A Christian Community is not a Dream World.

Westminster Bookstore

This year I’ve decided I had to re-read some books on relationships that cannot be read only once. Face to Face by Wilkins is one of them, the other one is Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  In my opinion, these two books complement each other perfectly. Wilkins warns us about the sin of isolation, and Bonhoeffer reminds us that yes, we are called to live in community, but that “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality.”

Here are a few passages of Bonhoeffer’s book where he explains this in more detail:

“…One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewhere; he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood…”


“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christan, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over like a dream… Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to him…A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community.  Sooner or later it will collapse… He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”


“Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly  teaches me that neither of us can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by the one Word and Deed which really binds us together -the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mist of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.”


“What love is, only Christ tells in His Word. Contrary to all my own opinions and convictions, Jesus Christ will tell me what love toward the brethren really is. Therefore, spiritual love is bound solely to the Word of Jesus Christ. Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it. Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love’s sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love.”

Yes, I have many times built ideal dreams of the Christian community in my mind, and yes, the reality is different; but as I have been given the grace to see the imperfections in it and not deny them, I have loved it even more.

For grace to grow, build bridges, and edify lives today,


The Giving of Thanks and My Obedience

@Jim LePage Crux Sola Project

The giving of thanks can only begin when the gift of the divine Word is acknowledged; indeed, only when I am immersed in the study of the divine Word. How could one begin to give thanks to God and not concern oneself with his Word? What kind of thanks would it be to receive the gifts but refuse the required obedience to the giver? It would be a pagan thanksgiving, which is indeed widely practiced.
That is not a giving of thanks to the Lord God, but rather to an impersonal fate or fortune to which I am in no way obligated. Thanks to God that does not proceed from an obedient heart is presumption and falsehood. Only when God’s revealed Word has made our heart want to obey him can we thank God for earthly and heavenly gifts… 

I thank God because I want to learn and know what he requires of me, but I thank him as one who is still only learning, who still lacks everything when measured by God’s righteous judgments. So thanksgiving leads me back to the giving God and then forward to the commanding God, in order finally to find in him his righteousness, which I experience anew as righteousness given to me. “Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:24).”

Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word (emphasis mine)

Today as I fix my heart on the Cross, and I am drawn to give Him thanks -over and over again- for His perfect sacrifice, for His atonement, I am also drawn to pray, “Lord, help me to show you my gratitude through my love and obedience to your Word.”


Mid-February-Status from the Big City

@Ana Sofía Pliego Photography

Loving… The picture above. Annie captured perfectly a very common expression of her sister. Seeing them having so much fun together makes me smile and want to hug them both!

Watching… The peach and apple trees in our garden blossoming against a perfect blue sky. I love to see the reminders of life all around us. Isn’t this world wonderful? Miracles happen every day in front of our eyes and how I pray that I will have eyes to see them and not take them for granted.

Reading… The Brothers Karamazov and wishing that I was reading it with a group of friends more educated than me. This would be, I am sure, the perfect book to discuss with a friend, or in a class under the instruction of a good teacher (even if that would mean to write a paper about it!).

I just finished reading a wonderful book by Bonhoeffer:  Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. It helped me understand many things that are not always easy to understand in this life under the sun.

With one of my dearest friends I am reading These Strange Ashes, a book by Elisabeth Elliot. We decided to read it slowly and I am sure learning from both, the author and my friend.

My little one and I are two chapters away from finishing reading a fun, fun book: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. We have had a great time reading it aloud. Thanks to Ink who sent it to us a Christmas gift.  🙂

The Commentary on Ephesians by Chapell and the book on the Sermon on the Mount by Pink, as well as Spurgeon’s commentary on Matthew are being my companions in my morning devotionals. And by the way, have you seen the Journibles? They are a great way to copy the Word of God, jot down study notes, prayers, thoughts, etc. I have been using them for a couple of years now and I love them; right now I am copying Ephesians and the Sermon on the Mount.

Exercising… Yes, I have not quit! 🙂

Listening… To this sermon over and over again. And if you are like me, who sometimes agonizes over relationships and don’t know if it is really possible to set boundaries and standards in our relationships with other Christians without denying the Christan love and grace, you should also listen to it.

Learning… That your own sons and daughters can be your greatest teachers.

Meditating… That when we talk about dying to ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom or our family, we normally think of not doing something or renouncing to do something,  but isn’t it sometimes that dying to ourselves calls us to do the opposite? Sometimes dying to oneself means doing something. Dying to ourselves is not passive, is not a sentiment that only sounds very spiritual but lacks action. Sometimes we need to speak, to act, to move, to choose, to defend, to contend, to do what we would naturally not be inclined to do for the sake of a greater love. And it is not easy.

Counting… The days until I get to see my sister and some of my dear friends in NC! So very grateful for that opportunity!

Embracing… Each day as it comes knowing that our seasons are in God’s hands.

Under His Sun and by His grace,


Life Together by Bonhoeffer -Borrowed Words-


I have read these words over and over again these past days. Lots to think about, to pray, to consider, to discern.

“By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth.”

“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

“Christian community is like the Christian’s sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification.”

“Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it. Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love’s sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love. Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves the enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and His Word.”

“Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is , as one for whom Christ became man, died and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”

” [Spiritual love] will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”

“Thus this spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and the love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth of Christ.”

“Human love lives by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires; spiritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by the truth. Human love produces human subjection, dependence, constarint; spiritual love creates freedom of the brethren under the Word.”

“Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs.”

“The Psalter is great school of prayer.”

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich our prayers will become.”

“It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s Word.”

“Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer.”

“The prayer of the morning will determine the day. Wasted time, which we are ashamed of, temptations that beset us, weakness and listlessness in our work, disorder and indiscipline in our thinking and in our relations with other people very frequently have their cause in neglect of the morning prayer. The organization and distribution of our time will be better for having been rooted in prayer, The temptations which the working day brings with it will be overcome by this break-through to God…”

“Real silence, real stillness, really holding one’s tongue comes only as the sober consequence of spiritual stillness… If we have learned to be silenced before the Word, we shall also learn to manage our silence and our speech during the day.”

“The Scripture meditation leads to prayer.”

“Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day.”

“We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.”

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

“Our brother’s ways are not in our hands; we cannot hold together what is breaking; we cannot keep life in what is determined to die. But God binds elements together in the breaking, creates community in the separation, grants grace through judgment. He has put his Word in our mouth. He wants it to be spoken through us…”

“Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart.”

“The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is…”

In need of His Grace,