Posted in My Journey

Happiness Is Loving God

True happiness is to love God. Everything else, the pursuit of riches, the wanting desires of the heart, the need to love and be loved, aside from God, will leave us empty and continually searching for purpose and meaning. There will come a time in our lives when we will stand before God and he will ask, “What have you done with your life?” And if all we could say is, “I became a world-renowned pianist,” or “I wrote hundreds of bestsellers,” or “I climbed Mount Everest,” or “I became CEO of the largest and most successful company on Earth,” God will then ask, “Did you love me?”

God wants those he has chosen to be happy. The only way to gain that happiness is to love him, making everything else secondary to that love. Jesus puts it this way:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Apart from loving others, loving God should be our calling throughout our lives. No other commandment is greater than to give oneself wholly to God in service for his glory. That means not only in word but also in action. God would like us to love him in a way that would change us to think like him. What would Jesus do? But the question really is, what would we do apart from God? If we did not love God, what would our lives look like without that love? We do not want to stand before God one day to have him ask, “Did you love me?”

True happiness is to love God.

Posted in Bible Studies

God’s Word Is Life

Oh, if I could only wrap myself in the word of God and make it my blanket, my head would snuggle in its phrases and my heart would feel its warmth in delight. If within its pages I could lose myself and never return, I would ask God for others to do the same, and swim in the ocean of its truth to experience the breadth of God’s love.

God’s word is life. God’s word is love. God’s word is everything anyone would ever want, because everything is what God’s word is. It discerns. It reveals. It cuts to the bone to expose the innermost secrets:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Oh, how wonderful God is to have opened salvation to us through Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For only through Jesus, the Word, can we attain salvation (John 1:1-4, 14). Line upon line, verse upon verse; every word from God’s mouth is a light on to my feet. It builds. It edifies. It supports the church on a cornerstone others have rejected. And it floods the spirit of those wanting to know what truth is.

Be enraptured by God’s word. Be enthralled by it. Grow in its knowledge and in its depth. Know that he gave us this moment in time to draw nearer to him in absolute adoration and joy for him. For the joy of reading God’s word is life on to the reader.

Let us read life into our lives.

Posted in My Journey

A Gentle Spirit

Be kind to one another. Love each other as Jesus loved you, insomuch that He shed his blood for us while we were yet sinners. Give and never fear of going without. God will always provide. He is the one who created everything. Is it so difficult for Him to supply the needs for his children?

Above all else, remember to have a soft and gentle heart to those who wrong you. They are lost, and they do not know what they do when they are harming you. The apostle Peter says it this way:

“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19)

Be merciful to your persecutors. For as it says in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

A gentle spirit is humble. A gentle spirit is pure. It does not desire vengeance, nor does it desire evil for evil. It returns love for hate. It shows understanding when there is a lack of wisdom. And it promotes comfort for those times when others feel insecure.

Never be afraid to show the world what Jesus looks like living inside you.

Posted in My Journey

What Is Love?

Love does not hate; it does not boast, nor does it seek revenge. Love cares for another more than oneself; it is not proud, arrogant or unmerciful. Love leads, conquers prejudice, and gives even when in need. Love is not afraid and will always be kind.

It would be easy to quote the apostle Paul’s inspired words about love from 1 Corinthians 13, but one of the greatest thoughts about love comes from Jesus himself, when he said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus demonstrated that very love when he died on the cross for us in order to pay for the penalty of our sins. And although the night before his death Jesus fervently prayed to God regarding this great responsibility placed on his shoulders, he still accepted it because it was God’s will. No other act in human history depicts just how much God loves us than for him to have given his son Jesus as a sacrifice to redeem us from death.

What is love? It is to look upon Christ’s sacrifice and to conclude how selfless an act it truly was for him to give his last breath for us sinners. It is to become like Jesus and to sacrifice ourselves for others as a means to allow Christ to live in us, not only in word but also in deed. We Christians owe our lives to God, and what better way to show our love for him than to give as he gave so that we can experience the fullness of his love living in us. No greater love is it than to sacrifice one’s life for friends.

As we move into the new year, let us resolve to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.

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

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.

Audio transcript:

Posted in Bible Studies

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.

Audio transcript: