Do You Want to Know Jesus?

God created us with a free will.
He respects us so much that He will not force Himself on us.
He is a gentleman and only goes where He is invited.
He created this world in such a way that while we live in it we can choose whether we want a relationship with Him or not.
We can acknowledge Him or deny Him.
Because God loves us and seeks our love He has left a record of who He is, what He is like, and what He wants.
It’s the Bible.
In the Bible He pleads with us to choose Him because He is Life and Love and Peace.
He gives blessing to those who love and follow Him.
He warns us that apart from following Him there is no life, love or peace.
There is momentary pleasure in not obeying God (sin), but the pain that follows can last forever.
He offers complete forgiveness and new life to anyone who asks Him for it.
It is His free gift to us; though it cost Him His life to be able to offer it.
You have a choice to make.
You can ignore what you have just read.
You can post-pone your decision.
Or, you can act on what you’ve read.  
If you ignore what you have read, and die that way, you will stand before Jesus having rejected His offer of His Love and Forgiveness.
You will suddenly realize that what you thought was most important in life (fame, fortune, pleasure and power) now means nothing.
And Loving God and other people will become the glaringly obvious purpose your life was to have.
If you post-pone your decision you have made a false assumption that you will have a second chance to decide.
You know absolutely nothing about the future.
Your life could end before you finish reading this sentence.
So, in reality, no answer is the answer no.
And, because you passively rejected God you will experience the same fate as those who actively reject God.
Or, you can act on what you have read.
You can realize that God made you, loves you, died to forgive you and wants a love relationship with you.
You can humble yourself and ask for His forgiveness and surrender to Him, making Him the One Who Saves you and the One Who Leads you.
God’s Holy Spirit of Jesus will come to live in you and will never leave you.
He will give you a new spirit that is bent toward loving God and other people.
And He will give you tests and trials meant to shape you more and more like His Son Jesus; and also meant to reveal to the world The One living inside you.
I wasted my life until I was 27 years old before accepting Jesus.
And God had to give me mental illness, and take away everything I ever wanted before I would risk surrendering to Him.
Now I would not go back to living apart from Him for anyone or anything.
Jesus is my Life.
And it is a joy filled life.
There is pain, but there is never ending hope.
And I will be forever glad that I chose to follow Jesus.

Why God allowed suffering in my life (for both before and after becoming a Christian)

I grew up obeying rules and secretly (secret from myself, that is) thinking I was better than other people.  At nineteen, as I was beginning a slide into depression but didn’t know it, I was “called” into my bedroom by what I was hoping/afraid might be God.  I told Him I wanted to be like the Christians in the Bible.  God told me through the Bible that those who are forgiven little, love little.  But, those who are forgiven much, love much.  I thought I had little to be forgiven of so I told God I wanted to be forgiven of much and I thought it might be fun to sin.  God impressed on my spirit, “You’re a sinner!”  He wasn’t talking about your everyday church-going sinner that we all are.  He meant I was vile, evil and depraved.  I replied, “No, I’m not!”  He said again, “You’re a sinner!”  I said again, “No, I’m not!”

Then God did the kindest, most loving thing He could do for me:  He “blessed” me with mental illness (that would not be correctly treated for ten years).  The mental illness caused indescribable psychic pain, anguish, regret, and shame.  My emotions left me (but I didn’t know it) causing me to feel like I hadn’t really talked to anyone for ten years; I literally felt alone for all of those years.  And, my Pride was assaulted:  I was in and out of mental hospitals, I was humiliated because I lost many jobs, I could not do some of the simplest of things (like count money), and I despised being labeled mentally ill and a failure.

Why did I call it God’s “blessing?” because that was the only way for my Pride to fall.  I came to realize I was vile, evil and depraved; just like God had told me.  God called me again after ten years and I grudgingly accepted Him.  And God began the continuous work of changing me so that eventually I will have the beautiful loving character of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus.

But bringing me to Jesus wasn’t the only value of the pain.  God allowed that pain to go deep within to allow me to care deeply about the hurts of others; to be able to empathize with others, and let others in pain know I that have hurt deeply as well.  I use the pain God gave me every day in my job, as I walk alongside those dealing with mental illness.  (And, I also use the pain to understand others who have experienced pain, such as my children, who were traumatized before we adopted them).

I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone.  I wish I could have learned without the pain.  But God used the pain to win me to Himself and change me; and help me to care about, and be willing and able to serve, others.

And for that I will forever be grateful.

Why does God allow Suffering in the Christian’s life?

I just got done watching InTouch with Dr. Charles F. Stanley.  I was convicted that I may have been sending the message that once you are rightly related to God, through faith in His Son Jesus’ death on the cross paying for your sins, that everything after is peace, joy and love.  Dr. Stanley said that some things we can only learn as we experience pain and suffering; suffering from obeying God, and suffering from not obeying God.

Suffering from not obeying God makes sense.  God has the best planned for us.  If we don’t do what He says we can suffer the natural consequences of not positioning ourselves for His best.

But what about when we obey God and there is pain and suffering?  Does that mean God has abandoned us?  Does that mean it is pointless to serve God?  God says through Jesus in the Bible that when we suffer for doing good there is blessing.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:11-12, NKJV

I have personal experience of this being true.  When I first became a Christian I told a person close to me about Jesus and what He had done for me.  They hurled their vehement anger towards God, at me.  Later, they told me a very sad cynical sexually-themed joke and when I didn’t laugh they accused me of thinking the joke was funny but being a hypocrite and not laughing.  They continued to insult me personally and Christians in general as evil, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, hypocrites.  The experience was painful, God insulated me from the worst of it by taking it upon Himself, and I didn’t say anything negative back to this person. (I wasn’t strong enough at that time to return good for evil, the best I could do was not retaliate).

What was my reward?  Many years later I was thinking about what happened and I realized, that by obeying Jesus, and doing what did not come naturally, I had loved this person. I had done what was in their best interest.  I had told them about the love of God and demonstrated it by not returning evil for evil.  And that was worth more to me than gold or homes or cars.  That truly was a “great reward”.

It can be very painful following God, but God always works everything out for our good.  And He also works out everything so that the world can know who He truly is.  As Dr. Charles F. Stanley says, “Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”

Jesus can make satan’s lies tell the truth (Part 2)

Back in September I wrote about verses that help me battle satanic thoughts.  I read it recently and realized I never followed up on it.  When Jesus battled satan He quoted the Scriptures.  By trusting His Father and the authority of His Word He defeated the lies of the devil.

I think satan’s favorite pastime is to condemn me.  He makes it sound as if everything I do or say has evil intent.  He twists my words, or the interpretation of those words, to mean something I did not intend for them to mean.  The result is I feel guilty and condemned for something I haven’t done.

Or, satan stirs up guilt over something I have done.  Satan reminds me of a time that I followed him and condemns me for what I did.  The result is I feel guilty and condemned for something I have done.


The following are some of the verses that help me:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.   

Romans 8:1 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV

…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 

1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

 Psalm 103:12, KJV

 Jesus has done it all for us.  He has conquered sin, death and hell and made us His righteousness.  He will fight our battles with satan.  He will bring to mind verses you have read that can make satan’s lies tell the truth.  But we must know His Word the Bible.  We must hide His Word in our hearts (memorize helpful passages of the Bible).  And, we must trust and obey Him.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you both for giving me life, when your life, at that time, was hard.

You gave me cans of food to share with the poor so I wouldn’t feel left out at the church food drive, (even though we could have been the recipients of that food drive).

You both worked hard so that we would be warm, dry and fed.

You moved us to a good school system to prepare us for college by building two homes after work with little help.

Dad,

you made us ice skating rinks by spraying water in the cold of winter night.

For Christmas, you took a 4×8 sheet of plywood and built my brother and I a slot car track.

You built a puppet theater for my sister that I used as a space ship.

Later, you built a “greenhouse” booth for my Junior Achievement Company where we sold flower pot hangers.

When I became mentally ill both of you sought help for me and,

You gave me a place to stay when because of mental illness I couldn’t really afford much.

You helped me move three times.

You fixed my trailer when it needed a new floor, my house when it needed railings, replaced toilets, faucets, electrical stuff, and the list goes on and on.

Dad, you have been there for me.

And Mom, so have you.

You sacrificed your sleep by working 11pm to 7am so that you could be home for us during the day.

You stressed the importance of learning, something I value now more than when I was in school.

You modeled reading; you took me to the library and encouraged my reading for pleasure, not just for school.

You sparked my interest in Wisdom literature and psychology by telling me quotes from books you were reading.

And both of you have given me things that have had strategic importance.

When I couldn’t hear well enough to do my new job, you both fixed that.

And you even gave me the laptop I’m writing this on.

This Father’s Day I thank you both for the tremendous influence you have been in my life.

Happy Father’s Day and (a little late) Happy Mother’s Day,

Love, Jim

A Father’s Gift from God

I cannot imagine being a father to our two sons without their mother (my wife) and her godly influence on my life.

I am a listener.  I don’t have the need to talk all the time.  But when I need to talk it is an intense need, and the one I want to talk to the most is my wife.  She listens then.  And she lets me vent my heart without jumping in and “solving” my frustration.  I then ask for her opinions and we give and take; or she just gives and I take (when necessary).

When we are having trouble with one or both of our sons she doesn’t try to tell me how I should respond to them.  She doesn’t micromanage home life.  She asks me questions to help me see what is truly important in the situations we experience with our two sons.  These questions help me see critical things I am missing on my own.

My wife prays for me.  She knows that only Jesus can help me be a better father.  She knows the only one who can change me is God and she puts her time and effort in with Him.  She spends time with Jesus on my behalf.

Honey, many women do noble things, but you are my gift from God.

You can choose to go to Heaven (Part 2)

Jesus has done almost everything needed for us to enjoy a relationship with Him forever.  We have a critical part to play in receiving and giving Jesus’ love.  Jesus began His ministry by saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  What does that mean?  Repentance means to “turn around and go in the opposite direction.”  Jesus’ gift of Eternal Life, and eternity with Him, is completely free.  It cost Jesus His life to be able to give it to us, but He gives it to us freely as a gift of love.  But what do we need to do, and what does Jesus need us to do, so that He can live His life freely through us?  We must be willing to turn from the principle of sin, and from the actions of sins; specifically, we must renounce that which hurts God and other people and ourselves.  You may be thinking, “Jim, I’ve tried to change before, I can’t do it!”  I can’t either.  No one can… not by themselves.  The Spirit of Jesus, The Holy Spirit, must remove the sin principle that is in us and give us His power to be “bent toward God” in order for us to leave our sins and truly love God and other people.  If we are willing to surrender control of our lives, and obey God, God is more than willing to give us His power to change and to leave evil actions behind and to live for Him.