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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS! December 25, 2013.

Merry Christmas!
Christ has been born.
Born to save the world from death.
Born into a wooden cradle that would,
with the completion of His mission,
become the wood of the cross.

I pray that this Advent season has been a time of preparation for you.
A time of preparing your heart for the coming of Christ.

Know though, that this preparation is not over.
We are still watching and waiting expectantly
for the coming of Christ again.

Let us pray that we may always be preparing our hearts for Him.
Let us pray that we may complete the mission He has set before us 
in a way most pleasing to Him.

This birth of this Child is the only reason we have hope for life eternal.
His coming destroyed death and gave us hope for life.
Let us praise Him!
Let us adore Him!

I thank you immensely for reading along this Advent.
It is incredibly humbling.
I hope that each one of you has a very blessed Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve. Advent Day 24. December 24, 2013.

Christmas Eve.
The eve of the birth of the Baby Jesus.
The eve of one of the most celebrated days of the year.
But, yet, we miss the point.

Amid the cookies
and ham,
present wrapping,
and cleaning,
family quarrels,
and decorating,
we forget.

We always blame those who make Christmas a secular holiday.
They don’t recognize Jesus’ presence and birth
but I go to church, therefore,
I understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Just no.

It can’t always be “them”.
What about us?
What about me?
When do I fail?
When am I wrong?

Just because I go to church on Christmas Eve
doesn’t mean I make the holiday any less secular than the rest of the world.

I realize that I don’t take the time to truly ponder Christmas 
and its true meaning.
Cliché as it is,
it isn’t all about the cookies,
and hot drinks.
It’s obviously about the gift of the Christ Child.
But how many of us truly understand the magnitude of that gift?
I don’t.

This gift.
The Christ Child is the most
and love-driven gift.

I can’t even begin to comprehend.
But I don’t take the time to either.

Let’s make one last goal for this season.

Let’s make it a goal today to sit,
even just for 5 minutes,
block everything else out,
and just think about the gift of the Christ Child.

Let us prepare our hearts.
Let us ready the way for Him.
Let us push aside all the extras
and just focus on the coming of the Christ Child
and what that means in your own life.

Maybe, just maybe,
we will receive the best gift of all this Christmas,
understanding the true meaning of Christmas. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wisdom from Phil Robertson. Advent Day 23. December 23, 2013.

Our culture has accepted two huge lies.
The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate.
-Phil Robertson

I love when the greatest bouts of wisdom come from the most unassuming people.

Our culture has decided that if we disagree with someone and their lifestyle of sin,
we must do away with them.
We can’t interact with them.
We should even start up petitions and hold protests
to show our disdain and disapproval of their lifestyle.

Whatever happened to conversation?
Just talking about the situation.
“Here is what I see. That doesn’t quite match the view of the Church. Could we talk about it?”
But no.
That’s way too offensive.
That’s getting too deep into a relationship.
That’s trespassing personal boundaries.
Not acceptable.

How are we ever supposed to become better people
if we won’t allow for any criticism or insight from anyone else?

Talking is too much?
It’s too scary?
What about living a lifestyle that speaks a million words?
What about mirroring your own life after the Church’s teachings?
Actions speak.
Live a life that speaks well.

On the flip side,
who said that to love you must agree with everything that person stands for?
We are such wimps.
We have become lukewarm.

Absolutely nothing wrong with being friends with someone
who lives a lifestyle of sin you don’t agree with.
In fact, go for it, you’re transcending the whole phobia thing.
But, the thing is, to love is to will the good of another,
not to condone and agree with all they do.

You can be friends and not agree with their lifestyle of sin.
You can love them without condoning the way they live.
You can have conversations without pointing a finger at them.
You can love them by challenging them; by not allowing them to settle.

If our ultimate goal is heaven then we must do some work to get there.
I can do some work myself,
but I also need the help of others.
I need other to point out my failings and sinful choices.
I need someone to love me in a way that challenges me,
not that bubble wraps me.
I think we all do.
Be that person for someone else.
Love, the right way.

“You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Job's Simple Faith. Advent Day 22. December 22, 2013.

I love Job.
This blog started off with a post comparing
Job’s choice of words and his wife’s choice of words.
In this story,
Job obviously chose the better part,
the more pleasing words.

I’ve wondered though,
what exactly about Job’s words makes them a much better choice?
Obviously the content,
but what is behind them?
What are they made up of?
Where do they have their root?

No doubt.
But a certain kind.

Faith like a child.

Job’s faith was simple.
His words to God were simple.
He was all very logical.
Not complex logical.
Just plan, simple, “duh”, logic.

I guess it’s similar to asking an older child,
“What is 2+2?”
You should get the answer, “4”
but you might get a snarky response
as if the answer should have been obvious.

Job responded like that, I think.
Maybe he left out the snarkiness but
he spoke his words as though they were obvious. 

Upon everything being taken away from him Job responded,
“The Lords gives and the Lord takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).
From the get-go (literally, chapter 1),
Job was praising God for his horrible situation. 

But more than just praising,
Job just stated the obvious.
He gives.
He takes.
We take the good.
Who are we to not take the bad as well?
Like a little kid.
Faith like a child.

We make things too complex.
We try and find the meaning behind everything.
We try to pin down the exact plan God has set for us.
We try to analyze why God does what He does.
We look for explanations for experiences God puts us through.
When really,
all we need is some faith.
Faith like a child.

It doesn’t require
thought processes,
or diagrams,
or math equations,
or timelines.
It is just constantly,
Faith like a child.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

God Knows. Advent Day 21. December 21, 2013.

God knows.
He knows your heart.
He knows every
and longing.

I forget this though,
all too often.
I feel like I have to explain everything to Him.
Or that I have to hide things.
Or that He won’t understand.
I take for granted the fact that He knows.

I put up these walls.
Those facades?
I don’t use them just with people,
with Him too.

It’s just easier most of the time
to dance around the truth,
to pretty-up the not-so-pretty,
to pretend as though everything is fine.

I’ve come to realize though,
that it really does no good.
There is no benefit to
and walls
and being fake
and hiding things.

I’ve also come to realize though,
that being real is much harder.
But there is great benefit to it.

If we want to
improve our lives,
be better Christians,
seek out Christ,
check off our goals,
fulfill our missions,
and be the person Christ is calling us to be,
we have to be real with Him.

No sense in hiding it.
He knows it all.

Rather than trying to dance around the truth
with petty little lies
and false fantasies,
just skip that.

Just cut right to the heart of it all.
Right to the center.
Right to the core.
Right to the place that may cause some pain.
Right to the place where He can offer you
comfort and redemption,
guidance and friendship,
truth and honesty.

Just lay it down.
Offer it up to Him.

He already knows it all.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Heart Knows. Advent Day 20. December 20, 2013.

The heart knows its own bitterness.
Proverbs 14:10

When I read this verse I couldn’t help but think about my own bitterness.
Of course I am familiar with some of it.
But I am also well aware that there is way more bitterness within than I care to admit.
I think this idea of bitterness encompasses more than just bitterness but rather,
all of our anger,
all of our sins,
and all of our failings.

I may put up a front,
but the heart knows.

It’s kind of like dieting with a friend and
sneaking some cookies without them seeing.
Your friend may never know that you cheated on your diet,
but your body will.

An interesting connection between the body and the heart is this-
neither lie.

I might lie about what I eat;
my body won’t.
I might lie about my bitterness;
my heart won’t.

Whether it’s a cookie or a sin,
you will be ratted out.

I’ve learned this the hard way (both examples!)

But through those mistakes,
I have learned how to make this apparent conflict a bit easier.

I haven’t learned perfection,
but I am working on progress.  

I’ve learned that the more the heart is in sync
with the mind
and our body
and our actions,
the less conflict and contradiction there will be.

The more we are willing to admit what the heart already knows,
the more we can make progress on our missions
and become better Christians.

The longer we deny the fact that
the heart truly knows our bitterness,
the bigger the web of lies that we become entangled in.

The truth might initially seem harder
than ignoring what the heart truly knows.
But in the long run,
admitting the truth,
no matter how hard it may be,
will result in a better outcome.

What does your heart know
that you are trying to suppress?

What is the hard, cold truth
that is waiting to set you free?

What does YOUR heart know?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Answer His Call. Advent Day 19. December 19, 2013.

I am caught between the two, I long to depart from this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is far more necessary for your benefit.
Philippians 1:24

Paul got it.
He understood.
He knew with his whole being the purpose of his life.

He wanted to be with Christ more than anything
but he realized that he was stuck on earth,
with a mission to help bring others to heaven.

Talk about taking command of the situation.
Instead of complaining 
and doing a crappy job,
Paul takes hold of the situation.
He does what is asked of him. 
He remains on earth in order to bring others to heaven.

Christ is going to ask us to do things we might not want to do.
He is going to challenge us.
He is going to put us in places that we are not comfortable with.
He is going to ask us to stay instead of advancing.
He is going to ask us to move forward when we would rather stay.

We could complain.
Rather, we most likely do complain.
But instead of complaining.
We could follow Paul’s example.

There is nothing wrong with stating something as it is
but then move on and make the most of the situation.

I’m caught between the two.
I’d rather be with Christ.
I’m stuck here with you guys,
so let’s make it productive.
Hopefully we can all go to heaven.

We are allowed to be uncomfortable.
And it’s okay to say how we feel
but dwelling on the situation will do no good.

In our discomfort,
carpe diem,
seize the day.
Take hold of the situation and bring God glory.

Maybe our situation will be nothing like Paul’s
and maybe while on earth we will never be blessed to be in the mindset that Paul was.
But that does not mean we cannot follow His example.

Even if you would rather be doing something else.
Do what Christ is calling you to.

Answer His call.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where was God? Advent Day 18. December 18, 2013.

“Therefore it has to have been allowed to happen. That’s not the question. Rather, the only question is whether it was allowed to happen for no reason or whether there was, within it, a redemptive purpose.”*
“On 9/11 people were asking, ‘Where was God?’”
“Where was God?” he said, as if surprised by the question.

Where was God?
Where is God?
That really is the question.

In the pain,
and heartache,
and tragedy.
Where was God?

natural disasters,
terrorists attacks.
Where was God?

I really think this question burns within the heart of each person at one point or another.
Even in the hearts of those who claim to not believe.
There is just something to knowing there is a higher power.
But where was He?

            “Where was God?” he said, as if surprised by the question. “We drove Him out of schools, out of our government, out of our media, out of our culture, out of our public square. We drove Him out of our national life, and then we ask, ‘Where is God?’”
            “In the middle of the twentieth century America began officially removing God from its national life. It abolished prayer and Scripture in its public school…Removed the Ten Commandments from public view…The very mention of the name God or Jesus in any relevant context became more and more taboo and unwelcome unless for the purpose of mockery and attack…Children were taught of sexual immorality in public schools where the Word of God was banned.”

Ironic that we do everything in our collective power to get rid of a particular Entity,
but the moment we need something,
we expect Him to be there.
Where was God?

Despite driving Him out of everything...
Despite the fact that He should have left us all to the wild beasts...

            “Then He wasn’t there?”
            “Still, He was there. He was there with those who lost their loved ones and is still there to heal the broken and comfort those who mourn. He was there with those who gave their lives so that others could live, shadows of Him. And He was there, as well, with all the countless others who would have perished that day if not for the countless turn of details and events that saved them. And for those who perished…those who were with God in life are now with Him in eternity. For these, it was not a day of national calamity but of release. He was with them and is with them.”

Where was God?
He was there.
In the pain,
and personal.

He was there.
And He is there.

Despite the fact that we, collectively,
drive Him out of our schools,
our nation,
our government,
and our families.

What an incredible God.
We offend Him more than we could ever think of offending a human being,
demand to know where He is during the hard times or the times it are convenient,
and He shows Himself.

He is there.
He has been all along. 
But we are too busy 
trying to erase every speck of Him
to know that. 

Even though we have no right to ask, “Where was God?”
based on our actions and behaviors,
and answer is and will always be,

“Right here. With you all along. Always will be.” 

*The parts in quotations came from The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn; pages 20, 21, 31. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pride and Humility: As Taught by a 3 Year Old. Advent Day 17. December 17, 2013.

During the summer months I teach swimming,
mainly to little kids.
If you know me,
you would know this because of the major raccoon tan on my face from my sunglasses.
It’s pretty stellar.
Anyways, aside from the awesome tan on my face,
my swim kids bless me with hardcore lessons almost each day.

I have a little boy in my level one class that is the neatest little thing.
He is 3,
he doesn’t stop talking, yet he listens to everything I say
because he can repeat anything that I ask him to in his little raspy voice.

He has the greatest support system.
His two older brothers watch his whole swim lesson
telling him what a great job he is doing
and his mom gives him a thumbs up every time he does what is asked of him.
It’s the coolest thing to see.

But he has done more than killed me with cuteness;
he has taught me the difference between pride and being proud.
He has done this because his little 3 year old self doesn’t have the arrogance to be prideful;
he is just honest.  

I was holding his belly,
asking him to kick,
and make big ice cream scoops with his arms.

As he was swimming,
I was telling him he was doing a great job and that his scoops looked really big.
He was moving his arms so meticulously
that he was shaking because he was trying to make his scoops look perfect.

At one point as his was scooping and stretching his arms out so far
and he looked at me and said in his little 3 year old macho-man raspy voice,
In normal people speak, this translates as,
I couldn’t help but laugh and support his claim that, yes, he was so strong.

Aside from being funny,
his comment taught me an important lesson:
there is a difference between pride and being proud.
Sometimes the difference is slight and the line may be blurry
but the difference is present.

The difference seems to lie in our intent.
As a little 3 year old,
his motive was not arrogance or pride.
His motive was simply sharing and using his talent of being strong.

Though he is but little, he has inspired me
and taught me that one’s motive can speak volumes more than one’s actions.
He has proved to me that we can be proud of our gifts and talents without being prideful.

May we all learn to humbly use our gifts and be proud of our talents; all for His glory.