Monday, January 5, 2015

A Different Kind of King: An Epiphany

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

I have read and heard these verses so many times and, yet, this year I had an epiphany. A new understanding. A fresh insight. This year I saw something in this passage I hadn't seen before.

As the Magi approached Jerusalem, they were led by light to the Source of all light. Apparently they'd had their own epiphany, for they referred to this special star as His star. The child's star. Christ's Star.

Before Jesus' birth, cruel and self-centered King Herod had to convince the Romans to name him king over the Jews. This is how he came to rule at the time of Messiah's birth. He forced his way to the throne. Herod crowned himself king.

But the question asked by the wise men from the east speaks of a different kind of kingship. A heavenly and eternal kingship.  

And it speaks of an entirely different kind of King. A humble king. One who beckons strangers from afar to come and lay their crowns at His feet.

"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star ... and have come to worship him."

Unlike Herod, Jesus was born king. It was His star that rose to announce His coming into the world. The Light of the world has His own Star. In fact, all the stars are His. Every one of them.

Today we celebrate the joyful epiphany of the Magi even as we anticipate our own. May we, too, recognize Christ's Star, leave everything behind and come to worship Him. 

Follow the Star!
Dr Mari
  
 

Friday, December 26, 2014

If You Ask Me ... This Is Life

 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  
Revelation 22:16

Yes, it is December 26th, but I'm so glad that Christmas is not over. Aren't you? The season of light goes on because the Light that  h a s  a l w a y s  b e e n  will never be snuffed out. The bright star from the East actually shone on its Source: the bright Morning Star born into the world to be the Light of the World.

This Light is a person. His name is Immanuel.   G o d   W i t h   U s.

Though He arrived as a little baby, He was recognized as the fulfillment of a promise. So He was worshiped from birth as the King who would bring salvation.

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”  
Luke 2:28-32

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John 1:14

As I continue to ponder the glorious truth of Christ's birth, I've been reflecting on the many names God's Word ascribes to Jesus. During Christmas, one name stands out and reminds us of the awesome reality that God is with us. And there is nothing we need more than that.

Here's an 1854 sermon that speaks of this astounding and comforting truth. God is with us. He is the miracle.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 
Isaiah 7:14

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
Luke 2:13-14

May the Light of Christ shine into our hearts this Christmas season with a fresh revelation of His glory, His majesty, and the astonishing truth that  H e ...  i s ... w i t h ... u s.

Christmas Blessings all year,

Dr Mari 

To see Christmas from a child's eyes, follow this link.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Security Blankets and Christ's Birth: A Child's Reflection

As I sat down to write about Christmas, my ten year-old daughter asked whether she could write the post instead. Here's what she wrote.

One of my very favorite things about Christmas is listening to Linus on Z88.3 tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about. This was one of the first times you see Linus drop his blanket. I feel Linus was caught in the story so much, he felt more secure in telling the story than keeping his security blanket. 

I feel that all of us have a security blanket such as best friends, electronics, and so on, and we forget our real security is Jesus. I mean, there's nothing wrong with best friends as a sub security blanket, but we most certainly may not use electronics and other things as the key to security. Sometimes we forget that Christmas is about Jesus because you see pictures of Santa Claus, hear Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and so on. When Linus comes on I snap out of Santa Claus and get reminded all over again about the true meaning of Christmas. 

It's fun to think of Santa Claus but I sometimes think ... why in the world do most people not know the true story of Saint Nicholas? Why do most people not know that poor shepherds came to see the king before wise men came? Why do some people not know what the nativity is? Because we live in a world full of different cultures and different beliefs. When we see a person that doesn't know who Saint Nicholas is or what the nativity is, we can tell them. I hope they will feel the true joy, peace, and love that came down to us in a little manger on Christmas Day. You may be one person but you're oh so special in God's eyes. With Him you can be anything because through Him anything is possible. 

I'll end this by saying, Jesus is the real big reason of the season. 

Now it's time to drop your security blanket. All you need to hold on to is Jesus.


From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dr. Mari
 
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Hear Linus explain Christmas to Charlie Brown here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Musings: Love Wins

I'm so glad that, as I get older, I'm becoming an early riser. One of my favorite things to do on the beach (if I'm up early enough!) is to watch the sun rise over the horizon to the tune of crashing waves. I love to take in the miniscule, microsecond changes one misses by not paying close attention. A bird formation appearing out of nowhere and changing the landscape, ever so briefly. A gentle breeze beckoning the palm trees to join in a subtle dance. A dolphin's fin cutting through a wave for two seconds, noticed only by those who choose to sit and ponder the beauty, magnificence, and power displayed every second throughout creation. Nature rewards in a special way those who devote time to admire it.


I stand in awe as I watch the sun rise over the ocean. Light takes over the darkness slowly, imperceptibly and, yet, with such power. The darkness flees in the mere presence of light. All the light has to do is be.... 

Watching this conquest, this daring display, I grasp something about God's goodness triumphing--always--over evil. This victory may seem slow to manifest at times, but it is happening nonetheless. 

The light takes over the darkness. 

God triumphs. 

Love wins.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Dr Mari

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
John‬ ‭1‬:‭5‬

Love never fails. 
1 Corinthians 13:8

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ever Walk on Sacred Space? Join Me!

I recently published an article titled Sacred Space: A Place of Encounter where I discuss special places where I've encountered God. One of these sacred spaces is right here in Central Florida, in the middle of everything: Canterbury Retreat Center. This December (5 & 6) I will be one of the leaders for a very special retreat at Canterbury focused on the power of prayer. Click on the link at the end of the article to find out more and to register. Here is the article.


“Silence is God’s first language,” wrote mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century. His quote was later expanded by 20th century monk Thomas Keating, who added, “Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.”

So how do we do this in our fast-­paced, multitasking, technology-­driven 21st century world? Noise follows us everywhere we go. You can’t even sit in silence anymore in most restaurants or waiting rooms. We have TVs, radios, smartphones, music, interviews, reality shows, and seemingly endless chatter. Silence, however, must be pursued. And sacred spaces help us find it.

Sacred spaces. The very phrase evokes feelings and memories we long to relive. Most of us can think of special places we’ve visited that we consider sacred, though we may define the term in different ways. I’ve experienced a few such spaces in my life, and they’re all special for the same reason: I experienced God’s presence there.

My first sacred space was the church at the foot of the street where I grew up in Puerto Rico. It was the smallest church I’ve ever seen, simple and completely ordinary. The typical Sunday service was packed with twenty people. I don’t remember any of the sermons preached there. We had no choir or Sunday school. There were no bells rung that I can recall. But I do recall the peace I felt walking in, while I prayed, and as we sang together, and the profound sense of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. All that, I remember well, and just thinking about it brings back showers of comfort and peace.

Canterbury Retreat Center is another special sacred space. I’ve been blessed to participate in retreats, icon workshops, and conferences there that helped me grow in my faith. And every time I’m there, I know I’m walking on sacred grounds.

I believe God’s Spirit dwells at Canterbury.

A sacred space is a place where we experience God’s presence. It is more about God’s Spirit than it is about the place itself. And the Holy Spirit is present at Canterbury. Places like my neighborhood church and Canterbury Retreat Center help modern-­day followers of Jesus find outer silence so we may experience inner stillness. They help us be still and rest in God, that we may return to the noise of the world changed—renewed and refreshed by God’s very presence and the Voice we can only hear in stillness.

Sacred spaces say, Come away and sit with God, close enough to hear His voice speak to your soul. Our part is to be intentional and pursue this stillness and silence. Our part is to leave the noise and go to that sacred space where we may “be still and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10).


Join me to experience the sacred space at Canterbury Retreat Center on December 5-6, 2014. Set aside these two days (before the busyness of the Christmas season begins) to worship, pray, and grow closer to God.

Be still!
Dr Mari

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” (Mother Teresa)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Great Resource for Fertility Info/Family Planning

Hello, friends! I write to spread the word about a new website with trustworthy information and resources to empower women and engage men to appreciate and learn more about their fertility. Many women and couples are seeking alternatives to artificial contraception. Others have suffered from infertility that remains undiagnosed and may not realize there are well-researched, sound, and medically safe alternatives to artificial reproductive technologies. This new website is full of facts and resources (including links to excellent articles) for women and couples seeking answers and help.



Check out Facts About Fertility and share it with others! I have the privilege of serving as their editor and have been impressed with their level of expertise, knowledge, and evidence-based approach.





Facts to Ponder: If a healthy woman is fertile no more than 80 days a year, why do so many women choose to use daily contraception when they're already, by design, not fertile 285 out of 365 days? Is this a healthy and wise choice when it is a known fact that hormonal contraception can cause (or contribute to) depression, blood clots, headaches, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer, and more? Learn more here.

Be well!
Dr Mari

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Song in My Heart (Part II)

Since my musings from last week about the songs God's placed in my heart, I've discovered another 'singing doctor.' I was so excited when my cousin posted this video (link below) about a physician who's delivered some eight thousand babies and welcomes them into our world with a song. He does this to celebrate the miracle of life. 

"They're special. Each of them is an individual. When I'm singing to those babies I think that I'm singing to an important person. That's the credit I give to all of them," he says. "So to me, it's a wonderful thing in my hands, the miracle of life. And ... you forget about all the crises going on everywhere, for a moment, when you see that miracle of life in front of you."

God's blessings abound.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3, NKJV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17, NKJV

Watch this singing doctor here and smile!

Sing!
Dr Mari

Read Part I of A Song in My Heart here.