The Shack – Why I Recommend the Movie

Many have undertaken to write their own reviews of Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack. Most of the ones we have read are negative – issuing dire warnings against what they perceive to be a heretical, unbiblical story. We see it with different eyes; and though we know we will upset some people by saying so, we want to share a few reasons why we love and recommend both the movie and especially the book. Let us say up front that we are neither providing a thorough review of every theological point in the book; nor writing a response to the accusations of those who oppose the story.[1] We also want to be clear that we are not expecting that you will agree with us (or with the authors of the book). If you have questions about the theology of the book/movie, find answers – informed answers. Then use your discernment and arrive at your own conclusions, but graciously let people think for themselves and have their own opinions.

Overarching Themes

The overarching theme of relationship: This is the story of Mack, a man who, like many of us, has experienced deep trauma and unexplainable pain in his life. Because of his pain, he is distanced from God. But it is also the story of God, who longs for relationship with His children. It is the story of a Father who extends an invitation to Mack to be restored in relationship with Him (an envelope shows up in Mack’s mailbox). Jesus expresses the Father’s heart when He prays “…for those who will believe in me … that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23).

The overarching theme of wholeness: This is the story of a broken man who has forgotten how to love. He is so concerned for his own pain that he has turned completely inward in self-protection and self-preservation. But it is the story of God, who reaches out and invites him on a journey of wholeness – where his feelings are validated; his questions are answered; his judgmental attitude is corrected; and his heart gets mended. As a result, Mack is freed from himself and in this newfound wholeness he is free to love extravagantly, to live with gratitude and inexpressible joy. This is what John tells us about the Father’s heart: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). (The word “saved” is translated from the original sōzō (grk), which entails salvation, healing, restoration, preservation, wholeness).

The overarching theme of forgiveness: This is the story of a man whose heart is bound up in unforgiveness. It is eating him up and affecting his whole life. Mack’s life is a picture of the unforgiving servant who is being tormented (Matthew 18:21-25). But it is the story of God, who steps into the picture to help Mack process his pain and to give him the strength to forgive and receive healing. It is a picture of how God can take our brokenness and make something beautiful out of it if we have the courage to trust Him and obey, even when it is painful. In the book version, God says to Mack, “Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation. And sometimes – and this may seem incomprehensible to you right now – that road may even take you to the miracle of fully restored trust.”

Other Salient Themes

Now here are some of my favorite lines/scenes from the book (which are slightly modified in the theatrical version without losing their meaning).

1. God’s Holiness:I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all you can ask or think.” This is consistent with Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” A key aspect of God’s holiness is that He is different from creation; He is beyond the world he created.

2. The Trinity:All love and relationship is possible for you only because it already exists within me within God myself. Love is not the limitation; love is the flying. I am love.” John says it clearly: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:8, 16). The relationality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity.

3. God’s Design for Us:Humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image.” The Bible is clear that God has created us, in His image, with a purpose (Genesis 1:26-31). David declares in Psalm 139 that God has intentions for us. God says it of specific people in Isaiah (44:2, 24; 49:5) and Jeremiah (1:5), so it can be inferred that this applies to all of us. Jesus sets us free from our limitations so we can experience abundant life.

4. Good and Evil:You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil in your own terms. That is a hard pill to swallow; choosing only to live in me. To do that you must know me enough to trust me and learn to rest in my inherent goodness.” This points to the original sin, where Adam and Eve chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:1-7); but God teaches us in Proverbs that the antithesis is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When we are tempted to think that God is the one causing the evil we see in our world, we do well to listen to Jesus who tells us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) and “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

5. Judgment and Redemption. In the judgment scene “Wisdom” asks Mack to be the judge of the world. In doing so, Wisdom exposes the folly of man in contrast with the heart of God that seeks to redeem and restore all who are lost: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In the movie the Father speaks of an evil man and expresses His desire (but no guarantee) that he be redeemed. This is consistent with Peter’s statement that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Bible is clear that Jesus’s forgiveness is extended to all humanity; but we have a choice as to receive or reject His gift (John 1:12).

6. Pain and Suffering:Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.” God never promised us a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus says that “In the world you will have tribulation;” but He also promises that amid trials we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Many of us can testify that God can (and does) work amazing good from tragedy; but we must not allow that to confuse us. Jesus is very clear when He says that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He shows us that He is the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep; not the thief that comes to do harm. Likewise, Peter shows us who initiates the suffering, and what God does about it: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour … the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).

7. Fear:Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?” The most frequent commandment in the Bible is “Fear not.” But this is not a request that we choose not to fear; but an encouragement that we can face whatever trials make come because He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:8 is one of the many instances where God says something to the effect of, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” So, Jesus declares, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This is good news.

The conclusion of the matter:

In the words of our dear professor, Dr. Wess Pinkham, The journey toward wholeness starts with a whole relationship with the Heavenly Father, where we see our Heavenly Father as healthy, loving, forgiving, and accepting of who we are right now. An intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father is the only way to be whole.[2] This is what the beautiful story of The Shack depicts. If you insist on knowing God as angry, punishing and judgmental, our advice is that you don’t read the book or watch the movie; it will upset you. But if you are open to seeing what it means to be made whole in the loving arms of the Triune God, you will not be disappointed.

________________

[1] For a thorough response by one of the authors of The Shack see Wayne Jacobsen’s “Who’s Afraid of The Big, Bad Shack?” at http://www.lifestream.org/whos-afraid-big-bad-shack.

For a look at the theological underpinnings of The Shack, see C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (FaithWords, 2012).

[2] Chris Waters and Wess Pinkham. Finding Closure to the Pains from the Past (Lookout Mountain, TN: Journeys to the Heart, Inc., 2006), 18.


Dr. Kerry Wood and Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2017

Advertisements

Una mujer fuerte

Vengo de una línea de mujeres Fuertes.

Mi abuela paterna (Clotilde Verano) era reconocida en Barranquilla (Colombia) por sus discursos políticos, en los años treintas, cuando las mujeres ni siquiera tenían derecho al voto. Pero ella usó sus palabras para marcar una diferencia. Mi abuela materna (Merce Gerlein) fue la primera mujer delegada de Colombia a las Naciones Unidas. Luchó por el derecho de la mujer al voto en su país, y fue instrumental en el desarrollo de artes y cultura, y de la ayuda a los necesitados.

A ambas les debo mucho, sabiendo que mucho de lo que soy hoy en día se lo debo a sus convicciones y tenacidad. Me siento orgullosa de mi herencia; orgullosa de ser descendiente de mujeres que sabían lo valiosas que eran y que vivieron conforme a sus convicciones para tener una voz de impacto. De ellas aprendí muchas lecciones de lo que significa ser una mujer fuerte:

* Aprendí que las mujeres no tenemos que competir con los hombres; que somos igualmente valiosas, pero muy diferentes en todo otro sentido.

* Aprendí que si quiero que me respeten, primero me tengo que respetar a mí misma (demostrado, entre otras cosas, en mi comportamiento, mi forma de vestir, y mi forma de hablar).

* Aprendí el valor de la femineidad, la modestia y la decencia.

* Aprendí a no usar un lenguaje vulgar, porque eso sólo silencia mi voz.

* Aprendí que las emociones son importantes, y que uno de mis fuertes como mujer es la habilidad de sentir profundamente.

* Aprendí que no me tengo que dejar manipular, sino que puedo alzar mi voz y compartir mis ideas, pero que debo hacerlo de forma respetuosa y en ánimo de cooperación.

* Aprendí que mi cuerpo es un regalo de Dios, y que debo cuidarlo y protegerlo.

* Aprendí que tengo libertad para elegir lo que hago; pero que debo elegir cuidadosamente, y hacerme responsable de las consecuencias de dichas elecciones.

* Aprendí que como mujer puedo soñar en grande, y que si estoy dispuesta a trabajar duro, nadie me puede impedir alcanzar mis sueños.

* Aprendí que dejar a un lado una carrera brillante para dedicarme a ser esposa y mamá no disminuye en nada mi valor.

* Aprendí el valor de la familia y la importancia de la maternidad.

Sí, aprendí que ser mujer es algo hermoso; y aprendí que ser una mujer fuerte no significa que tengo que rechazar la ayuda y la caballerosidad de los hombres.

* Me gusta cuando nos abren la puerta.

* Me gusta cuando nos ceden el asiento.

* Me gusta cuando nos sostienen la silla y nos acercan a la mesa.

* Me gusta cuando nos invitan a salir y pagan la cuenta.

Aceptar estos gestos no quiere decir que no soy capaz de hacerlo por mí misma. De ninguna manera quiere decir que me consideran menos valiosa. Al contrario, para mí son muestras de cuánto me estiman. Entonces los recibo con agradecimiento.

Entonces aprecio ser mujer, y celebro ser esposa, hija, hermana, tía y amiga; y celebro tener buena educación y ser profesional. Me siento agradecida por las oportunidades que he tenido en el curso de mi vida; y le doy gracias a los hombres y mujeres que a lo largo de los años han luchado para que hoy en día pueda gozar de los derechos y privilegios que tanto disfruto.

Soy una mujer – fuerte y femenina – y orgullosa de serlo.


Dra. Chiqui Polo-Wood | Todos los derechos reservados 2017.

Reflections on Being a Woman

I come from a line of strong women.

My paternal grandmother (Clotilde Verano) was known in her home town of Barranquilla (Colombia) for her political speeches. This was in the 1930s, when women didn’t even have the right to vote. But she spoke up and made a difference. My maternal grandmother (Merce Gerlein) was the first female delegate from Colombia to the United Nations. She fought to get women’s voting rights in my native country, and she led the charge in cultural initiatives and in helping the less fortunate.

I owe a great deal to both, knowing that much of who I am today is a result of their strong conviction and tenacity. I’m proud of my heritage; proud to come from women who knew their worth and had the conviction to make their voices heard. From them I learned many lessons about what it means to be a strong woman:

* I learned that women aren’t in competition with men. We are equal in worth, but wonderfully different in every other respect.

* I learned that if I want others to respect me, I must first respect myself (demonstrated, among other things, in how I conduct myself, how I dress, and how I speak).

* I learned the value of femininity, modesty, and decency.

* I learned to abstain from vulgar language because this silences my voice.

* I learned that emotions have their place, and that one of my strengths as a woman is the ability to feel deeply.

* I learned that I don’t have to be a pushover; that I can speak my mind, but to do so respectfully and in a spirit of cooperation.

* I learned that my body is a gift from God that I should cherish and care for.

* I learned that I have freedom to choose my actions; but that I should choose carefully and assume responsibility for their consequences.

* I learned that as a woman I can dream big dreams; and that if I’m willing to work hard, no one can keep me from achieving them.

* I learned that choosing to leave a promising career to be a wife and mother in no way diminishes my worth or value.

* I learned the value of family and the significance of motherhood.

Yes, I learned that being a woman is a beautiful thing; and I learned that being a strong woman doesn’t require me to reject help or gestures of chivalry.

* I like it when men hold the door open for women.

* I like it when men give up their seat for women in a crowded bus or subway.

* I like it when men pull back our chair and help us sit at a table.

* I like it when men ask us out for a meal and pay the bill.

Accepting these gestures doesn’t mean I am not capable of doing them myself. In no way does that convey that they consider me any less valuable. On the contrary, it shows how much they esteem women. So, I receive them with gratitude.

So today I embrace being a woman, and celebrate being a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend; and a well-educated professional. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded, thanking the brave men and women who have paved the way for the rights and privileges I enjoy.

I am a woman – a strong, feminine woman – and proudly so.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All rights reserved 2017

Cómo responder al resultado de estas elecciones

Es el día después de las elecciones… Tal vez te estás levantando aterrorizado de que Donald J. Trump haya sido elegido como el próximo Presidente de los Estados Unidos. Por otro lado, tal vez estés celebrando eufóricamente. Lo que doy por hecho es que seguramente no te es indiferente. Este ciclo de elecciones ha demostrado que este país está profundamente dividido; que nuestra sociedad está muy polarizada. Me entristece ver tantos comentarios llenos de odio en todas las redes sociales. Entonces, ¿cómo podemos responder?

Pensé en escribir esto el domingo pasado por un incidente que tuvimos, de otra índole, pero que me lleva a las mismas conclusiones…

Estábamos saliendo de la iglesia el domingo y nos sorprendió ver un montón de pancartas y dos tipos caminando de arriba para abajo, vociferando todo tipo de insultos y condenación en contra de la iglesia. No recuerdo exactamente qué decían, pero en general estaban expresando su indignación porque esta iglesia – según su criterio – no estaba haciendo lo suficiente para detener el aborto. Kerry y yo nos acercamos, y muy calmadamente tratamos de razonar con él. Pero este hombre continuó con sus insultos, y hasta tratando de intimidarnos. Estaba emitiendo un juicio con su limitado entendimiento. Aunque nunca ha estado en dicha iglesia, estaba convencido de lo que decía. Y al parecer, se sentía obligado a compartir su indignación con todos los demás. A raíz de esta corta conversación con él, hice las siguientes reflexiones:

* Uno no logra persuadir a los demás con mucho vociferar.

* Uno no logra que la gente entienda su posición por medio de insultos.

* Uno no logra que la gente cambie de opinión con criticar su punto de vista.

* Uno no logra que la gente valore lo que uno valora si los irrespeta.

* Uno no puede llegar a un acuerdo si no está dispuesto a escuchar el otro punto de vista.

Tal vez haya cosas que te apasionan – ¿puedes aceptar que haya otros que difieran? (o inclusive con quienes están de acuerdo contigo, pero que no son tan apasionados como tú).

Entonces, esta es mi invitación. Sea cual sea tu postura frente a estas elecciones:

“Ninguna palabra corrompida salga de vuestra boca, sino la que sea buena para la necesaria edificación, a fin de dar gracia a los oyentes” (Efesios 4:29).

Esto quiere decir que:

* Hoy puedes elegir abstenerte de la crítica.

* Hoy puedes elegir el rehusarte a referirte a otros con palabras degradantes.

* Hoy puedes elegir hablar solo palabras de amor y paz.

También recuerda que Jesús nos dice: “Amen a sus enemigos, hagan bien a quienes los odian, bendigan a quienes los maldicen, oren por quienes los maltratan” (Lucas 6:27-28).

Entonces:

* Hoy puedes elegir ser bondadoso hacia los demás.

* Hoy puedes elegir orar por quienes opinan diferente a ti.

* Hoy puedes elegir bendecir a quienes no están de acuerdo con tus valores.

Y sigamos practicando lo que nos enseña Pablo:

“Así que recomiendo, ante todo, que se hagan plegarias, oraciones, súplicas y acciones de gracias por todos, especialmente por los gobernantes y por todas las autoridades, para que tengamos paz y tranquilidad, y llevemos una vida piadosa y digna” (1 Timoteo 2:1-2).

* Oremos por el Presidente Obama en sus últimos meses de presidencia.

* Oremos por el Presidente electo Donald Trump, para que tenga sabiduría para gobernar este país.

Y “Por último, hermanos, consideren bien

* Todo lo verdadero.

* Todo lo respetable.

* Todo lo justo.

* Todo lo puro.

* Todo lo amable.

* Todo lo digno de admiración, en fin

* Todo lo que sea excelente o merezca elogio.

Pongan en práctica lo que de mí han aprendido, recibido y oído, y lo que han visto en mí, y el Dios de paz estará con ustedes” (Filipenses 4:8-9).

Que Dios te bendiga. Y que Dios bendiga a los Estados Unidos.


Dra. Chiqui Pol-Wood | Todos los derechos reservados 2016

How to Respond to the Election Results

Day after the election… Maybe you are waking up this morning horrified that Donald J. Trump has been elected President of the United States. On the other hand, maybe you are ecstatic about it. I would venture to say, with certainty, that you’re not indifferent. This election cycle has shown that our country is deeply divided; that our society is severely polarized. It saddens me to see so much hate-speech coming from both ends. What can we do?

I actually thought about writing this last Sunday, spurred by entirely different events; but some that lead to the same conclusion.

We were leaving church Sunday morning and were surprised to see several posters on the sidewalk, and two men walking up and down on a rant of judgment. I don’t remember his words exactly; but he was condemning this particular church because, according to him, it is not being outspoken enough about the horrors of abortion (never mind that he has never been in the church). Kerry and I approached him politely and tried to reason with him – but he continued on his rant, hurling insults and using intimidation tactics. Ha was judging as an outside observer, having very little factual information. But he was convinced that he was right in his assessment and (I’m guessing) felt compelled to let everyone know about it. From our brief conversation with him, this was my takeaway:

* You don’t persuade people by going on a rant.

* You don’t get people on your side by insulting them.

* You don’t get people to agree with you by criticizing them

* You can’t get people to value what you value if you disrespect them.

* You can’t find common ground if you won’t listen to the other side

There are things that you feel passionately about – can you be OK with people who see differently? (or maybe they agree with you but aren’t quite as passionate as you would like)?

So here’s my exhortation to you today. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum,

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

This means:

* You can choose today to abstain from engaging in criticism

* You can choose today to refrain from speaking demeaning things about others

* You can choose today to speak words of life and peace

Also remember Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

So:

* You can choose today to be kind to one another

* You can choose today to pray for those you disagree with

* You can choose today to bless those who hold different views on issues that are dear to you

And let’s continue practicing what Paul teaches:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

* Pray for President Obama as he completes his service to the nation

* Pray for President-elect Donald Trump, that he would have wisdom in governing this country

And “Finally, brothers,

* whatever is true,

* whatever is honorable,

* whatever is just,

* whatever is pure,

* whatever is lovely,

* whatever is commendable,

* if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,

* think about these things.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

Abrazos de Papá 2

Hace dos artículos escribí acerca de los “Abrazos de Papá” (así que si no lo has leído, te sugiero que leas ese primero). Este blog lo estoy escribiendo en el vuelo de regreso a casa, reflexionando sobre todas las formas en que me sentí “abrazada” esta semana. ¿Te puedo compartir otra?

Nuestro barco llegó a Santorini (Grecia). ¡Qué belleza de lugar! Nos juntamos con nuestro grupo para desembarcar e ir a la expedición que habíamos planeado para ese día. El plan era una caminata hasta el cráter de un volcán, y después ir a nadar en unas aguas termales. No sabía cómo iba a ser exactamente, pero sí que iba a ser una aventura diferente.

El ferry nos llevó del barco a otro puerto. Cuando llegamos vi un velero ¡espectacular! Era todo de madera brillante… parecía un barco pirata como los de las películas. Y pensé para mis adentros: “¡Me encantaría poder navegar en un barco como ese!”

Bueno, si leíste el blog anterior, ya sabrás lo que estoy por decir. ¿Puedes adivinar cómo fuimos al volcán y a las termales? Sí. Ese barco fue nuestro medio de transporte.

Una vez más pensé en Salmo 37:4: “Deléitate en el Señor, y él te concederá los deseos de tu corazón.”

¿Qué quiere decir esto – que Dios pone deseos en nuestro corazón, o que Él hace que esos deseos se cumplan? Sí y sí. Ambas cosas son ciertas. Reconozco que muchas veces ni siquiera sé qué pedir; pero he aprendido que si le doy lugar a que Él me guíe, Él conforma los deseos de mi corazón, y luego hace que sean cumplidos.

Aquí hay otros ejemplos de “abrazos” que sentí durante el viaje:

* Me sentí abrazada por Papá las 2 veces que vi la más perfecta puesta del sol sobre el mar desde el balcón de nuestro cuarto.

* Me sentí abrazada por Papá cuando, después de una serie de eventos que no habíamos planeado, salimos de la región del Trastévere justo a tiempo para ver un atardecer espectacular en el río.

* Me sentí abrazada al ver delfines nadando junto a nuestro barco en el estrecho entre Calabria y Sicilia.

* Me sentí abrazada mientras nadábamos en las termales de Santorini, apreciando la belleza de la creación.

* Aún me sentí abrazada, aunque la maleta de Kerry se perdió, porque nos dimos cuenta del poco valor que tienen las cosas materiales.

Podría enumerar muchos más; y aún así, sé que me quedaría sin reconocer tantas cosas que Dios hace por mí día tras día. Pero quiero vivir con ese sentir de Su amor y Su intervención en mi vida. Por eso le pido al Espíritu Santo que abra mis ojos y me permita ver y sentir el amor del Padre cada vez más.


Dra. Chiqui Polo-Wood | Todos los derechos reservados 2016.

Abba Hugs 2

Two articles ago, I wrote about Abba hugs (so if you haven’t read it, you may want to read that one first and then come back to this one). And I’m sitting here on this long flight back home, reflecting on the many ways I felt “hugged” this past week. Can I share another one with you?

Our ship arrived in Santorini and I was taken by the beauty of the place. Our group assembled to leave the ship and go on the tour we had booked for the day: a hike up to a volcano followed by a swim in some hot springs. I didn’t quite know what to expect, other than it would be different and fun.

We took the tender boat from the ship to shore; and then I saw it – the most perfect sailing boat I have ever seen. It looked like a pirate ship of polished wood and beautiful lines. It is like those you see in the movies. And I thought to myself, “Oh, I would give anything to sail on one of those!”

Well, if you read the last blog, I’m sure you can anticipate what comes next. Can you guess how we got to the volcano and the hot springs? Yes. That one boat was ours.

Once again I sensed the truth of Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Does that mean that He puts the desires in our heart, or that He knows what we desire and gives it to us? In short, Yes! I have found both to be true. So often I don’t even know what to ask for; but I’ve learned that if I let him lead me, He shapes the desires of my heart and then gives the fulfillment of them.

Here are a few more examples of “Abba hugs” I received on this trip…

* I felt an Abba hug both times that I saw the most perfect sunset over the sea from the balcony of our stateroom.

* I felt hugged when we due to a series of unplanned events we left the Trastevere region of Rome just in time to see a stunning view of the sun setting over the river.

* I felt hugged when we saw dolphins swimming next to our ship as we sailed between Calabria and Sicily.

* I felt an Abba hug while swimming in the hot springs of Santorini, taking in all the beauty of His creation.

* I even felt hugged when we realized Kerry’s luggage didn’t make it to Rome with us, and we realized how unimportant material possessions really are.

I could recall many more, and I’m sure I’m still not recognizing the many things God does on my behalf each and every day. But I want to live in an awareness of His love and His intervention in my life. So my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to see and feel the love of the Father in ever increasing ways.

Will this be your prayer too? Abba is giving you daily. He wants you to know how much He loves you.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

Oraciones tontas

“Dios, un lugar para estacionarme justo al lado de la puerta principal me ayudaría mucho…”

¿Alguna vez has te has sentido tonto después de hacer una oración? Me refiero a las veces en que sabemos que nuestras oraciones son francamente ridículas – egoístas, insignificantes… Nos llevan a sentir que no deberíamos estar molestando a Dios con tales minucias cuando hay tantas cosas mucho más importantes. ¿Por qué molestar a Dios con estos detalles cuando hay guerras, hambre enfermedad, y crisis por todos lados?

Recuerdo la experiencia que tuve recientemente. Salí de mi oficina a prisa para ir a recoger el pastel de cumpleaños de Kerry. Tenía el tiempo medido para llegar a la cena que habíamos planeado en su honor. Y el pastel era grande. Y yo estaba vestida con falda y tacones altos (todo esto es para que entiendas cuan “noble” era mi petición). Apenas empecé a manejar en el estacionamiento las palabras salieron de mi boca. No lo tenía planeado… Pero lo dije antes de pensar: “Dios, un lugar para estacionarme justo al lado de la puerta principal me ayudaría mucho…”

Inmediatamente me sorprendí y comencé a arrepentirme, cuando sentí que el Padre me decía: “¿Crees que sé lo que necesitas antes de que me lo pidas? ¿Confías en que Yo estoy ordenando tus pasos? ¿Podría ser que te he guiado en tus tiempos para darte lo que necesitas?”

Mientras todavía estaba procesando estas palabras, vi que la persona que manejaba el carro que estaba estacionado en el lugar más cercano a la puerta estaba abriendo la puerta. Unos segundos más tarde, el mejor espacio quedó abierto para mí. Y en ese momento sentí que Dios se estaba deleitando en mostrarme Su amor y enseñarme que no hay ningún detalle de mi vida que sea insignificante para Él.

Santiago 4:2-3 dice, “No tienen, porque no piden. Y cuando piden, no reciben porque piden con malas intenciones, para satisfacer sus propias pasiones.” Sí. Hay veces que no recibimos porque estamos pidiendo egoístamente. Pero la realidad es que lo que sucede más frecuentemente es que no tenemos, simplemente porque no pedimos. Y tal vez no pedimos por miedo a pedir “equivocadamente.” Y esto tiene que ver con nuestra idea de Dios.

Por lo tanto, déjame preguntarte, ¿cómo ves a Dios? ¿Lo ves como el Dios lejano e inalcanzable que sólo se interesa por los eventos “grandes” del mundo? ¿Crees que Él está evaluando tus motivos para ver si son lo suficientemente nobles para responder tu oración? ¿O lo conoces como el buen Padre que se interesa por cada detalle de tu vida?

Permíteme recordarte que Jesús dijo. “Fíjense en las aves del cielo . . . Observen cómo crecen los lirios del campo . . . Si así viste Dios a la hierba que hoy está en el campo y mañana es arrojada al horno, ¿no hará mucho más por ustedes, gente de poca fe?” (Mateo 6:26-30). Como ha dicho el pastor Jack Hayford, la oración no consiste en vencer la renuencia de Dios. Él es un Padre bueno, que quiere dar cosas buenas a sus hijos. Él te ama y quiere que te acerques y le pidas lo que necesitas – sin importar qué tan insignificante parezca.

Ven a Él confiadamente. Puedes acercarte a Él con confianza, porque Él tiene cuidado de ti.


Dra. Chiqui Pol-Wood | Todos los derechos reservados 2016

Silly Prayers

“God, a parking spot right by the front door would be so nice!”

Have you ever uttered a prayer and then felt silly for doing it? I mean, sometimes my prayers are outright ridiculous – selfish, insignificant… And the feeling is that I shouldn’t be bothering God with such minutia when there are so many important things going in the world.

Really. Like, why would He be bothered with little details when there are wars, when there’s famine, and disease, and crises all over?

I remember having just that experience recently. I left my office in a hurry to go pick up Kerry’s birthday cake just in time to make it to the dinner we had planned in his honor. It was a large cake; I was wearing a skirt and high heels (all if this to show you how “noble” my petition was). As I drove into the parking lot, it just came out… I didn’t plan it, but the words were uttered before I could think. “God, a parking spot right by the front door would be so nice!”

I immediately caught myself and began to repent, when I sensed the Father saying, “Do you think I know what you need before you ask? Do you trust that I’m ordering your steps? Could it be that I’ve arranged your timing to take care of your need?”

Ten seconds had transpired when I rounded the corner and saw the driver of the car on the spot closest to the entrance get in and leave, right before my eyes, leaving the space wide open for me. And I could sense the Father’s delight in showing me His love and teaching me that there are no details of my life that are insignificant to Him.

James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” So, yes, there are times that we don’t receive because we are asking selfishly. But the reality is that most often we don’t have, simply because we don’t ask. And perhaps we don’t ask for fear that we may be asking “wrongly.” And this is tied to our view of God.

So, let me ask you, how do you see God? Do you see Him as the untouchable, distant God who is only interested in the “big” events of the world? Do you think He’s weighing your motives to see if they are noble enough to answer your prayer? Or do you know Him as the good Father who cares about every detail of your life?

Let me remind you that Jesus said. “Look at the birds of the air . . . Are you not of more value than they? Consider the lilies of the field . . . if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30). As pastor Jack Hayford has said, prayer is not about overcoming God’s reluctance. God is a GOOD Father, who wants to give good things to His children. He loves you and wants you to come, and ask whatever you need – no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Come to Him boldly. You can approach Him with confidence because He cares for you.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

Abrazos de Papá

Cuando hablo de “Abrazos de Papá”, me refiero a aquellas formas inconfundibles (aunque a menudo parezcan insignificantes), en que Dios nos muestra lo mucho que Él nos ama. Durante nuestro reciente viaje al Mediterráneo, mi amiga Kristin dijo que en oración sintió que Dios le decía que Kerry y yo estábamos “en un festín de la bondad de Dios.” Y así fue.

Podría enumerar las formas obvias en el que Dios muestra su amor para con nosotros. Somos muy bendecidos de tener vida, salud, amigos y una familia maravillosa… También podemos decir que una forma de bendición es vivir en un país que nos ofrece un estilo de vida muy cómodo. Y reconocemos que todo esto viene de Dios, y lo recibimos con gratitud. Además, podría decir que estas vacaciones tan maravillosas también son un regalo de Papá. Pero los “abrazos de Papá” a los que me refiero son aquellas pequeñas cosas que nos muestran que tenemos un Padre que se deleita en dar cosas buenas a sus hijos – sólo porque sí. Permíteme compartir un ejemplo concreto para ilustrar lo que quiero decir…

IMG_20160812_1119081En Chania, Creta, estábamos caminando a lo largo del puerto veneciano, gozandonos con el agua cristalina del Mediterráneo. Pero hacía muchísimo calor, y en un momento expresé que daría cualquier cosa por poderme zambullir en ese mar. Mientras caminábamos un hombre nos ofreció tomarnos una foto. Hablamos un poco y nos contó que es Australiano, pero su esposa es Cretense, y por eso están pasando el verano allí. Luego cada uno siguió su camino. Unos minutos después volvió y nos dijo que deberíamos caminar hasta el faro egipcio – que habíamos visto; pero no teníamos intenciones de caminar hasta allá. Tan convincente fue su argumento, que decidimos hacer esa larga caminata. Para nuestra sorpresa, en un punto en el camino nos encontramos con una playita en la que se cumplió el anhelo de mi corazón. Nos metimos al agua, y desde esa agua tan refrescante, con pies en arena suave, apreciamos la mejor vista del puerto veneciano de Chania. Y sentí que Papá me estaba abrazando, diciéndome: “Me encanta verte tan feliz.”

Uno podría decir que fue sólo una coincidencia – que de todos modos habríamos encontrado esa playita.

Quizás.

Pero tal vez Dios nos guió y nos envió la persona adecuada para darnos la información que necesitábamos para que se cumpliera el deseo de nuestro corazón.

Como alguien dijo sabiamente: “Me parece que mientras más oro, más coincidencias se dan.” Y me parece que mientras más tiempo paso en comunión con el Padre, más veo cómo Él me da los deseos de mi corazón.

¿Te estás tomando tiempo para notar los “abrazos de Papá” que estás recibiendo diariamente? ¿Por qué no te tomas un momento para agradecerle por Su bondad? Es muy buen ejercicio – para el espíritu y también para el alma.


Dra. Chiqui Polo-Wood | 2016 Todos los derechos reservados