Midweek Music: The Shepherd on guitar

Merry Christmas week! I should have done a “12 Days of Carols” on the blog with my favorite Christmas carols, but maybe Lord willing next year.

I wanted to share this touching Christmas guitar melody. It was composed by an Italian. The melody starts slow and then has a dynamic crescendo. I would love to know what you thought of the song. 

Look below this video to read some life snippets about my Christmas season. 

 

 

Some verses that have been on my heart recently from my daily Bible devotion: 
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:7-9)

Also, an encouraging verse I read today:  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Book I am currently reading is: Rebel with a Cause Autobiography of Franklin Graham. It’s a great story, giving you a glimpse into the real life of Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and captivating too. I received it for free when Samaritan’s Purse ministry said they have some free copies, so I signed up. 

 

Book I am planning to read: The Secret Rescue- An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines. I don’t know how good the book is, but the title sounds absolutely delightful- just up my alley! I borrowed it from the library but I have to look it up and see if it has any bad stuff, cause I might end up not reading it after all. 😦

 

This year the house is decorated earlier for Christmas: The lights are put up, the stockings at the fireplace and there are ornaments in the windows and paper snowflakes hanging from the light fixture. It didn’t take as much time as last year- maybe because I was not as stressed out, since I’m graduated from college- so odd. College felt like it’s never ending. 

Been sick with the flu: I’ve been so sick with the flu the past week, it almost didn’t feel like Christmas. Fever, and coughing and muscle aches! It was terrible. I lived on ibuprofen, vitamin C, cough drops, tea, onion tea (yuck), elderberry syrup, silver solution. Because of that, we couldn’t do our annual tradition of going Christmas caroling in front of stores as shoppers go in and out. I miss that. 

Planning to bring cookies: to all our neighbors, cashiers at our local store, bank tellers and a few other people. Or maybe my family and I will make cinnamon rolls- I’m not sure. 

This year everyone’s hectic: Wherever you drive people are bustling around like crazy! I feel like this year it’s more than previous years- everyone is out there doing shopping, and there are so many distracted drivers! 

Listening to Christmas carols: really puts me in the mood for Christmas. How do you focus on the Christmas story? 

Looking forward to spending time with family for Christmas: it’s so neat when you get to have relatives come over and celebrate important holidays like Christmas together! Usually we have a quiet Christmas- just me and my immediate family, but this year will be a bit more festive. Singing Christmas carols together is wonderful!

Attended a Christmas concert: at my former college! It was a lovely orchestra and choir. The nice thing was they sang real Christian Christmas carols, not the fake “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” or stuff like that. Of course they had a few other ones like the Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and some Jazz, but at the end the audience joined the choir to sing Handel’s Messiah Alleluiah, which was awesome! 

Christmas is on a Sunday- once in 7 years: I look forward to having Christmas on Sunday, it seems like just the right thing! We can celebrate the birth of our Savior together with other believers at church. It happens about once in every 7 years, I heard. 

Merry Christmas in the Lord to all of you around the world- and a blessed, safe and beautiful New Year! 

Please share with me your Christmas traditions, or what you do to focus on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! 

 

 

How To Be An Overcomer

 

We live in the last days. This means the days after Christ and before His second coming. You have probably noticed that in all societies there is an increase in evil people, hate, occultism, hostility towards Christianity. These verses sum it all up:

And thou, O Daniel, hide the things, and seal the book till the time of the end, many do go to and fro, and knowledge is multiplied. (Dan 12:4)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Tim 3:1-5) 

Knowledge increases, more and more people travel all over the world, and they are lovers of themselves and of money, boastful and hateful. Sounds like the 21st century to a T.

So how do you overcome?

  • How do you grow in godliness?
  • How do you shine as a light and witness to people?
  • How do you stay away from sin, worldly influences and crooked people?
  • How do you get a reward in heaven?

Here are practical ways to be an overcomer, from the book of Revelation, the book about the end times. These practical steps are in the verses in the passage to the church in Philadelphia. God doesn’t just throw us out there in an evil world and then says “okay, get out there and overcome! You’re on your own!”. No, He provides everything we need to be able to overcome! And He reveals them to us in Scripture. So these words should be buried deeply as seeds in our spiritual mind and watered with prayer so we will grow into “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)

Read the passage and then I will show you the steps outlined in the verses.

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:7-13)

God Provided for YOU to Overcome: 

  • Be Christological- Christ centered (He is the one who is Holy and True) (v.7)
  • He set before you an open door that no one can shut (v.7)
  • He gave you some strength (v. 8)
  • Keep God’s Word (Scripture, His promises, correct doctrine) (v.8)
  • Do not deny His name (v.8)
  • Keep His commands (God’s Word) through the power of the Holy Spirit (v.10)
  • Endure patiently the trials and difficulty of the Christian life (v. 10)
  • Wait for the Coming of the Lord (v.11)
  • Through prayer and fasting, hold on to what you have (faith, Scripture, spiritual work/ministry) so no one takes your crown (v.11)
  • Have an open ear to what the Spirit says through God’s Word (v.13)

God set before you the way to overcome. May He help us all to persevere and be overcomers through the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

 

Midweek Music: Cello Ensemble

Happy December 1st, or to those on the other side of the world, happy December 2nd! Christmas will be here before you know it! 

These talented Asian cellists play a rendition of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth”. I have just discovered them on youtube and have enjoyed re-playing the song multiple times throughout the day.

Turn on the music and play it in the background as you do your homework, clean the home, or just do your daily activities (if you’re not at work). 

The lyrics of this hymn are lovely. It is like a Thanksgiving prayer. 

Share with me what you are thankful for today in the comments below!

My Reasons of Gratitude 
As I am writing this post, I am thankful that I received a free copy of the book “Rebel With A Cause” autobiography of Franklin Graham in the mail. Despite the fact that it was published a long time ago (1995), I never read it, can you believe it!?! So now it’s mine to read whenever I want. I also was able to bake some eclaires for my cousin’s birthday today, so it was a wonderful day. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvbhfPMaGtk

FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

5. For thy church, that evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

6. For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

The other Reformation you never heard about- Eastern Orthodox Reformation

Let me tell you the story of a Reformation just like that of Luther, but one that many people have never heard about. It continued through the years, and the evangelical church that emerged from that Reformation still exists today. 

Who: Tudor Popescu, Eastern Orthodox priest &  Dumitru Cornilescu another priest and friend of his
When: 1920-1924
Where: A small and beautiful country in Eastern Europe, called Romania. It is land of mountains, plains, marshlands and sea. 

Tudor Popescu as a priest

Tudor Popescu was born in a family of Eastern Orthodox priests, the third of ten children. His father and grandfather were priests and he was expected to follow in the same honorable service although Tudor wished he could choose a different path in life. Tragedy struck when Tudor was a teenager. His older brother Ion (John) died of tuberculosis. This left Tudor heartbroken because Ion had been his closest friend. That was when Tudor started thinking about eternity and life after death. Although he had grown up in the Eastern Orthodox church, as the son of a priest, Tudor did not understand much about God. The liturgy of the church made it hard for him to understand the Bible. He had many questions. Where was his brother now? Was there life after death? 

Tudor hoped his questions about life, God and eternity would be answered by studying theology at the seminary in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. He was going to become a priest. But life in the seminary did not help. The seminary taught very little of the Bible to the students, and most of Tudor’s classmates were rowdy and sinful. After they finished their studies many of the priests became atheists. 

Tudor went on to take his doctorate at the University of Bucharest and additionally mastered the German and French languages. But his questions remained unanswered. Soon he married a beautiful young lady named Athena Ionescu, the daughter of a priest. When his father-in-law died, Tudor took over the priestly duties of Stork’s Nest Orthodox Church in Bucharest. 

The Stork’s Nest Church

 

Dumitru Cornilescu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serving in the same church was a deacon named Dumitru Cornilescu. Like Tudor Popescu he wanted something deeper and he was passionate about faith and God. Together they made a dynamic duo, doing their best to help people live to please God. But they did it all by human works of righteousness and according to Eastern Orthodox liturgy. They were discouraged when they saw no results of spiritual growth in their church members. They realized there must be more to Christianity than liturgy and religion. The Eastern Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe was in darkness and bankruptcy during that time. Many priests were worldly and didn’t know much Scripture. Dumitru Cornilescu soon started working on translating the Bible in a more easy-t0-read form of the Romanian language because all they had until then was a Bible translation in Old Romanian which was difficult to read.  

 

The turning point 

Tudor’s beloved wife Athena died suddenly in the prime of her youth leaving him with three young children. Tudor felt like he fell in an abyss of grief. The questions he had about eternity intensified. His friend Dumitru Cornilescu sent him the newly translated copy of the Bible and Tudor absorbed it. Like Luther, his eyes started to open and he slowly began to understand the futility of religion without regeneration. He started preaching directly from the Bible, stopped mentioning Mary, the saints. After hearing Biblical preaching, many church members started changing and turning away from sin. Attendance grew. 

 

Expelled- A Reformation within the Eastern Orthodox Church 

Other priests grew envious and started accusing Tudor of deviating from tradition and liturgy. Soon he was officially expelled from the Eastern Orthodox church. With some converts from his former parish, Tudor left and started his own ministry- a reformed church, an evangelical church out of Eastern Orthodoxy. Tudor Popescu the priest was now a pastor.  A whole reformation was begun in the Eastern Orthodox church. The new believers called themselves “Christians according to Scripture”. They embraced the Gospel of Grace and Salvation through Christ alone, and they put aside all the liturgy and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

A rich young woman from a noble family who appreciated the work of Tudor, decided to give them her mansion to use as the new church building. The church was established there, and over the years, many new churches spread all across the country of Romania. 

The Mansion turned Church Building on Carol Davila Street in Bucharest, Romania 

 

Where are they today? 

You will still find the Christians according to Scripture gathering in the same church building even today, decades later. It is the only Reformation that took place in Eastern Orthodoxy in all of Europe. God’s hand moved in Eastern Europe just as he did centuries before with Luther, and opened the eyes of a priest, Tudor Popescu to realize the true Gospel of Grace.

Wives of the Reformation

It is so exciting to think that next year in 2017 will mark 500 years since the Protestant Reformation! 

(source)

So many people are preparing to celebrate Halloween, the occult holiday that takes place every October 31st, the same day that Martin Luther the reformer nailed the 95 theses which ignited the Protestant Reformation. 

I wanted to have something fresh to think about on this Reformation week. I thought it would be a good idea to explore the topic of wives of the Reformation, meaning the women behind the Reformers! 

Katharina von Bora (Luther) 

Wife t0: Martin Luther.
Proposal: She was a former nun who ran away from a convent after converting to Lutheranism. Luther helped the nuns to escape and helped find husbands for them so they would be safe. But he couldn’t find a husband for Katharina. Finally she basically proposed to Martin Luther, saying she would marry either him or another reformer Amsdorf. Luther accepted and they were married. She was 18 years younger than Luther.
Marriage: They were married for 21 years and Katharina was a smart, hardworking, stubborn and quick tongued woman who managed a whole mansion where students came to study with Martin Luther. She ran a business from home, raising cattle, tending a large garden, and running a brewery in her basement home, and she rose up at 4 a.m. everyday. She also used the mansion as a hospital.
Children: They had six children but only four lived till adulthood.
Fun Facts: She called Luther “Sir Doctor” and he called her “My Lord Katie” and “Morning Star of Wittenberg”  

 

Anna Reinhart (Zwingli) 

Wife to: Ulrich Zwingli, Reformation leader in Switzerland  
Marriage: She was a widow of 3 children, struggling under poverty. Yet she was the most attentive in church whenever Zwingli preached. As a pastor, Zwingli took pity on her and her children’s condition and offered to tutor her youngest son Gerold in Greek and Latin because he noticed he was a very bright little guy. Zwingli later marries Anna in secret because during that time it was not considered proper for a priest to marry. Anna was a loving and hospitable wife. She spent time visiting the sick and poor, and opened her home to refugees of the Protestant wars. She supported her husband while he translated the Bible in the Swiss language.
Children: 7 total. 3 before marrying Zwingli, and 4 more afterward
Fun Facts: She stopped wearing jewelry after marrying Zwingli. Her husband read the proof text of the Bible translation to her as he was writing it. He dedicated the newly translated Bible to her. She worked to encourage other families to make the Bible a part of their home. 

 

Margaret Stewart (Knox)

Wife to: John Knox, Scottish reformer and evangelist.
Marriage: John Knox’s first wife Marjorie Bowes died and he had 2 small children. John Knox was a good friend of Andrew Stewart who was Margaret’s father. John decided to marry Margaret even though she was 37 years younger than him. Margaret was a good secretary to John and she also took care of him when he became sick and weakened.
Children: 3 children with John Knox, several more later when she re-married after his death
Fun Facts: Margaret was a noblewoman and a relation of Mary Queen of Scots. Margaret married John Knox secretly which angered the queen because they did not receive her consent. 

 

Idellete de Bure (Calvin) 

Wife to: John Calvin 
Marriage: John Calvin asked several people to find him a wife , but since he was a difficult personality he didn’t like any of them. Finally widow Idelette caught his eye. John Calvin had helped her husband convert to Calvinism from being an Anabaptist. Calvin married Idelette and loved her deeply. She was a good caretaker because Calvin was often sick. They had a few children but all of them died as infants. Calvin wrote about his appreciation and love of Idelette in his letters to others.
Children: 3 before Calvin, a few more afterward 
Fun Facts: 
After Idelette died, Calvin lived 15 more years but he never re-married.

 

Other reformers like Jan Hus, John Wycliff, William Farel, were not married. 

Which of the Wives of the Reformation Impressed You Most?