Monday, March 31, 2008

Call me, Oprah

My dear Oprah,

I have something you need!

You have influence, but no power.
You have money, but no peace.
You have truth, but not THE TRUTH.
You have friends, but not a Daddy.
You have possessions, but not provision.
You lead others, but do not know the way.

Call me, I'm in the book.


Good news? Again!

I am writing this from a retreat center not far from home. I’ve spent the weekend with another group of strangers. Strangers, yes, and yet still sisters. I love meeting God’s children for weekend retreats. Yes, I’m the presenter; but most often I am also the listener, the learner, the observer. I always come away blessed by HIS work in his kids.

I’ve recently finished the books of 1st and 2nd Kings, and I’ve begun Ephesians. I want to make one last comment about the situation which closes this important historical and Biblical account. I used to think that 2nd Kings had a dismal ending; these days, I look at it slightly differently.

Certainly the Babylonian Army conquers the Kingdom of Judah, and carries most of her citizens off into a distant land. And that seems very bad.

To them, it must have been. Many of their people perished in the siege of Jerusalem. Many died of starvation. Others died in the invasion of the Babylonians. Many more died on the trip to Babylon. History tells us the captives were chained and had to walk day and night. Nebuchadnezzar was afraid that if they prayed, their God would rescue them during the trip. He didn’t want to give them time to pray.

For those of us who read this account nearly 2,500 years later, the story has yet another facet. We see the WHOLE picture. We have read God’s urgent warnings, given first before his people even entered the promise land. We have observed God’s patient correction, starting nearly five hundred years BEFORE the captivity, given by prophet after prophet, saying, “Obey me. Have no other Gods but me; or I will cast you out of this land. Serve me with your whole heart, or I will call for some distant nation to come here and punish you.”

Guess what? He did. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC, and took most of her inhabitants to live in Babylon. They left the land desolate. Sad? Yes. Still…

One of the best parts of this sad story is this truth: God keeps his promises!

Whether for good (heaven, salvation, eternal life through Jesus Christ) or for evil (eternal separation and pain), God keeps his word! That the Judeans were conquered and led off to Babylon is proven Middle Eastern History. That they came back has been documented by many historical items of the time, including recovered Persian documents.

So, once again, God proves that you can absolutely rely on both his promises and his warnings. He gives his Word. And he keeps it.

He warns us that the wages of sin is death. He tells us that eternal separation waits for those who refuse his provision in Jesus Christ. He tells us that those who trust in Christ will have eternal life. These are his Words. He will keep these promises.

So, what is it? Good news or bad news?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal Responsibility

Nature or nurture?

We've all asked the question. We've watched as good parents struggle with children bent on destroying themselves, either with drugs or rebellion or both; and we've wondered. Why? How can such great parents turn out such crazy kids?

And the reverse is also true. Once in a while, a really bad parent ends up with the most amazing child.

Where'd it come from, we wonder.

It's the same question I ponder as I read through the books of First and Second Kings. In these books, the two nations, Israel (the Northern kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) list king after king after king. And in one case after another, the Lord, through the writer of the Word, pronounces judgement on both the man and his leadership.

If you're paying attention, and you aren't confused by the narrative which jumps back and forth between the two countries (almost as if it were an account of the presidents of Canada and the United States, all mingled together) you'll notice the same thing in the book of kings. A good king is followed by a crazy son, who grows up to become a really bad king. Later, suddenly, for no apparent reason, the next generation produces a king who follows after God.

How can that be?

I can't find a consistent reason for any of it. Yes, the Word of God plays a part. Godly advisers play a part. But there is one other common denominator in all of the stories of all the kings included therein.

Personal Responsibility.

By this I mean that in NO CASE does God ever say, "Hey, you know, I realize that you had a really terrible upbringing. So, here's what I'm gonna do. I'll let it slide. After all, you didn't have anyone to teach you right from wrong..."

Nope. God holds each of these men personally responsible for his own choices.

Much as he holds us responsible for our own choices.

So, no matter how much you'd like to shift blame (and believe me, I'm the queen of blame-shifting), it isn't going to cut it with God. Don't tell him that you didn't go to church because your husband didn't want to. Don't explain that you don't read the Word because no one taught you how. Don't try to explain away your sin with cultural influences, family history, or genetics. It just won't cut it with God. He will hold YOU, personally responsible for your actions, choices, and attitudes.

But there is some really good news in all of this.

Once you take personal responsibility for yourself, you can make a great exchange. God himself will take the punishment for your foolishness. He will exchange your sin for his sinlessness. It's a remarkable bargain, delivered in the person of Jesus Christ. He died for your personal responsibility.

There will be an accounting. God will evaluate your life, just as he evaluated the lives of the Kings of Israel. Own up. Agree with the truth about your life. And then, make the exchange.

His death for your sin. His resurrection for your forgiveness. His new life for your new life.

It's a bargain, I'll tell you. I did it, in 1974. Wow, what a ride! I've enjoyed most every moment since then.

I've never been sorry. Try that on for size. How about you? Have you made the exchange/


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Hello out there,

I'm writing to you from Palm Desert California, where our family is resting and playing in the sun.

Lately I've been working hard on a retreat I'm presenting for a group of women in Olympia, Washington. It pleases me to look at our culture -- both the Christian culture, and the American Culture -- and to think deeply about what influences are pushing us first this way and then the next.

And what enables me to evaluate these forces with wisdom is the enduring truth of the Word of God.

Most recently, I think, the American culture has become enamored, even bewitched by the beloved Queen of Daytime Talk, Oprah Winfrey.

I admit, I've enjoyed more than one of her shows. I like watching designers, listening to the casts of the latest movies, and hearing the true life stories of amazing survivors.

But have you noticed the wild detour that our Talk Show Queen has taken lately? She has fully embraced the theology of THE SECRET. After that, she has promoted the The Miracle. The Year of Miracles. And Embracing Your Midlife. All from the same author (see the quote below)

She talks openly and frequently about sending "good thoughts" out into the universe so that "what you desire" will come to you.

And, her latest project, "THE NEW EARTH," is being harped on every show.

My advice dear Bible Believing Friends? Don't fall for it. BEWARE! Evaluate. Compare the words she espouses word for word with THE WORD OF GOD. One is hoax. The other is the enduring word of truth.

The latest of her thrilling finds in the literary world, are nothing less than foolishness. At the other end, many thoughts in the books she espouses are full blown heresy.

I include the following quote from the Oprah website, with the link included, which I excerpted from "A Year of Miracles" last Sunday, the 1st of March.

Begin Quote

In remembering who you truly are, you are returned to holy perception. And through that return, you bless the world with every thought you think. Because all minds are joined, every thought of love you hold is a healing extended to everyone.

The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.

How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! How blessed are you who can learn to recognize the means for letting this be done through you! What purpose could you have that would bring you greater happiness?

You are indeed the light of the world with such a function. The Son of God looks to you for his redemption. It is yours to give him, for it belongs to you. Accept no trivial purpose or meaningless desire in its place, or you will forget your function and leave the Son of God in hell. This is no idle request that is being asked of you. You are being asked to accept salvation that it may be yours to give.

End Quote.

The Son of God needs us for HIS redemption?
I bless the world with my thoughts?
All minds are joined?
My thoughts bring healing to everyone?

I don't think so.

This particular passage falls so far from the realm of truth, that I have a hard time believing that anyone could be fooled. But then think about it. It sounds good. It strokes the ego of our own importance. It uses holy words, and important sounding phrases. The only ones who can't tell that it is false are those who have not yet made friends with the Word of God.

Makes this thing we are doing more important than ever, doesn't it?

How else can we smell a rat?

If we know the Word, then we have everything we need to evaluate the world around us.

Once a friend asked if I would like a glass of water. "Sure," I answered.

"Even if it poison in it?"

"Of course not." I thought she was crazy.

"But I only put a tiny bit in. A drop. No more."

Her analogy is strong. Even a tiny bit of untruth will make poison out of something completely innocuous. Spend time in the Word. Grow to love it. Evaluate the changing world by the unchanging truths you find there!