we used to sing a song about happiness that went something like…Happiness is catching a firefly, eating a pizza, five shiny marbles…. I guess as children it’s easy to find happiness in little things like fireflies and marbles.

I was a cheerful, optimistic kid, always seeing the rainbow in the storm clouds. Time and circumstances can change us though. After several years of non-stop trial, with no light at the end of the tunnel, I eventually lost all optimism. I had to work hard to find any cheer. Not that I wanted to be a gloomy, pessimistic person, but continual pain and hardship take their toll on everyone, even natural optimists.

One day I looked up and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I was happy – not just cheerful, but really, truly happy. It kind of scared me. I had concluded years before that God’s main goal for me wasn’t that I’d be happy but that I’d be transformed to be more like Jesus. I had accepted that. I knew pursuing happiness above all else results in more misery. Still, something inside me mourned that my life had gone by for so long without experiencing happiness.

For me, happiness was always connected with my circumstances. But if that’s what made me happy, I knew I’d have to say good-bye to happiness for a long time because my circumstances weren’t going to change any time soon.

One week as I read through Psalms, it seemed every Psalm had some reference to being glad. I was used to verses telling me to rejoice and praise God – that I could do, by His grace. Now I saw those other words, the ones telling me to be glad. That stopped me in my tracks. I actually tried to ignore it. Still, every day I read a Psalm, and every day there it was – God’s Word telling me to be glad!

"Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!" (Ps. 32:11)

I couldn’t take it anymore. I said, “Lord, you know how awful my circumstances are. I’ve accepted them as part of your sovereign plan. I’ve even given thanks for what you’re doing through them. I’ve experienced your peace and joy, knowing that I’m in your hands. But, please don’t ask me to give up my “right” to be sad. Please don’t ask me to be glad in the midst of this!”

I didn’t hear any audible response to my plea, and I continued to struggle in my heart. At last I told God that if He wanted me to be glad, He’d have to do it because I just couldn’t.

Later that week I was at the beach. As I stared out at the waves, I saw a group of dolphins close to shore. It looked like they were body-surfing. They would jump as a wave crested and “ride” it in before going under again. They seemed to be having so much fun! It was incredible! I know dolphins are supposed to be friendly, fun-loving creatures, but I’d never seen anything like this before.

Then I heard God whisper, “Can’t you be like those dolphins? Can’t you be happy in the ocean of my love?”

I began to cry. I had been mourning so much over my painful circumstances that I’d missed God calling me to a deeper level of happiness than I had ever experienced. 1 Peter 1:8 says, "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy...." Even though we can’t see Jesus, we know Him. And knowing Him is the only source of inexpressible joy – of gladness – of genuine and lasting happiness.

I believe God does want us to be happy, but not with the shallow earthly happiness we experience from pleasant circumstances. He wants to give us His heaven-sent happiness – the kind that comes from knowing Him closely. His happiness comes from realizing that, like the dolphins, though we still have troubles, we are surrounded by an ocean of God’s love! Nothing can ever change that. So nothing can ever take away our happiness in Him.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Ps. 90:14)
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Monday, February 14, 2011

LOVE

I confess, Valentines Day is not one of my favoite holidays. But this year I took some time to think through all the verses I know by memory about God's love. Let me tell you, it was a beautiful exercise!

God has told us so many times, over and over again, about His love -- His unfailing, everlasting, unconditional, surpassing, satisfying, perfect...(there are more adjectives in the Bible, but I'll stop with those)...LOVE!

Perhaps if we spent a little more time meditating on His love for us, we wouldn't spend quite so much time unconsciously looking for other things to satisfy our hearts.

And when we come to that place where we have nothing else, perhaps our eyes will finally see that God's Love is truly all we need.

I could never say it better than George Matheson, in the words of one of my favorite hymns:

"O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be."


Happy Valentines Day, my friends. You are dearly loved!

Blessings,
-Joanna

Friday, February 4, 2011

Signs

As human beings, corrupted by the sinful nature, faith does not come naturally to us. It is only a supernatural act of God that enables us to believe in things we cannot see.

Faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) At the same time, I think God often gives us 'signs' to confirm, strengthen, and encourage our faith.

For me, there are three basic 'signs' that I love to remember.

1) Creation is the sign of God's existence.
Anyone who spends even a few minutes studying nature must soon conclude that the vastness and intracacies of creation never could have just "happened." There must be a Creator who designed and made all these marvelous things!

Paul expressed this idea that God's existence is evident in His creation in the book of Romans.
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20)

Whenever you feel doubts creep in and wonder if God is there, just step outside and look around. You will see everywhere the sign of His existence.


2) The cross is the sign of God's love for us.
Also in Romans, Paul wrote this:
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

Only a powerful, divine love could have kept Jesus on that cross...taking my punishment, enduring the pain I deserved, laying down His life for me.

If I ever start to feel like maybe God doesn't love me, all I have to do is look at the cross. There I see the greatest possible sign reminding me that, indeed, I am deeply loved.


3) The resurrection is the sign of God's goodness.
In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote,
"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Cor. 15:19)

If this life is all there is, then we can easily argue that God is not good. There's too much pain, heartache, injustice, and suffering in this world to justify a good God.

But the resurrection is our guarantee that this is just a temporary residence. For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we have the promise of an eternity of perfection with Him! The resurrection reminds us that one day God will make all things right. Every injustice will be taken care of, every evil destroyed.

In light of Jesus' resurrection, death is no longer an enemy, but a gift. Because of the resurrection, we are not stuck in this sin-cursed world forever. We won't just "disappear" when our bodies die. No, we will be brought into a new life - we will be made perfect!

The message of the resurrection often leads me to weep with joy! It is so full of meaning and gives us many precious promises to hold onto.

Anytime you wonder about God's goodness, spend a few minutes meditating on the resurrection. I guarantee it will completely change your outlook!


I think it is incredibly gracious of God to give us different 'signs' to remind us of what we know is true, to encourage us to press on in faith.

In Psalm 86:17 David wrote,
"Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me."

Daivd didn't ask for a sign for himself. No, he had already received God's help and comfort by faith. Instead he asked that God would give a 'sign' for his enemies to see.

Those who don't know Jesus have many of the same 'signs' we do - creation, the Bible, etc. But perhaps what they need is one more 'sign' - again described by Paul.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory...." (2 Cor. 3:18a)

Read that verse again slowly.

We are a 'sign' to others of God's glory! Isn't that an amazing thought? Praise God for this awesome privilege!


May you be encouraged today by the 'signs' God has given you. And may you be a 'sign' to those around you of our glorious God!


Question:
What other 'signs' have you seen that encourage your faith in various aspects of God's character and work?
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