Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baptism unraveled (1)

Years ago a small book surfaced in Holland. It contained a list of all the contradictions in the Bible. The author shared his skeptical and critical remarks with the readers. Can't blame him, since he is not a Believer. I am sure books like that have surfaced in the USA as well. My question is: how do Christians handle scriptures that seem to teach an opposite lesson?

From time to time I stumble upon such contradictions in the Bible. However, they do not give me a reason to  be cynical or skeptical. On the contrary, they give me reason to dig deeper into the Word in search for explanations. Baptism is such a topic; for centuries people have debated and argued about this, which has resulted in church splits and family feuds. The Bible seems to add to the confusion by proclaiming one baptism, There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6) and several baptisms as mentioned in Hebrews 6:2, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

So, what's the deal here? One baptism or more? There is no doubt in my mind that the scholars and educated of our time have figured out an answer... However, I would like to share a fresh look regarding this subject on my blog, not from a theological or doctrinal point of view, but from a biblical point of view. I will do so in a series of short posts on:
  • the baptism into the body of Christ
  • the baptism in water
  • the baptism in/with the Holy Spirit, and
  • the baptism in/of suffering
I do not pretend to have all the answers, on the contrary, I have many questions. But I am sure that with the help of the Holy Spirit we will be able to unravel some mysteries around baptism. I hope you are as curious as I am. If so, please keep an eye on this blog!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keep writing!

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Thessalonians 1:3]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interview with Dawn Paoletta

It is my pleasure to host an interview with fellow blogger Dawn Paoletta who writes at Beneath the Surface. She is an aspiring author, seeking to be published. Well, who isn't :) Please, take a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy as Dawn shares part of her writing journey ...

Please, introduce yourself… anything special we need to know about Dawn Paoletta?
Well, I love bottomless cups of coffee, long conversations, living like a local tourist, contemplating deep thoughts (silly ones, too) and quietness. I am married to my best friend Angelo, have one sweet girl, Katherine (11)  as well as 2 cats,1 dog and a bunny! What you need to know is how amazingly aware I am that this life that I am living is a mist. I am on a mission to know, love and serve Jesus Christ every second with every breath He allows me to breathe. I fail daily and rely fully on His grace. The older I get the less I care about what others think and the more I see His beauty, grace and joy everywhere. 

How and when did you start your blog?
I started this blog after I suffered a hip injury last Memorial Day weekend of 2011. I had been feeling strongly that I needed to share my writing for a while, but once I was unable to work, teach class, do nothing but sit, it was as if God whispered, "Now." I also had gone on a white water rafting trip with my daughter's Girl Scout group about two weeks prior to the injury and I had so many God insights about our river guide, I felt I would bust if I did not share! The whole trip felt like one amazing adventure of God saying, "See me here", "I'm like this", this is "how I am with you"...and I really felt for two weeks after as I burned with insights that God was pressing within me to share what He showed me...publically, but I was a bit clueless about how to go about it. I finally got the blog started and it was my second post: The River, The Journey and The Guide. I think it reflects my writing "voice" and style on the blog pretty accurately, although I have been told that my writing has developed and changed over the course of the year.

Have you taken any steps to become a published author?
Funny you should ask. One of those God affirmations came in the form of a wonderful local book coach, who has given me the gift of a manual and some input to start. I started a Fiction Murder Mystery, which is a tale of redemption, which I shelved. I feel God is leading me to write something closer to home. I have a title and some of the outline. It is about some of my more recent lessons in life. It is written with the same voice I bring to my blog. My goal is to use the manual Lisa Tener gave me back in March to as she says "bring my book to life"! I am hoping to have a first draft by the end of this year. God willing. OK, really, God is willing, I need to be more disciplined to see it through to completion.

What role does your faith in God play in your daily life?
I love the verse in Acts: In Him we live and move and have our being. That sums a lot of my daily life up. I want to be like that tree planted by the water, in Jeremiah 17: fearless, confident in Him. God used those verses to speak to me when I was a new Christian. I know what it is like to lean on the arm of flesh. I have learned much the hard way. Now I want to abide in Him and exalt His name, forever and encourage others to do likewise! 

Can you give us a few good/fun reasons why we should visit Rhode Island?
Oh, Yes! Rhode Island may be the smallest state but there is so much beauty to be seen, here. We have the most beautiful coastline and lovely state parks as well. We have amazing diversity from rural farm areas and hiking to an amazingly active Capitol city which remains fairly easy to get around, visit and enjoy the sites. I am actually getting ready to do a series called The Local Tourist where I will regularly feature Rhode Island's sweet spots and unique places to visit! 

What writing-related struggle have you overcome?
I think learning to be concise. Not rambling. Yet, if you know me that's how I talk. So I have to overcome myself when I write! That's where God helps me. But the issue I am trying to overcome right now is directing some of my writing time into the book I am writing. I believe I need to discipline myself, prioritize and focus on writing daily for this book. I look at the blog as my place to "workout" in writing. Like an athlete training for his specific sport or event. I am stretching and working my writing muscles at my blog space! I enjoy blogging so much...I feel like I was meant to do it. However, my heart's desire has always been to be a published author; I never even knew what a blog was until a couple of years ago.

Top three tips from you as an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. 
1. Listen to your body & keep it simple (except when it says eat chips in front of the Telly!). Just because everyone else is doing the latest fitness trend does not make it right for your body, mind and lifestyle! Our bodies were made to move. It's not as hard as you think. Learn to enjoy bending, stretching and the way the body is designed to move, that is the beginning! 
2. A little is better than nothing. The battle is in the mind but the victory will come when you act - the Just Do It campaign works. The feelings follow the action. Just move a little and see.  Choice is a powerful thing. You can train yourself to like healthier foods and exercise step at a time. Take the first step, then the next. Don't over think it. It's easier than we make it out to be!
3. Try new things! Balance is about rolling with what comes your way and remaining flexible, consistent.  Our lives change and so do our preferences. The sport that worked when you were in college may not be the thing for you today. I think there are many ways to stay active and make healthier choices.  If you have never been successful with a program, keep exploring options for movement. Don't quit seeking. Simply walk, or even try ballroom dancing. Be an exercise explorer. Never give up giving yourself grace to start again...just like in our walk with the Lord!

Any words of encouragement to us bloggers?
Well, I am still new but I have learned a lot. I think the best thing I can say is live your life like a local tourist. Everywhere you go and everything you see is a story, a lesson or a poem waiting to be expressed and shared. Every single moment presents an opportunity to learn, teach, and be stretched. I carry a journal everywhere I go- I think everyone should. I explore and experience everything as an inquisitive visitor to this world. Pretend you're on assignment from God to investigate and discover hidden gems in every place you go and every person you talk to. Expect miracles. He is everywhere!

Make sure to visit Fitness For The Fainthearted

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grateful for reviewers

Although I am right in the middle of finishing up the final edits of my upcoming book My Neighbor's House, I still get really excited about positive responses to my previous books. I am so grateful for reviewers who take time to post favorable and well written reviews of one of my books on their blogs or on Amazon.

I realize more than ever that, although writing is kind of a lonely job, the books and blogs we produce are nothing without a group of faithful readers. They are really the ones spreading the word. I do my best to be that reader and encourager for others, and at the same time I am thrilled when someone surprises me with an excellent review :)

Fellow blogger Dawn Paoletta wrote a very helpful review of Grace of Giving on her blog Beneath the Surface. Her blog is certainly worth a visit (I am listening to the sound of rolling waves and seagulls right now) as she has a great variety of posts and book reviews. I will post an interview with Dawn later this month. She will share a bit more about her writing journey with us. I have no doubt she will inspire us all! So, please keep an eye on this blog.

Grace of Giving is available through all major book sellers, if you rather order the Kindle edition, please click HERE.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Is anyone listening?

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
[Psalms 103:11-12]

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Holy Spirit ABC (2)

In my previous post we have seen how the Holy Spirit came to replace Jesus here on earth because Jesus went back to the Father in heaven. It was better for the believers that it happened this way. If there is one thing we learn from this event, it is that God is one, yet three. The concept of the Trinity is hard to understand for many people, maybe due to our Western way of thinking. In the Hebrew language however, it is a common principle; the word echad (one) is being used  to describe a unity consisting of different parts.

As human beings we are made in the image and likeness of God, three and yet one. Spirit, soul and body and yet one human being. Think for instance about the following example. We can cry inwardly and feel depressed, but outwardly we can look cool. Soul and body work differently, but they cannot be separated. So it is with God. When Jesus was on earth He only did what He saw the Father doing, they talked with each other often. The Holy Spirit now lives inside the believers, but tells us only what He hears from the Father, they listen to each other. In this way they each do their own work , but they cannot be separated.

In John 14:26 Jesus says: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. The Holy Spirit has specific functions here on earth. One of these functions is that He will teach us everything. He is our teacher. What good is it to have a teacher that we never talk with, that we never ask questions and that we do not know personally? That wouldn't work in any school or college. It would be difficult to attend  classes with interest and to learn from such a teacher. Communication is the key word, especially with the Holy Spirit who lives in us. If we never talk with Him, we will not get to know Him.

Getting to know Him better is what the Bible calls the 'fellowship with the Holy Spirit'. More about that in the next post. For now I would like to encourage you to ask the teacher some questions. I am sure we all have questions about the Bible, about certain scriptures or stories. Take a cup of coffee, sit down and ask the Holy Spirit (who lives in you if you are a child of God) to give you wisdom and insight. He will do this, He longs to do this. Let me know whether He helped you or not...