Wherein I Narrate How I Watched a Movie and Cried

Setting: A handful of young men, my daughter and I, some pizza, wine and a good conversation.

Movies were being discussed and let me tell you that these guys know what a good story is, they love good stories, and especially those that carry the message of Redemption. They said I should watch Blood Diamond. So we did. It was not an easy movie to watch because it is definitely “gritty, gruesome, brutal, and cold.” But I kept on watching while my son would say, “Mom, you just have to wait.” And one of the other young men, a good friend,  insisted, “The scene, the powerful scene that encompasses the gospel message is coming.”

And it did come.

It was powerful.

Unexpected.

The Father. The Son.

Hatred. Love.

Redemption.

We all cried.

Now it is my turn to recommend this movie to you. Again, it is not an easy to movie to watch. Endure the hell of the first part (it is essential to understand the redemptive story) and have some Kleenex ready for the second half. It is powerful.

You can read a more extensive review of Blood Diamond at The Film Dissectors (know that you’ll find some spoilers though).

Grateful for the Father’s love.

 

Becky

Awaiting a Savior – A Christian Response to Poverty-

A Cruciform Press book

I am Mexican. My country is a country of contrasts, a country in which you can find the richest man on earth, as well as people living in extreme poverty not so far from the richest neighborhoods in the most important cities.

I drive to my parents’ home once a week to have lunch with them, and every week, in the same corner, I see a poor family selling candy or some times just reaching their hand to beg for some money. The mom is always holding a baby in her “rebozo”, while the “big kids” (around seven years old) are most of the time selling gum to the car drivers when the stop light is on. But my eyes always look for the little one, a toddler. He is always in a corner playing happily with empty milk cartons, or old toys. Every week, my heart aches. Many times we have brought food for them, or clothes, but there are always these questions in my heart, how can we really help those in need when you see them every where? Is there a real solution to all this poverty around me? Whom do we help? The family on the street, the friends that are going through hard (real hard) times, the children in a far away land with no drinking water? What is the Christian response to poverty?

Aaron Armstrong has written a book, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, The New Creation and The End of Poverty,  that has spoken directly to my heart. He has in few pages, answered many of these questions.

Armstrong says,

“Resources and awareness and policies are important, but poverty is not fundamentally about any of these things. The root of poverty is sin.” (p.9)

The author understands the gospel’s message well. He knows that the bad news always precede the good, so he keeps on saying,

“¨[O]ur good faith efforts to address legitimate questions of poverty and injustice must never lose sight of the fact that poverty will persist as long as the heart of man is ruled by sin.”. (p.10)

This book is one that reminds us of the hope that should keep us pursuing biblical solutions to poverty. Armstrong says,  

“our only hope for an ultimate solution to poverty is in the return of Christ, when he will put an end once and for all to sin, suffering and death, and bring out the New Creation.” (p.11)

And that is when I take a deep breath and keep on reading. Armstrong takes us back to Genesis, the Paradise, the Fall, and the curse that came as a result of it.

“Whereas the curse upon Eve is primarily about interpersonal relationships, Adam’s curse spreads outward to all economic life… Prosperity will always be challenging and elusive. The very materials and processes we work with to try to create prosperity will resist us. And it will continue like this until the day we die.” (p.18)

But physical poverty, as terrible as it is,  is not the ultimate poverty. Armstrong says,

“A fallen world inhabited exclusively by sinners; that is the essence of poverty. Sin, and the effects of sin throughout creation, is the Poverty from which all other poverty flows” (p.23)

This is the heart of the book, this is what makes this book so important;  Awaiting a Savior goes to the root of the problem of poverty that surrounds us.

This is a book that I greatly recommend as a tool to train the young people who want to come and do missions to poor countries. In Latin America, sadly to say, we receive many missionaries, many youth groups that come every summer to help build churches, and paint walls, and sing children’s songs in poor areas; but we need to go deeper, we need to go to the root of poverty: sin in the heart man.

Armstrong deals, then, with the root of poverty, but also with the root of our inability to respond in a God-glorifying way towards poverty.

“Sin thus not only causes poverty but also poisons our attitude toward those suffering within it.”

We try to help, but very often we loose sight of our real aim:

“Ultimately, poverty can only be addressed at the heart level, one person at a time, s salvation through the shed blood of Christ pushes back against the fall of man.  The ultimate answer to poverty is circumcised hearts that know the God who forms and keeps covenant with poor and undeserving sinners.” (p.47)

Chapter Five, was probably my favorite. Armstrong reminds us of the Sermon of the Mountain and how “The gifts of love always precede the demands of love”. Oh yes, Grace, amazing Grace that reaches to the poor effectively.

“That is what is so devastating about the Sermon on the Mount. It starts with grace…”

And as the paragraph continued, it brought me to my knees in prayer, conviction and thanksgiving. Grace is the starting point; it was there where Jesus found me. It is there where we should start if we want to effectively help the poor among us until the day we see Jesus.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Becky

*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the author for the purpose of this review. I was asked to write an honest review.

Christmas Printables -Pretty and Useful-

I have a confession to make, one of the reasons why I love lists is because I love to write them down with my pretty markers and look at them and feel like just by writing them, half of the job has been completed. I hope I am not the only one that feels like that.

Shiloh Photography ©

My friend Jessalyn, has made some wonderful printables (very, very pretty ones) in which I would definitely love to keep my Christmas lists this year. She has four planners, A Christmas Gift Planner, A Christmas Baking Planner, A Christmas Budget Planner, and a Christmas Check list; and all of them are available in color or black and white.

The Budget Planner has six categories: Gifts, Decor, Food, Crafts, Travel, and Other. The planner is clean and easy to use; and I am sure that if we start planning our Christmas budget right now, we could start doing some shopping in advance in order to save some money, while avoiding the big crowds that in December are found everywhere.

The Christmas Gift Planner is very useful because it has, firts of all, a budget line, so we won’t forget what our limits are. Then we have four columns: Name, Gift, Store, Price. I love the *Store* column, because I am sure it has happened to all of us, we all have seen the perfect gift for our friend and then we totally forget where we saw it! And it has four options for each name, which is a great help when trying to decide. That is the good thing about planners, you can “see” your mind in paper.

In our family we have decided not to give each other gifts in Christmas; and if this is the same in yours, let me tell you of some others different ways we could use this planner (because it is just too pretty not to use it). Some families like to give money, food, bibles, etc. to different charitable associations, to missionaries, and to friends in church who are in need. Well, why not using this list as a family project to encourage this? This is what I will do. It will help us plan more carefully how much we can give and to whom we will give.

And my two favorite planners are The Christmas Baking Planner and The Christmas Checklist.

The Christmas Baking Planner (for gifts, for parties, to enjoy) is a must, and I will start filling it pretty soon! Every time I find a recipe I would love to bake, I will jot down where it is located (website, magazine, book, etc), my deadline to make it, if it needs a special box or some kind of packaging and also the supplies I need to make it. Flour, sugar and butter are always there, but there are few recipes that ask for some ingredients that we normally don’t have at hand.

And the ultimate, most useful, wonderful and lovely planner; introducing to you, Ladies and GentlemenThe Christmas Checklist!

It seems too simple, but it is not! In it I will keep track of everything that doesn’t fall in the other categories. For example: Christmas school projects, crafts, books I want to read with my children (I have shared with you how we really devote a lot of time during Christmas season to study and meditate about the Incarnation of our Lord), cards I want to write and send in the mail, etc. I am ready to print mine (in color of course) and have fun as I start to anticipate this special season; which I love so much.

Jessalyn, has made this beautiful printables available for free, but as you can imagine, it took her several hours to make them that pretty; so f you want to say thank you, leave her a comment saying so, and maybe you feel inclined to leave her a small donation (99 cents?) via Paypal.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear friends! I am grateful for you, and for the wonderful gift of having readers like you.

Becky

Desiring Virtue

>But God… by Casey Lute a Book Review

>

Cruciform Press has published another great book: But God… by Casey Lute. This is a wonderful book that deals with the two words in the Bible that I have always underlined and highlighted on my Bible: But God…
Cruciform Press
In his new book, Casey Lute goes through different key passages in the Scriptures that points us to those “But God…” moments that change everything.

“To the left of “But God” in Scripture appear some of the worst human atrocities, characterized by disobedience and rebellion. To the left of “But God” is hopelessness, darkness, and death. But to its right, following “But God,” readers of Scripture will find hope, light, and life. Following God’s intervention, the story of Scripture becomes one of grace, righteousness, and justice….  

‘But God’ marks God’s relentless, merciful interventions in human history.

Lute’s style is very readable, you really won’t want to put the book down, until you finish it.   Lute is very clear but not simplistic. He quotes and points to many different sources. I really think this is a book that I would have enjoyed more if it were longer.
This book also helped me greatly to see a wonderful way to preach the gospel with unbelievers.  What a marvelous way to talk about God’s redemptive plan sharing through all the “But God… moments” in history. If it were not for those two words we would be dead and without hope.
“But God…” is also an excellent source to share the doctrines of grace with those who are not familiar with them.  In a very simple way to understand, Lute’s way of sharing the redemptive story, draws the reader to the conclusion that men are absolutely incapable of saving themselves, unless God intervenes; unless we have a “But God…” moment in our life.
Few of my favorite quotes are these:

“Some say “God helps those who help themselves,” but the Bible says the exact opposite: God helps the helpless. God helps those who, left to themselves, would die in their sins. He even helps those who hate him and who, by nature, continually oppose him. He does this because he is not like us. By nature, he is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).”

If we believe the Bible’s teaching that we have been saved simply because God chose to save us, shouldn’t this stir us up to help those in need, even those who do not deserve it? Should it not make us kind and patient toward others, and far less tempted to be critical of those who do not “measure up”? Should we not be the most loving, encouraging, forgiving, and compassionate people on earth? The doctrine of election calls us to teach others the truth in love, not flee them in fear, not reject or look down on them in pride.”

The God Who Loves So does God love us because we are lovable? Quite the opposite. We all followed sin, Satan, and self. Apart from God’s gracious intervention, we would have remained objects of his wrath instead of recipients of his grace. But God chose to show grace, and in doing so, he chose us.

This is a book I would definitely recommend for those who been amazed by those two words in the Bible; and also for those who doesn’t know the powerful meaning of “But God…”

Becky

An advanced electronic copy of this book was provided by Cruciform Press for review purposes.

>The Organized Heart; a Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos by Staci Eastin – A Review-

> I dare to say that this is undoubtedly the first and most important book any Christian woman who wants to start living a disciplined and organized life should read.

Cruciform Press

Through its easy and very engaging prose, the author, Staci Eastin, deals with the issues of the heart that are behind the scenes of the chaos and disorder in a woman’s life. At the same time, she encourages her readers to apply the gospel to the real problem we face when our house seems a mess, and the drawers are upside down and there has been no milk or juice in the fridge for several days: Our sinful nature.

This is a book that starts to deal with a very practical problem the way we should always start dealing with any issue of our daily life: Seeing our sinful nature and applying the good news of the Gospel to every aspect of our life.

The author Staci Eastin, knows the Word of God and applies it to her writing. She knows that we can’t conquer any sin in our life apart from God’s grace, she says,

We never conquer sin by adding more rules. That’s what the Pharisees did, and Jesus chastised them for it. Jesus is interested in more than just outward works; he wants us to perform good works from the overflow of a loving and pure heart. My attempts to get organized always failed because I tried to change my habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life.”

Holiness is something we must strive for (Hebrews 12:14), and we must start in the heart. Identifying the heart issues behind your disorganization will enable you to repent of them. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, you can rid yourself of these idols (Romans 8:13).”

Staci Eastin points that the real sin behind a disorganized life, is a heart issue and one that at the end is idolatry; it is from here that she deals through her book with four idols we have made and more that often bow to them:

“In this book, I have identified four idols that seem to particularly hinder women from serving God effectively. They are leisure, busyness, perfectionism, and possessions. You may find that you only struggle with one or two, or you may discover that your problems have their roots in all four. I will examine all of them so that you, by the grace of God, can identify where your weaknesses lie, and begin to experience a more joyful walk with the Lord.”

This is a short book (it has only 108 pages), and I would suggest that you read it with your journal at hand, because every chapter closes with a section entitled “Explore” in which the author interacts with her readers posing a few questions and pointing to several passages of the Scriptures (that you need to look up, another thing I appreciate) to dig deeper into the Truth that can set us free.

 So, be encouraged, my friends, to read this book before the other one that teaches you “how to organize your closet in 24 days and live happily ever after”.

Learning with you,

Dear visitor, thanks for stopping by. I hope I’ll get to “see you” back soon!

>A Song Book for Children

>Looking for a good book of poems for children, I asked Grace and Truth Books (on Facebook) which books they recommended; they suggested few and I bought three, one is a song book for children and the other two are poetry books. (I will tell you about the poetry ones later this week, they are beautiful!)

This is what I found, a treasure indeed that was first printed in 1713, Divine and Moral Songs for Children by Isaac Watts; compiled, arranged, and edited by Carris J Koscher, from the Old Path Series.

I read on the introduction, (which is very interesting), that this book  “is the pinnacle of Puritan literature for children”

This is not a simple book with songs, it is a book that teaches biblical truths. “It will help bind parents and their children into a working faith that will give a cohesive strength to the basic of any society:  the family.” this is a book, that as you can well imagine was wherever the Mom’s Bible was, because as the author of the introduction says, in those days “it was not the responsibility of the Sunday School, or the Grammar School, but of the parents” to teach their children the Christian Religion.

The author of this great introduction, goes on to compare what children read before 1776, with what children read today (1975) in order to stress the importance of this small book of Divine songs. You will certainly enjoy reading her thoughts on this, just look at this:

“The homes (in those days) were happy and harmonious, and children were considered as a joyous blessing from the Almighty and treated as such. It is true that children read lengthy sermons, memorized Scripture and knew by heart the basic tenets of Christianity and were present and quiet in church on Sunday, but the results of this type of child rearing made children responsible, productive and happy. The stark contrast to the child of today is shocking in the extreme.” 
“Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children by Isaac Watts is exactly the type of book children need. It takes great and eternal truths and places it on the level of a child’s understanding. It will give children a positive Christian faith, and in working out its implications in their lives, responsibility, and leadership, will be developed more readily. It will serve as a bulwark against modern heresies and lay a sound foundation for later development…
The purpose of Watt’s songs is to educate for maturity. It is maturity this world needs, godly maturity.Isaac Watts assumed at all times that it was the duty of an adult to equip a child with a mature faith capable of conquering the world. Education which falls short of that is irrelevant and non Christian”

So, we happily opened the book, and we decided that first song we will learn by heart is  Song II, Praise for Creation and Providence, my oldest children will play the piano and we will raise our voices to praise Him in Spirit and in Truth.

I already put this little green book by my Bible, it is a treasure that I want to give to my children.

Some of the titles of the songs are these:

Praise to God for Our Redemption

Praise God for mercies Spiritual and Temporal

Praise God for the Gospels

The Excellency of the Bible

Praise God for Learning to Read

Heaven and Hell

The Advantages of Early Religion

The Ten Commandments

Our Saviour’s Golden Rule

And so many more…

Aren’t these things what we long to listen our children sing about?

Today, Lord, I am so grateful for godly people who have worked hard to preserve Christian literature through the years.  I want to thank them by making use of the books they worked hard to publish again, I am sure they would be very happy to see that!

I am so excited about this, in our home we will start today , will you join us?

I will give away one of this books for your family to enjoy; just leave a comment and we will announce a winner this coming Saturday. (USA, Canada and Mexico only)

This post is also linked to Raising Homemakers

For some strange reason I cannot upload images from my computer, 
so I will try to come later and add my pictures.  Done 🙂

Remember that starting on December 1st, I will be hosting every Wednesday on December a celebration here…We will be Celebrating the Incarnation; you are invited to come and link to your post; share what this amazing doctrine means, how do you keep it the main thing during the season, share with us the goodness!