Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Watching You

When I saw this video, I knew I had to share it. It is so true what the video says. Our actions speak louder than words to our children. Our children learn by watching us as their parents. It is foolish to think that our children don't see what goes on in our homes. It starts at a very young age. Infants begin to mimic us as soon as they have the coordination to do so. Then when they learn to talk, they will repeat what they hear. We are to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6-"Train up a child in the way he should go,and when he is old he will not depart from it." It starts with our walk with God, this is how we train our children to love the Lord. When they see us put our faith in Him, no matter the situation, it builds faith in our children. When we worship Him at home, not just on Sunday at church, when we pray as a family, when we study His word, when we admit our faults and weaknesses, we train our children how to be humble. When we practice forgiveness at home we represent who Jesus is to our children. But when our walk with God is only on a Sunday, our marriages are on the verge of divorce, when we are selfish and full of pride, we also train our children. My wife and I truly want to be an example of Jesus to our children. Even with all our faults we can show who God is through our actions. It is in our weakness where God is glorified. But we must allow Him access to those areas. He tells us in Proverbs 14:26-"He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." I want God to be my children's refuge. My wife and I have made a lot of mistakes raising our children, especially before we became Christians. God has been good to us. I have seen my son try to live his life as a teenager without a relationship with God and now as a 22 year old man accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. God is faithful! He keeps His promises. We showed our son the example of who God is, and he came back to Him. 2009 is almost over. Let's not take the same old attitude into 2010. It is time for change, time to renew our minds in Christ. Don't condemn yourself for past failures. Learn from them, look what God did for our son, even with all our faults. It is time to build a secure fortress for our children. It starts with us as parents and with our relationship with God. So ask yourself where you could allow God to come and make a change in your life. Our children are counting on us. Remember, they are watching you.

Mark Soto

Friday, December 25, 2009

God Is With Us

"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people."
Luke 1:68
Immanuel: God is with us—God came to us. What a staggering thought. It is really the essence of the Christian faith and the Christian life. All other religious ideologies essentially tell you that you must do something: Do this, and you will find inner peace. . . . Do this, and you will reach nirvana. . . . Do this, and maybe you will make it to heaven. But Christianity says it is done—done for you at the Cross, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.Being a Christian is not merely following a creed; it is having Christ himself live in you and through you, giving you the strength to be the man or woman He has called you to be. Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) and "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).The message of Christmas is God with us. That is important to know, especially during those times when we are going through great difficulty. The psalmist said, "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:9–10). It is great to know that God is with you wherever you go.The Bible never teaches that we will have problem-free lives as followers of Christ. But the Bible does teach that we never will be alone. And because of that, we don't have to be afraid. As Ray Stedman said, "The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy."That is the message that this sin-sick world needs to hear: Immanuel—God is with us.

Greg Laurie

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tis The Season To Be Joyful?

I don’t know about you, this shopping stuff around Christmas time can be dangerous. I got to admit, I really don’t enjoy going to malls anytime of the year especially during Christmas time. . The other day I went out with my wife and my two daughters’. We were honked at repeatedly, yelled at, almost run over by an impatient driver, was pushed and shoved, cut off by another shopping cart, and watched someone give another person the high sign. What a day we had. It got to the point I just had to laugh or other wise I might have joined the people with some holiday cheer of my own. It all made me just reflect on what Christmas is really about. I thanked God for loving us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for us. In years past I would have lost my temper and acted just like everyone else. I realize I must set an example to my family and to other’s. I can’t talk about patience, love, kindness, and the joy that Jesus fills me with, then go out and do the opposite. During this time of running around, being yelled at, honked at, cursed at, cut off, pushed, shoved, and almost run over, let’s remember who we represent. We represent our Savoir Jesus Christ who Christmas is all about. It is a true test of who we really are when we respond in love, kindness, patience, and a joy in our heart. This is who we should be all year round, not just during Christmas time. Remember a smile or an act of kindness can make a difference in someone else’s life. So let’s not be like the rest of the world. Let the light of Jesus shine through you during this busy holiday season. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mark Soto

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart. - George Mathhew Adams

The Sotos
Mark and Raquel
Andrew, Ana, Samantha and Mikaila

The Gombojavs
Gana and Daja
Meg, Israel, Luc, Captain, Belgee, and Saraa

May your home be filled
with love and peace this Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Whole Christmas Thing

(I do not know who wrote this, but it's definitely worth sharing!)

A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season, overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the elevator. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids in with her and all the shopping bags. When the doors closed, she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot." From the back, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry. We already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator, it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the one who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think how different this whole world would be.

--Author Unknown

Friday, December 18, 2009

Get A Jump On Christmas!

One more present to buy. Buy wrapping paper. Wrap gifts. Where did I hide that particular present? Oops, forgot to get a present for the mailman. Make cookies. Eat too many. School Christmas party. Gotta get a gift for the teacher. Address Christmas cards. Lost address book. Call grandmother for addresses. Stand in line at the post office and smile at the grumpy old man behind me. Maybe I should let him go in front of me. Go to the grocery store. How could they be out of currants? Go to another grocery store. Plan holiday meals. Fall into bed, exhausted.

In all your running around this final week before Christmas, don't forget to ENJOY the season! This season of great joy, because God put on flesh. We behold His glory. The only begotten of the Father. Grace. Truth.

Simplify the season. The first Christmas was rather simple. A man. A woman. A manger. And yet the Glory of God filled the place. The Messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes. Come and adore Him.

Take time for joy this week. Take time to let the reason of the season thrill you to your core. You just might feel the urge to jump.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Corrections Keep Us On Track

Have you ever or heard of someone falling asleep while driving and drifted across the lanes on the highway? Since you are asleep, you don’t even realize that you are drifting out of control. Usually once that person does realizes what has happened, they over correct by turning the steering wheel too much. This can very easily lead to an accident. We can very easily drift in our marriages and not realize it until we are about ready to crash. When we get married we truly believe it is for a lifetime. I don’t know of any couples who get married with the expectation of divorce later. But as time goes by we get busy, distracted, complacent, or preoccupied with kids or work or even ministry. Before you know it you have veered across the lanes into oncoming traffic. For some couples this can happen in months, and for others it can be over many years of marriage. When we finally do wake up and realize we are in a crisis we want instant change. It is natural to think for a big problem, we need a big solution. But when you look at when we drive our cars we are constantly making little corrections in steering to stay on course. This is what we need to do in our marriages and in our own lives. We need to constantly ask God to reveal areas of our life we need to change. Remember, He is not going to give us more than we can handle. Little corrections or changes will keep our marriages on course. This also applies with our walk with God, our role as parents, our friendships, and our personal lives. So when we run into our circumstances which can look like a mountain, we don’t always have to try and tackle the whole situation at once. Allow God to make little corrections in you. As we continue to make little corrections, it will lead to major change down the road in our life, our marriages, and in our families. Looking at the whole mountain can be overwhelming. Jesus tells us to have faith. With faith we allow God to remove those mountains that are in front of us. Sometimes those mountains can’t be avoided; the storms of life will come. But there are mountains in our life that are created by us. However you get there in your marriage making small corrections can be a powerful tool for moving a couple back toward healing, caring, closeness, and loving one another again. Let’s not take the fast food mentality when it comes to the trials in our marriage. Too many times we want instant change in our circumstances when it took us years to get there. We give up before God even has a chance to work in us. We end up settling for marriages that just go through the motions. Don’t buy the lie and settle for anything less than what God has in store for your marriage. Small corrections in your life can begin to change everything in your relationships. Focus on making little changes, and watch how much God can grow your marriage.

Mark Soto

The Gap In The Covenant

(An excerpt from Sarah Markley's blog.)

But, even so we have a covenant. We have binding promises. We didn’t say Until One Of Us Wounds The Other. Or Until You Get Really Mad At Me. Or even, Until We Really Really Hate Each Other. We said Until Death Do Us Part. It’s forever.

What makes the difference is this: we are learning to live in the gap of the covenant. Because sometimes only one of us is upholding our promises. Love. Honor. Respect.

When he doesn’t hold up his end, I hold up mine. When I fail miserably and say something un-take-back-able, he stands still as my husband, unshaken by something as fleeting as a word in the face of a promise. Even though it hurts and it takes time to get over, we are learning to practice this.

But our example for this isn’t each other (we are far from skilled even at this) or even another couple we admire. Our example is the first Covenant Maker.

Read the rest here. It's worth your time; you won't be disappointed!

With Gratefulness to the first Covenant Maker!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Docker's Man-ifesto!

In a society where gender lines are constantly blurred and movies like Twilight are portraying leading men that are much more feminine than generations of leading men before them, I stumbled across a Man-ifesto, an ad for khakis that makes me want to go out buy a pair for every real man I know!

This is a must see ad!

Wear The Pants

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Accountability Keeps it Real

· Let Someone Sharpen You
- How many high profile people have fallen prey to temptation;
especially sexual temptation.
- In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan the prophet spoke into King David’s life.
- David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.
She became pregnant by David. Then David goes on to have Uriah
killed in battle.
- Nathan, sent by God tells King David a story about a rich man and
the poor man. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and the
poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb.
-This poor man raised and nourished this ewe lamb. It grew up
with him and his children. It was a family pet that they all loved
tremendously. It was like a daughter to him.
- It goes on to say that the rich man takes the poor man’s lamb to
prepare a meal for a traveler. The rich man could have easily
taken one from his flock.
- After David heard this story, he was angry at the rich man for
what he did. 2 Samuel 12:5-7- David says, “As the Lord lives, the
man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore
fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he
had no pity.” Than Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
-As fellow believers in Christ, we need to hold each other
accountable and encourage one other.
-Proverbs 27:5- “Better is open rebuke, than hidden love.”
-It takes an act of submission to God first, then we need to learn to
submit to one another for personal accountability.
-Accountability is a decision we must make. No one can force us.
-We need others to have access into our lives. It keeps us from
isolating ourselves, isolation is where the enemy wants us.
-Martin Luther states, “Without confrontation, faith stagnates.”
-We all need to be sharpened, to grow, to avoid mediocrity, from
becoming lukewarm, and to be encouraged.
· Let Another In
-When you think of some of the famous sports stars, or even high
profile pastor’s that fell to temptation, I wonder how approachable
were they.
-Were they teachable? Did they allow pride or arrogance to get in
their way?
-We are all going to be tempted. It’s what you do with it that
-When we struggle and when we have accountability partner’s, we
know we are not going at it alone.
-When we build relationships, we are better able to become
transparent with each other. Transparency builds trust.
-Trust will allow us to speak into each others lives.
-Choose someone you are comfortable with, someone you respect.
-Someone who has your permission to speak the truth in love.
-Ephesians 4:25- “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood
and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of
one body.”
-We need to be real with each other. Remember we can fool one
another, but we cannot fool our Heavenly Father.
How are you really doing?
-That is the real question we need to ask each other.
-We need to get to the heart issue as men.
-So it is time to be accessible to one another.
-To allow other men into those closed off areas.
-There is no shame, no condemnation. We need to create an
atmosphere where failure is not death.
-We are a new creation with no record of wrong.
-So let’s encourage each other, be transparent, be teachable, let go
of pride, and let go of fear.
-It is not always going to be easy. It can be frustrating, but never
give up on each other.
-Imagine if God would have given up on you.
-Love one another.
-Share your testimonies, your testimony will speak life into
-Don’t ever sell yourself short. God is not looking for perfection.
-He is looking for men who are willing to step out in faith.

Mark Soto

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December Date-Your-Mate Winner!

At the last cell group meeting, we drew the winner for December Date-Your-Mate!

Kevin and Minoska met in college. Kevin proposed to Minoska in April 1996 and they were married June 1, 1996. They have two children, Isabel and Benjamin.

Kevin and Minoska's winning date, going to Taco Bell, wins them a one of a kind calendar, from Jaqueline Kyoda! (Click on the link on our sidebar to learn more about her work!)

Have a happy and romantic December!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Are You The Leader Of Your Home?

Are you as the man taking the spiritual lead in your home or are you sitting back and allowing your wife to take the spiritual leadership role of the home? Marriages and families are falling apart at record numbers today. The sad part is that there is no difference between Christian marriages and non-Christian marriages. There are many factors why marriages are ending in divorce. One reason I would like to point out is the leadership roles that men are taking in their marriages today. A lot of men are sitting back and watching from the bleachers as oppose to being in the game. We are allowing our wives to take up that role where God has intended the man to take ownership of. It is hard enough to run the household, raise children, and be on duty 24 hours a day. Then we as men pile on the responsibility of spiritual head of home. That is too much for anyone person to bear. How loved do you think your wife must feel when she feels that all the responsibility falls on her shoulders. More women today are just burning out. The percentage of married women having adulterous affairs has increased dramatically. When your wife does not feel loved by you as her husband and she is burnt out that is a dangerous place to be. Satan will come like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to tempt her. If you look at Eve in Genesis 3:1- “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Where was Adam at this time? So how are you covering your wife on a daily basis? We need to start praying for our wives everyday. There are so many areas of their lives that need our prayers as husbands for covering. Start with yourself as her husband, but also pray for her spirit, emotions, motherhood, moods, submission, relationships, beauty, fears, purpose, desires, and the list can go on. Believe you me I got pretty overwhelmed when I started thinking of all the areas that I need to pray for my wife. I just learned that I can’t pray for everything in her life everyday, so I broke it down to a smaller list each day and through the week I cover the areas in her life where God is leading me to pray.

God spoke to Adam about the do’s and don’ts in the Garden of Eden. It was his responsibility to make sure his wife truly understood these commands God gave him. God tells us husbands to love our wives; to dwell with them in understanding; to present them without a blemish; to cherish them. When our wives feel loved, when their love tanks are full, our wives will do anything to serve us as their husbands. We must learn to speak our wives love language. Gary Chapman has a book titled, “The Five Love Languages” men’s edition. I highly recommend it to all married men. It teaches us how to recognize our wife’s love language and how to speak it to her. It is time to humble ourselves as men and take ownership of our marriage and families. We need to stop shifting blame and stop hiding our shame. Shame is a lie of the enemy to keep us in bondage. After Adam and Eve ate of the fruit it says their eyes were open. They realized they were naked. And when God called for Adam he hid because he was afraid. This is where shame, fear, guilt, and condemnation entered into our lives and marriages. We have a tendency to hide and isolate ourselves when we struggle in our daily lives and in our marriages. The enemy’s mission is to destroy our marriage and families. But when we confess all our sins, our shame, our fears, our guilt, it releases us of the condemnation and allows God to restore us. We must truly repent and turn from our ways. We have all been their one time or another in our lives and maybe you are there today. No more excuses! Adam then goes on to tell God that it was the woman You gave me. That was his opportunity to confess his sins, but he chose to shift the blame on Eve and God. Men, we do this today when we are frustrated, tired of our wives nagging, complaining, and lack of respect. But instead of saying my wife is messed up, why don’t we ask God to show us where we are failing in our homes. I guarantee you that if your wife felt loved and cherished by you, she would not have much to complain about. You will reap the love from your wife when you sow into her.
How many of you know that we serve a good God? God goes on to clothe Adam and Eve, to cover up their shame. God also gave us Jesus to die on the cross so we can be restored to our rightful place as his children, in our marriages, and in our families. So men ask yourself if you are doing your part as servant leader. Are you taking charge of your family? Are you serving with love and a joy in your heart? I know there was a time when I sat back and did not take the role of spiritual leader. I can tell you from experience that I learned the hard way. Thank you God for humbling me as a man and continuing to humble me. It is time to take off that mask if you are wearing one and stop acting like everything is ok in your marriage. Let’s not hide behind the lie of shame. We need more men who are willing to be real and allow God and other brother’s in Christ to speak into their lives. So men I challenge you today to step up to the servant leader of your homes. To equally submit yourself as husband’s. Remember you don’t have to do it all on your own. God blessed you with a comparable helper in your wife. But she needs you to take initiative in your home. Being a provider is great, but you also need to be a protector, a supporter, a helper, a friend, and a lover. When you step into your role as a man, a husband, and a father, as God commanded you, you will not regret it. You will be a blessed man.

Mark Soto