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

Posts tagged ‘repentance’

Sackcloth and Ashes

Sackcloth & ashes

Sackcloth and Ashes on the Ponte San Angelo photo by GOC53 on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

What does the word “repentance” mean to you? How does it feel? Can you remember the last time you were truly penitent for something you had done? Have you ever asked for forgiveness for the sins of your parents, grandparents or ancestors? What did this remorse look like; could anybody else tell you were feeling sorrow for your sins?

In the Bible, one outward sign of abject humility and repentance was referred to as wearing sackcloth and pouring ashes or dust over one’s head. In his book, Nehemiah starts out hiding his grief over the dilapidated state of the wall around Jerusalem from King Artaxerxes. Sometime later, the king recognized Nehemiah’s sorrow and allowed him to go to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding project.

By chapter 9, Nehemiah and the Jews came together fasting, wearing sack cloth with ashes on their heads after the prophet Ezra read the Law for what was perhaps the first time to many of the people. To drive the point home, the Levite priests then recounted the history of Israel from Abraham until that day in which the repatriated exiles gathered together to dedicate their lives and their country to God.

The people wore sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their understanding of the grievous sins that they and their ancestors committed against God. They understood that the sins of the entire nation of Israel resulted in God carrying out His threat to scatter the people across the earth if they did not follow His commandments. They set about making things right in their land in order to regain God’s favor on them.

I often wonder how bad things will get in this country and in this world before the voice of God echoes’ “ENOUGH!” throughout His creation. I was recently asked if I thought this country is under God’s judgment and I have to believe it is. We have not realized the extent of what judgment looks like, but if you want an idea, read the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel. It is not pretty and it definitely is not something I would wish even for my worst enemies. Perhaps it is time for Christians to put on gunny sack tunics and humble ourselves before our God.

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. 

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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. 

What Happens in Vegas…

vegas-sign-welcome

Photo by mandj98 on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

…stays in Vegas. This was a tag line from the Las Vegas Department of Tourism a few years ago. What those ads tried to imply was that there was a glitzy place where one could go to do things that would never be found out by one’s family or friends, should that be of concern. The saying caught on somewhat until the CDC came up with a list of diseases that could easily follow one home.

Jeremiah 23 gives a glimpse of God’s exasperation with the false prophets and presumed holy men of Israel who ignored Jeremiah’s prophecies for happier, feel-good projections of what the impending war with Babylon would bring. It wasn’t that these quasi spiritual leaders lacked the correct information; but rather, they refused to listen to the Word of God, who at that time still spoke directly to His prophets like Jeremiah.

“Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23-24, NIV)

It was as if the false teachers thought that God was not aware of what they were telling the people; offering happy thoughts at a time of impending destruction. They seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they were contradicting God’s prophecies through Jeremiah and even tried on several occasions to end Jeremiah’s life.

There are many false prophets out in the world today who soft pedal around eternal life and death issues, fearing that they may offend somebody. Here is what God had to say about their counterparts from the seventh century BC:

 “Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’  Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:31-32, NIV)

Not all of us are called to stand on the street corner shouting that the end is near, but if we call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to tell others about the sacrifice that He made to save us from our sins. How we convey that message is as individual as we and those to whom we share the message are. We just need to know what the message is by reading and studying the Bible every day and then being ready and willing to speak when God’s Spirit prompts us. And yes, this message is just as urgent as Jeremiah’s call to repentance as the Babylonian army closed in around Israel.

The world as we know it may not end tomorrow, but according to the World Health Organization, about 150,000 people died each day in 2011. For them, that was the end of the world. We do not know when the end will come for anybody, so we do have an urgent message for our friends, family, and those with whom we come in contact each day. Let’s go get the Word out before it is too late!

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 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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