A Conscious Approach for Spiritual Growth in 2019

A New Year🎄 Is Upon Us

Today marks the second day of a new year. 2018 with all its successes and frustrations is past gone. And there’s no looking back. Only to learn from its lessons, but nothing more. A new year and its possibilities is upon us and we’re up for a ride.

Thinking about the year ahead, I started wondering about what I wanted for 2019.

And spiritually, I want to grow more.

2018 was “OK” spiritually talking. I memorized a couple of verses(that in this moment I can’t remember…maybe one). Suffice it to say 2018 was more more “meh” than “yay!”.

But I want more “yay!”. I read about the lives of Paul, David and Elijah, just to name a few and I long to have such a deep faith and trust in God.

So I want to grow more.

I want to deepen my knowledge of God. I want to have a vibrant faith. I want to revitalize my prayer life.

I must confess my prayer life is dry. It has been bothering me for a while. The vibrancy of our prayer life shows the vitality of our faith, so if this is so, then my faith looks more like a flat line.

Image result for flat line


What I Decided To Do

So I decided to concentrate on two things:

  1. Memorize the 100 Bible verses from the book “100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know”.

2. Follow the four practical changes Tim Keller made that revitalized his prayer life:

  • Take several months to go through the Psalms
  • Put in time of meditation as a transitional discipline between my Bible reading and my time of prayer.
  • Pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning.
  • Pray with more expectation.

These will the core and emphasis for my plan, but additionally, I plan to do some others things although on a more low-key level, more like an add-on:

3. Read a Systematic Theology book in its entirety(yes, they are usually 500+ pages, so I’ve been dreading to do this.) My options are:

  • Louis Berkhof’s “Systematic Theology”
  • Michael Horton’s “The Christian Faith”
  • John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion”
  • Francis Turretin’s “Institutes of Elenctic Theology”

4. Read more theology books. I decided to start the year with the following:

  • “Prayer” by Tim Keller
  • “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer
  • “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul
  • “The Bondage of the Will” by Martin Luther


Reasons Why I Decided To Do This

My outcome is to grow spiritually and by memorizing Bible verses I would fill my mind with the Word, and I can’t see anything else that would nourish my faith more.

And by going through the greatest book on prayer, namely the Psalms, and understanding that Christ is at its core, and going through the ups and down of those who wrote them, I believe my soul and faith will greatly benefit.

By putting in time to meditate on what I read before praying, I’m leaving space to really take in what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me.

By praying morning and evening rather than only in the morning I will have more time with the Lord, dedicate more time for worship, and reap the infinite benefits of prayer.

By praying with more expectation I will exercise the muscle of faith by relying on His promises.


I am excited about this experiment and I am definitively looking forward to know more about God and to develop, strengthen, and revitalize my prayer life!

Our Identity in Christ


Recently I had an interesting conversation with a very good friend about our identity in Christ.

She was telling me she had purposed this year to focus and study in depth the issue of our identity in Christ because she wanted to grow in the knowledge of who she was in Christ and thus grow and deepen her relationship with Him.

That made me think.

It made me ask myself about my own identity(thank God for good friendships that stimulate good conversations!). She made made me wonder if I really understood the depth of what my identity in Christ meant.

I asked myself: Who am I?

Am I my name? My reputation? My material possessions? What identifies me? What gives me worth?, I kept asking myself.


Trusting the Lord



Such a short yet challenging word.

I’ve been convicted lately of my lack of trust. I’ve noticed my mouth tends to shout, “I trust you”, while my heart stays silent. It’s easy to fall prey of merely vocalizing trust in God while not really internalizing that trust and depending on God. Theoretical trust is merely a posture of the mind whereas practical trust is the humble bowing of the heart. And there’s no real trust unless it is one that harmoniously embraces both mind and heart.

There could be many reasons for why we may be lacking trust and for our faith being more of a superficial external display of spirituality than a solid anchoring of our hearts to God’s love.


The God of Mountain Tops and Valleys


Only three things are guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and tough times. Nothing else is certain in our life time. Anything that lives will die, anything that has the ability to reason will pay taxes, and every human person will experience trials and tribulations. Life is a roller-coaster. As humans we go through cycles, and it’s easy to get discouraged.

We all have our ups and downs. We all have our happy moments and our hurting moments. But why is this? Why is happiness such a fleeting moment; why is it just that—a flickering light?

I’ve come to ask myself this question many times over. I see people getting happy because they won the lottery, because that girl they asked out said yes, because the bank approved the mortgage for that house, because the wife is pregnant with their first kid. They’re excited. Almost bursting at the seams. They can’t contain themselves. Their smile stretches from ear to ear. They are happy.

But you see, the word happy and the word happen come from the same root hap, which means “an occurrence, happening, or accident”. It’s no wonder a known synonym for hap is happenstance which is nothing more than the word happen+( circum )stance.

So happiness is circumstance-driven. You only become happy when something happens to you. Happiness is only caused by an external factor. Your emotions swing to and fro manipulated by the circumstances that happen to you. Circumstances have unashamedly made a slave of you.

That’s why some people commit suicide when they lose all the lottery money they had won, get depressed when that girl they asked out dumps them, feel their world crumbling down when the house they bought is now on foreclosure, or feel hopeless because the pregnant wife just lost the baby. They were originally ecstatic and happy but now they feel paralyzed and beaten by these new developments that obviously have affected their lives.

I don’t mean to diminish their hurt. Things that are outside of our control do happen. Their hurt is real. Your hurt is real. My hurt is real.

So how does our faith play into helping us during these tough times?

Well, let’s consider now the word joy. Joyfulness means just that: joy+fulness, namely, being full of joy. Joyfulness it’s a state, it’s not based on circumstances. Joy cannot be swayed by external factors. It’s possible to be sad and crying and still be joyful inside.

But where does that joy come from? What is the source of this state of being? What fills our hearts with hope and joy in the midst of suffering, crumbling relationships, death in the family, having no shelter nor clothes nor food or being unjustly incarcerated?

Remember we were talking about ups and downs? Well, the joy comes from remembering during our ups that our God is the God of the mountain tops and, during our downs, remembering that our God is the God of the valleys.

Everybody feels good when in their ups. We feel invincible, ecstatic, and larger-than-life. But during our downs the only thing we have left is to say, “Lord, help me”.

And that’s how our faith helps us during our tough times. God, the creator of the universe, always hears the prayers of those who love Him, and because He loves us unconditionally, there’s no need to masquerade before the throne of God. There are no “ifs” and “buts” with Him, there’s only unconditional one-way love.

In this conditional world where we are easily rejected for our weaknesses and failures, or are accepted only if you’re rich, beautiful, skinny, or have the right friends, we can rest in the fact that we’re accepted by Him when we’re unacceptable, and forever loved when we are unlovable.

Jon Foreman’s Amazing Response


Thought of sharing Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman’s response when asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. As the original author of the blog where I found this post remarked, “his response is worth pondering.” I couldn’t agree more with both Jon Foreman’s response, as well as with the blog post author’s comment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.

I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.

We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”

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Shadows of Death

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Psa. 23:4

I recently was reading Psalm 23, and while I was reading this verse I remember stopping cold after reading the phrase “valley of the shadow of death”. It struck me odd. I remember asking myself, “why did the author write “valley of the shadow of death”, instead of “valley of death”? Why use shadow in there? Why this adjective? I believe the Bible doesn’t add words for the sake of adding words, but that every word in it has a purpose, a meaning, a message to relay.

I started to think about it. Why the word “shadow”? What’s the idea behind this word? Well, this word has many meanings depending on the context and what you’re talking about, but based on the context we read in this Psalm, I believe it means a faint indication of something, a foreshadowing. We can see this idea behind Plato’s allegory of the cave.

In Plato’s allegory, he describes a group of people who for all their lives have been chained to the wall inside a cave facing a blank wall. Inside this cave, the people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and they begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He explains how the shadows on the wall do not make reality at all but are just mere shadows of the true form of reality.

I believe the author uses this idea of shadows to convey the message that whatever we encounter in this valley is just a shadow of the true form of death. But not death itself.

Through this text the author reminded me of a couple of things. First of all, that these shadows of death, namely afflictions, are only temporary. He talks about the “shadow” of death, not death itself. So God is talking through the author telling us that whatever we endure in this life is nothing but a shadow, is temporary, it doesn’t last forever. That relieves me. That strengthens me. Life is but a dream, a blink of an eye. We die and only then starts real life. Life for all eternity. So we can rest knowing that whatever the tribulation we are going through, whatever is bringing you down, is nothing but only temporary. It won’t last forever.

But wait, there’s more. I haven’t gotten to the best part, the meat and good news of this verse.

This shadow of death is nothing but a shadow of the true form of death, the second death, namely eternal condemnation. And this is what we deserved and were bound to: Death.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because wall sinned.” Rom. 4:12

“For the wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23a

The foreshadowing in this verse points to Jesus’ work for us. The reason why the author describes the “death” we would find in this valley as a shadow is because Christ has already conquered death for us and now we are alive in Him! And how do we know this? Because He died in the cross for us? Yes, that’s true. But that’s not the whole story. Sometimes we get caught up only in His death. But the way He conquered death was by His resurrection!!! As Paul says, if He wasn’t resurrected then our hope is in vain! But He was! So our hope is not in vain and now in Him we’re alive and won’t find the true form of death in the valleys of affliction and tribulation in this life, but only temporary suffering, only shadows of death!

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” 1 Cor. 15:20-21

“But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23b

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men.” Rom. 4:18 [ Emphasis added ]

Because Jesus died for our sins, and because He conquered death and we’re now alive in Christ, and because He first loved us and gave us life when we were dead in our trespasses and we weren’t able to ever save ourselves, and because we get this life and gift for FREE, we humbly only get to say: THANK YOU, OH LORD, FOR YOUR GRACE AND MERCY.

O Death, where is your sting?

A Gift Undeserved

gift undeserved

The following is an excerpt of a sermon Dr. Rod Rosenbladt once gave entitled, “Gift?”, in which he utilized a simple discussion between a sinner and God as a literary device to reveal exactly how much desire for God there is in the sinner’s heart. That is: none.

You can read the entire sermon at New Reformation Press.


God: I told you. I hate religion. Religion was your idea – not Mine. You have forgotten what Anselm said: “You have not yet considered the depth of your sin.”
Sinner: But I want to show you I have. I really have. I know it is really deep. Talk to me. Teach me sanctification.
God: I told you. You aren’t ready for sanctification yet. You just imagine that you are ready. You are arrogant and you don’t know it.
Sinner: What do you mean? I am ready.
God: You are not. If you were, you wouldn’t be talking like you are talking.
Sinner: Well, what then?
God: Just sit there. Sit there for a long while.
Sinner: And do what?
God: Consider the shed blood. Consider that the blood was enough. Think about the fact that it isn’t your repenting that has saved you. Think about the fact that it isn’t your faith that is saving you.
Sinner: Can’t I just, as you said, just think about my sin and the depth of it?
God: That is a start. But you like doing that. You like it too much.
Sinner: This makes no sense. What are you saying?
God: I am saying that you like atoning for yourself by feeling guilty. And you like atoning for yourself by thinking about your faith.
Sinner: Well, what else is there?
God: There is Jesus Christ – but you don’t consider Him. You are not used to gifts. You don’t think much about them. Gifts make you nervous and tense. You don’t know what to do, so you jump to trying to impress Me. I am not impressible.

They Can’t Take Away Anything For We Already Have Everything

The following is a dialogue between John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) and the empress Eudoxia that took place when Chrysostom was brought before her and was threatened with banishment from the kingdom if he insisted on his Christian independence as a preacher.

It goes as follows:

[…after being threatened with banishment from the kingdom…]

“You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will kill you,” said the empress.

“No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said John.

“I will take away your treasures.”

“No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”

“No, you cannot, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”

You see, Chrysostom had a clear sight. A clear understanding of both worlds, the spiritual as well as the physical. His view wasn’t blurred nor tainted by shiny yet meaningless objects, beautiful yet shallow women, enticing yet empty promises of money, fame or any other thing this world tells you are the main goals in life.

If this conversation between Chrysostom and the empress Eudoxia would’ve been a sight/vision exam, God, being the ultimate Optometrist, would’ve graded Chrysostom with a sight better than 20/20. He had no spiritual myopia. He had no metaphysical Uveitis. He had his sight set on things above, as Colossians 3:2 recommends for our own sake. He saw the world from a different frame of glasses that sharply contrasts this world’s hedonistic, narcissistic, and selfish spirit.

This world highly touts material things as if it were the final purpose and only end in life to accumulate as much of it as you can. By doing so, they are unknowingly expressing their existential void by trying to fill it with external decaying things you can’t carry with you in the coffin. You could be placed inside a golden coffin wrapped in diamonds but it’s still a coffin. You are as dead as the guy next door inside a coffin made with the cheapest wood available or as the guy being carried away by the cops in a plastic bag.

The models this world displays are nothing more than empty black holes of quiet desperation. They might grin, smile and project that “I love my life-I have everything under control” smile, but their constant consumerism and constant displays of what they own, bought or are about to buy, is nothing more than a broad display and living proof of their insecurity. A perfect example of this would be all the rappers that always talk about the same things: money, women, drugs, alcohol, cars, you name it.

You see, they have plenty of money but lack character, their bank accounts are  full but they’re empty inside, they are at the top of the world but are low in God’s eyes, they drive fast cars but are the slowest to show real love and sacrifice, they seem strong and untouchable but are weak in faith. They worship the things created and not the Creator.

As Tullian Tchividjian said in his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything while commenting on Colossians 3:12,

The Father. . . has qualified you [past tense; it’s finished] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us [past tense again; the deliverance is completed] from the domain of darkness and transferred us [past tense once more:the transferal is already concluded] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have [present tense; this very moment we possess it] redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

Chrysostom understood the concept of, and lived his life under the banner of, “the glorious exchange’, namely, that “on the cross, Jesus took upon himself our sin—our corrupt, fatal nothingness—then placed upon us his righteousness, his everythingness“, according to Tullian.

Now everything we need we have in Christ. No fast car, mind-blowing beautiful woman, the biggest mansion or castle on earth, no golden object you acquire, no amount of money, can ever measure up to the everythingness we have in Christ. Chrysostom knew this and that’s why he didn’t feel threatened by their removing of these earthly pleasures or his life. He knew that he had even more than he needed in Christ, and no material nor physical object would ever fill him as Christ fills us.

No matter what beauty your eyes have beheld, no matter how impressive the sounds of nature might be, no matter what earthly object has captured your fascination, no matter what pleasurable image has your mind so far conceived,  it is promised to us that heaven will be by far an infinitely more heightened experience in every way, shape and manner possible, than that which we have so far experienced and will ever have in this life.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

So why settle for less? Why settle for menial things that decay and wither like flowers without water when we have more than we need in Christ, the author of salvation, our hope,  and the Water of Life?

The Hound of Heaven

Having lately, for the past 10 or so months, been really gripped by the Grace ( = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense) of God, I found Francis Thompson’s poem, and story as well, really interesting as it doesn’t fall short of describing and equally resembling in my life how by God’s grace He searched for me while I complacently hid in every dark alley where I unashamedly entertained petty idols in my heart that forever fall short of, at the very least, any one of the attributes of God, not to say infinitely falling short to God himself, and whose provisions and comforts are, not only non-existent, but undeniably not even deemed worthy of ever being compared to God’s love, forgiveness and amazing and scandalous GRACE.

His Life

Francis Thompson was an English poet who after first trying to become a priest and afterwards attending college to study medicine (although he never practiced medicine, took no real interest in his studies and probably only did it because his father was a doctor) later moved to London with dreams of becoming a writer. While in London, he was engaged in menial work selling matches and newspapers for a living, and started living on the streets of London and sleeping by the River Thames with the homeless and addicts. It was during this time when after developing neuralgia, to relieve the acute pain of this condition he first took laudanum, a concoction of opium and ethanol, as medicine for his ill health and became addicted to opium.

Homeless he was, but a genius nonetheless. He never stopped writing. He was so poverty-stricken he had to borrow paper on which to write his poems. Even as a homeless he would apply for Oxford University, and although he was more than qualified, he was turned down only because of his drug addiction. He would oftentimes pick up newspapers and send the editor letters. The editors would reply saying, “There is a genius greater than Milton among us.” Yes. THAT Milton. That great and beloved poet John Milton, author of the incredible masterpiece and epic poem “Paradise Lost”. Whenever he would write them these letters, the newspaper wanted to contact him, but Thompson, being homeless, would leave no return address and the newspaper couldn’t get a hold of him.

Thompson was unknown for about four years, from 1885 when he first arrived to London until 1888 when he then was ‘discovered’ by the editors of Merrie England, which after him sending poetry to their magazine and them recognizing the value of his work, sought him out and rescued him from homelessness and from the verge of starvation and self-destruction. The couple, Wilfrid and Alice Meynell, gave him a home and arranged for publication of his first book Poems in 1893. The book was later well received by critics.

He subsequently lived as an invalid and at his lowest point in life attempted suicide but was saved from completing the action by a vision.

After much fighting his drug habit, he later died of tuberculosis at the age of 48.

G. K. Chesterton, one of my favorite writers, said shortly after Thompson’s death, “With Francis Thompson we lost the greatest poetic energy since Browning.” J.R.R Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and another one of his devotees, said that he was an important influence on his own writing.

The Hound of Heaven, his most famous poem, is about man running from God in order to maintain the pleasures of his dissolute life and God’s pursuit of the human soul.  Thompson, being the real-life counterpart to the poem’s speaker, was in awe of God’s grace after noticing how, as he had run from God by pursuing the groggy pleasures of his opium habit, God’s relentless pursuit of him saw no end. He finally understood that while our sin reaches far, God’s GRACE reaches farther. –

The Hound of Heaven
By Francis Thompson (1859–1907)

I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside).
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
‘Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured daïs,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet—
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me!’
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must—
Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

“The Fellowship Of The Unashamed”

“I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

I have the Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.

I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear for “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..”(Romans 1:16)”

– Dr. Bob Moorehead

Amazing. Powerful. Just two of the possibly many reasons why I love this poem.

A Change In The Law

Reading through the book of Hebrews, I found interesting the whole Old Covenant vs New Covenant discussion of the yet-to-be-known author of this book.  I, at the same time, noticed I had a lack of  a deep understanding of the intricacies of the Old Covenant and what the New Covenant meant in relation to the old one.  Hence this post.

A covenant is an agreement between two people with conditions to which both agreed. Such an agreement, known as the Old Covenant, was given to Israel in Mt. Sinai right after they had been delivered from the opressive hand of Egypt. Before handing them the Ten Commandments, you see God in Exodus 19:4-6 , especifically in v.5, propositioning the covenant to the people of Israel through Moses, telling them, “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

After God had proposed this covenant to Moses, Moses came down from the mountain and presented it to the leaders and elders of Israel. And what was their response?  “The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said.’ So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.”(Ex. 19:8) Following Israel’s promise to abide by this covenant proposed by God, the Ten Commandments were given to them. These were the central basis for all other instructions for Israel, found in the first five books of the Bible, that pertained to the covenant already made to God.The Law was given because of the transgressions of the people(Gal. 3:19).  It was never intended to save people, but to keep them in line, mirror-reflect their transgressions and show the need for a Savior.

But the question is: Why? Why the need for a change in the law? Because the Law of Moses was powerless to make those who were under it perfect. The law itself was “holy righteous and good” according to Paul in Romans 7:12, but at the same time he called it “weak and useless”(v.18) in that it couldn’t produce holiness, righteousness or goodness in him. Are you among those who say you’re going to heaven because you’re a good person, live a relatively moral and ethical life? Then you’re living “under the law”, also called “legalism”. The only thing acceptable to God would be absolutely perfect adherence and obedience to God’s Word. And as you may already know, and probably tried, this is impossible. Every human weakness is therefore exposed by the law without the law being able to add any goodness.

Was there anything wrong with the Old Covenant then? Well, the Old Covenant itself was a good covenant as well as the law on which it was based. So what was the problem? The problem lied in one side of the parties involved in the covenant: the people of Israel. They weren’t able to live up to it. That’s where the wondrous love of God shines the brightly, that’s where His amazing grace rises up from the most distant horizon lighting up the whole world, that’s where His immeasurable ocean of mercy is poured unto us. A New Covenant was prophesied by Jeremiah(Jeremiah 31:31-34) and brought into effect by Jesus Christ. We were in need of a higher priest to intercede for us before God. A perfect one. One that didn’t have to first make sacrifices for his own sin as the Levitical priests did. That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus was “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted, above the heavens”(Heb. 7:26) One that would intercede for us, uninterrupted by death like in the Levitical priesthood’s case where all died, but Jesus lives forever as it’s shown in Psalm 110:4, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: `You’re a priest forever.`”

As we have said already, a covenant is an agreement between two people with conditions to which both agreed. You can see this happening in the Old Covenant in Exodus 24:1-8. The greek word used in Hebrews 8 however, is normally used for “will”, which is not put into force until the death of the testator, or person who made the will. This is one of the features of the “New Covenant”. This is one of the features that makes it new. In the case of the New Covenant it was not a bilateral agreement, like in the case of the Old Covenant, but a unilateral—it only depended on God and not on man’s ability to keep it.

Whereas the Old Covenant was written in stones, the New Covenant indicated the law of God was to be a written in our hearts. The Mosaic Law too urged the believers to write these laws in their hearts(Deut. 6:6-7) but the New Covenant would assure that this was actually accomplished. The New Covenant also now allows us to have a relationship with God. With the forgiveness of our sins our relationship with God is restored. He delivered us forgiveness for all the ways we displease Him.

In the Old Covenant as well, the priests and worshipers had to be sprinkled repeatedly with specific animal blood(Heb. 9:13) This signified this animal blood didn’t truly remove sin. These sacrifices of animals were only a symbolism of what had to take place on a larger and more perfect scale when Jesus would come and die on the cross and pay for our sins. The use of blood in the sacrificial proceedings were necessary as evidence of the substitution of one life for another. The sins of the Old Testament people were forgiven on the basis of God’s future promised action in sending Christ to die in the place of sinners. The Old Testament never suggested the actual blood of the animals would take away sins(Heb. 10:3) But Christ’s blood was only shed once and atoned for our sins once and forever.  When those confessing sin believed in God’s promises and faithfulness, then God granted forgiveness.

Another difference from the Old Covenant is that the Levitical priesthood, the lineage of priests assigned by God which sole job was to present sacrifices before Him for the sins of the people, had been unable to establish the perfection the people needed if they were to stand before God, hence the need for a greater priesthood. Nobody could enter the Most Holy Place but them. We see an example of this when King Uzziah attempted to offer incense to the Lord by entering the temple where only the priest were allowed to go and God judged him by afflicting him with leprosy(2 Chronicles 26:16-23)   You either had to be suicidal or plain crazy to go in thinking you could come out unscathed. With the New Covenant everyone would have an intimate and personal knowledge of God, even the Gentiles(Old Covenant was only for the Jews). We are now free to come before Him anytime we want and approach Him in the name of Jesus Christ, for Jesus is to His right hand interceding for us. That’s why at the exact moment Jesus died at the cross the curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple was torn, signifying that we now had full access to God through the work of Jesus. No more would the knowledge of God be confined to a privileged few(i.e, priests and prophets).

What then do we learn from all of this? To deposit one’s full faith in Jesus. Forget ceremonies, only aiming for “good morals”, patterns of religion, spiritual practice or self-confidence as means to attain God. God is already attained. Not by our own strength or will, but only because He first came to us. There is no way on earth(or heaven for that matter) that we would’ve been able to get close to God, pay for our sins or develop a relationship with Him by our own strength.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:19-22)

Reliability And Veracity Of The Bible(Intro)

In this relativistic society, where our beliefs and worldviews are made as truthful as anyone else’s, there is a question that begs to be asked: Is truth something that we have the right to make up according to our likings or is there an objective standard of truth? We are living at a time where humanistic thinking is coming to its natural conclusions in morals, education and law. We can see proof of this in the output of the decline in morals. Crime is rampant everywhere around us. Atrocities are everyday broadcasted through the tube. Newspapers are inked with negative headlines of ponzi schemes and different manifestations of greed.  And we could go on and on until the end of time. If all this were not true the police department would be out of a job by now.

In midst of these economic downturns, more pronounced in Europe these last months, while reading on the necessary actions that these countries need to take to cut their federal deficits and overall debts, I started thinking on how much money would these countries, and any country for that matter, would save if they eliminated agencies and departments like police enforcement, jails, courts, etc. They only exist to maintain order. But why the need for order? Because without order dreams wouldn’t be achievable. Without dreams there wouldn’t be any ideas. Without ideas you would have no businesses. Without businesses you would have no economy. Without an economy you would have no society. And without a society you would have no civilization. Even under such an utilitarian thinking and selfish capitalistic reasons there is a need for order.

But I would dig deeper than such superficial and aesthetic needs.  You see, if these countries that are both in a desperate need of a vast amount of cash infusion and an all-around cost cutting and debt-eliminating spree, would close these programs, agencies and departments they would certainly and literally save billions and billions not only immediately, but throughout the long years to come too. You might be thinking, “That’s kind of far-fetched, don’t you think? To shut down much needed agencies and departments like police enforcement? That’s highly improbable, impossible and, quite frankly just by entertaining the thought, not far from lunatic and borderline dementia.” And I would totally agree with you. That’s why my thinking was more of a lament than an advocation for these changes. Not because I’m someone to easily be discouraged by other’s opinions but more because I know the root of the indelible problem: the irreversible corruption of man.

After my thoughts later swerved into other consequences of man’s corruption besides the necessity for order, peace and justice by ways of different laws, I started to think why is it that man continues on its own course? Why is it that man has declined God’s invitation to redemption? Why is it that man has rejected God’s law? Even at the consequence of losing his soul and life and at the peril of not only being forever banned from an eternal communion with his Creator in paradise but of being as well eternally doomed and cast into the lake of fire at the final judgement? Why man doesn’t believe what the Bible says?

And then it hit me: They don’t because they don’t believe the Bible is true. Why would you base your whole worldview on something you think is not true? Why would you obey what the Bible says if you don’t think it’s authentic and it’s not really what it claims to be, the Word of God?

Then it hit me again: Are there credible reasons to believe that we hold God’s revelation to us in our hands? If I truly believe Christianity does, then I needed to go back to the basics and ask one of the most fundamental questions any human being could ask, “Has God spoken?”, and share with these people the evidence that supports what the Bible claims.

But now you’re probably thinking, “Aha! There’s a logical fallacy in what you have said! There is an inconsistency that prevents me from even letting me be open to whatever you have to say to me!“, by now I would ask you what that is and you’d respond something like, “you said “the irreversible corruption of man”. If it’s irreversible, why on earth would I apply myself to read about the Bible or some evidence, or for that matter believe in God’s word if the state of man is irreversible and it’ll never change no matter what?“, and by now you’d hear a clap clap sound coming from my hands as I tell you that you have made a very good question. The state of man is irreversible. He’s corrupted and will continue to sin even after being saved. But that’s the beauty of it. Jesus changes our attitudes and hearts towards righteousness, goodness and more aligned to His perfect will, and He has already paid for all our sins and all our corruption. He now stands next to the Father interceding on our behalf for when we sin and ask for forgiveness.  We’ll continue in our weak and corrupted human form until we are in heaven in a glorified, non-corrupted and perfect state.

So, is there a faith that is tied to facts? I’m going to do my best to guide you through the evidence.

Decision vs. Action

Today I read something that really caught my eye, thus this post. I was reading Acts 3 and I read something that, I believe, taught me something valuable and extremely important for our spiritual and even secular lives.

Here’s what it said:

 “And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.” (Acts 3:12-13. Emphasis added)

Now, the context of this particular story doesn’t have anything to do with (more…)

The Awe Factor Of God

Here’s a video that, if it has the same effect on you that it had on me, will leave you in awe. I always knew the universe was big, who doesn’t, but this video really reminded me that we are only a speck in this ever-expanding universe that we live in.  In our everyday horizontal gaze in which (more…)

The Great Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Greg Bahnsen vs Dr. Gordon Stein(Excerpt)

“If there are no laws of morality, I’d just take out a gun right now and say, ” OK, Dr. Stein, make my day: is there a God or not”. You see, if he says, “Oh no, you can’t murder me because there are laws of morality,” of course he has made my day, because I’ve won the debate. That shows that the atheist’s universe is not correct. But if he says “Oh no, there are no absolute standards; it’s all by convention and stipulation,” then I just pull the trigger and I win the debate anyway.”

America’s legislative and judicial branches are based on moral laws, not to mention any other government that has similar laws. If you don’t believe me, go to your nearest bank, draw out any old gun you might have lying around, point directly to the cashier’s face and, with a demeaning look, politely yet assuredly ask her to empty all the money in the register and to open the vault, then just wait. (more…)

Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician and founder of probability theory, was a gambler before he became a devout christian. He worked out a way of determining the monetary value of a gamble based on probabilities. He claimed that deciding whether to believe in God is like a gamble. (more…)

Our Natural Tendency To Skepticism

In John 16:5-16 Jesus talks to his disciples about future matters and does so speaking figuratively, by the use of figures of speech. After he was done talking, his disciples didn’t understand what he meant when He said “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”, and other things He had said, to which they kept asking between themselves what this could possibly mean. (more…)

Against All Hope

***Spoiler alert: This post is in spanish, sorry for the inconvenience to any. The people I originally intended to share it with were spanish speaking. I might later translate.

Romans 4:18-21

“18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (more…)