Lent Day 6 – Be Holy!

Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Karyn Custer-Jankowski – Director of Children’s Ministries/Valpo FUMC

“A Holy Roller!!” Have you ever been called a “Holy Roller’??

I think because I work in a church and I have faith in God, people use this ‘moniker’ for me. In fact, I’ve heard family members call me this in the past. But I wonder, am I holy?

Our reading today speaks very clearly to the point that we should, as Christians, be holy because it is important to God! Peter reminds us that we should “be holy because God is holy.”

OK then, what does it mean to be holy in “life and conversation”? According to the dictionary, holy means this: ‘dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.’ So it’s not just about moral behavior and thoughts. Holiness is MORE; a relationship and dedication to God that comes out in your behavior and conversation.

It sounds to me like being holy is a choice – which makes sense because God gave us the ability to make choices. But it also seems that being holy is not a half measure, as in I will do THIS in a holy way, but I’m going to say THAT in a way that is not so holy. It’s brings to mind one of those wonderful ‘GOD’ billboards that I’ve seen along the highways; “Love Thy Neighbor”, that was not a suggestion – God.

So, am I holy? What choices am I making day in and day out – NO! – MINUTE in and MINUTE out – that determine my ‘holiness’. Am I in relationship with God in a way that makes me more aware of my choices from minute to minute? If I am taking care to have quiet reflection time; reading my Bible and praying and therefore growing in a relationship with God, well then my words and actions would reflect that! I would be more holy. Seems to me, this is what God wants.



Lent Day 5 – No Regeneration without Reformation

Lent 05
Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Pamela Gonzalez – Director of Communications/Valpo FUMC

Great! Why did I get this topic? I said to myself when reading today’s devotional. The topic of grace only versus grace plus works is a hotly contested theological topic.

I must disclose that my personal beliefs might differ from yours in spite of the fact that my beliefs have changed over the years. I was raised Catholic where works is an absolute part of salvation. As an adult, I left the Catholic church, and having read the scriptures many times, have changed my opinion to faith only. Some have challenged me by quoting James.

What good is it my brothers and sisters if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? (James 2:14)

James goes on to say that believing in one God isn’t the point, for even the demons believe that! Read James 2:14–26. He ends his explanation by saying, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)

This sounds suspiciously as if James were saying that works, or deeds, is a stipulation for salvation. I don’t believe this is what he is saying here at all. Just as I don’t believe this is what Tozer is saying in today’s reading.

Remember, the thief on the cross asked for forgiveness and Jesus, also on a cross, gave him forgiveness and told the thief that he would be in paradise that very day. There was no opportunity for the man forever known by his terrible deeds to make it right and to do good. His life was nearly finished. Yet he was forgiven. Works did not save him. Jesus saw his heart and knew his repentance and faith were real.

What I believe James and Tozer are saying is that if your faith is true faith, the evidence of the Holy Spirit within will not be quenched. One result of the power of the Holy Spirit is good works. If someone claims to have saving faith and yet their old ways are not changed, I would have to question whether their claim of faith is real to begin with. Remember, Jesus said, even so every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:17) In other words the kind of fruit or deeds or works a person bears is evidence of their faith, or lack thereof.

Does this mean we will never do bad? No. There are times when we fail and do things that grieves God. But the question is, do we wish to remain in our sin or repent and change our ways? True faith results in true repentance which results in regeneration and reformation and is evidenced in a changed life. For me, works are a result of faith, not a condition for receiving it.


Lent Day 4 – Taking Time to Know God

Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Bruce Gold – Custodian/Valpo FUMC

When I first became a Christian, I found that I had many roadblocks to spiritual progress. First of all, I had a terrible memory. When my wife would ask me over Sunday lunch about my reaction to the morning’s sermon, I had to ask her to give me a few hints. When it came to meditation, I generally fell asleep. I have never been competent in the art of praying. Even now, my attention wanders when my wife takes more than 30 seconds to say grace before a meal. The Bible says to pray continuously, but I could not even figure out a way to pray occasionally. I was the man with a grasshopper mind…continually distracted.

I found two remedies to my shortcomings. First, I started to memorize my favorite Bible passages. The process of memorization allowed me to concentrate on important parts of the Bible, line by line and even word by word. Once I had a passage memorized, I needed to run it over and over in my head to keep from forgetting parts of it. This was a great way to develop self-discipline and mental control. It also helped me to discover details in the passage I would normally overlook. The second remedy was to take my memorized passage and turn it into a song.

By putting Bible verses to music, I was able to put passages into my own words and personalize my response to the message I was given. I called that ‘working out my salvation through music and lyrics’. Also, I had an easier way to remember what I learned. It was easier to keep a tune in my head than a long line of Scripture. Once the song was cemented into my brain, I could repeat it as many times as I wanted. I was continually meditating on God’s Word. Soon, my main method of Bible study was song writing. It has been my spiritual practice of choice for about a decade now. I recommend it.



Lent Day 3 – The Uses of Suffering

Insights on From the Grave:A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Communications/Valpo FUMC

One of the hardest things to comprehend is how a loving and perfect God could allow pain and suffering. During Modern Moms this was the first question asked when we talked about God, Scripture, and Christian Life.

In todays’ passage I feel Tozer is simply saying we can bend our own suffering to honor God. When I answered the question that day in moms group, I said I liked the scripture passage Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

The example I used in my own life of God using suffering for good was when we had a miscarriage. Having two healthy children softens the blow, but my experience of it helps me lead our moms group. It gives me a tender underbelly of common pain and loss that brings me closer to other women. I’d rather not have that loss, of course, but long after it happened I do see how God uses all things for his good.




Lent Day 2 – Faith Is a Perturbing Thing

Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Dan Davis – Director of Maintanence/Valpo FUMC

What exactly do you believe when it comes to God? Is it the simplistic understanding of His commandments? Is it the complex understanding of the walk of Christ? Or perhaps it’s somewhere in between? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason, and is that reason according to divine creation? Is it perturbing to think that God has already ordained all things that have happened, as well as all things yet to come, or do you prefer to think that we have some say so in the matter?

Case in point; the 12 disciples all came together at the same time, in the same place, and the results of their gathering changed the world in amazing ways. Did God put this together? It would certainly be easy to believe that.

However, another example of a dozen people coming together all at the same time, and in the same place, took place in 1893. They all changed the world in dramatic ways as well. J.P. Morgan, Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Samuel Clements, George Westinghouse, Gale Ferris, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Sigmund Freud, and Theodore Roosevelt all attended the same entertainment event at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. All twelve of them intermingled, collaborated, invented, advocated, taught, and shared together in some capacity, for the greater good of our world. Just by reading the names, you know the world was changed by these people. On a side note, the entertainer they all saw was the unknown son of a Jewish Rabbi named Erik Weisz. We know him today as Harry Houdini. So, was this gathering merely a coincidence, or was it God that had a hand in it?

Well, that answer would be determined entirely by your faith. Personally, I have faith in that just like the disciples, God most certainly had a hand in this gathering as well. In my opinion, such a faith should not perturb people, it should comfort them.



Lent Day 1 – “The Hunger of the Wilderness”

Insights on “From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional” by A.W. Tozer

by Rev. Dee Miller – Visitation Pastor/Valpo FUMC

Time of solitude!!! Many people have difficulty being alone in the silence but if you know the words of Jesus: “I am with you always…..” then you can learn to enjoy a routine of solitude and quiet sometime during the day. In order to produce fruitfulness, both the fields of the earth and the direction of our days needs quiet time. Psalm 46:10 tell us: “Be still and know that I am God.” Jesus himself modeled for us over and over again a need to pull away from the daily demands to pray, to listen and to refresh his relationship with God.

Twenty years ago, I began my 5 a.m. routine of getting up and reading the Bible and devotion book sitting in a big chair with a warm blanket, cuddling with my four legged children. This daily time has been a life-giving routine for me. It allowed me to walk through the darkness after my husband’s death and it also allowed me to be a cancer survivor of 15 years. This time gives me a positive loving focus for the day and gives me the tools and lens to walk through what life transpires. With this time of focus, my heart can be filled of love, grace, and peace so that when it is time for me to use my voice during the day it hopefully will reflect what my heart is full of: God’s love.

Our world is so full of chaos: if it isn’t the many dreary stories on the news, you can turn to social media, whether it is facebook, twitter, or instant messenger and find the chaos of the world encroaching into our very lives, tempting us to join the chaotic merry go round. Any spiritual experience, whether it is hiking, sitting in silence, or taking retreat to some special place can help exempt us from temptation and spiritual warfare. If we aren’t watchful and prayerful, “the neglected heart will so be a heart overrun with worldly things.” So during this Lenten season, take some time of solitude and focus on what good lies within and feel God’s comfort and wisdom around you. Listen to God in the silence and be filled with love and forgiveness and peace.