TEN LEPERS CLEANSED–ONLY ONE RETURNED

In the story of Jesus healing 10 lepers, we learn important lessons about God’s mercy and man’s lack of gratitude. Jesus healed 10 lepers — social outcasts from their debilitating disease — yet only one man returned to thank Him. 

Giving Thanks to God

IF WE ARE TO BELIEVE THE BIBLE is God’s holy and truthful Word — and this column holds to the Bible’s inerrancy and infallibility — then we also believe that God created us to glorify Him and that all good gifts come to us from Him. 

 How often do we recognize the Lord’s goodness and thank Him, actually stop a moment and thank Him for the goodness He provides?

PRAISE THE LORD!

I find that throughout the day, I am offering “prayer-lets,” little “thank you” prayers to the Lord for everything from keeping me from driving in front of a speeding car to helping me find my house keys to keeping me more patient and compassionate than my nature would warrant.

As I do so, I think my “guardian angel” must be working diligently to keep me safe and serene, and, yes, for that, I am grateful! 

THE TEN LEPERS

THAT BRINGS US to our story of the 10 lepers. These were men and women ostracized from “polite society” because of their  disfigurement. 


SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

  • MATT. 6:11 (NET): “Give us today our daily bread.”
  • MARK 8:36 (ESV): “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
  • LUKE 17:17 (NKJV): “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?’”
  • JOHN 10:10b (NASB20): “I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.”

They lived in colonies on the outskirts of town and were forbidden from visiting their loved ones. 

One day, when Jesus was in town, 10 lepers from the local colony — who knows how many were in the colony, the Bible doesn’t say — but 10 of them approached Jesus, hoping He would heal them.

He told them to show themselves to the temple priests for the ceremonial cleansing of healed lepers — a ceremony that probably never had been held before because the illness was incurable — and they all traipsed off dutifully to see the priests.

As they walked, they were healed. Jesus wanted them to demonstrate faith as a healing mechanism. 

One of them turned back to fall at the Lord’s feet and to thank Him for healing him, and the Bible tells us he was not even Jewish but one of the Samaritans, which made him racially outcast as well as a leprosy outcast.

THE LORD’S ASTONISHMENT

THE BIBLE TELLS US that Jesus was amazed — two-fold amazed.  Only one of the 10 expressed thanks, and He was a Samaritan, not a Jew!

“Weren’t there 10 lepers healed?” Jesus asked as He turned to His disciples. “How come only one of them came back to say “Thank You,” and He’s a foreigner, to boot?” (paraphrase mine)

Isn’t that embarrassing? If you were standing there with Jesus and had watched this charade, what would you have thought of the nine countrymen who sashayed off to the temple priests for the ritual cleansing ceremony and didn’t bother to give thanks to their benefactor?

Before you answer, how often do you give thanks to the Lord for His goodness in your life? 

Many of us, including self-identified Christians, will dig into a meal without pausing to offer grace, who take their good health for granted, or figure their new job with the hefty salary is a result solely of their own effort.

APPLICATIONS

SO, WHERE DOES that leave us?

BEING THANKFUL

The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to be thankful in all situations and to pray constantly. Obviously, to pray constantly, and to be  thankful in all situations, means to “be in the attitude of prayer.” That would be “praying as we go.”

The Bible also tells us in Matthew 7 to “keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking” and, in God’s perfect timing, we’ll receive the answers He wants us to have, the goal we’re looking for, and the doors to be opened.

That promise, for me, is worth stopping in my tracks and turning around to the Master and, falling on my knees, saying “Thank You.”

PRAYER

FATHER GOD, we thank You for Your patience with us. Even while we were yet sinners, You sent Your Son to die on the cross for us, to restore us to fellowship with You, yet too often, we take our blessings as our “due,” and not as the gift of grace, which they are. Forgive us, Lord, and sustain us in our walk with Christ. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

LISTENING … WITHOUT HEARING

Every week in church, at least in those churches committed to New Testament teaching, the pastor will offer a prayer for salvation for anyone wanting to know Jesus Christ as their  personal Lord and Savior. 

PRAY IN HUMILITY

Only a small number of congregants, if any, find their way to the front of the church or commit silently to salvation. 

Either everyone else has made that journey or, more likely, many stay rooted to their seats, unwilling to lay down their pride or else falsely assuming they’re good enough to merit salvation on their own. Jesus assures us that decision is eternally disastrous.


SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

  • HEBREWS 4:2 (NKJV): “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 6:11 (ESV): “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
  • MATTHEW 11:15 (NASB20): “The one who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

SOME LISTEN BUT DON’T HEAR

MARK AND SUSAN DRESSED to impress as they dutifully made their way to church that Sunday morning. He wore a smart-looking suit with crisp shirt and tie; she wore a stylish  dress that modestly dropped below-the-knee. 

CORPORATE WORSHIP OF OUR LORD

When the altar call came at service’s end, they remained in their seats, head bowed and eyes closed, wondering who, if anyone, was foolish enough to participate.

They knew their place in life. He was a rising star at work, at mid-40s a regional vice president, on the fast track to a corporate-wide assignment; she was department chair at the local high school. Their children were “generally” orderly, maintaining good grades, popular, and active in school clubs.

What they weren’t were like the hopeless “losers” who threw their worthless lives onto the altar of forgiveness, seeking mercy for the garbage that littered their path.

No way. They were upstanding citizens. Suburban, well-off. Paid their taxes, kept their lawn neat, enjoyed a comfortable home, and entertained dinner guests.

They knew who they were: Good People Who Lived The American Dream.

THE LORD IS CALLING

SOMEWHERE IN THE DISTANCE the voice of Jesus Christ called to them, saying that “today” was the day of their salvation, that He was knocking on the door of their hearts, wanting an invitation to come in and enjoy life with them.

MONDAY MORNING GRIND

Somewhere in the distance the voice of Jesus Christ told them that unless they believed that He was, is, and will be the Lord and Messiah, they would die in their sins. 

Somewhere in the distance the voice of Jesus Christ told them that without their confession of faith, when their earthly lives ended, they would be met with a closed door to Heaven and He would tell them to depart from Him. He never knew them.

Those words should not have been in the distance for Mark and Sally. Were they not listening to the pastor as he read from the Bible every week? Were they not reading their Bibles at home during the week?

Maybe they were; maybe they weren’t. Either way, they didn’t think the words applied to them. 

Here’s some of what they may have missed over time:

  • HEBREWS 4:1 (NIV): “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”
  • MATTHEW 7:23 (CSB): “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’”
  • REVELATION 3:20 (NLT): “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
  • JOHN 8:24 (NET) “Thus I told you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

NOT THAT RELEVANT

MARK AND SALLY took comfort in knowing they were not alone. They were convinced that most people took their religion the same way they did — in small doses, kept in its place, without intruding on their personal lives. 

READING THE SACRED SCROLLS

“Religion,” as they called it, was their “Sunday thing.” Once church let out, they got busy with their regular lives. Back to home, shuck the tie and stockings, walk the dog, remove the roast from the oven, gather  for a meal, and then spend the day relaxing, getting ready for Monday and the “real world.”

After all, they reason, the Bible is a nice repository of interesting tales and fables, but apart from some of the Psalms, and maybe the Christmas story in Luke 2, not overly relevant to their lives.

Besides, there’s no way a reasonably intelligent, well-educated person in today’s world could actually take the whole of it literally as God’s Word, but just the writings of some long-dead Jewish men who wrote whatever they wanted to write to proclaim whatever point they wanted to make at the time they wrote.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

SO, WEEK AFTER WEEK, month after month, and year after year, Mark and Sally dutifully made their way to church, knowing they were pleasing their Moms in old age and making a “good showing” in the community.

Whatever it was that Jesus is saying, regardless of how accurately it may have been recorded, they were sure it had little to say to either of them or to their children. 

So, week after week, month after month, and year after year, they half-listened to the pastor’s altar call, wondering to their eternal peril, how anyone could take this ceremony seriously.

Dear Mark and Sally, here’s what the Lord Jesus says about you, and, yes, He is speaking directly to you:

  • MATTHEW 7:24, 26 (NKJV): “Therefore, whoever hears these words of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. … But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”
  • HEBREWS 5:11 (NLT): “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.”

MARK AND SALLY, PLEASE HEED THE MASTER’S VOICE.

GET OUT OF YOUR SEATS, LEAVE YOUR PRIDE BEHIND, AND HUMBLY RECEIVE HIS GRACE.

HE TOLD YOU — HE TOLD ALL OF US IN JOHN 3:3 NCV — THAT “UNLESS YOU ARE BORN AGAIN, YOU CANNOT BE IN GOD’S KINGDOM.”

DON’T MISS OUT.

LISTEN FOR GOD’S VOICE … AND HEAR HIM … 

REALLY …THIS TIME … HEAR HIM.

PRAYER

FATHER GOD, WE KNOW the hardest group in church to reach for the Gospel are those “cultural Christians” who don’t take the Bible’s call for rebirth seriously, who assume their goodness will get them into Heaven, who believe whatever Hell exists is for “those people” who, they imagine, are so much worse than they are. 

Lord, that is not what the Bible teaches, and many of our loved ones (family and friends) are lukewarm Christians, possibly unsaved. We pray for a convicting spirit to soften their hearts to bring about a humility that leads them to repentance.

In Jesus’ name we lift this prayer to the throne of Grace, AMEN

“We Need a Miracle”

The story of Bartimaeus (see Luke 18:35-43) is a simple story of one man’s faith and how God, through the Person of His Son Jesus, acknowledged that faith. Bartimaeus was a blind man who cried out to the Lord to restore his sight.  

ARRAY OF MIGHTY WARRIORS

Bartimaeus is notable because he saw Jesus as more than just a man or a healer or a miracle worker; by calling him, “Jesus, Son of David,” he was acknowledging Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, whereas the sighted people following Jesus merely called Him “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus Can Work Miracles

SOMETIMES, I FEEL LIKE I just need a miracle. Someone Big, Strong, Powerful, and Important to show up, snap his fingers, and make all of my problems go away. 


SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

  • Luke 18:38 (NKJV): And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
  • Luke 18:43 (ESV): “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him [Jesus], glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”

Sometimes, I just want a super-hero to swoop in, whether he flies like Superman or Mighty Mouse, or clings to the web like Spider Man, or drives a supercharged sports car like Batman and Robin, to “save the day” for the good guys.

JESUS HEALING BARTIMAEUS

Ever feel like that? I’m sure you do. We all do. It’s normal. It’s part of life here on planet Earth. Despite all of our joys and happy moments, we all feel there is something desperately wrong with our lives and our condition. 

We feel alienated, as if we don’t belong here. 

In reality, we don’t. 

Philippians 3:20 (NIV) tells us “our citizenship is in heaven.” In Hebrews 11, we learn that the Old Testament saints were “looking forward to a city with eternal foundations” (Hebrews 11:10 NLT), while Solomon reminds us that God “set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 BSB)

LEARNING FROM A BLIND MAN

We may blame Adam and Eve for their disobedience, because our separation from God results from the curse from their disobedience, but truth be told, we have enough disobedience of our own. So, we can blame ourselves.

PASTOR GARY HAMRICK, Cornerstone Chapel, Leesburg, VA

As we know, God in His mercy stepped in and reclaimed us through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, so believing in Him puts us back together again (unlike Humpty Dumpty, who remains a hopeless creature of brokenness). 

However, in our brokenness, we need to continue to seek God, to repent of our sins, and  to knock on the door of fellowship.

Bartimaeus, the blind man in Luke’s story, shows us how simple faith is all that it takes to restore that broken relationship that our sin, and only our sin, caused.

EXAMINING THE LESSON

I’M INDEBTED TO Pastor Gary Hamrick, Cornerstone Chapel, Leesburg, Va., for his insight and exegesis of this Scriptural passage.

We see five lessons or “take-aways” from Bartimaeus:

  1. He believed that Jesus is a miracle-working God
  2. He appealed to the mercy of God
  3. He dismissed the voices of doubt
  4. He exercised faith in God
  5. He gave all the glory to God.

In Luke’s account, Bartimaeus is a blind man who lost his sight, probably from an infection, which was common in that day. Once a hearty man, he was reduced to begging by a busy commercial route.

“MY ARMS ARE OPEN”

One day, he heard a loud commotion as a small army of excited passers-by kicked up dust in his face. He called out, asking who was there. Several in the crowd, proudly following Jesus on His way to Jerusalem and the Cross, replied that it was “Jesus of Nazareth.” 

A dismissive appellation, really, as He was more than just a regular bloke.  He also was Almighty God. 

But Bartimaeus, the man who couldn’t see because of his physical blindness, could see “spiritually” more than what Jesus’ followers — we might call them the “church” — saw.

Bartimaeus knew that Jesus was, and is, the Lord.

ARE WE SEEKING MIRACLES

DO WE LOOK FOR MIRACLES? How many of us truly believe the Creator of the universe would bother Himself with showing us a miracle when (1) He has so much other work to do, and (2) Other people either are more worthy than we are or are in more desperate need? 

Yet, our Lord assured us in His earthly ministry that not even a sparrow falls without the Father’s notice (Matthew 10:29-31) and that we, His image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-27), are infinitely more important to Him than sparrows.

Certainly, this view is the deception the Liar, the Great Deceiver, whispers in our ears that, yes, God can, will, and does perform miracles today … just not for you (John 8:44; 10:10a).

Yet, look again at the plight of Bartimaeus and his faith in Jesus as Lord. A blind beggar sitting along a dusty road, totally dependent on the generosity of stingy, self-centered heathens for is survival, was important enough to Jesus that on His way to the Cross, Jesus stopped the procession, called him over, inquired of his wishes, and granted it immediately.

Why would anyone not believe that same Lord would look upon us with the same measure of compassion, love, forgiveness, and healing.

He Still Can. 

He Still Will. 

He Still Does.


 PRAYER

Dear Father God, we need a miracle. We need You to swoop down and heal our souls, heal our hearts, heal our world. 

 We need humility in our lives to bend our wills to Yours, to repent of our sins, and to turn in a new direction, one that imitates the life of our Lord Jesus. 

Forgive us, Lord, for our disobedience, and set a new heart within us, one of flesh and not of stone, one of humility and not of pride. In the name of Jesus we raise this prayer.  AMEN

WHO IS TEACHING OUR CHILDREN?

FOR SOME REASON, our country is embroiled in a debate over an issue that should be firmly settled: the role parents play in overseeing their children’s education. 

BEFORE THE MEETING STARTS

 Those on one side of the political spectrum — the conservative side — say parents should have a voice over the educational material. While they don’t insist on determining the curriculum or grade standards, they want oversight over core values, including what passes for acceptable information on sexual behavior and issues related to race and gender identity.

Those on the other side — I’m not even sure why there is an other side, but it’s the liberal side — supports the indoctrination of our youth to comply with liberal politics of the national teachers unions. 

WHAT’S YOUR GENDER?

ADD TO THE LEFT’S support of same-sex attraction as a normal “alternative” life style is its sadistic support of children changing their gender, from recognizing the alternate first names they choose corresponding with their new gender to honoring the gender-appropriate pronouns accompanying their new gender identity. 


MALE/IN-BETWEEN/FEMALE

THE BIBLE TELLS US to teach our children well, tell them  about God and, as mothers and fathers, discipline them in the Lord with love and patience. 

Yet, in today’s world, most of our children are taught (programmed?) by government-run public schools, many of which promote non-biblical values and demonize parents who raise objections. 

How can that be?


That’s before we get to racial relations, where the left divides the classroom into “oppressors” and “oppressed” based on their race; global climate change hysteria; and demonizing our country’s Founding Fathers for having owned slaves, a common practice at the time, before Christians were able to put a stop to it.

While slave ownership is not something to admire, it was common around the globe 200 years ago, and our Founders struggled with the idea.

GENERATIONAL MORAL CODE

JUDGING ONE GENERATION’s moral code by the morality of another generation hundreds of years later is a monumental misstep. Not only can the deceased not defend themselves but it leaves their  detractors open to the same scapegoating from generations yet to come.

Would leftists who sanctimoniously condemn slaveholders George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison — giants of an earlier era who brought forth the American Experiment — want the spotlight turned on them?

What moral failings of today could our progeny point to in disgust? Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Abortion Rights — killing innocent lives in the womb;
  • Exorbitant Debt — passing down entitlements costs to future generations;
  • Urban Decay — skyrocketing violent crime;
  • Educational Failure — declining test scores.

To that short list, we can add inflation, porous borders, mask mandates, and cancellation of dissent, plus many more. 

Would today’s leftist crusaders want to stand up to values scrutiny from moral scolds 200 years from now based on THAT record?


SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

GOD’S WORD IS ALIVE
  • ISAIAH 54:13 (NKJV): All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. 
  • PROVERBS 1:8-9 (ESV): Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
  • MATTHEW 19:14 (NASB20): But Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

At least our Founding Fathers contributed something useful to hand their successors — a republic!

What contribution will our statue topplers, hero bashers, and sexual perverts leave for THEIR successors?

BIBLICAL VALUES ENDURE

THOSE OF US who take our Bibles seriously, especially those portions instructing us on how to raise our children (“It was that you should have children who are truly God’s people.” Malachi 2:15 (GNT)), know that God’s values, purposes, and agenda never vary. (“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)) 

FAMILY BIBLE STUDY

What we’re seeing in the government-run schools, however, is anything but the eternal and universal values of our Creator. 

Instead, they are the shadow values of the Great Imitator, the one  Jesus warned us about: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a (NLT))

Jesus contrasts that dismal outlook with His own promise: “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b (NET))

POSTSCRIPT

THE LORD CLEARLY WANTS us to tell our children about Him, His goodness, His grace, mercy, and love, and also His righteous judgments, reserved for those who reject Him. 

He says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” — Psalms 78:4 (ESV)

We are not to leave that chore to the churches and professional Christians but are to handle it ourselves, leading by example and teaching them God’s Word.

Even more important, we need to pray for our children, starting even before they’re conceived in the womb and right through the day we take our last breath on earth. 

God says, “I want Godly children.”

LORD, MAY IT BE SO.

PRAYER

ABBA FATHER GOD, how often do we fail to teach our children of the Lord’s will, of His love and His wrath, of  His mercy and His judgment, of His call on our lives and our duty to obey. As our children grow to adulthood, we lose the role of protective parents with absolute authority to tell them Your truth, but we can continue fervently to pray for their conviction and to lead by example, to the best of our ability, with God’s help. O Lord, have mercy on our children’s souls, and the souls of their children, and so on down the line, that they will not suffer eternally for our failings. Bring them to repentance that our joy may be complete. In the majestic name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. AMEN 

CHRISTIANITY CONFRONTS A DARK, EVIL WORLD

WHAT KIND OF UNSIDE DOWN, convoluted, world are we  presenting to the our youngest Americans, those pre-teens whose only knowledge of the world around them is one where everyone is masked, boys really are girls and vice versa, and at any moment their supposedly safe schools could be turned into a shooting gallery. 

THE GREAT BATTLEFIELD

This is a world where energy costs are soaring as political leftists declare war on fossil fuels, and government leaders, school officials, television personalities, and most adults in their lives encourage youngsters to “snitch” on their parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who they are told are bad people because they don’t get with “the program.”

While the above-named events are difficult even for adults to handle, at least those of us with some life experience are able to compare our current world with a not-too-distant past that was more benign and recognizable.

Our evil world is polluted with hatred, inflamed rhetoric, judgmental commentary, and pure evil intent. As Christians, we are called to a higher standard, but all too often, even those in the church that bears the name of Jesus fall into the world’s insidious trap. We need to pray and dedicate ourselves to setting a better example.

LoveAndGrace Christian Blog

The youngest among us are not so privileged. They have nothing safe, benign, and comfortable to compare this with, to see for themselves that what’s happening all around them isn’t right, isn’t normal, isn’t the way it should be.

MIXED-UP FOLKS

 IMAGINE BEING A five-year-old girl and being told you could be a boy if you want to be, or a boy who’s encouraged to think of himself as a potential girl. Maybe you’re a mistake! Maybe you shouldn’t have the body your mind is housed in, but, instead, the body of your opposite sex sibling! 

ONCE UPON A TIME

What if you see nothing wrong with a man dressed up like a tawdry woman reading children’s stories to your classmates at the local library, or hearing your parents grumble and gripe over dinner because of the cost of gasoline, the shortage of baby formula, or the idiots — like their uncle and aunt — whose political views differ from theirs.

Recently, a Christian brother posted a FaceBook meme about voters in a state other than the one in which he lives who selected a political candidate in the primary election — not even the general election but the primary — by calling those voters “stupid.”

Seriously? They’re stupid because you don’t agree with them? And supposedly you’re a church leader, one who sings “Give Me Jesus” on Sunday but rails against his neighbors on Monday?

Is this not madness! 

What is a five-year-old to think?

 BIBLICAL PROPHESY

THE BIBLE WARNS US that in the “latter days,” all sorts of evil and mayhem will flourish. Among the sin examples in one passage, along with murder, lying, and various sexual sins, is dishonoring one’s parents (Rom. 1:29-31).

BAND OF INNOCENTS

That one seems so innocuous, like tossing litter into a condemnation of assault with a deadly weapon or sucker punching someone, yet it lies at the very base of our youngests’ world … the lack of respect for authority.

That lack of authority translates over to failing to adhere to teachers’ instructions, or that of police officers, or teachings at church, or advice from older — and wiser — siblings and family members.

Yet, when we look at the instruction they are given, too much of it — way too much of it — is disrespectful of life as God designed it, so the young are disrespecting the authority of those placed over them who, themselves, are disrespecting God’s order.

What a mess.

THE WAY OUT

YES, THERE IS A WAY OUT. It starts with the Bible. Yes, the Bible! It is God’s Word, and He tells us how He designed us and how He expects us to live — how to think, how to speak, and how to act.

AN OPEN BIBLE

SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT
  •   Romans 12:21 (NKJV): “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 (NIV): “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

We’re not doing it. Those of us who claim the Lord as our Savior may well do a better job than the rest of the world, but the Bible clearly states we are in the minority, and we’ve still got sinful hearts. 

If Christ’s followers can’t get it right, what hope is there for those who reject Him and His design for our lives?

Who will speak into the lives of our children, to teach them there is a way out of the dark jungle of our current world and into the shining light of God’s new creation?

There are those who labor in the muck, striving gallantly to instill good morals in the young, only to be vilified for their effort. 

In today’s upside down world, they are considered “bigots” and “haters” because they, alone, stand true to God’s eternal and universal Word, not equivocating between good and evil as the moment suits.

The answer, of course, is to rely on Jesus Christ, who, the Bible reminds us, remains sovereign and will enjoy having *the final say* on human history. 

PRAYER

OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, we are ashamed at the mess we’ve made of the perfect world You created and gave to us to run. First, we disobeyed you in the Garden; then, we killed Your prophets and apostles, and even Your Son, Jesus Christ, and still we continue to rebel. Forgive us, please, and help us walk the straight path You have designed for us. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

MARRIAGE IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

HERE’S A CHALLENGE I recently saw: Are you (am I) living our lives in light of eternity, or are we living soley for the present, without regard to the eternal consequences of our current choices?

GOD ESTABLISHED MARRIAGE

The challenge appeared in a book I recently reread on marriage, co-written by pastor and author Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa.

While I thought the book would focus on “marriage tips,” the  authors challenged us to focus on Jesus Christ, His perfection, and our failure to be like Him. 

“People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth.”

FRANCIS CHAN

Why? Because, the Chans argue, the health of our marriage is based on the health of our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we are strong in our faith and in our walk with Christ, our marriage will flourish; if our faith is weak, then our walk with Christ will be spotty, and our marriage will suffer.

My takeaway from this scenario is that God created the institution of marriage to be our life’s barometer, much like our personal canary in the coal mine.

_____

SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

  • MATTHEW 10:37 (NKJV): “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
  • PSALMS 111:10 (ESV): “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 13:1 (NASB20): “If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

_____

Marriage is an “early warning system” that tells us daily whether we’re on track with the Lord or whether we’ve fallen off the path.

GOD PLACED ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS

That point was made succinctly in Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, which suggests marriage was created not to make us happy but to make us holy.1

You can read my blog on that, titled “Unity and Peace at Home” here.

LIVING FOR ETERNITY

 FRANCIS CHAN FURTHER says the health of our marriage depends on our life purpose, on whether we are living for eternity or simply focused on our daily existence. 

It’s all too easy, he says, for us to fill our minds with our list of things-to-do-today so that we ignore the most important aspect of our lives — why God created us in the first place. He says it was not to scurry about like busybodies checking off our daily tasks but to glorify God.

Glorify God! How can we do that, he asks, if we’re overwhelmed by daily burdens?

Chan starts his book with a comment that I want to focus on for my life because it is so startling and so prescient that I wonder how I never thought of it before:

“People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth.” —Francis Chan, Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Claire Love Publishing, San Francisco, 2014, Kindle, p. 5 2

SETTING PRIORITIES

WHAT DOES YOUR daily activity list look like?

Here are two lists that Chan offers. 

The one on the left is what most of us professing Christians will write; the one on the right is what Chan says the Bible tells us our lists should look like:

Two Priority Lists

1. GOD1. GOD
2. FAMILY2.
3. FRIENDS3.
4. WORK4.
5. POSSESSIONS5. FAMILY, FRIENDS, WORK, POSESSIONS
WHICH LIST IS LIKE YOURS?

Chan says, “Too many are content with the list as it is arranged on the left. But that list doesn’t come from the Bible.” Ibid. P. 20

He says that while professing Christians often say, “God first, family second,” they rarely live out their lives that way. The test, he says, is to ask yourself, “If I lived for family first and God second, what, if anything, would be different?” Ibid. P. 74

The reality, he says, is that very little would change, which proves the point that while we recognize our God should come first in our lives, we rarely live that out.

CREATING IDOLS

IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, God tells the Israelites, and through them He tells us, not to worship idols, meaning anything that we cherish or value more than we cherish and value the Lord.3

GOD’S GIFT

God, our Creator, has given us the gift of life and a promise, if we want it, of eternal life with Him, yet how many of us who call ourselves by His name live with eternity in mind? 

God has given us marriage, which may be our earthly barometer telling us when we’re following the Master’s lead or veering off onto our own path. 

God is calling us back to His path, and if we follow it, He has promised to give us everything we need. It’s an airtight promisefrom the One who never lies.

LoveAndGrace, an Evangelical Christian Blog

Yet what priorities do we show in our actual living? What comes before God? Is it work, or pleasure, or home, or family, or title, or cars, or musical instruments, or computers, or boats, or … any other of our possessions?

I hate to admit it, but I need to: I cannot imagine functioning anymore without my array of electronic gadgets, from computer to tablet to smart phone to smart watch to noise-canceling earbuds to “tags” that I can attach to valuables (like my keys) so I can find them with an audio beep activated by an app on my smart phone.

Where is God in all of this?

Have I left Him behind? Thrown Him into the ditch? Ignored Him? Pushed Him aside?

I hope not.

As I said earlier, “I hate to admit it,” but I need to acknowledge my sin and repent of it, learning that God has given me this lineup of electronic gadgets to assist me in my labor but not to take first place in my heart.

POSTSCRIPT

WE NEED TO KEEP in mind not only that God created us for His glory and purpose but that through the sacrificial love of His Son, He has reconciled us to  Himself that where He is, we might live also.

THE CROSS EQUALS GOD’S LOVE FOR US

We are not our own but are bought with a price and that price is the life blood of Jesus Christ.5

When we do that, the Chans say, when we really focus on God and His message of love and compassion to us, when we’re living for eternity with God, then we are living “on mission,” according to the will of God, our Creator. 6

When we lose sight of that call on our lives, we stumble in the dark, unsure of our way.

Lisa Chan said it this way: “Those who don’t believe [in Jesus Christ] are going to live self-absorbed, greedy, sensual, indulgent lives. But those who belong to Christ will be on a mission.” Ibid., P. 78

If we want better marriages, we should adhere to the Bible’s teaching, to seek first the things of God and then everything else — including our marriages — will be thrown into the bargain. 7

PRAYER

OUR FATHER GOD, we are so grateful for Your willingness to reconcile us in fellowship with You after we broke it through our disobedience. Now, we honor You through marriage, in which husband and wife share life’s burdens but, more than that, encourage one another to walk “on mission” for the Lord, witnessing to the secular world through word and deed the blessings of Jesus Christ. In His precious and glorious name we pray. AMEN 

  1. Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, Zondervan, Grand Rapids,Mich., 2000
  2. Francis Chan, Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Claire Love Publishing, San Francisco, 2014, Kindle, p. 5
  3. Exo. 20:3-4; 1 John 5:21
  4. 2 Cor. 5:19; John 3:17; John 14:2-3
  5. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
  6. John 10:28; 2 Cor. 4:18
  7. Matt. 6:33; also C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”Mere Christianity. (1952)

PURSUING A DREAM

This is a recurring scene. I’m sitting in church with my wife,  and we’re praising the living God, thanking Him for redeeming our lives and saving our souls. 

At the end of the sermon, the pastor issues an altar call.

WORSHIPPING THE LORD

He invites anyone who has been moved to receive the Holy Spirit to come to the altar — or, if they prefer, remain in the seats — and pray some form of “The Sinner’s Prayer.” 

In the prayer, the penitent is led to declare his or her need for forgiveness and to thank God for sending His Son to pay the price of death that our sin requires. Then they are led to declare their repentance from sin and their desire to follow Jesus’ plan for their lives. 

With everyone joining in on “Amen,” the row of penitents is led to another room or the church lobby for a gift — usually a small  Bible and a devotional — and congratulated on having passed from judgment into life.

Jesus calls us to dream big, to take new paths, to make an impact on our world. The caveat is that He wants us to follow Him in that venture, not strike out on our own. Are you following a dream … or just drifting? I feel called to pursue a dream.

In far too many churches, for all we know, that’s it. Good bye. Good luck. See you around.

SEEKING TO SERVE

UNLESS WE’RE DEEPLY INVOLVED in the church’s complete ministry program, we would have no idea what resources are available for the newly initiated. Perhaps it’s extensive at some churches, but many churches seem to let the matter go at that point.

ENJOYING NATURE

I want to change that dynamic, to come alongside the “newbies” and help them navigate the often bumpy and challenging road ahead.

Eleven years ago, when I surrendered my life to the Lord, I was tasked by Jesus to break free from my addiction to alcohol. That began a three-year fight before I gave in to Him, and He has sustained me since.

I had expected that He would demand that transformation, but what I hadn’t expected, never anticipated, and recoiled in horror at was something more insidious — it’s called “spiritual warfare” — and new Christians are seldom prepared for it.

QUITTING EARLY

I WANTED TO QUIT.

I was in a home group (some churches call them “life groups” or “small groups), which is a group of believers who meet together regularly, often in someone’s home, other times at another venue, such as a church or restaurant meeting  room.


SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

  • Matt. 4:19 (NKJV): “Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
  • John 15:5 (NET): “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from me, you can accomplish nothing.”

I announced to the group that I was “quitting” my new-found Christian life because I was being attacked by Satan, and I did not know how to react. It felt like my life was falling down an endless black chute. I was scared, but more than that I was angry.

I had signed up for “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” when, instead, I got caught in the middle of a gun fight between the archangel Michael and the King of Demons. 

No way! I wanted none of that. 

WALKING ALONGSIDE SOMEONE

Fortunately, our home group leader recognized the symptoms and explained spiritual warfare to me, even showing me the colorful graphic of a man clothed in Ephesians 6 armor, brandishing his sword (the Bible), and protecting himself with the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, and the shoes of peaceful readiness.

Yes, I remembered the graphic, but I had no idea at the time how to apply it.

Now, I was in the middle of a demonic attack, and I was ready to bolt.

BURNING DESIRE

AS I SIT IN CHURCH week after week, I’m compelled now to do something about the burning inside me to help someone else through the coming battles.

Wanting to be bold yet humble at the same time, I approached one of our  pastors recently to inquire about whether such a ministry exists at our church, and, if so, if I could join it. 

The scenario looks promising. Working with new Christians, as well as struggling Christians, seekers, and even skeptics, is my life’s passion.

Perhaps — just perhaps — this is the Dream my Lord and Savior has been calling me to follow … and now is the time He’s raising the curtain.

MAY IT BE SO!

PRAYER

ABBA FATHER, OUR LORD AND MASTER, let me kneel humbly before Your Throne of Grace, offering myself as an ambassador for Christ to minister to new Christians, to those struggling with their faith, and even to those who remain distant and skeptical. Lord, You know my strengths and weaknesses, and You can put both of them to work to complete Your plan. As Isaiah said years ago, “Here am I, Lord. Send me!” I raise this petition in the matchless, majestic name of Jesus the Messiah. AMEN.

MY CHRISTIAN WALK: A PERSONAL STORY – PART 2

Anyone who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ later in life — instead of in childhood or mid-teens — probably can relate to my story. I am blessed to be His, but I wish I had accepted Him decades earlier. This is Part Two of my story … You can find Part One here.

Before Accepting Christ …

YOUR HUMBLE AUTHOR WITH PUPPY

MY WIFE AND I had raised our children as Unitarian Universalists, but after our divorce, I came to see that the UU tradition offered nothing of substance to satisfy an emptiness in my soul that I have since learned was placed there by God to encourage us to seek Him.

I wanted more than man’s wisdom, no matter how prescient it was. I wanted to know Truth. I wanted to believe that Truth existed, and I wanted to find it, and I wanted to embrace it.

When I first had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ, I flinched, knowing that I was leaving behind the UU  tradition my daughters were taught. I felt I was betraying them, that I was leaving them on a sinking ship while I found safety in one of the life boats.

Another Year of Prayer

HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND

AFTER ANOTHER YEAR of prayer, Bible reading, Christian fellowship, and weekly worship, the Lord gave me this verse to make my decision clear:

“Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  – Matthew 10:37b NIV

“Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  

JESUS CHRIST (Matthew 10:37b NIV )

That tipped me over. The Lord knew I loved my daughters very much and did not want to abandon them, yet He told me (and everyone else, too!) that we are to love Him more than other family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or any possession or treasure on earth.

In that moment, I knew that even if my decision to embrace Jesus were to cost me the love of my beloved daughters, I would still jump right in. 

I loved Jesus more. I wanted Jesus full bore! 

JAMESTOWN, RHODE ISLAND

On Nov. 10, 2010, I accepted the Lord into my heart. This definitely was a Revelation 3:20 moment, where I opened the door and let my Savior in. As He promised He would,  He came in and sat at table with me and became my friend.

More than that, He restored my soul and gave me hope and a future.

Finally Accepting Christ!

THE LORD MOVED IN with the Holy Spirit and immediately set about transforming me. That involved convicting my sinful behavior, thoughts, and words, and changing my heart from stone to flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) 

Although immediately I was saved by Christ’s blood (justification), I had a lot of growing to do to become a Christian whose light shines in the darkness. 

HARDEEVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

That’s the sanctification part, and mine was an intense tutorial as the Holy Spirit taught me from His Word and from believing friends that certain movies, books, songs, and other offerings of the world were now off-limits.

He led me to abandon harmful addictions, to become more patient and compassionate, and to seek ways to serve Him. I am still learning, and He is still teaching.

As I grew in Christ, the Holy Spirit kept me from wanting those things that  the world offers. 

He’s still working on me and will not complete the job until I reach glory with Him. (Phil. 1:6)

Postscript …

SO, NOW WHAT am I supposed to do?

Tell others.

It’s the Great Commission: 

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA

It’s His final words to the apostles before His ascension: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”– Acts 1:8 (NIV)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”-Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB20)

To summarize, Jesus told us:

“Go … Baptize … Teach … Receive Power … 

Be My Witnesses … Tell Everyone.” 

What About You?

WHAT IS YOUR STORY? What should you do with the saving grace God has placed on your heart?

Most likely, it’s the same Great Commission, the same teaching, and the same witnessing to which he’s called me. 

If you’re struggling with your faith or unsure of God’s grace, or even questioning whether God’s grace can cover your sin, please take your questions to God in prayer and seek out a Godly mentor of the same sex you are. 

Find a Bible-based church (easy to spot: they often call themselves “Bible Church” or “Community Church”) and ask the pastor for guidance or check out the “What We Believe” or “About Us” section of the church’s website. 

Buy a Bible and begin reading it. Start with the Gospel of John. He’ll show you the love of Jesus Christ in a more  profound way than anyone else does. 

Read the Word, pray constantly, seek a Godly mentor, and begin regular fellowship with a strong Christ-based group. Avoid social clubs. You’ll want solid grounding in the Word.

Finally, when you hear His call on your life, answer with a firm and joyful “Yes, Lord!”

  • “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”Hebrews 3:15 (ESV)
  • “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

When I heard His voice and finally listened and obeyed, He was faithful and just and came in as I opened the door — just as He told us He would in Revelation 3:20 — He became my Friend.

PRAISE GOD!

PRAYER

FATHER GOD, we praise You for Your love for us,  Your will to create us in Your image, and Your will to send Jesus to pay our sin debt so You could restore fellowship with us, despite our rebellion, our disobedience. Thank You, Lord most magnificent. We praise You in Jesus’ name. AMEN


NOTE: Photos are of geographic areas of importance to me.

THE CURSE OF PERFECTIONISM

Is “perfectionism” un-biblical? Jesus says in His Sermon on the Mount not to worry. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life. … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:25-27 NIV) Perfectionists worry they won’t measure up to their own standards, let alone the imagined standards of others. Isn’t that un-biblical?

THOSE OF US who are “perfectionists” must unite and throw off our chains! The intense desire that drives us  to do everything just right often cripples us from doing anything. We’re so concerned we’ll look foolish or botch the job that our fear is enough to stop us before we even try. 

Is there a cure? As always, Scripture points us in the right direction. 

SUPPORTING BIBLICAL TEXT

SEEKING A *PERFECT* IMAGE
  • Proverbs 22:19 (NKJV): “So that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you.”
  • 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9 (ESV): “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • 2 CORINTHIANS 10:17-18 (NASB20): “But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
  • GALATIANS 6:4-5 (NLT): “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”

PITY THE PERFECTIONISTS!

I AM A PERFECTIONIST. That doesn’t mean I perform at a higher level than others nor does it mean I am satisfied with my level of achievement.

Perfectionism is our fleshly desire to appear better than we really are, but God loves the humble over the proud and tells us that His grace, His forbearance, and His acceptance should be enough for us.

It simply means I strive to do the impossible: to excel at whatever task I’m engaged in with the almost inescapable outcome that I will not come close to accomplishing what I set out to do.

That frustrates me. 

One way to defeat that tendency is to avoid doing any task that I assume I can’t do well. Another way is to avoid doing those tasks I can do well but won’t do as well as I would like. 

Those two strategies can leave me with … doing nothing!

So, I continue to struggle to do the best I can.

BIBLICAL WISDOM

THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES gives us some divinely inspired pointers on how to combat this irritating and exhausting tendency. 

Here’s a prime example:

ECCLESIASTES 2:11 (GNT): “Then I thought about all that I had done and how hard I had worked doing it, and I realized that it didn’t mean a thing. It was like chasing the wind—of no use at all.”

POINTING TO GOD’S WORD

Solomon’s writings in Proverbs add more insight:

  • PROVERBS 3:5-6 (NIV): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
  • PROVERBS 14:12 (ESV): “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

I especially like this admonition from the apostle Paul:

  • GALATIANS 6:4-5 (NKJV): “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”

Jesus, in His earthly ministry, put it this way:

  • JOHN 15:5 (ESV): “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (emph. added)

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

OBVIOUSLY, IF I OBSESS about my own accomplishments, instead of finding myself in God’s will, I’m heading down the wrong path.

Just another item that’s easier for me to talk about than it is for me to do, especially since I also want to “bear fruit” for the Kingdom. 

Isn’t the saving grace just that … that we’re saved by God’s grace and not by our own works? (Eph. 2:8). If so, then I’m already in God’s will by humbly submitting my soul to His safekeeping.

My job then is to pray for guidance, see where God is working, and jump in. It doesn’t matter how well I do; I’m not the change agent. The Holy Spirit is. He has chosen to work through me. 

Imagine that!

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

SOMETIMES, LOOKING AT WHAT we do and how we do it, it’s just a matter of emphasis — whether we focus on what we’ve done or, instead, focus on what’s left over. 

PRAISING OUR GOD!

Speaker and author Phill Urena states it this way:

“Another perspective that often goes with this teaching is that we are still sinners saved by grace. I would say to that yes, I was a sinner saved by grace. I am now a saint of God who struggles with sin.” — Redefining Grace, Phill Urena, 2020, Kindle Edit., p. 88.

God tells us through the apostle Peter that we’re “special people” and “a royal priesthood” of sons and daughters. (1 Pet. 2:9 NKJV)

God has claimed us out of the darkness and set us down in His “marvelous light.” 

Considering our blessings, I (and all of us) should be more willing — much more willing — to rest our soul in His arms and not strive so much in our own power to accomplish what we readily admit is beyond our means to do. 

  • LET ME DO MY BEST.
  • LET ME DO WHAT I’VE BEEN CALLED TO DO.
  • LET ME PLACE MY TRUST IN HIM.

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

PRAYER

LORD GOD, We confess that too often we try to go  it alone, even in our attempts at Christian witness. You alone, O God, know what is in a person’s heart, and You alone can change that heart. Help us to be more humble and more obedient in service to You, Father God, so that we follow Your lead, not our own. In humility, we lift this prayer in Jesus’ name. AMEN 

MY CHRISTIAN WALK: A PERSONAL STORY – PART 1

Anyone who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ later in life — instead of in childhood or mid-teens — probably can relate to my story. I am blessed to be His, but I wish I had accepted Him decades earlier. This is Part One of my story …

Supporting Biblical Text …

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (NET)
  • “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
  • “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” — Jeremiah 29:13 (NASB20)

COURTING A STUBBORN MAN

WHAT AN AMAZING JOURNEY! Jesus has taken a broken, dispirited, sinful man and turned him into a joyful being with eternity in his heart!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Yes, He had to overcome my disobedience and stubbornness, but He assures us that He is stronger than the world’s evil and that when we obey His will for our lives, we are building our houses on solid rock.

The evening I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior was on a Wednesday in November 2010. I had vacillated for at least a year, afraid my two daughters, who had been raised in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, would reject me over my newfound faith.

I likened my decision to leaving them on a sinking ship (the UU life) while I snuck away to safety on one of the lifeboats (a Christ follower).

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

But the Lord, calling me to Him, gave me a verse to savor. It’s from Matthew 10:37b (NKJV): “And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

That moment was magical because I knew I wanted Jesus, even more than my two precious daughters; and, of course, I wanted them to follow me in worshipping the Lord.

“I WANT JESUS!” I cried out in my soul. “I want Him even if I lose my family and my friends and if total strangers hate me. I want Jesus.”

I knew He could save my life in this world. At that moment, I wasn’t even aware that He could — and would — save me for all of eternity.

Choosing Jesus … A Rough Road

HARDEEVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

FOLLOWING JESUS PROVED to be even a rougher road to follow that I had thought it would be … and I certainly thought it would be rough.

Until then, I had no idea my heart was so dark.

For one thing, the Holy Spirit took over my conscience, repeatedly rebuking me for errant thoughts and salty language, even before trying to straighten out my actions.

Fellow Christians added their comments, all in love, but they sounded alike: “That’s not a nice thing for a Christian to say.”

Even one non-Christian friend told me I was too hard on myself, beating myself up for my non-Christlike feelings, thoughts, comments, and actions.

I was a mess — a mess for Jesus!

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

I was trying so hard to learn a new way of living. I saw myself as the last one to the banquet table, walking into the room with mud on my boots and a stained shirt, while everyone else was properly seated, with folded napkins, correct forks, and clean hands.

At one point, I announced to a church home group that I was quittng “the Christian thing” because I felt I was a fraud and didn’t really belong.

Why Did I Choose Him?

WHY DID I FINALLY TURN to Jesus Christ for the answers to my life’s questions? Two reasons: (1) I was desperate for answers, and (2) No one else had meaningful answers.

OKATIE, SOUTH CAROLINA

Yes, I had looked for other answers because I knew that Jesus is perfect and, as such, would demand more from me than I was willing to give. I wanted answers *on the cheap,* that were within my ability to understand and control.

Jesus, I knew, lives outside that orbit, and He would want to control me … for my own good, but nevertheless He would be in control.

I had begun a serious search once I came to realize I was plummeting and harming myself, but with one stipulation — that I would find an answer that did not include Jesus Christ!

That search took nearly a decade, until I finally came to accept that no answer outside of Jesus Christ would satisfy the hunger in my soul.

Even then, it took another four years to accept the Jewish Messiah, the Son of God, as my Lord and Savior.


PRAYER

HUMBLY IN PRAYER

FATHER GOD, I AM so grateful to You for your patience with me and Your perseverance, foreknowing that I eventually would raise my arms in praise and call on Your holy name for my salvation. Now, help me, strengthen, direct me to share the Good News of salvation with those You place in my life. In Jesus’ precious and magnificent name. AMEN


NOTE: Photos are from several locations important to me.

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