Category Archives: faith

Update

I know… it’s been awhile.

So much has happened in the past twelve months between one thing or another. I have not been able to post much, and truthfully, I have not been up to it. But I wanted to update you… my dear subscribers.

I have been reading when I can, but not regularly. Nor am I reviewing books. However, I have been vlogging intermittently. You can feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you would like (please click here or you can  search for Pilar V. Arsenec to subscribe).

It’s been over a year now that I have been struggling with my health which has unfortunately disrupted my life in more than one way. This, mixed with several other things, has adversely affected me. It has been the grace of God and the prayers of the saints that has kept me afloat.

I can honestly say these past two years have been one of the most difficult times of my life. I am getting hit on all sides. No exaggeration.

But through it ALL, the Lord is teaching me about Him, and my faith is slowly growing stronger.

These verses have become real to me,

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

It has been a hard journey, but through the adversity, the Lord is revealing Himself to me in His Word. Not by any mystical experience, but just by the pure simplicity of the gospel.

As much as it has been an unpleasant time in my life, I do believe I would not have the understanding and discernment that I do now had I not gone through the furnace of affliction.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)

Like the Apostle Paul, I am resigned to glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

So there you have it, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would appreciate your prayers. I pray all is well with you and your loved ones. God bless you. 

Good Riddance 2017…

I don’t know about you, but this year was probably the most difficult one for me. I won’t get into the details, but suffice it to say, it was hard beyond words.

To be honest, I am a bit apprehensive about 2018.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

But, even though it was a tough year, there was still a lot to be thankful for. And three things come to mind: faith, family and friends.

Faith

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

I drew closer to God this year. I believe it was the hardship that brought me closer to Him. Which reminds me of this verse…

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10)

Our faith grows not when everything goes right or our way, but through suffering. Pain, loss, suffering helps us grow and mature as Christians. Pain certainly doesn’t feel good, but sometimes it is necessary for us to see things clearly and change our perspective and priorities in life.

Family

…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

One of the things I am most grateful for is my family and that we are serving the Lord together. I am also grateful for my family in Christ, the few close sisters who have stood by me and prayed for me.

Friends

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT)

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NASB)

I have been blessed to know many people in my life, and to call them friends. However, this year has taught me who my real friends are.

First and foremost, it is Jesus Christ. Second, my husband, who has had a million excuses to leave, but chose to stay. He is my example of strength, character, integrity and tenacity in the face of difficulties, obstacles and opposition. He is loyal, committed and a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I realize that sometimes it takes falling and failing to distinguish truth from lies. To recognize who is actually for you, not just when the sun is shining, but when the sky is grey for days. The gift of being able to see beyond the smoke screens, fakes, phonies, and politically correct, the ones who only know how to smile in your face, and stab you in the back

I have had plenty of those kinds of friends. More than my fair share. But I thank God for all of them, my dear frenemies, because they taught me so much. So many valuable and priceless lessons. They have no idea how much they’ve served me.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result…” (Genesis 50:20 NASB)

When you are told so many lies… they begin to sound like the truth. Until the facade evaporates, and the ugly truth remains.

I’d rather know the hard truth than believe a bunch of lies. Those saccharine laced words, so sweet at first, leaving a nasty aftertaste. I thank God for delivering me from the web of deception, and for the pain I’ve endured at the hands of people I’ve cared about and loved, because I am no longer enslaved to them. I am free. Thank you, Jesus.

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NASB)

This is my prayer for you:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Happy New Year!

 

KJV Know The Word Study Bible

Paperback: 1824 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: $27.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

The KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers three easy ways to begin studying Scripture and helps individuals transition from being a casual reader of the Bible to becoming a regular student of the Bible. You can choose to study the Bible book-by-book, verse-by-verse, or topic-by-topic; each path offers powerful insights that will help you develop a daily routine of Bible study. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God’s Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

Features Include:

  • King James Version Bible text
  • Three easy approaches to study the Bible: 1. Book by Book; 2. Verse by Verse; 3. Topic by Topic
  • Insightful introductions for each book of Scripture
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • Beautiful two-color interior page design
  • Comprehensive list of theological notes
  • Concordance
  • Full-color maps
  • 8-point type size

Review

I love Bibles, and my favorite version is the King James Bible. So, I was eager to review Know The Word Study Bible.

The pros: I liked the book by book, verse by verse and topic by topic sections, and the fact that it is compact enough to carry around with you. My personal favorite is the Introduction and Notes.

The cons: The print is too small for me and I found it limited. What I mean by limited, is that it’s not like a Life Application Study Bible or ESV Study Bible.

Overall, I like the Know The Word Study Bible and would recommend it. It does offer more features than any other compact study bible I’ve seen. I believe this bible would work best for a new believer as it’s not too intimidating or overwhelming.

Disclaimer: I want to thank Litfuse Publishing Group for sending me a complimentary bible in exchange for an honest review.

Drain The Swamp

Have you ever found yourself in a hopeless situation? A dark and lonely place? Where everything around you lacks color and is grey.

Haunted by memories, hounding you like a hungry wolf. Lost in a swamp, walking aimlessly, looking for a way out.

Courtesy of SJ Carey | Creative Commons

No matter what you do, or how much you walk, you are trapped with no escape. Lost and desperate, you look up and all you see are dead branches.

You look down at the murky water, with the hopes of finding life, only to be met with a distorted reflection of someone you once knew, looking back at you.

* * * * * * * * *

Our hearts are preoccupied with self, and our minds are polluted with the cares of this world.

The swamp is our souls.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

How do we drain the swamp?

It’s simple, but requires a commitment. That is, reading the Bible every day without fail. Not only reading it, but praying, studying, journaling and meditating on it.

This is how the excavation begins. The draining, digging, cleaning out of the old and replacing it with the new.

When negative thoughts flood your mind, like a tsunami, and you feel hopeless, think of Jesus.

When the pain suffocates you, and you feel like giving up, cry out to Jesus.

When nothing makes sense, and there are no answers, pray to Jesus.

When you feel lost, alone, and no help can be found, call on the name of Jesus.

Only Jesus can save us from ourselves. He is our only hope in the midst of whatever we are going through.

“Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:31

We must seek Him like hidden treasure.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Matthew 13:44

Jesus is the answer. He possesses the keys to any problem or situation we face. He alone can drain our swamps and set us free.

***May this song encourage you today: https://youtu.be/ADuWzd7x25c***

 

Growing Up Gangster by Gregory Marshall

Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: Brown Girls Publishing
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Powerful…Poignant…Inspiring As a child growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Gregory Marshall was enamored with the fast life. Money, women and cars were the things to have and Greg was determined to get them-by any means necessary. It wasn’t long before the innocent youngster had turned into a cold-hearted gangster known around town simply as G Man. His ruthless life of crime made him a legend in South Central LA-and the go-to man for everyone from Tupac Shakur to the notorious Monster Kody. But a drug deal gone bad eventually left him shot and near death…forcing him into the ultimate struggle for survival. Faced with intense rehabilitation and paralysis that had crippled the entire right side of his body, Greg had two choices, give up or get up. He chose the latter. And with the use of only one finger, he wrote his story through gritty, breathtaking, and sometimes brutal details…including his anger at injustices, the pain of abandonment and one unlikely act of kindness that started him on the path of healing and forgiveness.

*** Watch the vlog review here: https://youtu.be/7ihwparEYdQ ***

Review

Growing Up Gangster is a powerful memoir about Gregory Marshall’s life. Gregory entered a life of crime at an early age, which was partly due to his father being absent from his life. His father had left his mother and abandoned him and his siblings, and started a new family. The rejection and pain he felt from what his father did drove him to the streets and into a life of crime.

If you want read a well-written memoir that will have you at the edge of your seat, I highly recommend this one.

For a more detailed and thorough review, please be sure to watch my vlog.

Greg Marshall was an innocent youngster-turned-gangster whose journey took him from the dangerous streets of South Central Los Angeles to the Deep South in Natchez, Mississippi. A life of crime, several stints in prison, all led up to Greg being shot and left for dead in a drug deal gone bad forcing him into the ultimate struggle for survival. After undergoing an intense rehabilitation, in which Greg had to overcome paralysis throughout the right side of his body, he penned his story about the deepest secrets of street life and the underworld, but also of how he eventually embraced God’s redemption and forgiveness. Greg’s story is one of pain, despair, crime, love, healing—all leading to where he is today—hoping to make a positive difference in the lives of others and becoming a beacon of hope for those who need it most.

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world.

* * * * * Vlog Review: https://youtu.be/cwkeHf5n0x8 * * * * *

Review

Mitch Albom met Morrie in college. He was his sociology professor. Morrie took an interest in Mitch and they developed a close friendship. After graduating college, Mitch Albom went on to be a sports journalist, and lost touch with Morrie.

One fateful night, while Mitch was flipping through TV channels, he came upon an interview with Morrie and learned that he was dying. This is what prompted Mitch to reach out, and thus began visiting with Morrie.

Every Tuesday, Mitch would visit and interview him. He would ask him important questions, which resulted in this memorable and thought provoking book.

I remember when this book came out and was on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. However, I never got around to reading it until now. I am thankful I received the 20th year anniversary edition from Penguin Random House to review, because this short book reminded me of what’s matters in life; God, family and community.

If you want to be inspired, I highly recommend Tuesdays With Morrie. 

Mitch Albom is an internationally renowned author, screenwriter, playwright, nationally syndicated columnist, broadcaster and musician. He is the author of six consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers–including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time–and his books have collectively sold more than thirty-five million copies in forty-five languages. Four of his books have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies. He has founded eight charities in Detroit and Haiti, where he operates an orphanage. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan. Learn more at www.mitchalbom.com and www.mitchalbomcharities.org

What Side Are You On?

How many times have you heard… “I’m a Christian,” “I believe in Jesus,” “God speaks to me.”  But when you look closely, you see no evidence of Him.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

They profess Christ. They pray. They attend church faithfully, or not. They post Scripture memes on Facebook, and have all their Christianese down pat. Yet, somehow, they carry on as if He doesn’t exist.

They live in outright sin, but think because they were born with gifts and talents, that makes them special and gives them license to do whatever they want. No holds barred. Never once bending their knee and recognizing Jesus as Lord.

They have made a god of their own understanding.

For a couple of years, I went in a different direction. I had stopped reading my Bible and attending Church to assuage my conscience. The deeper I got, the more convicted I felt, until I came to the end of myself.

Whatever you let in, or surround yourself with, will influence you.

I had to make a choice, either I was going to do things my way or God’s way. It wasn’t about what people thought of me, it was about what God thought, and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to break away from all of those associations and influences that had me walking the opposite direction.

Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Cor. 15:33)

Was it easy? Absolutely not, because I am back at square one. I pressed the reset button and started over again. But this time, I’m doing things God’s way.

The Bible is clear, we can’t live on both sides of the fence. Either we are serving God or the devil, there is no in between.

Some “Christians” will justify what they are doing with a million excuses, which may even sound plausible, but they are deceiving themselves.

This world is governed by the spirit of rebellion.

Ironically, the ones with all the excuses, are the first to criticize those who are actually trying to follow the Bible.

One thing is certain, they may be successful at whatever it is they are doing in the world, but there won’t be any evidence of Jesus in their life. Because they are not pursuing Him, they are chasing after their own worldly pursuits. They made their dream an idol.

Personally, I’d rather be criticized and called names, however unpleasant that is, than bear no fruit in my life.

What about you? What side are you on? 

Christianity Today

I don’t know about you, but lately, I see so much confusion within Christianity. What happened to the simplicity of the gospel? Where did it go?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I was one of those Christians who never read their Bible, but in the past couple of years, I have been reading it diligently. To my surprise, I am slowly becoming aware of things I used to passed over, and not pay attention to.

Some Christians get offended when you speak on various pastors who preach a false gospel. They call you judgmental or negative. However, what they fail to understand is how contrary their messages are to the Bible. And yes, I’m deliberately not calling them out.

What I have analyzed is how certain groups of Christians will focus on key scriptures as their premise or basis of doctrinal belief. When they spout these particular scriptures, it does sound exactly as it’s being conveyed. However, that’s the deception. The scriptures are being taken out of context and not going along with the entire theme of the Bible. This is why I say it’s so important to read the Bible.

There was a time I bought into the lie of seeking Heaven on earth. Where everyone will be as one and in unity. Where there is unlimited grace and favor, no matter what you did. A god who supports gay marriage, adultery, murder, child pornography. Anything goes, because God is a loving God and He doesn’t condemn people to hell.

I’m sorry, but that’s not true. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He loves the homosexual, prostitute, pimp, drug dealer, murderer, child molester, and adulterer, but He doesn’t love their sin. He doesn’t condone any of these things that specifically go against His very nature and Word. No, He doesn’t accept it, and yes, there is a hell, and it’s real.

Christianity today is do it your way. Where grace abounds, no matter what you do. A feel-good Christianity, where they worship a Jesus who laughs all the time and slaps you on your back, and says, “ata-boy or girl”.

Yes, God is a merciful, and forgiving God. He rains on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45) However, He doesn’t accept everything. We shouldn’t abuse or take His grace for granted either. (Hebrews 6:6)

As Christians, we have to make a choice. Either we are all in or all out, but there is no in-between. He hates lukewarm and spews it out of his mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

What kind of Christian are you?

Another Gospel

They tell you to ignore and deny your sickness, depression, and pain. And when you pray, and nothing changes, it’s YOUR fault, because you don’t have enough faith.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

How many of you know that’s a bunch of hogwash?

For whatever reason, some people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that depression and anxiety is an illness and disability. Much like someone who lost an arm or a limb.

However, there are some in Christendom who believe if you are struggling with any kind of illness or disease, it is either a result of unrepentant sin, demons, or a lack of faith. So, on top of suffering, there is the guilt, blame and shame added to the mix for good measure.

I happen to be an open minded person, but I have a real problem with this false teaching being purported as truth. I have been exposed to a lot in my life, and have learned a great deal in my search for God. The one thing I can tell you is that these so-called faith healers are fake, and if they do exhibit any so-called power to heal, you must question the origin from hence it came, because not everything “supernatural” is of God.

I am here to tell you, that if you are a Christian who struggles with any kind of illness or disability, you are not alone and are no less a Christian for it. Jesus never said we wouldn’t be sick or suffer here on earth. He said we will have to pick up our Cross and follow Him.

I read this morning in Matthew 10:18, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Hmm, did you catch that… “not worthy of me.”

Jesus said it like it is. These fresh revelations, or new insights of the Word of God that these self-proclaimed apostles and prophets tell you is not biblical doctrine, but another gospel.

Today, the Church has strayed so far away from the truth, it’s sad. They have a distorted, confused and mixed up doctrine. What makes matters worse is that Christians don’t like to read their Bible. They’d rather be spoon feed, than dig into it themselves. What they fail to realize is they are doing themselves a huge disservice.

I do believe God heals. However, I no longer believe in those who claim to be used of God to heal others. God is God. He doesn’t need intermediaries. All God desires that we pray, have faith, and follow Him, whether we get healed or not.

The Day I Deleted 3,000 Friends

From 2014 through 2015, I went from blogging and reviewing Christian genre, to crime fiction and urban literature. I enjoyed it, and in the process, learned a great deal about myself, and others.

However, once I rededicated my life to Christ in the beginning of 2016, I had to reevaluate things. What I was doing, where I was going, and mostly, what God wanted for me.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

My deleting over 3,000 “friends” wasn’t personal, it was something the Lord impressed on me to do. He wanted me to put the past behind me, and start anew. As it was, not all of my decisions were lining up with His, and something needed to change.

The Bible says, in Hosea 4:6a, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Life is a journey, and the road can either be smooth or tumultuous based on our decisions. Our choices have to be aligned with His for things to go right in our lives.

The devil likes to confuse us and take us on rides, to get us off course, so that we get frustrated, give up, and abort our calling. This is what happened to me. So, I had to repent, recalibrate and get my life back on track.

As an artist, I do appreciate all art forms, however, I had to reconcile with the fact that a lot of what I was reading and reviewing was no longer feasible. The books I read were well-written by some talented authors, however, the genre was no longer one I could indulge in as a follower of Christ. So I had to make a decision, I was either going to follow Him or do it my way. And trust, that doing it my way didn’t result in anything good for me.

Thus, I am returning to blogging about my faith, reviewing Christian books, and classical literature. My goal is to continue to do my best and provide you with a variety of relevant content; full of substance, meaning and depth. Thank you for traveling on this journey with me.

Ta-Ta 2016… Hello 2017!

2016… what can I say? You were like a bad marriage on steroids. Lots of downs, and not enough ups. But like any other commitment, we trudged along together through every obstacle with gritted teeth. But boy did you hit us with some doozies.

There were a lot of disappointments, shedding, and letting go of people, places, and things. Which is why, I’m not sorry to say, ta-ta, arrivederci, and good riddance!

Courtesy of Creative Commons

In 2016, I learned to surrender, obey, pray, and trust Jesus. He taught me how to stand in the midst of each relentless and incessant storm. As a result, my faith got stronger. My Comforter gave me the courage, and strength of a lioness to confront things without fear.

Through every wind and wave of adversity, He taught me not to cower or give up. I am determined to walk with Jesus every single day, every step of the way, with no turning back. Ever again.

This verse became real and personal to me,

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)

When others turned against me, Jesus never did. He never left me nor forsook me. He showed me His faithfulness, and showered me with His unfailing love, grace and mercy. He truly is a good, good Father, which is why I will follow Him all the days of my life. No matter what. Even if I must walk it alone.

No, I didn’t like you very much, 2016, however, I would be remiss not to thank you for every lesson, test, trial, tribulation, storm and adversity you’ve sent my way. My circumstances may not have changed, but gratefully, I have.

Happy New Year!