Unyeilding Hope – A Review

by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

I have loved Janette Oke’s work for more than 30 years. Hers were some of the first Christian Fiction books I read, and she hooked me. Unyeilding Hope doesn’t disappoint.

Mrs. Oke and her daughter set their story in Western Canada as many of her books. This early 20th Century setting provides a wonderful backdrop for this story of unusual family. I can’t wait for book #2 to release!

Friends, Family, People on the Street

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Romans 9:2-4a

A few years ago I wrote, “I don’t know if I would ever want to give up my salvation for the sake of others.” And to be honest, I still can’t say I do; however, I discovered I’m beginning to understand Paul better.

As I consider all the people I meet every day who don’t know Christ, I feel overwhelmed. So many wear faces that betray their upbeat talk. Waitresses attempting to look happy, cashiers smiling though their eyes tell a different story, lost people searching for an answer, an answer I possess. I want to share, to give them help and encouragement. But I know from experience, most won’t believe me if I tell them, “The hope you’re looking for is only found in Jesus Christ.”

Honestly, even those of us who know the answer spent years trying to do it on our own before we gave it all to Him. So it’s no wonder these folks, to whom Jesus is no more than a curse word or a picture on a Christmas card, find my story an eye-roller. Some listen politely, others are curious, but none are truly interested.

And my heart breaks.

It hasn’t always been that way. I once felt bad for them and knew it was my duty to share the gospel. I sincerely wanted others to know Christ; yet my heart escaped the hurt.

The closer I grow to Christ, the more I feel what He feels. His Spirit reveals the pain in others and gives me a burden for people I don’t know. I pass someone in the mall and I share their hurt.

I understand Paul’s great sorrow and unceasing anguish.

My heart’s desire is to help others become everything Christ created them to be, but the only way to get there is fully trust in Jesus. I absolutely love small groups and one on one mentoring because it’s in those places I see change and growth. These moments give me hope to continue. Without them I’m not certain I could face the crowds.

A life in Christ offers so much peace. I praise Him for all He continually brings me through. And as I grieve those who remain lost in this world, I eagerly await the next one who starts to ask questions, to seek truth and live in the love of the One who knows.

For everyone who wishes they could be in church more often

Yesterday I visited a man from our church in the hospital. He’s been in a Nursing Home for many months and headed back there last night. He lamented that he wanted to get back home so he could come to church. I know he really wants to be there, but honestly, he only showed up occasionally before he went to the nursing home. He always had a lot of reasons why he couldn’t come, but now that he really can’t be there, he misses being with his church family even more than before.

Two other older woman I visit also want to be in church. Both of them attended faithfully until their health just won’t allow it. They only leave home to go to the doctor and perhaps an occasional family function. I feel so bad for them. They truly long to be in fellowship again, but their health just won’t allow it.

Meanwhile, I hear, “I really want to come to church, but . . .” almost every day. It’s probably more frequent for me since I’m the pastor’s wife, but to be frank, I’m tired of hearing it. Every time the phrase starts my hairs start to stand on end as I think of those elderly saints who can’t get to worship.

It’s been almost twenty years since Somerton, Ohio lost Ethel Ackerman. She missed about the last six Sundays of her life, up until then we saw her almost every week. Those last weeks Steve would sometimes get called to move her from one chair to the other because her legs weren’t even strong enough to help the caregiver get her around. But up until then she hobbled into the sanctuary every week. She scheduled her doctor appointments for Tuesday or Wednesday so she wouldn’t be too tired to come. It took her that long to recover after a day out.

I truly wish those people who start their sentences, “We want to get back to church . . .” could hear what I hear. Because it sounds something like this:

  • Ball games, practice and dance are really more important than worship
  • I’m too ill to come on Sundays, but I’ll see you at Wal-mart
  • Frankly, I’m just too lazy to get out of bed before noon on Sundays
  • I really just don’t love Jesus enough to make worship a priority

I understand folks who make excuses aren’t as far along as others in their journey with Christ. I don’t mean to be so hard on them. But maybe it’s time they heard the truth. I’m hoping one of those excuse makers will read this and just be honest with themselves. Because you can’t fix something if you won’t admit it’s broke.

Poverty

I saw a social media post today entitled “Financial Advice doesn’t work when your Poor.” I started to type this comment; however, it seemed a bit too preachy and judgey for a Facebook reply, so I thought I’d include it here.

From what I see in the poor today, they still need a lot of financial advice. We lived below the poverty level for the first 15 years or more of our marriage, yet chose to stay off of public assistance after the first year.

Here are a few ways we saved money that I believe people today need to learn:

1. We only had a phone when we could afford it (often we didn’t – and I don’t mean a cell phone – those didn’t exist – we didn’t have a land line.)

2. We didn’t have cable or internet

3. We didn’t smoke or drink

4. We limited our eating out to a splurge once or twice a month at McDonalds or Pizza Hut (one pizza for the whole family) – we never ever ate at a place like the Roadhouse.

5. We never took a vacation

6. We never had new furniture

7. We didn’t have a car payment. We drove junk. and when we did get a car payment, it was minimal

8. We didn’t buy much for Christmas or Birthdays and everything we bought was very practical – PJ’s – clothes – one toy max (and we didn’t apply for assistance from help organizations – not that I think less of those who do, but by just living within our means we taught our children a great lesson)

9. School supplies were 10 cent notebooks, folders and bulk pens and pencils. When we got a bit more money each child got one new pair of pants and one new shirt.

10. We went to work everyday no matter how we felt or what else was going on in our lives.

11. Our kids didn’t play sports (maybe you think that’s not fair, but teaching your children to live within their means is the second greatest lesson they’ll learn)

I see too many folks who get their electric turned off yet they spend that amount or more on cell phones and internet. The library has free internet.

I talk to people who don’t have enough money, but they call off work once a week. Employers can’t find employees because they can’t pass the drug tests.

I know there are those living in poverty who are struggling and really are trying, but the majority aren’t. They need financial advice . . . not on how to set up a 401K or a savings account, but how to live within their means, how to cook nutritious meals on a budget and how to keep bettering themselves by showing up for work and going above and beyond to make an impression.

New Book Ready to Release

Who wouldn’t love a free book!?
You can be one of the first 100 people to read my latest!

I’ve been working on this one for the past several months. Based on 2 Kings 5 it uses the story of Naaman to help us find healing for our heart. I think Naaman’s leprosy resembles our own ailment that I call heart leprosy throughout the book.

Just like Naaman took seven dips to restore his diseased skin, this book looks at seven actions Christ can use to cleanse our heart. Sin and abuses we’ve suffered put callouses on our heart. Over the years they get tougher and tougher, but Jesus wants to change that!

As of May 2019 I’m building a launch team for this book. If you’d like to get an advance PDF copy, just fill out the form below. I’ll choose 100 people who are willing to review and promote the book to help with the Launch. I hope you’ll consider being a part!

Fill out my online form.
The easy to use Wufoo form builder helps you make forms easy, fast, and fun.

More Thoughts on Current Events

Again, I need to preface everything I write reminding folks that my stance if from a Christian perspective for Christians. God says that I am not to judge (even the actions) of those outside the church.

But here’s a question for those who support the Supreme Court ruling about same sex marriage:
If you have been living in a homosexual relationship and could not marry, how have you kept the marriage bed pure?

I never thought about that until today. I should have. I’ve always compared homosexuality to pre-marital sex and adultery. I believe they are all the same thing. They all fall in the category of “sexual immorality,” all defile the “marriage bed.” I know that there are those who consider themselves followers of Christ who also practice homosexuality. So, how have you kept the statutes of Hebrews 13:4?

I’ve never had to deal with a mature Christian who wanted to keep living together. As people in our congregations have matured in Christ, we’ve never even had to make their living together an issue, it’s always been something that God has convicted them of. So . . . it’s just something I started wondering about today . . .

It’s Time to Speak Up

John 3:17 says For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So I assume it’s not my job to condemn. In fact it’s that thought that has kept me quiet when perhaps I should not have been.

Is it a coincidence that today I read Ezekiel? Ezekiel was made a “watchman for the people” (3:16), something I have felt convicted to be for a long time. And then God said to Ezekiel: “When . . . you don’t warn them . . . of their evil ways. . . I will hold you responsible.” (3:17) God repeats His command to Ezekiel making Him a watchman to the people of God. Interestingly enough, he was not commanded to speak those words to someone outside the community of Israel, only those whom God had chosen.

Those words from Ezekiel were the final conviction for me to finally speak up and say something to the people of God. If you don’t claim to be a Christian, you are welcome to read the following, but it’s not meant for you. I hope that if you aren’t a Christian, you’ll explore the love that Jesus has for you before you worry about anything you read here.

Below you’ll find words of warning I have to speak, but before I speak them, I feel a need to speak some words of repentance. I need to ask forgiveness for me and my people, the people of God who have been silent for too long.

Forgive us, Lord, for keeping silent when men convinced your people that you did not create us in your image. Forgive us for allowing your people to forget how precious humanity is because we have in us the potential to be replicas of You. I think this was probably the beginning of the problem, for if the enemy can convince us to forget the beauty and potential of every human to be like You, we are much more likely to approve of slavery and other atrocities against the only part of creation that you called “very good”.

Forgive me and those who’ve gone before me for allowing Christian prayer to be removed from schools. We just stood back and said, “Yes, those few people have more rights than the many.” And now, should we try to bring it back, it would not be an honor to You, it would be a party for the foreign gods.

Forgive us, Lord, for just sitting on our hands when the courts said that unborn babies aren’t really humans. Forgive us for allowing people to think your creation is less precious before it is born. Forgive me and those who’ve gone before me as we have allowed your command, “You shall not murder,” to be distorted and perverted.

Forgive your people, Lord, for our silence in the past several years. Forgive us that we have not followed the command you gave Ezekiel to warn and speak out against sin. Forgive us that we have listened to the voices of the world who continue to say we are judgmental when we call sin, sin. Forgive us that we have allowed those who are not Your representatives, those who call themselves Christians, but insist on condemning and being hurtful, to cause us who truly love with Your love to be silent instead of trying to balance their hurtfulness.

And to those of you who have been given excuses for your sin and been told “It’s OK, God loves you,” forgive us for sharing God’s love without being bold enough to remind you that our Heavenly Father and Omnipotent Creator says, “Those who love me will obey my commands.”

Yes, this is getting long, but to speak the words I need to speak without accepting some of the blame for the need to speak them would just be compounding the problem. You see, sin is sin. And I am convinced that the greatest sin, the unforgivable sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, is to reject the conviction that the Holy Spirit places on our hearts, to deny that the sin our Perfect King points out is truly sin.

So, this writing is not in condemnation of anyone. John 3:17 and Romans 8:1 don’t leave room for condemnation. However, Romans 8 tells us that Jesus’ death condemned sin, (8:3) and John 16:8 reminds us that the Holy Spirit was sent to convict us of our sin. So, here goes. If what I’m writing makes you upset, please pray, ‘cause I’m guessing it’s the Holy Spirit’s conviction. I’ve experienced it many times, and I praise God for it, because it’s that conviction that brings me closer to Christ every day.

Leviticus 18:22 says: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” I haven’t figured out how that can be translated any other way. Some have said that it doesn’t mean two consenting adults, but “as one does with a woman” makes it sound like that’s exactly what it means. Additionally, I’ve heard those who like to defend the homosexual lifestyle saying that this is irrelevant because now we eat pigs . . . you can start out by checking out Acts 10 where even Peter decided God was now giving permission for His people to eat pork. One person even compared Leviticus 18:22 to the command from Deuteronomy 25:5. The theory is since a man doesn’t marry his brother’s widow anymore we don’t have to follow the commands from the Old Testament. I see at least a couple of flaws in that thinking. First, Moses said this was a command for brothers who live together, so I’m assuming that means a single brother, not every brother. Plus the purpose was so the brother’s name would not be “blotted out from Israel.” Perhaps single men need to take a look at that, I don’t know. I don’t feel any conviction about it one way or another, but I do know that the fact we don’t obey one part of scripture doesn’t automatically give us permission to ignore other parts.

Now, there are those who believe that the laws against homosexuality were for Old Testament times only. I’m assuming these same theologians throw out Romans 1:26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” One such student of scripture basically said we can’t trust anything Paul wrote. He erroneously stated that Paul wrote “women can’t wear pants.” I’ve looked. I can’t find it anywhere. Deuteronomy 22 prohibits cross dressing, but since men wore robes at the time, it can’t have anything to do with women wearing pants. It does seem to set men and women apart; even when both wore robes there were definite men’s garments and women’s garments. Obviously God wanted to maintain a certain difference in the genders. This Bible student should have quoted the passage where Paul instructs women to cover their heads when they pray if he wanted to note passages we don’t observe anymore. However, even in this instance, I see it in context of the times. Modest women wore head coverings and veils. In fact, if I went to the Middle East right now, I might consider observing this passage because I would want to appear modest in every culture.

When these same folks seek permission to ignore Paul, they also site 1 Corinthians 14:34. Paul does say women shouldn’t talk (the Greek doesn’t mean preach – it means have conversation) in church, but if you keep reading on through verse 35, it would appear these noisy women were asking their husbands questions during worship. This, because they would have been seated far away from their spouse in a segregated congregation, would have been quite disruptive. In 1 Timothy 2:11, most translations read as if Paul does say that He personally didn’t let women teach men, although if we go back to the original Greek, more than one theologian believes Paul really means he doesn’t allow a wife to teach or take authority over her husband. In any case, as a women, I’ve never felt as though Paul was to be disregarded because he asked women to live within cultural expectations. Paul obviously didn’t have a problem with women in church leadership. He seemed to encourage Priscilla, and I’m sure as a devout Jew he knew all about Deborah and had great respect for this ancient Jewess.

Another thing that students of scripture will note is that Jesus never says a word about homosexuality. It’s not something He took the time to speak about. It’s not the only issue He didn’t mention, but it is one. Of course, if Jesus viewed homosexuality as “sexual immorality,” then he mentioned it at least a few times. And if we consider what he said about marriage, we can also question whether or not homosexuality is part of God’s perfect will.

The first thing that Jesus says about marriage, actually talks about divorce. I only address this because if you look up what Jesus says about marriage, this is the one that everyone talks about. Many think that those who have divorced should never remarry, and if you were the one who was sexually immoral or you were already a Christian when you divorced and your spouse didn’t cheat on you, then perhaps you should stay single. I’ll leave that between you and Christ. But I’m convinced that when Jesus inserted, “except for marital unfaithfulness”, He was making a way for those who’d been wronged to have another relationship.

But the other thing that Jesus says about marriage is one that we ignore. He says we’re ignorant about marriage. There won’t be any marriage in heaven. Even if you’re married now, you won’t be in heaven. So, if there’s no marriage in heaven, why are we married here on earth? The only explanation is for procreation. God made Adam and Eve male and female, one man for one woman. He blessed the humans that He loved and gave them pleasure in the procreation process, but as with most of our blessings, humans perverted it.

As a Christian, I can find no way around the Bible’s mandate that homosexuality is wrong, as is sex outside of marriage. In Hebrews it says to keep the marriage bed pure. The big Ten specifically says no adultery (which is not cheating on your spouse – it is having sex with someone you are not married to). I Corinthians 6:18 even goes so far as to tell us that sexual immorality may be worse than other sins because this is a sin against one’s own body.

I don’t want to pick on the sin of homosexuality. I believe it is the same sin as pre-marital sex and adultery, no worse than either of these much more socially acceptable sins. Plus, I believe in God’s eyes it’s not even any worse than stealing a pen from the bank or telling your mother she looks beautiful in that hideous dress. I believe that God judges the severity of our sin based on the hardness of our heart, which explains why we see taking that pen as a much more innocent faux pas than cheating on our spouse. It’s easy to unintentionally stick that pen in your pocket. There’s a little more planning involved in sleeping with your co-worker. But if one schemes to steal the pen, then . . .

I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like to make a big deal about sin. I prefer to make a big deal about forgiveness. I prefer to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin; however, as the world covers sin up and makes excuses for it more and more, it’s imperative that I reiterate what scripture says. You see, my silence could be construed as “I don’t care if you go to hell.” And that’s not the truth. I don’t want anyone to miss out on eternal life with our Creator. Ultimately, God will decide who gets that gift. I can’t begin to say whether or not you will be excluded. However, I do know what the Bible says about what is displeasing to God. So, while I confess my pride and gluttony (yep, both are sins) and give them to my Heavenly Father over and over to clean them up, I hope you will see your sin as sin so that you can be right with God and experience the fullness of the abundance of His blessings.

Discouraged

One person read my blog post last night . . . pretty sure that’s it. I guess it’s good that I write more to get things off my chest than to have them read.

I’ve been on Facebook a good bit today . . . probably more than I should. I’m so disheartened by all the “celebratepride” profile pictures. It’s not the pictures of those who I know don’t call themselves Christian. It’s the believers, especially some that I didn’t realize had abandoned the truth of God’s Word. I’m debating staying off of Facebook for a week or so . . . my chest is actually heavy every time I see another rainbowed profile pic of someone who I thought cared about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve never made a big deal about the homosexual issue. You see, I believe that if I help people find Jesus, HE will show them the truth. I am convinced that pushing a “be straight” agenda will not advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and that helping people be “straight” and not Christian will just send a lot of straight people to hell.

Maybe I should have made a bigger deal about it in the past. Maybe I should have pushed the issue. But the honest truth is that all of those who are pushing the issue have the population convinced that I and those like me are bigots and are haters. If I share my opinion, it is assumed I am a homophobe. It’s always amazed me that I’m a hater if I have an opinion, but those who hate my opinion are justified in bullying me into hiding my opinion.

The trick now is to share my opinion, to take a stand, without being judgmental or condemning. There’s so much I want to say. So many people’s statuses that I’ve almost commented on today. Instead I’ve kept a lot to myself and I’m starting to feel anxiety when I see a rainbow.

I hope at the very least this issue is calling all Bible believers to prayer . . .

Is America Coming to An End

I should be in bed right now . . . in fact, I was in bed, but I can’t sleep.

Today (or yesterday, I guess, since it’s after midnight), the Supreme Court made a life-altering decision for America, one that may mean the end of her existence as we know it. It’s really kind of scary when I think of it that way, but history is said to repeat itself, and I’ve seen this story more than once. It’s not going to be pretty.

I’ve hesitated to speak up about the issue because no matter what I say someone will take it wrong. America has become a place where the only opinions that count are those that tolerate anything that comes around. It won’t be long before even serial killers are tolerated because of their genetic disposition or the environment they were raised in. Perhaps I’ve waited too long. Maybe I shouldn’t have kept quiet. Although I’m just not sure how my words can make a difference. And the worst part, if I speak my mind, too many people associate me with the Westboro Baptist bunch, and I’m anything BUT that!

By now, most of you have figured out I’m talking about the “same-sex marriage” case that was before the Supreme Court. I was pretty sure it would eventually come to this, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. It’s frightening really. No nation has stood for long after they have learned to publicly tolerate homosexual activity.

Truth be told, I’m really not bothered a lot by those who practice homosexuality but have no connection to Christianity. Why in the world SHOULDN’T they? Without the Bible as a moral plumb line, there is no reason a person should think that kind of behavior is unacceptable.
In my mind I picture Jesus weeping over these folks. He is devastated that they are dying in their sin. He knows the pain that kind of lifestyle brings to the psyche and the body, and it breaks His heart to know they have chosen to not allow Him to be a part of their life, ultimately choosing hell. It’s for these folks sake that I’ve kept quiet for too long. If Jesus didn’t come to condemn them (John 3:17), then why should I? I truly believe my job is to help people find a relationship with Jesus and then He will take care of poor choices and deliverance from years of sin.

What bothers me is those who say they are followers of Jesus Christ and just ignore scripture, those who are standing in pulpits all around America fulfilling the prophecy of 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” My heart breaks to know that there are folks who call themselves representatives of Christ who are sending people to hell because they choose to ignore what 2 Timothy calls “sound doctrine.” I wonder if Jesus would like to flip over tables and break open cages when He hears the lies and watches these so-called Christian leaders sell people to the devil for a “Good feeling.”

I know that if anyone reads this – pretty sure no one does – there will be several who will call me judgmental. They will call me closed minded and petty. They will think I am backwards in my beliefs and narrow minded in my thinking. Some will call me self-righteous and others will call me un-Christian. But what I am is frightened.

I am frightened for those who are being told this lifestyle they’ve chosen is OK with God. Scripture is clear that it is not! I am frightened for America now that she has embraced this anti-Christ lifestyle. Every other people group who has done such a thing has been either destroyed or brought to devastation. From Sodom to Israel, Rome and many other countries, and now America.

I’m not sure how much more clear Romans can be:

Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Paul wrote that about 2000 years ago. It was happening then. This is not a new phenomena, it’s just that because the western world became somewhat Christianized not long after this was written, we haven’t seen it happen in a long time. Proponents of this Supreme Court Ruling have made up all kinds of great reasons why their battle is legitimate, but it’s only because they refuse to know the truth.

I am firmly convinced I can’t change your mind, only Christ can do that.

Things I See

In 2000 I released my first Solo album. the title song was “Things I See.” The Chorus goes:

There are things I See that make me wonder why
there are things I see that make me want to cry
There are things I see that make me lean on you more and more
Lord, I need your strength to face these things I see.

And the beginning of the first verse:
Cause I’ve seen good people die too young it seems To me
and I’ve seen older saints just holdin on for years and years…

And those two things still make me wonder why

I am sitting in the hospital tonight in a room with two women who both seem to know Jesus. One is frail and in terrible pain. The other broke her hip and doesn’t remember why she is here for more than 2 minutes at a time. On this same day my cousin buried his stillborn baby. How does this make sense?

I mourn my cousin’s loss. And while I know that baby has missed all of the evils of this world and is laying in Jesus’ arms tonight, I can’t help but wonder why these older two must suffer while these loving parents mourn.

There are no good answers. I have heard, and contemplated, every plausible reason. But I serve an all powerful God who can do anything including the impossible. I know His ways are higher than my ways. I know He has a bigger better plan. I know God is always Kingdom minded. I know all things work together for good. I Do Not know why God chooses to take the baby and leave the saints.

I will however trust that He has it under control. And l will lean on His strength in my wondering. And I will continue to pray for both these ladies that Christ will give them life abundant. Either here on earth or with Jesus