Thursday, April 28, 2011

Standing Strong in a Changing Culture

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed

by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good

and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2, NKJV).

I just finished taping the “Christianity in a Changing Culture” program out of Minneapolis, and the topic reminded me of the news I’d received late yesterday of the home-going of David Wilkerson. David authored several books, founded the outstanding Teen Challenge ministry that has helped so many get their lives back on track, and also founded the Times Square Church in New York City. Having known several people whose lives (not only on earth but for eternity) were personally changed as a result of this man’s ministry, I was deeply impacted by the news.

And yet I know that David is now rejoicing with the Savior he served so faithfully during his earthly sojourn. One of the things I remember most about this man of God is that he did not compromise God’s Word. Though he worked with some of the most dangerous elements of humanity, preaching the gospel to those who were hostile to his message, he never backed down from the Truth; he never compromised to adapt to a changing culture.

David understood the importance of not being “conformed to this world” in his thinking. He was not impressed with financial success or cowed by physical threats. His mind was focused on the One who had saved him and called him to preach the gospel to others who also needed salvation. Though I didn’t know David personally, I am certain that he was able to resist being conformed to the world’s skewed way of thinking because he was daily transformed by the renewing of his mind through the continual reading and studying of God’s Word.

I am always amazed when I meet Christians who have known Jesus for years and yet their words exhibit the world’s way of thinking. I’ve found that if I probe a bit, I soon learn that though they have been born again and may even attend church, they don’t practice personal, daily Bible study and prayer. Hence, they have allowed themselves to be conformed to the world rather than transformed by the power of God’s Word.

What was it that made David Wilkerson such an admired man of God? Was it his writing or speaking, his courageous ministry to street gangs and people with addictions? All those things were outgrowths of who he was in Christ and how he thought and lived, but the real key is that he was undoubtedly a man who refused to be conformed to the world and instead practiced the necessary disciplines to have his mind transformed to that of His Savior. May his legacy inspire us all to do the same, regardless of the changing culture in which we live!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebrate Resurrection--all year long!

But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:30).

Spring is nearly synonymous with new life—trees budding, flowers blooming, baby animals cavorting in pastures. As Christians, we know that new life—resurrected life—comes only from Jesus. But must we relegate that conscious knowing to the time we think of as the “Easter season”? We shouldn’t.

One of the most powerful statements in the entire Bible is found in Acts 13:30: “But God raised Him from the dead.” It’s as if that one short sentence—just seven little words—validates everything we believe. And it should be celebrated all year long.

Think about it. Would there even be a New Year’s celebration, based on the Roman calendar, if God hadn’t raised Jesus from the dead? Of course not. Despite His good deeds and exemplary life while He walked this earth, His name would have blurred into the mishmash of others who also did nice things and then faded into obscurity. It was His resurrection from the dead that validated His existence and, in turn, inspired the dividing line of B.C. and A.D. on our calendars.

What about Thanksgiving? Would there really be anything to celebrate with gratitude if God had not raised Jesus from the dead?

And then there’s Christmas—the “Royal Birth Day,” as I like to call it. Would we still recognize and celebrate Christ’s birth if He had stayed in the grave? I think not.

“But God raised Him from the dead” is the pivotal statement of our faith, the point around which all else in Christendom—and in the world and even in eternity—revolves. Without resurrection, we have no hope. There is nothing to celebrate or anticipate. As the Apostle Paul said, when stressing the importance and absolute necessity of the Resurrection, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Our hope is not only in this life, but rather in the next. If God raised Jesus from the dead, we can rest assured that He will do the same for those of us who have accepted the Resurrected Christ as our Savior. Let’s celebrate the promise of resurrection—all year long!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Faith that stands...even in the Lions' Den

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.

And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem,

he knelt down on his knees three times that day,

and prayed and gave thanks before his God,

as was his custom since early days (Daniel 6:10, NKJV).

How important is it to teach and lead our children in the ways of the Lord from their earliest days? Daniel’s example confirms that it is vital.

The above verse tells us that when Daniel learned that the edict had been signed, proclaiming that anyone who worshiped or prayed to anyone other than King Darius would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel immediately went to his room and prayed—not privately but openly where there was no doubt he would be seen.

Courageous? Sure. But I believe it had more to do with his practiced commitment to follow the God he had served from his youngest years. Daniel didn’t suddenly decide to defy the king and to pray in a prominent place when he heard of the certain outcome, nor did he cower in a corner of his room, begging God for deliverance and protection. Because he had long since learned to worship and pray, openly and without compromise despite the consequences, he immediately reverted to what he already knew was right—and then acted on it.

That’s the kind of faith I want, don’t you? I want to be so steeped in my relationship with the Lord that each time I hear good news, bad news, or no news, I go straight to the place where I regularly meet with God, and then spend time in worship and prayer as if nothing had changed. For that’s the kind of faith that will not bend under trial or testing—even under threat of being thrown into the lions’ den.

If we didn’t receive that sort of training or example as children, it’s never too late to learn and practice it now. And it is certainly never too late to model it to our children, regardless of their age. May we all be like Daniel, committed to bold, uncompromising worship and prayer, no matter the outcome—for even if we end up in the lions’ den, we know Emmanuel will be there with us.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A great writing opportunity!

2012 MOPS Devotional Seeks Submissions

Never Alone is a devotional for mothers underscoring God’s promise of His presence in her life - all the time. Scheduled for publication by Revell for a Summer release in 2012, Never Alone will be a companion to the 2012 theme book for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International.

You are invited to audition devotionals for this special book by sharing your own moments and memories of how God’s presence -- or your yearning for it -- impacted or is impacting your days of parenting preschoolers. As we know, motherhood can be an isolating exercise. But God is there in the loneliness and most clueless moments, as well as those joyful instances we want to freeze for all eternity. Please consider sharing a part of your faith journey with today’s 100,000 MOPS moms and others who can be encouraged by your experiences. Feel free to share this call for submissions with others who might have a heart for this project and a compelling story to impart.

Categories for submissions are:

Dawn: God is with us… in the firsts.

Nourishment: God is with us… and provides.

Monkey Bars and Cardboard Cars: God is with us… in laughter and play.

Holding Hands: God is with us… in our marriages.

Time Out: God is with us…when we feel overwhelmed.

In the Dark: God is with us… and in control.

Matching Socks: God is with us… in the mundane.

Duty Calls: God is with us… in our sacrifice.

Girl Power: God is with us…in our friendships.

On The Move: God is with us… in our work.

Guidelines are as follows:

· Submissions should be approximately 600 words, and if possible include a scripture reference pertinent to what you are sharing. We reserve the right to use a different verse if necessary.

· Devotionals are essentially stories: vivid, conversational, focused pieces that inspire, not preach. We want to help moms reframe their view of motherhood to include God where they might not have. Your honest voice is very important, as is your ability to be clear and purposeful. And where warranted, humorous!

· Your name, address, email address, phone number and devotional category and word count should appear at the top of your submission.

· Email submissions to Deadline is June 1.

· Writers will be paid $50 for each accepted submission. Writers may submit in several categories.

· Please include a 50-word biography at the end of each submission that includes information on your own season of motherhood.

May God bless you and reveal himself to you in your mothering always.

Happy writing,

Susan Besze Wallace, editor

Is It Really "All Good"?

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the L
ORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8, NKJV)

The word “good” gets thrown around so casually that it has lost its impact. Ice cream is good. The weather is good. I feel good. You look good. It’s all good!

Sadly, that’s just not true. Everything/all is NOT good. Jesus Himself said that only God is good. And yet, God sent His only Son to show us, through His life and death and resurrection, what is required of us if we claim to belong to the One who is good: we must do/act in a just and fair way (which can only happen if we use God’s plumb line to measure justice); we must love mercy (meaning we appreciate having received it ourselves and willingly offer it to others); and we walk humbly with our God.

All three components are necessary, but the last one keeps the other two in proper perspective. If we are not in an ongoing, humble, personal relationship with a God we truly know and love, we will not be good despite our best efforts. We may intend and attempt justice, but we will fail because we measure justice by criteria other than God’s. We might try to be merciful to others but often find ourselves choosing to withhold that mercy from those we consider “unworthy”—having forgotten how unworthy we ourselves are of receiving mercy from God. Yet where would we be without it?

Jesus is the only One who ever walked this earth and fulfilled God’s requirements of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with the Father. But because He did that, we can study His earthly life and see the picture He has shown us of what it looks like to walk with the only One who is “good.”

Next time you’re tempted to say something like, “It’s all good,” stop and ask yourself, Is it really? Does whatever I’m referring to as being “good” meet the criteria laid out in the Scriptures? If not, why not ask the Lord to help you walk as Jesus walked and to fulfill the biblical requirements for serving a good God?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Turning Back Time?

We live in a society that spends a fortune trying to look younger--Botox, dieting, plastic surgery--but looking younger does NOT turn back the hands of time.

Arlene Pellicane has a better solution. In her book 31 Days to a Younger You, she take us on a 31-day adventure that will revolutionize the way we see ourselves--inside and out. Check it out at

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yesterday's Tomorrow has arrived!

Vietnam. The word evokes a myriad of emotions, depending on the hearer's age, knowledge, and experience. I for one remember the Vietnam War era well, having bid farewell to my then twenty-year-old military husband as he deployed for a year to that faraway, dangerous land, leaving me at home to care for two babies in diapers.

Author Catherine West exquisitely captures the feel of that time and place in the pages of her amazing debut novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow. This book speaks to the very depths of your heart, whether you have any personal recollection of that tumultuous time or not. Get ready for an exciting adventure and a heart-pounding ride as you dive into this page-turning story. No doubt this will be the first of many excellent offerings from this talented new author.