Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Peace Retreat

There's something new at the Gombojav Home. We call it our Peace Retreat. You can read all about it on our family blog, In Other Words.

"How do you handle frustration and conflict in your home--especially between your children? Some parents try to eliminate all conflict for their children and make frustration non-existent. But what does a child really learn that way? Frustrations in life will happen. Everyone will have bad days, days when they are not on top of their game, days when things do not go as planned. Being misunderstood is part of the human experience. Thankfully, we have a Friend who is familiar with the feeling...." (Read the rest here.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

At Your Service!

I remember as a child when my mother went to a gas station, they would provide full service
with no extra charge. There was a gas station attendant that would fill the tank, check the oil, check tire pressure, and even clean your windshield for you. It seemed like the station attendant enjoyed his job, because it was service with a smile. Today it is all self service or if they do provide full service it will reflect in the price per gallon for gas. Where has that service with a smile gone in our marriages? (Galatians 5:13)- You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” The Lord commands us to serve one another. He also tells us not to be selfish in our ways when it comes to serving. Jesus knew by nature we are selfish. That we would put our own needs and wants before others, our spouse, and children. The great thing is when we have a relationship with God; we learn to die to our selfish desires. It doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with our own selfishness. We do, everyday. It is a choice we make to put our spouse first. Everyday in marriage we have an opportunity to serve each other. I know I have blown it plenty of times to serve my wife. There have been times when I have walked by the kitchen sink and saw some dishes in it. At that moment I have a choice to serve my wife out of love or tell myself that I’m tired because I’ve been working hard so I decide to leave them for my wife to do. I got to admit that I have at times left the dishes in the sink, but the Lord has truly been giving me a heart of service. I truly want to serve my wife and children. I want to reveal who Christ is in my actions. I know my wife and I realize she doesn’t like dishes to pile up. A few dishes in the sink doesn’t bother me, but it’s not about me. I choose to do the dishes because it serves my wife. It is one of her love languages. When I help (serve) her around the house it tells her that I love her, that I care about her needs. Jesus not only taught about being a servant, He demonstrated it when he washed the disciple’s feet. How often do we humble ourselves to serve in a manner that we may even feel is below us? Do we let our pride get in the way? Husbands are head of household. Head is not defined as boss, but rather describes the husband as a servant provider who nourishes and cherishes his wife. (Ephesians 5:28-29)- So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” We need to start demonstrating servant hood in our homes. We must teach our children to serve others, because we live in a society where it is all about me. It is our responsibility to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We are equals in marriage. We need to bring back the full service station mentality to our marriages. Service with a smile, a joy in our hearts. I know it can be difficult at times. That is why I have to ask God everyday to show me how to be the husband and father He has commanded me to be. I ask God to show me how to die to my selfish needs. We must learn to serve God, our wife and children, to serve our church, and to serve others. We have endless opportunities to serve each other everyday in marriage. It is usually the small things that we do consistently that mean the most. I love my wife and children. I made a vow, a covenant to serve and provide for them. I say I made a promise to God to love, nourish, cherish, and serve his daughter with all my heart, and all my effort as long as I live. That is a pretty big promise to make. But we all made that promise when we said I Do. So let’s start living out that promise we made to God and our spouse to serve with love. (Philippians)- Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Let’s learn to serve with a joy in our hearts. It is part of God’s original design for marriage. To love and serve each other. This allows us to reflect and reveal the image of God. We become oneflesh in relationship with our Father. Believe me, you will get back in return more than what you put in.

Mark and Raquel Soto

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mediocracy Is Not OK!

Why do we settle for an o.k. marriage? It has been on my heart to see us fulfill what God had originally intended for marriage. I am currently reading Tim and Anne Evans book called, “Marriage It’s Not About Me.” I love the way they break down God’s original design for marriage. God intended our marriage to reflect and reveal his true nature of love, relationship, oneness, servant hood. We are to mirror Him. The Hebrew word for mirror means to reflect God, to magnify, exalt, and glorify Him. Can you honestly say that your marriage mirrors God’s image? I’m not trying to condemn or shame anyone. Believe me when I say that I’m also speaking to myself. But my wife and I have made a commitment to try to mirror His image in our marriage. It is not easy at times; I must die to myself daily. (Genesis 1:27-28)- “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God had purposed oneness in marriage. Complete transparency with each other and with Him. Adam and Eve was the perfect love relationship. Not only were they physically naked but they were also spiritually naked with each other and their heavenly Father. (Genesis 2:24)- “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But we all know the story of the fall where Eve eats the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and gives it to Adam. This act gave the enemy authority to come and rob, steal, and destroy marriage. Ever since the fall, the enemy has used shame, guilt, fear, control, and has stolen our identity of whose image we are made of to destroy marriage and family. Marriage and family are under attack. I remember my mom telling me when she was a young girl growing up in Scotland during WWII, the air raid sirens would sound. She said if they were outside they would run home, put on a helmet and a gas mask and go to the basement if they had one. The siren has been sounded and it is time to gather the troops in unity and take back Gods original design for marriage. Thankfully Jesus was born, died on the cross, and ascended into heaven. This sacrificial act gave us back the authority to rule and have dominion over all things on earth, including the enemy. We can live out Gods original plan for marriage. No more with settling with so-so marriages. Are you not sick and tired of being sick and tired? I want revival in our marriages, in our families. The secular world should be looking at our marriages in the church and wondering how they can have the same thing in their marriage. To often our marriages look the same as the secular world. The divorce rate in the church is the same as outside the church. That is sad. How can we change the world when we look like the world? Let our marriages and families be a light in this time of attack. Let us show the world that Gods design for marriage is the only design that works. A marriage of oneness in relationship with our heavenly Father. A marriage of love, understanding, forgiveness, patience, kindness, sacrifice, service, and a willingness to lay down our life for our spouse. So let’s not settle for less. We can change the view of marriage in our society by just mirroring the image of God in our own marriage. Do not under estimate what our all powerful, glorious Father can do. Like I said before, lets not put God in a box. I’m not condemning you if you are having issues in your marriage. We all go through struggles in our marriage and can I tell you about struggle. But let’s not choose to stay there or buy into the lie of the enemy that it can never get better or bye into shame, fear, guilt, control, or just giving up. I tell you from experience, our God is a God of miracles. He will change your circumstance if you completely rely on Him. God rejoices when our marriages reflect and reveal who He truly is. LOVE!
So it is time to start living. Living in a marriage that reflects and reveals our Father. No more excuses! (Philippians 4:13)- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Also along with allowing God to work in us, we need to stay connected with other couples. We need to learn and reach out to others. Do not let shame and fear isolate you. On the other hand, we need to make ourselves available to others who are struggling. Yes, we have to sometimes go out of our way for others. Disrupt our comfortable lives. We reflect and reveal the love of God when we do. We cannot fight this battle on our own. So let’s learn to pray for other marriages, to go out of our way for others, to build friendships, and stay connected. We will take back what the enemy has stolen. Our marriages will mirror the image of God.

Mark and Raquel Soto

Friday, September 11, 2009

Living By Vows

One of my favorite books of all time is a tiny little book called "A Promise Kept." In it Robertson McQuilken, who was the president of Columbia International University, tells the story of his dear wife's slow slide into Alzheimer's Disease. He writes, "Twenty summers ago, Muriel and I began our journey into the twilight. It's midnight now, at least for her. Sometimes I wonder when dawn will break. Even the dread Alzheimer's disease isn't supposed to attack so early and torment so long.

"Yet, in her silent world Muriel is so content, so lovable, I sometimes pray, "Please, Lord, could you let me keep her a little longer?" If Jesus took her home, how I would miss her gentle sweet presence. Oh yes, there are times when I get irritated, but not often. It doesn't make sense. And besides, I love to care for her. She's my precious."

His commitment to his promise to Muriel is so breathtakingly beautiful, if you read the book and don't cry, you'd better check your pulse! It stands in such stark contrast to the ideas of commitment in our post-modern world. In our world if your needs aren't being met your allowed to bail. But to McQuilken, his vows were not just words, but what he lived by.

You can read part of his story in an archived story at Christianity Today. Please go read it and allow the Lord to speak through it to you.

McQuilken writes: The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel "in sickness and in health...till death do us part."....integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially for all these years; if I cared for her for the next 40 years I would not be out of her debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But there is more: I love Muriel. She is a delight to me--her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I don't have to care for her. I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person....It is more than keeping promises and being fair, however. As I watch her brave descent into oblivion, Muriel is the joy of my life. Daily I discern new manifestations of the kind of person she is, the wife I always loved.

Please read the archived article here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gaurd Your Heart!

If you have ever watched a boxing match, the referee will bring the two fighters’ together, explain the rules and then tell them to protect yourself at all times. Well the same goes with us when it comes to the enemy. PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TMES! “Be on your guard; stand firm in faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16: 13-14). I say this because of something I recently went through. I was in a little bit of a funk a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I was neglecting my duties as a husband, a father, and a son to my Heavenly Father. I found my self depressed, short tempered towards my wife and kids. On one Sunday I didn’t feel like going to church. I was getting a bit frustrated with myself. I came to a point were I could dwell in my funk or I could make a decision to snap out of it. Well I chose to snap out of it. I made the decision to stand strong in the Lord. I felt God telling me to guard my heart. Protect myself at all times. I know we all go through different seasons in our life. Sometimes we just need to make a decision to come in the opposite spirit. We can’t always wait on the next big conference, prophetic word, or a message at church on Sunday. God gave us the authority to speak life into our own lives. We have the authority to end the funk. It is through the Blood of Jesus. We also need to learn to reach out to others in the body of Christ. Stay connected to others. Get involved with a small group at your church. Build relationships with others, have accountability partners. This is how we build community in church. We learn to care and love on others. I was able to pull myself out of my funk with the help of my Heavenly Father and my wife, but there are times we need a church community to depend on. “Stay alert. Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5: 8-9). So, protect yourself at all times. Guard your heart and don’t allow the enemy to steal what belongs to your Heavenly Father.

Mark and Raquel Soto

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dr. Dobson on Marriage

"Married life is a marathon....It is not enough to make a great start toward long-term marriage. You will need the determination to keep plugging....Only then will you make it to the end."

(Love For A Lifetime, p. 120)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Group Date Pictures!

On August 22, Family Cell couples went on a group date to Dave & Busters! What a blast!

Fighting for the safety of the galaxy anyone?

Deal or No Deal?

Girls just wanna have fun!


We raced against each other and perhaps proved that men are better drivers:

As married people, it is so important that we cultivate friendships with other married people. We can be open, accountable, encouraging and supportive to one another. And it is so important to remember to play! We get so serious in life--the mortgage, the kids, the in-laws, errands, obligations. Remember that playing together is a really important component of marriage! So, if you haven't dated your mate in a while, put that on the calendar--in pen--ASAP!

"In research at our clinic, my colleague and I have discovered that friendship is the springboard to every other love. Friendships spill over onto the other important relationships of life. People with no friends usually have diminished capacity for sustaining any kind of love. They tend to go through a succession of marriages, be estranged from various family members, and have trouble getting along at work. On the other hand, those who learn how to love their friends tend to make long and fulfilling marriages, get along well with people at work, and enjoy their children." (Alan Loy McGinnis in The Friendship Factor)