Saturday, January 31, 2015

Do We Make God Too Small?

by Lorilyn Roberts

Two days before my 30th birthday my ex-husband left me for another woman. The house was cold and empty and I thought I would never be happy again. I didn’t want to live anymore and seriously considered ending my life. However, life keeps moving forward just as God’s kingdom advances unceasingly. I now have two beautiful internationally adopted daughters, I work at home providing broadcast captioning for television, and I just published my seventh book as an indy author.

Never give up on your dreams—commit your ways to God and He will give you so much more. If anything, I believe we make God too small. We try to create Him in our image and then when our puny dreams aren’t answered, we’re disappointed. Maybe we ask with the wrong motives at times, but more often than not, God wants to give us something better.

I recently returned from a mission trip to Nepal with my younger daughter, Joy. We delivered a hundred pounds of books to orphans. God renewed my spirit on the trip, giving me a more positive attitude toward life and hope that no matter how wicked the world seems, His kingdom is moving forward. The gates of Hell will not prevail.

God put writing on my heart at a very young age—but without great grace, we can’t have great redemption. God surely had a lot of grace He needed to pour into me. I was a wounded spirit.

The hard things in life God used to make me teachable. Only when I came to the end of myself did I realize God really is everything He claims to be—and much more. I am thankful for those dark, fearful, waters almost thirty years ago. Without them, God couldn’t give me the books He wants me to write today.

I am working on the third book in the Seventh Dimension SeriesThe Castle, where a young Jewish boy is confronted with a mystery hidden from his people for two thousand years.

The process of writing puts me in the seventh dimension – where God reveals Himself to me in ways I don’t understand. The mystery of God keeps me from making God too small. If we don’t have hope that God can give us our ultimate dreams, then we have made God a stingy God. My hope, satisfaction, and supreme joy are wrapped up in my Lord and Savior. If ever I start to doubt God’s grace, I’m the one who has moved, not God.

I returned to college at the ripe old age of fifty-six and received my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. In the last three years, I have won almost a dozen awards for my writing. My prayer now is to be able to write full time and make a living from my books. In the meantime, I’m thankful for all the opportunities we have to get our books into the hands of readers.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stamp of the Almighty -- If I'm God's Image, What Are You?

Twelve years ago, we took our family on a mission trip to China. As part of our daily activity, we went into classrooms where kids would ask us questions and practice their English skills. Usually, we fielded generic questions like: What's your favorite color? What do you like about China? What do you do? And, once they found out our family was from Chicago, Do you know Michael Jordan?

But one day, a boy raised his hand and floored me with something else. “Do you hate Osama bin Laden?” 

We think our class sizes are large.
This was October, 2002. 9/11 was not yet history. I struggled for the right words, and out came something like, “No, I don't. I am a follower of Jesus and he asks me to love my enemies. So I hate what he did. But no, I do not hate him.”

I could sense a climate change in the room. A room filled with communist atheist kids had just heard something they did not have the resources to comprehend. I wasn't sure I did. But their skepticism that our God was relevant turned to interest. What could make someone not return hate with hate?

Remember a time when people got along all the time? No one blamed anyone else for their dumb decisions, and no one got all defensive in your face about it either? We never bullied or inflicted hurt on purpose or put our own wants above someone else's needs? No one died in mindless acts of hatred.

Yeah, neither do I. Because none of us ever saw it. Only two people ever did. They didn't hang onto it for long.

It Was All Good. Very Good.

I imagine looking up in the Garden was something like this.
When God created the first two people, he declared that the original partnership was very good. It was the only part of creation that earned the adverb “very.” In that beginning, the original pair did not blame and fear one another. They worked together with grace and dignity. Humanity had that “let's all hold hands and get along” thing down, I tell you. But then, there were only two of them. How much conflict can you get into?


It ended. Rather abruptly.

We've been talking about the image of God and what that means every day. How do we discover our identity, what we were born to be and do, by knowing more about that image?

We've figured out that being created in God's image means displaying his character and growing up, like kids, to “look” more like him. It means having his vision for my future and the future of the Kingdom. It means taking on the responsibility of being his ambassador of light in a dark world. Doing what he would do.

One huge aspect of “doing what he would do” lies at the heart of the Genesis story. If all people are created in his image, and if that image is still to be protected and valued even after we completely messed it up (Genesis 9.6), what does that mean for how we value other human beings?

If my purpose is to hold his vision dearer than anything I can dream of myself, I need to seriously look at that original relationship—and then at how we relate to one another now. God's vision was made clear in the garden. People are equal. People are precious. People are the most beautiful thing He created.

What am I going to do with that?

What I should be going to do is let the rest of the world see how it was meant to be. Let them know God had a plan. Make it clear that I'm committed to restoring that original plan. Even if it's not a popular commitment.

Who Is God's Image Again?

I listened to a panel of pastors and others recently talk about racism, privilege, and power. One of the young men told the story of going to Ferguson to participate in nonviolent protest. He spoke of standing face to face with police officers and looking into their eyes. “I could see clearly that neither one of us wanted to hurt the other. We were both people, looking in one another's eyes. Looking at another person who wanted peace. But we were stuck on opposite sides. Most people don't want to hurt anyone—we know we're all the same people.”

Those aren't his exact words, but that was the scene he painted. People who want to treat one another right, but a world that is so filled with complication, so far from what the original order was meant to be, we don't really know how.

  • Osama bin Laden was made in the image of God.
  • Michael Brown and Darren Wilson were made in the image of God.
  • Every illegal immigrant you've ever seen, talked to, or read about was made in the image of God.
  • Every girl trafficked for sex was made in the image of God. So was her pimp.
  • The person who annoys you next door or in the next pew was made in the image of God.
  • The kid in youth group who just unleashed the longest string of profanity you've ever heard put together was made in the image of God.
  • The slow old lady up ahead, the grocery checker who made a mistake when you were in a hurry, the kid you just cut from the team are all made in the image of God.

What am I going to do with that?

Darn, but I don't think God made any exceptions when he said humans were made in his image. And that we are to love them. I don't see any annotations next to those pretty all-inclusive verses.

Why not? Because as his image, we know two things. One, we are called to restore what his original plan was. Two, the moment I look at you as a lesser being, I forget that I am you.  [tweet this]. I am of the same materials. If I look in the mirror, I should see you as much as I see me. I should be able to look at those who stand against me and recognize myself. If I'm living as God's ambassador, I should look into any eyes at all and see like Jesus would. In fact, I should see Jesus himself.

The world around us tells us we should treat everyone equally and be kind to all. Why? Because . . . well, we're not sure really, but it seems like a good idea. It's warm and fuzzy and gets a lot of Facebook likes. It often works out well in practice. So yeah, love your neighbor. That's a good thing to do.

No wonder it doesn't motivate a lot of us to change.

The Real Reason

How about this? Treat everyone equally because everyone has the same stamp of the Almighty on his or her soul. And as his ambassadors, we have the chance to help them uncover it. To help another human soul recognize his or her identity as God's own. To see the spark of joy and empowerment and pure light that comes from that recognition dawning. We get to be a part of that. We get to see it happen--when we start seeing others as fellow image bearers, no matter what.

The other thing to understand, though, is that love is a verb, not a nice feeling. We can't get away with, “Hey, I love them with the love of God. But they've got to conform to my standards before I'll do anything more.” Love always does something. It never pats someone on the head and moves on. It gets in the mud and pulls people out of it, because no one can discover their true identity covered in muck. And no one can get out of it alone. I couldn't.

Respecting the image of God means we can't turn away from damage that is done to it. It requires us to call out injustice. It begs us to stand up for others until they can stand for themselves. That's what God did, still does, for us. Jesus stood up for us on the cross. We never could have.

Yet some days we can't stand up for our neighbor, friend, coworker, or that person at church. They are to blame. They should apologize first. They should prove they care for me first. Guess what? Jesus didn't require that, and I'm glad. While we were yet sinners, he died for us. He didn't ask for apologies or qualifications first. He didn't inspect skin color, economic status, gender, nationality, or morality. He didn't say he'd die for only those who agreed with his politics, word choice, ideas for how to run a church, or theology. While we still rejected him, he died. Thank God.

To be his image is to see the “very good” of Genesis in everyone.  [tweet this]. It's to look at another soul and recognize the same image that is in you. Every human soul. How can I act hatefully toward my own face?

Next week, we'll actually ask that question. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Wavering Severity of the Gospel

And the invariable tenderness of the offer.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the Actual Gospel, and I mentioned a statement I’d heard that we Christians can be rough on people concerning their utter sinfulness. Maybe, this person said, the preacher’s too hard on the congregation with his constant sin bashing. The long-time believer surprised me when he threw in, “It’s not like we’re ax murderers or anything.”
This is where the severity of the Gospel begins to waver. Surely he wasn’t insinuating ax murderers are the only condemnable sinners. If you want to know who needs a rescue from sin, just take a walk down the Romans Road. If you’re unfamiliar with Christianese, the Romans Road is a quick and easy way to explain the Gospel by walking a sinner through selected verses in the book of Romans. If you want to know how I feel about Christianese, read this: A Beginner’s Guide to Talking like a Real Christian

Now, don’t think I’m opposed to repeating comfortably memorized scripture when you’re sharing your faith. Go ahead and do it. There is nothing more perfectly designed for reaching the lost than the Word of God. Here’s that walk through Romans:

3: 23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
6:23 …the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
5:8 …God demonstrates His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
10:9 …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10:13 …whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Is it that simple? Yes. Can a sinner repeat these verses three times and go to Heaven? No. Can a believer forget, or never realize, the depths from which he was rescued? I don’t know—that’s God’s call.
I do know people who never did anything horrible and seem to feel they deserve to be saved, but they’re not sure those other people—the ones who sin big—are entitled to God’s grace. I’ve never met a redeemed ax murderer but if I did, he’d probably be sure about it. He’d understand the severity of the Gospel.

I call it severe because it’s strict in its application. You can’t choose the lite serving instead of the mega platter. It’s difficult for a rebellious heart to grasp, and harsh in its demand of death as penalty for sin. It causes irreversible and ongoing destruction to the sin nature of an individual, and eventually to the overall effect of sin in the world.  Another definition of severe: plain, unelaborated. Nothing added. That’s the Gospel.

I use the word wavering not as an indicator of the Gospel’s lack of stability. It is not unsteady nor does it fluctuate. But sometimes we believers can waver. We disregard the fact that we were hell-bound sinners. We thoughtlessly suggest salvation is for church people, not for the freaks who insult our sensibility. Or just as misguided, we insist that sin is sin and it doesn’t matter if you tell a white lie or bludgeon someone to death. God’s got it covered.

 Wait, doesn’t He? Does it matter if I sin big or sin little? No, it doesn’t matter—not when it comes to settling my eternal destiny. To the person at the other end of my little lie, or the blade of my ax, it matters severely. The guy I lied to can forgive me if I go to set things right. The other guy, well, he’s dead.  If he could, he’d say my sin against him was much, much greater. Will God forgive me? I can ask Him. From prison. Does God redeem imprisoned, entirely guilty murderers? What do you think He meant when He said, “ALL who call on the name of the Lord…?”

But didn’t Jesus teach that if we think about sinning then we’ve already broken the law? You know, lust in your heart and all that. Do you suppose He meant having a bad thought is the same as having an affair? Ask your spouse. Jesus was telling us we’re sinners, even if we don’t carry through on every evil deed we imagine.  We’ve broken fellowship with God with just a thought. Kind of makes you forget about the ax murderer. None of us has a chance of getting away with anything.
Will there be good people in Heaven who never did anything worse than tell a white lie? I’d like to meet that person. But yes, good people will be there. Not because they were good, but because they met the One who put an end to their self-righteous speculation of their own goodness. Will there be murderers in Heaven? I hope so. Otherwise, it’s a thin Gospel God poured out for us. Of course, it isn’t that kind—not lean or wimpy. Not at all wavering. But gloriously severe. What other kind could rescue us?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Will You Leave Behind?

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  John 15:4 (NIV)

On a recent housecleaning day, I noticed glitter on the floor, on my furniture and even in the bathroom. Puzzled at first, I then realized the sparkly stuff must have come off my granddaughter’s t-shirt, the one she had worn the previous day when we celebrated her birthday.

I continued cleaning but could not completely eliminate all traces of the small, shiny objects littering my house. However, as I thought about the previous day and the celebration of a life that God created, I smiled. In the past, the cleaning would have consumed me.  After the houseful I had hosted the day before, I would have wanted everything spotless. However, I saw the glittery remains as a reminder of my love for this precious child.

There was another precious child who grew into a man, a man who became our Savior, who reminds us daily we belong to Him. He didn’t stay in the manger. He is not just the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. He is the Living God and He wants a relationship with each one of us.

 It’s like one beggar telling another where to find bread.

In a recent sermon, our pastor said, “You belong to God. If your experience with Him ends when you walk out the church door, something is wrong.”

I can relate to what my pastor said. Until October 14, 2001, I didn’t realize God wanted a personal relationship with me through His Son. On that warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, I prayed aloud for the first time in my life, asking God to give me direction because I was lost. I was 47-years-old. I had grown up in the church but had walked out the doors, not knowing the truth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015



A lie is the presentation of something that is false as if it were truth, and a liar is the one who presents what is false as if it were truth. According to Scripture, the devil is a liar, and he is described this way: “There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b NIV84). We should therefore not be surprised that the devil tells people, especially women, something like this, “Your body is your own, and you have the right to choose or do whatever you want with it.” A large percentage of the population has bought into this devilish lie, and as a result the culture continues to act upon it, murdering or consenting to the murder of numerous innocent, unborn children.

The truth is this: the woman’s body does not belong to her. In fact, she does not belong to herself. The scripture says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it” (Psalms 24:1 NIV). The woman is definitely included in the word all and therefore, she does belong to God and not to herself!

In the Garden of Eden, the devil contradicted what God had previously said to Adam, which was, “You must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NIV84). “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4 NIV84). So there you have it; Satan, the father of lies, successfully contradicted God’s Word, leading to disaster. 

Since lying is the devil’s native language, is it any wonder that he continues to lie? No, and through this lie about the woman owning her body, he demonstrates his other nature as well—murderer. The Scripture says of him, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44a NIV84). Therefore, he is lying to the women and murdering the babies.  

Women and those who encourage abortion are equally in the wrong, because the one who drives the getaway vehicle is as guilty as the criminal who pulls the trigger. God is very clear on the status of an unborn child. When He said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV84), God was  indicating that Jeremiah was already a person before birth, and what’s more, God already had a plan and purpose for his life.

It is time to stop buying into the devil’s lies. He is a liar and a murderer; we can’t change what he is, but we can certainly refuse to be accessories to his wickedness. Whenever there is a popular belief out there, let us examine it closely through God’s eyes, the Scripture! This caution will ensure we don’t feed into his lies and unintentionally promote his cause.   

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Was Bored Once

Bill Gross reported from Davos that 91-year-young Shimon Peres said:


I am tempted to just let this message be the entire post, but that would be so completely out of character. 

I saw this quote just a few days after having a discussion with a 25-year old of my acquaintance (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.) He said he was bored. He lives in a house with 1000's of amazing books, two televisions, two ipads, 6 iphones, 6 Macbooks, and he has one of each of those. 
I responded back to him that at 66 years, I look forward to the next 20 or so years, and I can't figure out how I'll ever get everything done that I'd like to do. There are new companies to start, more books to write, more grandkids to cuddle, more relationships to build, more work to do for Jesus, more places to travel, and the list is endless. 

Interestingly, it also appears to me that the folks who live longest and strongest tend to be doers. Staying young requires exercise, they say. I suggest that the primary muscle that needs to be exercised is the spiritual muscle. Close behind that is the passion muscle, followed by the mind muscle. Let those three muscles get flabby and you will not really care how the body looks. The folks on TV can't see you anyway. At least not yet. 

So I praise God that he has provided me the lots of dreams. Now I just need an endless number of years to turn them into reality.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Gumption Factor in Writing and Getting Published

by Lorilyn Roberts

In my advanced writing class at Perelandra College, Professor Ken Kuhlken wrote, “When we have preconceptions, we need to let go of them if we hope to find new answers.”

Preconceptions can set us up for failure if we are rigid. But what if we use our preconceptions to catapult us to a level of excellence not limited by our finite vision?

A couple of years ago, I wrote my memoir about the adoption of my two daughters as creative nonfiction. I meticulously researched facts and details I had forgotten. I scoured the Internet to verify locations, names, dates, and chronological order of events. I pulled out every document I had saved from both adoptions and poured my heart and soul into my writing.

I asked many friends, professional acquaintances, and editor-journalism-communication types to read Children of Dreams and offer suggestions on how I could make it better. I listened and made revisions that created an almost unbelievable story.

Two weeks before the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference in 2009, I sent off my completed manuscript to be reviewed by an editor attending the conference. I spent $50 and downloaded a file to prepare me for the right attitude while at the conference. I had attended this conference twice before and came away both times disillusioned. This time I was determined not to let that happened.

I couldn’t think of anything that an editor could say to me for which I would not have an answer. I launched my website before the conference and signed up for the marketing class with Randy Ingermanson. I was ready to dive in and market my book if an editor or agent offered me a contract on Children of Dreams. I did not feel like I was setting myself up for failure. I always set lofty goals and then leave the outcome in God’s hands.

The conference arrived and I was excited to be there. I couldn’t wait to share the joy of my book with others. But when I showed my manuscript around, I was surprised by comments.

“No one is publishing memoirs right now,” one person said. “Oh, a memoir,” another stated. People stepped back from me like I had bad breath. Nobody would read one line and acted like I had written something “C” rated at best. But I remained positive. I was certain when I received my manuscript back from the reviewing editor the next day, he would be interested.

The moment arrived when all the reviews were handed out to the attendees. When mine wasn’t, I went up and inquired. Despite the volunteers looking everywhere, they didn’t have mine. While my book was “lost,” all the remaining slots to meet with other editors filled up. Nobody knew where my book was. If the editor who had received my manuscript didn’t like it, I would have no opportunity to present my book to someone else.

To say I was disillusioned is an understatement, but it didn’t come close to what I felt when my manuscript was found. I read the note the editor wrote. “You might consider submitting this to a magazine.”

If the editor had read one paragraph of that 235-page manuscript, he would have known the story couldn’t be condensed into an article. I had presented part of it to a “Focus on the Family” editor a year earlier, and her comment was, “It’s too long. If you can shorten it, we would love to take another look.” I was unwilling to cut it down any more, and it was that comment that made me realize I needed to write the whole story. It took 235 pages to do the story justice.

I did meet later with a couple of editors at the conference and was told by them—as well as an agent, “When you have one thousand people on an opt-in list, come back and talk to us.” While I was nice to them, I thought to myself, if I had one thousand people on an opt-in list, why do I need you?

As a result of that experience, my “gumption” kicked in. I reassessed what I really wanted. What was important to me? Sometimes “no’s” become wonderful opportunities to think “outside the box.” We are free to pursue goals we never would have considered if we had been given what our preconceived ideas told us we wanted.

The key is to be open to change, to give up something to receive something better. Since God controls the outcome, we should focus on the process and what we can do to enhance our chance to achieve our goal.

I have never met an author who didn’t have a lot of gumption to become published. Good writing and successful marketing are key, and money helps the process to go faster as far as exposure, but without the seed within us never to give up, the chances are we won’t go anywhere with our writing.

Today I have 132 reviews with 4.6 stars on Amazon of Children of Dreams. I thank all my friends and professional contacts every time a new five-star review goes up, knowing without their honest input—and yes, some of it hurt—Children of Dreams wouldn’t have all those wonderful reviews.

My gumption not to give up is still intact, and I am more determined than ever to share my writing with others. Preconceived ideas have long gone out the window. I am setting a new path into the unknown with my Seventh Dimension Christian Fantasy Series.

God gives us a cup overflowing with opportunity when we commit our way to Him. Gumption is the human quality He endears us with to get us started. If God is for us, who can be against us?  


To learn more about Lorilyn Roberts and her books, please visit