Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie: The Nativity Story

Mary, a teenage girl growing up in Rome-occupied Nazareth, is betrothed to Joseph, a modest but kind carpenter. An angel tells her she will bear a child from God and after negotiating the anger and confusion of her family and Joseph at how this could be, she then finds that she, Joseph and the boy growing inside her must make the 100-mile journey to Bethlehem, as a result of a census ordered by Caesar. Meanwhile, Herod is troubled by prophesies regarding a king who will rise up against him and three astronomers from Persia are stirred by an aligning of stars and planets, promising the arrival of something, or someone, very special.

Although the movie "The Nativity Story" received a far from rousing reception on its original release, it cannot be denied that it has an important place in any Christmas Video Vault. After all, this is where it all started, this is why we celebrate this time of the year. But is the film itself any good? In a word, yes.

Although the film is very low-key in its approach (no sky-filling choirs of angels, no rousing set-pieces), this is entirely fitting and the film is stronger for it. Though the events now resonate with eternity spanning significance, at the time Mary was simply an unexpectedly pregnant teenage girl, riding to a census in Bethlehem on the back of a donkey. There is a welcome and involving sense of time and place to the scenes in and around Nazareth and the characters, so well known to us whatever our beliefs about Jesus himself, feel fleshed out and real. The casting is excellent across the board, with talented unknowns and a few bigger names littered across the principals (Ciaran Hinds as Herod, Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary, Alexander Siddig as Gabriel) and Catherine Hardwicke’s direction is attentive and considered.

Although everyone knows what is going to happen – no room at the inn, shepherds in the fields, wise men travelling from afar, the flight to Egypt – and correspondingly some dramatic tension is lost as Herod hatches his plan to wipe out the possible challenge to his throne, the story is beautifully presented and carefully and lovingly performed. As Jesus comes into the world and light shines down from heaven through a gap in the wall of the stone-hewn stable, the film becomes affecting and moving as the humility, simplicity and fragility of Jesus is presented front and center.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you don’t believe that Jesus is “the reason for the season”, but there is much to enjoy here regardless, especially stand-out performances by Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch, Robin Hood, Drive) as Joseph. Watch it, enjoy it and remind yourself of why Christmas is celebrated.

Full movie link:

Originally posted on by Dave Roper

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Love. Amor.

This year I was blessed beyond my dreams marrying the most beautiful, sweet, kind, smart and joyful woman: Ana !! I give thanks for her, for my family and for every blessing in my life.  

Blessings to you who visit or follow this blog !!

"The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD."  Prov. 18:22 

Este anio fui bendecido mas alla de mis suenios al casarme con la mujer mas bella, dulce, inteligente y alegre: Ana !! Doy gracias por ella, por mi familia y por cada bendicion en mi vida. 

Bendiciones para ti que sigues o visitas este blog!!

“Quien halla esposa halla la felicidad: muestras de su favor le ha dado el Señor.” Prov. 18:22 

Merry Christmas and 
a blessed New Year !!
Feliz Navidad y 
un bendecido Anio Nuevo !!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Italy: Palermo to Cinque Terre

Despite incessant praise, Italy continues to surprise and delight. If you get it right, travelling in the bel paese (beautiful country) is one of those rare experiences in life that cannot be overrated.

Bella Vita
In few places do art and life intermingle so effortlessly. This may be the land of Dante, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli but it’s also the home of Salvatore Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani and Gualtiero Marchesi. Food, fashion, art and architecture – you’ll quickly learn that the root of Italian pathology is an unswerving dedication to living life well. A surprising number of Italians care deeply about the floral aftertastes of sheep cheese, the correct way to cut marble and the nuances of a Vivaldi concerto. Lurking behind the disinvoltura – the appearance of effortlessness – is a passionate attention to life’s fine print. So slow down, start taking note of life’s details and enjoy your own bella vita.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Words. Mis Palabras. Pablo Neruda

Poem 5 
by Pablo Neruda

For you to hear me,
My words
Thin out sometimes.
Like the seagulls draw lines on the beach.
A necklace, a drunken bell
For your hands smooth like grapes.
And I look at my words from a distance
They are yours more than mine.
They go climbing over my old pain like ivies.
They thus climb by the humid walls.
You are the guilty one of this bloody play.
They are fleeing my empty den.
You pervade everything, everything.
Before, they inhabited the solitude that you now enter,
They are accustomed more to my sadness than you.
Now I want them say what I want to tell you
So that you hear them what I want you to hear from me.
The wind of anguish still sometimes drag them.
Hurricanes of dreams still at times tumble them.
Listen to other voices in my painful voice.
Crying of old mouths, blood of old pleas.
Love me, companion. Do not abandon me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, in this wave of anguish.
But  your love continues giving color to my words.
You are everything everywhere, everything.
I make with these words an infinite necklace
For your white hands, smooth as grapes.

Poema 5 
de Pablo Neruda

Para que tú me oigas
mis palabras
se adelgazan a veces
como las huellas de las gaviotas en las playas.
Collar, cascabel ebrio
para tus manos suaves como las uvas.
Y las miro lejanas mis palabras.
Más que mías son tuyas.
Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.
Ellas trepan así por las paredes húmedas.
Eres tú la culpable de este juego sangriento.
Ellas están huyendo de mi guarida oscura.
Todo lo llenas tú, todo lo llenas.
Antes que tú poblaron la soledad que ocupas,
y están acostumbradas más que tú a mi tristeza.
Ahora quiero que digan lo que quiero decirte
para que tú las oigas como quiero que me oigas.
El viento de la angustia aún las suele arrastrar.
Huracanes de sueños aún a veces las tumban.
Escuchas otras voces en mi voz dolorida.
Llanto de viejas bocas, sangre de viejas súplicas.
Ámame, compañera. No me abandones. Sígueme.
Sígueme, compañera, en esa ola de angustia.
Pero se van tiñendo con tu amor mis palabras.
Todo lo ocupas tú, todo lo ocupas.
Voy haciendo de todas un collar infinito
para tus blancas manos, suaves como las uvas.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ode to Summer

Ode to Summer

Summer, red violin,
clear cloud,
the hum
of a saw
of cicadas
announce your arrival.

The heavens
to a smoothness,
as an eye,
and below your gaze,
summer, you are
an infinite sky-fish,
shameless messenger
of praise,
sleepy-eyed one,
little bee belly,
terrible paternal sun,
sweaty as a toiling ox,
and the scorching sun
in one's head
is like a
sudden blow,
sun of thirst
crossing the sand,
desert sea.

Seed beds
blue insects
into diamonds.

Oh lush
lips of wild plum,
of tender
dust on dust,
coppery red drum.

In the afternoon,
makes clover
dance; it enters
the deserted factory:
a fresh star
the cloudy sky.

A summer night

Pablo Neruda

Friday, May 11, 2012

Soulful Relationship

If you're not married yet, share this with a friend. If you are married, share it with your spouse or other married couples and reflect on it. 

An African proverb states, "Before you get married, keep both eyes open, and after you marry, close one eye."

Before you get involved and make a commitment to someone, don't let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others or a low self-esteem, make you blind to warning signs ! 

Keep your eyes open, and don't fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults aren't really important. Once you decide to commit to someone, over time his or her flaws, vulnerabilities, pet peeves, and differences will become more obvious. If you love your mate and want the relationship to grow and evolve, you've got to learn to close one eye and not let every little thing bother you. You and your mate have many different expectations, emotional needs, values, dreams, weaknesses, and strengths. 

You are two unique individual children of God who have decided to share a life together. Neither of you are perfect, but are you perfect for each other? Do you bring out the best in each other? Do you compliment and compromise with each other, or do you compete, compare, and control? What do you bring to the relationship? Do you bring past relationships, past hurt, past mistrust, past pain? You can't take someone to the altar to alter him or her !

You can't make someone love you or make someone stay. If you develop self-esteem, spiritual discernment, and "a life", you won't find yourself making someone else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain. Manipulation, control, jealousy, neediness, and selfishness are not the ingredients of a thriving, healthy, loving and lasting relationship ! Seeking status, sex, wealth, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship. 

What keeps a relationship strong? Sharing common goals and interests. Communication, intimacy, trust, a sense of humor, sharing household tasks, some getaway time without business or children, daily exchanges, a meal, a shared activity, a hug, a call, a touch, a note. Leave a nice message on the voice mail or send a nice email. 

Growth is important. Grow together, not away from each other, giving each other space to grow without feeling insecure. Allow your mate to have outside interests. You can't always be together. Give each other a sense of belonging and assurances of commitment. Don't try to control one another. Learn each other's family situation. Respect his or her parents regardless. 

Don't put pressure on each other for material goods. Remember for richer or for poorer. 

If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment, withdrawal, abuse, neglect, dishonesty, and pain replaces the passion. 

The difference between 'United' and 'Untied' is where you put the I.

Rev. Ronald McFadden 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal is the largest excavated site in the American continent. It is Guatemala's most famous cultural and natural preserve.  Tikal possesses a certain magic... Like all puzzles without answers it fascinates everyone and we dare say... Tikal is so irresistible once you are here, you'll find yourself wanting to stay just a little longer!

      This majestic archaeological gem comprises 222 square miles of jungle all around the ceremonial center.  It took the University of Pennsylvania 13 years to uncover about 10 square miles of structures at Tikal.  However, much of it is still left to be unearthed.  So, do take some advice...  Don't try to see all of Tikal in one day, even if you are in excellent shape!

     Tikal remained a mystery for centuries, after being abruptly abandoned by the Maya over 1000 years ago and overgrown by a relentless jungle.  Only a legend survived among the Itza Maya people of a lost city, where their ancestors had achieved high cultural development.  In 1848 the legend faded, giving way to an exciting era ofdiscovery. It was a serendipitous discovery made by Ambrosio Tut, a gum collector or chiclero.

      He saw the temples' roof combs in the distance.  He ran to the island city of Flores to inform Modesto Mendez, then Governor of the Peten Province, in northern Guatemala.  When they arrived at the site the impressive temples, the open plazas and the several-story buildings, where priests and kings once lived, stood in front of Governor Mendez' and Ambrosio Tut's very eyes... They visited the site with an artist who recorded some of the carvings at Tikal.  Their findings were published by the Berlin Academy of Sciences in 1853.  It was only a matter of a few years before curious scholars started traveling from all corners of the world to see for themselves what they had discovered.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

If Jesus did not rise from the dead...

In 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, St. Paul is addressing those who doubted, or even taught, that there was no resurrection from the dead. He states as the foundation of his argument a fundamental of the Christian faith – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If we believe and teach that Jesus rose from the dead, how can we think that the resurrection of the dead is not possible. If there is no resurrection of the dead at the end of time, then we must believe that Jesus did not rise again.

What if Jesus did not rise again on the third day? What then? What does that mean to us and our faith?

First, all that we have taught and preached is vain. If Jesus did not rise again, the Gospel has no heart to it. It is emptied of good news and becomes nothing more than a funeral dirge. It becomes a teaching of death for we only tell the story of a good man who once lived, but died…the end. If Jesus is not risen, our preaching is emptied of its power. It is only the history of a man who can save no one. The Gospel ceases to be the power of God unto salvation. If He did not win the victory over death, hell and the grave, then we are still victims and evermore will be. Unless Jesus lives to enforce the claims and provisions of the Gospel, it has no value at all. It takes the victory of an empty tomb and the power of a risen Lord to make the Gospel effective.

Secondly, our faith is vain and empty. All that we think we received by faith; sonship, forgiveness, eternal life, justification, an eternal future; we did not receive if Jesus did not rise again. Our faith is a delusion. Faith is impotent for it can only be as powerful as its object and He is powerless if He did not rise again.

Third, we are still in our sins! If Jesus did not rise again, His name has no saving power and we have no Savior! It takes the resurrection to show the justifying power of His death.

Fourth, if Jesus did not rise again, the Bible is a book of lies. The Apostles of truth are really apostles of falsehood. The authority of Scripture breaks down and we have no revealed truth to tell of God and salvation.

Fifth, Paul tells us that if Jesus did not rise those who have died with faith in Him are really eternally perished. All hope of resurrection and eternal life are gone. If He did not rise again, then neither will we. Our Christian life is robbed of its hope and joy.


Our preaching is with life and power. He is the enforcer of the claims of the Gospel and has risen and sent the Holy Spirit to make sure those claims are applied to us by faith!

Our faith is a powerful one because it rests in One who is alive and powerful! We can pray with absolute faith in Him, He is alive! He is alive praying for and with us and His prayers will not be ignored!

Our sins are forgiven and gone! His sacrifice is all sufficient to erase our sins. He died for us and the whole world and His resurrection proves that His offering of Himself was enough.

His Word is vindicated for He is alive to confirm and perform it. Nothing can change  the Word. It is true!

Those that died in Christ we will meet again. We will all live in the risen one for eternity. Death is not final. And, our Christian life is one of joy because we have hope. Because He lives, we shall live also.

Praise God, He is risen! And being risen, He is the progenitor of a new race, the children of God. We have a new life, walk in a new and living way, because He died and rose again and is able to fulfill the claims of His new covenant with us. (Heb. 10:10-20)

Do you believe Jesus is alive? Would you like to receive forgiveness for your sins?

If you believe that the Bible offers truth about the way to salvation, but you have not made the decision yet to become a Christian, it's as simple as praying this prayer. You can pray by yourself, using your own words. There is no special formula. Just pray from your heart to God, and He will forgive your sins and give you a new life with purpose and you will spend eternity with Him. If you feel lost and just don’t know what to pray, here’s a prayer of salvation that you can pray:

Dear Lord,
I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you.

If you're wondering what to do next as a new Christian, check out these helpful suggestions: Here are 4 essential steps to move you forward toward spiritual growth. Though simple, they are vital to building your relationship with the Lord.

Step 1 – Read your Bible daily.
Find a Bible reading plan that’s right for you. A plan will keep you from missing anything God has written in His Word. Also, if you follow the plan, you’ll be on your way to reading through the Bible once every year! The easiest way to truly “grow up” in the faith is to make Bible reading a priority.

Step 2 – Meet together with other believers regularly.
The reason we attend church or gather with other believers regularly (Hebrews 10:25) is for teaching, fellowship, worship, communion, prayer and to build one another up in the faith (Acts 2:42-47). Participating in the body of Christ is fundamental to spiritual growth. If you’re having trouble finding a church, check out these resources on how to find a church that’s right for you.

Step 3 – Get involved in a ministry group.
Most churches offer small groups and many ministry opportunities. Pray and ask God where you should “plug in.” It’s the people who really “get plugged in” that find their purpose and soar in their walk with Christ. Sometimes this takes a little time, but most churches offer classes or counseling to help you find the place that’s right for you. Don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t seem to fit.

Step 4 – Pray daily. Prayer is simply talking to God.

You don’t have to use big fancy words. There are no right and wrong words. Just be yourself. Give thanks to the Lord daily for your salvation. Pray for others in need. Pray for direction. Pray for the Lord to fill you daily with His Holy Spirit. There is no limit to prayer. You can pray with your eyes closed or open, while sitting or standing, kneeling or lying on your bed, anywhere, anytime. So begin to make prayer a part of your daily routine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bono and Faith

Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), most commonly known by his stage name Bono (/ˈbɒnoʊ/ bon-oh), is an Irish singer, musician, and humanitarian best known for being the main vocalist of the Dublin-based rock band U2. Bono was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his future wife, Alison Stewart, and the future members of U2. Bono writes almost all U2 lyrics, often using political, social, and religious themes. During their early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to U2's rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with members of U2.

Outside the band, he has collaborated and recorded with numerous artists, is managing director and a managing partner of Elevation Partners, and has refurbished and owns The Clarence Hotel in Dublin with The Edge. Bono is also widely known for his activism concerning Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign and Product Red. He has organized and played in several benefit concerts and has met with influential politicians. Bono has been praised and criticized for his activism and involvement with U2. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and was named as a Person of the Year by Time, among other awards and nominations.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


The Bible tells us to "Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." In Max Lucado's new book, Grace Happens Here, he reminds us that Salvation is God's business. Grace is His idea, His work and His expense. God's Grace is more powerful than sin. Keep reading and let excerpts from Lucado's book and Scripture help you start receiving the freely given Grace of Almighty God today... 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own works that we forget Romans 8, which says "nothing can separate us from the Love of God." You don't have to be perfect to receive God's Grace -- only willing. Lucado says, "To discover grace is to discover God's utter devotion to you, His stubborn resolve to give you a cleansing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet."

Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." All He awaits is your request. Jesus treats our past with grace. He'll take the weight of it all -- if you'll ask Him. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross makes this precious gift of Grace available to you. Max reminds us "Christ came to earth for one reason: to give His life as a ransom for you, for me, for all of us."

The Apostle Paul reminds us, "He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ." Trust God's Grace by receiving forgiveness. Forgive yourself. See yourself as God's dear child who He's remodeling daily. Let Grace overpower your past and create in you a clean conscience. "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Grace is the power of God that keeps your engine going. God says, "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Continue to follow hard after God and don't let your memory paralyze you.

Max says the Graciousness of God empowers us to love boldly and live robustly. Start loving others and start grasping the heart of God. "The Lord's love never ends, His mercies never stop. They are new every morning." Wake up to this Scripture and start your day on the receiving end of God's endless love. Max reminds us because God has forgiven us, we can forgive others. Because He has a forgiving heart we can have a forgiving heart. Extend the gift of grace to others and remember that God's powerful grace is made perfect in our weakness.

Another great book to understand what grace means is "In the Grip of Grace" by Max Lucado. 

Friday, February 24, 2012