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

Posts tagged ‘sorrow’

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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How Soon We Forget

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(Photo from morgueFile)

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

There are several recurring themes throughout the Old Testament, one of which is the recount of the miraculous Exodus from Egypt. It seems hard to believe that the Children of Israel soon forgot the trauma of being enslaved in a foreign land, as well as the miracles that God demonstrated to secure their release. In order to help them stay focused on the greatness of Jehovah God, the judges, prophets and priests reminded them of the Exodus over and over again. Within a generation or so, the people forgot their history, time and time again.

I used to ponder how people could forget the lessons they learned in life, but then realized that the example set for us by the ancient nation of Israel is not different from the way we stray over time from our own important life lessons. Things start going well, or not; and we fall right back into the same old habits that caused our downfall before. “I’ll do it smarter this time, I learned how not to get caught!” This exercise in insanity is so common to humanity that the Writer of Proverbs had this to say, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11, NKJV) If you have ever owned a dog, you know exactly what this means!

Life lesson amnesia is yet another reason why it is important to spend time each day with God. Staying centered on our Loving Creator daily is a great way to prevent repeated mistakes in our lives that cause us so much pain and suffering. Yes, we can make poor choices that lead to our own misery. The first thing needed to get out of the cycle of failure is to take responsibility for your own choices and stop blaming everybody else. The next thing to do is to humble yourself before God, ask for His forgiveness (He loves to forgive) and then to ask Him for wisdom to make better choices in the future. God also loves to hand out wisdom. James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NKJV)

Ask God to pile on the wisdom and He will, just like that!

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two 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 was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, 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.

Call Me “Mara”

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By Lisa Nordell-Detres

The Biblical book of Ruth is just four chapters long, but is rich in lessons of faithfulness and redemption. As the story goes, Naomi was a Jewish woman who moved with her husband and their two sons to the neighboring country of Moab because of a famine in Israel. During their stay in Moab, Naomi’s husband and both of her married sons died. If the story ended right there, it would indeed be a heartbreaking story. I have never experienced the death of a spouse or children, but I know those who have and the feelings of loss and sorrow never leave. To experience the death of one’s entire family can only be summed up with Naomi’s words when she returned to Israel, “Call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20)

Despite Naomi’s extreme anguish, she did not lose her faith in God, nor did she deny her feelings throughout the ordeal. She did not understand the reason why God had taken her family and never knew the whole story until she was in God’s presence. One of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave Naomi’s side and vowed to stay with her for the rest of her life. Ruth’s faithfulness was noticed by Boaz, a wealthy and single farmer from whose barley fields Ruth gathered leftover grain to feed Naomi and herself. The story has a happy ending, in that Boaz married Ruth and Naomi was able to cuddle her grandson, Obed. What Naomi did not know was that Obed would grow up to be King David’s grandfather, in the direct family line of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Since we all live in a fallen, corrupt world, we need to know that bad things happen and may very well happen to us. How we deal with disaster is of greatest importance. Losing our faith in God, who loves us and has promised never to leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) is the greatest tragedy of all. If we trust that God knows what He is doing and that He is carrying us through our times of calamity and grief, we will come out on the other side with a stronger faith and broader perspective than we ever thought possible. We may never know why the bad things happened, but even that can be used for good if we cling to our faith in God.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two 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 was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, 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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