First Time I Heard The Gospel

Alaska best

Good morning to all you beautiful souls out there!  I have been praying for you all and reading your blogs this morning!  Such amazing talent and gifts abound on WordPress!  It encourages me each day as I read your stories, poems, and outpourings of your hearts!  Most of us might be introverts and we prefer our quiet writer’s dens, but we are all impacting lives and changing the world!  The pen is mightier than the sword indeed!  God bless you all in the Precious Name of Jesus!

I just want to open up some more about my life and be real with everyone.  Yes, I am a preacher, but I am also just a man.  A 40 year old man with two awesome kids and a wonderful wife of 17 years.  I wasn’t always a Christian.  In fact, I have probably sinned way worse than you ever have in your life!  I loved to drink and party and that leads to all kinds of sin.  I am so thankful Jesus saved me!

This morning I was thinking back to when I was 18 years old before I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I did not want anything to do with God and I especially hated Christians.  They annoyed me and I thought they were a bunch of self righteous people who just needed a crutch in life.

I am 6’1″ tall and I used to weigh around 160 pounds.  I grew up tough playing basketball with the big guys, ice hockey with the bruisers, and I loved lifting weights.  I loved playing hockey on the frozen Fox River in St. Charles with my friends too!  That is one thing I miss about the Chicago area–really good outdoor ice all winter long!  I still prefer the mild winters here in Colorado where it can be 75 in January out of nowhere!  Yep, we get blizzards in April and May and summer days in the winter.  It’s all because of those Rocky Mountains!  I miss those days playing hockey though.  Hey Chi-Town homies, Go Blackhawks!!! P.S.–I grew up with Eddie Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, and Chris Chelios in the 90s at the old stadium!  Man that place would get loud and nobody could sing the national anthem like that singer!  Incredible!  Chicago is a cool city folks!

I remember thinking that laying down my life to Jesus was weak.  I remember wanting to hold onto my life and not let it go.  I wanted to be tough and not show any weakness.  I didn’t want to think that I needed God or anybody else.  I thought I could do it all on my own by my own strength and I wanted to do my own thing on my terms.  Even after living with a demon for four years through high school, I still didn’t repent!  Craziness!

It wasn’t until I went to college and heard the Gospel clearly preached to me for the first time that I understood what Jesus had done for me and why I needed Him.  I also understood that it was not weak, but it was the most courageous decision a person could make!

When I arrived on campus at the University of Northern Colorado fresh out of high school, I was one messed up dude.  My mind and soul were distorted from alcohol and partying and I had just spent the last four years of my life being tormented by a literal very real demon that lived in our house.  I did not know it, but I desperately needed Jesus and He was coming to rescue me!

This is how I heard the Gospel for the first time as a Freshman in college in 1996:

I met some great Christians who became my friends.  They invited me to the campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ and introduced me to Jim.  Shortly after that, Jim, who would later become my discipleship mentor and great friend for my entire 4 years in college, sat down with me and shared a little booklet called the “Four Spiritual Laws.”  Jim was the Director of Campus Crusade for Christ at that time.  A student leader named Brock was with Jim and so was my friend Willie as we were in his dorm room.  Jim started by asking me, “Bro, if you were to die tonight, how certain are you that you would go to Heaven?  Just give me a percent bro.”

I was shocked as I had never been asked that in my entire life!  I said something like 80 or 90% sure I would go based off the fact I believed I was a “good guy.”  He accepted my answer with grace and said, “would you like to be 100% sure bro?”  That just brings a big smile to my face right now.  I just love Jim bro!  He always called everyone bro, so we called him Jim bro!

I said, “Yes, I want to be 100% sure.”  He said, “Okay, bro, here is how to be 100% sure.”  Jim opened up the little booklet and proceeded to go through it with me explaining it step by step as I looked at the pictures and listened with fascination to every word he said.

Here is that booklet that Campus Crusade for Christ used to evangelize on campus in the mid 90s called “The Four Spiritual Laws”:

1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

God’s Love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s Plan

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

What prevents us from knowing God personally?


2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love.

Man is Sinful

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his own stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken.  This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Man is Separated

“For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) [Death is spiritual separation from God]

“(Those) who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus…will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

law2

This diagram illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and establish the personal relationship with Him through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails. The third principle explains the only way to bridge this gulf…


3.Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

He Died in Our Place

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

He Rose From the Dead

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

He is the Only Way to God

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

law3

This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

It is not enough just to know these truths…


4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.

We Must Receive Christ

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

We Receive Christ Through Faith

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth! (Read John 3:1-8)

We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation

[Jesus speaking] “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self, which is repentance, and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive us of our sins and to make us what He wants us to be.  Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough.  Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience.  We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of our will.

These two circles represent two kinds of lives:

] self directed lifechrist directed life

Which circle best represents your life?

Which circle would you like to have represent your life?

The following explains how you can receive Christ:

You Can Receive Christ Right Now by Faith Through Prayer

(Prayer is talking with God)

God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.  The following is a suggested prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord.  Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life.  Take control of the throne of my life.  Make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Amen.”

 

When Jim showed me the little pictures of the life where SELF is on the throne, Christ is outside the life, and the pieces of life are all over the place in discord and frustration, that is exactly how I felt when I was 18 without the Lord and without hope.  It hit me big time!  It also hit me big that we cannot work our way into Heaven through good works, philosophy, or religion.  At that time I thought people went to Heaven by being a “good person.”  Praise God we don’t have to work our way to Heaven!  The free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is so much better!  Man’s efforts to reach God will always fail.  The only way to God is through Jesus Christ.

Jim asked me, “which circle best represents your life bro?”  I pointed quietly to the picture where SELF is on the throne.  Then Jim said, “which circle would you like to have represent your life bro?”  I pointed to the picture where Jesus is on the throne, self is yielding to Christ, and the pieces of life are in harmony with God’s plan.

After that, Jim said, “good bro, you can receive Jesus through faith right now.  Would you like to do that bro?”

I freaked out inside when I was faced with that decision!  I was amazed that God came down to pay the penalty for our sins Himself and I had never heard it like that before.  I understood now that I was separated from God and I knew deep down that I had sinned against the Lord.  I had even mocked Him and His followers.  I also realized that the Bible had the answers to the demon we lived with in St. Charles, but I did not know what to say!  I desperately wanted the salvation and peace that Jesus offered me, but the decision was huge!  I needed time to think, so I did not accept Jesus at that moment with Jim.  However, just a few weeks later in October of 1996 I gave my life to Jesus Christ while standing alone in the parking lot of a church!  I prayed that salvation prayer above and I was filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy like I had never known in my life!

I celebrated with all my Christian friends from Campus Crusade that Friday night and we all praised God and celebrated my salvation in Christ!  It was awesome and it is a beautiful memory I will never forget.  That is how my walk with Jesus started.  I heard the Gospel explained to me clearly out of a little Gospel tract booklet, and I have been preaching the Gospel ever since!

I hope sharing this has helped you like it helped me!  That is how I shared the Gospel on campus for 4 years from 1996 to 2000.  I know it is hard to hear about Jesus and sin and salvation.  Believe me, I know!  I used to get so angry anytime a Christian would share Christ with me.  You know what though?  That is the most loving thing a person could do for you.  To have courage and invite you to Heaven is not an easy thing to do in this wicked world.  Thank God for the Holy Spirit helping us!

If you have any questions about faith in Jesus or you prayed that prayer to receive Jesus, please let me know!  If you need prayer or just need to talk, please let me know that too!  Jesus saved me, so I could in turn help others come to Him with the gifts He gave me.

Don’t hang on to a life of hopelessness.  It is not weak to admit that you need God and His love.  We were created to be loved by God and we all have a God shaped hole in us that only He can fill.  We all know this and feel this deeply within us because He has set eternity in the hearts of men.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

You know deep inside that you are eternal and that your soul will live on after you die.  Make sure you live forever in Heaven!  Don’t lose your soul over some broken life here on earth!  Let God take over the throne of your life and bring you peace!  I gave my broken life to God almost 22 years ago and He made me brand new!  He will do the same for you!

So, which circle represents your life now?  Which circle would you like to represent your life?  I hope and pray it is the one where Jesus is on the throne and you are at peace in His love and forgiveness!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 10 v 9

 

A Strong Promise

Joshua 1 v 9

I saw this picture today and it reminded me of my rock climbing class in college.  The final exam was to climb a 100 foot cliff face up in the Rockies and then repel down backwards!  It was amazing and the Lord gave me the strength to do it just like the guy in the picture!  It was so cool!  It was like military training.  Plus just about every Coloradoan has tried rock climbing at least once, so I’m glad I got to do it!

DCIM103GOPRO
It was just like this!
Repelling
That is a good representation of repelling. You push off the cliff face and bounce down backwards as you let out slack a little at a time until you reach the bottom. It was crazy fun!

Was it scary with the heights and being tied to a rope and trusting the guy at the other end with my life?  Yes, but I pressed on and made it to the top and did the repelling back down with ease!  Life can be scary.  We all know this.  The evil one loves to play on our fears and he loves trying to put roadblocks in our way.  Just when things seem to be going great, something else comes our way.  It is like that for all of us because that is the way it is in the whole world.  This is a fallen world ruled by an evil prince, so it is imperfect and we have trouble here.

Roadblocks

I have been having one of those days where the evil one tries to put up roadblocks and discourage me.  I had a very strange person who I’ve never seen before get on my blog today and make comments under one of my older posts that were way out of line!  This man actually falsely accused me of adding works to preaching the Gospel because I say what Jesus said, that people need to repent!

Yes, he actually equated “repentance” with “works” and falsely accused me of adding works to receiving Jesus by faith.  I know, it’s very weird and it still boggles my mind! People, the message Jesus preached was a message of repentance!

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Jesus speaking in Matthew 4:17

So, now that it is clear Jesus said to “repent,” here is a great verse from Paul who explains repentance very well.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to Jesus.  Repentance is not works.  It is a change of mind that leads us to salvation in Jesus!  The word repentance in the Greek literally means “a change of mind” or a “change in the inner man.”  It is an attitude of the heart towards God in admitting that you are sinful and you need a Savior.  It means to turn away from your sin and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  “Change your mind” or “repent” of going your own sinful way and turn 180 degrees and go God’s Way, which is to believe in Jesus Christ for your salvation.  That is real change on the inside!  That is what repent means.  I truly hope that is clear to everyone.  It has nothing to do with working for your salvation, give me a break!  In all of my time following Jesus since 1996 I have never heard anyone say repenting is like works!  Jesus calls us to repent, period.

Here is the Greek root of the word “repentance”:

“Strong’s Concordance
metanoia: change of mind, repentance
Original Word: μετάνοια, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: metanoia
Phonetic Spelling: (met-an’-oy-ah)
Short Definition: repentance, a change of mind
Definition: repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man.
HELPS Word-studies

Cognate: 3341 metánoia – literally, “a change of mind” (“after-thought”); repentance. See 3340 /metanoeō (“repent”).”

The New Testament was written in Greek.  You must understand this word repentance!  Jesus called all people to change their minds about living sinful lives.  He called them to turn to Him and be saved!  We all need forgiveness of sins and only Jesus offers that!  Repent, Jesus said, for the kingdom of heaven is near!

I could not believe what the guy was saying when I saw his comments!  I have made it very clear from the day I started this blog on 8-10-2018 that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and not by works!  There is nothing a person could do to earn salvation.  That is why Jesus Christ had to die for our sins–so we could be forgiven and reconciled back to God!  If we could earn our salvation by good works, then Jesus would have died for nothing.  But He did not die for nothing!  He died to forgive the sins of the entire world!

I had to set that man straight and I had to be firm.  I forgive him, but I pray the Lord convicts him and helps him understand the simple truth of the Bible.  I also pray he repents for coming on my blog and falsely accusing me in the comments section under my post.

Anyway, the Lord handled it.  It was very discouraging, but I am okay.  Nothing gets me down for too long since I’m flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit!

The Lord encouraged me tonight!

The Lord brought that verse in Joshua to my mind tonight.  He lifted me up because I heard him whisper, “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  I am with you.”  After that, I found that verse pin and I started writing this post!  Amen!  Thank you Jesus!  The Holy Spirit is so awesome!

Do not be afraid tonight!  Do not be discouraged!  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!

If you have questions…

If anybody has any questions about what I believe or you think you might have misunderstood me in any of my posts, please just send me a nice respectful email through my contact page.  I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

If you falsely accuse me of something or come at me hard with ill intent, I will defend myself in the Lord and defend His Truth.  I will rebuke any lies or hatred that comes against me and I do that by the authority and power that Jesus Christ gave me when I received Him as my Lord and Savior.  I am fulfilling Matthew 28:18-20 on this blog and I intend to finish the work the Lord has given me to complete.  I am a tender and compassionate man, but if you test me, you will soon realize I am also one of God’s lions.

Lion cool pic

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”

Matthew 11:12

Not timid men, not scared men.  No!  Forceful men lay hold of it.  I love you all in Christ and I take preaching God’s Truth very seriously as I will be held accountable to God for what I preach.  I know the authority that has been given to me by Jesus to preach the Gospel to the world, and I am going to move forward in the power of God in that mission.  I am putting my hand to the plow, and by the power of the Holy Spirit I will never look back!  No false accuser is going to slow me down either!

Thank you to all my cool brothers and sisters from all over the world that encourage me daily!

Thank you to all my cool brothers and sisters out there that encourage me every day!  I love you all!  I appreciate you and I really do read your blogs and I love them!  I need your prayers and I look forward to having fellowship with you every day!

It has been a roller coaster day with the joy from my friend’s forgiveness this morning and then the discouragement of the false accuser this afternoon.  I am greatly encouraged though because my God reminded me that He is with me and He told me to not be afraid or discouraged!  I love you I AM!  Thank you Jesus for all you have done for us!  Thank you for paying the price for all of our sins!

Grace and peace to you all!

P.S.

Just to be very clear one more time.  We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by works!  We absolutely cannot earn our way into Heaven by any kind of good works–and repentance is not “works”!  We repent in order to turn to Jesus for our salvation.  Repentance is not a work, it means changing your mind about living your own sinful life and choosing instead to believe in Jesus.  I have been very clear about this because God’s Word is very clear on this.  We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone and that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace.  That is as clear as it gets folks!

More verses regarding repentance:

Luke 13:3
Acts 2:38
Acts 3:19
Matthew 3:8
1 John 1:9
Luke 5:32

“For its by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Ephesians 2 verse 8Salvation

Don’t Give Up!

Philippians 4 v 13

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians around A.D. 61.  By that time he had suffered greatly for being an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  When he wrote that verse about being able to do “everything through him who gives me strength” he had real experience and suffering to back that up!

In order to learn more about that suffering, we need to read Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  He wrote this letter between A.D. 55-57 several years before he wrote Philippians.  Listen to the kinds of suffering and danger Paul lived through as he explains his missionary journeys to the Corinthian church.

“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

verse 32

“In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.  But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.”

That is phenomenal that Paul lived through all of that!  It is important to note that 40 lashes usually killed a man!  Paul was lashed 39 times 5 different times with a brutal Roman whip with sharp pieces of bone embedded in it–that is 195 lashes all over his back!  Can you imagine the scars?!  Most anybody in the world would have given up after only 1 incident of 39 lashes, but Paul did not give up.  He didn’t even give up after being stoned and shipwrecked!  Why?  One reason and one reason only–he could do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthened him!  He was on a mission from God and nothing was going to stop him!

Paul paid the ultimate sacrifice for his faith around A.D. 65 when Emperor Nero ordered that his head be removed with a sword.  All that did was set Paul free to go home to Jesus, and they never did stop his ministry!  All believers are living proof of that as we read his letters in the Bible all over the world every day!

The Lord did a mighty work through our brother Paul.  That same strength is inside every believer of Jesus!  Don’t give up!  Whatever you have going on in your life right now, keep going and don’t ever give up!  If Paul could do all that through Christ, then you can be victorious over anything the world throws your way too!

You can do all things through Him who gives you strength!  May God strengthen and encourage all of our hearts!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

2 Corinthians 13 v 14

 

I Am Praising God!!!

Ephesians 4 v 32 black & white

My heart is filled with great joy today!!!  Many of you know my story of suffering and how I hurt many of my friends and family during that time.  Last night, the Lord moved in my spirit and He told me to look up one of those great friends that I had hurt.  I found him online instantly and emailed him!  I asked him for forgiveness and congratulated him on his success.  I found his resume online and he has an electrical engineering degree from CSU and he is a very successful engineer in his field!  The dude is crazy smart!  I am so proud of him and so thankful to God!  I also told him about what God has done with my book and blog.  This morning, I checked my email and he emailed me back!  Praise God!  It was so good to hear from him after losing touch for almost 7 years!

Brother G-child, if you are reading this, thank you for emailing me back!  My heart is just exploding with joy right now!  You were always a great friend and we had some great times together!  I enjoy those memories still today!  It is so good to hear about your life and I look forward to meeting up in October for that 55k ultra race you are running in Sedalia!  You are a wild man!  Thank you for your forgiveness and for receiving me as a brother in Christ!  God bless you man!  I love you brother!  I never stopped praying for you and the fam!

I am living proof that God forgives, heals, and reconciles!  Hallelujah!!!  Let that be a testimony before God and man!

If you missed the post where I talked about my regrets about the people I hurt and the post where I confessed regarding my time wrestling God, please read those below.  I openly confessed what I went through during my time of suffering and how God redeemed it all!  He is still doing that even now!  He is making all things new!

Regret

Wrestling God

I did not know how my old friend would receive me, but he received me in love and forgiveness and for that I am forever grateful!  I never want to dishonor God, my friends, or my family ever again!  I have been trained by God’s discipline and I just want to stay right by His side forever and walk humbly with the Lord all the days of my life!  Amen!

Remember this promise folks:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

Remember to treat each other in love this way:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

And above all else, please remember this:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

That is what my brother in Christ did for me today!  That forgiveness has set my heart free!  He is a very good friend that is like family to me and I desperately needed to seek his forgiveness.  It is so amazing that he emailed me back!  I am just so happy and at peace right now!  Praise God!  I am really looking forward to seeing you brother!

My friends all over the world, please, confess your sins, be healed, be forgiven, and be at peace!

In the Name of Jesus who loves you!

Grace and peace to you all!

Thank you Jesus!!!

1 John 1 v 9 confess

 

 

Hollow by Tori Kelly

This is a song called “Hollow” from Tori Kelly’s last album Unbreakable Smile.  This is one of the most beautiful songs to the Lord I have ever heard.  May He wrap you in His love and fill up your cup!!!  We are all hollow with a God shaped hole in us, and only the love of God can fill it!

Grace and peace to you all in the Beautiful and Powerful Name of Jesus!

1 John 3 verse 1

I Love Colorado!

IMG_4131
Close up shot of Pike’s Peak from our home.

I wanted to take some time today and share the beautiful state where I am from.  Where we are from is a huge part of who we are!  From culture to climate and everything in between, where we are from tends to shape our lives in one way or another.

It has always fascinated me that we all end up where we do.  Why was I born smack in the middle of the United States of America and not say India or Azerbaijan?  I don’t know, but I know God has a plan for all of us!  You are all beautiful souls and I love you in the Name of Jesus!

Most of us have people from all over the world reading our blogs.  It is so fun to see where God takes my site next!  I’m sure you all feel the same.  My Mom sent me a really nice large map, so I could keep track of all of the places where all of you live.

Blog map

Hello to all of you beautiful souls out there all over the world!  Hopefully you can zoom in on the map and find your pin, enjoy!  We are not so far apart are we?  Hey don’t forget, you can see Russia from Alaska!  One funny side note real quick: my father in law was once elected to the Alaska State House of Representatives and he actually knew and worked with Sarah Palin!  He has pictures with her and everything.  Anchorage is like a small town.  Just some cool family history.  Many of you know my wife is from Alaska.  Anyway, the world is not that big.  It is very small and I love connecting with you all!

So, about that tour of Colorado, the state I love, let’s go!

Welcome to colorado sign

You will see these signs at the borders of the state.  Welcome to colorful Colorado!

Pike's Peak from God's Garden

Let’s head south about an hour from here to Colorado Springs.  This is another shot of Pike’s Peak as seen from “Garden of the gods” or what Christians in Colorado call “God’s Garden.”  It is a beautiful area of natural rock formations at the base of Pike’s Peak.  It is fun to go hiking the trails through the park!

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods 2

Garden of the Gods balanced rock
Famous “Balanced Rock”

Garden of the Gods aerial view

Cool place!  A few hours south of Colorado Springs, are the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde National Park!  Here we go!

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park

I have lived in Colorado for over 32 years of my 40 years on earth, and I still have never visited the dunes!  There are still so many places I want to visit in my own state!

Great Sand Dunes NP elk

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is nestled in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.  Beautiful!  For more information check out: https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

Even further south in Montezuma County, Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park.  This is one of the places our whole family wants to visit!  I pray we can go here someday.  It is just a few hours south of us in the very southwestern corner of our state near Cortez, Colorado.  It is very close to the “four corners” area where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona meet.

Mesa Verde

“Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years.  Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.”

https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

This is an amazing archeological site!  They have done an excellent job preserving it too!  I encourage you to research it.  It’s very cool!

Mesa Verde 2

Heading several hours back north, we will find Denver–my neck of the woods!

Colorado where I grew up

This is a picture of one of the roads in the town I grew up in near Denver.  Quite a view!  We can see God’s majesty every day, and the mountain peaks belong to Him!

Denver big view

The mountains are in the West, so it is always easy to know directions.  I grew up just a few miles south of Denver near the base of the Rocky Mountain front range.  You can see my hometown just to the upper left of the city.

Salt Lake City Skyline

Denver skyline

I am excited to take you up to Red Rocks Amphitheater!  It is one of the most famous concert venues in the whole world!  I have been there several times, and it is awesome!  It is an open air amphitheater that is nestled between natural rock formations that provide incredible acoustics.  It sits only 15 miles west of Denver in Morrison, Colorado.  It is very close to our home and I grew up seeing shows there!

Red Rocks entrance 2

Red Rocks sign

Red Rocks entrance

Red Rocks 2

Red Rocks sunset

Red Rocks 3

Red Rocks at night best

Red Rocks at night

Yes, it is an incredible place!  I saw George Thorogood there when I was a kid (he sang “Bad to the Bone”).  In college, I even got invited to see a great Irish concert there once with Sinead O’Connor, Great Big Sea, and The Chieftans.  It was so much fun!  It reminds me of the old Roman amphitheaters in Ephesus!  It is a lot of fun to see your favorite band play here!  My sister and her husband flew all the way from Illinois one time just to see a show!

No trip to Colorado would be complete without visiting our world class ski resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park!  Let’s start with the Park since I lived up there in the summer of 1998 (yes, the same summer I had my angel encounters).

Rocky Mountain National Park elk

Rocky Mountain National Park is a must visit place on this earth!  It holds the Continental Divide, many 14,000 foot mountains, and a plethora of wildlife and natural beauty!  I lived up there when I worked at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park as a camp counselor in the summer of ’98.  It was a blast!  I worked with 2-4 year old kids and we did pony rides, nature hikes, and lots of arts and crafts!

Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado

YMCA EPC

When I lived there, a giant elk affectionately named Samson by the town folk roamed freely on the grounds of the YMCA.  He was magnificent!  That little guy in the picture is not Samson.  I wish I had a picture of him!

YMCA 2

Here are the grounds of the YMCA with the lodges and staff dorms.  I stayed in the dorms over to the left.

YMCA 3
YMCA Grand Lodge
YMCA 4
Many great church services and weddings are held here!

I want to take you up to Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park now!  The entrance is very close to the YMCA!

According to the National Park Service:

“Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road more than lives up to its advanced billing.  Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt.  As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car.”

It is an amazing drive I have done several times!  I highly recommend it!  Come vacation in Colorado and be amazed!

Trail Ridge Road 3

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road Big horn sheep
Say Hi to Mr. Rocky Mountain Big Horn sheep!

Trail Ridge Road sign

Trail Ridge Road big view

Trail Ridge Road snow wall
Trail Ridge Road in winter
Continental Divide RMNP
The Continental Divide

Continental Divide sign

Long’s Peak is also in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I climbed that with my friends the same summer I worked at the YMCA.  It was incredibly difficult and I almost died twice reaching the summit!  People die all the time trying to climb this mountain.  Another man just died this summer.  Let me show you why.

YMCA 5

That is a picture of Long’s Peak as seen from the YMCA.  It is the big mountain on the left with the notch in it.  That notch is called the Keyhole.  It is 14,259 feet of pure danger, and my friends and I made it to the top in July of 1998!  I will do a full blog post about that someday, but for now here are a few pictures.

Long's Peak 2

Long's Peak

It is like a mini Everest when you are up there.

Long's Peak Keyhole
The boulder field and keyhole. That little castle building is for protection from deadly lightning storms.
The Ledges on Long's
This is what you see once you go through the keyhole. It is the back side of Long’s called “The Ledges.” People fall here all the time.
The Trough Long's Peak
After the ledges, you have to climb “The Trough.” I saw a little rock bounce down this slope while I was climbing it, and it hit a guy in the hand and broke his finger.
The Trough on Long's
Top of the trough looking back down at the ledges.

After the trough is the scariest part of the climb.  It is called “The Narrows,” and you are literally inches from falling 14,000 feet.  Clouds were going by my head and I could feel them on my face.  They had a coolness and grit in them.  It was so cool!

Long's Peak the Narrows
The Narrows! That is a picture taken looking back at the point where the top of the trough is (at the top of the trail).

If you make it through the narrows, then you have to face “The Homestretch” to the summit!  I started sliding backwards while I was climbing this, but the tip of my boot caught a little rock that was sticking out and stopped me!  It is so slick and there is not much to hold onto!  We should have had ropes and pick axes!  Crazy!

The Homestretch on Long's

If you survive the homestretch, then you make it to the summit of Long’s Peak.  Welcome to a 14,259 foot view of Colorado and the entire Rocky Mountain range!

Long's Peak Summit view

Do you want to know what I learned climbing this enormous deadly mountain?  It is summed up in one great verse!

“In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.”

Psalm 95:4

No trip to Colorado would be complete without visiting a few of the ski resorts!  I would like to show you Breckenridge, Vail, and my favorite resort Winter Park!

Breckenridge.png

That is Breckenridge.  It’s a cool town and a great resort!

Vail at night
Vail, CO is a chill place to vacation.
Winter Park at night
Winter Park, CO

This is my absolute favorite mountain town!  Welcome to Winter Park, Colorado!  My Uncle and Aunt used to run a bed and breakfast up here.  It has two parts to the resort: the Winter Park side and the Mary Jane side.  Both are awesome for snowboarders like me!

Winter Park Village at night
Beautiful Winter Park Resort Village
Winter Park perfect powder
Oh man, that is soooo sweet! Check out the fresh powder (a.k.a. pow or freshies)! That is Winter Park white gold!

Winter Park is also home to Parsenn Bowl which is above 12,000 feet.  It is an amazing 1700 vertical feet of phenomenal skiing and riding!

Parsenn Bowl
Snowboarders on the rim of Parsenn Bowl

Parsenn Bowl description

Ryan boarding Feb 2000
Ryan riding Parsenn Bowl in Feb. 2000

Well, that just about does it!  I hope you enjoyed your trip to Colorado!  If you have never been here, I pray you get to come visit us someday!

God bless you all and may God bless the state, city, and country where you live!

Colorado big view

Psalm 121 v 1 & 2 lift up your eyes

 

 

Making All Things New!

Revelation 21 v 1

Did you know God is making all things new?!  Yes, even now He is at work redeeming the whole earth!  The Lord, I AM, reconciled us to Himself through Jesus and He is making all things new!

Fix your eyes on Jesus and that hope today!  Don’t let your heart be weighed down by this world.  I know when I focus on this earth and all the sin and hurt that exists here, I get weighed down!  So, may we focus on the new heaven and new earth that is coming and may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen!

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Revelation 21:1-7

Are you thirsty for new life?!  Jesus offers you that!  You can overcome the world, sin, and death through Jesus!  When you believe in Jesus, springs of living water will flow from within you by the power of the Holy Spirit!

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

John 7:37-38

God is making all things new and you can have that refreshing newness in your life right now!  He is bringing His Kingdom here and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain–Hallelujah!  I pray you receive that precious gift from God today!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 10 v 9