God, the Logical Choice

Preface

Stand, sit, kneel, repeat… It was the part of the mass when we had to stand. This repetition throughout the service drove me crazy. Couldn’t we just stand when we sang, and then sit for the remaining part of the mass? It would be much more enjoyable.

Jesus hung there on the cross. Somber. Bloody. Something just didn’t feel right anymore. This whole Jesus thing seemed to be nothing more a farce. What I once believed, or thought I believed, abandoned me. It didn’t leave me all at once at that moment, but rather a persistent questioning had been slowly chipping away at me for a while. It built up, until on this day while I was staring at Jesus, I no longer believed. I remember making a decision to face the truth – “Jesus was nothing more than a man!”

What occupied me at that moment was something that felt real… a revelation. It hit me so hard, I literally had to maintain my balance.

The only thing we are is energy, and through the natural order of chaos, we came into existence, and when we leave we turn back into energy with no thought or memory. We return to our non-existent state.

At that moment a vision overwhelmed me. The floor dropped out from underneath me revealing a black abyss. I was falling. The feeling was so real and strong I held tightly to the pew in front of me. It was absolute fear, and I wondered how long I was going to feel this way. How could I live with the knowledge that life is pointless because it only leads to death?

The sitting part of the service. Finally! Immediately, I plopped down and started feeling better. I was on stable ground. Within a few minutes a peaceful feeling came over me. I was ok. Everything would be ok. I exhaled long and slow and accepted my fate. When I die it will be final. Nothing more than that. And that was just fine with me – it is what it is. If you can’t change it, embrace it.

That was about 8 years ago, probably 2008. Today, my wife and I are working towards certification as Ministers in the Assemblies of God. Through the grace of God, who led me through a series of moves and events, I came back to know Him in a deep and intimate way.

During this time something took root in me – a mission to prove that God exists without using the Bible. What I found?  If you pursue God He will answer you.

He answered me by revealing to me who He is. What I learned has become the bedrock of my faith and I am compelled to share it, especially with people new to the faith, the youth who have been in the faith, and students who attend or are about to attend a secular college.

Sound Logic

When anyone seeks God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, He answers their inquiries and provides a breadcrumb trail to the truth. Revelations, dreams, epiphanies are just a few ways God responds to us when we seek to know Him more.

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on the servants – men and women alike.” — Joel 2:28-29

One of many things God revealed to me is a logic that is the defender of my faith. Whenever I hear satan whispering in my ear, “God doesn’t exist”, or “Do you really believe in this Jesus? Come on, it sounds so stupid! Truthfully, aren’t you embarrassed to believe in this fairytale?”, like a meteor this logic comes out of nowhere and smashes those thoughts into a million pieces.

Not much can stand against this logic, well, at least for me nothing can. It is sound and irrefutable, and very simple. For many people it may be old news, but for me, someone who was coming back to God, this logic is revelation that gives me more of a complete understanding of Him than what I had before. Yes, I have evidence in my everyday living that leads me into a deeper relationship with God, but this logic helped me ramp up to where I am today. It kept me from backsliding, and I believe it can help others from backsliding and moving forward into a deep and tangible relationship with our Creator. It is our goal to become more and more immersed in His Glory.

Over a course of a few years, God revealed to me the understanding I was seeking. It was never one big gushing revelation, (I wish it were), but just bits and pieces. I have been trying to convey it for some time, but organizing the thoughts eluded me. Finally, it is here. a summary of the logic is something like this:

Something has always existed because something living must give life to life. This somethingness contains all that is necessary to create life, and contains much more than what we will discover in this world. It is infinite in size, time, concepts, and matter and cannot be quantified. It has no starting point, so it never began, and yet it will it ever end. It exists because something must exist, and it will always exist. It is self-sufficient, self-existent, and the single origin and source of life. This somethingness is the infinite, who is God.

Only a living being can give birth to life. The alternative to that logic is spontaneous generation, which is an obsolete theory. Summarized, spontaneous generation suggested that an organism can be created spontaneously without a creator. In 1859, Louis Pasteur disproved this theory, and the science community supports his findings. In fact, it is taught to our children in school. “Taught to our children.” That statement sums up how obvious it should be not to place our faith in some debunked and misguided theory. Yet so many “intelligent” adults do this, including professors. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

It is pretty obvious this theory can be crossed off the list of possibilities of how life began. This leaves us with only one option, something existed to give life to this universe, and any other universe.

There is a single origin for life, for this world or any other world we are not privy to, which is one infinite entity that contains everything necessary for creating life and sustaining it. This entity would not only be infinite in space and time, but also in matter and concepts. Life is not just light and particles; it is also algorithms, concepts, philosophies, emotions, color, voids… (If you can think it, it’s in there!) All these things, everything, already exist in some form within the infinite.

If there is one thing that does not exist within the infinite, then the source of life wouldn’t be infinite. There would be two sources of life, one with everything but that one missing element, and the other source with the one element. If there are two sources, then what made the decision of which life source contains what elements? Regardless of how we challenge this logic, the bottom line is, there is ultimately one source of life, regardless of how it is organized, from which all things derive.

The single origin of life is self-sufficient, requiring nothing to exist. Just as there is no starting point to time, there is no starting point for the single source of life. It merely exists, and always has. As well, it will never end. It just is.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you should say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” — Exodus 3:14

There are many translations of the original Hebrew letters for Exodus 3:14, but the essential meaning succinctly conveys the same message, “I exist because I do.”

In a time when Pharaohs were gods, and people worshiped Baal, the Jews capture the essence of God in such an abstract concept that I cannot help but wonder, why their God was so different? Why didn’t they grab a piece of wood and carve out some idol? That is what everyone else did. What set them apart in their understanding of God? While most people relied on themselves to formulate a god, the Jews had a God that revealed Himself to them.

Make no mistake, “God” is not some universal name that can be applied to any theology. “God” explicitly refers to the God of Israel. There are many theologies that claim to have an understanding of God, with very convincing evidence. However, unless these theologies reveal their god to be the God of Israel, then their doctrine is incomplete.

Only God exists. As the single origin of life, God contains all things necessary for life. Whatever we have is given to us by God. Our hair, our eyes, our thoughts and character have always existed, and were given to us by Him. He is infinite in resources, and all things, including life as we know it, exist within Him, not outside of Him. Nothing exists outside of God because He is all that exists, and therefore, He encompasses all things.

There are many more Bible verses that describe God as infinite, omnipresent, omnificent, omnipotent, everlasting, unending, self-sufficient… that I could include. But, this is a posting, and a long one at that. It includes the baseline for a logic that for me is irrefutable. It is the defender of my faith. Having only come to the Lord in my twenties and for very selfish reasons, and having an on-again-off-again relationship with Him, this understanding, which is Biblically sound, has been my saving grace from backsliding into off-again.

It is my hope and prayer that this posting has given you the solid footing you need to move forward in your relationship with the Father.

P.S.: Given this logic, a more accurate title for “Newton’s Law of Physics” is “God’s Law of Physics as Revealed to Sir Isaac Newton”. And, yes, even evolution, the concept of it, whether it is right or wrong, could only come from God, since He is the source of all things.

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Healing for My Knee

It snowed Friday night into Saturday morning, but the temperatures rose, and the snow was perfect for snowballs, snowmen and snow blocks for building snow forts. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, so my son and I went for a hike and to take pictures in the park.

We put on our snow boots, thermals, snow pants, coats, hats and gloves, grabbed the camera and headed to the park. The first field we came to, we took some pictures of a snow covered landscape. My son took some pictures and then I took some pictures. When I was done I turned to see my son pushing a big snow boulder. I guess we were building a snowman. Fred was born on January 24, 2015 at approximately 11:30 am.

After building Fred, we went to our favorite place, the white house with the reflection pool. While we were walking, my son decided to attack me with snow balls. I retaliated some, but I thought of the white house and decided to make a dash for it. The house has a terrace off the back with tall walls. If I could get control of the terrace, then I would basically have a fortress, and my son would have to attack from way beneath the walls.

We battled for about 20 or 30 minutes. I lost the fortress… then I won it back. Then I lost the fortress, and then won it back. It was a back and forth battle, and making snowballs was a cinch. I felt Buddy the Elf, just not so weird. (Watch the movie Elf if you do not understand the reference.) I also had to escape the fort, and found myself yelling “Run away! Run away!” (Monte Python reference) Exhausted, we both were done battling.

It was time for the hike, which is about 4 miles long, and starts off ascending Mount Misery. When we started, we were both exhausted and the back of my knee was not extending. I had to keep my knee bent in order to avoid the pain. So why do this hike? Because my son is doing track so endurance and mental toughness is necessary. The one thing about endurance is fighting past exhaustion and pain. So, despite what our body’s wanted, a seat in a warm house, we started to walk.

My son immediately dropped down and looked at me so broken, but I kept walking, well, limping. I really wasn’t sure how we were going to do it, but we were. I reminded Victor of a movie we watched called 4 Minute Mile where a runner had to break through the pain and exhaustion to finish a mile run under 4 minutes. Next thing you know my son took the lead.

The pain in my knee was excruciating, so I had to focus on keeping my leg bent to avoid the pain.  About 1 mile into the ascent, it came to me, pray. Pray the pain away. This always worked for me in the past. My right knee would be in pain when I walked to the point where I thought I would have to stop. But then I would pray, and instantly, not in 5 minutes, or even 5 seconds, but instantly my knee would be fine.

So I prayed, and instantly the pain was gone and I had full range in my knee! Now I needed healing for my lower back, and my pelvis, because they were achy as well. So I just kept praying. Exhaling with “Lord Jesus Christ” and inhaling with “Heavenly Father” I found ourselves trucking up the hill, over the top of Mount Misery and down the other side.

Our backs were sweaty, and we were wet from the snow melting from the trees , but we persevered over the hardships. Jesus gave us the strength to finish. Not only did He gave us strength, but He gave us energy and a renewed spirit and body, so much so that in our last leg of the walk we ran to the car. Paul writes in Philippians that Christ is the secret to dealing with any situation:

For I can do anything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

On the descent from Mount Misery are some ruins. We spent time, a good 20 to 30 minutes taking pictures and exploring. It was as though we never hiked the mountain at all. Thank you Jesus for the power you have in our life.

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The Truth About Who We Are

Applying John 1:3-4 to Life

How We Define Ourselves
If we were asked the question, “Tell me about yourself,” we probably respond with telling the person our name, then go on to tell the person whether or not we are married, how many kids we have, how many siblings and where we are in the mix. We would tell them what we do for a living, where we were born and raised. Hobbies, sports and music interests, and what we have accomplished in life. We may include who our parents and grandparents are. Some details we would keep to ourselves, such as, what failures we had in our life, the poor decisions we have made, the things we want but don’t have.

There are many things both good and bad that we will recollect when we think about who we are. Primarily what we recollect are things that we know in this world. The things that we can touch and feel. But isn’t there something more to it than that? Isn’t this just half of the picture? I believe it is, and it is not even the important half. We can get so focused on this world that we lose touch with what is truly important.

Jesus Defines Our Priority
In Mark 12:17 the Pharisees ask Jesus whether or not Jews should pay taxes to Rome, and He responds, “Give to Caesars what belongs to Caesars, but give to God what belongs to God.” This was a response to thwart the efforts of the religious leaders to trap Jesus, but this response clearly defines what our priorities should be in life – do not dwell so much on this world, but dwell upon our inheritance, which is the Kingdom of God.

Another example. Jesus clearly states that we must focus on the Kingdom of God more than this world in Luke 12:4. Here Jesus is speaking out against the Pharisees, and he warns people to fear God’s ultimate power more than the religious leaders worldly power. “…don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you who to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell.”

If this life is so important, wouldn’t Jesus’ messages be that we must cling to this world rather than focus on the Kingdom of God? But it is not, so have faith and invest more in the Kingdom of God.

Discovering Ourselves – The Truth to Our Origin
So what does all this have to do with how we see ourselves? We need to take the emphasis from defining ourselves based on worldly guidelines, and put it on how we were originally created. We must meditate upon who we truly are, and what our true origin is.

There is no other information that I have found that deals with our origin as succinctly than the Gospel of John 1:1-5. The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John, whom was one of the three disciples that Jesus seems to be closest. When Jesus would select apostles from the twelve, He would choose Peter, John and James. (Matt 17:1, Mark 14:33, Mark 5:37)

For this essay I want to only focus on verses 3 and 4, however, as beautiful as this passage is, I think it is a loss to exclude the other 3 verses. And because different versions have different endings, all with the same point, I am listing several here to read. Two for ease of understanding, one for word-for-word accuracy, and one for just out-and-out beauty.

New Living Translation – clarity
1In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He existed in the beginning with God. 3God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

New International Translation – clarity (I like this version too)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

English Standard Version – literal translation
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

King James – shear beauty
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Later in verse 14, the apostle John states “The Word became flesh, and He made His dwelling upon us.” From this we know John is referring to Jesus when he uses the phrase “The Word”. So from verses 1 and 2 we know that John is stating that Jesus is one with God. One and the same. Jesus is God incarnate.

When it comes to our origin, we know that our creator is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the architect and the builder of life, and He had an infinite supply of resources in God. “Through Him all things were made; And nothing was made without Him.” (I just mashed together the NIV and the NLT.) This includes the sun, the stars, the planet, and galaxies, and all the magnificent creations that are awe-inspiring. As well, He made the minutia. Every particle and atom exists because Jesus created them. So, He created the large and the small, and He created everything in between, which includes you and me.

Application – The Truth about Our Pedigree

I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! Psalm 139:14

We have to realize that our true nature is designed and created by Christ. What Christ creates is never imperfect, and never impure. It is righteous and holy, because our creator is righteous and holy and it would be an insult to our Creator to suggest that He is capable of creating something less than what would meet the highest standards. That would be like Ferrari deciding to make a car that is designed to go slow and cannot handle turns. Or, it is like Louie Vuitton taking plastic bags and sticking their logo all over it, and trying to sell it for $500.

Just the same, Jesus would never jeopardize His perfection by creating something so imperfect. Right now you maybe thinking of people you know that in no way meet the description of perfect and holy and therefore think this statement is false. The issue is not the assertion that we are perfect and holy, and that Jesus is incapable of creating anything less; the issue is with your thinking – you are being mindful of things in this world, and we need to move beyond that.

Application – Spirit First
We are spiritual beings first and foremost, then we are people in the flesh. Jesus existed in the beginning with God, but he became flesh and dwelt among us. Being made in his image we too are first spirit then flesh. Jesus’ creation takes precedence over the worldly body we inhabit. This does not mean we can abuse the body given to us. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and discussed the topic of sexual immorality he stated “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) It does mean that we need to straighten out our thinking, and realize that we are spirit first, and body second.

Application – We Were Planned

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Another important point about Jesus being the architect and builder of life, is that He had a vision of what life would be like, what it would include, and how things would work. Like any builder, there needs to be a vision of what is the final product and what it looks like. Jesus envisioned this. He had a concept of each and every component of life, including you and me. He thought of us, each one, individually. Each person was included in Jesus grand scheme of life. And that is amazing – that the creator of the heavens and earth, of the stars and the moons, created us in every detail. A creator infinite in size, age and wisdom, had the time and patience to create each and every one of us.

Application – Inclusion, not Exclusion
One aspect of verse 3 and 4, that will rub people the wrong way is John asserts that there is not one living thing on this planet that was not created by Jesus, and that Jesus gives life to every living thing. “3God created everything through him, and nothing was made except through Him. 4The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” Notice the inclusion here – “everything” and “everyone”. There is no exclusion. John did not add in any exceptions to the rule. Not because of your race, religious beliefs or lack there of, or for what evil things we have done in this world. There are no exceptions for terrorists, murderers, rapists or con-artists. We are all included in Jesus’ grand design – we just may not have turned out as Jesus had hoped.

Jesus created everyone, so He is the father of every human, past, present and future. He has first claim to each of our lives because He created us. It is unfortunate for some that He also gave us free will, because some people will never accept the truth, that Jesus is their creator and our true father. For some of us, who have awoken from our slumber, we realize the truth and receive Him as our father. But we do have the capacity to reject Him because He designed us this way. Jesus wants us all, but we have to want Him too.

Salvation – Why the Need? I Thought I was Perfect
So, why do we need to be saved if Jesus created us pure and holy? Because we did slip into a slumber. For some of us, the connection we have to God is foreign. It is something some people may never fully appreciate, because they are not willing to fully understand it. They are tied to the tangible, the things in this world, and refuse to open their minds to something more than what we know in this world.

Salvation – Our Dormant Relationship with God
Because of our dormant relationship with God a gap was created between us and God, and the truth. That is why Jesus came, to wake us up and show us the gap, but also to encourage us to rekindle that relationship with God. He also came with instructions – in John 14:6 Jesus explains that he is “… the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Having to believe in Jesus to come to God makes sense since, for one, He is God, and for two, through Him all things are made. He is the gate (John 10:7) through which we entered into this world, and He is the gate we pass through to go home.

Salvation – Rebuilding that Relationship
To have a relationship with any person, you have to know them. In order to know Jesus, we have to be willing to invest in reading Bible. If you try to find other means, you will be no different from a person in an impossible maze – you may think you know the way, and even have convincing evidence, but you never find your way out. You will be hopelessly stuck in maze. Only God’s Word can guide you all the way through.

13Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Salvation – All Roads Lead to Jesus
Jesus Christ is the gate (John 10:7), and He is the Life that is the light of all mankind. In this light we come to know the truth. We live in the light rather than in the darkness. It is through Jesus’ life that we are illuminated – purified and clean. Without His life, we are in the darkness and are blind to our sins, where as in the light our sins are exposed. We can lean upon Jesus to sanctify us and present us holy and blameless before God (Colossians 1:22).

Salvation – Only Through Him Am I Validated

2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to pen the scroll and look inside. Revelation 5:2-4

I know on my own I am not worthy to even say His name. There are days when I think that I have no right to even pray to Him. This is where salvation comes in. Jesus knew that as we live in the dark, or are in our spiritual slumber, that we would sin. We would suffocate the reality of who we are – what Jesus created – with poor decisions, sinful deeds, evil thoughts and malicious intentions.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

When I read that for the first time, I mentally took a red pen and marked each trait with an “X”, because I knew those were characteristics I did not have. Thank God, that through Christ these attributes of love are becoming a part of my character.

Salvation – The Plan
Again, I personally am not worthy to even mention His name, but because Christ is the redeemer, I can. Christ knew that every one of His creations would fall short of their true potential, so He created the Plan of Salvation. In order for His creations to be with Him in Heaven, we need to be blameless and perfect, but it is not something we could not do on our own. Jesus would need to intervene on our behalf. If we came into Heaven just as we are, we would defile the Kingdom. We needed to be cleansed.

To qualify us for Heaven, Jesus had to get rid of our sins, and the only way to do this was for Jesus to take our sins with Him into the tomb and leave them there. Jesus Himself would have to die with our sins on His shoulders, and that is just what he did.

He came into the world that He created as a lowly child born in a stable. He grew up and became a carpenter. When He was thirty and He left His profession and proclaimed the Good News, that He is the Messiah and that He is the means to Heaven (John 14:6). After three years He gave Himself up to the religious leaders to be crucified. After He died He was buried in a tomb with a huge boulder that covered the entrance. It was also guarded by centurions so that no one could steel His body. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6). Finally, He ascended into Heaven.

Salvation – Jesus Knew My Name When He was on That Cross
You should meditate often about how Jesus thought of us when He was on the cross. He knew the sins that He carried – all of the sins of all those who accept Him as Savior, including the sins we have committed and are going to commit. Jesus knows about each sin, which were accounted for on the day of His crucifixion. When He rose again, your sins and my sins were no longer on His shoulders, because He left them in Hades.

Salvation – The Price, in Simple Terms I can Understand
What a cost He paid for us! The creator of Life gave up His Heavenly authority to become a servant to His children. He sacrificed Himself so we could enter Heaven. The creator of Life sacrificing Himself for us. Couldn’t it have been a cow, or a sheep? Imagine this, you walk into a store to purchase something, and the price is $20. But you tell the store owner, “No, that is much too cheap for such as magnificent widget. No, I will pay you twenty… million dollars!” Well, that is just what Jesus did. Who else is qualified to appraise our value, but the One who created us. Only He knows our value.

He set the price so high no one else could afford it. Jesus’ price? Priceless. Our price? Priceless.

What to Take Away
We are priceless creations of Jesus, who is God. What God creates is holy and perfect. We are spirit first and then human beings, and this is the way we need to define ourselves, and others around us. When we look in the mirror, we can no longer look at ourselves and think, “what I see is all there is.” You are much more than that. You are the child of God. The same being that made the sun, stars and planets, created you too. Jesus Christ is your true father, as he is to all the people around you. Some may not know it yet – because they have forgotten since the gap got so wide – but prayerfully one day they will awaken from their slumber and remember who they are too.

Dwell upon this often, and never think of yourself as a finite being again. You are spirit, and you are a child of Christ.

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Testimonial for God's Timing in Helping Us Buy Car

God’s timing is so reliable. When He gets involved in our situations where we need help I usually don’t realize it until after the issue is resolved. When I do, it is like someone fired off a cannon and I wake up from a trance and realize the reality of the situation – God intervened on our behalf. It happens so much and so often that I could write a book on what He has done in our lives.

We recently needed a car, because our van, with 280 thousand miles on it, started having issues. It was time to buy another car, but we had a very tight budget and, I believe a very unrealistic requirements. My wife and I decided to spend less than $8,000 for a car with less than 30 thousand miles and a clean title – no accidents. If you go to AutoTrader.com and do a search that meets this criteria, you will find very few, if any listings to choose from.

We did find a 2000 Toyota Corolla with 30,000 miles on it and under our budget. I believe it was a stick shift. We were very close to buying it, but at that time I was looking for work. So we waited, even though we believed a deal like this wont come around again. Having owned a Toyota, we knew this car would last a long time.

When I got a job, which itself is another divinely orchestrated affair, we needed to buy a car, because our van broke down on us over 2 hours away from our home. We had to leave the van, borrow a car, because the rental places were closed, and had to buy a car that week. I was very skeptical that we would ever see a  good deal, and were going to have to settle for a high mileage beater. I was distressed, but we prayed and we counted on God to see us through.

Towards the end of the week we still didn’t find a deal and we needed to return the loner car that coming weekend. Then I receive an e-mail from my wife while I was at work. It was for a 2006 Saab, with 29,000 miles and under our budget. I figured she was joking with me, because I would never buy a Saab. I have seen Saab’s broken down on the side of the road, and that was enough to turn me off. But Brenda owned one before and loves Saab. So, no, she wasn’t joking. I looked up the 2006 Saab for reviews, and this was the only year that the Saab got a high reliability rating score from Consumer Review and Edmunds. I also asked my pastor, who owned a 2006 Saab, and he had only good things to say.

I figured there had to be something wrong with it, it had been in an accident. Brenda thought the same this so she purchased the CarFax. It had no accidents and one owner. Wow… this is getting pretty good. After work, we went to the dealer, and were the first people to see it. The dealership, Armen Chevrolet in Ardmore, PA, got the car in the day before, and had just posted the ad in AutoTrader.

When I approached the car, I fell in love instantly. It is a sport edition and an arbor metallic green, a beautiful subtle but outspoken color. The salesman, Chris, pulled the car out and I got in. We were inches off the ground and I could feel the surge in me – I wanted to drive this car… very, very fast!

The car is fully loaded: dual climate control; sun-roof;  6 CD-player; gray leather heated seats; turbo… I fell in love instantly. The key thing here is I had always complained about our van not have dual climate control. My wife is always cold when I am hot, and hot when I am cold. I demanded the next car we would get had to have dual climate control.

She started up instantly and we took it for a spin. The steering it tight, like a go-kart. Tons of pep – this car has no issue getting up and going. The deal was done, we would buy this car. We needed a cashiers check to buy the car, so I figured we would have to rent for a few days until I could get the check, but Armen wrote a promissory note and let us drive it off the lot.

The first business day of the following week I gave Armen their check and we got the title free and clear. The funny thing is, I was so stressed about the situation, that I had forgotten we had prayed a week earlier. When I realized this, my heart sank. The revelation was so mind-blowing I couldn’t speak. I was overcome with awe. He had done it again. God intervened. He knew our needs, knew the right time, and knew our hearts. He took our unrealistic requirements and the desires of our hearts, and wrapped it all up in this one car. It could have been a Corolla, but God loves us so much He said, “No. I have something better!”

At this point I decided to give up any alcoholic drink. I never had an issue with drinking, and I honestly enjoy beer, Mescatto wine, and Southern Comfort, especially when it is kept in the freezer. The evidence of God’s hand in our lives is so overwhelming I wanted to show Him how much I appreciate Him, and so I offer this up as a sacrifice for Him.

We have named the car Grace, because it is because of His Grace that we have it. As well, we have a license plate frame that states, “Believe in the Power of Prayer”. We figured it is important for us to proclaim the greatness of God with every resource possible. I believe in advertising the greatness of God everywhere I go. Proclaiming His incredible love for us.

Don Carlson, a True Evangelist, a Man of God, and My Friend and Teacher

Don Carlson, my friend and mentor, passed away yesterday. He was in his mid 90’s.

This man, in the few years I have known him, transformed my life by helping me break down the barriers that kept me from reaching lost souls for Christ. What I learned is that we have to get uncomfortable, because if we don’t then we may miss out on a great opportunity to lead a person to Christ. When the time comes, don’t we want to stand before Jesus and proclaim, “I said yes to Your Great Commission, and I was active in finding lost souls.”

I could say it is a missed opportunity to have helped a person make a decision for Christ, which is far more important than my selfish desires to stand before God and know I “left everything out on the field”. But, God is not going to entrust us with something so important that we are a persons only opportunity to accept Christ. If we fail at our task, He will just get another disciple, and another and another. It is for others that we witness and testify, but it is also for ourselves. The in-filling of completeness, which only He can provide, can be attained through evangelizing.

Knowing that you are helping to fulfill Jesus’ Commission is a feeling of joy and success that is unparalleled by anything in this world. Knowing that you can stand before God and say you gave it 110% will provide you with authentic completeness and wholeness in God. Don can confidently go before the Throne and proclaim that he gave everything he had, and I am so honored that I could be a part of what Don accomplished. Remember, we are talking about a guy in his mid 90’s.

So, what did Don accomplish? What could an old and frail man get done that was meaningful? Well, for one he transformed my life and my wife’s life. He affected the souls of my children and my nephew. He planted seeds. For me it was the seed of evangelism.

In life groups and in Church I hear people say that they are not equipped to be evangelist, even in regard to witnessing, which we are all called to do. They come up with excuses why they do not witness or evangelize. There is really only one excuse why people ignore these God-given directives, and that is fear. Fear to break out of their comfort zone to connect to another person. Fear that they will be intruding on another person life. Fear of rejection. Fear of anger. Fear.

I also have heard that it takes a confident, outward person with a strong personality to evangelize. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It just takes a person to say “yes” to the prompting. To be obedient to the Spirit.  It is faith in the Gospel and works of the Spirit that will make use confident.

My time with Don proved to me that with time the confidence will come, and until then we just have to focus on breaking out of our shell.

Let me introduce to you, what I call “Don Carlson’s School of Evangelism”, and how it transformed me.

Lesson one, “Cold French Toast”.

One day I am having breakfast with Don at a Bob Evans. The waitress just brought us our food. Underneath my nose were four thick pieces for French Toast, topped with lumps of butter that was melting into the syrup. There was a dusting of powdered sugar on everything to sweeten up this delicious meal even more.

I wasted no time. I picked up my knife and fork and was ready to eat. Don and I had already prayed, so there was nothing stopping me from devouring all I had in front of me.

Before I could pierce my toast with my fork, Don spoke. “Rob.”

I just wanted to eat. I wanted just one bite of that hot, sticky, buttery, sweet French toast, and I really didn’t want to talk right then. Maybe after a few minutes.

Don continued, slowly and calculated, “You know, that family is about to eat, and they haven’t said grace.”

I froze. I remember this so clearly. I was frozen with a fork in one hand and a knife in the other, and I just stared at my delicious French toast.

Let me step back for a second and explain what is going on here. You see, this frail 90-year-old man was sitting across the table from me, reclining in his chair, with his arm comfortably stretched over the chair next to him, and his legs crossed. Don was cool as can be. And what this frail old man was doing, was challenging me, no different from a double-dog-dare that kids do on the playground. I didn’t have to stick my tongue on a froze flag pole, but I knew something was coming.

I looked up, and I see Don casually pointing to a family of 3 across the aisle from us.

I responded, “Yeah?”

He responded, “Why don’t you go over there and pray with that beautiful family. Say grace with them.” This was not a question, this was the double-dog-dare.

I just stared at him speechless. I turned and looked at the family. I looked back at Don. Was he kidding? Oh my gosh! I just want to eat my French toast.

Don, was working me. He knew my number. He knew I wouldn’t cower. How could I? Here is this frail old man, and barely 100 pounds soaking wet. What was I going to say, “No, I am too chicken.” Or, try to come up with some poor excuse and try to talk my way out of it? Basically, make up lies to mask the truth – I am too scared to go over an pray for a family. The thought of Don thinking of me as a coward was unthinkable. I would be too ashamed to look him in the eye, because across my forehead would be the words “Coward”, and the rest of the breakfast would be totally uncomfortable.

I couldn’t believe it. I just got double-dogged-dared!

I was still in shock when Don said, “You better hurry, they’re about to eat.”

Son of a… gun!

I got up and that 5 foot aisle instantly stretched out to 100 feet. It grew right before my eyes. The walk over was so surreal that I didn’t feel as though I was there. Rob had left the body and ran for cover. I was going to make a spectacle of myself. This man is going to tell me to go take a hike. What the heck was I doing in a Bob Evan’s on a Saturday morning, going over to pray for a family I don’t even know? How did I get my self into this? I just wanted to eat breakfast. I just want my French toast. What would my family think?

“Hi. I am Rob.” I addressed the husband. “You have a beautiful family. Do you mind if I say grace with you?” We said grace, which I stumbled on. I should have just done, “God is great, God is good…” but I tried to do an impromptu prayer, and it was just bad. Really bad. And awkward. Really, really awkward. I was so self-conscious rather than God-conscious that I think the Holy Spirit was only able to get in there a few times and say what He wanted to say. Don, finally came over to save me. How thoughtful.

The important message here is not the prayer nor the dare, but the fact that I started to overcome my comfort zone that morning. I started to break down a barrier that day, and doing this has helped me in so many ways. This is not a barrier I had in my youth, but one that grew there. We all have them, but we need to break them down. I believe this is one of many messages and experiences Don would want me to share with you. There are many more.

By the way… when I finally got back to my French toast, it was cold.

Don, my Rabbi, my Teacher, put me in a position to do this, and I will never forget that moment, and I will never be thankful enough to God for putting Don in my life. And, for Don who said yes to God to take me on.

Our friendship was part of a Divine plan. You see, years earlier, before I knew Don, he was in his 90’s and on his death-bed. The Church prayed for him and he lived. When I met Don and started to get to know him more my life started to change, and I started becoming more like the person Jesus wants us to be. I had a revelation that this friendship was an ordained fellowship, and that God kept Don alive for me. What an audacious and self-centered statement, but I know there are many people in my Church and outside of it who can say the same thing. And they should.

This frail old 90 something man was man enough to affect many lives in the final years of his. I hope this brings hope to others that it is never too late to be effective. You are as powerful as your Faith, and Don’s Faith made him one of the most powerful people I know. He has a power in my life, and I am thankful I said yes to letting him in.

I know the last things Don said before he went to bed for the last time. Not because I was there, but because Don was so consistent and tenacious about his evangelism. It was either him telling someone, “Jesus loves you”, or asking “Do you have anything I can pray for you about.” Knowing Don, he went to sleep praying and worship.

God Bless you Don! Thank you Jesus!

Brenda and Don at Victory Church October 2013.
Brenda and Don at Victory Church October 2013.

When Scripture for Divine Intervention Doesn't Live Up to Your Expectations

Tonight I was preparing for class. The topic for this weeks lesson is about unanswered prayers. In this lesson it states that not everyone will be healed in this life, but we will be given new bodies during the Rapture. In thinking of these things two verses came to mind – John 14:12-14 and Matthew 17:19-20. I hear them used often about the power we have within us, which seems contradictory to unanswered prayers.

In John 14:12-14 Jesus is responding to Philip who asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus reprimands Philip and goes on to say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! Verses 13 and 14 tell us of an amazing power we have available to use through Jesus. These verses state that if we ask for anything in Jesus’ name, we will receive. Wouldn’t “anything” include divine healing?

In Matthew 17:19-20 Jesus is angry with the disciples because they could not cast a demon out of a young boy. The disciple ask Him why they couldn’t cast out the demon and Jesus responds, You don’t have enough faith… I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Does this mean, if we lack faith that we will lack authority over our illnesses? I have known a pastor who passionately dedicated his life to Christ only to die petitioning God to save him from cancer. As well, it also states that if we have even a small amount of faith we will be able to do great things, like move a mountain.

On one hand we have these two proclamations made by Jesus that basically say all we need to do is ask in His name and we will receive, and if we have faith we have authority over everything.

So why then can’t we all be healed when ask in Jesus’ name, or faithfully pray for healing?

Let’s look at these verses in context. In John 14:12 Jesus states that anyone who believes in Him will do the same work He has done, and that if the disciple do these works they will do even greater things. What are these works? Well, they are not just the miracles. It also includes spreading the Good News about salvation.

So, Jesus seems to be telling us that if we spread the Gospel we will be empowered to do great things, and that if we ask in His name He will provide. Why? Because as we work hard to spread the Gospel, we will need provisions including signs and wonders.

Is it enough to do His work that we will have access to the provisions we need? Jesus says in verse 10, “…The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. 11Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. There are a two things that come to mind when I read this. One, Jesus made Himself available to the Father, and two, our hearts must be in what we do.

“If I speak with tongues of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy, and know all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

I am not stating that if we do all these things – abandon ourselves and give our lives totally to God and do His work of spreading the Gospel – that we will unequivocally receive all we ask for, including healing, or that if we do none of these things that we don’t have a chance. In John 14:12-14, when taken in context, Jesus is reassuring His disciples, which we are too, that as they do His work with their hearts He will make sure they have the provisions they need. So, we should not take it for granted that if we speak these words while praying we should “proclaim it and claim it.”

In Matthew 17:14 Jesus, Paul, John and James come down from the mountain and join the disciples whom were spreading the Good News and healing people. So, right here we see that the disciples were doing His works… well, as best as their faith allowed. The common thread between these two verse is doing Jesus’ work – sharing the Good News.

The proclamations Jesus makes in these verse seem to be reserved for those people who are ready to abandon all things to do God’s will on earth when this power is needed. Not to say God won’t grant miracles anytime He wants. He is God and He can do whatever He wants, but we should not be critical of scripture when we use it in prayer and our prayers are not answered. Ultimately, God will heal when it is in His plans to heal, and we have to understand that His decisions are not our business, and He not obligated to reveal His decisions to us. It is not even about us having faith in His ultimate wisdom. It is knowing He is God, and we are not. Therefore, as He does and does not do, regardless, it is right for us. That is all the logic we need so that we can be O.K.with whatever He decides.

When I think about what it means to do Gods work, a friend of mine comes to mind. He left his country with $200 in his pocket and airline tickets for himself and his family. He came to the USA because he had a calling on his heart. It is worth mentioning that he was once a Muslim and he left his faith for Christianity. He told me that decision alone almost cost him his life. When he came to the USA things unfolded for him and his family. Places to live, free college so he could finish his divinity degree, a car, and ways to feed his family were supplied to my friend when he needed them. His testimony is evidence of how God will supply our needs once we step out on faith.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalms 119:105)

A Delayed Message – 2000 Years Ago From the Cross

A few weeks ago I was in our life group meeting, which is basically a Bible study, and while we were worshiping I had this wonderful vision. It was so moving, that I often think about it to help me over issues I am facing, or guilt, or whatever.

Jesus on the CrossI am hovering above the cross looking over the cross beam at Jesus. His head is drooping down from the torture He endured in the morning, and He still has the crown of thorns on His head. He is physically drained and His body droops, only suspended by the nails in His hands and feet. His body is discolored with dry blood, sweat and dirt, and His hair is matted from the blood that seeped out from His scalp when the guards pounded the crown of thorns into His head earlier in the day. It is a terrible scene, but a necessary one for our salvation.

Jesus staring staring into youI float down and around to the front of the cross, and as I come past the cross beam Jesus’ head is turned and He is staring at me. It is as though He was expecting me. His right eye is swollen shut, but His left eye is clear and brilliant in color. He gazes into me. It is a deep gaze. Immediately I hear His voice. His lips don’t move, yet I clearly hear Him use my name and tell me, “I know all of the sins you committed, and everything you have done in the past. I know what sins you will commit today, and I know the sins you have yet to commit. But, all your sins are upon my shoulders, and I am taking them with me to the grave. I will rise up again, clean and pure,  but I will leave your sins in Hades. All of your sins will be buried forever. As I rise from the grave clean and pure, so are you clean and pure.”

There are many things about this vision that amazes me. For one, I wonder if this is a delayed message from Jesus 2000 years ago as He hung on the cross. Could He really be thinking of His children at that time? I like to think that through His omnificent powers, Jesus created this vision 2000 years ago, but postponed its delivery until this night. Sort of the same way we can postpone sending an e-mail until a specific date.

Another thing that amazes me is the weight of all the sin He had on his shoulders.Jesus with the worlds sins on His shouldersJesus with the worlds sins on His shoulders If we could quantify the weight of all the sins of every child that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, from before Christ and until the Rapture, how much would that weigh? I imagine it would be a sack that just keeps climbing the atmosphere and into space. As well, the width and depth of the sack would be too long for this atmosphere to hold. There are probably more sins in that sack then there are molecules on earth and in the skies. All of this was on one person!

God must desperately want us in Heaven with Him. What parent wouldn’t be distraught that their children abandon them for the vices of this world. God’s love for us is no different. In fact it is greater than any love we will ever feel, because our love is merely human love. The same human mind that loves is the same human mind that hates. It is a mind that is split against itself, and is perverse and sinful. God’s mind is omnificent, pure and good. Through God we have minds that are healing. Without Him, there is no doctor in the house! There is no doctor who can cure us from this illness called humanity.

Our cure comes from Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. We need to cling to Jesus just as the bleeding woman (Matthew 9:20) and the woman who would not take “No” for an answer (Mark 7:28). When we forsake God’s redemptive plan, we allow Jesus’ sacrifice to be in vain. Paul writes, in Hebrews 6:4 – 6, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss, they are crucifying the Son of God all over again, and subjecting Him to public disgrace.”

To put it simply, “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). Jesus loves us all and wants us to be free from the bondage of sin, so that we can glorify God by the lives we lead. Don’t let His sacrifice be in vain. Commit yourself to realizing who you truly are in Jesus Christ.

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Water in the Desert

There is so much confusion about the Christian Faith by non-Christian believers, and even Christian believers who have a distorted understanding of Jesus’ messages. As it concerned me and I wanted a better understanding, I prayed. Through prayer I believe God gave me a little excercise to share. It came to me in one uninterupted stream and I tried to capture it as close to the original content as possible.

Imagine you are walking through the desert and you are dying of thirst and wondering if you can take another step. The sky is blanketed by the sun making it blend together with the sand. You press on in hope of finding the end of desert and being protected from the scorching heat, the blinding sun, and the burning sand.

Water in the Desert - Finding the glassYou see something shimmering in the distance. You walk towards it, and find a glass of ice cold water just sitting there in the sand. You fall to your knees giddy with joy, and you pick up the glass and start licking the condensation on the outside. You do not want to waste drop. You think, “But how? Who left this for me? Who knows I am here? Who can see me? He cannot be far away”

You start yelling, “Who is there? Please show yourself? I want to thank you?” You wait, but hear nothing.  You begin to walk again, sipping as you go. You laugh, and sing and shout “thank you” over and over again.

Finally, you are out of water. Not even a drop of condensation is left, but you carry the glass anyway thinking “just maybe I will stumble upon a well, or stream” and you want to be prepared to catch the water with your glass, and drink your fill. You continue to sing out loud about the wonderful miracle of the glass of water, and the next thing you know your hand is cold. Lifting up your hand you see the glass is filled again with icy cold water. You immediately start rejoicing, this time dancing, and singing “thank you” over and over again.

This happens several more times until finally you are filled with so much water you you think you could pop. And your glass is still filled. Off to your right you see a man staggering into the sand. He is heading in the same direction you are, and you are bound to cross paths. At this point you are faced with a decision, share the water with this man, or change directions to keep what you have for yourself. You think to yourself, “Changing directions gives me a better chance of conserving water. Yes, it may have refilled itself, but maybe there is a limit. Isn’t it in my best interest to keep this a secret, and ensure my survival? I need to ration what I have.”

Then another voice enters into the debate and says, “How do you ration what you do not own? How can you determine how much to drink and how much to save when you do not know how much there is? Even if it does run out, would you rather die alone in the desert, or die with someone you have shared life with? Don’t your possibilities of survival increase in numbers? Wouldn’t you like to enjoy life with someone rather than life alone? Isn’t this a great joy that you want to share with this man? Feel your heart tighten when you think of leaving him. The truth is you want to save him as you were saved. You want to share the good news about this glass of water.”

Water in the Desert -  Sharing the Good NewsIt really is no decision at all – you start running towards the man. You both fall to your knees to give your feet a rest. You give him the glass and he starts to thank you, but you quickly cut off the praise and say, “Oh no, it is not me. I found this glass. Someone must have left it for me to find.” As he drinks you tell him the story about the glass and how it refills itself, and you encourage him to keep drinking because there will be more. The man finishes three glasses of water before you finish your story.

He looks around, and starts yelling, “Is anyone there?” You both listen intently, and hear just a faint sound coming from the direction you are traveling. Getting up, the two of you start walking together. Replenished and feeling strong, you both are singing and laughing with so much joy – like little children do when they play.

Your friend says, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a big hat to protect our heads?” And you respond, “Yes! What about some sunglasses to make it easier to see?” He agrees, and soon enough you both stumble upon two white wide brimmed hats and two pairs of sunglasses. And these are not just cheap sunglasses, they are polarized with UV protection and of incredible quality. Kneeling down to pick up the glasses you glance at your new buddy and smile in amazement.  You both started laughing with uncontrollable joy. “How could this be? Someone heard us and gave us these gifts.” You both start yelling, “Who is there? Who are you that give us these great gifts?”

Waiting quietly, turning your head to see if you can hear anyone, you both finally hear something in the wind coming from the direction you are traveling. “Come” it says. Both of you pick up your glasses and hats, put them on and start walking again. The only thing you discuss are the amazing miracles, how much you must be loved, and how you want to tell the whole world.

Skipping and dancing as you walk, you sing loudly to the sand dunes and skies, which now are clearly defined because of the sunglasses. “Thank you! You love us, oh, how you love us! You are great and mighty! You are bringing us out of the desert but have already made us kings. Thank you! Our hats protect faces us from the scorching heat, and our glasses shield our eyes from the blinding sun. What have we done to deserve this great attention and love that you pour out on us? When can we meet you and praise your and have the honor of doing something wonderful for you?”

From the left and right two people are walking towards you, so you and your budding start shouting to them “Come and drink. We have a glass of icy cold water that never runs out.” They seem weak and slow, so you yell and encourage them to continue and not give up. Then suddenly your buddy starts running towards the one on the left, and you notice he has his own glass of water in his hands. So you start to run to the one on the right. Meeting up with the person, you both fall to your knees and you hand him the water. Like you did your first friend, you tell them about your good news, and by the time you are done he has had several refills.

Now all four of you are yelling, “Who’s there? Please show yourself. We want to thank you and praise you?”  Again the wind carries a word, “Come. Just keep walking”.

With renewed strength you stand up and head back towards the other two and all four return on the journey you believe to be home. The four of you take turns sharing the hats and sunglasses. Singing and dancing you are on top of the world. You were once one person alone in the burning desert with no hope of surviving, but now you are a member of four survivors. But, to you it feels like the four of you are one person. Then one of you sing about shoes to protect your feet, and low and behold you stumble upon four pairs of shoes and two more hats and sunglasses.

Now you four sing so loudly that many people are coming from all directions. Each one of you miraculously find a glass of water in your hand. You all run out to meet the people where they are, share the water with them and tell them your good news. As you kneel there with your new friend you find a hat, sunglasses and shoes. While you help them get dressed because they are so weak, you tell them the story about the glass. Once you are finished, your friend is replenished and dressed and ready for the journey.

Before he gets up, he looks around, trying to find the person who left them these wonderful gifts. Seeing no one, you assure him that you all hear a voice coming from the direction you are heading. He hops up and you all start walking.

Again and again you are meeting new people in need and supplying them with water and your group of survivors is so large there are too many to count. Everyone has shoes, hats, sunglasses and a cup of water, and all are singing the same song of praise. All are dancing as they walk home. Some start praying for an oasis that would be sufficient enough for the entire group – a place with enough resources for building shelters, and enough food to feed them. But you and your friends never find an oasis. Instead you came upon the end of the desert and it is so plentiful and beautiful you called it Paradise.

Water in the Desert - Meeting GodAs you walk into the bushes filled with sweet smelling flowers and fruit trees you come to lush green fields where you meet God. You run to Him and you hug Him so tightly He laughs. You and your friends fall to your knees to thank him by singing your song. You and your friends are all filled with so much zeal; you sing the song to Him over and over again. So many times, God can only laugh with joy, just as a father would when his children sing songs to him. He begins picking up each one of you just to hold you for a while, Putting one person down, He again picks up another one of your friends.

He says to you and your friends, “I gave you Blessings and you enjoyed every drop. You wasted nothing, and your time was spent joyfully even when you were in a desolate place, seemingly without hope. You made use of your time, and brought no harm to anyone, but rather brought hope and pleasure to anyone you met. And sharing these Gifts and Blessings with everyone you met became your pleasure and joy. You took the message to them where they were, just as I did for you. Your numbers multiplied. You bring me much joy and blessings. Stay here a while in paradise and enjoy yourselves. Keep singing so others will hear you and walk this way. And when I ask you to journey back into the desert to find other lost people, do not forsake me. Remember what I have done for you and what you have done for others, and bring more of my children home.”

This is the heart of the Chrsitian Faith – Christ is the Living Water that nourishes us. He meets us where we are to help us become the people God intends us to be. Jesus did this by dying on the cross with our past, present and future sins. As He was resurected clean and purified, we are clean and purified. We want to share this Good News to the world. That is it in a nutshell.

So how would you like to have a life that is like that glass? Do you want a glass that overflows (Psalms 23:5) with life giving water (John 4:14)? Then make a decision for Christ. If you are not convinced this life is possible, then stop wasting time and start doing your research about Jesus. Don’t just limit your research to what the atheists want you to believe, but also to what the bible scholars want you to believe. Open your mind and open your heart. I pray you come to the same conclusion I have, that Jesus is “…the way and the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:6)

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Testimony – Prayer for Great Weather Answered!!!

This morning the forecast was cloudy, and a threat of a thunderstorm. It is also the rain date for my son’s field trip to the zoo. So, this morning we took time to pray for a beautiful day, and that prayer has been answered. It is beautiful today and I just got word from my wife, who went with son, that it is beautiful at the zoo and my son realizes that our prayer is answered.

Thank you God! You are awesome and you love us, and you show it to us daily.

Testimony – How I lost 45 Pounds in 2 Months (The Short Version)

When my wife, one of my sons and I moved to Philadelphia for a new job I was fifty pounds overweight. At this point in my life fast food restaurants was an acceptable place to get something to eat, and I didn’t really limit myself on what I ate or how much. A month or so before the move I interviewed with the company, and I got this feeling that I knew if I were to work here I would get healthy. Maybe it was because Craig, who would be my boss, was conducting the interview in shorts and a t-shirt, because he just got back a physical training class he leads using Russian cattle bells.

Within the first week at my new job, I talked with Craig on what I should do to get in shape, and the first thing we worked on was what I ate. Not only that, but Jennifer, the right hand person of the CEO, regularly sends out e-mails on health tips, and the company runs programs such as Biggest Loser, healthy snack Fridays, a nutrition group, yoga classes, Qigong, joint mobility… the list goes on. This is the healthiest place I had ever worked. Now I knew where my feeling came from. It was the Holy Spirit prompting me to make sure I got a job here so I could get healthy.

All this motivated me, and within the first few months I lost 25 pounds by just on changing my diet. Cutting out fast food and limiting my portions is all I really did. No exercising. This was the first time I cut 25 pounds, but it came just before the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. By January 1st I had put the 25 pounds back on. I did this a few more times, when my wife decided to lose weight too, and for me it was do or die.

The worst thing I found in trying to lose weight is having a family around that isn’t trying to lose weight. It makes it very hard when they are cooking all kinds of goodies and you are eating celery. The truth is, the worst thing I found is that I was too weak to do it on my own, and not disciplined enough not to get snared into binge eating.

The third time is a charm.

Before going on the diet with my wife, I prayed and I poured my heart out to God to help me beat it this time. Within a day or two I was sitting on the train going into work and I was inspired to read Daniel. I had never read Daniel, but that day I wanted to read about him, and so I did. (It is always important to take a bible with you wherever you go, especially if you are chasing after God). When I read about the fast that Daniel and his 2 Jewish brethren went on to avoid the temptation of King Nebuchanezzar’s food (Daniel 1:8-16), and about their dedication to God, right down to  walking into a furnace (Daniel 3:12 – 30), something in me clicked. My blinders were on, and I wanted to commit myself to God like these men did.

One of the first things I did was to buy myself a wedding ring. I never owned one, because I do not like anything around my wrists or fingers… well, I used to hate it. But I wanted a ring. For one I wanted a ring to show my commitment to my marriage, but more importantly, I wanted it for my commitment to God. This wedding ring is more for my walk with God than my marriage, because the commitment to my marriage is also a commitment to God.  This ring is my reminder of my dedication to following Him in all that I do as a husband, father, and child of God. This influences what I eat, what I do, and my journey all the way Home.

So now I had committed myself to God, had my blinders on, and I was only eating proteins – I was ready to cut weight and do it tenaciously.

The worst thing about diets is finding food you like to eat, but God solved that for me. You see, when I started the diet I started to find that all the things I enjoyed really weren’t all that great. I started to weigh the ROS (return on satisfaction) of the food – was the flavor from the food worth the carbohydrates and calories I was consuming? More and more the answer was no. So, I stopped eating a lot of different things. Now, there are very few things I find completely satisfying.

This is one of the first things God taught me. It was as through the process of losing weight that God opened my eyes and my mind and poured in some great knowledge. I had epiphanies about food, and these Gifts helped me understand my issue with weight. God showed me that really the only things I crave are sugar, salt and animal fat, in the way of butter, cream, and yes, the delicious fatty portions of a grilled rib-eye steak. (Mmmm-mmm-mm.) But really, that is all it comes down to. When I boil it down, these are the core components I passionately seek when I was binge eating. Of course, there are seasonings that compliment those three components like cilantro, curry powder, rosemary, anise, and although not a spice, garlic

What foods I believed I loved before the diet was just perception.  I used to have a list of favorite foods, but through evaluating each bite I realized that it was not all that I had once thought is was, and I really didn’t enjoy them as much as I did. My list got very short, and it is getting even shorter today.

I wondered what had happened. This was another one of God’s lessons. I was binge eating because I was looking for something to satisfy me. I, just like most people, constantly crave things. We try to find things in this world to satisfy the cravings. Cravings use all 6 senses, and we try desperately to fulfill the desires of those senses. When we don’t practice temperance, our senses can become like animals with their own minds, carnally craving to be satisfied. But God is our only answer, not food, sex, drugs, music, incense, and hot women with low cut dresses and high level cleavage. It is God who fulfills us.

The senses are Satan’s way of keeping us distracted from what is really important, the Truth. If we seek the Truth, the closer we are with God and the further we are from Satan’s control. Therefore Satan tries to stifle our efforts any way he can, and does it through our senses. I was eating to fill a void that only God can fill. My lack of attention on God, and the extra attention I was putting on food was leading me astray. My faith was weak because I was relying on a vice, or a chocolate caramels, to fill that hole, rather than seeking fulfillment from God. What a mistake… what a sin!

I allowed myself to be distracted from God, and remember what Christ taught use, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:28-34. This is the way to our salvation from all things that keep us from the Truth.

So how can this be a sin? It was merely a mistake, right? Well, it is a sin, as God pointed out to me, because this behavior is not new to anyone. In fact it is recorded in the bible, “…For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags…” Proverbs 23:21. Have you ever felt tired after eating? Or do you feel tired all the time? Well, before you go to your doctor to be evaluated for depression, step on the scale. If you are over-weight then you are probably a glutton as I am.

That is what God showed me. Eating with no limits has its price, although we may not realize it. We may not put two and two together, but one day God put it together for me and if you seek Him, He will put it together for you too. The results of my actions, my lack of will power, and my poor decisions made me a glutton. Plain and simple! It hit me sort of hard, like what a schizophrenic must feel like when he realizes he is the only one in the room. The reality of being a glutton slapped me in the face, and I was stunned.

Since I had my blinders on chasing after a goal, and now given new life in God, I was only stunned momentarily. I realized the truth of the bad news but left that baggage right where I received it. I was once a wretch, but now I am found, and I am not going to sit still long enough to let that baggage weigh me down. No one should. “For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them, just as he did when he destroyed the army of Midian with Gideon’s little band.” Isaiah 9:4.

As I said earlier, trying to find recipes to make the diet interesting takes so much time and energy… and money. But I found a way to do it easily and cheaply and safely. During my diet I saw my doctor to get blood tests and a physical, and when everything came back with great results, I bought a case of eggs. I boiled eggs, and ate hard-boiled eggs. This was a protein only diet I did for about 2 months, and in that time I lost 45 pounds!  It took me about 6 months to lose the other 5 pounds as I bounced around a bit enjoying my new body.

Eggs are cheap, and I could hard boil a bunch in the morning, and eat them all day long.  Simple, easy and natural! I believe what God taught me through this diet that I needed to discipline myself so that I would not be susceptible to the temptations of the taste buds. No salt and no seasoning on the eggs. Just hardboiled eggs plain.

“Don’t people complain about unsalted food? Does anyone want the tasteless white of an egg? My appetite disappears when I look at it; I want to gag at the thought of eating it!” Job 6:6-7.

Another thing that God taught me was temperance. He not only inspired me to eat the food that would cause Job to gag, but He challenged me to eat as little as I could each day. He taught me that we really do not live on food alone. (Matthew 4:4). That through eating little, or even fasting, that a new wonderful life would open up to me…and it has. I remember the first time I fasted a full day, I was so excited I called my Pastor Dennis and told him about it. This is a man who probably fasted a thousand times before, and was wondering why a grown man was calling him at night to brag about not eating for a day.

The reason is was such a big deal for me, is that I used to have episodes, basically psychotic episodes, when I didn’t eat enough. I would get confused, faint, irritable, nasty to everyone, belligerent, and my tongue was “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). I was irritable and I would go off into rages. I would be so mad that my head would burn for days after having an outburst. Seriously, it would feel like the top of my head, my brain, was under a heat lamp for days.  This is what my family was exposed to. I was a monster. I was a gluttonous monster. I created this monster myself through the decisions I made, or the decisions I didn’t make.

Well, God delivered me from that. When I lost the weight, those days were gone.  Years before when I was trying to cope with this by seeing psychiatrists and psychologists, I was diagnosed as bi-polar and stuck on meds. I unofficially diagnosed as hyperglycemic, then hypoglycemic, then another form of bi-polar-ism, and more drugs and more doctor bills. The bottom line – I was fat. I was overweight, and I was a glutton. God showed me this, and lead me out of that bondage! And it was free, with no drugs, and I didn’t have to beat up a pillow pretending it was my mother, which I never did but was encouraged to do by one psychologist.

Now I can fast, water only, as often as I wish. The longest I have gone was over a week and a half, which I know is amateurish compared to some real Holy-Spirited people out there, but I am happy with my progress. I fast quite often, several times a month, to honor God and Jesus for this miraculous life they have given me.

I still am a glutton. I still fight with the 3 temptations – sugar, salt and fat. I have climbed back up fifteen pounds and am in a real battle for this last hurdle – overcoming the 3 temptations. A few weeks ago I fasted for 4 days and dropped 12 pounds, however, on the fourth day I put on eight pounds. Satan is laughing at me, but I will have the last laugh. I know I can do another 4 days. I also know that in those four days I can do a 12 mile hike on day 3, and another 6 on day 4, just as I did on the 4 day fast. That is the kind of power I get when I do something with the Lord.

So, there is my weight-loss testimony. It really starts off earlier in my life than when I first came to Philadelphia, but I wanted this to be a short and sweet version. Here we are 5 pages later. (And I complain because my wife doesn’t get to the point fast enough). Holy cow.

I am just so thankful that I attached my wagon to the God train. That I can call upon Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit and be delivered from whatever binds me. It is my hope that this testimony provides some inspiration to others who have had the same experience as I have and would be willing to put it in God’s hands to claim a victory over this bondage. For those who are non-believers, this testimony will hopefully touch your lives, and you make a decision to put your life in our God.

God Bless.