September 29, 2012

Letters from my Compassion Children

Blog month is coming to an end at Compassion International and we've been asked to write a poem or letter from the point of view of a sponsored child. I've been putting this off because, well...I'm just not the greatest writer. (I'll leave that to the professionals) : )

So instead I thought I'd share some real letters from my sponsored children, whose letters have blessed me tremendously.


Both my sponsored children are from Columbia. Juan is now 17 years old and Hilary is now 10 years old.

A letter from Hilary:

Dear Mrs. Cathy

I greet you in our God's and Savior's love. I want to tell you that I am grateful for all the love, affection and appreciation you give me through the project. There I feel well with my tutors and mates. I would like to ask you; how was your Christmas? Where did you go? I had a very good time with my family. We made trips with them, we went shopping and had great fun. I also want to give you a Bible text: Don't say, 'I will get even for this wrong.' Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Proverbs 20:22. I ask you to pray for me. I will be praying for you. I say good-bye with love and kisses,

Hilary


A letter from Juan:

Dear Mrs. Cathy

I greet you in the Lord Jesus, hoping you and your family are in good health. How are you spending the vacations in July? In the project we are taking part in the soccer Olympiads, and I hope to win this year. What grade in school are your children doing? Here in the project we pray for all the sponsors who support us. My dad has been a bit sick lately; his pressure goes down and he has to be hospitalized. He also continues with sugar problems. Please pray for God to heal him and help him find a job. My sister Keyla plans to continue her studies; she wants to be a nurse because she likes taking care of people in need. Mom feels proud of us because we want to move forward and get ready for life. We have learnt most of this in the program; being here is such a huge blessing to me, and I owe it to you. You have supported me so I can be here. Give my regards to your children, and many hugs to you all. With affection,

Juan

Juan later wrote to me and let me know his father was doing much better! Praise God!

Compassion has almost reached there goal of sponsoring 3,108 children and as of yesterday, only need 412  more sponsors. Would you like to help fill this goal? You can click on the photo below to see children waiting to be sponsored or click HERE

Thanks!

             Help make a difference in the lives of children in need. Now is the time to sponsor a child.

September 25, 2012

The Loom

This book reminded me a little of the mini-series 'Roots'

It has great characters that the author brings to life, characters you feel deeply for and heartily cry for.

Only this story has a deeper meaning in which true freedom is found in Christ.

I remember watching "Roots" when I was nine years old. It had a great impact on me as a white child who knew nothing about slavery. It stirred something in me and I still have very strong feelings against prejudices based on skin color or nationality because of it. 

I believe we are all made in the image of God and each of us are individuals with diversity and beauty in His eyes.

You often hear people say God doesn't see color, but I think He does. He created color. And it's all amazingly and wonderfully beautiful to Him.

We are all amazingly and wonderfully beautiful to Him.

I loved how the author deals with this in the novel. Lydia, with fair skin and African blood, learns we are all slaves to something in this life and that God is the One who can truly set us free.
 
This is the story of Lydia, a young slave girl with light skin. She could easily pass as a white woman and sees it as a way to freedom. She is tore between her world as a slave, where she is loved by family, and a world where she could live out as a free woman.

The author, Shella Gillus, says of the basis of her book:

"I discovered that it was my great-grandmother who had walked away from her family. relatives claimed they had seen her living years later as a white woman up North, far from her home state of Mississippi. There wasn't much more I could learn, but this story became the basis of my book."

The loom, in this story, is really a backdrop and includes some very wonderful characters.

A loom: 

"a hand-operated or power-driven apparatus for weaving fabrics, containing harnesses, lay, reed, shuttles, treadles, etc."

A loom may have looked like this
Many elderly slaves, when they couldn't work the fields anymore, would often be placed in the loom house to weave quilts and such.

Here we met Lydia's grandmother, some friends of hers, and their heart wrenching stories.

Though the story was about Lydia, the author, also included bits and pieces of the lives and struggles of many other characters. Every few chapters would be from their point of view. I really felt this brought depth to the story and helped me feel for each character, even the unlikable ones. And I really disliked the things they said and did!

This story was also filled with symbolism. Symbol's of Christ as our Savior, symbols of His healing power, and symbols of good and evil. 

The writing in this book was beautiful. I was surprised it was the author's first novel. It had a few loose ends, but overall a very moving story.

In the afterwords of this book the author asks what scenes in her book were the most memorable. So I thought I'd share this one memorable scene with you.

Lydia has just married and her husband wants to give her a gift but doesn't have anything to give.

He says:

"All right. This here' - he lifted the twig - 'this is a stick, Lydia. It means I'm going to stick around.' She giggled. 'You see this rock? Now this rock means I'm going to rock you through life's hard time's.' She smiled. 'And these' - he held the leaves up to the candle and twirled them by their stems - 'these leaves are just what I'm doing. A man leaves his Father , his mother, to be one with his wife. Tonight, I leave it all behind."

'John...'

'I know, I know. I wish I had something -'

'I love it.'

He smiled.

'I love it , John.'

'You love it?' He laughed and stroked her hair. 'You are too easy.'

'It was beautiful.'

'One day I'm going to have a real gift for you, Lydia.'

'I've already got it.'

I thought that was so beautiful. That's all a wife really wants. To be loved and cherished by her husband, the way Christ loves and cherishes the church. This is an example of how we should live out God's Word, so He will be perfected in us.

"But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him."            1John 2:5

















September 22, 2012

Quote of the Week

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
                                                                               Mother Teresa                                                                           

September 20, 2012

Are You Easily Offended?

I'm reading my first book by Elisabeth Elliot called 'On asking God why and other reflections on trusting God in a twisted world'

Just before I started the eleventh chapter of the book, I was thinking about how I am so easily offended, to easily hurt and how much I dislike this about myself.

So when I read this passage from this chapter, it was definitely a God speaking moment.

"Recently I was in turmoil about some things somebody said to me. I lay awake at night, mentally enacting whole scenes and conversations in which we would 'have it out' dragging everything into consciousness, saying everything that was in our minds, pitting what she said against what I said, what she did against what I did, defending and offending, complaining and explaining. I had heard this was what we are supposed to do - get it out, get it up front, express it. 

But what a devastating business! What a crashing bore! What a way to consume time, not to mention emotional and spiritual energy! The very process itself gives me the chance to add to my own list of sins against her. 'When men talk to much,' says Proverbs 10:19, 'sin is never far away. Common sense holds its tongue.'

Psychology describes. The Bible prescribes. 'Turn from evil. Let that be the medicine to keep you in health' (Proverbs 3:7-8).

'Love is kind. Love is never quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance' (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 7).

'Help one another to carry these heavy loads, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2).

'Let your bearing toward one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus...He made himself nothing...humbled himself...accepted death' (Philippians 2:5,7-8).

The woman who had hurt me had plenty of heavy burdens to bear. I knew that very well. How could I help her to bear them? Well, for one thing, by 'being offended without taking offense,' that is, by following my Master.

What a relief! I no longer had to plot and plan and cogitate about how to handle my feelings or how to confront my friend or just what to say. My bearing toward her would arise out of my life in Christ Jesus. I couldn't do it myself. He could, and he would enable me.

To cut to the straight path a good deal of the jungle of my selfishness had to be slashed through. But it was a much shorter way home."








September 17, 2012

Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality

Wow, what a thought-provoking read! There is so much information packed into this book.

It basically sets out to explain the 'new spirituality' which is promoted by the likes of Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle.

Ravi Zacharias explains how the many religions of the world contribute to this belief system. Religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Platonism, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation and their many factions.

The first 3/4 of the book were dedicated to this and was quite heavy at times. I didn't realize these religions were so complex. I felt he treated them with respect, though he did seem frustrated (with good reason) with the constrictions within Deepak Chopra's spiritual views on who Jesus is and wrote of them extensively. This did help me to understand the flaws in Deepak teachings and how they go against Scripture.

He also tackles the meaning of truth. The new spiritually teaches we are divine and therefore truth is within us. There is no absolute in the new spirituality. Ravi Zacharias says of the tragedy of promising, through teaching we are divine:

"In promising sublimity and divinity to each of us, its proponents have actually made us less than we were meant to be. God alone knows how to humble us without humiliating us and how to exalt us without flattering us. and how he effects this is the grand truth of the Christian message."

The last 1/4 of the book was about the Biblical Jesus. This was refreshing to read after so much info on other religions.

I've decided not to quote to much from the book because it can easily be taken out of context. This is one of those books that needs to be read cover to cover to get the full meaning.

I will share this one quote though, which talks about the temple and Jesus proclaiming to be greater than the temple. 'Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.' Matt. 12:6. This is something I never understood before and Ravi explains it so well.

"Jesus said he was greater than the temple. (Matthew 12:6) The temple has a special authority and a hierarchy; all who wish to have equal access to Jesus. The temple was drowned in ceremony in an effort to attain intimacy with the Almighty; a relationship with Jesus is an intimacy that transcends ceremony. In a temple, you go to the place; Jesus comes to you. The temple is made of stone and mortar; the new temple Jesus spoke of, where he has promised to live and commune with each of us, is within the body of each believer. You can lie to a building; you cannot lie to a person with impunity.

In the book of Revelation, in the midst of John's description of the 'New Jerusalem' he is startled and declares: 'I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are its temple' Rev 21:22. Consummate worship requires no temple. Just as the sacrifices of the temple system pointed to the reality of Jesus on the cross, the temple itself foreshadowed ultimate communion with God, who is distinct from us and invites us into communion with him. There is no need for priests, no need for a temple, no power structure. Take note that this is not an absorption into impersonal, absolute consciousness. This is not union with the divine: This is communion with the God of the universe. It is not Advaita (nondualistic). This is an I-You relationship with our Creator. There is all the difference in the world."

We often hear in Christian circles Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. I found this quote gave this an even deeper meaning.

Ravi Zacharias quotes the first stanza of a hymn by A.B. Simpson which I thought was so beautiful and says simply what having a relationship with Jesus really means. I thought I'd share the whole song.


HIMSELF
 
     by A. B. Simpson

 
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.




September 13, 2012

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank-you for the opportunity to share Compassion with others. I'm continually learning it is a gift to be able to give. I pray for all the children out there who need help and support. Some are orphans, others have families, but are struggling to survive.

You love them all. You see them all.


Children often have that faith and trust in You we adults seem to forget.

You said...


"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God."              Luke 18:1

Children are a blessing and we can learn so much from them. I've learnt so much from my own children and from the children I've been privileged to sponsor. Thank-you for them!! You once called a little child to Yourself and said...

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."            Matthew 18:2-3

Help me to be like a little child, with great faith and trust in You. I love You!

In your precious name, Amen

Help make a difference in the lives of children in need. Now is the time to sponsor a child.

September 12, 2012

Quote of the Week

"It is a glorious phrase – 'He led captivity captive.'  Psalm 68:18

The very triumphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve His ends, not theirs.

They nailed Him to a tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guessing that He would make it a throne.

They flung Him outside the city gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up the gates of the universe, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy.

They thought they had God with His back to the wall, pinned helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it."          
                                                               James S. Stewart, Scotland (1896-1990)

September 10, 2012

Love, Lucy

'I Love Lucy' has always been my all-time favorite show. : )


My daughter recently discovered it and we've been watching a few episodes together. I've included some clips (at the bottom of this post)  from two fall down funny episodes called, 'Job Switching' and 'Lucy does a TV Commercial.' These episodes are hilarious and had my daughter and I laughing so hard we couldn't breathe!

After viewing the show again, I wondered if Lucille Ball had ever written a book. I was happy to find out she had, though it wasn't known or published till after her death.
                                                       
In the forward to the book, her daughter Lucy (Jr.)  recalls how she discovered the manuscript, years after the death of her mother.

"One day, while trying to sort out some of the complicated legalities of running the estates, Desi (Jr.) and I asked our mother's former attorney, Ed Perlstein, to sift through some of his old file boxes in search of some contracts we needed, and something remarkable happened!

There, in a dusty box of envelopes and tapes, he uncovered what turned out to be a never-before-published autobiographical work of our mother's. The package, post-marked 1966 from Betty Hannah Hoffman, Los Altos, California, simply said, LUCY. The manuscript was written in the first person, and seemed to span Mom's entire life up to 1964."

This book is filled with Lucille's memories from childhood, her beginnings in Hollywood, her time with her mentor Lela Rogers, the mother of Ginger Rogers, her radio show days and her rocky marriage to Desi Arnaz. Her daughter Lucy continues:
  
"I have personally read hundreds of accounts of my mother's life over the years and thought I knew it all. but there were so many details in this, especially regarding her earlier memories and what happened during her most formative years that contributed to the kind of woman, actress, and mother she became."


Lucille Ball also writes quite a bit about the 'I Love Lucy' years (1951-1960) with all sorts of behind the scenes info about the show. I really enjoyed this part of the book. Learning a little about the characters of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel and how they came to life.

One day as Desi and Lucille were discussing 'Lucy' with the writers, Desi said of the character:

"She tries so hard...she can't dance and she can't sing...she's earnest and pathetic...Oh, I love that Lucy!"

And that's how they came up with the name of the show!


I loved that the friendship we saw on screen between Lucy and Ethel was not just for the cameras but extended to their real life as well. Lucille and Vivian Vance became very close friends during the years of taping 'I Love Lucy.' But I found it sad to read about how in-love Lucille and Desi were at the beginnings of the show but by 1960 weren't even talking to each other and divorced soon after.


It's funny how you associate a person on television with their character. Lucille was actually very different in real life then the 'Lucy' on screen. She was quite conservative, managed her money well and was not ditsy at all!

I found this book sincerely written, and gives us a glimpse into her life. There is a bit of mild language, but over all a very clean and respectable read.


You never forget someone who makes you laugh out loud like Lucy, and that's why she'll always be my favorite comedian. : )

Buy it HERE on Amazon







September 5, 2012

Please Pray...

It's Compassion Blog Month at Compassion International and I'm so happy to be a part of it!


Today we would love to invite you to visit the 'sponsor a child' page.

Sponsor a Child Page - American Compassion Site

Sponsor a Child Page - Canadian Compassion Site

Here you can see the children who need sponsorship and it would be wonderful if you could take a minute and pray for them. Pray for their protection, for salvation and for a loving sponsor for each of these precious children.

I also invite you to consider sponsoring a child yourself. Compassion is a wonderful organization who loves helping children and sharing the gospel with them. It's a great experience, one I've never regretted. : )

God Bless!

September 3, 2012

What are the Gnostic Books?

A few years back I was invited to a prophecy conference where Tim Lahaye was speaking. I had envisioned a man who would boldly speak with intimidation on the subject. You know the kind...the ones who kind of scare you? Well he was nothing like that! He was an older gentleman with a soft spoken voice who spoke with love and heartfelt compassion for the lost.

When I saw this book for free for my e-reader, I snapped it up. It's a short book, about 150 pages or so with each chapter dedicated to different ways Jesus has affected the world.

I found the chapter on the Gnostic books extremely interesting. I'd heard a little about them but never really knew what they were, so I thought I'd share what I learnt about them.

Chapter 8 begins:

"In 1945, while digging around some caves near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt, an Egyptian peasant is said to have discovered a large earthenware vessel buried in the sand. Inside were twelve leather-bound papyrus codices (books) dating back to the third and fourth centuries. Written in the Coptic language, the manuscripts were comprised of fifty-two primarily Gnostic-themed treaties-the most of what has become known as the 'lost' Gospel of Thomas."

Some of the other books found were called the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Apocryphon of John and the Apocryphon of James.

It is important to know these books were not written by their name-sakes. These books were written hundreds of years later, by unknown authors. Which is a big strike against their authenticity. Where as the books in the New Testament were all written by witnesses and close friends of Jesus.

The dictionary defines Gnosticism this way:

a religious movement characterized by a belief in gnosis, through which the spiritual element in man could be released from its bondage in matter: regarded as a heresy by the Christian Church

and defines gnosis in this way:

knowledge of spiritual matters; mystical knowledge.

In other words, Gnosticism teaches you can obtain salvation through knowledge.
 
In 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Paul warns us from this way of thinking:

"...We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God."

Tim Lahaye says here:

"The Gnostic belief that knowledge holds the key to salvation (as opposed to the work Jesus did on the cross) is presented in the Gospel of Philip along with the idea that truth comes from within each person (rather than from God). These two mystical principles form the foundation for not only Gnosticism, but for many of the alternative religions found throughout history."

In the Gnostic Gospel of Philip it says:

"Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Ignorance will result in death, because those who come from ignorance neither were, nor are, nor shall be... The Word said, 'If you know the truth, the truth will make you free' (John 8:32). Ignorance is a slave. Knowledge is freedom. If we know the truth, we shall find the fruits of the truth within us."

When I read this passage from the Gospel of Philip it reminded me of Satan in the garden of Eden lying to Adam and Eve with this same lie. 

"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 

but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'  

Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' Gen. 3:2-5 

Back to Lahaye:

"Both of these Gnostic concepts (that knowledge leads to eternal life and that truth can be found within) are diametrically opposed to the biblical precepts that state that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and that wickedness, not truth, resides within the human heart."

Then he quotes Acts 4:12:

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name (besides Jesus Christ) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

And from Mark 7:21-23:

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

I found much of what is quoted from the Gnostic books quite disturbing and outright strange. There is talk of not only one god but many gods and goddesses. As well as strange contractions on who God is.

Lahaye says here of the Bible vs. the Gnostic books:

"Despite being written over a period of fifteen hundred years by forty different authors, the sixty-six books that make up the Bible have a uniformly consistent view of God, His creation, and His relationship to man. Of course, no such common thread exists among Gnostic documents."

Many Gnostic passages are simply twisted Scripture. Here is a pasage from the Apocryphon of John:

"But what they call the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which is the Epinoia of the light, they stayed in front of it in order that he (Adam) might not look up to his fullness and recognize the nakedness of his shamefulness. But it was I (Jesus) who brought about that they ate."

This 'Gnostic Jesus' is saying he talked Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit!! This is not the Jesus of Scripture, but the Devil himself.

Why is it important to know about these ancient Gnostic books?

Because this 'way of thinking' is everywhere today. It's in popular movies like 'The Da Vinci Code', best selling books like "A Course is Miracles',' A New Earth' and 'The Secret', promoted on T.V. programs like NBC's Dateline (The Mystery of the Jesus Papers) and taught by famous well-loved people like Oprah Winfrey through her radio programs.

Luke gives us a warning in Acts 20:28-31:

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 

Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 

Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears"   

Tim Lahaye includes a lot more quotes from the Gnostic books as well as quotes from Scripture throughout this chapter, which were very helpful in understanding these Gnostic books and why they were rejected at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. And are still rejected by true followers of Christ today.
 









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