Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Archive for August, 2013

Ezekiel’s Burden

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Ezekiel prophet’s wall photo by Peter2010 on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

Think of the least popular political figure you can imagine. Now imagine that you are picked up by alien-like creatures and brought to this leader who proceeds to tell you that you now have a new job working for him and here are the details of the job:

• You will be the spokesperson for this unpopular ruler
• You have to literally eat his words in the form of a honey-flavored scroll
• The people will not listen to you
• The people will tie you up and you will be so thirsty that your tongue will stick to the roof of your mouth, but when He tells you to speak, you will speak.
• Despite the mistreatment of the people, you must not be afraid of them
• If you don’t speak up to the people when your boss tells you, you will be responsible for their very lives. If they die, you will be personally responsible for their lost souls.
• You will make a model of a city under siege and then lay on your left side next to it for 390 days
• During that time, you will not be able to move off your side
• You will bake you bread over a fire fueled by human waste
• After the 390 days have passed, you will lay on your right side for another 40 days
• Then you will shave your head and burn part of the hair for all to see, throw part of it into the air and slice it up with a sword and tie some of the hair onto your clothes. For all to see.

Mind-blowing; those are the words that come to mind when I read the opening chapters of the book of Ezekiel. If this had been me, I would already have been looking for someone to take my place, or perhaps a place to hide (although he probably knew what happened when Jonah tried that).

God will never tell us to do anything for which He has not equipped us, but will require us to faithfully obey; not knowing everything there is to know about our assignment. Ezekiel was a devout Jewish priest who was taken out of Israel during the Babylonian captivity. His only objection to the terms of his service was about using human waste to bake his bread. On this, God allowed him to use cattle dung instead. Now, that’s commitment!

Do we feel any kind of personal responsibility for the lost souls with whom we come into contact each day? God told Ezekiel to share God’s message even if the people would not listen and the same is true today. Our job is to tell people about Jesus; it is the work of His Holy Spirit that does the saving. Understanding our part of the work should give us the freedom to share the Gospel much more freely.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to three boys, a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon. 

Where is the Justice?

angry mob

Angry Mob Photo by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

Have you ever heard a news report and slapped yourself on the forehead while asking that very question? It does not matter what your political, philosophical or religious tendencies may be, there is some group of people out there right now that makes your head spin every time they make noise. The prophet Habakkuk asked a similar question in his short book. The book starts out this way:

“The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
O LORD, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” (Habakkuk 1:1-4, NKJV)

The key to the diagnosis of the problem is found in the last two lines: “the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” If you ever feel like you are surrounded by evil, you are not alone. It is also important to know from reading this book that God is quite OK with His people asking these kinds of questions. God listens when His people cry out in anguish over the sin, injustice and pain in this world. He does not shy away from these seemingly tough questions, because He is still in control and has all the answers.

God answers Habakkuk in the next six verses, essentially assuring the prophet that He has a plan to deal with the evil that causes him so much angst. God always has a plan; usually we do not know what the plan is until it unfolds before us or until we look back and see that He was in control all along.

God lays out the bottom line of how our lives need to be lived in the second chapter, last line of verse 4: “But the just shall live by his faith.” We need to have the faith to know that God is powerful enough to deal with the evil in the world, and will do so in His perfect time. In the meantime, we have a job to do and carping about injustice is not that job. Teaching others about our perfect, just and loving creator God is what we are supposed to be doing until the last day, so go make a difference today!

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two boys with a third on the way (!), a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon. 

I Have Plans for You!

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Chicago Downtown Loop photo by Vincent Desjardins on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

This beautiful message of hope resonates loudly in these uncertain times; maybe as loudly as when the words were spoken through the prophet Jeremiah almost three thousand years ago. Did you ever stop to wonder why this message was delivered to the people of ancient Israel? What were the uncertain times that required these words of encouragement?

All you need to do is read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 29 and you will find your answer. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God was preparing His people for seventy years of exile in Babylon. Seventy years! That is an entire lifetime for anybody who was old enough to understand the words. Many people had already been taken to Babylon, located in what is now Iraq, and the message was to settle in, plant gardens, have families because they were going to be there for a long time. This exile was part of God’s judgment on His people for their disobedience and apostasy.

A modern day comparison could be the Soviet Union, an oppressive Communist dictatorship that smothered Russians for 69 years. Before the Bolshevik Revolution, there were as many as 1,000 churches in Moscow, but after the persecution of all religions other than atheism and state-sanctioned churches, fewer than 300 remained by the fall of the USSR. There were so many Russians who were born and died during those years, never knowing that there was any God other than the state.

God’s love and mercy will last forever (Praise Him!) but His patience apparently does wear out. He explained in Jeremiah 30:11 that He was punishing the people for their unfaithfulness, but unlike the nations who were allowed to oppress Israel for a time, God would not make a complete end to His people.

God has plans for His people who have been led astray by any of the shiny distractions this world has to offer. The question for us all is this: Are we going to continue following the shiny false gods of this world so that we, our children and grandchildren will have to suffer under God’s judgment or will we repent of our unfaithfulness and follow God with all our heart? In Jeremiah 29:13, He promises that those who will seek Him with all their hearts will find Him.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two boys with a third on the way (!), a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is also a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon. 

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