The Ballestero Blog

"That's what I'm talking about!"

Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

“Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

with 4 comments


The Apostolic Tabernacle, located 905 S. Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana, was celebrating its anniversary. Bro. Carl Ballestero had just finished teaching the afternoon Bible Study. The service ended in prayer, and then the crowd was dismissed. Bro. Cavaness promised to feed his guests a BBQ feast and the crowd showed their excitement to go eat. Well, all except one teenager.

The dark-haired young man looked for a side room or a place to hide until the church emptied. He hoped that no one would miss him or come looking for him. He didn’t want to be seen by anyone right now. He couldn’t find a classroom.

Without anyone noticing, he slipped through a door that led him to the baptismal tank area. There, he bent over so as to remain unseen and moved to the side of the tank and laid down on the bare floor, flat on his back. He closed his eyes and waited. It seemed like forever before the sounds of conversations to died out and then he heard the front door close. He listened for any sounds of footsteps, but all was quiet. That’s when it started.

The boy began to cry, when I say cry, I don’t mean that there was a tear or two. I mean he began to sob. He wanted the same experience with God that his parents had. He felt shallow, empty, and unfulfilled. He wanted more of God. The sobs turned into groans and heartfelt travail. Time wasn’t important, food wasn’t important, getting something from God at that moment was all that mattered now.

Most of the afternoon the young prayed. His eyes were almost swollen shut. Some hours later, as folks gathered in for the evening service, he slipped out of the baptistery and into the Men’s room to comb his hair and wash his face. No one seemed to notice his earlier absence. His parents never mentioned it.

The young man became a pastor and many years later he invited Bro. Roger Evens to preach for him. One day, Bro. Evens said, “Do you remember the day at Shelbyville that you prayed behind the baptistery and didn’t go eat with everyone else?

The young pastor’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know about that?” he asked.

“I was there,” Bro. Evens said. “I came back into the church with your dad looking for you and making sure you had a way to go eat. That’s when we heard you crying out to God. I told you dad to go pray with you because I couldn’t go eat knowing you were crying like that.”

“Your dad said, ‘No, I can’t go pray for him.”

“Why not?” I said.

“Like a baby chick getting out of its shell, it has to do that by its self! If he doesn’t get this for himself he will never amount to a hill of beans.”

“With tears in your dad’s eyes and in mine, we walked out of the church that day.”



Fifty-five years later, all I can say now is, “Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

March 19, 2018 at 1:55 pm

The Cracker Barrel New Year’s Sermon

leave a comment »


The Cracker Barrel New Year’s Sermon



Near the Savannah, Georgia exit 102 on I-95, sits a Cracker Barrel next to our motel. The chalk-written New Year’s message is plain for all to see. It says:


“Cheers to New Beginnings and Old Traditions”


May this New Year be a time for all of us to start afresh. Regardless of past failures or yesterday’s disappointments.

We need to leave our paradigm of failure-thinking and begin again. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had to begin again. What you have been through was neither your final chapter nor your epitaph.


Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:


It’s not abnormal for good people to make mistakes and have to start over or begin again. Even Paul said he died daily. He started over every day.


 New Beginnings:


 Has your Bible reading been almost nonexistent lately?

Begin again.


How about your prayer life? Been busy? Hard to get to pre-service prayer for some reason or another?

Begin again.


Got out of the habit of responding during the worship service?

Begin again.


Has there been an absence of you saying amen to the preaching lately?

Begin again.


You haven’t taught a Home Bible Study in a long time?

Begin again.


How long since you made it to midweek service?

Begin again.


How about your tithes? If you’ve quit giving tithes and offerings…

Begin again.


Have you resigned or quit participating in your church?

Begin again.


Have you stopped kissing your spouse good morning, good night, and good-bye?

Begin again.


Been awhile since you said, “I love you” to your spouse?

Begin again.


Been awhile since you said I love you to your parents?

Begin again.


Been awhile since you said, “I am proud of you,” and “I love you,” to your children?

 Begin again.


Have you stopped saying, “I love you” to your in-laws?

Begin again.



Begin again In God. Recover yourself.


2 Tim. 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

2 Tim. 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.





Traditions make homes and churches special. When our large family gets together, there are always certain meals everyone can count on.  You just know that there will be gumbo one day and enchiladas and tacos on another. And the morning we all have to leave, there’s s special breakfast restaurant we go to. It’s our custom. It’s just how it is in our family.

Churches have customs and traditions too. It’s a huge disappointment to go back to your ‘home’ church and find out how different it is or that they have changed.


Hold fast to the old Apostolic Pentecostal Traditions.

When backsliders and those who have had to move away, come back to visit… Let them that see your church is still holding on to the old-time ways!


And, as Cracker Barrel would say if it was preaching this sermon,

“Cheers to New Beginnings and Old Traditions!”



Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 30, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?

with 2 comments


Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?


A brother, in the Bible, is not necessarily someone who is connected to you by earthly DNA. He may not even like you, or you like him. At first glance, you may not even think you have that much in common. Imagine having a brother you don’t know, don’t want to know, don’t want to like and sure don’t want anything to do with him. What if he’s a jerk? What if he’s irritating? What if he’s too odd for you to feel comfortable around. What if he has strange convictions and non-biblical standards?


Part One:


Rom 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

The Apostle Paul forces us to focus on the first and last portions of this verse. He wanted us to remember that though we may differ with our brother on some things, that Christ died for him too, just like He did for you.

Yes, some folks are harder to like than others. Many adults have acquired a bias or some prejudice over the years. Some put people in categories. They even have names for people they don’t like.

  • Redneck
  • Yankee
  • Trailer Trash
  • Stupid
  • Liberal
  • Ultra-Con
  • Democrat
  • Republican

Sometimes it’s hard to believe Jesus would actually die for someone like that. But, if Jesus died for him, how then can we hate him and say we love Jesus? 


We say, “But Lord:”

  • He’s a grumbler.
  • He’s a complainer.
  • He’s a fault finder.
  • He’s rebellious.
  • He’s irritating.


  • He has an attitude.
  • He’s a Pharisee.
  • He’s carnal.
  • He’s bitter.


  • He’s annoying.
  • He’s mean.
  • He’s proud.
  • He’s unthankful.
  • He’s halfhearted.


  • He’s lukewarm.
  • He lays out of church.
  • He’s hit and miss.
  • He runs hot and cold.


  • He’s undependable.
  • He’s got a personal agenda.
  • He’s working against me.
  • He doesn’t like me.


  • He’s not right.
  • He’s really weird.
  • He’s crazy.
  • He’s messed up.


 That May Be True… But He’s Still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

It’s hard to believe that the Lord would die for someone like that. We can’t imagine dying for them. Our heart experiences dark emotions and horrible opinions in dealing with some people. We sometimes experience dislike, racism, bias, prejudices, name-calling, and avoidance. But He’s Still, “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

 We may struggle with the idea of including him into our fellowship, our inner circle, our church, and especially our home. But He’s Still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

The Apostle Paul wrote this charge to the church in Rome.

He, like the all the Disciples, had to get past to his Gentile prejudices.

Paul even had problems with Demas and John Mark. He also had to deal with the saints who sinned and all those with moral and spiritual problems in the churches in Asia. What gave him a center of balance in his handling these difficult people was that he understood… they too were people for whom Christ died. He couldn’t hate them and be saved. Neither can we.


Matt. 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

Matt. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matt. 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matt. 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

You know that person who you wouldn’t think of inviting to your church? The one who is not like you? Christ died for them too. Open your heart’s door to them, and the doors of your church, too. Jesus is watching because he’s still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”


Part Two


I Am Your Brother

Psa. 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


(Here are some things that your “brother” has often wanted to tell you… but was afraid!)


Dear Brother:

We really didn’t have any choice.  God somehow in His wise providence, has chosen to put us together, for our mutual benefit.  I am your brother.  Here is a list of things that have been bothering me.  I plead for your understanding.

  1. I have problems with myself. I know it and I don’t like it either. Be patient, please.  I am your brother.  I am still working on myself.  Thanks for your tolerance.


  1. In recognizing my own problems, and knowing how much I loathe them, I know they must bother you and others too. Please bear with me while I’m trying to get the victory over myself. Just like I am bearing with you.


  1. It frustrates me too that I’m not perfect. I want to be. That’s my prayer.


  1. Sometimes it frustrates me that you’re not perfect…. but that’s when I remember, I’m still your brother!


  1. There are so many good qualities in you. I gain strength from them all. I just hope that some of my good qualities can also be seen.


  1. I hate the fact that Satan tries to capitalize on our shortcomings and magnify them in the eyes of others. My hope is that you’ll be able to see the good in me and not just my faults.


  1. Thank you for respecting my feelings even when you didn’t understand them. (Sometimes I don’t understand my own feelings either.) I wish to make every effort to respect yours too.  I am your brother.


  1. I guess I’ve wanted to put you into my mold and make you exactly like I wanted you to be. That just doesn’t work. Neither can I fit into your mold.


  1. As my brother, I allow you the liberty to pick friends of your own choosing, and have good times with them, (even without me), and not be resentful or jealous.


  1. Likewise, I may choose some friends and occasionally be with them. From time to time I’d like to have fun and fellowship with them and not worry about slighting you.


  1. However, you are welcome wherever I am. Don’t ever feel you are ever intruding. And please don’t “hang back” if you weren’t personally invited by me to join the crowd.  You also belong.  You’re my brother.  Your friendship is highly valued and enjoyed.  There will always be room for you in my world.


  1. Thank you for the security I feel between us. Even if we haven’t talked for a while, when we do, it is a comfortable conversation and picks right back up where we left off. I like that.


  1. Those you love can hurt you the most. Let’s be careful in our treatment of each other, lest we do irreparable damage to ourselves. We must never grieve the Holy Ghost to the point that we’re both damaged, bitter, or lost.


  1. Let’s not have a “hot and cold” relationship that changes with the weather. We need to be able to count on each other. Brethren are supposed to have the next-to-the-closest relationship in the world.  Only Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  I am going to stick by you.  I am your brother.


  1. I pledge to defend your name and honor during your absence. I am your brother.


  1. Likewise, I know that I can depend on you to do the same for me.


  1. As long as there are people, there will be rumors, criticisms, remarks, opinions and second-guessing. When my back is turned, you are my only defense. I need you to watch my back, as I will watch and guard yours.  You can trust me.  I am your brother.


  1. I love you, brother! Not just because I must love you, but I really want to love you!! (If I say I love God and don’t love you, I am called a liar)


1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.


  1. Brother, if you see me and can tell that I have a problem, don’t go tell the world, help me. Don’t be afraid. God put you in my life to help me make it.


Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.


  1. Brother, I “prefer you”. I pray for your success and blessing. I pray that all your efforts receive their due honor.  (Without my harboring any jealousy or envy.)


Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love:  In honor preferring one another. 


Please!!  Should I ever be blessed or promoted above my fellows, it would kill me to think my brother was jealous.  I want to ‘prefer’ you.  I want to be happy with your successes.  So please be happy with mine.  I am your brother.  We’re on the same team.


  1. It is God’s will that the law of kindness guides us in our relationship. He wills that we be kind to each other.


2 Peter 1:5-8 And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to your virtue… brotherly kindness… for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


I can’t thank you enough for your kindnesses to me, nor can I tell you how much I truly appreciate them.


  1. Brother, God won’t hear my prayer if I’ve got something in my heart against you! If I ever need to ask forgiveness or apologize, please forgive me. Then, don’t crucify me and alienate me because I was trying to be conscientious.  Realize we’re both just two brothers trying to be saved.


Here’s what we are supposed to do if you have a problem with me, or I have a problem with you:


Matt. 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Matt. 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.


  1. Too often, lines are drawn in our minds between ourselves and our brother. We choose not to fellowship him because he is UPCI, WPF, ALJC, or Independent. (What if God is in fellowship with those you choose not to be in fellowship with. Will you have to explain to God on the Day of Judgment why you were too good or too holy to fellowship a brother whom Christ died for?)


More than ever, I appreciate you.  I thank God for allowing us to lean on each other.  I need you like you won’t believe.  Don’t fail me.  I will not fail you.  I am your brother!


I Love You Brother!!


Part Three


Now, Let’s Have Revival!


Revival only happens when there is unity. Something wonderful happens when God’s people are gathered together for one purpose. Being in one mind and in one accord was the major ingredient on the Day of Pentecost. It is still the key to continual revival today.

  • Unity only happens when men choose to overlook each other’s differences and choose not to be offended.
  • Unity happens to those who forgive their brothers and prays for them.
  • Unity happens when brethren unite for one purpose or goal. Even if there are only two or three who are gathered in His name, God chooses to be in their midst.
  • Pray for unity and God will give you revival.
  • Unity is no accident.
  • Unity brings peace.
  • Unity creates an atmosphere for Worship and The Word.
  • Unity opens the door for a major move of God.


Just like parents who are happy when their children love one another and get along. Our Heavenly Father is well pleased when His children love each other, too.


Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?

Never Forget, He’s “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”



Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 29, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Your Performance Interview With God Is Coming!

leave a comment »

Your Performance Interview With God Is Coming

What if God called you on the carpet? What if He asked you some personal questions about your conduct… spiritual and otherwise?

Employees of many companies are given performance interviews on a scheduled basis. Some of the questions asked by the interviewer are similar to some of those I once found at

Performance Interview Questions

  • Tell me about your last position and what you did.
  • Tell me about the last time you made a mistake and how you corrected it.
  • If you don’t leave your current job, what will happen there? How far can you advance?
  • Of all the work you have done, where have you been most successful?
  • I see you were unemployed for a period of time. Tell me about it.
  • Give me an example of when you’ve demonstrated your customer service skills.
  • How do you define continuous improvement? What is the last new procedure you integrated into your job?
  • What makes you stand out among your peers?
  • What have you done to reduce your department’s operational costs or to save time?
  • What would your current supervisors say makes you most valuable to them?
  • If I asked your boss to evaluate your performance, what would he or she say?
  • Have you held positions similar to this one? If so, tell me about them.
  • What is the most important thing you learned at a previous job?
  • What did/do you enjoy most/least about your last/present job?
  • If there were two things you could have changed about that job, what would they be?
  • How did your job change while you held it?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you successful in this field?
  • What have you learned from previous jobs?
  • Describe a typical day at work.
  • How have your previous positions prepared you for this one?
  • What parts of your job do you consider most important?
  • What job tasks do you feel most successful doing?
  • What special skills or knowledge have you gained to help in this job?
  • Describe an important project you worked on.
  • You have a lot of experience. Why would you want this job?
  • What do you consider your greatest strength?
  • What is your most significant professional accomplishment?
  • What was the last job-related book you read?
  • What was your favorite job? Why?

As 2017 comes to a close, so does another year of living for the Lord. If He were to ask us about our performance in His Kingdom this year, how would we do? Could we answer His questions easily? Would our heads have to drop after the Lord asked us a direct question? Here is a list of possible questions He might ask:

The Lord’s 2017 Performance Interview Questions

  • What if He asked about the Spirit and Attitude we manifested this year?
  • What if the Lord asked us about our obedience or our Submission?
  • If the question of Soul-Winning came up, how would we score?
  • If questions about our involvement in Worship were asked, what would the answer be?
  • What would happen if the Lord asked us about our Prayer Life in 2017?
  • Would the answer be favorable to you if there were questions about paying your Tithes
  • and giving in Offerings?
  • Faithfulness in church attendance is sure to be asked. How would you do on that one?
  • Surely, a question about any unwillingness to Forgive will be asked.
  • Would He ask about the display of the Lusts of our Flesh?
  • Would Jealousy or Envy be mentioned?
  • A lack of Brotherly Love, or not Preferring One Another, will not sit well with Him.
  • What if the Lord asked us about our lack of Sacrifice in service, or in giving?
  • Would any questions about our involvement in Gossip put us in a bad light?
  • What if the subject of Tale Bearing came up?
  • If we were asked about Criticizing our Pastor, what would the answer be?
  • Surely the Lord will act questions about our showing any signs of Loving Pleasure More
  • Than The Things Of God.
  • What is He asked us about our Love of the World?
  • Do you think He might ask us why we had a problem with Holiness?
  • Would there be any questions about Loving Our Neighbor?
  • What if He asked us if we Love Him with All Of Our Heart, Our Soul, And Our Might, And
  • Our Strength?

I pray that you do well in your Interview with the Lord. (He already knows the answers, before He asks.)

If you’ll pardon me, for a while… I think I’ll have a talk with Him right now. I need to before He talks to me later!

There is coming a Day when we shall all stand before Him, as we are judged. That Interview will be both an Entrance Interview for some, and an Exit Interview for others!

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

(May your Performance Interview of 2017 end with Joy, and not with Grief!)

Join me in pledging to do better and do more for Him in 2018! May we all hear Him say in that day, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

Death By Misadventure

with 2 comments

Death By Misadventure


The Coroner has only so many options to describe the cause of death on the certificate. They are as listed

  • Murder
  • Suicide
  • Self-Defense
  • Accidental Death
  • Lawful Killing
  • Unlawful Killing
  • Natural Causes
  • Still Birth
  • Self-Neglect
  • Lack Of Care
  • Death By Misadventure


The Death By Misadventure option has nagged at me for many years. Wikipedia gives this definition:

“A death by misadventure, as recorded by coroners and on death certificates and associated documents, is one that is primarily attributed to an accident that occurred due to a dangerous risk that was taken voluntarily.”

With that definition and description in mind, the old pastor part of me remembers precious people who once made what seemed like a harmless decision, but the end result was their spiritual demise. They didn’t mean to backslide; but they did.

For one young lady, it was just choosing a boyfriend who sat on the front row at church. He had good looks, a great personality, a good paying job and a nice car. He was a real charmer. He just wasn’t committed and fully in love with Jesus. She was desperate not to be an old maid. He lost out because he loved the world. She lost out because she chose to love him and be with him. He pulled her out of church. She didn’t mean to backslide; she just made a choice that she never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.

A young man desperately needing a job took one that kept him out of church. Not only did it make him miss being in service, there were negative influences from people at work that he was not strong enough to handle. When he did find time to come to church, he didn’t even try to make up for lost time. He just sat there and dried up in his soul. In time, he no longer came back. He didn’t mean to quit church. He just chose a job that paid well, but lost his soul in the process. He didn’t mean to backslide; he just made a choice that he never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.

A newlywed couple chose friends who they thought were fun to be around. They often visited each other’s homes and often dined together. They even took a vacation together once. The other couple influenced them to question authority and standards. Both couples quit church. The newlyweds only wanted to find friends to have fun with. They didn’t mean to walk away from God. They didn’t mean to backslide; they just made a choice that they never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.

A man got offended and disagreed when the pastor showed mercy to a person with a horrible past and allowed the backslider to come back to church. Like the elder brother in the Bible, he got angry. He also quit church. He had his own opinion about to whom God should and should not extend mercy. He wanted the pastor to send them to another church and not the one he attended. He refused to go to the same church with the man who had such a horrible past. So, he quit, stayed home and read his Bible, prayed and justified himself in so doing. He didn’t mean to backslide; he just made a choice that he never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.

He sat by his good friend in church. The friend never worshipped nor went up to the altar very much to pray. Sitting by him in church was intimidating in a way. It felt odd saying amen, clapping hands and standing up during the singing or preaching when your friend didn’t. So, in time, he joined his friend in being unresponsive. He was intimidated to not worship. He didn’t mean to backslide; he just made a choice that he never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.

She found an old friend from high school on social media, and only wanted to say hello. She never dreamed that reconnecting with that person would lead her right out of church and back into sin and break up her marriage. She didn’t mean to backslide; she just made a choice that she never dreamed would be fatal. It Was A Spiritual Death By Misadventure.


The Scriptures Tell Of Others Who Suffered The Same Fate:

  • The Unknown Prophet didn’t mean to get eaten by a lion. He just chose to listen to a backslider.
  • Balaam didn’t mean to die with the Moabites on the battlefield. He just chose to make extra money.
  • Demas did mean to backslide and lose out. He just made a bad choice.
  • Samson didn’t mean to get his eyes put out and die. He chose the wrong woman.
  • The 200 Princes Who Stood By Korah didn’t mean to have the ground open up and swallow them. They just chose to stand by the wrong friend.



The least we can do, is ask for God to lead us and guide us in every decision we make. It is wisdom to ask the Lord to close every door that is not His will for our life.  Just because we like the idea doesn’t mean it will be a good choice for us. Never think that because it seems good to you that it is the will of God.

Why not include God’s man in your important decision making? It’s a major safety factor you surely need to include in your choosing. When God fearing kings in the Old Testament had to make a serious decision, they counseled with the man of God and asked his advice. They asked him to seek the Lord on their behalf. That action never lowered anyone’s respect for the king, but rather raised it higher. Likewise, you will be more respected by God fearing people when you become willing to include God in all of your choices.


Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Prov. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


Acknowledge Him. Recognize His Divine ability to guide you flawlessly through all life choices.




Written by Martyn Ballestero

October 12, 2017 at 12:26 am

“Grace Spoken Here”

with 4 comments

“Grace Spoken Here”


Click Here

Did you ever discover a gold mine? Well, someone told me where it was and I looked and found it to be even better than the glowing descriptions I’d heard. I was thrilled to find a young mother who is a natural writer and may not truly admit that to herself.

I am blown away by the easy ‘Grace’ with which she writes! It’s like you can hear her talking! It just oozes from her heart! For me, if a writer can write like she talks in a conversation, it doesn’t get any better or smoother than that!

Brittany Holt Morgan does just that and is sitting on a gold mine.

  • She is real.
  • She is honest.
  • She is transparent.

Her posts are lovable and helpful at the same time. She has experienced pain, but hasn’t wasted her pain, she has used it to help others! If I was her Grandpa, I would be stinking proud of her. I am smitten by what I read!

Her blog is brand new. With her permission, I am linking her new blog to mine and help introduce her to my readers!

“Grace Spoken Here” is the name of her blog. I started reading her first post and made the sweet journey with her as my guide. That is my suggestion for you too! She will help and bless all who read her words! I subscribed and I hope you do.


I Love how Brittany Holt Morgan writes and you will too!







Written by Martyn Ballestero

June 3, 2017 at 11:53 am

My Name Is Leah

with 11 comments



My Name Is Leah

My name is Leah and I am the oldest daughter of Laban. My sister, Rachel, is younger than I and everyone says she is very beautiful. She was the village favorite. (Gen 29:17) When visitors first meet us, they seem to be smitten by her beauty and repulsed when they look at me. I’m not beautiful and I’ve had to live with that all my life.

The lives of our whole family changed however, when Jacob arrived in our village. He looked travel worn and he was penniless. My father told us that his family was originally from our village and was well respected.

I saw immediately that Jacob was smitten by the looks of Rachel. I had expected that. Everyone noticed how he looked in her direction and tried to catch her eye if he could. He immediately asked my dad for a job and worked tending to our cattle.

I was crushed when I realized he wanted to marry my sister. I cried sometimes when I could be alone. It seemed like romance was for everyone but me. Jacob bargained with dad to work seven years for Rachel to be his bride. Jacob courted her and I tried to mind my own business and stay out of their way. They were so much in love. Love for me was always a one-way street. No one loved me back.

The wedding was a big celebration! All our relatives and the whole village came. My father sat Rachel and me down for a very private talk prior to the wedding. He informed Rachel that he had a plan. He said that adhering to the village custom of marrying off the oldest daughter first was a custom to be honored, and that rightly I should be the bride. (Gen 29:26) Dad said that he didn’t think Jacob would leave anyway and that he felt he would hang around long enough to marry the both of us. Rachel was crestfallen. I was surprised and happy. We were all unsure of Jacob’s reaction to me when he found out the truth, but planned to go ahead with the switch.

We pulled it off too. At the wedding, I was ecstatic and scared at the same time and afraid to look at Rachel because I felt her disappointment. It was evident to me that my sister truly began to hate and despise me. I stole her man. Although she was beautiful, she was bitter, and envious. I felt the full force of her hatred. Our bond of sisterhood stood on rocky ground.

The next morning Jacob woke up and looked at my face for the first time in the light of day. I cannot describe the shock and utter disappointment in his eyes. Maybe it was more akin to disgust. I can never fully explain the feeling of being married to a man who doesn’t love you. All you can think about is him and all he can think about is another woman.

Jacob made a covenant with my father to work seven more years for Rachel. He intended to marry us both.

I named my children according to the conditions of my marital status at the times of their births.



I named my first son, Reuben. His name means, “Behold a son. The Lord has seen (in Hebrew ra’ah) my affliction” and “now my husband will love me (ye’ehabani)”(Genesis 29:32). I praised God for showing me this favor. I could hold my head up in the village. All would know that I had given my husband a son. I was now considered a worthy wife. It was as though God had seen that I was unloved and He opened my womb.

Rachel showed her true self again. I thought surely now Jacob will love me. But no, it didn’t change a thing. Rachel’s love toward me seemed to be gone. Jacob saved all his sweet words for her. They were lost in each other’s worlds.

All I did was cook, clean, take care of the baby and look after my husbands needs. I certainly never felt loved or cherished. I was only there for the needs of the man. My own needs were not to be considered. Ever.



When my second child was born, it was a boy. I named him, Simeon because “the Lord heard (shama) that I was unloved”(Genesis 29:33). It was no secret that my husband didn’t love me. I guess my only purpose was to provide him with sons.

God knew my sorrow and tried to comfort me. I cried much and kept to myself. There was little benefit for me to make myself available to Jacob in social settings. I was not his trophy wife. I was treated as a second-class wife. He would not walk me around the village and show me off. I felt like a second-class wife because I wasn’t beautiful. Jacob was evidently too foolish to see beyond the face. I stayed in the tent and cared for the babies.



In the process of time I realized I was to have another child. My third baby was also a boy. I named him Levi thinking “this time my husband will become attached (yillaweh) to me”(Genesis 29:34).

All I ever wanted was for him to love me and to show it by saying something sweet or doing something nice. It never happened.

I knew that feeling sorry for myself was not doing me any good. I started thinking and realized that God had been gracious to me through it all. Was my world perfect? No. Not that I could see or feel, yet I believed God was good. He had blessed me and given me sons. I may not have the beauty of my sister, but I made up my mind to be a good wife and a good mother of our children and to be beautiful on the inside.

I learned to turn my face toward Jehovah and thank Him for what I did have instead of focusing on what I didn’t.



My fourth son’s name had nothing to do with my relationship with my husband. I named him Judah because I had made up my mind, “this time I will praise (odeh) the Lord”(Genesis 29:35).

After I had our four children, Jacob’s next two sons were born to Rachel’s maid Bilhah. She had given her handmaid to Jacob out of desperation. I felt sorry for her, so I then gave Jacob my own maid, Zilpah, as a concubine. Zilpah gave him two sons, Gad and Asher.



One time, during a harvest, Reuben brought me some mandrakes. Rachel wanted them and said that if I gave them to her she would let me have her night to sleep with Jacob in exchange. After that, my fifth son was born. I named him Issachar. It means, “He will bring a reward.” (Genesis 30:14-18)

As a mother I can tell that although Jacob is kind to my children, he doesn’t dote on them. It makes my heart hurt. Maybe when he looks on them, they remind him of me. If he can’t love me, then my prayer is that he would love our sons.


The Stolen Idols

The relationship between my husband and my father turned really sour. Jacob told me that the last time he looked at my dad, he could tell that things between them had drastically changed by the expression on his face, (Gen 31:2) and that the Lord had spoken to him and told him we must leave here immediately.

When Rachel heard the news, and knowing that father just left with the sheep, she went into his tent and stole his gods. We left in the middle of the night and we were gone three days before my dad found out. But when he found out he was very angry and chased hard after us. It took him almost week to finally catch up.

He hollered and yelled loud at Jacob accusing him of everything he could think of. He wanted to know why we had left and when he found out that it was because we didn’t trust him and that he was dishonest, he really got mad.

Jacob told dad, “Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.” (Gen 31:41)

Dad said we had stolen his gods. Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had hidden them in her tent. He gave dad permission to search everyone’s tent and all their possessions and look for his gods. He never found them because his little pet, the baby of the family was sly. Rachel sat on a pile of carpets that hid the idols and told Dad she couldn’t get up because she was “after the manner of women.” She just batted her big brown eyes at him and he smiled back and never made her move.

The idols were not found, so my father and my husband piled up a heap of stones and made a covenant of friendship, and then he kissed us girls and the grandchildren a final goodbye and departed, leaving us to live in peace.


The Coming Of Esau

Jacob shared many stories about his boyhood. Evidently, he and his brother, Esau were total opposites. He told us about his father becoming old and going blind. Custom was that the oldest son inherited two thirds of the father’s goods and the rest of the children equally divided up the remaining third.

Jacob said that one day he caught Esau at a weak moment and bartered with him for his birthright. The problem was in getting the birthright blessing from the father. His father doted on Esau because of his prowess as a hunter and outdoorsman. But, Jacob was his mother’s pet. When it was time to receive the blessing, she helped him deceive his father and obtain the birthright blessing prayer.

He had to leave home immediately because when Esau found out that his birthright had been stolen, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. Now, word just arrived after all these years that Esau was indeed coming for him with a mighty army of soldiers threatening to kill him.

Jacob said that we were all to cross over the ford Jabbok and wait while he stayed there to pray. He fervently prayed and an Angel came and began to wrestle with him. They wrestled all night long. Finally the Angel begged to be let go but Jacob said that he wouldn’t let him go until he got a blessing from him.

The angel said that he was changing his name. He would now be called, Israel, because he would now have power with God and with men. (Gen. 32:28)

The Angel smote Jacob on the thigh to break his hold. It forever affected how he walked from then on. He limped for the rest of his life.

In the morning when we arose, we saw Jacob hurriedly limping towards us. He said that Esau was coming and there would no doubt be bloodshed. He divided up the children putting the animals, the servants and their children first.

He then put my children and me next, because we too were more expendable. But, he kept Rachel and her son at the back with him. He may lose the rest of us but he wanted to keep her alive. It was very plain where I stood with him even after all these years. (Gen 33:2)

When Esau came and confronted us, Jacob humbled himself and sent him large gifts. Before long the two ran towards each other, fell on each other’s necks and kissed. I took my children toward Esau and we bowed down before him in respect. All ended peaceable. We were certainly relieved and after the meeting and we all gave thanks unto God.



My next son, I named Zebulun. He was to be my last boy. His name means to dwell. He was Jacob’s tenth son and my sixth. I later had a daughter, whom I named Dinah, before Rachel gave birth to her first child.



When Rachel gave birth to her little Joseph, Jacob was beside himself with joy. He showed that baby more attention than he ever had to all of the others. The children could all tell that Joseph was his favorite.

All we heard around the tent from Jacob was news about Joseph. He doted on him. The other children watched wistfully knowing that they were not loved like that. He made special clothes for him and gave him gifts that were better than he gave to my sons.

Rachel seemed to feel like nothing was wrong with Jacob giving so much attention to her son and very little to his other ten sons.


The Trip To Bethel

Jacob said that God had told him that we were all to return to the Bethel. Jacob said that we were to wash and be clean, change our clothes, and put away our idols. So, all of our family and our servants did as he asked. We knew the worship of our gods required the wearing of earrings, so we gave them to Jacob along with our gods. (Gen 35:1-4; Hosea 2:13) He took what we gave him and buried all of it under the big oak tree in Shechem.

We traveled on to Bethel, the place where God first met with our husband. The first thing Jacob did was to build an altar and offer up a sacrifice of repentance. God accepted his prayers and blessed him. It was there that his mother’s nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried at Bethel. Jacob grieved hard because she was his last living connection with his mother and father.



When we left Bethel, Rachel went into labor. She died giving birth to her second son. It was so tragic. We were in shock. Before she died, Rachel named her son Benoni (“son of my mourning”), but Jacob called him Benjamin. (Gen. 35:18)

Rachel had passionately said, Give me children, or else I die; and now that she had children, she died!

Jacob made no attempt to bury Rachel with his family like I thought he would do since he loved her so much. He just buried her beside the highway and placed a marker on her lonely grave. If he would bury his favorite wife beside the road at the first available spot, where would he bury me? Would I too be given a roadside burial?

After Rachel died, Jacob replaced her bed, which was beside his, with her handmaiden Bilhah’s bed. It so infuriated my son Rueben that he overturned Bilhah’s bed and rebuked his father. Jacob never forgot that moment and mentioned it on the day he pronounced blessings and prayers upon his sons. (Gen. 49:3-4)



Leah’s outward appearance may have been unattractive to others, but God was attracted to her because of her inward beauty. He chose her. It was Leah, not Rachel, who bore Judah, and it was through his bloodline that the Savior was born.

After Rachel’s death, Leah carried on as the wife of Jacob, and the mother of his many children, living in Canaan. The Bible does not say when she died, but Leah is buried in the family burial tomb of Machpelah, beside her husband Jacob with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 49:29-31). Leah was loved too late. Her real beauty unnoticed most of her life. Yet, in her death and burial she was shown great honor and respect.


The Life Lesson Of Leah

Sometimes in life we wake up to the very thing we don’t want. Life doesn’t always give you a Rachel. Although you find it difficult to love the “Ugly Leah Situation” that is forever connected to you, it just may wind up being your greatest life blessing. Surprisingly, you may find yourself saying the words, “I love you” to the very thing you once hated.

The Leah in your life never changed, you did. Her beauty wasn’t on the outside, so no one took the time to see what God could see all along. Leah was beautiful where it counted the most. She was beautiful on the inside. Don’t hate your “Leah”; she is God’s gift to you. Do not despise the ugly thing in life that you suddenly have to wake up to. Your “Leah” may be a bad Doctor’s Report, a Financial Disaster, a Broken Marriage, a Physical Disability or even Heartache. Embrace it. It just may be a gift from God to you!


Written by Martyn Ballestero

July 8, 2016 at 11:15 am