Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There is always HOPE

At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses is finishing his farewell speech. He has led the Israelites for forty years, as they wandered in the desert as a result of their disobedience. Moses will not be joining them in the Promised Land because he, too, has sinned and God will not allow him to enter the Land, though God will take him to the mountain top so he can see it.

After Moses "re-gives" the Law, he lists the blessings and curses that God promises. Last night as I read through them, I was surprised by the length of the curses list. Not that it was as long as it is, but that it is so much longer than the blessings. God lists every possible calamity you can think of -- indeed, He promises that it will be so if (when) the Israelites are disobedient. I was overwhelmed by the utter devastation.

Ah, but when you are in a tough spot of Scripture, keep reading! There is always hope!

Deuteronomy 30:  1-3
When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lordyour God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.


Yesterday my students were continuing to read through Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Billie Jo's Ma has been badly burned and has pushed the hardship of the drought (the Dust Bowl) from their minds, at least for awhile. Billie Jo went out to get water from the pump. 

And the locusts came.

Ate everything, even the apples on Ma's apple trees. Billie Jo says,

I couldn't tell her,
couldn't bring myself to say
her apples were gone.
I never got the chance.

Ma died that day
giving birth to my brother.

Oh, the heartache! The devastation! The utter loss!

But then I had my students look up some Bible verses:

Psalm 42:5 (and 11)
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

I love the way God repeats things that He really wants us to remember, such as vs. 5 and vs. 11. But the idea of hope is also repeated throughout Scripture:

Genesis 3 : the fall of Man -- God promises a Savior
Jesus dying on the Cross -- on the third day He rose again!
And the end of it all: Revelation 19-21 -- after Armeggedon comes the New Jerusalem!

There is always HOPE!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I heard a blurb on the radio this past week about the way Malachi can be summed up in one fell swoop. The speaker read chapter 3 verse 6:

"I the LORD do not change. So you, descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed."

That is a comforting thought. No matter what I do, God doesn't change. No matter what nightmares occur in the world around me, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


What also strikes me is the placement of this truth. It is not the only time in Scripture God tells us He is unchanging. Immutable, as the theologians would have it. 

But He tells us again in Malachi. The last book of the Old Testament. The last bit before the age of Grace begins with Jesus's death and resurrection. The last words before God stops speaking for 400 years.

"OK, people, you won't hear from me for awhile. Here it is, nice and clear and concise so you don't forget: I, the LORD, don't change. And that is so you won't be destroyed."

If you knew you would not see this or that person ever again, what would you say? We use that concept at graduations and saying good-bye to loved ones. What are the last things we want them to know? I love you...I'm proud of good...

God wants us to know: I never change.

You can count on that!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

orphan souls

Once upon a time, I was lost. Lost like Hansel and Gretyl. Lost like the TV show. Lost like a valuable jewel under the seat cushions.

Psalm 119 says, "I have strayed like a lost sheep." God promises in Ezekiel 34 that he will "search for the lost and bring back the strays." I believe that one of the ways he does that is to use believers to reach out to others who are lost. 

Right now, and for the next few days, KLOVE is having its spring pledge drive. I am always blessed and encouraged by the stories that are shared about how God is working through this radio station to reach people. Last year, from January to December 2012, more than 10,000 people got saved! They were lost and now they are found!

This year during pledge drive, KLOVE is working with Shoes for Orphan Souls, an organization that brings new shoes and socks to orphans around the world (including the US) who are without shoes. There are over 143 MILLION children without shoes. 

But it isn't simply a lack of shoes. That lack means no access to education; no education leads to a cycle of poverty. So, providing these children with shoes can dramatically change their lives!

Not only that, but as the workers from Shoes for Orphan Souls wash their tender little feet and gently put on fuzzy socks and new shoes, they also share the Gospel with the children. Orphans who own nothing and are alone are told the wonderful promises of God:

Psalm 27:10 -- Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

Galatians 4:4-7 -- But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

And if I have been blessed with shoes and sonship, how can I not also give to encourage orphans? 
James 1:27 -- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Own This

Ownership. I own a car. I own my clothes. I own lots of books!

Do I own my faith? Have I taken possession of it? Do I say, as I do of my books, "Those are mine"?

Colossians 2: 6-10:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 

Make your choices so that your life reflects what you know is True. Do not listen to the world.

One version of the Bible uses the phrase "walk with Christ." What does that mean, exactly? It implies consistency. Day after day, year after year. A rooted tree doesn't go anywhere. It stands where it is planted. Mixing my Bible verses, here: a tree planted by streams of living water will be fruitful, and that stream is the Word.

I want to possess my faith and let everyone know they cannot take it from me! The choice is mine, and I have made it.