I’ve always loved flying in planes  For me, the best part is getting to see landing and takeoff from the window seat. These last two plane rides were no different; well, except for one thing.

I could tell very clearly that I was entering a new phase in life. 

While I was sad to see Miami, my hometown, get smaller and smaller as we ascended into the sky, seeing Phoenix right before we landed made me proud. Here was my new home and, for the first time, I was really happy to call it that; “HOME”.

It made me think about the many phases I’ve been through in life, both before and after knowing Christ. We all go through phases, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not so much.

For instance, when I was first saved, I found myself at a church that would scoff at the doctrines I hold close to now. But for the phase I was in on April 25, 2010, the day everything changed for me, that church was more than okay. It, too, has gone through its own phases. It has a different lead pastor, associates with a different group of people, and seems very different from the one I attended back in 2010.

When you have children, you can see some of these phases more clearly. My youngest daughter is a little over a year old, but I can clearly see how much she has grown when I look at newborn photos of her. The same can be said of my eldest daughter. This past week in Miami, many family members who hadn’t seen my almost 4-year-old for a while said the same thing upon seeing her; “wow, she has grown!”. Each phase has its blessings, but each phase also has its own unique set of challenges.

Politically, we can go through phases as well. In 2008, when I first started college, I was a proud “College/Young Republican”. I read conservative sites, watched conservative news, and thought Democrats were stupid and naive (we’re talking Pre-Jesus here, so please give “B.C. Christina” some grace). Now? I don’t consider myself a Democrat, but I am certainly no Republican. Both parties have issues, especially along their retrospective extremes. I think there is some good in both, but also some bad. I consider myself a Christian Independent who leans left on some things, but leans right on others.

Marriages go through phases. Relationships start with two people not knowing each other very well and, through time and work, getting to know each other better. Then you get married and you really get to know people! You grow as a person when you realize God can (and does) use your marriage to make your own flaws obvious. And while I’m not there yet, I know that marriages can (and do) blossom into lifelong partnerships that have withstood the test of 25, 50, even 75 years!

Friendships go through phases. In 2011, I had a core group of friends that I believed I would stay friends with for several years to come. Now? I’ve lost touch with many of those same people. Moving throughout the years, to two cities no less, has made it harder to not only keep old friendships active, but create new ones. I just now am beginning to feel more “settled” in Phoenix, but trying to create friendships that last as a stay at home mom of two kids, with one family car, who lives 20 minutes away from church is proving to be a bit difficult (to say the least).

We even go through phases in our walks with Christ. When I was first saved, I knew little about theology and doctrines, but like a young infant, I was hungry to get to know my Lord and Savior. I read every book I could get my hands on (which is a good and bad thing). I was always in the Word, any chance I could get (a blessing of being single with no children? Time). Then there was a phase when I knew of sound doctrine, but I belittled every person who didn’t agree with everything I believed (because Christina always knew better than everyone else). Not exactly the most “Christ-like” way to approach theology, but thankfully, the cage-stage is over. Now? I still believe in those same five points (jokingly referred to as “7 points”), but I don’t belittle those who don’t. I can feed the homeless alongside someone who believes in “free-will” and know we are both glorifying and serving God. I’d love to have a conversation with them about election and how the Bible supports it, but I’m not going to condemn a brother or sister in the faith because of it. And “election” shouldn’t dominate all my conversations with others; Jesus should be at the forefront, not simply doctrine.

Life goes through phases. Sometimes, we do need a friend to point our flaws in our thinking and lovingly guide us back to Christ (and Gospel-centered teaching). Sometimes, we’re that friend to someone else. Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes, we can feel loved just sitting with someone else over coffee for a few minutes and talking about trivial things like music or movies. Other times, we can be in a crowded room for hours and still feel completely alone.

The body of Christ will never all be in the same phase together…and that is a good thing. How can we learn from one another if we all have the same strengths and weaknesses? If I am prideful, it will take a humble Christian to point that out. If I am angry, it will take a level-headed Christian to help me with that. If I am selfish, only a selfless person could guide me. If I am prone to gossip, the one who isn’t will be the one to keep me accountable. If I want to learn about doctrines, I go to the one who has already known for quite some time. And if someone else wants to learn, and I know, I can teach them. If I am straying away from the Bible, it will take someone who hasn’t to bring me back. And if I see a brother or sister straying from sound teaching (on those “close-handed issues” that the Bible is very clear on, it is my staying firm but loving with them that may, indeed, bring them back. And if we begin to disagree on an open-handed one? It’s not my place to become angry and see them as suddenly unsaved, but to love them despite our differences and come together for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.

We all go through phases and, while I am sad to see some come and go, I am excited to see what God has in store for me and my family, in our new home, here in Phoenix, AZ.

Grace & Peace.

How A Christian Should Celebrate Independence Day

For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 3:18-20 (emphasis mine)

There is nothing inherently wrong with being proud to be an American. 

America is a good country that allows many freedoms other countries do not. As Christians, we can be grateful that we live in a country where we won’t be killed for merely owning a Bible or speaking God’s Word to others. We can appreciate the easy access to other Christians, churches, biblical resources, etc, that other brothers and sisters throughout the world do not have.

But America is also not a perfect country. Many are still being oppressed to this day, in many different ways. And while we have improved somewhat, we are nowhere near being “great”. It’s not about “Making America Great Again”; we never were “great” to begin with. 

(And I know you want to get back to eating hot dogs and watching fireworks, so I’ll make this short, but some things needs to be said).

As Christians, here are some things to consider as we celebrate July 4th, AKA Independence Day:

  1. Although today is the national Independence Day, not every American was declared “independent” on this day. African-Americans were still enslaved when the Declaration of Independence was written. Women were not considered “smart” enough to be given the right to vote. Native Americans were first in “founding” this nation, and yet, were murdered and conquered by settlers who considered them “savages”. While women eventually got the right to vote, many of these issues have not been fixed completely (and we are still feeling the effects of it). So, while you and your “ancestors” were liberated on this, consider that many others weren’t.
  2. You can be proud to be American, but it should not be your primary identity. As believers and followers of Christ, we are given one identity and one alone: Christ Followers. And when we are united in Heaven with all other believers, there will be no “Americans”. We will all be one, a group of saints from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. It’s fine to be happy that your team won in the olympics and what not, but you are not better than someone else because of your nation of birth. As a matter of fact, you have more in common with a Mexican or a Syrian who is Christian than a fellow American that isn’t. Keep that in mind.
  3. We shouldn’t be applying “freedom” verses to being American. I made a joke about this on my Twitter, but it’s a serious matter. Just as we shouldn’t take other verses out of context, we shouldn’t just slap a verse about “freedom in Christ” on a picture of the flag. You are NOT blessed because you’re a free American. You are blessed because you have been given freedom IN CHRIST, a freedom greater than any country on this Earth could possibly offer you. Spoiler alert: America didn’t exist when the Bible was written, so NOT A SINGLE VERSE specifically applies to American freedom.
  4. We are all made in God’s image. The Muslim. The Atheist. The Catholic. The Presbyterian. The Protestant. The Caucasian. The African. The European. The Indian. The Asian. The Mexican. The Cuban. The Puerto Rican. The Dominican. The Jamaican. The Syrian. The Iranian. The Russian. The German. The Australian. The Indigenous. EVERY. SINGLE. HUMAN. BEING. That said, there is no logic in saying one group of people is inherently “evil” or “demonic” or, quite simply, “less than”. If someone is putting down someone else because they’re Mexican or Muslim, that person probably doesn’t know Jesus. Point blank.
  5. AMERICA IS NOT GOD’S CHOSEN COUNTRY. Can I just say that again? AMERICA IS NOT GOD’S SPECIAL CHOSEN COUNTRY. God chose ONE people; Israel. And when Christ came and died on the cross, that promise opened up to all nations. There are elect on every continent, in every country, and of every skin tone and tongue. America has seen some common grace from God, but it is not a special country. As Russell Moore so eloquently explained, it is far from being a Christian nation. It may consider itself a “Christian nation”, but it is not one.
  6. Many of our favorite theologians weren’t American. Spurgeon? English. Dietrich Bonhoeffer? German. John Calvin? French. Martin Luther? German. We may have modern-day theologians like John Piper, RC Sproul, and John MacArthur, but we are but a dot in the history of many international theologians that have done great things for the faith.

Lastly, to quote a brother in Christ from one of my Facebook groups, “Be thankful for the liberty afforded to you to look to a better savior than a nation or president ever could be”.

Grace & Peace.

President Trump

In less than 24 hours, the United States will have a new President at the helm of what is considered one of the world’s greatest super powers. You may have voted for him. You may have protested against him.

Regardless, tomorrow at 12:00 Noon EST, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Whether you’re a Christian who is glad he will be in power or a Christian who is upset for the same reason, I hope to leave you with some truth: Trump will be President tomorrow, but Yahweh is LORD TODAY and ALWAYS.

That said, here are some things to consider:

  1. Our work is not done: For those of us who disagree with Trump on many of his policies, our work is far from over. We know we can not make our country a utopia. The only paradise we will ever see is Heaven. However, we can work together to make sure civil rights are not violated. We can stand together to protect the weak, the poor, the needy, and the disenfranchised, just as Jesus Christ himself did. We may disagree with our brothers and sisters in the faith about government policies, but all of our hearts should mimic that of Christ’s, a heart that sought after the hearts of those ignored by society. (And if you are one of the many being targeted by the Trump administration, know that there are REAL brothers and sisters in the faith fighting for you as you read this. You are not alone).
  2. Trump needs our prayers: This is the Glass House Gospel, right? Look, I’d honestly rather throw a rock at him than pray for him right now, but Matthew 5:44 clearly says to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you“. As opposed as I am to him becoming our President, the Word of God is more important than my opinions. Just as we would pray for a bad boss or a bad friend, we need to pray for a potentially bad president. We need to keep our nation in prayer as well. Whatever God wishes to do through allowing him to be President, we need to pray that His will is done. Also, pray for your own heart (and mine as well). We can’t allow our displeasure to turn into hate and bitterness. That is a seed whose roots grow too deeply within the soul.
  3. There is no such thing as “God’s Political Party”: Let me get this one out-of-the-way quickly; The GOP is not the “party of God”. Sure, a lot of people in that party claim God, but considering their behavior within the past eight years, I’d venture to say most of them don’t actually know Him. The truth is neither the Republicans nor the Democrats accurately paint a picture of what it means to follow Christ. I’d also like to add that democrats are not of the devil (and neither are republicans). If you honestly think that, the only thing of the devil is that belief in your heart.
  4. One is greater than one hundred: We may not be able to get laws overturned overnight, but if you can help one person greatly, it will mean more than minimally helping a hundred. For instance, if you’re passionate about banning abortion, you could stand outside of a Planned Parenthood with a sign (and impact no one) or you could look for ways to help pregnant women and help them reject an abortion (and actually make a difference). Many times, Christians are flagged as being “all talk and no action”. James 1:22 agrees when it says “but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves“. May we be Christians of action this year, especially during the Trump administration.

After the election, John Piper tweeted a verse from the Bible. It was Hosea 13:11 and it read “I gave you a king in my anger”. Originally, I was going to end my point there, but after reading all the responses John Piper received to this tweet, I feel something needs to be said.

For those Christians who support Trump (and by support, I don’t mean a kind of “well he is president so I guess I’ll support him” support. I mean the “I’m thrilled to have this man as president” kind of support), let me say one thing: do not let power blind your eyes to the Gospel. Many Christians chose power over people in this election. What I mean is, they said loudly and boldly “I would rather have a man who goes against everything my Lord believes in as President than a democrat”. They chose a political party over Jesus.

Do not be so blinded by your zeal to “repeal Obamacare” that you can not see the plea of the millions who will be without health insurance because of said repeal. Do not be so hardened by your belief that “trickle down” and “lower taxes” work that you would pull funds away from Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and many other programs just to save a few bucks. Do not listen to the rumors of the “lazy poor” and shouts of “they want handouts” so much that you become deaf to the children going to sleep hungry because their parents’ food stamps were cut and their jobs pays them a poverty wage.

Do not live a life that would cause Jesus Christ to say to you “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness“. Do not just be hearers of the word and not doers. Do not deceive yourself.

Grace & Peace to you all.

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Fidel Castro

Growing up in Miami, Florida, especially as a Cuban-American, there was a name I couldn’t escape, no matter where I found myself. Everyone knew who he was: You didn’t need to ask. It was a name that could be the topic of drunk conversations, as people dreamed of the day he’d either die or be driven out of power, as well as a name that could simultaneously invoke tears as they recalled everything (and everyone) they had lost under his reign.

The name was Fidel Castro, the man who tore Cuba apart at the seams.

I don’t know where it all went wrong for Fidel Castro. Some think he truly started his “revolution” with good intentions, but along the way, he became the cruel dictator he would come to be known as by all in the United States. Others believe he was a “demon” who, from the very beginning, wanted nothing more than to become one of the world’s most powerful men and did so by bringing an entire island of people to their knees, demanding their worship of him.

I don’t know which one of these men Fidel Castro truly was. What I do know is this: History will not absolve Fidel Castro. His hands are stained by the blood spilled at his command (and only Jesus could cleanse him).

This will not be a history lesson. While I am Cuban, I feel that my time writing this article isn’t best served teaching you Cuba’s history. (A simple google search, especially now right after his passing, will lead to any information you could want to know about Cuba’s history). What this will serve as is a perspective of a girl who, while passionate about social justice, was directly affected by Fidel Castro’s reign.

As a Christian, I don’t wish for anyone to die. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, “Christian Facebook” found itself at a crossroads. Half the Christians were celebrating his death as Americans, while half where “celebrating justice, but sad that another soul perished without knowing Christ”. I was in that second half (and me being vocal about conviction led to many arguments with fellow Christians). Despite the deeply personal connection to Castro, I still belong in that second half, sad that he (most likely) did not come to know Christ before his passing.

However, what I would like Christians (and those who are choosing to ignore the horrific things he did in the name of “politics”) to know is this: when you see people proudly raising Cuban flags into the air and crying tears of joy, it is because they are celebrating HOPE.

America has a history of hating people who disagree with them. Many believe Castro wasn’t that bad, he was just hated because he stood up to America and refused to be “bullied” by them. Others hate him simply because he was communist, but could care less about the lives he altered for an eternity. On Twitter, I was shocked to see a prominent figure, one who normally fights for social justice, praise Castro. When I tweeted him to tell him that he was a merciless tyrant who didn’t deserve praise, someone tweeted back to me and said “stop spreading lies”.

I’m Cuban. I am not lying. I have seen with my own eyes what Castro has done to his people.

Take for example the story of poet Armando Valladares. The man spent 22 years in prison simply because he refused to say he was communist. You can see his full story here:

And that is just one story. There are many more like it. If you’d dare to disagree, I’d ask you to find one Cuban (just one) and ask them what they think of Fidel Castro. There is no Cuban who has left Cuba that will tell you he was a great man. Those in Cuba still fear for their lives, so they will say whatever they need to say to the “press” in order to spare their lives.

Oh, but he gave his people healthcare and education!”

How great is your healthcare plan if you have to call you family in the United States to ask them to send you aspirin? My husband recalls phone calls from his sister in Cuba asking for medicine because there wasn’t any in Cuba accessible to her. As a matter of fact, one of his cousins would make frequent trips to Cuba with all kinds of over the counter medicine in his luggage for the people of Cuba.

And education? Sure, the education is (arguably) great…but North Korea’s education is great as well as we don’t seem to praise them much for it. Perhaps we hold our praise for North Korea because we can see that the children are being taught two falsehoods for every fact they learn. The same is true for Cuba.

While I don’t know my Cuban history all too well, the video in this article proves to be interesting. I won’t translate the whole thing here, but just know that while they’re struggling a bit to answer the questions at the beginning (and some of what they’re saying isn’t exactly true like “in the United States, you have to pay for school, unlike here”), they can all perfectly recite the names of Cuban spies currently in the U.S. You can also read this Cuban’s experience as a child here.

So what do we do now, as the Church, for the people of Cuba? The first thing we can do is pray. The “island” as many Cubans call it is still under a dark cloud of persecution. While some are beginning to stand up against the regime, they are still “disappearing” and being jailed for speaking out. Just ask the “ladies in white” (Damas de Blanco), the women who wear all white every Sunday to protest the Castro regime. This is what happens when you disagree with the government.

And what I want you to know is that who take them to jail are dressed normally. They are Cuban police who are always undercover, monitoring the activities of neighborhoods. This is not a “free society”. There is nothing free about that.

What can you do? PRAY. Pray hard. Shed tears when you pray over children asking where their fathers have disappeared to after speaking out against Castro. Shed tears for the countless Cubans that drowned at sea trying to make it to the United States on “boats” they built from whatever materials they could find. And shed tears for the family members of those people in the U.S. who are still mourning. Cry out to God and ask for His name to be glorified in Cuba.

Look for ways to help. Whether it’s a monetary donation to a trustworthy organization or it’s a physical trip to Cuba, there are many ways to take part in bringing Christ to Cuba. (And if your church is interested in starting mission trips to Cuba, please let me know and I will put you in contact with my old church in Miami. They actually have a “campus” in Cuba and have many contacts there. Just comment below and I’ll answer as soon as I can).

Finally, respect the celebrating you see in Miami. Perhaps you’re like me and you think celebrating death is wrong. Now is not the time to point your finger and copy/paste a Bible verse on someone’s Facebook to tell them they’re in sin by celebrating. Perhaps you’re more liberal and you actually like some pieces of socialism (I’m more of a “democratic socialist” myself, so I understand this a bit). Now isn’t the time to “praise Castro”. Honestly, I don’t see how you can reconcile “believing in rights for all” and praising Castro, “the man who took away the rights of all”. Truthfully, the only equality he believed in was equal tyranny. He stripped every one of everything they owned equally. I guess that’s equality.

While there is a new window of hope for the Cuban people, the truth is there is no hope outside of Jesus Christ. Even here, in the United States, we see evidence of that everywhere. Even in our “perfect government” (which is far from perfect), there are people who are completely devoid of hope. Jesus is the key to true freedom.

So what is the Christian response to Cuba? Simply put, pray and look for ways to serve and bring the true hope to the people of Cuba, both on the island and here in the United States.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
– Acts 1:8

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'”
– Mark 16:15