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

Posts tagged ‘relationship’

Walls Come Down

Brokenwall

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

One of the first things Jesus did when He began His ministry on earth was to break down the existing social, cultural and economic barriers of His time. When Jesus revealed His Divinity to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He broke through several barriers:

• Racism: the Samaritans were descendants of the Jews who had married Babylonians and others during the Captivity. They were hated by the Jews and considered less than human. Racism was never a value taught by Jesus, but the church somehow missed that queue. We need to make sure to correct our wrong attitudes towards people different from ourselves so that we can do our part to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)

• Sexism: By simply speaking with this woman, Jesus demonstrated the importance of women in His kingdom to a world that considered women to be chattel. As we continue reading through the New Testament, we will see how several women were counted as Jesus’ friends. There is a clear leadership hierarchy set up within the Church, but don’t ever think that teaching children or serving the aged members is any less important to the overall mission of the Gospel than preaching from the pulpit or being an elder. The most important characteristic of a follower of Christ is to be willing to serve Him in any way that brings Him glory and honor. Remember, it’s all about Jesus!

• Judgment/elitism: This Samaritan woman was an outcast even among her own outcast people because of her life choices. In verses 16-18, Jesus spoke truth into her life without condemnation. What resulted from this conversation is that many in a town of outcasts came to a saving knowledge of the Savior even before the religious elites. We need to see people in every walk of life as Jesus sees them: precious in His eyes, valuable creations who need to know the truth of His love and salvation. Telling them about the loving Savior and what He did for us is our job; judgment is reserved for God alone.

In just one conversation with one person, Jesus showed His church how we should treat those with whom we come into contact. Take some time to reflect on your own feelings towards other races, lifestyles and the other gender (including those who claim alternate genders) and then read John 4 and picture how He would interact with them in person. That is how Jesus wants us to treat others.

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. 

Advertisements

Sorrowful Homecoming

Israeli celebration

Israel 60 Years photo by FaceMePLS on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

The book of Ezra chronicles the beginning of the return of the Jewish exiles from captivity in Babylon back to Israel and Judah. King Cyrus of Persia was moved by God to not just allow over 42,000 Jewish captives to return to their homeland, but to finance the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. He even returned much of the gold and silver articles that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple during the original conquest of Jerusalem.

As the Temple was being rebuilt, Ezra 3:11-13 describes the scene of younger people praising God and rejoicing while the older folks who remembered the previous Temple crying out loud in sorrow for what had been lost over the years. The noise was heard from far away, but the voices mingled into a loud roar indiscernible whether it was joyous or sorrowful.

The construction of the Temple was met with resistance from those who were enemies of Israel and they were successful in stopping the progress until several years later. The succession of Persian kings from Cyrus to Ahasuerus (Xerxes, who married Esther), Artaxerxes and then Darius (mentioned in Daniel) is discussed in chapters 4-7, with a gap of over 50 years between chapters 6 and 7. King Darius got the ball rolling again and the Temple was finally completed in the sixth year of Darius’ reign. (Ezra 6:15) In the chapters that follow,

Ezra the prophet leads the people back to Israel/Judah with hearts of repentance and humility before God.

Chapter 9 explains that when the genealogies were reviewed, it was found that many of the Jews had married Babylonians against God’s separation commandment in Deuteronomy 7:3-4:

“Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so that the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.” (NKJV)

Despite the claims of some, this prohibition was never a call for racism (they were all Semites) and the reason is explained in verse 4. At the time, the Jews were the only people to whom God had personally revealed Himself. As it turned out, when the Jews intermarried with their pagan neighbors, they did indeed turn away from their faith in God. Ezra and the exiles understood very clearly the reason for the 70 year captivity and begged God’s forgiveness for them and their ancestors.

The events that followed in chapter 10 are indeed sorrowful. Many of the Jews who had married Babylonians sent their spouses and children away (presumably back to Persia) in an extreme act of devotion to God. I really have trouble reading this chapter, knowing how much God hates divorce. In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus laid it out that we need to love God above all else, including family, should it come down to that. This is the reason we taught our children to date only Christians; there is no call in the Bible for “Missionary Dating.” For those who are already married to non-believers, I Corinthians 7:12-16 persuades believers to remain in the marriage if the non-believing spouse is willing to stay in the marriage.

Proverbs 4:23 simplifies the whole matter by encouraging us:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)

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. 

I Will Restore

locusts-senegal-2050384-h

“They Devour” photo by madcowk on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

One of the things I have always been grateful for is that as a gardener, my family and I have never had to depend upon whatever the garden produced each year. We would not last very long if we did. One can never be sure what will happen during the year and even one day of bad weather can destroy an entire harvest. I have never personally witnessed the kind of pestilence that is described as locusts in the Bible, but Joel 1:4 describes the utter devastation caused by one such invasion:

What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten;
What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten;
And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. (NKJV)

The passage goes on to explain that this pestilence was sent by God as a punishment for the unfaithful behavior of the people. The prophet goes on to warn the people of Israel that an army (possibly Babylonian) is on the way to conquer what was left of the nation. Joel pleads with the people in 2:12-13:

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm. (NKJV)

As a reward for turning back to Him, God promises in verse 25 to restore what was lost:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.” (NKJV)

I have claimed that verse several times in my life when relationships had been broken and you know what? God did restore them and made them even better than ever! Just like He restored all that Job lost during his test, God has a way of making things so much better than we could have ever dreamed. The key is in our repentance; however, because no matter how good we think we are, we would stand condemned in the presence of Almighty God, completely at His mercy without the sacrifice of Jesus.

Whatever loss you are grieving in your heart right now, write down Joel 2:25 and commit it to memory. Make this your daily prayer, asking God to take the devastation in your life and restore it to you in His perfect, marvelous way and in His perfect timing. Then relax, wait patiently and watch the miracles unfold before your very eyes!

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. 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: