All posts by Dena Netherton

I'm a wife, mom, grand-mom, singer, pianist, guitarist, teacher, speaker and writer of stories and articles that point the way to Christ. I'm a lover of nature, good food, well-written books, great music, artfully directed theater, and late-night discussions about philosophy.

Belief is the Work

In the past few years I’ve talked to many people who have a kind of belief in God, but not really any sort of relationship with Him.

Most of the time when I say that it is possible to have a close, personal relationship with God, I’ll get an answer something like this:

“Well, ultimately I’d like to get right with God, but first I have to work on myself so God will accept me.”

I know someone who’s been saying this for the past 35 years. And he’s no closer to being acceptable. He hasn’t changed a bit. I’d like to ask him, “Is it working for you?”

How sad that so many cling to this, “I’ll work on myself a bit,” way of thinking.

I guess it’s pride. We really want to believe that our own effort will make us better people, and that God will give us an “A” for effort.

It doesn’t work that way.

Now Abraham, way back in the book of Genesis was a pretty good man. He obeyed God, worshiped God. He was good to his family, listened to his wife, even supported his nephew for a long time.

But none of these good acts made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes.

Here’s the secret to righteousness:

Believe God. Hebrews 11:6 states: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

That’s it. So simple that we scoff at the very idea. Believe? That’s it?

That’s all I gotta do?

Can’t be.

But yes, Genesis states, “Abram (Abraham) believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

And God has not changed His method in all these 35 hundred years since Abraham.

If He had changed, Jesus Christ would not have had to be born as the Savior.

What a wasted death His would have been if there were any other way to get right with God.

It is that simple.

But so difficult. Because we don’t want to accept that we can’t do it on our own.

Put that pride aside. Pray to Jesus Christ. Say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t make it to heaven based on anything I do. I believe you died in my place, purchased my pardon for all my sins. Please come live within me and be my God.”

That’s it. So simple. Do it today!

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked “Sirs, what I do to be saved.” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts. 16:20-31 NIV Bible)

The Invisible Exists

We decided to drive all night to get to Las Vegas for my niece’s wedding on Saturday.

Bruce and I left Estes about 9 PM and drove south to intersect with I-70, the interstate that runs through the Rocky Mountains.

We’ve driven this route hundreds of times and we are always thrilled by its beauty.

Since we know the way so well, and have seen it, we know where the road will curve, we know the speed limits, the towns, the sights well before we encounter them.

This was not a trip for sight-seeing. We drank coffee to stay awake, and got through the desert to our air conditioned hotel before the morning sun could turn up the thermostat.

But as we drove through Colorado’s Glenwood Springs Canyon, I pictured the magnificent cliffs looming above us, hardy little pines and spruce trees clinging to the rocky base. By now, in August, the Colorado River wending its way at the bottom of the canyon would be groovin’ like a laid-back hippie, and rafters wouldn’t have to fight any powerful currents.

I felt sorry for tourists driving at this time of night. If they hadn’t seen the glories of this route on some other trip, they’d be driving blind, imagining that the darkness surrounding them contained nothing but black sky.

Oh, what they were missing!

I believe that’s how it is with the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus frequently referred to in the gospel of Matthew.

As Christians, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, we get a taste of what heaven is like. And sometimes, like tourists, God comes near and we get glimpses of His indescribable beauty. Having touched, tasted, smell, felt His glory, we anxiously look forward to more experiences.

But I can only tell another person about Him and how wonderful it is to be near God and to spiritually see Him.

It’s great to read about wonderful things along the route.

But at night, without sight, the traveler only knows from his reading of a map, or by someone who’s already been there.

A whole wonderful, colorful, exciting world exists.

It’s there even when the traveler’s eyes don’t see it.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (Matthew 5: 8, The Message)

My Heart an Altar

On Monday, I wrote about Cain and his unacceptable offering to God.

Most likely, Cain brought his offering to a family-constructed altar, but bore some sort of sin attitude.

Today, as I read about Abraham, I note that when the Lord called him to leave Haran and “go to the land I will show you,” (Genesis 12: 1) Abraham did not hesitate to obey.

In Canaan, the Lord appeared to Abraham, so he built an altar to worship.

The idea of an altar seems a bit strange to us westerners. In the Old Testament writings, why did so many people build altars?

I did some searches on google and brought up this information:

Altars are structures that help a person focus his prayer, devotion and worship. It is also a place for sacrifice.

In those early days of the Hebrews, a neglected altar was a sure sign of a back-slidden people.

As Christians we no longer need a physical altar.

Because God now resides within us.

My heart is God’s altar.

It is there, in the seat of my personality, my deepest emotions, my greatest yearnings, my intellectual wrestlings, my sincere questions, that God meets me.

I do not need to bring a burnt offering, or a grain offering, a fellowship offering, a sin offering, or a guilt offering.

Because Jesus Christ supplied the only sacrifice that I need.

The only thing I need bring Him is my broken, contrite heart.

I like to imagine what the altar in my heart looks like.

At times, it is constructed with rough stones, piled one on top of another, straining upward to some unfathomable and incomprehensible space in heaven.

At times, God meets me in a palace of crystal, where my altar rests, swathed in gem-like hues, swirling and dancing—set in motion by my worship—then bending, as though through a prism to blend into new heavenly colors no tongue can describe.

Then, at other times, my altar neither strains upward, nor resides in a splendid house.

Not lofty. It is fleshy and intimate.

It is the place where human words express their most impassioned complaints, hurl accusations, issue ultimatums, plead,  demand explanations, offer deals…

And finally…surrender.

(Is this the altar Abraham would have described when God called him to sacrifice Issac? )

Perhaps this last altar is the most glorious.

“Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame: the baptism of the heaven descended dove—my heart an altar and Thy love the flame.”

( from from Spirit of God, Descend upon my Heart: Croly/Atkinson)