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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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Learning from 1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians is a book written by the Apostle Paul. It is short, only five chapters long. It offers so much instructions to us believers. Three years ago I wrote reflections on each chapter. I encourage
you to read it and let the Lord speak to you.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 - A Humble Man of God

Chapter 3 - Called to Suffer

Chapter 4 - God's Will and God's Promise

Chapter 5 - Living in Light of His Coming

Reflections on the book of Jonah

We can learn much from the disobedient, unwilling prophet Jonah. Five years ago I shared my reflections on the book. Her are all of them in one post. I suggest you take time to read this short
book. Here.

Jonah 1

Jonah 2

Jonah 3

Jonah 4

Learning From Pilgrim's Progress: Help with Discouragement & Depression

This is post that got deleted somehow. Here is a repost. Please see all other posts relating to Pilgrim's Progress here.

Jan 3rd 2014

Discouragement or despair is common in the Christian faith. Many great men have suffered from episodic depression (see here) which caused them to despair and yet were not defeated by it. It is a giant for many of us, including myself.

Pilgrim's Progress deals with this. Hopeful and Christian travel to the Celestial City and under Christian's counsel they deviate from the path and encounter the limits of Doubting Castle. Here they are captured by Giant Despair and "put them into his castle, into a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking to the spirits of these two men. [Ps. 88:18]". Under the counsel of his wife, Diffidence (or Distrust in another version) they are beaten by him and left almost dead. "So all that day they spent the time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations."

After this, Giant Despair comes back and tells them that they will likely not leave and encourages them to take their lives (read their discussion on suicide). Christian becomes more discouraged and says:

For my part I know not whether is best, to live thus, or to die out of hand. "My soul chooseth strangling rather than life", and the grave is more easy for me than this dungeon. [Job 7:15] Shall we be ruled by the Giant?

Hopeful encourages him and makes him feel better but they are still in a "sad and doleful condition."
When Giant despair comes back to see them he becomes angry that they have not followed his advice. That night after consulting with his wife, she encourages him to show them the skulls of those he has killed and torn to pieces and warn them that they will suffer the same fate. The Giant Despair does so and beats them again and yet he cannot break them. That night Hopeful and Christian spend the night in prayer. It is after this that Christians says:

What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a Key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any Lock in Doubting Castle.

And with the Key Christian opens the door and gate of the Castle and escape the grip of Giant

This part teaches us a lot about discouragement or despair. It can have a strong hold in our lives. It takes away all of our physical, mental and spiritual strength. It attempts to destroy us by making us feel useless and worthless by consistently "beating" us to the ground. The antidote is key of promise. It is the promise that we are secured in Christ:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:31-39

There are also many other promises given to us that we can claim in the midst of despair. The book of Psalms is also a good book to read during these times (see for example Psalm 40 and here for more verses).

Read more about how to deal with depression or despair here and here.

Hispanics Cultural Distinctives

Here are all postings relating to Hispanic culture. These are characteristics that for the most part are true. There are exceptions and changes do happen over time. Yet, as a second generation Hispanic myself I know these are true in our family. These are not only helpful for non-Hispanics who wish to understand us better but also for us to understand ourselves better (know thyself). They are also beneficial as Christians as well, especially when considering the implications these have for sharing the Gospel to Hispanics.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Learning From Pilgrim's Progress: How Are We Saved

As Christians we believe in the afterlife. Death isn't the end. We don't believe in reincarnation or any other idea of wondering spirits. We do believe that a person can be saved from a life of sin and future damnation through Christ. How does this happen? Is it automatic? Are there specific things to do? Pilgrim's Progress answers these questions.

In the following quotes we find parts of the discussion between Pilgrim, Hope and Ignorance. Ignorance in Pilgrim's Progress is not a person who lacks any knowledge of Bible truth. He knows it quite well and yet he is ignorant in how God works. This is mostly related to his dwelling on stubborn ideas that he is unwilling to give up. He believes he will be saved in the end.

See first how Ignorance believes he will be saved because he does many good deeds including religious ones:
Ignor. I know my Lord’s will, and have been a good liver; I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give alms, and have left my country for whither I am going.
Christian doesn't deny that Ignorance does good deeds but these aren't enough to save:
Chr. Yes, that is a good heart that hath good thoughts, and that is a good life that is according to God’s commandments; but it is one thing indeed to have these, and another thing only to think so. 
Ignorance continues to ask then what are those good thoughts that he should have about God's commandments. Christian explains to him that they only good thoughts are those that are according to what the Bible says:
Ignor. Pray, what count you good thoughts, and a life according to God’s commandments?
Chr. There are good thoughts of divers kinds; some respecting ourselves, some God, some Christ, and some other things.
Ignor. What be good thoughts respecting ourselves?
Chr. Such as agree with the word of God.

Christian explains to Ignorance about the sinful predisposition of humans. He also tells him that when a person comes to realize his condition as sinful then he is thinking according to what God says: 

Chr. Why, the word of God saith, that man’s ways are crooked ways, not good but perverse; it saith, they are naturally out of the good way, that they have not known it. Psa. 125:5; Prov. 2:15; Rom. 3:12. Now, when a man thus thinketh of his ways, I say, when he doth sensibly, and with heart-humiliation, thus think, then hath he good thoughts of his own ways, because his thoughts now agree with the judgment of the word of God.

Ignorance insists that he does believe that Christ died for sinners and believes that he will be saved by obeying his laws or commandments. He believes Christ will make his works acceptable before God.

Ignor. I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his laws. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father by virtue of his merits, and so shall I be justified.
 Christian answers this by outlining several mistakes about his belief that he can save himself through his own works.
1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the word.
2. Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own.
3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy action’s sake, which is false.
4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty...
Christian explains to Ignorance the way a persons will experience salvation. God will reveal himself on the person making him see his sinfulness and need of Christ. God will give him the faith to believe. The person will then turn to Christ who in turn saves him through His righteousness.
but by the revelation of the Father: yea, and faith too, by which the soul layeth hold upon Christ, (if it be right,) must be wrought by the exceeding greatness of his mighty power, Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 1:17–19; the working of which faith, I perceive, poor Ignorance, thou art ignorant of. Be awakened, then, see thine own wretchedness, and fly to the Lord Jesus; and by his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God, (for he himself is God,) thou shalt be delivered from condemnation.

John Bunyan life was very much like Ignorance before becoming a believer. Here he clearly shows the theology behind it. Pilgrim's Progress is a timeless classic rich in theology.

Here are other posts relating to Pilgrim's Progress:
Learning From Pilgrim's Progress: Who is a Christian
Learning From Pilgrim's Progress: Talking Without the Walking
Learning From Pilgrim's Progress: In the Grip of His Grace
Pilgrim's Progress Resources

Sunday, April 19, 2015

God Sovereignly Protects - Acts 23:12-35

Here is the audio recording for Acts 23:12-35 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church.

This section shows that even though men appear to be in control, God is sovereign over all. He has a plan and will do His will. Isaiah 46:10; Proverbs 21:30

For Paul, now in chains, God is at work. He is a prisoner of the Lord (Eph 3:1; 4:1; Philem 1, 9) and this is no shame. He will be faithful until his last breath.

                                            God Sovereignly Protects - Acts 23:12-35

Friday, April 03, 2015

Evil and the Curse of the Cross

Today is Good Friday. It is called Good Friday even though it is the day that we observe the death of Christ on the cross. So why is it called Good Friday? I won't dwell on the history of it, but I do want to tackle the theological thoughts behind evil as it relates to the cross (i.e., the death of Christ).

There are plenty of books (see below) and websites that discuss evil. It is a topic worthy of study. I am not a philosopher nor a theologian but I know several things that are clear from Scripture:

1. Evil is real. We can all recognize evil when we see it. In Scripture we see it from the beginning in the book of Genesis.

2. Evil does not originate from God. The Bible is clear that evil does not come from God. See Psalm 5:4.  He does not even tempt anyone to do any sin or evil (see James 1:13). He cannot. It is against his very own nature. Though it is hard for our finite minds to harmonize God's goodness with evil, we know from Scripture that God is not the cause or the originator of evil.

3. Satan was the first to do evil (e.g. sin). He not only sinned but tempted many to sin including Adam and Even in Genesis 3.  He opposes everything God does and wants to do evil. He wants to kill and destroy (see John 8:44).

4. We are all born sinners with a sinful nature prone to evil acts.  See Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12.

5. The greatest evil happened on Good Friday.

Evil man killed the holy, perfect, sinless Son of God (Acts 2:23) and yet it was God's plan all along. He came to die on the cross (became cursed by God - Galatians 3:13) for our sins to redeem us from them and to defeat Satan's evil works (1 John 3:8). It is because of Christ that we experience a new life of Christ that does not have to be dominated by sin and evil. The greatest injustice brought forth the greatest act of mercy and grace.

“For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile” (quoted here).
6. God is sovereign over evil.

Scripture is clear that God is sovereign over everything including evil (see Isaiah 45:7). I cannot understand how this works but I have to trust God. One day God will destroy evil and it will be no more (Revelation 21:5). God will reign. Jesus will reign. Goodness will reign.

Books on evil:

Alcorn, Randy. If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. 2009.
Geisler, Norman. The Roots of Evil. 1978. Also If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think about the Question. 2011 

Keller, Timothy. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. 2013
Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain.1950.
Wright, N.T. Evil and the Justice of God2013