Real Talk

Nothing is impossible

I posted a pretty long piece this morning titled “Heart Poured Out.”  What I did this morning was share my testimony of how and why I came to believe in Jesus.  I am writing this as an addition to that post in order to expand on a few things.

This site is not about me or for my glory.  This blog is to bring fame and glory to Jesus Christ by telling people what He has done for me.  I know my testimony is strange.  I know when somebody talks about angels and demons that person is going to look crazy.  Look, I know.  I was the ultimate unbeliever, very worldly, and I used to hate Christians.  All I can do is tell people the truth of what I know, and hope and pray that people listen.  I can’t force you to accept Christ and I can’t make you listen.  What I can do though is serve God with my whole heart and tell people openly and honestly about the supernatural events I have lived through…and not just me, but what my whole family lived through (Dad, Mom, and my younger sister).  My hope is it will help you make the best decision you could ever make regarding your eternal soul.

What would people rather I do, not tell them?  What would you do?  What if you had moved into a house haunted by a demon when you were 13 years old and had to live with it all through your High School years?  Would you tell anybody, or would you hide it out of fear of rejection and ridicule?  Nobody wants to look crazy, right?  What if you had accepted Jesus your freshman year of college, and you had defeated the demon in the power of the Holy Spirit?  What would you do if angels rescued you from a violent man?  What would you do if you had stopped breathing at age 33 and Jesus saved you yet again?  Would you tell anybody then?  I sure hope so, and that is exactly why I wrote my book (One Man’s Very Strange Supernatural Life) and started this blog!  That all happened to me and more, so I have devoted my life to Christ and I tell people.

Not telling people is like watching a man drowning and doing nothing to help save the man’s life.  What kind of person would I be if I kept what I know about the spiritual realm and Jesus to myself?  I would be just like the coward who does nothing to help the drowning man.  The world is drowning, and I have the life raft.  I’m trying to help save you!

The Lord told his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That verse is called the Great Commission and that is exactly what I have been doing since I met and received Jesus in 1996.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He told us to share the Gospel and spread it to all nations.  I am obeying the Lord, trying to help the lost, and I am not ashamed of Jesus (Romans 1:16).

Ephesians 6:12 explains perfectly what is really going on in this crazy world.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

That means our struggle is not against each other.  It is against real evil on earth!  Satan, a.k.a Lucifer, really was the lead angel of music, he really did get kicked out of Heaven when he rebelled and fought God, and he and his army of demons (fallen angels) are still here on earth.  I know, I used to think it was a bunch of bologna too, but it’s not!  That is why we need God!  We absolutely need Jesus and the Holy Spirit or we are naked and weak before evil.  We need Holy Armor to be protected and to be able to defeat those spiritual forces of evil.  That is not some metaphor folks.  There are actual demons on earth and they attack people, invade homes, and invade people too.  I’m not trying to scare you, but if it does it should if you don’t know the Lord.

You understand that just because you might not believe in something, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t real, right?  I didn’t believe in it either…until my family moved into a haunted house and we were terrorized for four years poltergeist style.  That is what led me to Jesus.  It wasn’t until I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior that I had the power to overcome evil.  It wasn’t until I read the Bible that I found the answers to what we had lived through.  I didn’t want anything to do with Jesus or church or any of it up until that point.

The real enemy is the evil one!  I listened to Satan’s lies for years, and all he ever tried to do was kill me!

In John 10:10 Jesus says,

“The thief  comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

1 Peter 5:8 warns us,

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Jesus defeated the evil one when He died on that cross and He defeated sin and death too.  The Power of Jesus is still here today.  It is available to you at anytime.  All you have to do is repent and receive Him.  He will receive you as His own and forgive you just like He did for me.  You will also be empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and evil.  It is so awesome that my writing couldn’t even hope to capture that power in the most perfect prose!

God bless you all, and remember, nothing is impossible with God!

Hebrews 1:14

“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Titus 2:11

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

Sunset (2) 1-3-17

 

 

 

Heart Poured Out

Beauty from ashes

Okay, I need to get this off my chest before I get too far into my blog.  I wasn’t always a Christian, and I want to tell you, no, confess to you, the kind of life I lived before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Why?  Because I want you to know that real hope exists on this earth!

Before I came to Jesus, I really enjoyed sin.  Yeah, I said that, sin.  I am a sinner.  Saved by grace, yes, but sinner through and through.  “Once I was blind, but now I see” has deep meaning for me.  I am running this race set out before me by God by His grace, power, and mercy alone.  Without the Holy Spirit I would be powerless against sin and it would control me.

Acts 1 verse 8

I went to High School in the early 90s in St. Charles, IL, and graduated in 1996.  I grew up in Colorado, but we moved to Illinois in the middle of my 8th grade year, and our lives dramatically changed due to a spiritual force that was living inside the house we moved into.  Yes, haunted.  Yes, it was scary, and yes, it changed my life forever.  You can read about that in my book “One Man’s Very Strange Supernatural Life” (which is free on Kindle Unlimited by the way).  I also talk about the angels I encountered after I accepted Christ, and what happened when I stopped breathing in 2012.  Yes, angels and demons exist.

Due to the terrifying things that were happening to our family in the house, I dove deep into drugs and alcohol as I got older.  I had long hair past my shoulders, wore Birkenstock sandals and corduroy pants, and generally listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Phish, and the Grateful Dead.  I was depressed, angry, and hurting, and I wanted to die.

By the time I was a Senior, pretty much all I did was party, do drugs, drink as much alcohol as I could possibly consume, and have sex with as many girls as I could.  That was the game plan, and that is how I lived.  If there was a party, I was there, or I was hosting it (sorry Mom and Dad).  If there were drugs, I was doing them.  If there was a six pack, it was all mine, and of course there were always girls, and I was hookin’ up with them.  You get the picture.  I loved sin and I was good at it.  Oh yeah, and I hated Christians and I would get very angry anytime somebody started talking about Jesus, Heaven, and hell.  I thought they were self righteous people that needed a crutch, and I didn’t want to hear it.

I am telling you all of this because I want you to know that you have found a guy who is not pretending to be anything.  I am not self righteous and I don’t think I’m better than you.  I’ve lived and wallowed in the darkness.  I’ve danced with the devil.  I also know who I am in Christ, so I am free to share what He saved me from because He has removed my sins from me and taken away the shame.  That is not me anymore.  I am telling you about a guy who doesn’t exist anymore.  That guy died when I accepted Christ, and I was born again into a new life filled with hope, love, and forgiveness!  I’m here to tell you, you can have that too!

Behold the Lamb of God

We all have sins.  Don’t think you don’t.

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Sin.  People hate that word, especially in today’s world where anything goes and everything seems to be relative.  What is sin exactly?  The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language.  The New Testament was written in Greek.  There are several different words to describe sin.  The simplest way to define it is that sin is doing something that is contrary to God’s nature.  It is also described as evil, hurtful, or an offense that deserves punishment.  In the Greek it means missing the mark like when an archer can’t hit the bullseye.  Some of the Hebrew words describe sin as something wicked, morally perverse, or crooked.  One of the best descriptions for sin is that it is a revolt and rebellion against God.  In the end, that is exactly what sin is and it separates us from a Holy God.  Sin is so serious it leads to death, meaning separation from God.

Sin isn’t just partying like I did.  It is also hate, lust, greed, pride, rage, jealousy, adultery, coveting, and all the other nasty realities of our sinful nature we have to deal with down here.  Lust is the same thing as adultery to God.  Hating your brother is the root of murder.  At what point you lust, you commit adultery in your heart.  At what point you hate someone, you murder them in your heart.  Heavy I know, but God is holy and He takes sin very seriously.  He is also full of grace and wants to forgive!  He proved that when He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and killed, so that we could be free!

We desperately need to be redeemed and reconciled with our Creator!  However, all of that sin from every human being on earth had to be punished.  A price had to be paid, but the price was too high and we could not pay it.  God is 100% grace and 100% truth.  He is just and He must bring justice.  He is also forgiving and He must forgive.  These are attributes of God’s character that do not change.

God saw that we could not pay the price for our sins on our own, so what did God do?  He had compassion for all of His children, stepped off of His throne, and came to earth to pay the price for us!

Psalm 103:13-14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

He loves us!  He loves you and He does not want you to perish separated from Him!  He created us and put us here, and He has provided us a way out of the valley of the shadow of death, so we can get back home to Him!

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

How did God come down from Heaven and save us?  John talks about this in the first chapter of the Book of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

John 1:1-5

 

John continues in verses 10-13:

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

 

In verses 14-17 John explains who the Word is:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John testifies concerning him.  He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

In the simplest terms that means Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning and He is God.  He is the Word.  God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God came down from Heaven and became flesh making Himself a man, so that He could be like us, feel our pain, go through what we go through, and ultimately die for each and every one of us.  I know, the whole trinity thing still blows my mind, but He’s God and He can do anything.

So, what is The Way back to God?  How do we get back home to our Creator?  How do we get clean and have our sins completely washed away from us?  Let me turn to John one more time.  In chapter 14 Jesus is comforting His disciples because He knows His time is at hand and he will be crucified soon:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4

In verse 5, Thomas (the doubting one) asks for further clarification:

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

In verse 6, Jesus tells him clearly how to get to Heaven.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Now you know The Way too.  Are you burdened by your sins?  Would you like for all of them to be washed away and removed from you completely?  You can have that today.  You can repent of going your own way and turn to God right now and accept His Way.  God gave you absolute free will and the choice is yours.

Here is a simple prayer to accept God’s Way and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  This is not about perfect words, it is about your heart towards God.  He is waiting for you with open arms and He will forgive every single sin past, present, and even future.  Christians still sin and make mistakes too.  Believe me, we all need His forgiveness every day.  Here is that prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I need you.  Right here and now I give my life to you.  I repent of my sin and I want to be forgiven.  Please come into my life, fill me with your Holy Spirit, and make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Thank you for dying on the cross for me.  Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer or you have questions about any of this, or you need prayer, please contact me!  If you just accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, welcome home my brother or sister!  You are a new creation in Christ, forgiven, and reconciled back to God!  Check it out:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And  he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

One more thing, after I accepted Christ in October of 1996 I stopped partying.  Jesus took me, cleaned me up, gave me gifts in the Holy Spirit, and set me to preaching on campus for 4 years, leading a Bible study for 3 of those years, and preaching sermons almost every Friday night at the campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ.  I received my Bible, evangelism, and discipleship training through the director of Crusade at the time.  My brothers and sisters in Christ and I witnessed a lot of our fellow students accept Christ and be set free from all kinds of sin.  We preached the Gospel, baptized those who accepted Jesus, and we had an awesome time doing it!  I met my wife in college, and we have been married and in love for 17 years now.  We have two beautiful children and my heart is full.

Praise God He takes the ashes of our lives and makes something beautiful out of it!  Now you have a better idea of why I love Jesus so much, and why I have been telling people about Him and what He has done for me for almost 22 years now.  I am not judging you.  I am not Bible thumping.  I am trying to lead you to your Savior because I love you and I know it is all true because of what I lived through.  I am also warning you about the spiritual realm and showing you the way to freedom!  You know The Way now.

The Lord painted beautifully with my ashes.  He can make beauty out of your ashes too.

Grace and peace to you!

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

Isaiah 53 verse 5

Joy in the Vibe

“My wife’s happy, Jesus loves me, ‘aint nothin’ left to conform to.”

-KB from song “No Chains

116 stage

That is one of the best lines I have ever heard in my life…and I am 40 years old and have listened to a lot of music!  I especially love how excited his wife gets in the background at the end of the song!  I love it because it represents my life very well at this point in my journey on earth.  In fact, that is exactly how I feel.  I’m starting my mid-life ( but no crisis here), I love my wife and kids, I love Jesus, and I don’t need to conform to a world that tells me I am foolish for believing in God.  I like KB and I listen to KB because he preaches the truth, and he does it in unashamed style.  I also like Lecrae, Bizzle, TobyMac, Tedashii, Aaron Cole, Tauren Wells, Tori Kelly, and many other Christian artists that lift me up with their music every day!  I love you all, thank you!

So what is it about this type of music that I like so much?  The main reason is that it is anointed in the Holy Spirit and I can feel the joy of the Lord pumping through their songs!  I also grew up on hip-hop in the 80s and 90s, and I absolutely love a tight beat!  I am very glad for such positive alternatives to worldly hip-hop/rap.  These Christian musicians are preachers for the Lord, and they do it to a tight beat as they take the Gospel worldwide!  They also preach about the pitfalls of their past lives and they reach out to those who need help.  I respect that.

I write and blog, they rap and sing, and we are all like the Apostles trying to get God’s message out to the world.  Music is a great way to do it because music transcends boundaries.  I can hear a song in another language and not even know what they are saying, but still appreciate its beauty.  God designed us to be touched and moved by music, and I love that!

So, what kind of music do you like?  What do you listen to when you are down?  How about when you are pumped and you feel like driving with the windows down?  Next time, maybe give these Christian artists a try and see how you feel afterwards.  I guarantee you will be encouraged.  Sometimes shutting everything down and just letting the vibes wash over you is the best medicine!

Peace!

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:19-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creation Declares God’s Glory!

This post will be less about my writing doing the talking and more about letting God’s creation speak.

Psalm 19:1-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Here are a few pictures I have taken over the years with my good ol’ Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera.  Yes, even the moon pictures.  Our house sits up on a hill with expansive views of the Rocky Mountains.  We are at 6,115 feet here in Colorado, so our night skies are crisp and clear most nights.  We can usually see the moon real good during the day too.  Our backyard faces south towards Pike’s Peak, so we get excellent sunrise and sunset views.  God’s creation speaks beautifully.  I take time to listen every day.

IMG_4131
Close up shot of Pike’s Peak from our home.
IMG_3945
Beautiful afternoon sky headed towards sunset over the Rockies! The jagged peak lower left is where we go fishing. The Platte River is just on the other side.
Sunrise (1) 12-10-16
This was the start of a beautiful sunrise. The next few pictures show the progression. It was like God literally painted the sky with a soft brush.

Sunrise (5) 12-10-16

 

Sunrise (10) 12-10-16

Sunrise (11) 12-10-16

Moon 6-3-17
I don’t know how He does it, but that is just cool!

Moon (3) 6-3-17

Moon (2) 6-3-17

IMG_3990
Pretty in pink sunrise.
IMG_4132
Psalm 95:4 “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.”

Creation speaks of God’s glory where you live too.

Are you listening?

Peace to you all!

 

Sunday Morning Forgiveness

20170930_123524
View from our kitchen window. That is Pike’s Peak! The line “purple mountain majesties” from the famous song “America the Beautiful” is because of that mountain! In 1893 Katharine Lee Bates visited Colorado, and she found her inspiration for that song on top of Pike’s Peak! The song was actually originally a poem titled Pike’s Peak. I never take for granted the inspiration right outside my window!

It is Sunday morning here in America!  It’s a big day today!  Why?  Just because it’s Sunday!  It’s a morning for pancakes, waffles, and bacon (mmmm bacon)!  It’s a day for family and rest!  I love Sunday!

All across America Pastors are getting ready to preach their sermons and millions of Americans are getting their families together for church.  I am praying for you Pastors!  Don’t forget to pray for your Pastors, they need it too!

It’s also the early start of fall right now, which means the start of football season!  No, not the world cup “bend it like Beckham” kind of football (although I like that too).  I’m talking head cracking, bone crushing American football!  Sunday used to be a time when we would all come together.  Together for church and together for football.  Republican, Democrat, rich, poor, white, black, cop, civilian, it didn’t matter!  Fire up that grill and let’s watch some football!  I know, I know, a lot of people in America are mad at the football players right now.  Not many people watched the games last year.  It got crazy on all sides.  Folks, please listen, we must move forward together as a country in peace.  We have all had our say and everyone knows where everybody stands on every single issue we could have ever talked about in politics, and we will continue our individual and collective struggles until Kingdom come.  Politics in this country swings on a fickle pendulum.  It goes left, it goes right, and sometimes it kind of swings in the middle.  Politics in America is like the weather.  If you don’t like it at the moment, don’t worry, it will soon change.

So, please, for the sake of everything good and right in this land, let us respect each other’s differences and viewpoints and move forward together.  From my Christian perspective, what is the alternative?  Hate?  That is an awful choice, and we all know it.  When all is said and done, men are still going to play football despite the risk of CTE brain injury, people are still going to watch football despite kneeling players, and players are still going to kneel even though the owners forbid it.

I don’t respect somebody disrespecting my country’s flag or any other country’s flag for that matter (there are better ways to prove your point), but I do respect their right to do it.  That is America folks!  We can disagree, and we can blog about it, write about it, preach about it, protest about it, and say whatever we want to say and I love that!  There will be people you don’t agree with.  I say this with all love, we have to learn to get over it.  I call it strong fellowship like when you have an argument with a loved one.  It hurts, but as long as we learn from each other and respect each other, then real change can come through mutually beneficial understanding, and life will get better.  There has been a lot of good that has come out of the last several years of real strong fellowship we have been having in this country.  People are awake and listening to all types of issues they never knew about before on all sides.  That is the beauty of freedom.

People have their right to free speech here, and I love that!  I am a writer.  I can’t imagine living in a country where I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind!  Take note of that Google, Facebook, and all the other big tech companies, and stop trying to censor people you don’t agree with!  You will never take our right to speak freely without fear!  The human heart is unstoppable with all its passion, desire, and wildness!  Even if they killed the internet, people would start printing presses in their basements and the truth would still get out!  Amen.

Why am I writing about Sunday, church, football, and free speech?  Bit heavy for a Sunday morning, I know.  Well, I have been up since 4 a.m. due to issues with Celiac Disease and I have been praying and thinking a lot since then.  Our country is broken right now.  It has been for quite some time.  I love my country deeply.  I was born in the Heartland near the Mississippi River where Huck Finn floated down for miles on his wooden raft, and the humidity is so thick you can spoon it right out of the sky.  I am a country boy at heart!  I grew up in Littleton, CO though near Santa Fe and Littleton Blvd.  I had friends of every color and religion.  I even had a friend who was from Native Aztec lineage, and I even knew some gang members.  The schools were tough and I grew up learning to earn and show respect.

It hurts my heart to see my country so angry and hurting.  It hurts to see the constant hate baiting comments recycled 24 hours a day non stop through our media networks.  Most of it is not true, and only serves to fire up whichever side it is written for, but I digress.  What is my point here?

My point is that we all desperately need forgiveness.  We need to forgive each other, and that is not easy to do for most human beings no matter what race, color, creed, or religion you are.  The number one thing that has helped me be forgiving more than any other thing in life is one simple verse from the Bible.  The Book of Ephesians is a letter from Paul to the church at Ephesus, which was an ancient Greek city.  Paul is writing the believers there to encourage them in their faith and give them wise advice on how to live a righteous life and be imitators of God.  In chapter 4 verse 32 Paul writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

That verse stops me dead cold every time!  “Just as in Christ God forgave you.”  That is how much we are to forgive!  It doesn’t say forgive if you feel like it, or if it is easy.  He says to forgive like Jesus does!

Let me help put this into perspective by explaining how Jesus forgave us and what He had to do to make that happen.  This is one of my favorite sections of scripture and it is fitting for this fine Sunday morning:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:6-11

Intense huh?  What that means is that God came down to earth and made Himself a man, His Son Jesus.  Yes, I know that is weird.  How can somebody be two people at once?  Well, the simple answer is because He is God and all things are possible with Him (Matthew 19:26).  Also, it’s not just two in one, but three in one, the trinity.  Don’t forget about the Holy Spirit.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together and are all part of who God is.  God literally came to earth to die for us, so we could be with Him forever in Heaven.  That is how much He forgives and loves us!

Let’s dive a bit deeper into God’s forgiving character.

1 John 1:9

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

 

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember there sins no more.”

 

Ephesians 1:7

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

 

Psalm 103:10-12

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

So, what do we learn about God’s character and how He forgives?  If we ask for forgiveness, he will forgive us and purify us completely.  He will remember our sins no more (1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us He keeps no record of wrongs too).  He lavishes us with grace as he forgives us and we are redeemed.  Finally, He removes our sins from us completely and we are completely forgiven!

Next time somebody wrongs you or you wrong somebody else, remember how much we all need forgiveness.  Let this Sunday morning be a morning of forgiveness.  Tell shame to pipe down!  Tell regret to go home!  Today is today.  It is not yesterday and it is not tomorrow.  Take a deep breath.  You know what that really is?  A fresh start, a new beginning, and another chance!  Don’t waste it being bitter.  Our time goes way too fast down here for that.

Here’s to Sunday morning sermons and Sunday afternoon Football, and here’s to forgiveness for everyone!  Cheers!

Bless you all!

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:29

 

 

Real Love

Love deeply verse

I love you.  We say that a lot don’t we?  Not many of us truly know what love is though.  Love is not as complicated as the world says it is, and most of us have a very distorted view of what love really is.  So, what is love and what does it look like in action?  I would like to share with you the number one definition of love.  It is found in the Bible in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4 through 8.  In verse 1 of that chapter the Apostle Paul writes, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.”  Let us read what that way is:

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

If you have never read those words before, or even if you have read them for years, let all that love wash over you!  That is real love folks and that kind of love can only come from God.  You might be thinking, how could any human being on earth really love someone like that?  Great question!  The answer is found in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!  He empowers us to love each other like that.  When you give your life to Jesus, He actually fills you with His Holy Spirit, which gives you power to love like He does.  Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”

In 1 John 4:16 John wisely writes, “God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  Verse 19 reminds us that, “We love because he first loved us.”  We can extrapolate from these verses that if God is love (and He is), then the character of God is described perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8!  That is how He loves us!  Me, you, everyone!

Since God is love, then God is also patient, kind, He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud, He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered (I praise Him for that!), He keeps no record of wrongs (praise God!), He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and God never fails.  He is not up there hovering over us with a lightning bolt like mythical Zeus!

God’s love my friends is perfect love.  That is how He loves the whole world.  2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Do you realize that?  God loves you and He does not want you to perish!  He wants you to go to Heaven and be with Him.  In fact, He proved His love for us by stepping off His throne and coming to earth to die for our sins Himself.

1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”  John 3:16 says, “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.”  Are you seeing the pattern?  God did it all for the glory of love!

So, when you say I love you or you hear someone say I love you, please remember where love came from, who love is, and how we are truly supposed to love and be loved.

I love you all in the glorious love of God!

Grace and Peace to you all!

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Romans 10:9-10

Suffering All Kinds of Grief

Buffalo_Winter_Storm_2017

Good Morning on this fine Saturday!  I hope this finds you enjoying a restful and peaceful start to your weekend.  If your life is like mine, then I know you were very busy this week and you most definitely need a break.  I’m sure I said, “give me a break!” more than a few times…and you probably did too!

Grief, trials, and trouble.  We all experience it.  Some of you are dealing with disease, chronic illness, and injury, and I understand that this weekend might not be restful for you.  It might be painful and hard and you might even feel like giving up.  Please don’t!  There is hope, and I want to share why.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease on January 6, 2012 and it changed my life forever.  At that time my small intestine was so badly damaged that I only weighed 128 pounds, and I am 6 foot 1 inch tall.  I was starving to death from the inside because my own body was attacking me.  I thought I had cancer.  I didn’t know it yet, but the wheat I had grown up eating was killing me.

I suffered terribly the first 4 years of the disease.  I was vomiting and having diarrhea at the same time day and night.  I excreted intestinal tissue.  I couldn’t stand up straight due to the pain in my small intestine.  My wife had to hold my arm as I walked and I could only eat a few bites of rice and drink some water.  That was the first few months of the disease, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  For 4 years I would be knocked to my knees with debilitating gut pain every day.  The only relief I could get was when I would kneel by the stairs and bend forward until my forehead touched the third step.  I would stay like that for hours until the pain subsided.  The doctor called it “dumping syndrome” and he told me honestly they don’t know why it happens to Celiacs.  The disease weakened my muscles and bones, and it has taken all this time just to get to 140 pounds.  My normal pre-Celiac healthy weight was around 160 to 165 pounds.  The doc said I was the worst case of Celiac he had ever seen, but I also exhibited the best healing from where I was.  Praise God!  He said I was lucky to even be at 140 pounds after what I suffered.

There is no cure for Celiac Disease.  The only treatment is a completely gluten free lifestyle.  Gluten is the name for the protein “gliadin” that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.  Less than 1% of us have immune systems that cannot tolerate gluten.  Celiac Disease is not just an allergy.  It is an auto immune disorder, and classified as a chronic illness.  If I eat gluten, then my body will respond by attacking my small intestine and destroying the intestinal lining.  The disease specifically attacks the villi, which are the tiny hair like structures in the lining that are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we eat.  Yes, Celiac Disease can kill people if left untreated.  Unfortunately, people with Celiac usually suffer on average for 10 years before they are correctly diagnosed.  That has to change.

We immediately changed out our entire pantry after my diagnosis, but my wife and I had a long road ahead of us.  I found out I can also not eat dairy, soy, eggs, coconut, and especially oats.  I can’t have NSAIDS either.  Of course the way I discovered I couldn’t have those things anymore was through eating them and violently throwing up, and going through the whole process of my body detoxing itself over and over until I figured it out.  On 4-28-2012 I suffered anaphylactic shock from eating an oat bread sandwich that was supposedly “gluten free.”  It was not gluten free because oats are not gluten free.  During digestion oats break down into a similar protein as gliadin, and can cause an even more severe reaction than wheat.  I stopped breathing that day, and Jesus saved me with a mighty miracle!  That story is in my book One Man’s Very Strange Supernatural Life.

It has been 6 years, 7 months, and 11 days since my diagnosis, and I am much stronger now.  I turned 40 this summer.  It has been a deeply painful and glorious journey through my suffering.  I know what it is like to truly be carried by the Lord now.  I was so ill in the beginning of the disease that I became like an old man, and I was only 33 at the time.  My wife had to help me get dressed, walk, and eat.  I was in a horrible state and I believed I was going to die.  I felt that I was laid out in the dust of the earth and I was done.  The Lord had other plans.

That is where hope comes in.  Jesus is alive and He loves you!  Yes, we have to suffer here on this earth because of sin (which I can expand on later), and we will all go through trials, but we can be victorious over every single one of them through Jesus!  Jesus gave me my breath back that day in 2012, so that I could tell the world about Him and what He has done for me.  He wants to do the same for you!

Yes, sometimes God heals miraculously.  In college (back in 1996-2000), I had a friend who was a champion wrestler.  His knee was injured during a match and the docs told him he would need surgery.  I led a Bible study at that time, so all the brothers and I laid hands on his knee one night and prayed for his healing.  He went in for surgery that week, but the doctors said his knee was healed and he didn’t need surgery anymore.  It was incredible!  That friend has been a Pastor since college.  Other times God heals naturally over time, and I’m not just talking physical wounds either.  Come to Him.  Give Him your disease, your illness, and your troubles, and you will see how He makes beauty from ashes.

I posted the picture of the bison because it has deep meaning for me.  The disease left me with very little options for food, but one of the best things that came out of this trial was free range bison meat!  I must do a plug here.  The best company on earth for bison meat is Wild Idea Buffalo Company out of South Dakota!  They are doing everything right when it comes to the land and the animals.  Their bison are 100% free range feeding on the natural prairie, they don’t eat grains, and they are not finished on GMO corn.  If I eat animals that eat grains and GMOs, I will have an auto immune reaction.  The family of Wild Idea are true conservationists in every sense of the word.  I feel connected to the land and the beautiful bison that provide my life sustaining protein source, and I praise God for caring for me so well!

I love that picture because bison are rugged and tough animals that can withstand the brutal trials of nature.  When I look at them standing out there in the cold it reminds me to stand strong in Jesus.  To set my face like flint against this disease and give the fight to Him!  I would not be able to fight this disease like I do in victory and power on my own.  I think the Apostle Peter says it better in his letter 1 Peter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:3-7

Amen Brother Peter, amen!  Remember, this is not our eternity.  Everything here is temporary, even our pain and suffering.  There is peace, healing, and forgiveness in Jesus.  He can and will not only heal your wounds, but also your hearts.  He wants to carry your burdens and set you free, and there is no condemnation in Him (Romans 8:1).

I am praying for all those who are suffering today.  You are not forgotten!  If you need prayer or need to talk, I am here for you.  Don’t ever forget how much God loves you!

Bless you all!