This is a guest post from Marina Abdel Malak – a guest post favorite.  In her previous posts, Marina spoke about her battle with ANOREXIA NERVOSA and how God helped her overcome it.  Now, thanks to God, Marina is preparing for a career in helping others overcome their illnesses in medical school.  If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

Ever had one of “those mornings”?  Where you can just tell it’s going to be a tough day?

You know the drill: your alarm rings, and you realize that you haven’t really slept all night because you were thinking about the pile of things you have to do. As you drag yourself out of bed, you feel the heaviness of your exhausted body weighing you down. You get ready in a hurry, hopeful that you can avoid the morning rush – which, of course, you cannot.

Now you’re stuck in traffic, and you haven’t moved for the past ten minutes. Now you’re going to be late, your shoulders are aching, you forgot to pack your lunch, your head is pounding because you didn’t get a chance to stop for coffee, and your phone is constantly ringing with reminders for you to check. This day cannot possibly get more stressful…

But of course, it probably still does. Your coworkers tell you that your boss is in a bad mood today. Or your peers let you know that you have a test next week. Your mom texts you and tells you that she isn’t feeling well and is going to the doctor again, for the fifth time this week. You get an email reminding that you haven’t paid your bill yet, and it’s long overdue with an incredibly high interest fee. You are tired, hungry, in pain, annoyed, confused, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

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“If it looks good, feels good, tastes good, or smells good, STAY AWAY FROM IT!  It’s probably sinful and from the devil.”  ~ something Jesus never said

pure pleasureYou may never have heard it said exactly that way before, but if you grew up in church, you’re probably familiar with that type of thinking.  It’s the thinking that says you can either a) love God and hate everything in the world, or b) enjoy the world in sinful defiance of God… but you can’t do both!

“If it feels good, it’s sinful.  If it makes you happy, it’s not God’s will for your life.  God wants you to have self-control and not to fulfill your desires with earthly things.  If you love Jesus, then He should be enough to fulfill you and anything more is idolatrous and sinful.”

Well apparently Gary Thomas, the author of several best-sellers such as Sacred Marriage and A Lifelong Love, disagrees with that idea (and I do too!).

In his book, PURE PLEASURE, he addresses this idea and shows that God and pleasure are not as opposed to one another as we have been led to think.  In fact, he makes the argument that learning to enjoy pleasure might just be the missing link that’s inhibiting your ability to grow spiritually.

How can that be?  He opens the book with a story to illustrate his point.

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That’s our slogan at STSA and that’s also the name of our latest series.  In it, we’re exploring Orthodox Christianity to see whether or not it is what it claims to be – “the original Christian church established by Jesus Christ Himself upon the foundation of the apostles.”

Is that true or just something we say because it sounds nice?  Is there truly a link between the Orthodox church of today and the church which started in Jerusalem 2000 years ago?  Is the church that Jesus started still alive and has it been alive for all these years?  Or did it die somewhere along the way?

I hope you’ll join me for this 5 part series and discover these answers (and more) for yourself.

STSA Logo with slogan

If you’re in the DC metro area and have always wanted to come for a visit to STSA Church, this is the weekend to do it!  It’s Friends & Family Day and we’re kicking off a new series titled “ANCIENT FAITH IN A MODERN WORLD” and YOU are invited!

Check out our website to help plan your visit.

Friends and family day

Orlando shooting

By now, everyone is fully aware of the horrific events that took place in Orlando, FL last weekend where a man opened fire at a nightclub, killing 49 people.  The attack was “the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11” according to this CNN article.

When things like this happen, I find myself needing to process the event internally and find an answer “what happened here?”  Maybe it’s the introvert within me, but I can’t move past the event until I deal with it and figure out how to file this away in mind.

So below is the result of my three days of processing what happened.  Three thoughts.

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“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere.”  Right???  WRONG!

We wrapped up the Things Jesus Never Said series yesterday and we talked about how sincerity isn’t enough when it comes to belief.  We need more than sincerity; we need TRUTH!  Why?  Because it isn’t enough to believe if what I “believe in” isn’t the truth.

And that’s exactly what Jesus came to reveal to us.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have.  Stay tuned for another fun next week.  The title?  BRINGING AN ANCIENT TO A MODERN WORLD.  Stay tuned for more…

things jesus never said

This is a guest post from Wayne Cisneros – a writer and composer who works with  In today’s post, Wayne shares his thoughts on God’s “most amazing plan for your life.”  If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

God has a plan for your life.  None of us are called to this life for no reason.  Some of us are called to a family life or priestly life. What we need is to find God’s plan and live accordingly. It is not our will to live in this world but its God’s plan for us to live in this world.  One effective way to observe what God has planned for your life is to see the skills that you have been blessed with such as singing, acting, preaching, caring others, nursing others, being a doctor, nurse, engineer, politicians, priests etc.

Created All For Us

God created us and everything around us. God knows that we need a lot of things to live and He delivered everything to us because he has a plan for us. God created everything in the world for man such as the sun, moon, stars, the atmosphere, land and water on the earth. God gave us dominion over all the vegetation and animal life. Everything was created for mankind according to God’s plan for us, that is, to make a heaven on earth and live happily on earth by being his favorable disciples.

Our Life

Our life is a gift from God and that is undeniable.  We may be poor, living with broken hearts, lame, deaf, blind, or handicapped but God has a plan for us.  It is God’s plan for us to live for our family, to support our family, take care of our parents, love our neighbors, friends and relatives, etc. A great many people live with grief, tragedy, terror, pain, and abuse. They may think that God has forgotten them, but God never forgets.  He needs every one of us.  He will not leave us to suffer in pain forever.

Our Happiness and Sadness

God has a plan for us when we happy and when we are sad. He cares and loves us like his kids. When we are happy, maybe God wants us to help others who might be depressed.  If we are sad, maybe God wants us to pray our way out of it.  At times, we forget about God when we are sad because we think that God has forgotten us.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

Care and Love Others

It is always God’s plan for us to love and care for others. People generally have a tendency to love themselves more than others. It’s not what God expects from us.  Conflicts in our personal life, married life, professional life and other areas of our life occur when we care and love ourselves more than others. It’s God’s plan for us to pray for others, feeding them, clothing them or spreading the good news of salvation to them.

God created us and His persistent love sets us apart. He intended and sanctioned a distinctive plan for each one of us. Every day, every step and every circumstance helps to reveal His plan for us.