Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not Alone Parenting Teens

Back when our oldest daughter was climbing into her wooden swingset tower wearing a princess costume, the thought of parenting teens seemed akin to driving through the Rockies with bald tires, a broken power steering belt, no guardrails and a thin layer of black ice.

I joked about boarding school.

It’s not a ‘Kids today, geesh,’ sort of attitude. Adolescence brings so many challenges to young people, and to their parents.

As time passed, my attitude changed. Friends with kids older than ours enjoyed the process, and their budding young adults. The teenagers weren’t always surly. They bubbled over with energy, compassion, and, oh, yes, humor.

Every stage of parenting brings with it elements that could make it my favorite. My husband and I are raising two lively, warm-hearted teenage girls, and their bouncy, sweet, watchful-of-his-sisters, 10-year-old brother.

Before we entered the parenting teens arena, I noticed the people involved in our church’s youth group, PRAY, Prairie Ridge Awesome Youth, drew close to the kids. Now, this ministry has been feeding our girls for several years.

Our youth director and the team of PRAY small group leaders and sponsors encourage and model intimacy with God. The group offers ways for the kids to reach out to their peers, the community and the world at large. These friends of ours weren’t alone in the journey of parenting teens.

Neither are we. Praise God.

As Mom, I try to delicately balance helping our kids find and develop their God-given passions, and respond to His leadings. Right now, our oldest, a senior in high school, is looking at colleges in places that seem more distant than, “Once upon a time in a land far, far away. . . .”

I understand her desire to go on an adventure with God and grow. She’s even looking at a university in a city that doesn’t need snow plows. Pardon?

Our eighth-grader loves music, horses, friends, PRAY, social media and God – not in that order. So, for her, we need to teach making choices, and showing her the importance and blessing of rest.

Not easy, imparting these important values and habits, protecting and inspiring, but for our family, better in Christian community. Thanks, PRAY-ers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Missions in Action web series from Compassion

Compassion International. Goodness, those people at Compassion can’t help themselves. When it comes to helping others, they just gotta help kids.

Take a look at Missions in Action, the new interactive web series, and see in its first edition how sponsorship through Compassion International helps children in the Philippines.

Did you know Manila is the most densely populated city on the planet? 
Did you know the slums there are growing? 
Neither did I, but individuals in ministry at Compassion understand the complexities of the problems there. Many of them live close to these situations.

Take a look.

But who are those people I mentioned? Those people include everyone from staff and volunteers to sponsors, who could be you. Yes, y-o-u. And m-e.

Compassion staff launched the web series to keep people like you and like me updated about how well sponsorship works. How it helps children. How it makes a real difference to families living in poverty. How you can touch a life on the other side of the world. How it all brings glory to our Living God. It'll keep rolling. So keep checking back on YouTube, or on their site,

Hebrews 6:10 encourages us by pointing out that our just God sees our work and our love in how we help His people.

I invite you to share in the joy of child sponsorship, for the child, and for yourself. And to put a smile on the face of our great God.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Servant Leadership and a World Food Prize Laureate

In October, I studied Mark 10:42-45 on a sweet neighborhood walk with God. From the clear words of the passage, I knew in my head the contrast between how the world so often leads, and how Christ leads as a servant. It's a passage that has touched me since I was a mother of young children. 

At about the same time as this review and deeper look, I saw a glimpse of a leader who, I think, was trying to lead the way God desires.

Stepping in as a chaperone during a segment of the World Food Prize Global Youth Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 13, I was privileged to hear from one of the two 2011 World Food Prize laureates. The World Food Prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture. Its prestige is unquestioned. 

Brazil's former President, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, addresses teachers at the World Food Prize Global Youth Summit, suggesting the importance of compassion in leadership. Left, World Food Prize director, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, head of the World Food Prize, and right, is President Da Silva's interpreter.

I listened as I learned about the projects of Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, former president of Brazil, who sparked and led great change in his country, fighting against hunger and poverty, and starting feeding programs for school children.

I don’t agree with redistribution of wealth ideas in general, and I’m certainly not financially liberal. Still, it seems to be interesting timing to me, as I look back, that I would study this passage about servant leadership, and be listening to a former president just days apart.

Addressing the room full of teachers where I sat, the former president said a country’s ruler should be so compassionate that to see a starving child should move him to tears. He spoke of problems of starvation in our world, and the loss of unborn children because of it. And he did reference infants in the womb in a manner that acknowledged them as living.

Please understand, that while I was inspired by the heart Da Silva portrayed, I don’t know him, and what’s in his heart for sure. His politics, I probably disagree with in many ways. He has, however, been a strong leader in Brazil’s democracy, and left office with an 87 percent approval rating. And I was left with the impression that his motivations were rooted in a Christian faith.

As Da Silva spoke through an interpreter, he listed a failed attempt seeking governorship of Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, and the times he ran for presidency in Brazil, and fell short. He said he probably failed because he wanted the job too much. It wasn’t until the ambition for the position faded to a degree, that he was elected president of Brazil. His motives, he hinted, had changed. He was more ready then, than he had been when he sought the office with zeal.

Doesn’t that happen sometimes in life? Suddenly we realize what it really is that we so ambitiously, and arrogantly desire, and start to evaluate if we really want it. Perhaps then understanding about leadership or a goal unfolds.

With a thorough understanding of an important, even daunting task or role requiring sacrifice, we’re better prepared to systematically pursue these specific positions of influence, and projects that change lives.

Feeding programs. Vaccines for the poverty stricken. Crisis centers. 24-Hour prayer support in our churches. Education. Wells for those without safe water supplies. Blankets and coats for the cold. Children’s programs for the rich and poor alike. Sharing the gospel.

Facing reality, we’re no longer led just by a blazing ambition. We’re led by the knowledge of a need. For us as followers of Christ, we’re spurred on by the Spirit.

And with a greater depth of understanding, in my case, as I realize the importance and count the cost, I grow more willing to serve, to help in the daily needs that arise and in the long-term endeavors.

I want to live helping others. I pray God sustains me in that desire.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reflections on Mark 10:42-45

Mark 10:42-45 NIV
You know that those regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Today, in Iran we can see leaders who lord it over their people. Some factions of the country’s leadership and Iranian terrorists face charges of plotting to kill today the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, here on American soil.

In other dark places of the world, local police turn their heads to drug trade, human trafficking and child exploitation. Governments belittle women. Evil policy and corrupt officials affect us stateside, at times, too.

Still, I’ve talked with a couple I know who fled to America as political refugees from a war-torn African country I will not cite specifically. They note our issues and legitimate concerns, but emphatically state that we remain in a far better position in this country. We look different here.

In this passage in Mark, we see a sharp contrast between what the worldly leaders and influencers default to in their leadership, and how God calls the followers of Jesus Christ to lead. We’re called to be different. “Not so with you,” the passage instructs.

I meditated on these verses during a long walk, carrying the verses written out on a note card, and that time brought the blessing of fresh insights and reminders — and some questions. I had wondered how effective my method would be, but God was present. And when I returned, and set out to write down our conversation, He helped me remember all He and I had talked about.

My Notes

V. 42 The verse opens, with “You know.” We as believers know the views of leadership are different for non-Christians, and the early church saw that in their political culture when the gospel of Mark was written. Our motivation and approach are supposed to be changed.

“Rulers over Gentiles lord it over them…” Those rulers then enjoyed having control and power, like radical Islamic leaders of today. (Iran) Gentile means non-Jew, generally speaking, but often the worship of other pagan gods came with that. We don’t worship the same God as the god of Islam.

As a follower of Christ, I should be strong in my knowledge that to deny Christ, is to deny God, because God is Christ, and Christ is God. The same thing goes for cults that deny the Holy Spirit is God. Those resulting religions and, in turn, the way they lead their people is different.

In verse 42, I wondered, what is the difference between a ruler and a high official? I would say an official may be more like a judge or a bureaucrat. Rulers, more like presidents, kings, prime ministers, even governors.

The phrase “exercise authority” stood out. These rulers and high officials lay down judgments against people, determine taxes and debts to be paid, things affecting a person’s reputation, maybe. Possibly the authority is abused and stretched – in Jesus’ time on Earth as human, and today in the U.S., and in courts in the Middle East, Asia, etc.

Verse 43
“Not so with you.” What a call to be different. This joy of being above someone for the sake of being above people is not the vision Jesus has for His church or for me.

“Instead,” God says. He’s calling me (and all people and leaders in the church) to replace thoughts of being the boss, and to choose a godly way of being someone’s leader, parent, manager, etc. The best alternative is the “instead” way of leading.

The verse continues, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…”

“Whoever” – No exceptions. Wants – If they or I want or desire leadership, what we might call big responsibilities, honor, or success, they, and I, need to be willing to follow the ideas in the vision this passage casts.

“Become” – We may not be great now, but could be. Growth may be a long process, or maybe something clicks quickly. And the great is as defined by God.

“Among you” – Out of your group – the 10 or those who would go to the disciples for leadership while Jesus was on earth, and after His ascension. It applies in our time, as well.

“Must” – Requirement

“Be your servant” – A potential leader is willing to help those over him or her as earning trust or responsibility, showing heart. Also, we can’t narrow down what the servanthood tasks are, because they involve reaching out to the body of Christ with help in many different forms.

Verse 44
“First” – Meaning maybe head of a local church or ministry. First = JESUS

 “Slave of all” -  Leaders are accountable to the whole local body or ministry, raising the local church or ministry up to bring glory to God. Jesus was a slave of all when He died for all of us. (We just need to accept it.)

Verse 45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

This verse helped me keep my ego and attitude and perspective in check as a mom to young children. I often felt overwhelmed by so much maintenance, coated with sweet child-related blessings, too, of course. But remembering what Jesus gave up stepping down to Earth, and dying for me served as a gratitude reminder.

“Son of Man” – Jesus referencing Himself. Wondering if this implores us to remember His role as our Creator, too.

“Serve” – To teach, heal, love, save

“Give” – We didn’t and don’t  buy His act(s) of love in any way

“Ransom” – Hostage trade – one for all of humanity. We’ve been kidnapped by sin, Satan, temptations, and our own foolishness, at times. We just have to accept the trade, the gift Christ gave.

God spoke all that to me in an hour-long walk. He calls me to live it out as I lead as a mother, and in the church, wherever He may choose to put me, and as I live for Christ in my workplace and neighborhood. What a challenge of my heart, my mind and my actions — my being.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ever-Present God

Some managers center their workplace relationships on the open-door policy. Now and then, friends come along who always find time for others. But to envision the ultimate, I rest on the truth that God’s always available, and the best of bosses and best of friends can’t compete. I know this, live this and share it with excitement.

Lately, I’ve been working outside the home a little more than in past school years. As a mom, I measure my time by school years, school breaks and school days. I love it that way.

With growing work hours, I in turn, have found it growing a little harder to carve out quiet time alone with God. (But worth it.) At home, I love reading my Bible, getting lost as moments grow into a half-hour, then an hour, and sometimes more, as He speaks to me through Scripture.

I love how God flags me down on the highway of life to tend to my heart in a special way, or teach me a new lesson. And lately it’s been about this ever-present attribute of His. Ever-present. Always here — here, with me. (And there, with you.)

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an e-mail about landing a new job, and at the end was his message signature, a Scripture verse. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you…” James 4:8 NIV He’s had that for his signature as long as I can remember, but the promise of it strikes me afresh these days.

So even with a few more demands, I do find time. It’s not necessarily hour-long times of worship and study, but minutes zeroed-in on brief verses of Scripture. Then I add drive-time meditation on the passage, prayer, or praise or learning from some solid pastors who air messages on the radio. It’s a different way to extend time with Him, to come near to Him. And I still have some weekdays at home to linger quietly with Him, too. Either way, He’s always with me. I’m blessed.

While traveling out-of-state for work last week, I opened Psalm 16.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:7-8 NIV

My heart can’t instruct me at night, or counsel me well, unless God the Holy Spirit resides there. And, it says my heart instructs at night. While I sleep? As I rest? As I dream? At night, when it’s dark?
At the time of day when so much is closed for business, my Lord remains close-by, at work, instructing me. He teaches me and counsels me even then. How humbling. How endearing.

After the Sunday message from our pastor, our worship team led us in a version of the ancient Irish hymn written by Dal­lan For­gaill, “Be Thou My Vision.” Imagine what topic popped up in this 8th Century song with eternal truths.

Check out this excerpt from the opening:
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Day or night, God is with me. Whether I am awake or asleep, God is with me, and He’s the One who lights the way for me. I can count on Him. I trust Him to be here with me.

A verse I sometimes send my children off to school with came to mind as I allowed this topic to roll around in my mind.
Psalm 46:1 says —
God is our refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in trouble.

What a comfort. How encouraging. At least if I must endure hard times — and I know God never promised a life of ease — He is with me.

So because He is ever-present, any distance I may feel is not the work of His hand, but of my choice. The point of connecting all these passages and the hymn to my life, is not to chastise myself, but to celebrate the joy of this with-me God. This Immanuel, all year long. So, I choose His presence. An awareness of Him. I choose to look for Him. Talk to Him. Praise Him.

He is at my right hand, so I will not be shaken. Even as the moon hides behind a cloud-filled night, He will counsel me.

Drawing near to Him, I know the generosity, fullness, faithfulness and honesty of His love, and His nearness. God. I feel wrapped in His love, surrounded by Him. Because I am.

© 2011Helene Bergren All rights reserved.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Timing matters.

If you’ve learned about your dream job opening up at your dream company the day after the position closed, you know about timing.

Or imagine this. You’re prancing around your house, veering toward the door to go to work, and you trip over your affectionate calico and knock over a vase of flowers on your table. The mess takes six minutes to clean up.

Then you finally head out, drive several blocks to the main thoroughfare en route to your workplace, and come upon an accident where police cars and ambulances are just arriving.

You sense in your spirit that you’ve been spared. And you praise God. Or honestly, maybe you don’t make the connection. Sometimes we miss it, even seasoned believers can.

On Friday, I was zipping out of our little, quiet town to run some errands, and on the way met my oldest daughter driving home from class. She motioned to me, and we positioned our cars window-to-window on the quiet street, and agreed to go out and about together. God gave us a sweet afternoon together picking out a new dishwasher, selecting a wedding present, and buying groceries.

Neither she nor I planned it. God did, and we took Him up on His offer. Good timing, Lord.

We see God doing things with perfect timing a whole lot in Scripture.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6 NIV

Sometimes, though, I whine, or wonder if I’m experiencing God’s discipline. I wish for the outcomes I would orchestrate on the day and time I would see them through. Yet, I still know it’s best that I let God be God. Nice of me, huh?

So, here are a few areas where I need to trust God’s wisdom and timing.

  • In the passionate embrace of Jesus Christ for unsaved loved ones
  • With the permanent, complete healing of my knees
  • Over career paths as my life stage changes

Sometimes God gives us the grace and information that hindsight offers, and I testify today to some areas where He has blessed me and taught me about His timing.

  • First pregnancy timing
  • Vacation this year, with our departing D.C. a week prior to the earthquake and the hurricane
  • Christian growth deepened across years of seeking Him

For these, I praise my God and Savior. Emphasis on Savior, because I ask, ‘Lord, just what did You save me from because of Your perfect timing?’

Today, I may not know. Perhaps in Heaven, He will share that. For now, I thank Him.

 Text and photo © Helene Bergren 2011. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hall of Faith Worthy

The light in the sky is fading in this Midwestern lake scene. Like that, the whole picture of a life situation may be hidden from us. We must walk by faith, not by sight. Not an easy calling, but possible with God's help. Photo location: Saylorville Lake, Polk County, IA Photo by Helene Bergren

I am a sucker for a love story. But I confess to liking a good James Bond flick, too. I know some would say that’s an oxymoron. I can live with that. I also fall for stories of great tenacity in times of trial, and of people of great faith in the face of what would cause many to doubt.

So it is with Hebrews 11, in the Christian Bible. A man builds an ark on dry land. Ancient parents hide their son from an evil pharaoh’s murderous plot. A prostitute welcomes spies of God’s people. A man just blips from Earth to join God because he chose to walk so closely with his Lord that He took him.

Hebrews 11 – aka The Hall of Faith, Hebrews Hall of Faith or The Faith Hall of Fame.

Whatever you call it, I like it. What inspiration. Personally, Enoch wows me.

“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 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.
Heb. 11 5-6

Of course, Abraham’s realization that God could just bring Isaac back to life on the altar if he killed him shows a depth of wisdom and faith in God that I can’t match. And I love my faith in God! It’s such a gift that carries me through ups and downs. Still, Abraham reasons that God is God, so He’d just bring Isaac back. That took knowing God was good for His Word. And that took understanding God’s resurrection power – before He’d ever exercised it. Go, Father Abe!

So, how could I ever measure up to that? Goodness.

 I examine my faith, and ask myself if I really believe from time to time. I think it’s a good exercise for me. I find myself sticking with the Truth every time.

Creation? Yep. I believe God made the world. .
Jesus is God, and the Son of God? Absolutely.
God came to earth in the human form of Jesus? Most certainly.

Trinity? Check.
Bodily resurrection? Check.
Permanent salvation? Check.

Heaven? Yes
Hell? Yes (Um, pardon.)
The Second Coming of Christ.  Indeed.

I like to piddle in the Word, ping comments to God, sing in worship to Him. 

But I am not so constantly aware of His constant presence that He has snatched me up without dying, like Enoch. And that’s OK with me. God graces me with blessings each day. When I’m faithful enough to recognize they’re from Him, all the better. (Back to that faith thing, right?)

When I look closer at Hebrews 11, I notice entries that surprise me. Barak made Hebrews 11, but he served under the prophetess Deborah’s leadership in war – perhaps because he was afraid or doubted God’s plan. (See Judges 4.) Gideon respectfully asked God for signs and reassurances before he would lead an attack against the Midianites, and win, with God’s help. (See Judges 6-7.)

Fear, doubt, and resistance to His calling appear as qualities of the very people listed in Hebrews Hall of Faith. Yet, those spiritual problems, crises of belief, are opposites.   God still chose these people to be listed in His love letter to us.

Well, I face doubt. I wonder if I can possibly be used to reach a child at church with special needs. Some days I resist rolling out of bed (just ask my husband) to face early bird children God entrusted me to raise. Sometimes, I set His Book aside when I see a truth in it that I don’t know if I can fulfill. I don’t know what God will do in the lives of some of my neighbor children with tough home lives. I feel uncertainty about where His calling rests on my life in some ways right now.

Yet, I get up and go. Some days much slower than others. Some days happier than others, to be sure. (That may be related to caffeine intake, too.)

But it seems to me, He’s always there. I grouch at or to Him in prayer. I ask Him the tough questions.  Pray for strength as I watch parents age, and hope for the best college experience a year from now for our oldest daughter, guidance through our middle daughter’s teen years, and I long for more of a love of reading for our youngest. God knows.

I don’t know the outcome of these situations. Living life with faith means following Him without knowing the outcome, and without seeing why He’s right. Boy, do I ever love God! I must fully confess, I do not always follow His leading. I miss the bull’s eye sometimes — often. But Who He is, His love and grace, and what He has carried me through far outweigh my doubts. Now — to remember that the next time I don’t get my way.

The faith I live, He gave me. Sure, I choose to build it by seeking Him. So did Barak, Abraham, and Enoch. So did many others. So do many others today. God knows why He listed the people in His book of Hebrews. He knows their full stories, and wanted them. Same with you. It’s not too late. You there, choose the way of faith. 

 ©2011 Helene Bergren. Copy and photo. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God's Wisdom Highest

Thinking about my ideas and God’s plans, the two stand in contrast in terms of goals, in more ways right now than I’ve really ever experienced.

That’s not to say my life has been trial-free in the past. And that’s certainly not to say I live a hard life.  I’m blessed.

Still, having plans change about weekend trips and home improvement projects fall into a different category than what I have been experiencing. Feeling God funnel me into the unknown specifics of what He wants through removing four major things; career change options, a favored sport, loved outreach methods, and specific lifelong hearth and home goals, at least seems like a different matter. Fitting through His funnel comes with some discomfort, and sacrifice.

But God’s smartest, His goals and motives are perfect, and — phew — He’s patient.

I’m glad His Spirit works within me, because no matter how hard I try, I can’t force, cajole or persuade myself to match everything I think, want and do up to His standards. That reminds me how high caliber His gift of grace is.

When I talk with my kids, I often need to help them see a situation from an adult perspective, whether the topic covers why even good church kids act like brats sometimes or prioritizing how to spend money when back-to-school shopping. But it’s my job to teach my daughters and son. It’s one way I prove my love for them. And it brings me joy.

When I think about it, the difference in wisdom between an adult and a child is far less than the difference between a follower of Christ and God. My children are much closer to being as wise as I am, than I am likely to be as wise as God. That’s why I worship Him. Everything about Him exceeds everything about me. I’m willing to let God be God — at least I want to be willing.

Wisdom Math
Take a look at this little basic subtraction illustration or example of what I mean.

Parent Wisdom – Child Wisdom = Human Maturity Wisdom Difference

God Wisdom – Follower of Christ Wisdom = Supernatural Wisdom vs. Created Human Wisdom Difference

Supernatural vs. Created Human Wisdom Difference > Human Maturity Wisdom Difference

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:8-12

What a joy and comfort to me that God’s ways and thoughts are higher. And that His word accomplishes the plan He set in motion. I love verse 11, because we have access to that word. The Word of the Bible, the Word who came in human form, Jesus Christ.  So, I can learn. And so can you.

To those who aren’t Christians, those of us who are don’t necessarily make sense. The Bible doesn’t make sense. God doesn’t make sense. Shoot, I often don’t know what God is up to when He’s working in and around me until (if) I am given hindsight, so how could I expect someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Him to get it?

Without God, humans label many types of worldly thinking as wise or logical. But whether we acknowledge Him or not, we can’t exceed our Creator.

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 
1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Certainly, I may continue to struggle to determine what the difference is between His plans and mine. Perhaps temptation and the devil are working to damage my testimony and me. But I need to bear responsibility for my own attitudes, and priorities.

But, I know I delight in Him, so my desires are safe with Him. (See Psalm 37:4) As I continue to relax into whatever God’s plan is for me, to understand and step onto the solid places where He wants me to step, I believe I will see the Word of God, the love of God, unfold in a new and real way.

9 However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen,
   what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]
   the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
   “Who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?”[c]
   But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:9-18

Because I have the mind of Christ, I know that even if I don’t achieve the goals I set, if I go where He leads, my life will testify to Him. My human side would prefer to accomplish what I intended, with God’s help, and glorify Him in that way.

But by His gentle hand, I pray to and know I will experience His peace and joy either way, shine out His light and bring Him, my Creator, great pleasure.

Bible passages copied from

Photo and copy, Copyright © 2011 Helene Bergren All rights reserved.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blessed to Relieve Hunger

I'll make you a great nation and bless you.
I'll make you famous; you'll be a blessing.
I'll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I'll curse. 
All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you."

Genesis 12:2

            Chatter at my parents’ maple desk where they took care of the farm and tax bookkeeping in the 1980s, centered around money, operating loans, debt, and feed, vet and seed bills. They were discreet; I was nosy. But my parents were honest, too.             
           I knew their concern as they learned about friends and acquaintances losing their farms. Newscasts bleeted about banks closing to a wave of bad debt-to-asset ratios. But I didn’t miss a meal.
            I remember Dad looking out the south window of our story-and-a-half farmhouse, and saying aloud, “The Lord will provide.”
            To this day, my mom insists that she and dad weren’t any better farm managers than anyone else. She credit’s God’s grace in this area, and they never lost their farm. That in absolutely no way says their friends and neighbors who did were loved less, or out of favor with Him.
            I love the grace of God. I love that He provides. For myself, for my siblings and for my parents, I am grateful. I love Him. I would love Him regardless the outcome of the farm crisis for my family of origin. Now, I wonder how He can use me, farmers today, and you to provide for the hungry.
            Growing up on a farm instilled in me a great respect for life, and for those who raise livestock, and grow feed for our animals, and food for our tables. So, the connection, for me, between people dying of hunger and the farmers I respect is pretty obvious.
            In America, each U.S. farmer produces food and fiber for 155 people here and abroad, according to American Farm Bureau Federation. That deserves applause. Go ahead!
            But today, we face a global food crisis. Check out the UN’s food security site for information detailing that at I’m not a big fan of the UN, but this information matches what I’m hearing in the ag industry.
            But here’s the deal. We can help. In America, only 10 percent of our disposable income goes to purchase food, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. In Pakistan, it’s 50 percent. The Philippines, 38 percent; Jordan, 43 percent; and China, 32 percent.  Face it; we’re blessed with higher incomes, and lower costs than so many other people.
            Samaritan Purse’s gift catalog choices like providing dairy animals, livestock and stocking fish ponds provide not just one-time food relief, but also sustainable food sources. And the love of Christ.
            I respect how Reformed Church World Service offers practical assistance, like food pantry donations and goats. I love the eternal difference made with the devotion to reaching people for Christ.
            So you want to help? Getting that food to the people who are hungry presents a challenge. But many responsible ministries exist, serving Christ and reaching out to the hungry here in America and worldwide.
Won’t you do something today to help?

    1. Go to this site:
    2. Type in your donation amount
    3. Under designation, choose Hunger/Food Pantries
    4. Finish the form
    5. Praise God! You’re blessed to be a blessing!

2.   Select what you want to give from categories like Farms and Livestock,
Ministry to Children and Meeting Crisis Needs
3.     Click the Complete your donation button at the bottom of the page
4.     Finish the process
5.     Praise God! You’re blessed to be a blessing!

©2011 Helene Bergren. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

War and Reconciliation

Astride a thundering, black horse, a woman, long, unkempt, brown hair whipping wildly in the wind, raises her sword, and points the muscular animal straight at Him. Straight at Him. My God.

Left to the nature of this world, I am at odds with God. We all are. Greed, selfishness, immorality — unholiness lures humanity. We need the Savior, the one true hero available to all mankind, so that we can be allied with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, all one God.

I still war with temptations, with unseen things of this world, but my eternity is locked up tight, safe and sound. And God is for me. Reconciliation accomplished.

Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:11 NIV

But for Jesus' death and resurrection, and the faith God planted inside me, God and I would be adversaries. What an astonishing way to become reconciled — through the goodness of the very One I've wronged.

What a joy that His desire for relationship with me is so great. What a gift. What incomprehensible love. Thank You, Jesus.

Helene Bergren © 2011 All rights reserved.