The Christian Life

This was my apologetic professor's ending 'devotional thought' - it was a blessing for me to read so I thought I would pass it along!


"The Christian life is full of twists and turns, many of which the Lord brings our way without warning, without our permission, and sometimes as a shock. Yet, He is the Lord, and His ways are always best. We may not see the whys and wherefores in this life, but we can be assured that we will understand them in the life to come.

As I write these words, my thoughts drift back to Valentine’s Day 2008 when my stepson was shot at a college shooting (Northern Illinois University) where five students were killed, the gunman committed suicide, and over twenty students were wounded, some severely. My wife and I still struggle with thoughts pertaining to that day and feel the deep loss of Dan, who had much to offer this world—yet He is with the Lord now.

Why do I share this with you? The Christian life is not a bed of roses. It is a battle and we are all called upon to be faithful warriors in this spiritual war. God loves us, but it is a love born in the midst of battle. The mortar shells of sin are falling and exploding all around us. The enemy (Satan) fights and sometimes has victories (examples: Northern Illinois University, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine) yet God’s victories are greater still. And He will win. It is our calling to be both salt and light (Matt 5:13-16). The weapons that we use are not the weapons of this world, they are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, righteousness, truth, and prayer. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-12)."


Something to Think About and a Little Bit of What Makes me Me

Around 3 a.m. yesterday morning, God allowed my imagination to spin off onto what heaven would be like (after reading the Awesome book of Isaiah). He allowed me to better grasp how truly undeserving I am of such a great and promised hope. With this thought, He reminded me how short each of our time here is on earth. Even for someone like me, who is 27 and is considered ‘young’ by most, I have no idea when my purpose here on earth is up. Most of us tend to ‘naturally’ think that we have many years ahead of us, but a lot of times, it isn’t until we experience a close friend or family member pass away that God opens our eyes to the realization of how true His statement is in James 4:14 is that says, “Life is like a morning fog. It’s here and then it’s gone.” He uses that verse to remind us to not make plans or promises (Proverbs 16:1; 16:9), for the reason that we might not be able to live up to them, as only He alone knows our future, for He says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” Psalm139:16.
With this thought, He also allowed me to ponder on what it will be like when He comes back, as He says He is going to come back not for peace, but for justice (Luke18:8). He will not be coming to take sides, but to reward each person for what they have done (Matt. 16:27). I marvel at that thought and although I am personally eagerly very ready, He allowed me to think of many friends and people all over the world who are not ready and it will catch them by a very unpleasant surprise. 

Some reading this may know that you are saved…with confidence. However, there may also be some that read this and realize that they are in need of a Savior– someone who has the power to truly save. Many people think that if they ‘believe in Jesus’ then they will be saved –which is true; however, it is vital to understand the word ‘believe’. We can have the head knowledge in believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth for 33 years, and died and rose again for the sinner to be made right with God; yet, even the demons believe that (James 2:19).

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” The *heart* has to be involved...which is prepared by God. It begins with the mind, as we must hear the truth to know the truth and it is the truth in which will set us free...but it is with our hearts that we respond to that truth and in which God is able to grow and refine us into the person He has called us to uniquely be in Christ. Once a person experiences God in their heart, there will be a yearning-passionate desire to learn more about Him, to be more like Him, and follow His way of living...as once discovering Jesus, it is very clear that He lived and walked with great compassion, wisdom, and love.

If you are reading this and have ever been in love, you will be able to understand what falling (and being) in love is like. If you haven’t been in love before, I can most likely guarantee that there is...or has been at some point in your life...a strong desire to be loved and/or give love in return, which will give you the understanding of how love can so crazily affect the soul.

Love changes the inner most being of a person...even a person who has the coldest, most selfish, and hardest of hearts. Once this change occurs, there is typically a strong desire to shift the focus from self onto the loved person - this new desire even has the tendency to literally consume one's mind. It is not unusual for there to be an urge to spend as much time with other as possible in order to learn about what makes the other ‘click’. A desire to know about the other person’s life to the most fullest detail is also not uncommon, and if someone came to you and said that they didn’t think you should be with that person, you would be able to quickly list off a Gazillion reasons why you Should be with that person, and no one would have the power or ability to change your mind. That’s what it's like having an intimate relationship with Jesus.

We all want to be loved – truly loved - (or at least at some points in our lives we have had that desire...until rejection, hurt, and broken-heartedness begins to numb that God-given desire) and we have a tendency to have an underneath desire to ‘fit in’ somewhere. In fact, people will go to desperate measures to simply feel wanted, respected, valued, appreciated and loved. Some join in gangs…regardless the cost… just so they can feel needed, have companionship/family, and respect. Some use drugs and alcohol to help their minds escape to a place other than the broken world that they are striving to live in. Some give away their bodies to sex with many different people just for the short/temporary time of feeling like they are wanted...or able to be in control...,regardless of how it makes them feel afterwards. Others may stay in unhealthy and abusive relationships because at least Someone cares about them enough to be with them…even if they feel like worthless garbage while in the relationship… just as long as someone is willing to stay with them, then maybe, just Maybe, they, or their abuser, can change – as after all, the few ‘good’ moments of the relationship are worth clinging to as they shine a ray of hope! … :-(

These are just a Few of Many examples of how us humans will do just about anything to experience love and fulfillment. The thing that many don’t understand (I used to be one of those many!) is that God sent Jesus Christ to be our *Ultimate* fulfillment. This means that what He has to offer Far exceeds what any temporary fulfillment given by this life can provide. This life is not going to be easy...nor did Jesus promise us that it would be - especially if we look at His life as an example! It is extremely challenging, and a constant spiritual battle at work within us. However, even amongst the chaos of things, having a relationship with Jesus brings so much peace to us, as we know that He is praying to God the Father on our behalf (John 17:20) and He promises to make all things good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) - for He has a time, season, and reason for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

God has freed me from several different areas in my life where I attempted to rely on other things than Him to satisfy me. I relied on them to the point where I made them my god--not knowing the One True God. The Lord also gave me the grace to believe how beautiful I actually am - as He told me that He made each of us in His image (Genesis 1:27) - knitting and weaving each of us so delicately while we were in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-15). Before knowing this, however, I believed that the only way I could be even remotely pretty (beautiful was not in my vocabulary for myself) was to be skinny. This distorted belief allowed me to endure the road of anorexia, which ended up causing long-time major physical implications (and once I began eating years later, the food that was able to stay in me stuck like Glue and I gained a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time). I allowed a man...another mere human...to tell me what I was worth as I took to heart his opinion of ‘who I was’ – which was the complete opposite of who God said I was, but without knowing how God seen me, the distorted beliefs that engulfed my mind let me to great destruction. I experienced many years of severe depression (much of it stemmed from environment), wondering what the purpose was in living in an extremely broken world surrounded by people everywhere that were consumed in horrible situations just like me. It seemed like everywhere I went to try to find answers, unchanging hope, and purpose, people would point me to groups of others that were feeling alone and hopeless as well, in hopes of allowing me to not feel so alone. That may have been beneficial to some, but I personally felt even more alone because I realized that each person’s life and ‘shoes’ are very different and regardless of how similar one's emotions may be to another's, each person is made/'wired' so differently. I desperately needed Someone to understand Everything I had encountered…from the moment I was born, all the way up...but I didn’t believe there was anyone who could ever fulfill that need so in turn, I was left feeling 100% alone and misunderstood. I had no idea that God saw me before I was even born and had every moment of my life laid before Him as He had already recorded every single day of my life for His divine purpose (Psalm 139:16). - What amazing truth!

I had started seeing counselors at the age of 5, but that consisted of a casual talking session that allowed me to evaluate the horrible situation I was in (which at that age I had no control over) and I cried more when I walked out of the appointment than when I first walked in. Once a late teenager, my main thought process was how I was going to get out of this world without making myself have to suffer more in the process of ‘getting out’. That led me to spending great lengths of time in mental hospitals where I experienced programs such as ‘psycho drama’ (just one of many) which allowed me to re-live traumatic experiences I had been through in purpose of teaching me how to properly handle the experiences better…or in a more healthy way at least… in order to ‘heal.’ I went to numerous classes, took Numerous anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications trying to find the 'right' one that didn't make me worse than I already was and one that wasn't temporary and filled me with the hope I longed for.

After many years of seeking hope that seemed no where to be found, my moods and feelings of hopelessness became worse (which, by the way, Can happen! ;-) When people say things can't get worse and can only go up from here...it's not true! Satan's goal is to keep making things worse until we actually take our own lives, and then he wins the battle...(yes, this is a very real spiritual battle). The programs that I was apart of in the mental hospitals were designed to help depressed people get back on a schedule rather than secluding themselves in sleep or unhealthy activities. In the art classes, for example, the instructor would take us outside and tell us to focus on the ‘outside beauty’, but when wanting to leave this life so badly, focusing on outside 'beauty’ just reminded me more of what I wanted so desperately to leave! I was not able to see 'beauty' - all I was able to see was ugliness...things that reminded me of past memories in which I so desperately wanted to forget. I had a chiropractor once who told me that the answer to my hopelessness could be found in exercising more and getting sunshine. Exercising and sunshine may indeed be good things, but I promise you they do not have the power to heal someone's soul that was as depressed and battered as mine. I had psychiatrists who assured me that once I found the ‘right’ pill that I would be made new and would be happy and fully functional for the rest of my life.

My mom’s heart broke for the way I felt day in and day out, (she understood depression quite well herself) so in her convinced belief that I was hopeless and beyond repair, she planned my burial site while waiting for an officer to call her telling her that I finally was able to kill myself...which she admitted would have been an honest relief for her, because she hated seeing me hurt and hopeless for so long. She, along with most others in my journey, believed I was beyond help and suicide was simply the best option. In the meantime, however, she bought a $600 DVD program as a last resort option that promised to help depressed people discover lasting happiness and hope, but I finished the program feeling more hopeless as I had sought all the things that people said would give me hope, yet nothing did. I refused to hear or accept anymore sugar-coated nonsense – I had enough of that since I was 5. I needed something Real. There were Christians that came into my life that said they would pray for me, but what did that mean to me? …Nothing. I could now ask Why they didn’t share the priceless treasure and hope that God shared with them through the Bible, but I now fully understand that it was all apart of His great plan. He knew Exactly what I needed...and didn’t need...and when, in order to experience His love, grace, mercy, and rich forgiveness *as much as possible* at Just the right time.

Luke 7:47 says, “I tell you, her sins - and they are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Jesus knew how stubborn and hard my heart had become. He knew that if He would have revealed His truth to me at an earlier time than when He did on the night of February 10, 2007, that I would not have been as grateful … which means I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience His amazing grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness in the way I did – in a way that would passionate me enough to really grow with Him intimately and give me a burning desire to make Him known to others. So many others have come to know His love for them due to the way He expressed His love to me. What a wonderful blessing that is to experience!

Scripture tells us that our time here on earth is short (James 4:14) and if we have the knowledge that He is calling us to Him, we are to open the door to Him and respond to His call (Revelation 3:20). God is reaching out to each of us, and He allows us to know this by allowing specific people and things in our path. Nothing is a coincidence. If you are driving and see a sign that says, “Jesus loves you”…know that Jesus allowed you to be on that road at that specific time and He desires for you to know that He loves you and is calling you to seek and know Him. If you are reading this right now it is because God drew you to do so ;-)

I knew nothing about God, nor did I care to know about Him after experiencing many years of such hardship...much of it quite traumatic. From my human and limited understanding, I could not grasp why a supposedly ‘good’ God would allow such things to happen to me; let alone why He would allow bad things to happen to everyone (and thing) else in the world as well!! The reason I could not grasp this was because I did not have a Clue who this God really was...though as of now, the more I learn about Him, the more I realize how very Little I actually know about Him - but I know He Is Love, mysterious, jealous for each of us, and is a God who is to be reverenced and worshiped because He is worthy of All praise. However, it is incredible how He chooses to reveal Himself to us piece by piece in such a way that allows us to go ‘awe!, I see now!’...though what we 'see' is only a Piece to all He truly is and has in store for us to see as His children. I also had no idea that just as there was a God who loved me, there was also an enemy whose literal mission was to get me confused about the truth of God, and keep me away from knowing His great love and intense passion for me (John 10:10). 1 Peter 5:8 says that our enemy, the devil (and this isn’t a guy in a red outfit with a pitchfork who comes out on Halloween!), roams around like a roaring lion, seeking someone he can devour. I knew that my situation may have not been near as bad as someone else’s… as I was reminded of that constantly growing up, but that didn’t help my situation! People told me to just ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’…or another famous one was, ‘time heals all wounds…just give it time,’ but I will be the first to say that All of that is true hogwash. I discovered that many people just simply don’t know what to say and they say things like this out of good intent to encourage and bring ‘hope’ without realizing the hurt that simple words such as that can stir within a lost and broken individual. With this said, I too, am still learning these things myself when speaking with others going through their own situations in which satan is attempting to do whatever he can to take them out and desires to use 'us' as his tools. We are all human, we All fail and make mistakes - only God alone is truly good (Mark 10:18) and it's important to extend mercy just as much as we desire to receive mercy. After all...God, in His great grace has given each of us Far greater mercy than we could EvEr come close to deserving!...Thank God for Jesus Christ!

I have no desire to give endless amounts of ‘hope’ that will only get you (the reader of this) feeling worse. My desire and great passion is to share only Truth for whomever God may be drawing near to Him at this current time. This is not about my desire to be ‘right’ or my mere opinion of what ‘I’ think is to be true – it’s about sharing the Word of God –Truth that gives peace, freedom, and unchanging joy (regardless of circumstance) in a way that I personally had never even dreamed before coming to know Christ for myself. This truth will set the captive free in ways never imagined possible…and not by one's own power to where someone would be able to boast about how he/she did it (refer to Ephesians 2:9). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to know that *God* alone did this great work through the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is grace.

No matter how much love (or hurt!) you may have experienced from another human…the love of Christ is incomparable. I want all to know what True love Really is and consists of and to know each day how greatly valued, prized, and cherished each individual is…not by the standards, opinions, and judgments of the world, but by the One who created and formed each person...so that we may all know His jealous love that is entangled within such great mercy, grace, and power. I want all to know that everything each person has gone through, and will go through…good and bad…has already been seen by God (refer to Psalm 139:16). Forgiveness, as well as eternal rewards and blessing are all waiting for those who humble themselves at the beautiful feet of Jesus, finding promised hope through what He did on the cross. I want the outcasted, the ‘lost causes’, the misunderstood, and the rejected to know that no matter how many names they have been called, how much they have been ignored and pushed away, and how worthless of a state they and others may see themselves to be in, God sent Jesus Christ to die for them in order that they may be saved and given a new life filled with constant acceptance by The King. Jesus did not come to help the ones who don't believe they need help and are already ‘good enough’; He came to help the ones who realize they need rescued by the Ultimate Savior and who want a relationship based on genuine and unfailing love that nothing or no one in this world can ever fully provide (refer to Luke 5:32).

Without Christ I am worthless. Regardless of the struggles of this broken world, I know without doubt that God has me here (along with All of us) for His divine purpose (refer to Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 2:10). I no longer have to fight for myself, or for what I have been through or the current trials I am going to go through, for I know that He is my righteousness, defender, and advocate. I know He is always with me (refer to Joshua 1:9), even in the times when I don’t want to be with myself! He is the God who provides (refer to Philippians 4:19)...in fact, one of His very names is Jehovah Jireh (the Lord our Provider) (Genesis 22:14) - and He provides in ways that bring me to my knees out of awe many times. He is the Only one who can give a person inner peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)...amongst all the worldly chaos...that doesn’t fade and helps one to endure with an eternal message of hope and purpose. All He wants is for us to seek Him, for He tells us that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Once we find Him, He wants us to respond to His call by giving Him our hearts that He has already begun to prepare for a relationship with Him. This requires faith…but even that He gives us by His grace (Romans 12:3). From that point, as we continue to seek Him, He will continue to refine us for the remainder of our time here on earth (refer to Isaiah 48:10/Psalm 66:10) - He never gives up on us (refer to Romans 8:37-39) and He...as the jealous God He is for us (refer to Exodus 34:14)...never wants us to give up on Him either.

If you read this and are thinking you would love to have a relationship with Him but you have no desire in giving up things that you are currently relying on to help you survive, no worries. Don't be so hard on yourself. You should not stop doing anything simply based on what another person says or believes...or even because it may seem like the ‘thing’ to do! After you experience the amazing encounter of Jesus within your heart, He will…by your allowance…continue to lead and refine you...with ease (by His grace) at the pace He knows is right for you in accordance to how He has 'built' you. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. Reading the Bible is a *Vital* key to growing in a relationship with Him. It may seem intimidating at first, but that's just satan's attempt at making you want to resist reading the most amazing, transforming, life-instruction manual/book of Love that's on this earth. If you have attempted to read it in the past and don't want to open it again because you couldn't understand it, I strongly encourage you to first, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and to open your heart to what God is wanting you to hear, and Then begin reading it. Don't let your feelings of doubt defeat you from knowing truth that can set you free. God will help you in a way that you cannot even imagine/grasp...He just asks you to to seek Him and by faith, believe what He has to say. Within time, you will begin to see the chains in which are currently holding you down, start to break free...this is a lifelong process but such an incredible (and humbling!) thing to have the opportunity to experience ;-) 2 Corinthians 3:18 in the Message says, “Our lives gradually become brighter and more beautiful as Christ enters our lives and we become like Him.” It’s a process, but one that is so amazing that I simply cannot (and don't want to!) keep it to myself.
For the people reading this who think they know Jesus, and Think they are saved…I have one thought I encourage you to ponder on that I personally ponder on often as well. When your time here on earth is up and you see Him face to face, will you stand before Jesus knowing that He was really your Lord on earth? Or, is there a possibility that He may say, “I’m sorry. I don’t even know you”? Here’s a couple of verses to ponder on… Luke 13:22-30 states, “Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as He went, always pressing on towards Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, "Lord, will only a few be saved?" He said, "Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. A lot of you are going to assume that you'll sit down to God's salvation banquet just because you've been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you're going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you'll find the door locked and the Master saying, 'Sorry, you're not on my guest list.' "You'll protest, 'But we've known you all our lives!' only to be interrupted with his abrupt, 'Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don't know the first thing about Me'” (NLT and Message Version).

Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT and MSG version) also says, "Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'”

That's heavy stuff, but it's definitely something I personally like to keep at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis while walking in His grace.

If anyone reading this has Any questions (or personal thoughts to share), Please do not hesitate to write me. I am open and willing to respond, but again, I will be the first to say that I am a mere-flawed human who is also just simply on this life in Christ journey. I do not know all the answers (nor do I even have Many answers). In fact, the more I read the Bible and get to know God, the more questions are raise within myself as I realize how mysterious He is and His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Each day is a growing point, and I encourage all who read this to remember that if I, or someone else, lets you down in some way, please keep in mind that man Will let man down because we are all flawed. Also, since I am growing along with everyone else in Christ, it is Crucial to compare everything that is said to the Bible - the true authoritative and unchanging source. God will continue to refine and grow my understanding (in His time) and that's why it is important to always compare what I, or anyone else, says to Scripture. Christ will *never* change and He will never let us down or disappoint us. The worst thing a person could do is stop seeking Christ because of something another Christian did or said. When we stand before Christ, it is going to be ourselves and Him– we will have to give account for our own self...we will not be able to blame other Christians for our own disbelief or actions, for Scripture gives us all we need to know the truth of God (refer to 2 Peter 1:3).

Colossians 2:3 says that “In Him (Christ) lie hidden *all* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” If you are reading this and do not have a Bible translation that you can understand, or if you don’t have a Bible at all, please let me know and I would love to mail you one immediately at God’s allowance. Some people have been embarrassed by this... but there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about! God blesses the humble!, and beyond that, it all comes back to Ecclesiastes 3:1 which reminds us what I had mentioned previously in this blog... "To everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." I began to read the Bible when I was 23 years old, but I know some that were not led to start reading it until they were very old in age. The age doesn't matter... If God is calling you at *this* very moment, embrace the call with joy and thankfulness. If you want me to pray for you, it would be an honor for me to do that as well!


gods at War

I received this 22 minute video called "gods at War" in an email and I thought it should definitely be put on my blog page. There is a great deal of eye opening information within this video, and also many things that have the potential to spiritually convict any individual watching it. God greatly used it to deeply convict me in many areas, as there are different gods/idols literally at war within each of us. However, where there is conviction, there can be life change and growth in Christ through the process of awareness, acknowledgement, and repentance by faith through God's grace, which ultimately leads to freedom and a greater closeness with God. Open your hearts and allow God to speak to you with His still, small voice and be ready for some God-growth! (Copy and paste the link into your browser to watch :-))



Changing From Glory to Glory

It has been a while since I have last blogged! However, I am currently taking this term off from school and I have some extra time to post some new things! For anyone who still comes to this site and reads any of my past blogs, I want to mention the fact that God has refined and reshaped my views within the past 6 years since first starting this blog. I have considered going back through past blogs and editing them (or deleting them altogether) if my views from then are substantially different from now (based on the new things the Holy Spirit has revealed to me through His Word throughout the years), but I have chosen to leave them on here. What I believed at one point is still a great part of the journey in which God has allowed me to be on and it makes up who I am in Him. Over the years, however, the Holy Spirit has convicted me of many things and has filled me with more peace in Christ than I had when first being saved 6 years ago. The things I write now is where God has me at right now, but as His child, He will not leave me the same (thank You Lord!). The change process can be difficult, raw, and even ugly, but it is also beautiful all in the same as what a blessing it is that He is willing to continue to work in His children to make us become more and more like Him! I am thankful to know that even though I continue to change from glory to glory in His image, He never changes (Malachi 3:6). So in saying all of this, just keep in mind as you read through my past posts that I am not the same person now as I was then and God will continue to do a good work in me as I grow in Him, but if you have questions on something, Please feel fee to ask! :-)


Amazing Love

A few days ago I was reading Matthew 26 and I am still amazed at something God opened my eyes to. If you read Matthew 26:47-56, you will see that it's talking about Jesus being betrayed by Judas and then He was arrested.

In short summary, Judas...who was one of Jesus' 12 disciples...*betrayed* Jesus by bringing men armed with swords and clubs and was commanded by the leading priests and elders to arrest Jesus. Judas told the men who wanted to arrest Jesus that the one he gave a kiss to, would be the One they needed to arrest (Jesus).

Ok, so this is what absolutely amazes me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it ... after Judas gave Jesus the kiss to where the men knew who to arrest, Jesus says, "My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for." ~ WHOA!!!! Did you get that? Jesus called the guy who betrayed him to be arrested, beaten, and killed...*Friend*!!

It blows me away! But, that's Jesus! It shouldn't surprise me, but I think about people who have betrayed me and how far away I have been from calling them 'friend'!! Jesus says to love our enemies, but that doesn't mean they should be our friends... If we are Their enemies, that's their choice, but what a picture of amazing love and forgiveness this Scripture exemplifies!

I have seen a lot of people who don't believe in what the president, or government is doing...and that's ok if we don't agree. I can understand the anger that we may have when we hear about our loved ones being killed by gang members, radical religion extremists, or those who are simply filled with rage and anger. I know my own road rage that I have with people who ride my buttom or cut me off in traffic, let alone upstairs neighbors who are as loud as they possibly can be when I'm trying to study. :-) ... But, the God who lives within me, is wanting me to not only 'call' them friend...but Really allow my heart to be filled with the love He has for them....

His love is great...and if it wasn't, I honestly wouldn't have Any personal desire to love. His mercy has been extreme in my life...extreme and Completely undeserved...He knows that to the fullest extent, and some who have know me from my past know this to an extent as well. We may not agree with everything that others do or say, but does Jesus agree with everything We do and say? Does He loves us any less? No way! He wants our hearts to be filled with the aching to be more like Him...to display His love, but we are Human and life is a growing process. We all fail...I fail more than most believers!...and we all need a Savior. That includes the president, government officials, gang members, my neighbors, and myself....just to name a very few. But how much better would things be if we Truly loved the people like Jesus loves? That means no bashing. No bashing the authority that God has allowed to be in place. No bashing the people who hurt us, intentionally or unknowingly. No bashing those who bully our loved ones simply because they feel bullied on the inside and have no idea what the love of Jesus means, and the only way they know how to get their anger and hurt out, is spilling it out on someone else.

The pain that Jesus went through was for you...for me. He is alive now indeed!, but the suffering and turmoil *He* went through was Far greater than any of us can imagine. He put all of our turmoils and stupid ideas on Him when He was on the cross and they were so treacherous that the Father had to turn away and even Jesus...the perfect and holy God-man...cried out, "Father, why have You forsaken Me?" Whew!! He even Knew the plan! He was in so much anguish, as All *our* pain was on Him for that period of time. He died so we could spit on Him, betray Him, curse Him...and then find Him and surrender to Him. ♥ Amazing love ♥


What Makes Good News Good

What Makes Good News Good? - By Lance Cummins

If you hang out with Restoration Church much at all, you’ll hear us talk about the Good News. That phrase, Good News, almost sounds like paradox, because almost all of the things we associate with news is bad news. But, we really do have some Good News.

It’s this.

Most of us know intrinsically that there must be someone (or something) somewhere who is paying attention to what goes on in this life. We commonly refer to this being as God. We have this general sense that there is something we need to do to sort of “pass God’s test” so we’re ok.

Most of us also have the gut feeling that we’re not actually succeeding at that test. So, we respond in one of two ways:

1.We simply try to stuff the feeling that we are accountable to some invisible thing, and we do our best to live without inflicting too much damage on others. And we just hope for the best when the “test” comes.
2.Or, we engage in a systematic process of trying to “appease” this invisible taskmaster through something we call religion. We hope that we’ve done enough. And we just hope for the best when the “test” comes.
You see, either way, you’re left with the uneasy feeling that you might not be good enough. And that’s the first piece of Good News. You’re not good enough.

How is that Good News?

Because once you realize that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t succeed in making up for the times you’ve failed, you are actually very close to an incredible discovery.

This “invisible, impersonal force” we call God has actually described Himself in an amazing collection of writings we call the Bible, as a loving Father. What’s more, you will see as you begin to read the Bible, that God knew we would try to be good, but we couldn’t. And, because He loved us so much, He already made a way for us to “pass the test.” He let someone else take it for us.

We find out as we read on, that God has a Son, Jesus. Although He was completely God, He became a person just like you and me, so He could take our test. He succeeded at what you and I could never do: He lived a perfect life. However He didn’t stop there.

You see, something you may not have realized is that because we have all done wrong things (the Bible calls this sin), we surrendered our opportunity to be with God in eternity. We were destined to separation from God. Forever. Unless…someone who had NEVER sinned took our place.

That’s exactly what Jesus did.

He lived a perfect life knowing that he would willingly sacrifice his life in a Roman public execution in shame and humiliation.

He took all the sin of humanity on himself, and experienced separation from his Father, so that we could be restored to our loving Father.

How are we restored?

God explains it this way in Scripture:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

When we recognize that God reached to us by sending Jesus, instead of us reaching to God, we accept that Jesus is the hero of this story and not us.

God gives us credit for what Jesus did, and allows us eternal life based on Jesus’ sacrifice. Pretty amazing, huh?

That’s why we call it Good News. Being right with God doesn’t mean being better, or being religious. It means accepting God’s plan through Jesus.

The Good News is that God has reached out to you. And He invites you to believe that Jesus did that for you.


Self-Help Won't Change You; Only God Can Change You

James MacDonald communicates what I had heard and learned so many years prior to finding Jesus. "Have you been seeking to be the person God wants you to be by thinking the key is unlocking the past? If so, I challenge you to reject that faulty methodology." You can try to change yourself all you want, but Real changes comes through the truth and power of God. I pray that God opens the hearts and gives wisdom to anyone who listens to this.

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"True life change comes Only through partnership with God and must begin with the rejection of All faulty, self-centered, change methods." ~James MacDonald

"God wants us to face our past, deal with it, and then put it behind us." (We of course can only do this with His great help)

Faulty Methods that we need to get Rid of:
1)Environment Change – aka – Behaviorism (the belief that we are the result of the environment in which we have grown up in)

2)Change by “digging up my past” – aka – Psychoanalysis (we repress information and we may not be aware of things messing us up that we have stuffed deep inside of us, so we need to Find it and dig it up and spill our guts. And, until we do, we will never really change. But, the *Bible* teaches that the key is not ‘remembering’ things that may, or may not, have happened. The Bible teaches that the key to Real transformation is forgiving and forgetting…Not remembering.)

3)Change through Self-Discovery – aka – Humanistic Psychology (people are controlled by their own values and choices. The goal is to help you discover and achieve your own potential. ‘The answer is Within you. Find yourself! Love yourself! Help yourself!’ You have what you need to be who you want to be.) Problems with this = 1) It Doesn’t Work! 2) It’s contrary to the biblical view of man. ~The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9~