Author Archives: Karina

Life for Lent.

The season of Lent begins today! We are excited about seeing how God is going to work in all of us for the next 40 days. Traditionally, throughout the history of Christianity, Lent has been a time to prepare our hearts to observe Christ’s death, burial and resurrection at Easter. This is a time to prepare our hearts through fasting and prayer. People often cut back on certain foods and habits during Lent (like eating sugar, watching television, social media, etc.) When Easter arrives, things go back to normal. But, what if this year, Lent did more than ever before?

What if this year, Lent remains a season of personal reflection, and also connects you to God’s heart for the hurting?

What if  this year, Lent was about both individual spiritual growth and global outreach?

What if  this year, for the next 6 weeks (March 5 -April 17), you committed to give life to the world’s most vulnerable human beings?

Around the world, women and girls make up 80% of those trafficked, 70% of illiterates and 70% of the impoverished. We know that religion God sees as pure and faultless involves reaching out to orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). This year, we are inviting you to join Our Single Purpose in giving life to the oppressed for Lent through She is Safe.

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Change your life. Change a life.

When I was five-years-old, my mother left us. So there was no one to stop my father from beating me.” Little Nima, bruised and bleeding, decided to run away from her rural village in Nepal. On her journey she met seemingly nice strangers who guided her down the dark path to the sex trade in the brothels of India.

“I do not know how old I was when I realized that I was a prostitute,” she admits, head hung in shame. “But then I got pregnant and they threw me out. I ended up in jail.” While incarcerated, a kind policeman called a SIS (She is Safe) partner for help. “She hugged me and loved me, but I could not understand love because no one had ever treated me kindly before.” At the SIS-sponsored recovery house in Nepal, Nima’s daughter was born. “It was there that I understood love for the first time,” she smiled, for the first time looking like the pre-teen girl that she was. No longer a victim, Nima had been given the gift of new life!

How can you change a Life for Lent?

Step 1: Choose to give up something – for the next 6 weeks – worth about $30 a week or even $1 a day.

Step 2: Donate the saved $$ to transform the life of an exploited and abused girl through She Is Safe.

Step 3: Pray for safety and survival supplies of the women and children living in the camps and settlements in war-ravaged areas around the world.

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor those who have been robbed.” Jeremiah 22:3

Karina Lopez

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Love is Kind…

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Love is kind.  The bible tells us to not let kindness leave us and that it should always be a part of our thinking. It should be written on our hearts. Kindness means to be gentle, tender-hearted, loving, sensitive, warm-hearted and courteous. (Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32) Kindness is a quality of the heart.

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.  – Proverbs 3:1-4

Kindness is an attribute of God. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. – Psalm 145:17” We have that responsibility as Christ followers and as people who are striving to become more like Jesus. For me personally, it is something I have to intentionally tell myself to do everyday. I work in retail and on most days, most people don’t deserve to be treated with kindness. I meet people and work with people who are harsh, bitter, rude, snappy and controlling on a daily basis. In my mind, that kind of behavior doesn’t deserve kindness. But then I remember how much I have been shown kindness. “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. – Ephesians 1:7”  Jesus showed kindness to me when I didn’t deserve it. How am I to call myself a Christ follower and not show loving kindness to others? I had to learn that kindness was not an automatic quality I had when I became a Christian. Everyday I have to put it on and keep it tied around my neck and written deep within my heart. The Lord has shown me how I can always keep acquiring kindness and how to express it.

How Do We Express Kindness?

  1. In Our Speech Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body. – Proverbs 16:24
  2. In Our Actions – Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. – Matthew 25:40

How Do We Acquire Kindness?

  1. Trust in Jesus as your Savior  –  “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. – Ephesians 1:7”  When we trust Jesus as our Savior His unconditional love showers us and the fruits of the Spirit become a part of us. Those qualities are within us but we need to choose whether its going to be expressed or not.
  2. Focus on the needs of others  –  When we focus on others, we become sensitive to who they are and what they need.
  3. Ask God – We ask God to enable us to express kindness and to be sensitive to others around us.
  4. Practice –  When we practice kindness on a daily basis, we will acquire the quality of kindness and be able to express it to those around us. You can start each day by praying “Lord, help me to express kindness in my speech and actions today.”

I heard it said once that kindness is love reacting and I totally agree with that. A person who is genuinely kind, acts kindly and expects nothing in return. They just genuinely love people and show it. The way you treat people who are in no position to help or benefit you will reveal the true state of your heart. You never know the impact you are making on someone’s life just by showing them a little kindness and love.

I want to challenge us to ask ourselves two questions every day:

1. How do I want people to treat me?

2. If my family, friends and coworkers were asked to describe me…would they use the word ‘kind’ to describe me?

Karina Lopez

Why I Am Thankful for the Season of Singleness.

Today I am thankful

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  -Colossians 2:6-7

I’m thankful for my singleness because of:

1. Jesus.

I am so thankful for Jesus! I love Jesus! I am thankful that Jesus died and rose again for my sins. I am thankful for my relationship with Him and for His faithfulness in my life. Like Marlana said last week, I can’t predict whether my love for Jesus would be less or more if I were married, but I know every year I love Him more and more. Words are definitely hard to express how so very thankful I am.

2. Scripture.

I am so very thankful for God’s Word. In this season of singleness, the Bible has been what He has used to remind me of His love and faithfulness in my life.  I know for me many times, I have become fearful that I will miss out on ‘experiencing’ all of life. I have cried myself to sleep about it (pathetic) that, in turn, starts a churning in me to resent God and wonder why He is being unfair to me. Scripture turns that resentment into gratitude 100% of the time. Philippians 2:13 says “it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.” So I shouldn’t shortchange God…because He can never do that to me. I am single because God is always and forever good to me. Being single is not some sort of punishment.  I can’t tell you how many times I have thought to myself  that “maybe if I were more spiritual, somehow more satisfied with God alone, then God would bring me a husband.” I know that is a dumb lie. I am not single because my spirituality disqualifies me as good marriage material. Nor am I single because my spiritual maturity says “I don’t need a husband”. I am single because this is God’s call for me…today. We cannot rig God’s blessings or earn His favor as we seek answers to what we feel are ‘legitimate’ needs. God is gracious without charge (Isaiah 55:1). He tenderly cares for His children (Isaiah 40:11). He calls us to still and quiet our souls humbly before Him, for both today and the future (Psalm 131). His ways of wisdom our way above our finite minds (Romans 11:33-36).

3. Life.

I am thankful for life. I think I take this one for granted more than anything else. Today, I woke up healthy, in a warm bed and have family and friends that love me. I am blessed beyond measure and to say that God is good is an understatement…He is amazing! He has a purpose for me here on this Earth. Sometimes I don’t see it and sometimes I don’t take it as seriously as I should, but He has gifted me life and I don’t want to waste it away. I am so very thankful.

Thankfulness is a choice. If it’s lacking in us, we must decide to change. As we acknowledge God’s wonderful blessings this Thanksgiving, lets be intentional and ask Him to give us grateful hearts. When we are willing to do that He will begin transforming our lives.

Karina Lopez

31 Days of Proverbs – Chapter 30

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I want to encourage you to go ahead and read Proverbs 30

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. – Proverbs 30:5-6

The verses in this chapter spoke to me the most. I was reminded of how many times as a Christian I have neglected to read the Bible.An interesting example of when I was in college (yes, I went to a bible college), I spent many hours studying and reading the Bible as well as other books in college. There was a time where reading the Bible wasn’t only part of my intimate time with God, but reading and understanding it also made the difference between graduating from college. I said all that to say that studying the Bible was taken seriously for me during my years in college more than any other time in my life.

If I took studying the Bible even five percent as seriously as I took it when studying for school, I would probably (maybe) be as wise as Solomon. Yet sometimes I don’t take the time to really understand it and I don’t take the effort to learn and apply it’s truth. The Bible is a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and it has the ability to cut through the very depths of my bones. God’s word has the power to change my life when I read it and apply it’s truth. No other book can give me the encouragement and life change that the Bible brings to me when I take time to read it. I am so thankful for God’s word and I want to encourage you to take the time to not only read and understand it, but to apply it and let it transform you from the inside out.

Karina Lopez

31 Days of Proverbs – Chapter 9

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I want to encourage you to go ahead and read through Proverbs 9.

Chapter 9 of Proverbs mostly describes wisdom as “lady wisdom” (metaphorically, of course). Solomon does this throughout Proverbs because he has much to teach us about the differences between “lady folly” and “lady wisdom”. He spends this chapter describing the character of  lady wisdom.

The verses that resonated with me the where verses 9 and 10:

“Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:9-10 (ESV)

This brought me to think – How can fearing God make us wise?

Charles Stanley defines “fearing the Lord” in such a great way:

“What does it mean to fear the Lord? This term is used to describe an awesome reverence for God that moves us to acknowledge Him as the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth, submit to His will, and walk in obedience. The result of such a response will be the acquisition of wisdom.”

With that, I know that if I truly give Him the reverence He deserves, then I will listen for His directions and heed His warnings. The desire to honor and please Him should always motivate me to run from sin. When I seek to live in obedience – the result will be wisdom beyond my own understanding.

Karina Lopez

31 Days of Proverbs: Chapter 2

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For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. – Proverbs 2:6-8

Take a few minutes and read through Proverbs 2.

To quote Marlana from yesterday: “Once you seek the things of the Lord, trust in His promises. He is faithful and will give you the wisdom and direction you seek!” I would like to continue from where she left off. There is a great deal of difference between knowledge and wisdom. Today, we have access to a world of information and can access it literally with just the slide of our thumb. But even access to all that knowledge and information, something is still missing— wisdom. Plenty of people boast about their knowledge and education, but from what I have seen they usually end up make disasters of their lives. All because they lack spiritual discernment and understanding.

For me, Proverbs 2 addresses the question:

“What is the value of godly wisdom and how do we acquire it?”

The bible talks about worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 3) and how that is based on human knowledge and understanding. Godly wisdom is seeing things through God’s perspective and responding according to the principles He gives us in scripture. On the latter half of the question of acquiring wisdom, that only happens when we prioritize God’s word in our life and value our relationship with Him.

3 Ways We Can Acquire Godly Wisdom:

1. Diligently seek after godly wisdom –  Wisdom comes as a gift from God to those who seek after it.

2. Meditating on God’s word – God will reveal His ways, plans and purposes to us when we prioritize spending time with Him every day, asking Him to give us direction from His Word.

3. Obeying Scripture – People don’t need more information. They need help applying the information they already have. We can know the words of scripture in and out, but if we don’t obey and apply them to our lives, it stays as information. Information without application is useless.

“…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil,” – Proverbs 2:9-12

Karina Lopez

Trust You.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.    —   2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

trust_you“My grace is sufficient.”  Sometimes we find ourselves praying for years, but our circumstances are unchanged.  Lately, the sounds of silence have been ringing loud and clear in my life. It seems that God is unresponsive. Almost like I am talking to myself.  I know that God is up to something that I don’t know about — something bigger and better than I am expecting. Something that may or may not  require a different answer than the one I initially want or anticipate.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.  – tweet this

His mercies never come to an end and every day I can rest assure that if God isn’t shaping me through removing a particular “thorn”; His grace is sufficient. It is my choice to trust that God knows what He’s doing, even when there’s no logical explanation for our circumstances.  I know that God doesn’t mind that I ask him “Why?!” and in the moments that question surfaces my mind, I remember that no matter what I can trust Him and that He is with me through it all.

Karina Lopez

The Fruit of the Spirit is: Faithfulness

faithfulness_fruitsOSPBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23

Psalms 36:5 says “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Faithfulness is both an attitude and an action shown toward God and toward others. God’s principles do not change and will never fade—they are eternal. This is true of His character as well, which means He is consistent, trustworthy, and committed to providing the very best for His children regardless of how our circumstances may look. He is faithful. Everything around us may seem as if it is falling apart; yet, God is still moving and working—and His purposes will be accomplished. He is faithful.

Time has no effect on God or on how He makes His plans and decisions. Nothing that happens to us in our lives or in this world will ever surprise Him or interrupt what He is achieving for us. This is why we can always count on Him being true to all of the promises He’s made to us. I want to share a few verses of God’s promises of faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22–23 “The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Psalm 16:11 “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There is no doubt that God can and will keep His promises to us because He is absolutely faithful. The only question is whether we will commit to seeking Him, listening to His commands, watching for His help, and embracing His Word. God wants the very best for us and will never lead us astray. And if we stay in the center of His will, we will experience the very best He has to offer. I read in an article about faithfulness that it is both a passive and active word. The passive aspects include things like commitment, loyalty, steadfastness, endurance, and patience. The active aspects include service, charity, obedience, and walking the talk. I know that sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about it, but remember the law of stewardship. We become faithful in big things by being faithful in little things. Think of some small ways you can be faithful, do those, and as you make a habit of it, you will become faithful.

Karina Lopez

The Fruit of the Spirit is: Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23

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When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul. – Hymn Written by: Horatio Spadfford

Most of us can point to areas of our lives that cause stress, heartache, and unhappiness. And some of those things we can change; but honestly, many we can’t. Regardless of the situation, anyone can find serenity and calm in Jesus.

My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

Our culture points us to material things, relationships, accomplishments to bring a sense of security. Too many times we expect marriage, sexual intimacy, physical attractiveness, prosperity, or a successful career to bring us peace. But none of these things can guarantee a sense of inner tranquility. Why? Because each one is subject to change and attempting to find peace through something that is always changing doesn’t end well for anyone. God doesn’t promise us a life that is trouble-free but if we have an intimate relationship with Jesus, we can have a quietness that gives us strength so we are not devastated by adversity and heartache.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

I am so thankful for this Scripture. It never fails to surpass all comprehension. It’s unchanging—it doesn’t come and go depending on my circumstances and I am so thankful for that.

Your circumstances might be out of control—or maybe you are simply a little disappointed with the way life has turned out for you so far. You might think that more money, a better job, or a certain relationship could make all the difference in how you feel. But I am convinced that even with all those things, there will still be a sense of restlessness. There is only one source of peace— the God who holds the universe together. You and I can focus on our circumstances and try to manipulate them for our own benefit or we can dwell on negative facts and make ourselves literally sick and ill with worry. That’s just going to leave us with unstable and shaky security. But when we choose to find our peace in the Lord, He will comfort us through our heartaches in life and give us confidence and unshakable security.

Now I’m not gonna pretend that I have it all together. I tend to try and seek peace the same way every else does. I expect to find security in jobs, relationships, wealth, material things, appearance, etc. Wealth disappears, jobs end, relationships fail, material things deteriorate and beauty is fleeting. Even good health is not a guarantee. So much of life is uncertain. But there is only one reliable source of supernatural peace. You and I can and will experience inner serenity that isn’t dependent on circumstances and the secret to this amazing tranquility is surrendering to Jesus. Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with Him. Surrender to Him and you can face every day with a powerful sense of indescribable peace.

Karina Lopez

Archive April: Say Instagram!

Originally Posted on January 23, 2013.

teen_girlThis time last year, I noticed that I was struggling to have a solid daily quiet time with God. “Why is this so difficult?” I would ask myself. So I began to pray and ask God to show me what it was that I had been doing lately that distracted me from spending time with him. So then I noticed that I was spending a hefty amount of time (like 1-2 hours a day) on Instagram. And not just Instagram….Facebook and Twitter, too. (so that’s 1-2 hours on each app a day). But honestly, my problem, was Instragam. Let’s just say after praying about Instagram, God convicted me of the amount of time I was spending on there. In the beginning, I decided to just delete the app from my phone. This helped me not get distracted as easily. Especially if you are a digital person like me and use YouVersion’s devotional plans. After about 2 months, I felt that I could install Instagram again onto my phone. It hasn’t been as hard to get distracted by it. It’s a great app and can be used for the glory of God, but I think that a lot of us (me included) have been or are using it in the wrong manner.

One of the things I’ve woman_selfienoticed is that people tend to post a lot of pictures of themselves or what we know to be ‘selfies’. You probably know what I am talking about. You can agree or disagree with me but I just want to share with you what I’ve been thinking.

Just imagine if I walked up to you at church and held out my camera…took a picture of myself…then gave it you? Wouldn’t that seem weird? Not to mention awkward? And then to top it off, I told you to sign it with your signature of  approval…”Like”. We do things on social media that we would never do in real life. Here’s just a few Instagram Photo-Types:

– Kids Doing Lame Stuff.

– Cute Baby Photos in Rapid Succession.

– Delicious Food Photos.

– Disgusting Food Photos.

– Self Portraits.

– Landscapes, Cityscapes and Travel Photos.

– Fingers and Toes. (why oh why?!)

– Clocks and Weather.

We can post countless pictures of ourselves smiling or eating or whatever and feel totally normal about it. I’m not saying its wrong…(I have some up myself). What I am saying is…when you look at it from an different perspective, doesn’t this seem a bit strange to you? I came across this quote on gotquestions.org and thought they summarized it pretty well.

Christians should be aware of the danger of the narcissism (excessive self-love and preoccupation with self) inherent in self-oriented sites. Studies have shown that overuse or wrong motives in social media participation can breed narcissism. When we rely on social media sites primarily to promote ourselves or draw attention to ourselves, it is time to take a step back.

Narcissism is the term used in psychology to describe a preoccupation with self. It is a Greek term taken from the name of the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and was doomed to die because he would not turn away from it. A narcissist is a person who displays a high level of selfishness, vanity, and pride. He sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective. Empathy is impossible for the narcissist because his only perspective is the one centered on self.

Besides the issue of social media in general being a time-waster, I think narcissism can be one of our biggest problems. We post pictures of ourselves and wait. For what? Wait for the compliments to flow in. Why? So that we feel good—(who doesn’t love it when people tell them how pretty or beautiful they look?) Just double-tap it and it adds another number next to the little heart. But could these selfies be another way we are focusing our attention and time on ourselves rather than focusing on God? I can’t help but think of this verse:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

  • Do I spend more time on Instagram than I do in God’s word?
  • Is Instagram being used as a tool to promote God or just myself?
  • What is my goal within Instagram and posting a “selfie”?

I think Instagram is a great app. But I want to challenge you to take a step back and evaluate your time and what you post on Instagram, like I did. When I stepped back, I noticed there were definitely some things wrong with it in my own life. But don’t get me wrong…I still love Instagram!

So…what do you girls think about Instagram? Share your thoughts.

Karina Lopez