Posted in My Journey

Salvation Is Ours Now

Jesus is the only answer to eternal life. For those wishing to live forever, he is the way, the truth and the light. God purposed Jesus to come to earth when he did to take away the sin of the world. What many do not realize, though, is that God had foretold Jesus’ coming way back in the Garden of Eden:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God spoke these words to the serpent as a curse for the deception under which he had caused humanity to fall (Genesis 3:4); that by taking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden (Genesis 2:17), Adam and Eve would not surely die. The serpent implied they already had eternal life within them and did not need God to live forever.

The last part of that curse, however, is the true hope for humanity. It bears repeating, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In other words, Jesus will ultimately overcome Satan (Romans 16:20) by becoming the perfect sacrifice by which God will redeem us; a promise he fulfilled when he died on the cross for us (Ephesians 2:13).

Satan can bring charges against us to the high courts in heaven (Job 1:9-11). He can tempt us to commit sin (Matthew 4:5-6). He can attempt to corrupt us (Galatians 6:7-8). But what he cannot do is make us do anything against our will (James 1:14-15). And when our will aligns to God’s will, there is nothing he can do to render us useless (Luke 22:42).

God will provide the help we need to overcome Satan. As it says in the Gospel of John, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Once we accept Jesus as our savior, through grace, God saves us.

What a wonderful and powerful message that Jesus brought to his very elect. No circumstance is too great, no power is too strong, and no force is too overwhelming that God could not overcome. His glorious message of salvation guarantees us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And if we do struggle with our days, let us take heart, for God is our strength, as it says in Psalms, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Therefore, let us encourage one another, help one another and grow in the knowledge of Christ our Lord, for eternal life is ours now, and the days are short until his return.

Posted in My Journey

Repent and Believe

King David’s reign over Israel was unique in that he suffered much. For instance, Israel’s former king, Saul, chased him and wanted him dead; the Philistines continually attacked his kingdom and gave him no rest; he fell under the temptation of adultery with Bathsheba; he murdered her husband Uriah, who also happened to be one of his mighty warriors; and he fended against a bloody rebellion led by his son Absalom.

Yet God thought of David as a man after his own heart. How is that possible, considering all of David’s sins?

Look at what it says in the book of Acts:

“Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” (Acts 13:21-22)

The thing about David is that once he repented, he moved forward and resolved never to commit the same sin twice. David could have in fact written Psalms 51 on his knees while he sobbed, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psalms 51:1-3).

As Christians, we may also feel deep sadness for the evil we once committed. God, though, sees our hearts and he will forgive us, as he did with David:

“Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.” (Acts 13:23)

We just have to repent of our sins and believe Jesus is his son (Mark 1:15). Once we do that, salvation is ours. But we have to take that vital first step and come before him in prayer.

If you have come here feeling alone and lost, God knows. He will forgive you. God is there for you and he will help you find your way. He will help you find your center.

May God bless you always.

Posted in My Journey

God’s Love for Us

God saves those who believe Jesus is his son. Through him, people will have salvation from the penalty of sin, which is death. And by no other name can anyone find salvation.

As deceitful as the human heart is (Jeremiah 17:9), God gives life to those who sincerely repent of their sins. He calls those who are willing to change their lives, those who are broken and sorrowful, and those who are remorseful for what they have done (Matthew 22:14). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we Christians can overcome. Of ourselves, we have no power to do anything, but with God’s spirit, all things are possible (Luke 18:27).

The joy we have comes from knowing Jesus is living inside us—now, at this moment. He is living inside us, making us aware of the battle that rages deep within our hearts. As much as we want to obey him, keep his commandments, and love others as ourselves, the old self does not want to stay dead in that watery grave of baptism. Our flesh fights against the spirit and we end up doing what we do not want to do, as the apostle Paul said:

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)

How awful we are that we would ignore the things we ought to do to want to sin. Yet, Jesus living inside us makes us aware of just how ugly sin is. And we pray about it; and we ask God to forgive us; and we ask him to wash away our sins with Jesus’ blood (Acts 22:16). And because we are sinners, and God hears a penitent heart (Psalms 51:17), he forgives us, not because he has to, but because he wants to. Could God have loved us any more than for him to give his only son as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16)?

Oh, how wonderful God is! We may sin, but his love for us is greater, taller, stronger, deeper and wider than anything we could ever imagine.

For this reason, nothing can come between God’s love and us.

Posted in My Journey

Faith in God

God is leading me in everything I am doing. This recent discovery has led me to make many significant changes in my life that I would not have otherwise made had God’s spirit not been with me. The biggest of these changes is how I view Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. No longer am I taking his suffering lightly, for I now weep when I read the prophet Isaiah:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

I become distraught by knowing just how much Jesus suffered for me, but then my sadness turns to joy when I realize that I will never have to worry about my past sins ever again. God has forgiven me.

How wonderful a God I worship because now I have hope for a future where I will be with him forever. That faith he imparted through the Holy Spirit is the delight I now have living within me. And this has brought to life the beautiful belief I experience and is spoken of in Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

For as I believe Jesus is the Christ, son of God, who has saved me from the penalty of sin, which is death, faith is my guarantee that my reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:12).

And knowing this, what an amazing God he truly is!

Posted in My Journey

Thankful for Miracles

Yesterday I completed my “Year of Thanks” project I had begun in 2017. During this same time last year, I had resolved to think about one thing I was thankful for daily and tell people about it. I wrote it all out on Twitter as one long conversation. Some days I was thankful for the simple things, like eating a cheeseburger. Other days, my appreciation extended to knowing just how incredible a life I live having God there to support me.

Several things I did not mention, for which I am also grateful: I am on the Board of Directors of my church. I am on the Leadership Team, as well, delivering sermons on a regular basis. And I am a Youth Leader giving messages. Lastly, I have written a book called When Forgiveness Is Enough, which I now realize God had led to publication.

Of course, the biggest of all events I am thankful for has to be the Christmas gift God had given my family when my son broke from his Autistic Shutdown. Our appreciation could not be any larger than when we later found out that the cause was anxiety.

But nothing compares to what I feel whenever I think about the salvation I now have through Jesus. The apostle Paul expressed it so well when he related his thanksgiving regarding the grace given to others:

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:4 ESV).

No matter how small or how large of a miracle that takes place in our lives today, or this week, being thankful for all of it gives us the opportunity to know just how much God loves us. With every little miracle God grants, he demonstrates his love.

Posted in My Journey

Forgive Always

We put up the Christmas tree this weekend. Everyone was there except my son, who landed in the hospital two weeks ago. We are still trying to understand what is going on with him. I am sure that whatever it is, the good doctors in town will provide a proper diagnosis soon. I guess the one positive thing I can take away from this experience is that the hospital is only four minutes away from our home. Yes, I timed it.

For my final post of 2017, before I go on hiatus, I wanted to talk a bit about forgiveness. I know I have written about this subject in the past, and I have preached about it, too. And I have written a book called When Forgiveness Is Enough regarding this topic. So, I would say, I am fully aware of the details and nuances concerning forgiveness, and of what it does to the person who is doing the forgiving.

Given it is the season to be merry I find I cannot be merry if I am harboring a grudge. More times than not, a grudge eats away at the very fabric of who we are and takes away from the enjoyment of whatever it is we are doing. I cannot say how important it is to let go of the past in order to move forward with the future. Part of that also is removing bitterness from our lives. As it says in Hebrews:

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15 ESV throughout).

If we allow bitterness to infect our heart, that root will grow and spread to all our other relationships, ruining everything we have worked to build. The remedy is to let go of that root, dig it out of our hearts, and live lives free from the burden of bitterness, anger and resentment.

My sermon on forgiveness from November 5, 2017:

Yes, it is easy to say, but when has a hard thing been easy to do? The Apostle Luke has a solution we can take to heart:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

In other words, Luke says to do good, bless and pray for those who hate, curse and abuse us. That is tough to do, especially if some of us have experienced physical and sexual abuse. How can we forgive a predator?

As Christians, though, the act of forgiving another human being needs to be part of our nature. We cannot allow a root of bitterness to grow and fester until it is too late. We have to get rid of it, and replace vengeance with doing good. Only then will we become selfless as Christ Jesus, who gave himself on the cross as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, thereby saving us from sin’s penalty (Rom. 6:23).

That is the one message I would like to leave with you during this holiday season. Forgive, as you would like others to forgive you. In so doing, your reward will be great in heaven.

Posted in My Journey

New Beginnings

I am pleased to announce my latest book When Forgiveness Is Enough: Making Sense of God’s Calling will go on sale October 24.

In some ways, this book is a representation of everything I have gone through these past two years, and the joy I have felt acknowledging Jesus as the one true savior by whom God redeems the world from sin.

Even more so, this book release comes at a time when my family and I are working through a great trial God has blessed us with, to which we are learning patience, kindness and self-control. I do not think the words in this book would have carried the weight of God’s glory had we not gone through the events of last month, and learned from those events.

As I sit writing this, I cannot help but think how different my life is from two years ago when God began working with me. I used to write about zombies, horror and all sorts of dark themes. My life revolved around the latest undead news, theories and resolutions. My books were sitting at the top of the charts alongside the likes of Stephen King. Who in their right mind would give up such a life in pursuit of God, of all things?

Yet, when I began to read the bible cover to cover in January 2015, completing the task in December that same year, I did not realize God’s word was changing me. Without prodding from anyone, I was praying more, studying more, and meditating more on the things I read.

It did not end there. The biggest change is that I was praying for my enemies. I no longer wanted bad things to happen to those who I felt had wronged me. I was asking God to bless them in every way possible. I prayed for their families. I prayed for their employment. And most of all, I prayed that one day they would also come to the knowledge of Jesus and have faith that he will save all who believe in him.

I cannot express just how thankful I am to have completed this book with forgiveness as its central theme. It is my desire that whoever reads this book will go on to forgive others also.