Shouldn’t there be more to this Christian life? Sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m God’s child!

 The Bible says we are saved by faith and faith alone.  But, it has been said, it is a faith that does not come alone.  Faith is trust.  If someone tells me to do something, and I trust them, I do it.  If I don’t do it, then why didn’t I do it?  I suggest it is because I didn’t trust them.  If I don’t trust them I don’t have faith in them.  So faith or trust implies obedience and obedience implies faith or trust.  If I have one I have the other.  If I don’t have one I don’t have the other.  If I say I have faith (which can’t be seen), and I don’t have obedience (which can be seen), I am deceived.  Can I show you my faith by my refusal to obey Jesus? Or, can I show you my faith by my obedience to Jesus?

What does this mean practically?  Simply that if I believe I am going to heaven to be with Jesus because I made a decision to follow Him, or prayed a prayer that I believe in Him, or had an emotional experience AND at the same time my life is not gradually (or rapidly) radically changing from doing what I selfishly want to do, to doing what Jesus wants me to do, I need to do a reality check.  

Jesus said that reality is, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow Me.”  Now, I fail every day to perfectly follow Jesus.  But, I do sense an increasing dependence on, allegiance to, and obedience to, the One who gave up His life to give me mine.  Not that I can directly do this on my own.  My obedience grows with the help of, and amid an intimate love relationship with, God the Father and His Son Jesus through God the Holy Spirit. 

How do I develop an intimate love relationship with God?  Again, Jesus showed the way when He said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow Me.”  To hear His voice I first need to learn to recognize His voice.  I do that by getting alone with Him and reading the Bible and obeying what I read.  If I obey what I read God will entrust me with more of His truth.  If I just read and don’t obey I deceive myself into thinking I am a follower of Jesus when I am not.  I also need to talk to Him and listen to Him through prayer.  What I “hear” God saying will never contradict the Bible.  If it does, even in the smallest way, it is not God speaking.

Then as I talk, listen, read, and obey I develop an intimate love relationship with the One who loved me first and loves me most.  And as I sense His love, my love for Him grows and my obedience to Him grows.  And I gain great assurance that I am God’s child, that He is my Father and that we are one in purpose. 


There is an old hymn that says it all, “Trust and obey, because there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”

Forgiving can be Tough

I can have a hard time forgiving some people.  I think they don’t deserve it.  And I want justice done.  I want them to feel the pain they have caused me.  And I think I’m right.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean everything is okay.  It doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for the offending person.  They are still responsible for what they have done; they still may need to apologize to you, pay restitution or even go to jail.

But, when I forgive I give up the right of revenge.  I choose not to retaliate.  I don’t “get even.”   “Vengeance is Mine” God said, “I will avenge, I will repay.”  When God does the vengeance it is with a spirit of helping; helping you, the situation and even the person in the wrong.  When I seek vengeance it is with a spirit to hurt; to hurt the one who wronged me.  And I end up making things worse, especially for me.

I don’t realize it at the time, but when I hold on to a hurt, I am a slave to that hurt.  I constantly relive the pain of the offense.  I plot my revenge even if I would never act on it.  I am consumed and controlled by the offender and my desire for their pain.  But, if I release the right of revenge, God also releases me from revenge’s control.  Jesus said, if you do not forgive other men’s sins against you, God will not forgive your sins.  But, if you forgive others, He will forgive you.

When I release the right of revenge I am free, free to receive God’s love and give it back to Him and others.

I wish I could say that just knowing this has eliminated unforgiveness in my life… it hasn’t.  And obviously that is not God’s fault… it’s mine.  Some of my unforgiveness is just a habit.  It’s become a root of bitterness that I am now asking God in prayer to help me root out.  I am now also asking Him to help me to have a desire to be free more than to have a desire to avenge.

I hope to update you later on my progress.  I ask you keep me accountable because it is a whole lot easier to write about following Jesus than it is to actually follow Him.  My biggest enemy I have learned is myself.  It’s not so much that I need to know what to do; it’s that I need to do what I know. 

Thank you for reading.  If you have struggles and/or successes or anything on your mind you would like to share or anything you want to pray about please feel free to comment.

How does God Turn Pain into Joy?

Pain, hurt, abandonment, betrayal.  Have you been there?  Our God, Jesus, has been there too.  He is familiar with all the suffering that we experience because He became a man and experienced it personally.

But more than to empathize he came to bring mercy, justice, forgiveness, and peace.  Mercy because He saw we could not save ourselves from our sin and chose to save us Himself.  Justice because He suffered in our place to pay what we owed God for our evil attitudes and actions.  Forgiveness because with His own blood He entered Heaven and purchased our forgiveness.  Peace because the war is over, God has reconciled Man to Himself, which was God’s planned design before the foundation of the world.

Jesus knows your pain perfectly.  He’s experienced it.  But He has also overcome it.  When we put our trust in Him to forgive our wrong attitudes and actions He gives us His Spirit and enables us to forgive others and ourselves.  Healing may come slowly.  And the affects of sin may last longer than we want them to last.

But Jesus’ Spirit lives within us, comforting us and telling us the truth about Him and ourselves and others.  The truth about Him is that God loves us unconditionally and always wants the best for us regardless of what it costs Him.  The truth about ourselves is that we are now new creations in Jesus, fully holy and righteous.  And the truth about others is that they are either already brothers and sisters in Christ or we have the privilege of leading them to the One who gave His life for them and us.

Jesus does not let my pain go to waste.  He has used it to help others in pain.  And by helping others through their pain I have found His joy and it has made the past pain worth it!

Freedom to Choose

Someone I know and love told me that she was taught that God knows which people will be saved and which ones will be sent to hell.  So she professes that if she is to be saved she will be saved, if she is not to be saved she won’t be saved, and there’s nothing she can do about it.  She claims to have no personal responsibility for deciding whether to follow Jesus or not.

She had an Afghan dog that could jump very high.  So high in fact that she had to put a leash on him because he could jump over the high fence in her back yard.  He would then be gone for days and in danger of getting hit by cars.  I said to her, “You know that if you put him outside without a leash he will jump the fence right?”  She said “yes.”  “Because you know what he will do, does that mean you want him to jump the fence and get hurt?  Or, that you are forcing him to jump the fence?”  She said “no.”  “If you know what your dog will do if given a free choice, how much more does an infinitely wise, all-knowing God know what we as people, His creation, will do given a free choice?  But that does not mean He has decided what we will do or forces us to do it,” I concluded.

God said that he wants no one to perish but all to turn away from sin; He wants each one of us to turn to the love and life and meaning found only in Jesus.  But, Jesus also said that no one seeks Him on their own initiative.  So, God gives us circumstances and relationships to try to influence our decision; to help us to learn that sin harms and His love benefits; and to come to seek Him and to trust His character.  God loves us first and he desires our love in return.  He enables us to choose Him if we want to choose Him.  But he leaves the decision up to us.  Love cannot be forced.  Love is always the choice of a free will.


You may be reading this wondering if God loves you, if God wants you in heaven with Him.  Jesus willingly took the punishment for your sins and mine so that we could spend forever with Him in heaven and with all who love Him.  Freely choose Him today.  Accept His death as full payment to God for your sins.  Let Him lead you today.  He will fill your life with other people who love Him and love you and take you on an adventure you cannot imagine.

I wasn’t a "Cheerful" giver

Much of the time I have the wrong attitude about giving.  I give out guilt or compulsion, out of a feeling of “I have to, it’s expected.”  I feel bad before, during and after the giving.  It’s a bad experience.  I had read in the Bible that God loves a cheerful giver.  I wondered what that meant.  Cheerful has the same root word as “hilarious”.  I knew I wasn’t feeling that when I gave.  I asked God to make me a hilarious giver.

Our friends needed some money and so I asked God if my wife and I could give with “hilarity.”  We gave them some money and we felt great.  We were so happy that God was providing what they needed, that their needs were being met and that God had graciously allowed my wife and me to be a part of this miracle.  Jesus said, “Give and it will be given back to you. Pressed down, shaken together and running over into your lap.”  It wasn’t money that was given back to us.  It was something far more valuable.  We were given “Joy”, a heart filled with “Hilarity.”

I have long since forgotten about the money I spent on myself that year.  But I will always remember how God had mercy on me and filled me with “Hilarity” simply because I asked Him to enable me to do what He desired.

Why doesn’t God want me to have fun?

Before I met Jesus I sometimes thought that God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Christians were BORING!!!  For example, if a man and woman who were not married wanted to be intimate, why would God want to stop them?  Love is good right?  They’re not hurting anyone so what’s the problem?  Why doesn’t God want people to have fun?

The Bible says sin definitely is fun.  God says in the Bible that you can “…enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (Hebrews 11:25b NIV84).  The fun doesn’t last, however.  And the fun ultimately results in separation from God and his love forever.  Why?  Sin always hurts God or people or both.  And it always hurts ourselves.  God jealously loves us and He wants nothing to hurt us.  That’s why He gave us the Bible.  In it are His commands and principles for us to live by so that we can know how not to hurt God, others, and ourselves.  And how to truly love and do good.  But knowing that is not enough.  We need a heart transplant.  We need our spirits made alive.  Jesus says He will give us a heart of flesh for a heart of stone.  Jesus said he will make our dead spirits alive like His.  He said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

For Jesus to change us we need to believe that He is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  Then we need to agree with Him (confess) that we have hurt Him, others and ourselves and that with His help we will try to never sin again (repentance).  Then we need to trust Him, that His death on the cross paid the full debt we owed God (faith).  Then ask Jesus to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  We then need to tell others about the wonderful thing God has done for us.  And repent if we sin again.

Now that I have a relationship with Jesus my life has never been more of a fun adventure.  The more I obey Him the more fulfilling it is.  I found out that satan’s “fun” was only a worthless imitation of the joy that Jesus freely gives.  Life with Jesus also has been more difficult in other ways.  Satan attacks my mind more now.   But now I have Jesus living inside me through the power of the Holy Spirit and He guides me and encourages me, He protects me and provides for me.  And, He helps me write about Him in this blog.

I hope you will choose Jesus over sin.  You will never regret it.

What if love is our purpose?

Jesus said in the Parable of the Talents (below) that each servant was given resources in proportion to his ability to use them.  To one he gave five talents of silver (a talent of silver was worth about $600,000 in today’s money).  To another he gave two talents of silver.  And to another he gave one talent of silver.

This passage is many times interpreted as talking about being faithful in developing and using your skills to the best of your ability.  And so, the word “talent” is being used today, not as a measure of a weight of silver, but as a measure of skill.  Could it be that Jesus was talking about something much more valuable than skills?

Could He be talking about loving others as God loves us?

If the ability to love is really the theme of this parable then how could the parable be interpreted?

We could say the man who was given five talents of silver had the ability to love “many” people.  He immediately went to work interacting with others and using the means his Master gave him to love and help them.  And the Master rewarded him.

The man who was given two talents of silver had the ability to love “some” people.  He too, immediately went out and interacted with others, and using his Master’s means, he loved and helped them.  And the Master rewarded him.

The man who was entrusted with one talent of silver had the ability to love “one” person.  He did not go out and interact with another, to love and help them.  He buried the Master’s means of loving and helping others and loved and helped no one.  Because of the reference of putting the money on deposit with the bankers in the parable, I can imagine Jesus asking  the man “Why didn’t you let my “means of loving and helping” at least be used by others, if you yourself weren’t going to use it?”  And Jesus will cast him away from His presence.

When I surrendered to Jesus I read this parable.  I didn’t know if I was a one, two or five talent person.  I prayed for God to make me a five or a two, but if I was a one, I asked that He help me to use my talent and not bury it.  God has been gracious to me and helped me to love other people.  What about you?  To truly love you need Jesus in you, loving the other person through you.  To do that you need to ask Him to forgive your sins, and surrender your life to His leadership, and ask to receive His Spirit so that you can do good.

You will start a journey with Him that He has designed just for you.

The Parable of the Talents

[Jesus said,]  4 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 25:14–30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.