Featured Post

Tyler Morning Telegraph - Galdámez brings church planting, education experience to Grace Español

Here are two articles written by Emily Guevara ( Twitter: @TMTEmily)  on our background and on  Grace Español .   Tyler Morning Telegraph...

Internet Archive bookmarks for: despond

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Compassion, loving kindness, favor, love, faithful love of God

 

Hesed (Hebrew): Compassion, loving kindness, favor, love, faithful love

"the Divine Love condescending to His creatures, more especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness."

- Delitzsch

Seen in the act of creation and how God maintains us:

"He loves righteousness and justice, the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord." - Psalm 33:5

Specially Shown To Those Who Fear Him:

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love."

- Psalms 33:18

Pray for in hope:

"Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you." - Psalms 33:22

Have you experienced hesed in 2013? I am sure you have. Make it a point of thanking Him for it and praying that He will continue to show it to you each day.

 

 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Life Long Resolution

As we come to the end of 2013, many start to think of what resolutions they want to carry out or attempt for the "new" year. Elsewhere I have written why I don't believe in resolutions, but if there is a resolution for me, it is found in Joshua:

"Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the Lords servant gave you: to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." - Joshua 22:5

Breaking down the verse there are several resolutions. All of them are centered upon obedience to the Lord. These "resolutions" or determinations call us to be careful or diligent in obeying God's instructions as given in the Bible. This could over whelm some people since we know there are many commands to keep but this verse simplifies things.

1. Love God: "love the Lord your God."

Jesus said all the commands of God can be summarized in loving God and loving others. If we love God we will do the second command as well. We often associate love for God with obedience which is accurate but this verse doesn't mention it until the end. Notice that love for God is to give all of our affections to Him first. He should be our priority, our ultimate priority to love. Everything else springs from there.

2. Pattern Your Life After His Lifestyle: "walk in all his ways."

It may seen vague but our lifestyle, the way we comport ourselves should match what we believe about God. Asynchronous life-style is hypocrisy. We cannot pick and choose what we want to and what we don't want to believe. Our lifestyle should reflect "God's ethics." Walking in His ways involves living our life for God every moment and every day of our lives. Only when we walk in all of his ways do we become a living testimony for God unto others.

3. Obey His Commands: "keep his commands."

The two over arching commands are to love God and love others but there are many specific commands given to us, especially in the New Testament. We are told to obey them because our lifestyle needs to conform to God's standards. God's standards (God's "world-view" as seen in His Word, The Bible) bring life, love, joy, peace and keep us from death and destruction (see John 6:63Psalm 19:7-8).

4. Be Faithful to Him: "remain faithful to him."

Being faithful to God is a daily decision. Every day we are faced with decisions, big and small, yet these need to reflect our desire and resolution to remain faithful to God. In our modern society, this is a difficult task due to the many distractions and constant push from the culture to conform to its standards. Our goal should be to remain faithful to the Lord, day by day, every day.

5. Serve Him Whole Heartily - "and serve Him with all your heart and soul."

Only when we love God, pattern our life after His, obey Him and are faithful, can our life be of service to Him. Again, notice we serve Him. We serve others but it is an act of service to God. We are not humanitarian because we are so good in of ourselves. We serve God where ever we are; we are an extension of God. We are his workmanship (his poem, master piece) in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Our service to God is not mediocre, it involves all of our heart and soul.

As we welcome 2014, let's us keep these things in mind and make them our life-long resolutions.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who is My Neighbor? The Lonely, The Elderly, Those in Need and Hurting


It often behooves me how it is possible for us to live our lives not caring for those in need. And I am not talking about our friends or family. It is easy to be friends with those who love us and can reciprocate. But what about those who we don't know and can't reciprocate? Are we to befriend them and care for them? I believe so. Jesus said:
"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" - Matthew 5:46-47 (ESV, emphasis mine)
As you can see the standard for Jesus' followers is quite high.

On another occasion Jesus is interrogated by an interpreter of the Law (lawyer) and he wants to know how to obtain eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey all the commands of God. He narrows them to two: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer attempts to trap Jesus and asks him who is his neighbor. It appears to be an obvious question with an obvious answer. But Jesus answers by telling him a story of a man who is robbed, beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite (both of them involved in temple worship) pass the man by. I am sure they both had "good" excuses. A third man comes by, a Samaritan, a half-breed hated by the Jews. He is moved with compassion, gives him basic care and takes him to an inn to recuperate. He takes care of him for a full day. The Samaritan even pays ahead for his care as he leaves until he comes back again. Likely, the Samaritan was going to make sure this person would be well before leaving him. Jesus asks, the lawyer who does he think proved to be a neighbor and he answers correctly. "And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise"."

It is clear from this that our neighbor is not someone we know or even met. It is a stranger in need that is befriended and cared for. The word hospitality in the Bible means to care for strangers. In Middle Eastern culture it was customary and even expected to be hospitable to strangers, even enemies (see Genesis 18). I am sure that by the time of Jesus, things had changed a bit. The religious leaders with their "new" interpretations of God's Law had modified it quite a bit (see Matthew 5:21-48)

Our neighbor from across the street passed away early morning after been in the hospital for over two weeks.. She was a widow who lived a very lonely life. Her only brother died not too long ago, and she had no immediate family except her adult son. She spoke very little English and didn't know how to drive. Up to a year and a half ago she was walking with my wife around the neighborhood. My wife did as much as she could for her, doing her groceries, taking her to doctor appointments, cutting her toe nails, giving her food, etc. She also came to some events at our home. It is sad because living in a place surrounded by people, no one befriended her until we moved in the area. She even suffered from panic attacks perhaps due to the fact she was alone all day long.

Our other two neighbors who lived next to us were also elderly (God seems to put them in our path and we love them. Read here.), were also lonely and had no one to care for them. We did as much as we could. Simple things like turning their mattress over or fixing their remote control were things they needed help with or just someone to say hi and ask how they were doing. I remember when Joe's brother came to visit him and died of a heart attack in his living room. The paramedics and ambulance came and yet no one came out except us. Sad. I remember Joe, a Veteran who battled Alzheimer's, crying, hitting his head because he couldn't remember things and calling himself stupid. I remember the small conversations we had in our front yard. I don't remember anyone befriending them.

I run almost every day and get to see who are my neighbors. They see me as well as I am pushing my three-year old on the stroller and my nine-year old running ahead of me. This is a way I getting to know my neighbors. Some say hi to me, some don't. Some think it's cute (some may think it's crazy) that I run with my children. The important thing is that I am aware of who my neighbors are and that I am ready to show neighborly love: saying hi, a simple wave, or a simple smile is a start. I appreciate when they do it to me. These are my neighbors. Which are yours?
God puts people in our path, but sometimes we just go ahead and ignore them in our busy lives. This Christmas let's be mindful of everyone not just our friends. There are many Carmen's and Joe's out there who need a friend.

Here are a few more verses from the Bible to reminds us of caring for those in need:

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27 (ESV)

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15 (ESV)






Friday, December 20, 2013

Learning from Pilgrim's Progress: In The Grip of His Grace

Reading Pilgrim's Progress is very instructive for me and for any Christian. A part about grace called my attention today. It involved Interpreter showing Christian excellent and profitable things. He leads him through a room where there is a fire strongly burning even though there is a man is in the back that continues to put water to quench it. No matter how much water he puts in it, it burns hotter. Interpreter explains to Christian that this is The Devil trying to quench the work of grace in man's heart. There is another man behind a wall who puts oil to keep the fire going.
Interpreter explains:

"This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still. [2 Cor. 12:9]"
Thank God for our Lord who intercedes on our behalf and keeps us in His grace. We are pleasing to God because of His grace.Interpreter explains why Christ is behind the wall:

"And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, that is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul."
Yes, it is indeed a mystery how our Lord keeps us in His grace. It is in His grace that we stand.

Material is copyright by egaldamez. Permission given torepost or reproduce without editing the content.Disclaimer: The contents of all personal web pages and blogs published are solely my responsibility. Statements made and opinions expressed on personal pages are strictly those of the author and not of any organization, church, or school.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jesus Son of Abraham, Lord and King!

When God called Abraham to leave his home, he gave him a promise of giving him a new land, bringing out of him great nations and kings (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-7). He said to Abraham: "I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Genesis 17:16 (NIV) At this time Abraham laughs, and I probably would have as well, if I was 100 years old and my wife was 90 and I was told my wife would have a baby and out of him would come nations and kings, especially The Messiah, King of Kings. Yet God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Isaac is born and out him comes Jacob and the twelve patriarchs. Israel is born after over 350 years. Four hundred years later Israel comes out of Egypt, spends 40 years in the desert and inherits the land God promised (Joshua). But this was only the beginning.



Over four hundred years (I am using estimation. A timeline of Israel can be found here), Israel is a nation until the deportation of Judah in 586 B.C. Then Israel is ruled by a number of nations for another 400 years.



The Gospel of Matthew opens this way: "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham." (NIV) Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy from Abraham to Joseph of Arimathea who was a descendant from the tribe of Judah, the royal lineage of David. But Jesus was also the Son of God who would save his people from their sins: "This is how
the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be
married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be
with child through the Holy Spirit.
..She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."



(Matthew 1:18, 21) - NIV



God's plan was that the King would come humbly (Philippians 2:7-12). He was no ordinary King. This King would not come with a sword but as a servant, the suffering servant (see Isaiah 63). A servant who by the sovereign will of God would give his life as a sacrifice for the salvation of those who would believe. At the age of 33, he was killed by unrighteous men, was buried and rose from the dead. He did this to save us from our sins. Those who have put their faith in Christ as their Messiah and King are now Abraham's children. The promise given to Abraham that he would be father of many nations was fulfilled: "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed
to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but
also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us
all. 
As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." (Romans 4:16-17) - NIV



After Jesus rose from the dead, he showed himself to his people for over 40 days and then he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3). He sat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). He is Lord and King. Yet his rule is not physically evident:

"...the exalted Christ pervades all of creation with His controlling power.
God directs all things to their appointed ends in His eternal plan to
make His reign manifest over all creation and unite everything in heaven
and earth in submission to our Savior." (The Fullness of Christ, Ligonier Ministries).

The time will come when Jesus will put everything under his rule and hand over the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).  The question is whether we are willing to submit to him under his rule now or later. Everyone will one day call him Lord (Philippians 1:9-11)






Sunday, December 08, 2013

Persecution, Preaching, Peril - Acts 8 - Part 1

Here is the recording for Acts Chapter 8:1-25 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church. Note: The ending is a bit awkward since it ends in a question for discussion.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

When God Gives You Up To Your Desires

There comes a time when after people insist on not following God's path, even though the evidence of his calling is irrefutable, God gives them up to that which they want. This happened with Israel. It happened when they insisted on a king thus rejected God: "And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." (1 Samuel 8:7) KJV

God gave them what they desired and it wasn't great.
Then it happened when they continually followed other gods in spite of seeing the power of God manifested in their lives.

In Exodus 32:1-6, they made Aaron make an idol that would replace God. They worshiped something they had made after seeing the power of God. How foolish! They worshiped something they made instead of the God who made them and saved them. This happened over and over again until God gave them up to their desire.

God turned them over to their sinful desire, their desire to worship someone other than God.  He let them have what they wanted and thus worshiped and sacrificed to the gods of other nations (read here about Moloch one of the gods they worshiped). See Acts 7:42-43.

God let them go their way. Psalms 106:36-39 reads:

They served their idols,
    which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
    and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
    the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
    and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
    and played the whore in their deeds. (ESV)
 
This is happening now as well. Lest we think that we are not idolaters as Israel read Romans 1:21-26, 28:

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (ESV)

The god of our generation may not be made of gold or in form of an animal but it is a more sophisticated one. It is the god of pleasure and the god of sex. Our pleasure-driven, sex-driven generation bows down to these gods and refuses to worship God the Creator even as the evidence of His Divine goodness is evident.

The words "God gave them up" applies today.

See/hear/read this titled "When God Abandons a Nation"


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Children Etiquette For Eating and Good Manners

It is appropriate to post since we are eating a lot today. In trying to figure out the use of fork which I am instructing my children, I went to Etiquette by Emily Post and high lighted a few places. Though, this is from an out dated version, much is still applicable.

Etiquette by Emily Post

I can hear objections to the comparison:

"Training a child is exactly like training a puppy; a little heedless inattention and it is out if hand immediately; the great thing is not to let it acquire bad habits that must afterward be broken. Any child can be taught to be beautifully behaved with no effort greater than quiet patience and perseverance, whereas to break bad habits once they are acquired is a Herculean task. "

My 21 year old hates when his roommates make sounds:

"A very ugly table habit, which seems to be an impulse among all children, is to pile a great quantity of food on a fork and then lick or bite it off piecemeal. This must on no account be permitted. It is perfectly correct, however, to sip a little at a time, of hot liquid from a spoon. In taking any liquid either from a spoon or drinking vessel, no noise must ever be made."

I continually tell my kids to "scoop" and not poke soft food:

"Soft foods, like croquettes, hash on toast, all eggs and vegetables, should be cut or merely broken apart with the edge of the fork held like the knife, after which the fork is turned in the hand to first (or shovel) position."

Poking vs. Scooping (shoveling):

"When no knife is being used, the fork is held in the right hand, whether used "prongs down" to impale the meat or "prongs up" to lift vegetables."

I teach them this too:

"In fact, taking a big mouthful (next to smearing his face and chewing with mouth open) is the worst offense at table."

I couldn't help to laugh at this:

"And do not allow him to construct a tent out of two forks, or an automobile chassis out of tumblers and knives."

Not interrupting Adults:

"When older people are present at table and a child wants to say something, he must be taught to stop eating momentarily and look at his mother, who at the first pause in the conversation will say, "What is it, dear?" And the child then has his say."

Got to teach them to do it on their own:

"To be helped, to be fed, to have their food cut up, all have a stultifying effect upon their development as soon as they have become expert enough to attempt these services for themselves."

Seen this!

"A child who is not allowed to say anything but "No, thank you," at home, will not mortify his mother in public by screaming, "I hate steak, I won't eat potato, I want ice cream!" "

Ouch!:

"The child that whines, interrupts, fusses, fidgets, and does nothing that it is told to do, has not the least power of attraction for any one, even though it may have the features of an angel and be dressed like a picture."

Applies to today:

"Not only must children obey, but they must never be allowed to "show off" or become pert, or to contradict or to answer back; and after having been told "no," they must never be allowed by persistent nagging to win "yes." "

 

It's about parenting:

"A child that loses its temper, that teases, that is petulant and disobedient, and a nuisance to everybody, is merely a victim, poor little thing, of parents who have been too incompetent or negligent to train it to obedience."

This will do with Epi:

"A small girl (or boy) giving a party should receive with her mother at the door and greet all her friends as they come in. If it is her birthday and other children bring her gifts, she must say "Thank you" politely. On no account must she be allowed to tell a child "I hate dolls," if a friend has brought her one."

Hey, I use "ma'am":

" "Yes, sir," "No, sir," "I think so, sir," but ma'am has gone out of style."

Interesting:

"Young girls (and boys of course) should have the manners of a gentleman rather than those of a lady; in that a gentleman always rises, relinquishes the best seat and walks last into a room, whereas these courtesies are shown to, and not observed by ladies (except to other ladies older than themselves)."

Indeed:

"All spitting out of bones and pits into the plate is disgusting."

 

Eat it once it's in your mouth, like it or not:

"If food has been taken into your mouth, no matter how you hate it, you have got to swallow it."

"It is unforgivable to take anything out of your mouth that has been put in it, except dry bones, and stones."

 

About not cleaning on a cloth napkin:

"first using a finger bowl, because fruit juices make indelible stains.

Note: We don't use finger bowls

The purpose of manners art the table:

"All rules of table manners are made to avoid ugliness; to let any one see what you have in your mouth is repulsive; to make a noise is to suggest an animal; to make a mess is disgusting."

On using fingers:

"The real objection to eating with the fingers is getting them greasy or sticky, and to suck them or smear one's napkin is equally unsightly."

You can read the whole book here, buy the updated version here or read more by Emily post here.

 

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Eating!

 

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Adoption and The Military

I enjoy analogies or comparisons. Today I was thinking about the reasons why people join the branches of the military and as I did, I thought of the similarities with adoption (or adopting).

1. It is a good deed. Joining the military and adoption is a good deed or action.

2. It is inspired by love of country. People join the military because of the values our country stands for and in a sense, a love for people. People adopt because they love children which are part of our country (domestic adoptions) and our desire is for them to be good citizens and good Christians in our country. There is some sort of correlation between both, though not perfect.

3. It is an act of service. The military serves the larger community, adoption serves a particular part, children.

4. It saves lives. When those in the service act in their military duty, it is to protect and save lives. Those who adopt protect and save the lives of children.

Here are some aspects where I think the analogy fails:

Those in the military, in some degree, receive honor and/or recognition. This is not the case with those who adopt.

Those who adopt shape and form young lives. There are some who get to do this in the military but it is not the primary focus as in adoption.

 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teaching Our Children Obedience

I honestly think that teaching obedience to our children, for the most part has become archaic and obsolete. I read this short article today and it prompted me to write a post about this topic. I tend to think that we have come to believe the child-centered political correct attitudes and beliefs that don't require obedience from children. It's a bad word. It might lead to oppression and quenching of natural inclinations and abilities. Then there is the naivete of parents. They think children come with a blank slate (Tabula rasa) and don't really understand or mean what they are doing and we should just ignore anything they do wrong. I find it amazing that even babies know how to get what they want through crying and can get parents to obey them. Then we also have children demanding parents and telling them what to do. I have seem them regularly. "We cannot expect children to stay still" is how we often excuse bad manners and behavior. The results are misbehaved, ill-mannered children running around in the stores (my children always look at them with the "I can't believe they are doing this!"), yelling and playing. Children talking and playing during church, standing on the pews messing around with the hymnals. Children with behavior problems in school and society. They are only reflecting our lack of teaching them proper behavior and expecting them to be well-mannered anywhere and everywhere. All of it is connected to obedience.


Then there are those that think good behavior (i.e. obedience) should be encouraged by rewards to motivate intrinsic behavior. It always bothered me when I saw this as a teacher. I just didn't buy this idea. How does it really transfer into real life like? Do we always get rewarded for doing what we have to or expected to do? Do we get rewarded for being in line? Do I get rewarded for going the speed limit? How about work? Yes, we get paid for our work but it comes with non-optional requirements (we have to obey and do what we are told). Obedience is expected for adults as well. We obey laws. When we don't, we pay a price (try not paying your taxes) and yet we fail to teach this to our children.


As Christians, our basic duty to God is obedience (see Romans 16:19, Philippians 2:12, Hebrews 5:9, John 14:15). It is our obedience to The Gospel that led us to belief in Christ (see Romans 1:5, John 3:36, Acts 5:32, 6:7) and keep us in the God's path of righteousness (see Romans 6:16, 1 Peter 1:22).  Even our Lord Jesus learned obedience (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 5:8).

Here are some things I teach my children about obedience:

1. They are commanded to obey us (Ephesians 6:1) as we are also commanded to raise them in the ways of The Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

2. We are all called to obey God first and when someone tell us to do something contrary to what God has commanded us, we politely refuse. (I actually do say, "obey your teacher," to my children.) See Acts 5:29.

3. Obedience means doing what you are told the first time.

4. Disobedience will always bring consequences some in the form of discipline.

5. We will always be consistent in our expectations for obedience and in discipline.

children photo: Vintage children vc318.gif

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adoption: An Answer to Prayer

Here is Mylee who would be 10 yrs. old
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." - Psalm 127:3

 Ever since my wife and I got married 22 years ago we were interested in adoption. God in His sovereign will allowed us to only have two children who are both adults now. We always wanted to have more and we tried many times but once again we were not granted this. We tried adopting in the year 2003 through a Christian agency but we had to do foster first. We took a little girl named Mylee who was four months old. Almost four months later, she was returned to family members. We were sad and discouraged. 

Here is part of what I wrote December 2003:
16th: "It's hard to conceive that after almost four months, this will be her last night with us. We have gotten used to her. We have seen her grow in this last four months. When she came to us that Friday she was so quiet, skinny and hardly did anything. Now she is talking much more and is crawling all over. How are we going to cope with this? I am going to miss her in the morning we I left for work. I always looked at her and touched her. When I got home from work, I was always anxious to see her and play with her. I am going to miss her looking at me with her big dark eyes in the morning when she would awake. And her smile. I am going to miss her waking me up in the middle of the nigh. I am going to miss her breathing when she was sleeping. I will miss her smell."

And on the 18th I wrote: "This morning I missed seeing her in the crib. Everything was so different. Twice or more I touched her little shoes while driving trying to feel her again. I wondered how her first night away from us went. It was hard"

It was very hard. We kept a few mementos, one was a shoe which still hangs in my car.

As time passed it looked less likely that we would attempt to adopt. Private agencies charged too much and we didn't have the funds. Around 2009 we thought of trying just one more time through our local agency. We went through parenting classes and became licensed in 2009.


On October 6, 2009 I wrote "I have played the movie about our adopted child, what it will be like, over and over. I pray for her wherever she may be, whether she is born or not. Her home awaits her. It is open with love waiting to embrace her. I only ask this to God. I want a daughter, another one, this is my greatest prayer."
 

Now I can say she wasn't born yet.

In January 2010 I wrote about my desire to adopt: "We will also start the process of adopting through our local agency. An adoption could happen this year but only God knows."

At this time, to increase the likelihood of adoption we decided to change our desire to adopt one child under 3 to a sibling set provided the youngest was a girl and the oldest wasn't too old.
Time passed and our hope started to dwindle. I prayed a lot for a little girl but no answer came. Our youngest son left for college in August 2010 and so we began a new life the two of us. By the beginning of 2012, I was ready to give up any hope of adoption.

In April of 2012, my wife and I went to Europe to visit our son. On the 7th we read an email we received that week regarding two children with possibility to adopt. One was a girl 2 years old and the other one an 8 year old boy. We couldn't believe it. We talked about it and decided to see the possibilities when we got back home.

On April 19 we met with the social workers to discuss the children. We saw their pictures and got information about them. We had 24 hours to decide. It took less for us to decide. On the 21st we met them and on the 27th  they came to our home. 

Our little girl was quiet and spoke almost nothing. In fact, the social worker told us, she could hardly get her to say anything or smile. She was developmentally about a year behind. In less than a year, she was speaking fluently and met her developmental goals. Now she is a chatter box. She is a happy child. Every morning when she wakes up she asks, "May I have a hug and a kiss?" and I when I answer why, she tells me she is my daughter. She is the attention of everyone anywhere we go. She is charming, sociable and loves to eat just about anything. Not only this, but she has become a puzzle lover. Her recent puzzle has 1,000 pieces and she is almost done.

relaxing with Daddy
Our boy came to us very low academically. He was at first grade level when he was in second grade and could barely read. He had never read a chapter book in his life. He was put Special Education since first grade and was ostracized in the classroom with others. He couldn't focus and his behavior wasn't good either. After ending second grade, I worked with him all Summer long. By the start of third grade he was grade level and had read many chapter books. His behavior during second grade was better but not great. He finished at grade level and I was able to get him off special education. He has made incredible growth at the start of 4th grade. He loves to read and is reading at fifth grade level. His behavior is better but is on medication for ADD/ADHD. He is a kind boy who loves helping others and has a generous heart. He runs with me everyday and can run up to 4 miles. He also has a heart for God. So far he has read all of the Gospels, Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy and is reading Joshua (in the English Standard Version which adults use as well).  We know God has a plan for both of them. He will do great things in their lives to bring Him glory and blessings to others. Our role is to guide them along and be faithful to God.

Having them in our home, is an answer to prayer but we didn't know how difficult the process would
be. For a year and almost six months we have cared for them as our own and prayed for God's will to be done. We have been ready to keep them but also ready to let them go if God closed the door through the legal process. Our role was to pray and let God continue the process without us pushing our own will.  This was a very different attitude since our first adoption attempt. We realized these children aren't ours but God's and our role, as long as God's wants to, is to raise them for God's glory. Not only has the process been long and difficult but the parenting as well. Both have made incredible growth in every way but it hasn't been easy. It has tested me especially, in the area of patience.

waiting for school 5th grade start
Today, the adoption was finally finalized. They are legally part of our family. God answered our prayer to adopt, yes, in His timing. Our journey with them has only started. We have a long way to go. With thankful hearts to God, the support of family, friends and our church family (we are thankful for how our church family has prayed for us and given us encouragement through this time) our journey with our two children continues.




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oidor Olvidadizo o Oidor Hacedor?

Estoy re-memorizando el capítulo 1 de Santiago. Hace muchos años cuando era mucho más joven lo memorizé en la antigua versión 1909 de la Reina Valera (mi primer Biblia). Bueno lo importante es lo que estoy aprendiendo. Me llamó la atención este pasaje el día hoy:
"21 Por lo cual, dejando toda inmundicia y superfluidad de malicia, recibid con mansedumbre la palabra ingerida, la cual puede hacer salvas vuestras almas. 22 Mas sed hacedores de la palabra, y no tan solamente oidores, engañándoos á vosotros mismos."



El contexto del libro es importante para entender este pasaje. Los cristianos (Judíos creyentes) estaban sufriendo pruebas debido a su fe. Aún en la iglesia había discriminación. Muchos de ellos sin duda estaban agobiados y me imagino que comenzaron a dudar de la bondad de Dios. ¿Será Dios culpable de mis pruebas y aun tentaciones?
En este pasaje Santiago les invita a dejar todo lo que es moralmente sucio, todo mal deseo en contra de Dios. En lugar de esto deben recibir en sus corazones La Palabra injertada (algo injertado llega a ser parte de la persona) la cual puede salvarles de lo que están experimentando. Salvar sus almas en este contexto se refiere a su condición moral no a su salvación. Deben recibir La Palabra con mansedumbre, humildad. En este periodo la iglesia no contaba con Biblias completas. Habían lectores que leían las Epístolas de los Apóstoles (como en éste caso la Epístola de Santiago) o El Antiguo Testamento a la congregación. Al escucharla, Santiago les dice, deben recibirla con mansedumbre. Sin duda que habían algunos que al escucharla comenzarón a dudar su pureza y rechazarla debido a sus experiencias y pruebas, algo que también sucede con nosotros. Santiago también les amonesta a ser "hacedores de la palabra." No basta sólo escucharla (no es malo escucharla, mire Apocalipsis 1:3) sino que hay que perseverar en ella, hay que obedecerla. Les da una ilustración de una persona que se vé en el espejo y se olvida que tal és y de otro que se vé y hace correcciones. El que mira atentamenta a la perfecta ley, La Palabra de Dios, y la obedece (o cumple) éste es el que es bienaventurado, bendecido en su acto de obediencia.
Aplica mucho éste pasaje a nuestras vidas. Sin duda escuchamos mucho acerca de La Palabra de Dios (mucho, mucho más que ellos), el domingo, a través de los medios de comunicación, y en nuestra lectura diaria. La pregunta es, ¿Somos oidores hacedores o oidores olvidadizos? Esta es una de las razones por las cuales estoy memorizando La Palabra. Necesito ser hacedor de ella. Quiero recibirla con mansedumbre en mi corazón.
¿Y tú, qué clase de oidor eres?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

God Regrets, Human Sinfulness And God's Favor

I have been reading the book of Genesis. It is the book of beginnings, that's what the word "Genesis" means. It comes directly from the first sentence in the Hebrew Bible: "In (the) beginning God created..." This book tells us about the beginning of creation including man and woman. But it also tells us the beginning of sin. Ironically, it is also the book the tells us the end of humanity. Yes, it tells us about the judgement of God in what we call The Flood. As I write we are reading in the news about flooding in some parts of the US but this was a universal flood. There is no time to discuss the evidence of this world-wide flood because I want to focus on why the flood came and how it relates to our walk with God.

So I jump to Genesis 6. Sin had already entered humanity. The Earth was populating quite fast this due to the longevity of individuals (Adam lived over 900 years and Methuselah lived almost 1,000 years). With this came the propagation of sin as well. We often think that our times are bad, but the Bible says that, "When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." (Genesis 6:5-6 - HCSB)
God "regrets" making man. This is an expression to show how God felt about man: ""The repentance of God is an anthropomorphic expression for the pain of the divine love at the sin of man, and signifies that "God is hurt no less by the atrocious sins of men than if they pierced His heart with mortal anguish"" (Calvin).

His heart was grieved and so He decides to exercise judgment on mankind: "Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky — for I regret that I made them.” (Genesis 6:7 - HCSB) This shows us how bad the world had gotten. Every "creature" or person had become corrupted in the sight of God (see verses 11-12. There is also another explanation to why such corruption. Some say that Genesis 6:1-3 refers to intermarriage between angelic beings and humans which would was an aberration of God's plan. Letting this continue would have been even worse). It is important to note that the standard for morality is God not man. I am sure that people then did not think they were so bad. They might have seen themselves as "progressives". What matters is how God sees us. He is the ultimate Good. He defines good and evil. When He says it was really bad, we know it was, to the point of exhausting God's patience (resisting The Spirit, see 6:3).

In the midst of of all, one man found God's favor (Genesis 6:8): 500 year old Noah. One man. "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:9) This man lived in sharp contrast to his contemporaries. There was no doubt that he had fellowship with God even when others didn't. Notice that it doesn't say he was religious. I am sure many people were religious. He walked with God and his life was "right" before Him. Imagine the ridicule he must have faced for so many years including the time of building the ark. People must have laughed really hard about such a "fool" building the biggest boat for a time when rain did not exist. Yet, when God called Noah to build the ark, he obeyed Him (Genesis 6:22). God calls all believers to be obedient to Him, not to the culture and not to a person. Our loyalty is to HIM. God established a covenant with Noah (Genesis 6:18). Out of his lineage He would bring a new start for humanity. All believers in Christ are part of the New Covenant. We can have an eternal relationship with God through the death and resurrection of Christ. A life of faith in Him.

Noah's faith is an example for us: "By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." (Hebrews 11:7 - HCSB)
It is no doubt it is difficult to live for God nowadays. It is becoming increasingly more difficult but it is not impossible. We may be feel or be lonely in our walk with Him. It is possible we will also experience persecution when our lives show the contrast between living for God and living for self and pleasure (wickedness). We'll be laughed at, ridiculed, called names and ostracised for our beliefs.

Yet we can walk with God. We can walk in faith. We can walk in righteousness. We can walk blameless before God. God is with us. Our walk of faith will not be easy, but we are in good company. Let's remember Noah.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Great Prophet Was Killed

Today is believed to be the day John the Baptist was beheaded. I wrote about him a while ago. Here.

Here is a related short post.

 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Prayer for God's Church in Syria

I don't often post links from other sites but is important that we as believers pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria.

 

Please take take time to read this prayer by Michael Milton here. I was not familiar with him until today. Check his site.

 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Speaking God's Truth When It Is Not Popular

The book of 2 Chronicles is rich with spiritual truth for us (as all of The Bible). The examples found in it show us how our relationship with God should be, even in times when people turn away from God and His truth. It's human nature, we like to hear what we want. It validates us. But this validation is often built on our own pride and sinfulness. We need to hear God's truth even if it is not what we want to hear. This is the case in 2 Chronicles 18.

Jehoshaphat was King Asa's son (see 17:1). He was a man who walked with God. His heart was encouraged in the ways of the Lord (17:6). He did one thing that was not pleasing to God: the marriage allegiance with King Ahab (see 18:1) who ruled the Northern Kingdom or Israel (see 19:2). Ahab who was not a good King (see 1 Kings 16:31) asks Jehoshaphat to go with him in war against the Arameans. Jehoshaphat asks Ahab to seek God to see if he must join Ahab or not. Ahab calls his four hundred prophets (18:4-5). All of Ahabs prophets say that he should go ahead against the Arameans and assure him that God will give them victory. Not satisfied (he might have had some suspicions about the prophets), Jehoshaphat asks if there is another prophet (he must have known) that they could inquire. Ahab admits there is one, but this prophet, according to the king, is no good. He always prophecied wrong against him. Pause for a moment. King Ahab's judgment is cloudy. He has not given thought that true prophets of God don't speak what others want to hear. They must speak God's truth. They often were called of God to pronounce judgment against sin. It didn't occur to Ahab that his life was perhaps out of line before God.

Ahab's gives into Jehoshaphat's request and he summons Micaiah. While an officer goes to call him all of the other prophets keep telling King Ahab what he wants to hear: positive words, kudos. The officer who calls Micaiah tells him that all the other prophets are unanimous in their words, they all have spoken favorably (18:12). "But Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak." (v.13). Micaiah does not follow consensus; he does not speak what's popular. He will speak what God tells him to speak. He will be faithful to his God.

When he arrives Micaiah is asked by king Ahab if he should go and fight the Arameans. Micaiah knows what he is asking so he plays along and in a sarcastic tone affirms what the other prophets have said. But the king also knows this isn't true. Micaiah then prophesies that king Ahab will be defeated (v. 16). The prophet continues and tells him how his "prophets" are being deceived by an evil spirit. God has allowed this because Ahab refuses to hear and follow God (This will happen again in the future. God will allow those who refuse to believe the truth to be deceived. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Micaiah is slapped by one Ahab's prophets and the king sends him to jail. Micaiah last words to the king were ""If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me." And he said, Hear, all you peoples." (v. 27). A true test of a prophet is whether his word comes to pass (Deuteronomy 18:21-22) and Micaiah submits himself to it. His words do come to pass. King Ahab is injured in battle and consequently dies (read here).

Micaiah is a great example of what a servant of God ought (should, must) to be and do. Whether we are pastors, leaders of a church or just your "average" believer, we are called to be faithful to God. Our loyalty is to Him and no one else (Galatians 1:10). We are called to speak His Word whether it is popular or not. (1 Thessalonians 2:3). We are called to speak God's truth even if the consensus of our culture says we ought to speak "favorable words," words others want to hear. Words that are politically correct. Speaking God's truth may cost us. It may cost us jail (I just saw this video of Richard Wurmbrand who spent three years in solitary confinement for speaking God's truth) or other form of repercussion. But the mark of a true believer, a follower of Jesus, is obedience to Him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What God is Looking For

I came upon this verse as I am reading through 2 Chronicles:
"For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on.” (HCSB and all subsequent verses). 2 Chronicles 16:9

There is anthropomorphism here. God describes Himself in human terms. This verse gives quite an image. It gives a sense of urgency, diligence. God isn't passive, He is actively seeking. What is He seeking? Hearts. Hearts completely His. Completely devoted to Him. For what purpose? To show His power.

The context of this verse is the third king of Judah after Israel has divided. Asa "did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God" ( 2 Chronicles 14:20) in times when all Israel turned away from God. This king cleaned up the house and he told people to "seek the Lord God of their ancestors." (2 Chronicles 14:4) Because of this God gave him rest and there was peace. He admits that this peace and rest had come from seeking Him (2 Chronicles 14:7). When the Cushites threatened him and came against him, he cries out: "Lord, there is no one besides You to help the mighty and those without strength. Help us, Lord our God, for we depend on You." (2 Chronicles 14:11). God gives Asa victory and all the cities around them were terrified of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 15 he gets a reminder from a prophet as to why he has been successful in war. He is told, "The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you." (v. 2) The prophet encourages him saying, "be strong don't be discouraged, for your work has a reward." (v. 7) Asa leads the people in spiritual revival. So far so good until chapter 16.

Asa is faced with war from Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and he panics. He bribes the King of Aram who is an ally of Israel by giving him silver and gold in return for his allegiance. The king of Aram attacks Israel instead. Judah won. Asa lost. God sends Hanani to rebuke him for his lack of trust. Instead of depending on God, he depended on the King of Aram. He had not learned the lesson that God wants to show himself strong (powerful) in those whose hearts are completely His. Our hearts must be focused on Him and on nothing else. There can't be half-hearted followers of Yahweh. It is not "God helps those who help themselves" what God seeks diligently. He is seeking people who will give Him all of their hearts, totally devoted to Him not just Sundays or special days. No holding back anything even when things get difficult.

Asa became angry after this and puts Hanani in prison and mistreats people. There is no change of heart from Asa. In fact he gets a severe disease on his feet and refuses to seek God: "Yet even in his disease he didn't seek the Lord but only physicians." (v. 12) So he dies. He had experienced the blessings of God but refused to give God glory. He held on to his heart. He couldn't let go of his anger and pride. Sad ending.

Asa's heart never became completely God's. The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart. His heart was completely God's. David wasn't perfect. He failed many times but his heart was always God's until the end of his life.

What about my heart? This is what I am striving for. What about yours?

Today I awoke with the first line of an old Irish Hymn which applies to this topic. When I read the third stanza I was reminded of Asa. He should have "sang" that part. But the whole hymn talks about being totally devoted to God. He should be our singular vision.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words: Dallan Forgail (8th Century)




Friday, August 23, 2013

Prayer and Body Life In The Church

I have been teaching Acts during Sunday School at Village Bible Church. Here are thoughts about prayer and Body Life in The Church from my study of Acts 4. These are not shocking revelatory. They are obvious. But are they evident in God's Church today?
About Prayer:
1. Prayers that should be natural for The Church. Every situation must be presented to God in prayer.

2. Prayers that acknowledge God's sovereignty over history, over our lives as we live for Him.
3. Prayers that use The Scriptures to apply to our lives.
4. Prayer requests that align themselves with God's known will as revealed in the Bible.
5. Prayers that expect God to answer.
About Body Life or what the church should experience as normal daily life as community.
1. They had one "heart and soul." Summarizes well what they were like as believers in JesusChrist.
2. They had everything (possessions) in common. They recognized they were stewards of what they had
from God. No Jewish dream?
3. The Apostles testified (boldly) the resurrection of Christ. It applies to all of us.
4. They experienced God's grace and it was evident everywhere.
5. They had generosity. No one was needy. People who were more affluent or had more shared with those in need. They had no government programs just The Church.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Save A Life

Today is my 43rd BIRTHday. I am thankful to God for giving me life and for those he has put in my life to keep me safe. God used my mom (and my father) to give me life. I remember that my mom once told me someone close to her suggested to have an abortion when she was pregnant with me. She refused. I am thankful or I wouldn't be here. This is not the case with the 54 million babies killed since 1974. No one protected them. I really don't care to hear the politics of abortion because for me life comes from God. Every human life in any stage of life is sacred. This is not my opinion, it's God's truth. Here are some foundational passages from Scripture (see more here).


    Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.

    Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?
    Psalms 22:10 I was cast on you from the womb: you are my God from my mother's belly.
    Psalms 139:13 For you have possessed my reins: you have covered me in my mother's womb.
    Psalms 139:14 I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.
    Proverbs 31:8 Open your mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
    Isaiah 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you.
    Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

This video challenged me today:

 

This man has saved over 1,000 babies in the 3 years he has done this full time. It challenged me to ask myself what I am doing to save a life. What is The Church, God's prophetic voice, doing to save a life? What are you doing?

More about John Barros here.