Posted in My Journey

My New Book Is Here!

I am pleased to announce God Is Love: Comfort Through Trials is now available for download. All royalties go toward supporting Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching. Below is the Preface to the book:

I grew up Catholic. That means I was baptized into the Catholic Church. It also means I received my First Communion and my Confirmation in the Catholic Church. In all that time, I knew God existed, but I had a different idea of who he was than what I know of him today. I thought he was old. I thought he was distant. And I thought for a good portion of the bible that he was very angry with people.

It was only after I hit my twenties that I began to question God’s nature. I did not question his existence because I knew he was alive, well, and looking after us. I did not need a degree to understand that. All I had to do was look around at nature and I could see God there. For me, it never made sense to think God was dead when all I saw were the seasons changing like clockwork and the animals following a pattern of behavior. No, what I questioned were things like, “How could God, who supposedly loved so much, care so little for people that he would allow them to suffer?” And I wondered, “What kind of God was he if he would cause that suffering?” Because allowing something to happen was one thing, but to actually cause it?

So for a long time I searched for those answers. I was part of a cult for a number of years and learned about a god who was more interested in the letter of the law, than of the spirit of the law. Throughout that entire time, God was still an angry god who would punish Christians who sinned and would reward Christians who obeyed. Jesus was a passing notion, an emissary, delivering a message of the coming of the kingdom of God.

It was then that I had stopped attending church. My disillusion with organized religion was just the beginning. I simply felt no one had a clue who God was and why suffering existed in the world. For twenty years, I laughed at people who would put their faith in a god who did not care for their well-being.

Soon, one January morning, I began to read the bible. I had made a resolution that I would read the bible in its entirety strictly for its literary value. Little did I know what would happen to me. I began seeing a god who ruled all creation. I began to see a god who looked after his creation. I saw God love human beings so much that he would give his only son as a sacrifice so that he could save them from the penalty of sin, which is death. Then I saw my life unfold before my eyes.

I returned to a church, and as quickly as I had returned, a year later, my oldest son took ill. He spent a month in the hospital having suffered an autistic shutdown. That month was when God revealed himself to me. He showed me why people suffered. He taught me trials were good. And he took care of my family throughout the ordeal.

If you are looking for answers, read God Is Love: Comfort Through Trials knowing I was looking for answers, too.

Posted in My Journey

All Glory to God

All glory to the Highest, King of Heaven and Earth. Let all the angels praise His name, for He is good. There is no one greater than God. He reigns supreme above all things. There is nothing He has not made, for He made all things. He is the beginning and the end, the creator of all, and we are in his image, wonderfully made, perfectly crafted.

“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Revelation 4:8)

Give thanks to God, worship Him with arms outstretched; praise Him in the fields, praise Him in the woods, praise Him in the quiet places. Give glory to the Father of all, for His gift to us is eternal life through Christ Jesus His son.

The Lord is our rampart, He is our protector, He is our guard. His mercy is forever and His life lives in us through his Spirit. Worship God in the mountains, worship Him in the valleys, worship Him from sea to sea.

“And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’” (Isaiah 6:3)

God is good. All glory belongs to Him. Let us give Him thanks, praise Him and worship Him in all that we do. All glory to God.

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Posted in My Journey

The Reward of Our Trials

When I think about of all that has happened in my life, of all those times when I could have failed miserably, and of all those moments when one decision could have altered my future permanently, I am thankful. God could have allowed one of those fleeting instances to change my life irrevocably. But he did not. Instead, he looked after me. He watched over me. And he protected me as I went on my way. Why?

That question, why? is a big question to me. Why would God spare me the pain I would have otherwise experienced had I endured certain trials?

The Apostle James talks about trials this way:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

James is saying, trials offer opportunities to grow in faith, in that no matter what happens to us, God will give us the patience to endure whatever trial comes our way. Saying it another way, God will provide the help we need when we suffer.

I may have avoided certain trials, but I cannot tell you how many times I have felt alone, broken and upset, only to find God there, waiting to help me. He never leaves us. He is there always, hoping that we would come and give of our hearts to him in prayer. All God wants is a relationship with us. He offered his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins. Everyone who believes Jesus is the son of God will have salvation. So how difficult is it to understand that God loves us more than he loves anything in this universe?

When I think about trials this way, it is then easy to accept the truth that God allows suffering, because no one suffered more than Christ did on the cross. And although Christ’s suffering was not a trial for him, his whole purpose for coming was so that we who suffer would have hope—hope for a future—hope for eternal life. James confirms this when he says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Friends, continue to love God as he loves us, unconditionally and without end, for as we love him this way, our trials will then be as steppingstones toward our reward, which is the crown of life.

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Posted in My Journey

Be as Little Children

The kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children. That is something Jesus said. Jesus made it a point to encourage his disciples to receive the kingdom like a child. What does that mean? Here is the text as written in Luke 18:15-17:

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’”

A friend of mine recently said to me, “I used to be so passionate and driven. What happened?” I took a moment and thought about it, and then I realized God was trying to tell me something; not only tell me something but also tell my friend something. People do not say these things without a reason. There is always a reason for their statements.

I explained it this way: I think, and this is purely out of my own experience, that as we get older we tend to lose more and more of our childlike qualities because the stresses of reality tend to choke them out of us. We are looking so much at what is happening now, with the bills to pay, the meals we have to prepare, the clothes we have to wash, the friends we think others want us to be, that we do not look at what God has given us and what he wants us to be. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” I thought about this a lot, and I believe kids are the happiest when they know someone loves them. Now I know Christ loves us, otherwise he would not have given his life for us like he did. But I also think that somehow, as we grow older and as we try to become more like Christ, we should remember what it was like to be as a child. That means, not worrying about what comes next, but living for God every day in the best possible way we can. How am I making a difference by simplifying my life so that the cares of this world do not choke God’s gift from me.

That was my quick explanation. As I give it more thought, however, I am more inclined to go deeper. Matthew 18:3-4 is Jesus’ answer to his disciples when they were arguing about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In other words, we have to turn, or have a change in heart, in order to become great in the kingdom of heaven. That change in heart requires having the humility of a child. Of course, we cannot do this on our own. When we come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness for all our sins, he will give us the Holy Spirit to help us have that change in heart.

Let us strive to become more like children, for great will be our reward in the kingdom of heaven.

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Posted in My Journey

Love for God’s Word

God’s Word has been a light onto my path. It has rescued me from darkness. It has provided me with the encouragement to move forward, in spite of failures, in spite of defeats. The Bible has opened my heart to God’s voice. The Bible is God’s voice. When I hear it, I am comforted. It gives me hope. It gives me life. It protects me from evil. God’s Word is my rescue.

Of all the kings of Israel who lived, King David was someone who loved God deeply:

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

(Psalms 9:1-2)

David’s love toward God and his Word was so intense that even his wife Michal scolded him for his open demonstration of affection for his creator, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20). The truth is David was dancing with the people because he had defeated the Philistines, captured the Ark of the Covenant and had brought it back to Jerusalem. He plainly answered his wife this way, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor” (2 Samuel 6:21-22).

The next verse reveals how David’s wife carried a barren womb until the day of her death.

How wonderful God is to have looked after David this way. David’s love for God and the Ark should be an example for all Christians who wonder what it is like to give oneself wholeheartedly to his Word. The Ark was that Word, as the Bible is the Word today. Those pages speak life to me daily. They consume my waking hours. They pour into me the true meaning of love—the story of Christ’s sacrifice.

For me, God’s Word is intimate. God’s Word is personal. If it has not already done so, it is my hope the Bible becomes as intimate and as personal to you also.

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Posted in My Journey

Our Life Renewed

God is perfect. Jesus, his son, is perfect. No human being can come close to being perfect without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks about perfection this way:

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

If we Christians cannot attain perfection without divine intervention, how is it that Jesus encourages us to be perfect? How can we become like God when our sins keep us separated from the one being who embodies love?

Of course, there is a fallacy to this argument. The mistake lies in the belief that our sins separate us from God. In reality, Jesus paid for all our sins with his shed blood, and we can now approach God’s throne clean and unblemished (2 Peter 1:9). Every time we ask God for forgiveness, we become new again. Every time God forgives us, we no longer need to harbor the guilt of our sins. We become unbroken and live again. That is God’s gift to us for believing Jesus is his son. His grace sets us free from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 5:15).

The joy of the gospel is not that we are free to do whatever we want, because that would be selfish on the part of every Christian, but that Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave to sit at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-33). The good news is the elect have hope in Jesus with the promise of eternal life. That promise goes beyond this tiny speck of a life we are now living, and transcends into eternity (Psalms 8:3-5).

Therefore if some come to you and say, “Jesus is over here!” and then you see the object of their affection is this world and everything in it, do not believe them. Material wealth perishes, as does the recognition of others (Romans 8:6). And if some say to you, “Jesus is over there!” and you find they are looking to themselves for approval, do not believe them. None can buy their way into the kingdom, for the kingdom of heaven is God’s gift to those who believe (Romans 6:23).

Instead, pray every day for the kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done. Bless those who curse you. Give to those who beg, and strive to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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Posted in My Journey

God’s Love Endures Forever

God loves us more than anything in the universe. He loves us more than the sun, more than the earth, more than anything. God’s love for us is so great such that he sacrificed his son Jesus so that he might save us from the penalty of sin. There is nothing God has withheld in order to give us life.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about God’s love this way:

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.

(Isaiah 49:13)

Later, in that same chapter Isaiah reveals one of the most significant prophecies recorded in the bible, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). What is Isaiah talking about here? The context is all about Israel’s restoration, yet this one verse points to a time when God will give of himself for the salvation of those who believe. How is that possible?

When the Romans were holding Jesus’ hands steady on the cross, the engraver positioned his nails to write all our names on Jesus’ palms. Once our savior’s blood soaked the back of that cross, God’s love for us was complete. We all had a hand in the crucifixion, but God was the one who now had our names engraved on the palms of his hands.

If in our lives we reach a time when we feel abandoned, acquainted with sorrow, or rejected, there is no one else who felt that more than God’s son Jesus did when he hung on that cross. However, God’s love never failed Jesus, for he now sits at the right hand of the Father and is waiting for the day when he will come again. In the meantime, our names are safe with God, and he will not forget us when we pass from this life to the next, for his love endures forever.

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