Thursday, May 26, 2011


"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in
 Him we might become the righteousness of God."
 2 Corinthians 5:21

Who are you?

When asked that question, we usually answer with our name and then give facts about ourselves depending on the situation. For example, "I'm Robbie Iobst and I'm Noah's mom." That would be my answer at one of his school events.

But what's the answer when you ask this of yourself? How do you define yourself? If you are a believer in Jesus and have chosen to give Him your heart and life, this is the answer:

Who you are is who you are in Christ!

So who am I in Christ?

1) Righteousness of God
I'm serious. You are the righteousness of God. If you are like me, a black-hearted sinner, who can be a total butt-head to Jesus and other folks, this might be hard to believe. But look at 2 Corinthians 5:21. God made Jesus, who knew NO SIN, to become sin on the cross for us. Why? So we could have a relationship with God - so we could be the righteousness of God. This is a supernatural miracle. It's as if God has these special glasses that He sees us with. He looks through Jesus' sacrifice and sees us, His righteous children.

2) Blessed
I am blessed! I have Jesus. I was blessed when my son was born and I was blessed when my mother died. Yes, in both moments - one of extreme happiness and one of extreme sorrow. I am blessed, not because of circumstances being favorable or not, but I am blessed because I am a daughter of the King and therefore, I have purpose and meaning in my life.

3) Chosen, Adopted, Redeemed, Forgiven, Loved, Cherished!
Read Ephesians 1 and pick out all the wonderful attributes you are because you are in Christ!

This is an EXTREMELY important concept to believe and reinforce every day. The enemy wants you to define yourself by what you do or don't do. The enemy wants you to see yourself as your faults and weaknesses. Every time I whisper, "I am so fat" as a label, the enemy laughs and says, "Gotcha!"

Who you and I are in Christ is not fat or stupid or underpaid or childless or divorced or even a teacher or a mom.

Who you and I are in Christ is Righteous, Blessed, Chosen, Adopted, Redeemed, Forgiven!!

To put this in practice, say this to yourself every day. Affirm your identity enough and you will begin to believe it in your soul and in your everyday life. So when something bad happens or when you mess up, you can give yourself the grace that Christ offers us constantly.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bothered by Interruptions? It's a Matter of Attitude.

"Interruptions can be viewed

as sources of irritation or opportunities for service,

as moments lost or experience gained,

as time wasted or horizons widened.

They can annoy us or enrich us,

get under our skin or give us a shot in the arm.

Monopolize our minutes or spice our schedules,

Depending on our attitude toward them."

William Arthur Ward

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Top Ten Things to Get Done before Doomsday this Saturday!

Top Ten Things to Get Done before Doomsday this Saturday!

10) Beg God to wait a couple of weeks - I need to know who will win American Idol!

9) Eat chocolate cake and throw away the scale as I laugh like Dracula - woohahahahaha!

8) Let Scooby off the leash so he can eat as many bunnies as possible - the neighbors can complain next week.

7) "Kick" the Bucket List. (Get it? Do ya?)

6) Clean my house...wait, are you kidding me? No way!

5) Wear clean underwear in honor of my Mom.

4) Get my hair cut and styled - want to look good for Jesus.

3)  Change my will so all my unsaved friends can get my stuff with a note - "Told you so!" (This was John's contribution to this list.)

2) Confess to Noah, "Your father was the one to kill your fish."  (Hee-hee - John didn't contribute this.)

And the number one thing to get done before Doomsday: 

1)Throw this list away and live every day like it's the last chance I have to love God and do the right thing!

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Mark 13:32

"Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will hold you in my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heaven is for Real - My Book Review

I just looked at to read the reviews for the book, Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. It's the story of Colton Burpo and his trip to Heaven during an appendicitis surgery. Colton was 4 when this happened and he told his folks about it, a little at a time, over the next three years. Today, Colton is 12.

Reviewers can title their reviews on Amazon. Here are some of the titles:

Heaven is for real; this story isn't.
Wow...just wow.
Pathetic excuse of a NDE (near death experience) book
This stinks to high heaven
Solace and comfort for the irrational and simple minded
Loved it!

My neighbor Elli loaned me a copy of Heaven is for Real, telling me that she loved the book. I read it in a couple of days - it's an easy read. I finished it last night.

When I began this book, I was skeptical. Part of cynical me. But by the end, I was encouraged and felt my faith being built. In Heaven, according to Colton, no one is old and everyone has wings. Colton says the angels have swords to keep Satan out of Heaven and he met his sister, who died in a miscarriage. Colton's parents had never told him about the . Since Colton is age 4 to 6 as he reveals what he saw, the details are believable because he is a kid and his faith is childlike, something Jesus said was a requirement.

I liked this book very much and I recommend it to believers, especially if you've lost someone. What a comfort to be assured that your loved one will be there. And according to Colton, so will your pets. :0)

HOWEVER, the reality is that this is one child's experience. I believe God is big enough to make Heaven different for different folks. I believe in a God that can show heaven to Colton so that his story can encourage and comfort others. I also believe in a God that created the tsetse fly and Mount Everest, so He can make Heaven a unique experience for everyone. Those people who love to prove Colton's experience a sham, by saying we won't have wings according to the Bible, may be well meaning, but really? Is that a huge enough detail to proclaim that Colton and his parents are liars? Come on.

When I read The Shack, which unlike this is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed the creative description the author gave for the Trinity. I enjoyed it just as I enjoy many novels. But when I heard people becoming angry, saying  The Shack was not Biblical, I wanted to tell them to get a life. In the same vein, when a couple of folks talked about The Shack as if it were the road map to living for Jesus, I told them, hey, get a life, it's just a novel.

The same idea applies here. Heaven is for Real is a wonderful book and it personally encouraged me. But do I now see Heaven exactly like Colton Burpo?

No. Colton and I serve a God big enough for both of our views.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Miracle of God's Timing - Part 2

My sister-in-law Lory told me a story that made me cry. It is a story of God's timing that heals and surprises and loves us. Lory has a sister named Paula. Paula was married to Mark and they had two children. Mark died several years ago. Paula's daughter is in college and her youngest son, Jake, is graduating from high school this month.

A man named John was trying to get a hold of Paula by calling several places including her old workplace. Paula decided to call him and see what was up. She started the conversation by telling John she had no idea who he was. John explained: (This is a paraphrase)

"Paula, I was one of Mark's friends who met him in Las Vegas each year. (Mark went to Las Vegas annually for see-old-buddies-and-hang-out trips.) Every time we were in Vegas, we would end our trips with the same thing. Mark would go to a table and put $100 down and try to roll snake eyes. He would do this and then we'd leave for the airport. Mark never won. Well, I have continued doing this every year in honor of Mark, in memory of him. This year I actually won. I'd like to send the money to Mark's family so that's why I'm calling."

Paula thought about it and then told him, "Mark's son Jake is graduating this month. Why don't you keep half the money and send half of it to Jake?"

A week or so later, Paula and Jake arrived home from errands and got the mail. Jake took a letter addressed to him and went to his room. After a bit, Jake came to Paula and said, "Mom, read this."

Paula looked at the check for $1500 and the letter that came with it. The letter told Jake details about Mark that John appreciated. And then John wrote, "Maybe this money can be a little reminder that your dad is with you as you graduate high school."

Paula started to cry. Jake, who has never outwardly grieved his dad's death, walked to his mom, put his arms around her and cried.

God's timing is miraculous. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in a God that sees the big picture and although He doesn't always choose to interfere with free will and therefore sin and suffering, He does love us and chooses to bless us with little miracles. Miracles of timing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Miracle of God's Timing - Part 1 of 2

Me and My Miracles

Some folks in religious circles claim that God's miracles do not happen during our time. In Jesus' time, yes, but not now. I don't agree. God's miracles are everywhere. In the miracle of birth, in the miracle of death and in the miracle of timing, to name a few.

When I think of God's timing in my life, I am filled with gratitude. I was in Watts, a suburb of Los Angeles, with a friend of mine when we were in college. We were lost, without a vehicle and discovered that the buses had stopped running. A car appears and two gentlemen ask us if we want a ride. We say yes and as we are about to get into the car, something in me says, "Hold on, there, Rob." I pull my friend back and say that we appreciate it, but we're going to walk to the liquor store we could just barely see in the distance. The men got out of the car and started yelling obsenities at us. We ran. They followed.

And then.

A police car appeared and saved the day. A miracle of God's timing? Absolutely. I believe that His timing along with His angels have saved my life many times.

I didn't meet my husband until after my mother died. That might seem like bad timing, but in retrospect, I see it as a miracle. I was honored to be able to help take care of my mother because I was single with no kids. I was able to live with my father during the hardest year of his life, because I hadn't met John yet. And to be honest, until I had that time to kill off some of my selfishness, I wasn't ready to get married. God knew. His timing was miraculous. Less than a year after I moved back to California from my dad's home in Texas, I met John. Miraculous.

Every time I pick up a book that teaches me something about myself or something about God that I needed to learn right then, I know it's God's mirace of timing.

Every time I get a phone call from someone I haven't spoken to in a while, I know our words are part of God's miraculous timing.

He's big like that. He controls, yet He allows us free will. A mystery. A miracle.

Come back on Thursday to read a story of God's miraculous timing that made me cry.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dog of my Heart

God created our hearts with an incredible capacity to grow and love and change. My husband often uses the phrase “live from your heart. “ Yesterday I found out a former student of mine died and the phrase “heart-broken” is spot on. I thank God for my heart and I thank God for the lesson He has taught me about my heart in the last few years.

It concerns a dog.

When I was a child, we owned dogs. I remember Shep and Salt and Pepper and a brown mutt that is nameless in my memory. I don’t remember having any of those pets for a long time. But then there was Vida Blue, a little dog that became a part of our family. I remember him fondly, but not deeply. When I left for college, Vida Blue was still there and when Mama told me they had to put him down, I felt sad but very momentarily. It was just a dog, right?

Almost four years ago, Noah and I went to the Dumb Friends League and adopted a puggle. My friend Lan had told me that puggles were great with children. They presented two to us and one of them was little, quiet and almost scared. The other one was a pretty hefty dog who jumped all over Noah licking him. The big one was in constant motion. The little one seemed sweet. Reserved. I allowed Noah to choose, but I recommended the little one.

He chose the big one, Scooby.

For the first year, I regarded Scooby as a colon-blowing, chewing, howling menace. I tolerated him. When Scooby and I were alone, he would follow me around, often putting his head on my foot when I wrote. I'd often shake him off.

And God began to change my heart. I had no idea I possessed the capacity for such a fierce love of a dog. I used to make fun of dog people, behind their backs of course, and mock them for giving so much of themselves to four-legged pooping machines.

But now, four years later, I look at Scooby as part of our family. A precious addition to my life. My heart has grown two sizes like the Grinch. I love that Scooby cuddles with me on the couch. I love that he loves to sit on John’s lap at night. I love that even though I have a twelve-year-old that at times, terrorizes him, Scooby never bites Noah. Just loves him.

Last night, when I discovered that a former student had died, I cried. And Scooby was there beside me. This morning I woke up feeling horrible and I didn’t want to take my walk. Scooby was there, nudging me with his eyes. It could’ve been that he just needed to go to the bathroom, but he looked insistent. And as we took a forty-five minute walk around this giant open space near my home, I cried and poured out my heart to Jesus. And Scooby went with me. My faithful companion. The dog of my heart.

Thank God for our hearts. According to Proverbs 4:23, springs of life flow out of our hearts. And God uses them to teach us that we have more love to give than we know.

Even to a dog.