Halfway Done

Every year I choose to do the Tim Challies book challenge and if you want to know what I have been reading here is the list so far. I will put the challenge, the title and a quick note of what I thought about it.

A book published in 2020 or 2021 – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This book was weird. I somewhat enjoyed it, but probably will not read another book by this author. If you like fantasy with minimal characters and slow builders, then you may like this book.

A memoir or autobiography – Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book was full of quips and ways to live. It has a lot of wisdom in it, but it is worldly wisdom. There was some religious aspects to it, but like all self-help books, they fall short to the wisdom given in the Bible. It’s a good book for older teens.

A classic novel – The Curious Life of Benjamin Button by F. Scott FItzgerald
This was another weird novel. It was somewhat Kafkaish and I didn’t really like it. I liked the Great Gatsby, so I thought this would be a good novel, but I was left feeling confused and wondering why I even started it.

A book by a pastor – Something Needs to Change by David Platt
I recommend this book to all Christians! Phenomenal book about taking our faith seriously and shaking off the clutches of complacent Christianity.

A book about a book of the Bible – Colossians He is Enough by Asheritah Ciuciu
Great devotional book! I recommend reading her!

A book published by Zondervan – Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
The book was informative but I had forgotten that Ravi Zacharias was one of the men Lee interviewed, so the book didn’t sit well with. It also seemed a bit too permissive when it came to sin and grace. Case for Christ was better.

A book the word “gospel” in the title – Another Gospel by Alisa Childers
What a great book on the dangers of what is now called deconstruction. Every Christian needs to read this book. Alisa, also has a youTube channel that I enjoy watching. She is a great theologian.

A book with an image of a person on the cover – Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the second book to the Wolf Hall series. I love the way this woman writes and I love Tudor historical fiction! If you love this era and historical fiction, you will love this book, bur read Wolf Hall first.

A book about a current social issue – (A)typcial Woman by Abigail Dodds
This was a good book, the author did a good job in describing Biblical womanhood. She used Scripture well and I encourage you to read it if you are a Christian woman.

A book for children or teens – Wingfeather by Andrew Peterson
Loved this book. Adventrure, Pirates. Villans. My kids really enjoyed this book It is a series that we may continue. I read this book aloud to my kids.

A book about theology – Royal Deception: Exposing the KJV Only Conspiracies by Fred Butler
This book was lacking in what I really wanted to know. There is so much about KJV onlyist that I wanted to know about and this book did not provide it. I think James White does a better job.

A book about Christian living – Full by Asheritah Ciuciu
I loved this book! I got in on audio, but bought the actual book after I listened to the audio. I plan on re-reading it this year! If you struggle with food addiction, this is a wonderful book full of the Gospel and freedom!

A book of your choice – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
I love the way this woman writes. This was a good thriller, mystery book.

A book written by a puritan – Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
Puritans love their descriptions of hell. I am so glad I am saved and this motivates me to keep giving the Gospel to my loved ones.

A book recommended by a friend – Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book is set in occupied France. Great book about the love between sisters and the courage of the people who suffered under the Nazis. This book is long, but it does submerge you into this time.

A book about social justice – Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen
Totally recommend if you are Christian wondering what to think about the culture in the US right now.

A novel that won a Pulitzer prize – The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
This book was actually a runner up to the Pulitzer, but still it was beautifully written. It is about the Spanish conquest of the Americas and their exploits. It is harsh and sad. This book was about a slave of one of the Spaniards, one of only 4 survivors.

A book with 2 or more authors – Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie H. Perry and Nancy DeMoss
The book was good, but not my kind of taste. JHP is very artistic and was a bit too long winded about colors, fashion partying and her relationships. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. When it comes to this particular genre, I prefer Rosaria Butterfield.

A book with at least 400 pages – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Tudor Historical Fiction again. This book was harder to read than Bring up the Bodies because HM uses the pronoun “he” quiet a bit and sometimes I forget what “he” she is talking about. She does better in her second book. I can’t wait to read the third and final book about Mr. Thomas Cromwell.

A book cy CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien – The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Must read for all Christians. What a wonderful and smart man is Mr. Lewis. This book is about a “younger” demon learning the ropes from his uncle Screwtape on how to ruin the lives of Christians and people.

A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title – Sovereign Joy by John Piper
This book was about the lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. I loved reading about them and because of this book I have added Augustine’s “Confessions” to my reading list.

A book on the New York Times Bestseller list – Dream Big by Bob Goff
Like always, this man inspires. This is a good book to get you motivated to dream big and pursue your dreams.

A book about prayer – Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel
This was a good book. I was pleasantly surprised though that I already pray dangerous prayers. If you want to grow in how you pray, this is a good book. I just need to pray more often!

A book about theology – Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane C. Ortlund
This is by far the best book I have read so far this year. What a breath of restful air this was. This book made me cry and reminded me of what a gentle and loving Father I have in God. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

A book of your choice – Outsider by Stephen King
The book started off really good, but what a cop-out for an ending. I wasn’t too happy with the sci-fi cop out. SK does write well though, but the ending was so disappointing.

A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with – Recovering from Biblical Womanhood by Aimee Byrd
She has a chip on her shoulder and her illustrations and allegories were awful. I also listened to this book on audio and the author reads it and she sounded a bit to “karen” for my taste. Maybe if I read it instead of listening to it, it may be better.

A book by someone whose ethnicity is different than yours – Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Great book. So needed for our times right now. It is a book about the dangers of critical race theory and social justice.

A book that won an award – Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
This book won the Edgar Award. It is about a young detective solving a case in a small town. It was a great crime/suspense novel.

A book by Charles Dickens or one of his contemporaries – The Woman in the Black Veil by Charles Dickens
This is one of his first books ever written and what a plot twist. Good short book. It was only like 35 pages long.

A book about leadership – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
There was a lot of insight and great advice in this book. Highly recommend for all people who want to get their life together and do more.

A book based on a true story – Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Good mystery book and great twist at the end.

A book with an illustration on the cover – A Court of Thorns by Sarah J. Maas
This book was a bit too romantic for me. So not my genre at all. If you the Twilight series you will like this. SJM writes extremely well and there were some scenes in the book that were outright scary and frightening, but just not into the romancy parts.

A book with one word in the title – Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Great book about the subject of Heaven. It makes me want to go there already. Death is hard for us to understand, but in the light of the Bible, physical death is what God uses to bring us to Him. Long book, but I definitely recommend.

A book whose title comes from a Bible verse – Filling up the afflictions of Christ by John Piper
Great book on suffering and why we suffer and how God uses our afflictions to make us more like Him. This book is short but very impactful. If you are struggling through a painful time in your life right now, this is a good read. Full of Scripture and grace.

A book by an author 30 years or younger – Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
This book was great! Its about an FBI agent who happens to also be an ex-magician. The book was fun to read, but also mysterious. Great book for a summer read. Andrew Mayne is also a professional magician.

A book about theology – Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer
A good book about why we should not just feel our faith, but know why we believe. It also has a lot to say about the character of God and who He is. Why we should know about the God we worship.

A novel set in a country that is not your own – The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler and Ann Long
This book is set in Sweden and was annoying. The main characters were not very deep and the way they behaved was erratic and odd. I don’t recommend this book, and will not read any more of their novels.

37 books so far!! It is my hope to read 54 books this year and I think I will be able to make it. From now on, I hope to do book reviews on each of the books I read. Let me know what you think and tell me about some of the books you enjoy reading.

Blessings


God thwarted my plans, and that’s okay.

As Christians, we often wonder if we are doing God’s will.

Before my husband and I began our journey of fostering children, we thought for almost a year if it was God’s will to foster children. I am going to say something very bold: If both you and your spouse have thought about fostering children, it is God’s will, because if it is not, I promise, He will close that door. Most couples never consider fostering and those that do consider it, it’s usually one (usually the wife) who is more open to it. So if both of you are up to it, please take the next step in getting certified.

In life, we are sometimes so fearful to take any step in any direction because we are afraid of making a mistake and somehow and in some way thwart the will of God (Job 42:2). Let me take a whole load off your shoulders: God loves you, and “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Rest in this knowledge, my sister or brother take the next step.

I say all this because I want to tell you about the time in my life God didn’t give me foster children. My husband and I had completed our classes. We had gotten our fingerprints – TWICE (that’s another story). We did the home test, the body test, the psycho test. We got our CPR certifications. We turned in all our paperwork, watched all the videos and drew out our fire escape plan. All we were waiting on was our background checks to come back. I had only been living in Kentucky 4 years, so being an import from Texas, I needed a background check from there also. So I submitted my background check application and sent it off to Austin, Texas. My Kentucky background check came in 6 weeks and I got nothing from Texas. Nada. All the people in my church who took the foster classes with me, they all began getting their placements, and I was left waiting for this background check. I. was. devastated.! You just don’t understand, I have the organization skills of a squirrel on crack and the attention span of a puppy when it comes to paperwork. I loathe paperwork, and I had done it! Every single piece of stinking paper. And I wanted my foster kid! I had finally stepped out in obedience. I was finally unafraid of getting a little monster kid! I had tried so hard to get my home up to par. I was ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus to all the orphans of Western Kentucky! But flipping Texas was taking its flipping time! Months went by and nothing came.

Then came a call that changed my life forever . . . . .

A friend of mine asked if I wanted to translate for a young man that had just arrived from Guatemala. I would sit with him in all of his high school classes and translate for him what the teacher said from English to Spanish. The answer was an easy “yes” because my life was on hold, not being busy with foster children. That’s when I met Kendell. And as I sat with Kendell day in and day out, I found out that he was orphaned at 6. That he had no support here in the states and slowly, God revealed to me that this was why the Texas background check never came. The child God had for me, at this time, would not come from foster care, but would come through Crittenden County High School. The child God had for me was not Kentuckian, but Guatemalan. The child God had for me was not a youngster, but a teenager. The child God had for me would not be speak with a lisp or a stutter or have delayed speech, but would speak Spanish.

God uniquely brings about our passions. Not all of us have the interest in loving a child who doesn’t share our DNA. Frankly, it’s so rare that even radical Christians struggle with the idea of loving children who are not their own blood. This is why I want you to see how special you are if there are tugs at your heart to foster children or adopt them. Not everyone feels those nudges.

Six years ago, tomorrow, Kendell moved into our home. He has my heart and loves me fervently. He takes care of me when I am sick, lavishes me with hugs and kisses and makes me laugh every day. He is sweet and caring to all of his brothers and sisters, and there is nothing he wont do for any of us. About a year after he moved in, he became my brother in Christ! Seeing him grow in his faith has been inspiring and I can’t wait to see how God will use him to further His Kingdom. Almost 2 years ago, we officially adopted him and gave him the middle name Josiah. Josiah in Hebrew means “God supports”. And He does.

Two years later I did get my 3 little monsters from foster care, and that’s another story!! (There are so many awesome stories when you say “yes” to God!) But by then I didn’t need a background check from Texas. They have also been a blessing to me and I love them to pieces! And in them, I see the healing power of Jesus Christ and the magnificent sovereignty of our Lord. Just wow! (more of this later)

My friend, trust our Father! Do not lean on your own understanding (Prov.3:5). If you are not in His will, he promises to work it out. Ephesians 1:11 says: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. God’s purpose will stand with or without you (Isaiah 46:10). You know the way, the way that was given specifically to you, now walk in it, boldly, knowing full well that He will support you or even thwart you. (Isaiah 30:21)

By the way, I never got my background check from Texas,

I picked up a homeless person

It was the first day of school, finally! I had had the kids since March and they were finally going to school in mid August. I had plans to eat Doritos and binge watch some nature or crime show all day. I dropped them off at school and as they got their temperature checked, I willed the thermometer not to read high. Then I went to McDonald’s, parked for a moment to eat my breakfast and listened to the news! (Yes, this is my idea of fun) After eating, I took the longer way home just to enjoy the ride ALL ALONE! Then, I saw her, she was walking barefoot near the dam in Grand Rivers. She was frail, thin and looked disheveled and lost. I didn’t want to stop, I wish I had taken the freeway, but there was no way now that I was going to ignore a woman that most likely was homeless at best, or abused and exploited at worst. I sighed a big sigh of frustration and knew I had to obey the tug at my soul to aid this image bearer. I made the U-Turn and then another, and pulled up close to her, only to realize that she was really a he! He was very thin and looked Southeast Asian. He had already seen me and I didn’t have the heart to just drive away and leave him there. I then called my husband and just said “I’m pulling next to a homeless man, I’m putting you on speaker phone just in case he’s drugged up and tries to kill me.” This isn’t the first time I do things like this, so Nathan just sighed and stoically said “okay” and stayed on the line. (I love him so much!) I wasn’t too scared of him, since I probably had about 100 pounds on him, but people on drugs can get pretty strong, even skinny ones.

I briefly talked with the man to find out if there was any way I could help him, but he didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak anything else but Spanish. So I got no where with him. I didn’t have any money and I had just gobbled up my McDonald’s breakfast, so I gave him what I had, my leather moccasins. My favorite, Minnetonka, comfy, tan moccasins. “He has no shoes, he has no shoes.” I kept telling myself. He is walking through the streets and has no shoes. All the homeless people I had ever seen before have had shoes, even their dogs have those little scarfs. This man, has no shoes, and I have a closet full of them. So I gave him my shoes, and he took them gladly and to my surprise they fit him a little big! But he was still grateful. I then tried to ask him where he was staying and he pointed at the woods and that he had been living there for 4 or 5 weeks. So I gave him the other thing I had. My Thirty-One monogramed bleacher blanket that cost me more than I’d like to admit! But here was a man who was living in the freaking woods. He was covered in bites, he had no shoes, and looked starved. So I gave him my blanket! I had 20 blankets at home! I even crochet blankets all the time. For fun! Blankets. Throws. Fluffly towels. Not leaves, or grass, or branches. Blankets, that’s what I have. He has leaves. I have blankets. Blankets!

I then asked him if he wanted something to eat – as I shamefully wiped the biscuit crumbs off my chest. He mentioned he hadn’t eaten in two days. So that’s when I decided I would take him to Wendy’s. I was also able to figure out that he had 3 children, and that he would like coffee since he hadn’t had any in a very long time. He was also a butcher and worked mostly with pork. His country of his birth is Thailand and he speaks Karen.

I eventually took him to my home (yes I know, I did tell my husband what I was doing and he was okay with it) and had my oldest help me get him some clothes. My oldest also wasn’t too surprised when I bolted into his room crying that I had a poor, half-starved man waiting in my minivan. He was a little upset that I picked up a man, but once he looked at the half dead man just waiting for us, he didn’t say much but helped me pack a duffle bag for him full of clothes, towels, an extra blanket and socks. My oldest accompanied me to drop him where he wanted to go and when we said goodbye, ThaiThai (which is the name my oldest and I affectionately call him, not his real name). Well, ThaiThai cried. He then put his hands together, bowed his head and said what I think was thank you. My oldest squeezed my arm and whispered to me in Spanish — “Not right now. Hold it together. Be strong. Cry later.” I didn’t hold it together and cried. We drove off and I sobbed.

I am so blessed beyond measure and I am ashamed at how self-centered I can be, so I want to give out a warning to all of us, my dear Christian brethren. Do not let this “pandemic” make us self-centered. I wanted to do what I wanted to do with HIS time. I wanted to not share the material things that HE has given me so much of. I felt inconvenienced when He wanted my simple obedience. Covid has done this to us. The kingdom of God does not cease to expand because of a virus. The threat of death has never in over 2000 years thwarted the mission of the Church – on the contrary it usually thrives within it. Fear of the unknown has never been an excuse to disobey our God who calls us trust in Him and not lean on our often flighty understanding.

Don’t grow lazy my brothers and sisters. Righteousness is not something we can drift towards. We must strive for it. Obedience is often hard (giving away your stuff, sanctification, mortification, giving away your blanket) and sometimes scary (helping out a man you thought was a woman). It is a constant struggle and now with the excuse of a “pandemic”, very easily we can lose the will to struggle for righteousness. But, take heart, we trust in the One who has overcome death. He loved us so much, He didn’t fear the ultimate virus which has an 100% mortality rate, but bravely bore it and we are now immune. Forever. And not only are we immune, but we have been given the call to tell others of this great news! That they too may live forever with Him!

So love on the ThaiThai’s around you. Don’t neglect the assembly of the saints. Tell God “Yes I Will”. Live fearlessly – wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Remember, what’s the worse that can happen when you obey God? Death? But your immune!

God bless my friends!

American Gospel

American Gospel – Christ Alone is a documentary almost 3 hours long. It is free on Netflix. It is mainly an explanation what of what the true Gospel is, what it isn’t and a warning against the prosperity gospel. The movie calls out several popular pastors and explains what it truly means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

I loved this documentary and it was a breath of fresh air to hear the Gospel just spoken over and over again. It reminded me of the freedom in God that I have and the grace that I couldn’t earn. It brought back the memories of the first times I started to understand just how special I was to have my eyes opened to the Truth of His Word. My heart leaped hearing the Gospel preached by so many and hearing their testimonies on how they came to salvation.

The movie does call out many beloved preachers and pastors, but I believe they (the producers of the documentary) are being obedient in calling out false teachers. John Piper has an excellent response to this very thing and you can read or listen to it by clicking on this link.

This movie was needed. I needed it because lately I have been complacent in my faith. I have become stagnant and mediocre and I can’t stand myself sometimes. My prayer life stinks, my Bible reading has just picked up and listening to person after person explaining their testimony and proclaiming the Good News, livened my slumbering soul. Praise the Lord, for His salvation. Praise the Lord for His Sovereignty! I am saved not because of my works, because of the work of another!

I highly recommend this documentary.

There is a second documentary by the same director called American Gospel – Christ Crucified that I started watching today and so far, it has been a blessing.

Prayer

Prayer is usually one of those practices that most Christians need to do more often. I know I do! It’s like trying a new diet, you get excited, you’re motivated, you write out little post it notes with words of encouragement, and three weeks later you’re binge watching Netflix while eating a bag of Doritos! Fortunately, there were some pragmatic points I think will stick with me. Here is what I underlined in the book and I hope it blesses you:

“King David learns that prayer is more about “will you? Won’t you?” than “when will you?” pg. 36

“Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length.”pg. 37

“Prayer begins with longing for God’s presence before his provision.” pg. 55

“Peace with God always comes through pardon and forgiveness, never performance.” pg. 58

In the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus is praying and Peter, James and John are with him – “As Jesus brought the so-called strongest with Him, he didn’t share profound words of wisdom. He shared His weakness.” pg 68

“There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself.” pg. 111

This is a short, small and on-point book. I did feel there was a small jab at the founding fathers, but nothing that I couldn’t read over. It was condescending and in bad taste and full of presupposition. Overall, the book was informative and good.

I struggle with prayer. It is my heart’s desire to cultivate prayer in my life. In a way the quote “Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length” freed me of this expectation that the longer the prayer, the holier it is. I am grateful for that quote and I will treasure it. I want to experience God in prayer and rely on Scripture to guide me to know Him more. Mr. Onwuchekwa does well in removing my legalistic approach to prayer. He also emphasizes the importance of communal prayer.

The book served its purpose and I recommend it to all Believers who want to sharpen their prayer life, especially prayer with other Believers.

You can buy the book here.

Do Not Let Satan Use Us

Last night the governor of Kentucky stated that wearing masks is no longer voluntary, but mandatory. As expected, Facebook exploded with blistering comments on both sides. Verses like “consider others more than yourself” and “God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear” were thrown around like cafeteria food during a food fight. It was not pretty and in the end someone has to clean this mess up, and it’ usually is not the ones who were throwing the food around.

Do not get me wrong, using Bible verses is a great way to make a point or to strengthen an argument. But the world is watching us hurt our own. How would things have turned out if two Christians with opposing views had said, “I don’t agree with you on this based on my knowledge of Scripture, let me call you so we can pray together, and so you can better understand me and I you.” or “Let me buy you lunch, I will wear a mask for you.”

I think back to moments where my mind was changed on topics I had held strongly to and I can tell you, it was never changed by Christians ramming down Scripture down the throats of their fellow brethren. It was done by weeping pastors worried for my soul pleading for me to repent – based on Scripture. It was done when a close friend lovingly explained a sovereign God while we sat in her car late one night – based on Scripture. It was done listening to a respectful debate between two Christian brothers who love each other – based on Scripture. It was done listening to someone echo my fears, but still not voting a certain way or taking a certain action – based on Scripture. (And may I briefly add that if you haven’t changed your mind on any subject, you are not a very good listener.)

I have learned that we cannot hear when we are angry. I learned this well with foster children, later with raising teenagers and even my adult child. During a meltdown, my kids don’t hear. They don’t even feel the spankings! Any discipline goes out the window and all they end up feeling is resentment. Also, when my emotions are conflated, I am unreasonable and cannot hear anything either. It is later when I am calm and still that the Spirit stabs me with His Word, that I am able to feel the pain of His rebuke or the rebuke of another Believer.

My dear Christians, if you became angry yesterday and “couldn’t believe how other people behaved” and responded to them, could you humbly go to them and ask them if you were a good Christian witness? To a stronger point, could you look them in the eye and partake of holy communion with them? (I Corinthians 11:29) Could you look into your heart and tell the Lord, I have nothing against my brother, and they have nothing against me? If you can’t, make this right. This is serious (I Corinthians 11:30) and we must be different from the way the world handles disagreements.

Romans 12:13 says: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”

The verse says “as it depends on you”. Don’t wait for the other Believer to make the first move. Don’t brush it off as if it is not a big deal. It is a big deal. A life or death deal.

Why? Because when we are not saved, Satan has us and does what he can to keep us in the darkness, but when we are saved, Satan no longer has us, but can tarnish our witness to keep others in the darkness.

Do not let Satan use you.

If you try to make amends and the other Christian is holding on to their pride, be sorrowful and look back at the verse. It says “if possible”. If it isn’t possible, continue to live your life loving God and loving the saints and then others. Then maybe try again one more time after the election, maybe. 😉

If you didn’t say anything to someone but thought it only – congratulations on showing some self-control, but the feeling to talk to them could be a prompt by the Spirit to come along side them and love on them. Don’t muffle the Spirit, you could be changing their mind soon or they may be on the verge of changing yours!! Or you may not come to an agreement, but at least Satan was denied, God was glorified and this is not a salvific issue. You do know that Christians who wear a mask are still going to Heaven, the same as Christians who don’t?

If an all-knowing, holy God can sit and reason with us feeble minded ignoramuses, (Isaiah 1:18) surely we can reason – one unholy masked ignoramus to another un-masked one! Surely?

Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

This is the second biography that I have read that was written by Eric Metaxas. The first one being on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reading about the life of William Wilberforce has changed me. There is no way it couldn’t. What this man did with the time God gave him on this earth is just short of miraculous. His convictions changed a whole culture and catapulted British society into an age of providing human dignity for the poor, the less fortunate and of course, the slave. There were so many involved in his life-long campaign to end slavery and I hope I get the opportunity to read up on all of them.

Mr. Metaxas has a beautiful way of revealing the intangible life of Wilberforce but at the same time bringing him down to a level where I can almost touch him. It is an encouraging book of a man who just lived out his faith. Like the biography of Hannah More, these Believers just experienced their faith. They were not side liners or bench warmers, they truly believed what God’s Word says and did it. I couldn’t help but think of my life and what exactly am I experiencing in my faith. What kind of Christianity am I living out?

Wilberforce had long walks with God and brought along his Bible to read. He went against British society and regarded all men to be image bearers and worthy of dignity. He went against the mold and fought against animal cruelty. He thought all children – including poor ones – should be educated and taught to read, write and math. He believed that Christianity was not just nominal, but a way of life that transformed character and changed desires. He spoke up for the weak, the oppressed, the voiceless and the destitute. What a man! In his life time he was part of abolishing the slave trade, enacting laws against animal cruelty, and bringing about the emancipation of the slaves. He also endeavored to encourage Christians to act out their faith and brought about reform in this area. He gave a wealth to different charities and ministries. And as his life came close to an end, he only regretted not being able to do more!

I highly recommend this book to all Believers. It is my hope that it encourages you to live your life fully for our Lord. To be anxious for nothing and love those God has placed in your life. To fear nothing, and fight the good fight that is so many times against our selves. To live on purpose and with focus on the Kingdom and His people. I believe I spend too much time scrolling on my phone when there is really so much to do. May God grant me the ability to be aware that my time here is but a vapor, and that I may be His vessel to be used as He wishes!

You can buy the book here.

I am not your redeemer .. .

I was driving back home from Chicago – a 7 hour drive one way. I was deep in thought listening to my audio book when the sudden urge to pee came over me. I looked down to check to see how many miles I had until empty and to my utter horror it was a big fat zero! How long had I been driving like this? Where am I? I have to pee even more now. I had no idea humans could whimper until I heard one coming from my mouth and my nose. Tears welled up from the lack of bladder relief and I was in total despair. I quickly looked up the nearest gas station on Google maps and saw that the closest one was 8 MILES AWAY! I whimpered again. I saw a sign that said Pesotum and I figured it was a tiny town and surely they have a gas station that Google forgot to add. So I exited and hoped to find civilization. I didn’t see a gas station, but I did see a couple outside their home enjoying the soon approaching sunset – which was my doom if I had to walk in the dark to get gas in the cornfields of central Illinois. This is how all murder movies begin! Thankfully this sweet couple had a big dining table for sale in their front yard so I had a perfectly good excuse to peel into their driveway and frantically wave at them as I got out of my minivan. They approached me with reserve because I was a bit jittery due to a full bladder and the non-stop whimpering. With the biggest smile and quavering voice I told them I was on zero on gas and if there was a little gas station near by I could fill up at. She told me there was one about 5 miles from where we were. I told her thanks and I hoped I could make it. I tried to comfort myself saying, well I could use a walk, and cornfields at night aren’t that scary. Right? Oh yes they are!! Darn you, Children Of The Corn, Signs, Freddy vs Jason, A Quiet Place, Sinister, Jeepers Creepers and every other friggin horror movie with a friggin corn field!! And just to top off the scary corn field, Illinois has these massive windmill propellers swinging around. I know they draw attention to all kinds of aliens and monsters and white-haired children who kill for kicks! Thankfully, the man who had been silent this whole time said I was in luck and I need not drive away, run out of gas and pee myself as I was being strung up to be a live scarecrow. He had just filled up his little gas cans and he would put gas in my van. I almost peed for joy. He put gas in my van and then said something very interesting to me.

He apologized to me.

He told me he had not one racist bone in his body. And frankly I believed him, because most people don’t. We have biases, ignorance, stereotypes, but outright racism, no most people don’t. I quickly held up my hand and shook my head stopping him from further apologizing for something he never had done to me and I believe, to anyone else. I was not his Judge or his Redeemer.

As I drove away noticing that I now had 46 miles until empty thanks to my white new friends, I thought a lot, but not too much because I didn’t have the heart to ask them to use their toilet so I got to the nearest gas station and ran – yes ran my jiggly self – to the bathroom. There are few joys in life than peeing in a non-cornfield place, with lighting, and minimal gas station bathroom juice on the floor. After that AND filling up my minivan, I did think a lot about my new friends. We had chatted for about 10 minutes and even took a selfie. I thought about all my closest friends where I live (who just happen to be white). I thought about how they make me laugh. I thought about how we have shared tears, and joys, and even fights. I remembered the strong opinions we have, the hobbies we enjoy, the theological debates we partook in. They are a true joy to have on this earth and I revel in the idea that they are joining me eternally in Heaven – together forever, literally!! And their whiteness or my Mexicaness has NOTHING to do with these moments. We have such strong bonds because of our shared faith. My or their DNA has nothing to do with our friendship, it just adds to the fun!

My gas-giving-new friends – who just happen to be white!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not allow others to apologize for things they did not do. If any sin has ever been committed, it was firstly done to Christ! Sins done in the past by others who are now dead were either paid for on the cross by Jesus or are being paid for right now in hell. And it should stir us to a sense of finality because we cannot do anything about that reality now.

BUT

We are alive now, and many are alive with us who still have a hope. So let us proclaim the Good News to any who will hear us. Let us love all the image bearers that God has placed in our lives! Let us, with a little partiality, love and enjoy Christians a little more because of our shared faith. God only sees one color when He looks at us, and that is red – the color of the blood of His Son. If you’re not stained by His blood, repent and trust in that payment. Believe in Him and you shall be saved. Trust in Him and He will make your path straight. Rely on Him and He will give you peace. Look to Him and this world will grow less interesting. All who are called can come to Him. All who repent and believe. All.

#race #culture #Christian #Redeemer

What side do I take?

Luke 13:1-5 begins with racial tension. It says some people came up to Jesus and told him about an awful murder involving Galileans and Pilate. The Galileans were hated by the Romans, they were even looked down-upon by their own. Remember the phrase “can anything good come from Nazareth? (John 1:46) Guess where Nazareth is located? Yes, Galilee. Then we have the Romans who had been in this area for almost a century. They were the Jew’s oppressors and were understandably hated by them.There is nothing new under the sun, my brothers and sisters. Hatred due to ones ethnic makeup is not new and how Jesus addresses it is very interesting.

So back in Luke 13:1, we do not know who brought this up, but there is an obvious agenda. These people are stirring the pot. Remember, racial tension is high. The Jews want a Messiah who is going to liberate them from Roman oppression. They want a warrior. They are restless and the presence of Roman authority is everywhere. Pilate, their governor, has abused his power and had Galilean Jews murdered presumably in their own synagogue and mixed their blood along with the sacrifice. This was an act against them and God! These men were innocent! They were Jews! Even closer to Jesus heart, they were Galilean! They were just like him! Now what do you have to say Jesus!!

Jesus . doesn’t . even . answer . their. question. He doesn’t even address their issue. He doesn’t go there with them.

Instead, like always, he gets to the root of the issue by asking them a question: “Do you think these Galileans were more sinful because they suffered more than other Galileans?”

What a question! Jesus address their biases AND the true heart of the issue. Jesus DIDN’T ask, “do you think these Galileans were more righteous?” but he asked “do you think they were more sinful.” Why? Because suffering – just like today – was seen as a form of punishment by God. – Remember Job was asked, “what did you do to offend God that you suffer so much (Job 4)?” Same philosophy. – Jesus asks them this to show them that they should be assuming the suffering is coming from sin. They usually would have thought this, but because they have a political agenda, all of a sudden their suffering is because of Pilate, not God. This is called virtue signaling and is usually drenched in hypocrisy, which happens to be one of Jesus’ pet peeves. Jesus shocks them by giving them the benefit of the doubt, which leaves them even more speechless.

Then Jesus answers his own question with a resounding “NO!” and then elaborates with “but unless you repent, you will perish as well.” I believe he let that phrase soak in a little and then continued. He answered “no” because the Galileans were not more sinful. They were not more righteous. Their suffering was not special because they were Galilean, or because they were victims of a race crime. Jesus then continues with a horrible scene that must have just happened and was still on the minds of the people – maybe like the corona virus is with us right now. In verse 4, Jesus mentions that 18 people died when a tower fell on them. Their deaths weren’t any more special than the deaths of the Galileans because He includes them in the same subject and that is that the ONLY tragedy here is not death in and of itself, but the death of someone who doesn’t repent.

Galileans killed by Romans, Romans killed in war, people killed in accidents, black men killed by cops, cops killed by rioters, the elderly dead from covid; and on and on, if they all died without repentance they are in hell. THAT is the tragedy my brothers and sisters. THAT is why Jesus was there talking with these people. THAT is why He came, to bring all who will repent and believe to salvation. Jesus says again in verse 5: “Unless you repent you will all perish as well.” He says this twice!

In Jesus’ way of thinking here there are two kinds of people. Those who perish, and those who do not. Those who believe and those who do not. Those who are saved and those who are not. These are the lenses we should see our world through. When we hear of the deaths of people, our next thought should be “were they saved?” or “Did they know our Lord?” or “Did anyone tell them of the Good News that we who were bound to and deserving of hell have a Savior?” We should mourn our complacency of not sharing this Good News to our lost friends and family and world!

Who cares if they are Galilean! God didn’t when He judged them! They died without knowing Christ. That is what He cared about! THAT is what should stir you to do something!

Can I say something that is probably going to get me into a lot of trouble? Who cares if he’s black? God doesn’t.
Who cares if she’s a woman? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s brown? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s a cop? God doesn’t
Who cares if she’s poor? God doesn’t.
What God says is that unless they repent, they too will perish! THAT’S IT! There is nothing about our DNA, social status or upbringing that God cares about when it comes to our judgement! We are without excuse and we will die UNLESS we are covered and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ! And it worries me that the church has been baited into this racial narrative. Jesus wasn’t. He went to the core of the issue as we should also.

From now on, when there is tragedy and death, I pray my mind will go to the heart of the issue and think “I too will perish, unless I repent.” Bad things happen all the time. Jesus describes this in passing in this text. It should remind us that we too will die and that people regardless of race or social statuses are dying everyday without knowing Him. I will not take sides in racial issues, because Jesus didn’t. I am on His side, and will live out my life professing the Gospel to all who will hear me.

#race #racialtension #jesus #perish #gospel

Hanna More – I love you!

Opie, John, 1761-1807; Hannah More

I remember her name vaguely. She was somebody important during the time when William Wilberforce was fighting for the abolition of the slave trade. That is all I knew of her and I wanted to know more. I help manage a crisis pregnancy clinic, and it is my belief that abortion doctors and clinics are our modern day slaver traders. The people affected by slavery were voiceless, abused, powerless and mistreated. They were seen as less than human and their dignity was not a God-given right, but one exploited by shameless people. The life of a slave was based on the convenience it brought, never on their potential or individuality. They were just hunks of flesh to be used at the pleasure of others and it was wrong. It was Christian abolitionist who lead the charge for the slaves’ freedom and their persistence and passion is admirable. I know that the  more I read on these abolitionists, the more I can learn about leading a cause now to end the murder of those who are also voiceless, powerless and mistreated. I too want to be an abolitionist.

Goodreads recommended this book to me. Oh, I love Goodreads, and if you don’t have it and are an avid reader, get it. The book I read is called Fierce Convictions and it is written by Karen Swallow Prior.

     Christianity in England during the 1700’s was a lot like it is now is the United States, it was nominal. Everyone was a Christian, and so was Hannah. It wasn’t until later in her life that she realized she had to experience her Christianity, in other words, she had to live out her faith, and when she decided to just do that, her actions and obedienced changed the world.
     Hannah More is known for not only being a slave abolitionist. She was also a writer and poet and she, along with her sisters helped cultivate a society that saw the importance in educating all children regardless of social status. Schools were not free then, and she helped champion the cause to teach all children mathematics, geography, reading and writing. Many of her contemporaries looked down on this because they saw no use in educating the poor. I was delightfully surprised also that she was so progressive that she even advocated against animal cruelty. She, along with William Wilberforce, help set up laws that made it against the law to abuse animals. She makes a great point on treating all life with dignity, including animals, the poor and slaves. These social stands were extremely liberal at the time. She made it clear in the tracts she distributed to be “religiously and politically conservative, but socially liberal.” Besides all these extraordinary causes for her time, she also believed that women should not focus so much on dainty hobbies that were done just to pass the time, but actual rigorous learning!  This is what Prior wrote:
           More argued for a rigorous education for women. One that would illicit truth,                          foster precision in thinking and cultivate an exact mind. Female education                      should bring the imagination under dominion and lead women to think, to compare,                        to combine, to methodize. It should confer such a power of discrimination                                 that the student shall learn to reject what was dazzling if it be not solid,                                      and to prefer not what is striking or bright or new, but what is just.

     More also saw the importance of mixing social inequalities with politics. Her and William Wilberforce – a member of parliament – became very close friends. Wilberforce treated her as an equal and many times they spent hours conversing about political and social matters. Wilberforce wrote to her saying: “That in parlimentary measures of importance more is to be done out of the house than in it. In other words, changing the minds of parliament would require changing the mind of the nation.” What true words!
More used her writing and social skills to help others see the sheer inhumanity of the slave trade. Wilberforce used his eloquence in speaking to help his peers to see and then vote his way. Both forces, united, as one is what changed their country for the better.

I read about these two pillars of our faith and tried to learn from them. They were extraordinary Christians that changed their world through media (newspapers, books, tracts, pamphlets, drawings) and politics (voting, town hall meetings, friends in parliament, law making). A lot of times, I want to move away from politics. I want to just live my little Christian life and leave to Ceasar what is his. But like 1700’s Britain had some atrocious laws, so does the present United States. And unlike Hannah, I can vote for these changes, not just speak about them. I want to type out a testimony of a witness that was taken to a slaver traders post. This testimony was given in parliament in 1790 for the abolition of the slave trade. Here it is:
“The witness was taken to a small gathering of slave traders about to put an infant to death. I asked him why they were murdering it, and they answered ‘Because it was of no value.’ I told them, ‘if that’s the case, I hope they made me a present of it.’ They answered that if I had any use for the child then it was worth money. I first offered them some knives, but that would not do. They however sold the child to me for a mug of brandy. It proved to be that of a woman whom the captain of our ship had purchased that very morning. We carried it on board and judged of the mother’s joy when she saw her own child put on board the same ship – her child, whom she concluded was murdered. She fell on her knees and kissed my feet.”

The words “because it was of no value” rung in my head. I stopped what I was doing and just repeated those words in my mind. What is the value of a “useless” infant? Unfortunately, in our society, the answer is relative if the baby happens to be in utero. Foster kids, orphans, babies born alive after a botched abortion, poor kids, don’t we all put a value on them. Some maybe worth more than others? Put action to your passion, don’t just let it fester and dissipate.

atrocious deeds should never be called by gentle names

I admire Hannah More, she never stopped using her God-given talents to bring about justice and kindness to those who bore God’s image. She says this: “It is part of Christianity to convert every natural talent to a religious use.” This is so true. What are your talents, and are you using those talents to glorify your Savior by beings His hands and feet here on earth? Read Matthew 25.

     Hannah More died an old lady with hands upraised to her Lord. She wrote 11 books after the age of 60 and three weeks before her death, the slave trade was abolished! There is much for us to do in our world and it is time that we move from the sidelines and experience our Christianity.

She is grounded in the Bible. She is no clamorous beggar for extortent alms of admiration. She lives on her own stock. She does not wait for the opinion of the world to know she is right, nor the applause of the wor

I recommend Fierce Convictions to all Christians, especially women. Stop reading those darn Amish romances and get into these kinds of books. You can buy the book here. I listened to this book on audible, and you can get that here.

#life #abolition #hannahmore #dosomething #experiencechristianity