Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It Matters, Believe Me

You'll be happy to know, if you've followed this blog, that we finished our ride for the orphans last Wednesday. It was great, and the Lord blessed us with dry weather and NO FLAT TIRES! We rode through miles of broken glass along the Oregon Coast. Still, he kept us safe; we were thrilled with that... You can view pictures at:


Also, I have to confess that I've fallen behind with you all, for a lot of reasons, but here is the big one. My brother, Richard Joseph Roberts passed away last Sunday morning. He was hiking with a friend near his home in Tucson. So far, we aren't sure what happened, but he dropped suddenly and could not be revived. He was only 61.

So, why do you care?

Well, I suppose you don't have to. But his death reminds me of the facts about this life. We don't ask to be born, do we? But we don't get to choose how long we stay either! As comptroller for the University of Arizona, Dick had a few goals left to accomplish. He was looking forward to retirement, to enjoying his kids and grandkids, to spending more time with his wife.

But it all vanished, in only a moment.

Truth? It could happen to you too. In fact, it will.

When? None of us know. A bike accident. A fluke traffic accident. A fall. A prolonged illness.

And the fact that NONE of us will get out of here alive brings up the importance of the words we've been looking at. The Bible addresses some pretty important questions...

These questions aren't just philosophical. They are life and death. They address critical issues, like, "Why are we here?" "Who is God?" "What happens after I die?" "Is there a heaven, or hell?"

I don't know much about my brother's faith. I talked to him about God many times. Most of the time, he shut me out. He was too intellectual, too sophisticated for such fantasy. Raised a Catholic, he accused me of evangelizing. He didn't want to talk about it; it was too personal.

Tonight, wherever he is, I wonder if he has changed his mind?

What about you?


PS, We're on to Joshua now. Let's get on with it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

For the Kids

“He who stops his ears at the cry of the poor,
Will himself cry out,
And will not be heard. Proverbs 21:13

I’m writing this rather humbling letter to request help. Not for me, but for some kids in Africa. These kids live in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

A couple of years ago, I felt the Lord encouraging me to develop a heart for the poor, a heart that not only hurts, but acts. I’m trying to obey. With the help of a friend, we’ve taken on the $15,000 task of building an boys dorm for an orphanage in Goma. Today, these children sleep eight to a mat on a concrete floor. They bathe in a small, outside bowl. They survive by selling the vegetables they grow on donated land. They are doing everything they can to survive.

These kids are victims of the African Civil war, (both in Rwanda, and of the DRC) of aids, of severe poverty – even of nature (recently, a volcanic eruption destroyed parts of Goma). Nearly three hundred have been taken in by Mama Jeanne and her husband, a pastor living in rural DRC. Mama Jeanne seeks to reunite displaced children with their parents, and to provide care, education and training for the orphans who stay.

We became connected with them through Be A Hero, an international agency who connects willing givers with indigenous projects being run by well respected and highly accountable agencies all over the world. You can check out Be A Hero at


At the website you’ll get to see pictures of the kids and their current living conditions. You can check out our website at
www.4the orphans.org

We have two major plans for this coming year. Starting tomorrow, we’re bicycling part of the Oregon Coast in an effort to raise funds and awareness for these kids. The second project involves a benefit concert featuring Rising Violet, which will be held in February 2008. In the process, we hope to find matching donors, individual donors and even children who would help us meet this critical need.

On our own, we’ve saved more nearly six thousand dollars for this project. I’m committed to using my writing money for this project. If you’d like to help, we’d appreciate it. We’re asking God to give us the funds to finish the dorm and supply the linens and beds. You can send a check to Be A Hero, in care of Kerrie Hubbard at PO Box 2873, Clackamas OR 97015. All donations are tax-deductable. Be a Hero will provide a receipt.

If you’re getting this note, it’s because I trust you, and because I know that you know me well enough to trust that I have pure motives and a willing heart. I’d love it if you asked God about your part in this small project for the kids. Bette

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Assigned Task

So, I've finally finished the page design on the Bible Study I'm working on. Yesterday I started teaching it. The ladies were excited about conquering a new and rather daunting book of the Old Testament. It was pretty cool, helping them see the landscape of Jeremiah. I can't wait to see what happens as they get into it!

In the meantime, here we are in ACTS.

Sometimes, a single phrase will shout at me, and I am left to ponder. The message Paul gives us in Acts 20:24 holds that kind of power over me. Paul says, "But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doinhg the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love!"

Paul? His life worth NOTHING?

That's a pretty powerful idea, isn't it?

It strikes me in two ways. One: Paul knew exactly what task he'd been assigned. How many people these days are marching their way through life without a single clue as to WHAT TASK has been assigned to them? They repeat day after day, doing the same things, the urgent things, the daily things -- and they have never experienced the kind of single-mindedness that Paul understood. MY TASK. The one I am ASSIGNED BY JESUS.

It's all about purpose. Knowing your task, and then embracing it fully. Wouldn't it be great to KNOW your life purpose?

I struggle with that. Sometimes, I feel quite confident in my task. At other times, I feel like a hiker lost in a dark cave. Where am I? How do I find the light?

And the second thing that strikes me about my friend Paul is that compared to this task, his life is nothing. Now, Paul is no superhero. He has skin and bones, just like you and I. He has aches and pains. He has friends, and enemies. He probably found that wool was pretty scratchy. He got hungry, and he got tired.

But in the midst of daily life, of loving people, of making tents, of having friends, enjoying dinner, and beaufiful sunsets, Paul felt that his life was worth NOTHING, COMPARED to using his life for the task.

Do you hear the enormous value Paul puts on accomplishing this task that Jesus has given him?

I am coming to believe that God has individual tasks just for us, tasks that are more specific than the global task of taking the message into all the world. I believe we each have a special gift that we are to use to bless the world around us. I think God wants us to sense the importance of our lives -- not just because we are alive -- but because there is a task that only we can accomplish.

And if we miss the task, we miss something enormously important.

Paul understood how important it was. Do you?

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I'm home from vacation, and scrambling to meet a writing deadline. I'll be teaching Jeremiah beginning Friday of this week, and I'm feeling lots of pressure. Busy times, you know?

But I'm enjoying the book of Acts. And, because it's on my mind a lot lately, I've been noticing a trend. Remember these guys are just guys, like you and me. They have to eat and sleep, and dress -- just like we do. They have moments of doubt and moments of brilliance -- just like us. And, like us, I'm guessing they struggled with knowing what God would have them do next.

So what's the pattern?

Watch this:

After Peter and John heal a lame man, they give this amazing sermon. In the New Living Translation it says: "Peter saw his opportunity." 3:12

"As for Phillip, an angel of theLORD said to him, "Go south, down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem." (8:26)

"As he was nearing Damascus, on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice, saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (9:4)

"the LORD spoke to him in a vision, calling, 'Ananias," (9:10)

"One afternoon, about three o'clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him, "Cornelius!" the angel said. (10:3)

"But while lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners." (Acts 10:10)

"Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the LORD stood before Peter... 'Quick, get up.' And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, 'Get dressed and put on your sandals.'"(12:7)

One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Dedicate Barnabus and Saul for the special work I have for them."

Okay, have you fallen asleep yet? Are you wondering what on earth these things have in common?

Try this on for controversy...

In all these cases, the Lord clearly made his will known to his children.

1. They didn't get it out of the written Word of God -- they didn't have one as such. And yet, God gave personal leadership to each of them. Real directions. Specific instructions. Clear leadership. Not just general stuff like "go into all the world." Somehow God gave Specifics, "Go to this street. Go to this house. Go get this man." Somehow, God made his way known. Look at the ways!

disembodied voices
the LORD's voice
and even simple old OPPORTUNITIES!

Certainly, many of these events happened in the context of prayer. But not always.

My challenge? Has God changed? Has he stopped using these means to give specific direction to his children? Doesn't he care anymore what you do with your life? Is he too busy to speak?

Or worse. When was the last time you had a vsion? A voice? A trance? A dream?

I confess, it frustrates me that I don't experience God more in my daily life. I haven't had a vision lately. I rarely have a dream from God. But is this because I don't believe he can? Or that I don't believe he will?

Is it because He doesn't speak any more? Or is it because I've stopped listening? Or have we stopped EXPECTING to hear from him? You tell me! I really want to know.