Why You Should Sponsor A Child

By the time your done reading this blog, at least 150 children around the world will have died due to poverty.

(According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because they lack the means to afford proper care).

Their deaths are preventable.

Organizations like the one I work for (Expect Hope) make it their mission to rescue children from poverty and provide them with food, clothing, shelter, access to healthcare, and most importantly, love.

But WHY does your sponsorship matter?

Well, for one, not every country is the United States. Many countries do not have the means to help orphaned children, so many of them end up on the streets, naked and begging for food.

Many of those same children are targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS or Abu Sayyaf who promise them the same things Expect Hope does, but asks them to pay a hefty price; psychological abuse and, at times, sacrificing themselves for the terrorist groups cause.

There is no Child Protective Services to call in many third world countries. There is no Medicaid, no Free or Reduced Lunch, and sometimes, there isn’t even an option for free “public school”.

There are children right at this moment, walking along the streets naked and barefoot, with tummies rumbling, lacking ONE thing above all else; HOPE.

You could bring HOPE to a child today. You can change a life forever.

Some may say “well, $35 a month is a big ask”, but is it really?

My HULU subscription costs more than that.

Taking my family of four to Chipotle just once a month costs more than that.

Buying three new shirts at Ross costs more than that.

The truth is $35 equals to about $1.17 a day. We spend more than that on Starbucks, McDonalds, or whatever brand’s coffee you enjoy.

Think about that. Skipping Starbucks for 8-9 days a month will literally rescue an orphan from property and give them HOPE.

You can literally be someone’s hero for just $35 a month.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, visit Expect Hope today and sign up to sponsor. Still have questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to get them.

Somethings you just don’t have to pray for.

Jesus said when you care for the least of these, you cared for Him.

Will you?

Three People Who Have Influenced My Faith

For those who may not know my testimony, I grew up with a lot of religion and little to no Jesus. Because of this, my life before conversion was a pendulum, sometimes swinging towards religion (trying my best to be good enough for God), other times swinging away (when that didn’t work, because it never does, I disowned Christianity and lived like God wasn’t real).

After conversion, God brought three prominent people into my life. While I don’t know any of these people personally, they have all had a great impact on my walk with God, so I would love to share them with you.

      1. Lecrae:
        lecrae_h_2016
        I was introduced to Lecrae’s music through a Christian friend of mine (who actually ended up playing a role in my salvation). Though I wasn’t saved when I was first introduced to him, “Rebel” ended up being one of the first albums I got after my conversion. Hungry to learn anything I could about God, I listened to Lecrae’s music, taking in everything he was saying and searching the Bible for confirmation. When I first learned about reformed theology, I was hesitant to accept it as truth UNTIL I noticed Lecrae rapped about the very doctrines I was questioning. He is part of the reason I was open to learning about reformed theology. Which leads me to my second person…
      2. Matt Chandler:
        matt-chandler
        While I’ve listened to many different teachers for a while that I love (like John Piper, Francis Chan, David Platt, etc), God has always used Matt Chandler (and by association, The Village Church) greatly in my life. Remember my struggle with reformed doctrine? The main reason I gave it a shot was because of Matt Chandler. Doctrine aside, his authenticity and commitment to truth made him my favorite pastor (if one can have such a thing) a while ago. For those looking for truly gospel-centered sermons, I would recommend listening to him and those at The Village Church.
      3. Jackie Hill-Perry:
        jennerjackie4
        Finally, there is Jackie. Before learning about her, I had millions of questions about what it means to be a gospel-centered woman. At my church, most women fit into the stereotype of the “Christian woman”. While that isn’t bad at all, it was a stereotype I didn’t fit into, so I always felt a bit out-of-place. I didn’t like chocolate, didn’t want to drink tea and “brunch”, and certainly didn’t want to sit and do my nails when I could be reading a book and learning about theology. Then I found out about Jackie. Here was a woman, bold in who God made her, preaching truth without violating God’s law about women teaching. Because of Jackie, I learned it was okay to be who God made me; a smart woman who loves to learn and loves to teach. She proved to me that femininity doesn’t necessarily mean “dresses and heels” and she cemented the idea that “authenticity is key”.

Those are my three. What about you? What three brothers and sisters in the faith have influenced you the most? Let me know in the comments.

Grace & Peace.

 

5 Ways To Reach Out To Your Neighbors

Don’t you remember when you were younger and you played with the neighbors kids?

Growing up, I used to the know all of the kids within a “three house radius”. We would all get together on the half cul-de-sac that we lived on and ride our bikes and scooters together. I don’t live there anymore, so I don’t remember their names, but to be honest, I don’t know any of the neighbors I live next to now.

Neighbors are actually a great opportunity to show others what it means to follow Christ, but sometimes, I can be a bit awkward reaching out. Here are five ideas to reach out to your neighbors sometime within the next month.

  1. Are one of your neighbors expecting? Having a baby is hard (especially for a first time mom). Your neighbor may or may not have family nearby to help them. If you don’t know them too well, offering to babysit might sound a bit weird (I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody who offered), but there are other ways to love on new parents. The obvious would be purchasing a gift for them (gender neutral baby clothes, diapers, wipes, a baby toy, etc). I would recommend a gift basket with a little bit of everything if you want to go that route. If you’re strapped for cash, a great idea would be cooking a meal for them to put in their freezer.
  2. Is there an upcoming holiday? Christmas might be the most obvious of “gift giving” holidays, but you can make neighbor gifts for pretty much any holiday. Churches tend to have special services and events for holidays too, so you can also include an invite card from your church in the gift.
  3. Are they in need of some yard work? This wouldn’t apply so much if you live in an apartment complex, but look out to see if your neighbors need work down around the house. Have they waited a while to cut the grass? Offer to cut it yourself or have a landscaping person cut it for them (with their permission, of course). Do they need a power wash? Offer to pay for one. Do they have a broken light outside in a high place? Offer to replace it for them. Is Christmas coming up? Offer to put up their lights for them. Any act of service, no matter how small, matters.
  4. Do they have young children? I said earlier that I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody, but there are other ways to serve parents of young children. You could try to organize a play date, either at your house or at a park of some sort. If it’s just you and another person, why not invite them into your home and serve them lunch? If your house isn’t child-proof, another idea would be to invite them to a local play place (something like Chuck E. Cheese or an inflatable playground like Jumparoos) and treat them and their kids to lunch (and coffee for the parents). Another idea would be purchasing a gift card from a toy store/kids clothing store and leaving it in their mailbox with a “Thinking of You” card.
  5. If all else fails, a random act of kindness won’t. The truth is, you don’t need an occasion to be kind. These are all great ideas, but if you randomly want to serve them in some way, there are plenty of ideas for that. Everyone can appreciate a Starbucks gift card (or even a Visa gift card). If  you see their trash is at their door (and there is a community trash can  that is far from their house), you can offer to take their trash along with yours to the trash can. You can gift them with a “movie night” gift basket with popcorn, sodas, and candy from the Dollar Tree. The possibilities are endless.

At the end of the day, we love on our neighbors because that is what Christ asks of us. We don’t love with an ulterior motive in mind (i.e. “I’ll love them to convert them”). We just love.

I’ll never forget my last day in Atlanta. My husband, his father, and I were all packing our boxes into the moving van, preparing for our long drive to Phoenix. A random neighbor saw the moving van and thought we were moving in. She walked up to our door and “welcomed us” into the neighborhood. She was a Christian mom, about my age, with a daughter about the age of my eldest daughter. She also happened to be from Miami (which was the strangest thing of them all) as my husband and I are Miami born and bred. Had I known about her previous to our move, I would have loved to get to know her and had playdates for our kids.

I’m terrible at reaching out to people, so I understand it can be a bit hard, but I’m trying to be better at it in 2017. I’m asking that the Lord make me a better neighbor for my neighbors this year and always. Comment below if you’d like me to pray for you to be a better neighbor as well this year (and please add me to your prayer list!).

Grace & Peace always.

The Glass House Gospel

What is the Glass House Gospel? 

As you may have noticed, my blog, which was once known as “ChristinaXArteaga” is now called The Glass House Gospel. You may also have noticed references to “living in a glass house”. While I could explain the origin of the name and all that it entails, I will simply say this:

The recurring theme in this blog is transparency.

Personally, I believe it’s an area a lot of Christians could work on. We’ll say we struggle with a few smaller disciplines (“I need to pray more”, “I need more devotional time”, etc), but we never want to admit we struggle with the “big sins”. This lack of vulnerability, in an age where (seemingly) perfect lives are a click away on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, is not only conforming the church to the image of the world, a world that pretends to be as perfect as possible, but the lies are tearing the body of Christ at the seams. I mean, do I really need to bring up all the pastors who’ve been disqualified from ministry in the past couple of years? I truly believe a lot of those things could have been prevented had they come forward before chaos ensued and said “I’m struggling in this area of my life”. I’m not removing personal responsibility by saying this (their sin is their sin), but what I am saying is this; if people don’t feel like they can be vulnerable with one another without judgment, they’ll end up lying to stay in good standing.

And that is NOT acceptable behavior from the people of God.

Let’s make some things clear:

  1.  We have no secrets. We may keep secrets and lie to those around us, but God knows everything. As the Word says, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)
  2. Our lives are on display ALWAYS. Especially in the age of “viral videos”, everything you do (for the most part) is seen by others. Whether it’s a “secret” affair you had or you cursing at a waitress, there are other people around you who see your behavior. If you proudly proclaim you know Christ, whatever you do will be attributed to Him. You’re an ambassador for Christ 24/7: There is no off switch. (And in most cases, once you’ve ruined your testimony with someone, you’re never getting that back).
  3. We shouldn’t throw stones. The fact that God knows all your secrets should be enough to persuade you to put the stone down when you start wanting to condemn other people, but sometimes we’re hard-headed. Remember that old phrase “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones“? The same principle applies. We’ve been saved by grace through faith. You have no reason to boast.

Let me make something else clear: I’m not perfect. I will never claim to be. This blog isn’t about me pointing fingers at pastors and churches and saying “you guys are horrible”. I am a beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.

This blog is about authentic gospel-centered living (instead of just sugar-coating everything). It’s about starting conversations about real-life struggles and trials (instead of pretending those struggles don’t exist). It’s about creating dialogue in small groups about having “iron sharpens iron” accountability (instead of calling asking how someone’s weekend went “accountability”). It’s about showing the world a real Jesus who saves real people from real sin (instead of an angry Jesus who condemns everyone or a lying Jesus who doesn’t care about sin at all). It’s about showing the grit along with the glory.

It’s about the Glass House Gospel.