Words, Words, Words

Shiloh Photography©

Words, words, words. We either use them like healing drops or killing poison. We all try hard to say less words, to keep our mouths shut, to use our words wisely, but we need to realize that we won’t succeed unless we abide in the Word of God.

The prudent woman not only speaks fewer words than the fool, but she knows when to speak wise words that bring healing and joy (Prov.12:18; 15:23). This kind of words, words that edify, words that bring healing and joy, words that tell the truth, can only come out -naturally- from our heart through our mouths, when the Word of the Builder, the Word of the God who heals and brings life, the Word of the God of all joy and perfect peace, the God of all Truth is dwelling in us. Remember that Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and that His Word must abide in us (Jn.15:7), do you see the connection there?

Reading the Word, memorizing it, meditating on it, listening to it, is really the only way for us to fill our hearts and minds with the kind of words that will build up and encourage others. Only when we make it a habit to have the Word dwelling richly in us, is that we will start winning our fight against the problem of having a loose tongue and foolish talk.

The Word of God dwelling richly in us will sanctify us (Jn.17:17) -including the way we use our words! The Holy Spirit through the Word of God dwelling in us, will remind us when we should keep our mouths shut, when we ought to speak, and what words to say and not to say. The Lord alone can put a guard over our mouths (Ps.141:3), and it is through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit that He does that.

“Let the Word of God dwell richly in you.” Col.3:16

Under His sun and by His grace,


Starve Your Idols to Death

When we have friends visiting us in Mexico, we like to take them to many places including the National Cathedral in downtown. Entering in there, as a Protestant, is shocking, especially for those who have never been in a Roman Catholic church before. All the idolatry, the icons, the saints, the superstition, the candles, the smoke, the smells, all quench your spirit at once. But, you know what? Every time I enter in the Cathedral, I remind myself that the hidden idols of the heart are as deceiving, obstinate, and as sinful as the ones in there.

Idolatry destroys us and leads us to despair, to turmoil, to death, the Bible clearly tells us this. So it is a good thing to be on guard against any idol that tries to rise silently in our own hearts. If we don’t pay attention and neglect being watchful, we may start building a shrine for it without even noticing it.

How do we find and face those idols? Some are easier to see, to discern. Maybe you are eating more -or less- when you are anxious. Maybe the only thing that makes you rise from the bed every morning is the gym, not the desire to spend time with God. Maybe it is social media, clicking one more time, just once more time, a quick look and that will be it, and at the end of the day your seconds, your minutes, your hours, your days are all slained and offered up before the idol of Staying-Connected. Maybe your idols are (and I have seen this trend growing more among young American Christians) the same icons that I have seen destroying my nation, used as decorations in your homes, in your bracelets, in your shirts. Or maybe it is wine, the need for it at the end of a long day is becoming more and more a need, a demanding need. Maybe your idols are your friends, your job, your dreams, your family, your job, your “freedom in Christ.

God is gracious and He shines His light through the dark corners of our heart and provides a way for us to see, to repent, and to destroy the idols in us. But, remember, the tearing down of idols, the mortification of sin is always painful.

Sister, maybe you know that the Lord has been trying to convict you of that particular idol (sin) with His Word or through the exhortation of other saints, but with your mind you keep trying to persuade yourself that no, that *that* particular issue is not an idol, that what your friend or your husband, or your daughter or your pastor, or your mom or your teacher, have told you is just an exaggeration, it is just how they perceive things, but, hey, they really don’t know what’s in your heart, then, Sister, put it to test. Starve it and see if it doesn’t go wild in your heart demanding your attention, your all in all.

If you don’t think social media is an an issue, put it to test. Don’t login at all during a week (or a month?). See what happens.

If you suspect that perfectionism may be an idol in your life, put it to test. Don’t wash the dishes right after dinner. Stay, instead, longer around the table enjoying the conversation. Clean the kitchen next morning, and go to bed at the same time than your husband.

Maybe it is the gym. No, you say. Well, put it to test. Miss going a week to your trainings, and stay in bed reading your Bible and praying, or playing a board game with your children.  Check what happens in your heart.

Or maybe it is food. Next time you go shopping, buy non-organic, non-local, non-free-range chicken, make something yummy and enjoy it. Or don’t stop at Starbucks for a couple of weeks.  Or eat a whole slice of pie with your friends at a coffee shop and be at peace with it. Or maybe, for you, eating a salad, a smaller portion will be the the way to check what is in your heart.

Maybe it is the fear of not having enough money. Give more this week, then. Take your children to get their favorite ice-cream -with three toppings, and do it in faith. The Lord will provide.

For others,  the way to test if there is an idol of the things they can easily get would look differently, maybe it would be not shopping at the first impulse, not books -not even good, theological books-, not clothes nor accessories. Be at peace with what you have now and look for ways to bless others. Put others first.

Or what about that dress that some “legalistic people” at church dare to call immodest. Put it aside (along with the leggings and the low cleavage), and pay attention and see what happens in your heart.

The only way to put to death the idols in our heart is through faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, Sisters, we are more than conquerors, we can starve to death those merciless idols. We can live victoriously when our soul is satisfied with the One and True God that gives life abundantly.

“Satan offers you things, and then accuses you for taking them. Christ offers you Himself, and blesses you in the reception.” D. Wilson

Under His sun and by His grace,


Importunate Prayers

Sometimes we are importunate with our words because we speak (or write) too fast. Without giving our thoughts, our words a second thought. With God, in prayer, we will never be importunate. What if instead of letting the words come out of our mouth (or fingertips) unedited before our friends (or in social media), we first pray about that particular worry, situation or person?

Let’s remember that there is never an importunate time to meet with God with our needs, concerns, with our petitions.

“Importunity is made up of the ability to hold on, to press on, to wait with unrelaxed and unrelaxable grasp, restless desire and restful patience. Importunate prayer is not an incident, but the main thing, not a performance  but a passion, not a need but a necessity… Few things give such quickened and permanent vigour to the soul as a long exhaustive season of importunate prayer.

Our seasons of importunate prayer cut themselves, like the print of a diamond, into our hardest places, and mark with inefaceable traces of our characters. They are the salient periods of our lives, the memorial stones which endure and to which we turn.”

E.M. Bounds

Under His sun and by His grace,


Intrusive Grace

Grace! We call for it,
We say we need it,
And at times we invoke her,
As if we were
Calling for a bird’s magic song
When we are called to
Repent and change,
But choose not.

Grace! We hide behind this word
All of our unrepentant sins,
All our dirty jokes,
Our open trespasses.
The limits we’ve
Intentionally broken and
We expect –demand– the rest of our
Brothers and sisters,
To love us.

Can’t they see,
Can’t they hear that we are
Saying “Grace”?

Grace! We call for it
We say we need it
And at times it seems
That we are calling for it
As if we were calling
Our tamed dog.
“Sit here! Go out!
Move! Stay!”

Grace! Four letters.
Four letters that we have abused.
A short word in which we have
Hidden our responsibility,
A powerful word that we have vandalized,
We have striped it from its meaning.
We have used to hide cowardly our sins,
We have made it our flag to ask for tolerance.

Oh, Grace!

And when Grace,
True Grace comes.
It’s song is one of war.
It is never tamed.
It shatters our world.

Grace! True grace never asks
Permission to come in.
It is intrusive.
It rescues the one
who is in chains.
It opens the eyes of he
who loves darkness.
It gives life to the dead.

It is a light.
A bright light
That brings out all lies,
All bad habits,
And shameful behaviors.
All false reasonings,
And comfortable sins
Cannot hide from it.

Grace! It brings us to our knees,
to repentance.
It empowers us to fight
the good fight against
our flesh and sins.
It is like a strong wind that blows
where it wants.
Nothing can stop it.

It is piercing.
It is painful.
It points us to our guilt
And then to the Cross.

That is Grace.

Grace destroys,
In order to build.


When My Mind Wanders

You know how it goes, one day -almost without noticing- you entertain one thought, one worry, one doubt, one fear, one question, one… and then two days later, and then three days later, and the next week, and the week after that you have a wandering mind, with no limits whatsoever, your spirit is troubled, and of course, you feel heavy burdened.

What to do now?
Go back to the Word of God.

Go back to the Scriptures and mediate on them day and night.  Memorize God’s Word, pray it, recite it, mutter it. The Word of God will dissipate all doubts, all fears, it will strengthen your heart. It will help you fight those vain thoughts.

James Smith said,

“We must mix faith with the Word; seek to hold fellowship with God through every portion; and realize the presence of the Holy Spirit, who alone can render the Word profitable”

How true this is! Let us come, to the Word. Let us abide in it, let us persevere with all diligence to keep it in our heart and mind.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”  How do we come to Him? We come to Him in prayer and we find Him in the Word. It is there where we hear Him speak to our need, to our troubled soul.

Is your heart troubled and your mind wandering today?

Go back to the Word of God.

Under His sun and by His grace,


Recommended article:

Profiting from the Scriptures by J.C. Ryle


The Doctrine of Love: Our Identity as Christians

©Annie Pliego Photography


“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus

Having a strong, biblical foundation based on solid doctrine is essential in the life of all Christians. It keeps us humble to know, for example,  that we have been saved by God’s grace and that we did not choose Him, but that He chose us. It help us not despair in our daily battle against sin the wonderful doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. He will not let us go. He who has called us will never leave us nor forsake us. He who began a good work in us is able to complete it. Our salvation, from A-Z depends only in the work of Christ Jesus, and that is strong, comforting doctrine. The doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is what gives us hope when all seems to be falling apart, when there are many questions and a few answers. That He is ruling this world and that he knows the number of the hairs on my head, makes a whole world of a difference. The way we approach God in prayer, the way we live our lives, the way we respond to sin, the way we deal with the desires of our hearts, all we do depends on the doctrines on which we stand.

There is one doctrine, however, that we sometimes leave on the side. We know it is there and we pretend to know it well until differences arise and conflict comes our way, I am talking about the doctrine of love.

Maybe because it has been abused in so many Christian traditions in which love has been preached without a biblical backbone, with no doctrinal frame, we tend to minimize its importance. We know we must love, but in reality we care more about being zealous for truth than in laying down our lives for others.

We pass by the wounded and do nothing because we are too busy defending our doctrinal righteousness.  Jesus, our model to follow, did both: He touched the unclean,  and sat and ate with the sinners while preaching Truth, while preaching repentance of sins. Paul and Silas helped the sick and the widows while defending Truth.

The first Christians were persecuted for preaching the Truth without compromise, while at the same time they were known by the love amongst themselves. Tertullian (c. A.D. 200) wrote,

“It is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. “See,” they say, “how they love one another,” for they themselves are animated by mutual hatred. “How they are ready even to die for one another!” For they themselves will sooner put to death… . No tragedy causes trouble in our brotherhood, [and] the family possessions, which generally destroy brotherhood among you, create fraternal bonds among us. One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives. (Apology 39)”

We should pay more attention and study with more zeal the doctrine of love; while praying earnestly that the Lord will lead us into repentance for the many times we have not shown true love for Him (and His Word) because of our lack of love for those around us. Our identity as Christians, the way we should be known even today, must be the way we  deeply love and care for one another. It is not an option; just as it is not an option to believe in the importance of salvation by faith and not by works.

In the past few months I have been digging deep into this, searching the Scriptures and my heart. And it is not easy to find the balance needed to live this out. It is not easy because we love Truth, and because we want to defend it. It is not easy because we know that false teachers do destroy families, and churches, and lead many astray,  and we do not want to compromise the Truth of God, we want to stand firm on the Word of God and reach out to those whom we see in danger. But Jesus (and his disciples) taught us that it is possible to do both. We can love our neighbors and our enemies without compromising the Truth of God. And it is possible to do so, because that is exactly what we have been commanded to do.

My husband and my children are witnesses of the struggle of my heart as I have been learning these lessons, as I seek answers to these questions. I love Jesus and I want to love my neighbors as well as my enemies. I want to be known as a Christian.

If you want to dig deeper into this doctrine I would suggest that you study in depth (get an expository commentary) 1st John, the Sermon of the Mount, and the epistle to the Galatians. Two other books that have helped me to understand all this (and have made me cry more than once) are: Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Ryken, and If You Bite and Devour One Another: Biblical Principles for Handling Conflict by Alexander Strauch.

May God draw us to Him, so that we may be drawn to love those around us.

Still learning,