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Posted by on in English

By Shiloh Porras

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“It’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” A lot of us have been told this by our close friends who are trying to make break-ups less crucial, bad haircuts more bearable, and even make a pimple on your nose seem invisible. Growing up, I was always active and in sports. I loved being the fastest girl; the girl who could skillfully dribble the ball down the basketball court or soccer field. I loved being the girl who could throw a football in a perfect spiral and catch any ball that came her way; the girl that felt as though she could take on any boy in a race or fight. I never liked doing my hair or having others do it for me. I would go to school with tight braids and come home with wild and untamable hair. My mom would ask, ‘What happened to your hair?’ My response was, ‘I don’t know?’ My appearance as a child was not important to me. What was important was having friends to play with, run and fight with; friends to talk with about boys and how they all had germs (cooties).
I don’t think I started caring about my appearance until the 9
th grade. That’s when I said goodbye to my geeky glasses (which are back in style) and said hello to contacts. I started doing my hair, making sure that what I wore matched my shoes. I also started asking for body spray. Oh yes, how I smelled to others began to matter. Should I try Sweet Pea, Midnight Lavender or Cherry Blossom? I finally began to care about my looks and grow out of my childlike ways. Sort of.
All through high school, my style changed here and there. What I said I would never wear, because it was too “girly,” I started wearing. I never had a problem with acne, so I never had to put on any kind of makeup. No mascara, foundation, concealer, lipstick, blush, eye liner, not even lip gloss. I can honestly say that I did not consider myself as some beautiful goddess that could stop traffic. I never stopped to think, “Hey, I’m pretty sure this guy likes me for my looks.” Nope. My thoughts were, “This guy thinks you’re funny, you’re a riot, you’re hilarious! Keep it up!” I look back at photos and think to myself, “Man, it had to be your humor that drew people to you.” I’m not calling myself ugly, but I never thought that anyone could like me for my looks. Having “good looks” is just a plus, right? I could only hope so at that time.
After high school I went to Bible college in Dallas, Texas. I stopped being active. I didn't run as much or even go to the gym. I just went to school, worked, did homework and played volleyball. At the age of 20, I began to break out dramatically. I had acne that made me want to stay in my dorm and never come out again. Acne that hurt while you were just lying in bed. Acne that left scars behind. Acne that I allowed to control me. My insecurities began to arise; my mind was a battlefield. I tried every kind of makeup that was out there to cover up. However, no makeup could cover up what I knew was underneath. I would cry myself to sleep just thinking of how horrid and wretched my face must look to others. My thoughts were, “You’re 20. You couldn't have gotten these pimples when you were at your awkward stage in life? What if you meet someone? What then?” I was my own enemy looking at myself in the mirror, wishing something would change. I wanted that perfect skin. I wanted Pro Active to work on me. I wanted to not have to wear makeup.
Today, I still struggle with acne. I constantly have to remind myself that everything will be fine. I go to the gym, break a sweat, eat smaller portioned meals, drink water, find a facial cream that will help; the whole works. I personally think we make it more difficult for ourselves, and I forgot what the Word tells us. I forgot what the Word told me! We’re living in a world that encourages us to look and regard the outward appearance above what is inside. 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” We've allowed ourselves to be defined by what the media considers beauty. But if you do your own research, a lot of what you see in the media is a scam. IT’S FAKE!
People struggle with what is considered beauty and what is not considered beauty. Is being skinny beautiful? Is having thicker skin beautiful? Is having perfect hair beautiful? Is having messy or stylish hair beautiful? Is walking a runway in underwear beautiful? Is covering up and being modest beautiful? What is beauty?
By now, many of you might be thinking, “Keeping up with your outward appearance is important,” and I would agree with you without a doubt. But why have we let it become our focus? There are men and women that are considered to be The Sexiest or The Best Looking on earth. But some of those men and women have the ugliest attitudes, characters, and personalities. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last.” Why are we so caught up with what is on the outside? I've had experiences where I was able to talk to homeless people, some of whom are the nicest people you could ever meet. What do they look like? Torn clothes, dirty hands, greasy hair; they haven’t bathed for weeks, they haven’t brushed their teeth. They are judged for their outward appearance. But has anyone taken the time to sit and just talk to them? In Luke 6:45 Jesus teaches, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” According to this teaching, your looks don’t matter; it’s your heart. What’s going on inside?
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what our lives should be producing. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are clearly the characteristics, attitudes, and personalities that we should learn to embrace; characteristics that cannot be learned overnight. Our nation needs to begin practicing a different kind of beauty. A beauty that comes from within and flows out. Do not allow pride or vanity to be your downfall. “It’s not what’s on the outside that matters. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

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Posted by on in English

By Ruby Pando

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The BIG day, your wedding... All eyes are on you. You are nervous; getting to see the groom for the first time and all these thoughts rush into your mind. What is he going to think? Is my makeup on point? Did my hair mess up? Is he going to love my dress? I walked up the aisle and as I got a hold of his hand, all nerves left and pure joy and happiness filled my heart. This was it. All the preparations I had done before that day were right before my eyes. I couldn't go back to bring new ideas for my wedding, or fix something that I saw that was out of place. I couldn't pause the ceremony to go touch up on my makeup when I cried out of pure joy.

Just as brides get ready for their big day with preparations like waking up early to get their hair and makeup done, we must be ready for Christ when He comes back for his bride. Our life is one big preparation for the wedding of a lifetime; for the most important day of your life. The Bridegroom is coming for his church. And we must ask ourselves, "Am I ready?"

Isaiah 54:5 states "For your maker is your husband- The Lord God Almighty is his name..." Your maker, the one who knit you together in your mothers womb, the one who knows you by name and knows your every thought, is your husband. He knows the very depths of your heart. He loves you immensely and has plans for you while we're here on earth. It is amazing to know the thoughts that God has of us. He knows everything about us, even how many strands of hair we have on our head. He is our husband and He lets us know through the love letter He has given us (the Bible) that He will return for us. Our wedding day is coming!

Revelations 19:7-8 says, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made himself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear."

Just as a bride will begin to get ready as soon as they wake up for their big day, we as believers must get ready for the coming of our husband, our Savior. We must die to our flesh and reflect upon Jesus on a daily basis; to wear the armor of God and respond in love. A bride is clothed with a beautiful dress, spotless and bright and white, and as Christians we must be clothed with holiness and be set apart until our Groom returns.

On my wedding day I wore red lipstick which I accidentally got on my wedding dress and it was very noticeable. I was devastated. I didn't want to walk down the aisle with a red lipstick stain on my white dress. I wanted my Groom to take his first look at me and see the radiant young lady walking down the aisle... I didn't want him to take his first look at me and notice the red stain on my dress. So I did what I could and got it off! We as believers, must get ready for the Bridegroom to come because God will return for a church without spot or blemish, just as the bride is brought to her groom without spot or blemish. She is the most radiant of the whole crowd.

Matthew 25 talks about 10 virgins who are waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom. Five of them were equipped with their oil and five of them were foolish and unprepared The latter weren't ready for their groom. Likewise, there will be people who aren't ready for Christ (the Bridegroom) to come, but those who are wise and ready must help those in need of God. This is why he has given us gifts, talents, wisdom and courage, among other things, to use them to reach people and guide them to the Savior. How can we sit idly by and not do anything about those who don't have a relationship with their Maker? As we prepare ourselves for the wedding day, we must also be aware of those around us.

I recall my mom making sure that my bridesmaids and myself had everything we needed. She was alert and ready. We must also be alert for our family and friends and be ready and prepared. We won't have time to go tell that one person in class, at the store, or the person who sits next to you that God is coming when the time comes. The time is now.

I always remember my Dad saying "The church isn't a hotel where Christians go rest, but a Hospital for the sinners and the sick." So why aren't we helping, not only one another in our weaknesses, but those who don't know Christ!? One day the Savior will come and if we don't speak up now and prepare we won't have the chance then. Like the day of my wedding when I had no time to go to the venue and try to fix anything, the Bridegroom is coming for His church and when that day comes, we can't go back or have a couple of hours to fix anything or tell someone about Christ.

We must be prepared as a bride is prepared and ready for her big day. She is clothed with beauty, a beautiful white dress, and a radiant smile. I don't believe I have ever seen a bride who came to her wedding in jeans and a t-shirt, a messy bun and flip flops on her feet. She took time to pick out a dress that suits her. What are you clothed with? A beautiful white dress or average attire. Are you living with the trends of the culture now or the Holy Spirit who is a gift of God? The culture says there is a certain size, weight and figure essential to be regarded as beautiful. Culture says that doing wrong is good and discovering a virgin is like seeing a unicorn. The Bible says to be holy and set apart, to put on the armor of God, to be courageous. I challenge you to help those around you. I encourage anyone who is reading this to be clothed with holiness and be prepared for the coming of Jesus. He is coming soon, yet no one knows the time or day (Matthew 25:13).

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Posted by on in English

By Deseree Porras

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Dodgeball wasn't my game. I used to hide behind the chubby kid during P.E. (my least favorite time of the day) to avoid the pain and degradation of getting hit by the ball. I tried gymnastics for a few years but decided I didn't want broad shoulders... In reality I couldn't perform the routines. I also tried soccer but quit after a day upon discovering that there would be running involved. Then there was the time I tried volleyball, which also lasted a day. Then came swimming, but I wasn't crazy about the two minute showers. Then there was dance class. No comment.

     If you ever saw me during P.E. or even just attempting to touch my toes (something I've never been able to do), you might never guess that I was my father's child. Both he and my mother are naturally athletic. I guess it must have skipped a generation. Oh wait... My siblings are athletic too.

     I was always very artistic and you could be sure to find me reading much of the time. I could write, sing, crotchet, sketch, paint, make jewelry, paper mache... You name it. But I didn't have an athletic bone in my body. How could anyone ever guess that the little girl, who during the mile-run lagged behind everyone except the asthmatics and that chubby kid, was her father’s daughter? You only have to look at my face to know because ever since I was a child people have been telling me I look like my dad. At first I thought, "Great. I must look like a man." Over time I've come to appreciate these eyebrows and these freckles of mine. But it's more than just my looks... it's my expressions and mannerisms. It's my attention to detail and even my unbending commitment to be a person of integrity. These are the character traits I got from my parents. It wasn't something I was born with but something I learned... It's the heritage I've received. I am my father's child.

     As believers, we must be occupied in reflecting and being about the work of our Father in heaven. Take a look at Jesus, our ultimate and perfect example:


And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. 

     His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

     And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. 

     Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:40-52


Early on people began to realize that there was something different about this particular twelve year old. The Bible says He was “strong in the spirit” and “filled with wisdom.” Everyone who had the chance to hear Him speak was astonished by his understanding. Remind you of Someone? Not only that, but the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus’ objective, even from a young age, was to be about the business of His Father. Hebrews 1:3 calls Jesus “the brightness of His (The Father’s) glory, and the express image (other versions say ‘the exact representation’) of His person.” In other words-- He was the spitting image of his Father.

     As a grown man, Jesus demonstrated the same nature. He said to his disciples at one point, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish his work (John 4:34).” His resemblance to the Father had not diminished with time. On the contrary, their shared heart and intimate relationship was what led Jesus to the cross at age 33. The Father's passion that none would perish but have everlasting life, was reflected in the life and death of the Son.

     Parents, do not take for granted or underestimate the authority you have to influence your children when they are young. Love coupled with discipline is powerful and effective. In fact, it's impossible to have one without the other and the Bible says "those who love their children care enough to discipline them (Proverbs 13:24)." Culture does not have to hook them, and there's no need to throw your hands up in defeat when they make poor choices. You have a voice when it comes to the friends they make. You have the power to set high standards and you don't have to and shouldn't accept their ruin.

     It's amazing to me that radical jihadists are able to raise zealous sons and daughters who are ready and willing to live and die for a cause that glorifies hatred, violence, cruelty and death; but Western Christians feel powerless to win their children to Christ and see them flourish as citizens of his kingdom.

     At 25, the counsel and encouragement of my parents remains a heavy influence in my life. When I was a little girl I remember one day, waiting in our driveway all morning in anticipation of the moment my father would arrive and I would proudly demonstrate that I had learned to ride my bike without training wheels. Bruised and scraped to be sure, but proud nonetheless. To this day it is still my aim and deepest delight to make him and my mother proud.

     Sons and daughters, maybe your earthly father is a good man. Perhaps he is not. Maybe you've never even known him or your relationship with him is strained. But despite the fallenness and fallibility of man, we must endeavor to look to our heavenly Father.

     Do you know your Father in heaven? Many people fear him, hate him, or just plain deny his existence. There are those who believe God abandoned or failed them somehow. Know this for certain: He does exist and He's completely enamored with those He created in His image. You and I. The Bible says out of all creation He made us his prized possession. We are his most prized possession. We are his children and the object of his affection and He is slowly but surely perfecting us day by day.

     “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18




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Me making use of the floor mats with other athletically challenged students; and me chillin' on the bar thingy and not really sure of what to do next... Not sure how I got up there to begin with. My family was pretty supportive though. :)

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Posted by on in English
By Shiloh Porras

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To the churches in America: Raise your voice for the voiceless.
“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:11-14).
     Our world has never been the same ever since sin and temptation slithered their way in. Corrupt men have found their way to the top. Men shed the blood of innocent people. Men and women do not honor the sacredness of marriage. Brother fighting against brother; sister doing wrong to their sister. Division, destruction, hatred, anger, envy, jealousy, pride. What have we let our world come to? “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).
     I do not believe that God intended for our world to look the way it does. So many people are hurting. So many children have no one to defend them. Men place women and children on the market to sale to other men and women across our world. Women murder a living being inside of them that is growing each and every day since he/she was conceived. When did everything become so evil and why have we allowed it to happen?

“They have built the high places of Baal to burn (murder) their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind; says the Lord” (Jeremiah 19:5).

“They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent” (Isaiah 5:23).

     Mankind has stooped so low and has gone too far. We have tolerated men and women’s selfish ambitions to silence the church for its faith in The One and only God. They consider us radicals for our beliefs in religion, politics, laws, governments, economics, marriage, rights and justice. A heavy wave of hate has been running fiercely across the globe.

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man”
(Luke 6:22).

“We are pressed on every side by trouble, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

     Our brothers and sisters overseas are experiencing great persecution. They are crying out for a people that will stand for justice and righteousness; a people whose voice will not be silenced by a world that has tolerated injustice. We must come together as the Body of Christ to pray, fast and seek after our heavenly Father. We must raise up a generation that will begin to resist this evil that spreads like poison through your veins. We need a generation of warriors that is willing to serve and surrender for the cause of others. “Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors” (Psalm 72:3). “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people” (Psalm 82:3-4). We cannot sit back and act as though God never asked of us to bring help to those in need.
     To the Western cultures, it is time to stand and pull down the strongholds that have infiltrated our world throughout the centuries. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The weapons we use are not of this world. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things” (Galatians 5:22-23).
     Let us not forget church, that we have a job to do and that is “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). We can begin today to change the course of our world. We have the opportunity to turn things around. We have the chance to rise, speak and defend. Stand up with and for God’s people (Israel and those who follow Jesus). “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31). If we as the body of Christ would rise together and plead the case of the widow, the orphan, the slave, the persecuted, the innocent, the needy, the poor or the hungry, think of all the ways we could push back the evil that has spread like wild fire. If we could let go of our selfish ways and desires, we can save lives. I believe the time is now for the church to come out of its four cornered walls and shine the light and the love of God around. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4:18).
     An unknown author once said, “I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ.” The time is now church. Raise up a battle cry for your world.
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Posted by on in English

By Deseree Porras

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Anytime I’m given the opportunity to perform with a live jazz band I get super excited. Weddings especially are highly enjoyable and dare I say… incredibly romantic. Imagine it all... The intoxicating rhythm and melodies of jazz standards like Fly Me to the Moon or All of Me fill the air, along with the happy sounds of guest’s conversing over candlelight and the laughter of flower girls chasing one another along the dance floor.
    When I was recently asked to sing at the wedding reception of a couple who live in Dallas I began to search for specific music and lyrics. Songs like The Nearness of You, Isn’t It Romantic and Tenderly were at the top of my list. I was searching for songs that express the message that we the human race have always been obsessed with, but especially during a wedding. Love.
    Ah yes, love. L-O-V-E. During a wedding it’s in the air. It’s the giant elephant standing in the middle of the room. The father-of-the-bride struggles to hold it together as he gives his daughter away. All the single bridesmaids, albeit thrilled for the bride, are acutely aware of their singleness. Two people have just publicly exchanged solemn vows to “have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part.”
    It would be an understatement to say that people are infatuated with love, or at least the idea of it. Philosophers like Plato and Socrates had their theories, poets like Shakespeare and Keats their sonnets, and Elvis, the King of Rock N Roll, his ballads. Even 4 year old Lauren when asked to describe love wrote, “I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”
    People are obsessed with love. But do we understand it? Do we live it? Can you define it in a single word? Absolutely you can. Love is… Jesus.
    How can you know that Jesus is love and that He loves you?  As the old hymn says, “The Bible tells me so." Billy Graham wrote “The Bible is God’s ‘love letter’ to us, telling us not only that He loves us, but showing us what He has done to demonstrate His love.” Within the pages of this ancient bestseller is the ultimate message of love: Jesus. Read the Bible! Pick any book in the Old or New Testament and you cannot help running into Jesus at every turn. You cannot avoid Him. You can’t hide from Him. Psalm 139 says “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me.”
    I write songs. Lots of them. And when I write I’m attempting to be precise, poetic and genuine in my desire to communicate my love for God. Every word, every phrase, every comma, every line is important to me. I scrutinize them over and over again. But no matter how painstakingly I work to express my heart, nothing I write could ever compare to God’s Word over you. The entire Bible is God trying to communicate to you His amazing grace, His thoughts concerning you, His obsession with you, and His incredibly vast measure of love for you. The Apostle John wrote “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    Read the Bible! God isn’t just concerned about promoting love. HE IS LOVE. He wrote an entire book about it!
    What about you? What about your life? The Apostle Paul wrote “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
    Your life is a letter, a story, a song known and read by everyone. Exactly what kind of message are you communicating? Does your life sound like the kind of love song that "makes me wanna shout," or a tragic country western?

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