Sunday, April 29, 2007

The secret to being a better Christian

Jhn 15:4
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.Jhn 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Here it is... all you need to know to be a better Christian.

1. Pray more often.
2. Have your daily quiet time.
3. Study your bible.
4. Memorize a passage of scripture a week.
5. Go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evenings.
6. Attend Sunday school.
7. Read the entire bible within one year.
8. Attend a religious rally event once each year.
9. Go on a mission trip once each year.
10. Be a part of a small discipleship group.

There you have it. Do these things and you're sure to be a better Christian!

The sad thing though is that many of us get caught in the legalistic routines of Christianity. We want to be better, we want to serve the Lord more and be more effective for His Kingdom. But there is one very important thing to understand. WE CAN DO NOTHING, to bear fruit that impacts the Kingdom of God apart from Christ.

We think if only I can do this list of things like the list I just created then we'll be better and do more for Christ. But to try and obey a list like that will only leave you frustrated in your service. Why? Because it's impossible to do it! We set ourselves up for failure when we assign ourselves a list of do's and don'ts. The real problem however is that the list becomes the object of our service, not Christ, then we risk not bearing any real eternal fruit at all, we're just busy doing things that appear to be building up the Kingdom of God. And we become weak and worn out and tired and we struggle and eventually we become burnt out in our service and we wonder why we don't have any joy or satisfaction as a Christian.

We can think we're doing the Lords work, but unless we are attached to the Vine, we can not bear fruit. Jhn 15:4 says... No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Think about this for a minute. If a branch is detached from the vine what happens to it? It withers and dies doesn't it? Oh, it's still a branch, but it's worthless, good for nothing. It can't bear fruit can it? The life source of the branch came from the vine, and now that it's been detached, well it dies and can no longer bear the fruit that it used to bear. It's not effective any more.
We as Christians can be the same way, unless we remain in Christ, He won't remain in us. Jhn 15:4 says "neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. We are worthless on our own to do anything for eternal Glory without remaining in Christ. It's a waste of our time. We'll only appear to be Godly, but actually we are doing nothing, we're fruitless where it really counts.

It's not about doing things well, it's not about being better, it's not about keeping up with a list of things to do. It's about remaining in Christ, Abiding in Christ!

Christ just wants us to live... yes live for Him. To sell out our soul to Him. When we give Jesus our heart and commit to live for him, we surrender ourselves to His will. It's in this surrender that God does whatever He wants through us to build and impact His Kingdom. If anything good happens, it's because of Christ working through us. If we bear fruit, it's not because we did something to bear fruit, we simply allowed fruit to bear by being attached to the vine. Fruit just happens by being a branch attached to the vine. The branch does absolutely nothing to produce fruit, it simply stay attached to the vine and from the vine come the nutrients to produce fruit. We are not called to produce fruit, we are simply called to bear fruit and there is a big difference between the two. To produce fruit means we work or do something to create it, but to bear fruit simply means we allows ourselves to be used and the fruit happens.

Jhn 15:5 says... If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.

So what is the secret to becoming a better Christian?

Give yourself as a sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ, turn over all your authority to Jesus, do this daily, do it all the time, and by doing this, Christ will remain in you and you will remain in Christ. Don't do it and you'll be doing things of yourself and it will amount to nothing to impact eternity.

Luk 9:23
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
The word daily tell us that this denying of self will have to happen all the time, to take up our cross mean that we sacrifice our lives to Christ just as Christ sacrificed His life for us. If we can do this, we'll abide in Christ and the fruit we will bear will come as a result of allowing Him to live through us.

Simply put... Christ just wants us to LIVE, and through us as we LIVE, He produces the fruit and we bear it. If you are not sure if you are abiding in Christ, then you can do a self assessment test. Take a look at the next few verses. The fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives as a Christian, if it's not, then give yourself to Jesus, deny yourself and pick up your Cross and follow Him.

Gal 5:19
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;Gal 5:20
idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsGal 5:21
and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.Gal 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,Gal 5:23
gentleness and self‑control. Against such things there is no law.Gal 5:24
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help us to simply live for you. Help us to be less consumed with all the things we think we need to do to become more effective Christians and simply let you work though us to show yourself to others. May our lives bear Your fruit! In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus we pray. Amen

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reflecting the love of Christ

People are impacted and influenced by what we do and say. As it relates to reflecting Christ in our lives unfortunately some people will get their understanding and impressions about the Word of God and the Life of Christ by looking at how we live as Christians. In the bible we have an incredible example of a life that was committed to following Christ and even though God used this man to preach a message to a group of people that did not receive the message well, in the end the example of Stephen's faith and his example of Christ likeness in his actions is what I want us to see.

Let's look at the life of Stephen for just a minute. Actually, I want us to take a look at the end of Stephen's life. Acts chapter 7 contains one of the greatest sermons found in the Word of God. This sermon, preached by Stephen, is a great message in history of God dealing with stubborn people, His chosen nation Israel. As Stephen delivers his message to these people he comes near the end of his sermon and he lays down a final condemnation to those that are listening.

"You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you." (Acts 7:51)

Those listening were so convicted, so irritated, so reactionary, that they stoned him. While this is certainly tragic, what I want us to see is how Stephen handles himself in the last few minutes of his life.

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)

This sounds very familiar doesn't it? His Savior Jesus Christ said the very same thing as they were crucifying Him on the Cross. ("Father forgive them, they do not know what they're doing.") Stephen calls out to heaven for mercy on those people that are stoning him. Now think about the crowd of people that must be around as Stephen is being stoned. Some throwing stones and others most likely just watching. But not only are they watching, they are hearing, they are listening. Imagine how these words, "Lord, Do not charge them with this sin." might have impacted those that heard. For some, these words would harden their hearts even more, yet for others, their hearts might be broken under the weight of God's love expressed in those words of Stephen. Stephen was a true epistle of Christ.

2Cr 3:2
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
2Cr 3:3
clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

Stephen reflected the Spirit, Mind, and Life of Christ. He had been so deeply touched by the Lord that during the most difficult time in his life (his death) he behaves as his own Lord Jesus Christ would, instead of how a normal human being would.

A man is not able to live or die this way without the Spirit's complete control over his life. I'm sure Stephen never expected this to happen so suddenly, but it did. His life was suddenly thrown into turmoil and in an instant took a terrifying turn for the worst. Yet because he was full of the Spirit and lead by the Spirit, the Spirit of God's love was able to respond, not the spirit of the flesh. I can only imagine the impact this had on others around at the time. We know that for Stephen to die was not in vain. those of us that belong to Christ have already been given victory over Satan and death. We also know that all things work to the Glory of God for those that love Him.

Stephen's death was horrendous, just as Christ crucifixtion was horrendous. Christ death and resurrection offers the world eternal life, if we'll believe that He died for us. Christ as He died calls to His Father, "Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing." and likewise Stephen being filled with Spirit and love of God, crys out to Jesus his Lord... "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." Again the Love of Christ being shown to the world.

I'm amazed at how the Spirit of God always understands the weakness of man, and even though we never deserve mercy, The Spirit is always asking for it on our behalf. Now that's love!

Final thought... Everyone of us that has given our life to Christ has His love written on our heart. Allow Christ to guide you, live for Him not yourself. We can not reflect the love of God on our own, Only God can reflect his love through us. We are nothing without Christ. For any of us to be able to shine the love of Jesus to others, we have to live in Christ. We have to be so deeply touched by our Lord that we live not for ourselves, but for Him. Then in that moment, when there is no time to think, you'll react with the same love for others that Stephen did. How do we do it?

Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul. He'll take care of the rest!

God's blessings upon you,


Monday, April 23, 2007

It's OK to Complain to God

I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. Job 10:1

Sometimes we become so frustrated with our lives. We're disappointed in our lack of success or frustrated with our failures. Things just are not going the way we had intended or even dreamed they would. Look at Job! Here's a man that had his whole life turned upside down. He's a devote man of God yet all this tragedy happens to him. He doesn't understand why and finally he gets to the point that he just has to tell God how he feels.

You know it's OK to complain to God. Job certainly did and we need to know that God will hear us as we complain. Sometimes complaining in itself is a way to get it off our chest. But at least with God, we're not complaining on deaf ears. He hears us, He cares for us, and He is the only one that can make the situation better in our lives.

In my work I'm always tell my associates to complain up rather than complaining out. This simply means that if you are going to complain, complain up to your supervisor or to someone of authority that can do something about the situation. To complain out means we sit in the lounge and complain to others about how frustrated we are, and all this does is bring everyone else down and does nothing to solve or improve our situation. It becomes gossip and it destroys moral in the organization. But when we complain up... we have hope that the situation can and will improve. Why? Because we've complained to someone that has the authority to make it better.

Have you ever gone to complain about something in a restaurant or store. You always ask for the manager or the owner don't you? The reason you do is because you want to get the message to the person who has the authority to correct the problem.

The next time you feel frustrated with your life and you just need to complain about it. Complain to the One that can make things better. Complain to the One with all authority to correct all situations in your life. Go ahead and complain to God. He loves you and is listening to you. It's OK, God can handle it. (remember, God already knows all things about you anyway... He may be waiting on you to acknowledge Him and waiting on you to cry out for help)

PRAYER: Dear God, Help me to be strong during difficult times in my life that leave me disgusted and frustrated. Lord when I do get this way help to be mindful rather than complaining to others about my life, may I always feel free to complain to you. You know my heart and my issues and I know that You have all authority to hear and resolve my complaints. Thank You for loving me so much that when I get to the point of complaining, You hear my cry. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The best years of my life!

This last Saturday, April 14th was my 28th Anniversary. 28 years of marriage! Wow.

I have to tell you I'm very proud of this accomplishment. I can not imagine my life without my wonderful wife Brenda. After this many years together, it's hard to imagine life apart. We truly have become one in so many ways and God willing I look forward to many more years together. So what is it that makes a marriage work? How can people stay together and be happy and content for so many years? Tonight I thought I'd take a look at what I believe has been vital to our success in our relationship. This list is of course, my list, it's a list of values that have governed my life through the years of our marriage and this comes from my perspective in our relationship.
I'm sure if I asked my wife for her input on this list... well, it would probably be more lengthy for one and I'd probably find that her list might be different than mine. So if you are interested in what I believe is vital to the success of the marriage from my point of view as a husband... well here it is.

I believe this word sets the stage for your marriage. You have to have respect for each other. This doesn't mean we always agree, but we do value each other and each others input. I guess the thing that irritates me more than anything is a husband that for whatever reason feels he owns the wife just because they are married. They're bossy and act like the wife is to serve the husband. Years ago when I was in the Army and was stationed overseas in Europe, Brenda and made friends with a couple and it was obvious, the husbands role was to dominate the wife. Every time we were together she waited on him hand and foot and she did only what he wanted to do and went only where he wanted to go. She had little say in anything they ever did and she really struggled with trying to live this way. They, like us had only been married maybe a year or so at that time and even this early in their marriage this lack of respect on his part for her was straining the marriage.
I've always believed that God had blessed me with a wonderful person to spend my life with and the last thing I'm going to do is treat her like trash or something of less importance than me! We add value to each other. I would like to say here that I had a great role model for me to imitate. My Dad was always very respectful to my Mom and I was brought up seeing this respect for my Mom from my Dad (this June they will have been married 49 years). So I believe this word respect is critical to longevity in your marriage. People just don't stay together if one is always mistreating the other, it's unhealthy and it's a shame when it happens. Not only do I respect my wife, I also expect my children to do the same. I think it's important to keep this perspective with the children. She may be their Mom, but first and foremost she is my wife, and I fell in love with her and married her long before the kids came along. I remember when this point became clear to both of our boys. As with all children they will push all they can and sometimes they will sass back or even get very disrespectful with their Mom. This would get all under my skin and at first I was frustrated with Brenda for allowing this to happen, but I soon realized that "Hey, this is my wife they are being disrespectful to." When I put it in this perspective, well it didn't take long for me to take action.
I can remember telling my son these words... "I don't know why you feel that you can treat your Mom that way or talk to your Mom that way. If you don't have enough respect for her and you think you can talk to her that way, then I'm extremely disappointed in you and ashamed of you for that. But listen to me. That person in there that you are being disrespectful to is my wife! I fell in love with her and I married her because I love her so much. We've been together long before you ever came along. No one talks to my wife that way. NO ONE. So if you think it's OK to talk to your Mom that way then shame on you, but don't you ever talk to my wife like that again. Do you understand!" Both boys from that day on had a different kind of respect for their Mom, they began to see her as my precious wife and they knew that they better not mess with Dad in this area. Suddenly their disrespect for their Mother had severe consequences because the last thing I was going to allow was some kid treating my wife like dirt (especially my own children). No way!
If you as the Husband do not show your wife respect and expect others too as well, then I believe your marriage will struggle. This one word... RESPECT is huge!

Again years ago when I was in the service I had a first Sargent who had been married for 20 years. We'll having only been married for three years at the time, 20 years seemed like an eternity to me. So I asked him what the secret was to being able to stay married for so many years? He said these words to me and even though he was being funny, there was a lot of truth in them. He said, "My wife and I have a wonderful relationship, She does what she wants, and I do what she wants." Of course I chuckled at the way he said this, I thought he was going to say she does what she wants and he does what he wants, thinking that they just kind of did their own thing and got along fine. Of course that doesn't work for long because you'll end up growing apart rather than together.
Sacrifice is critical to the success of your marriage. It's not about what I want, it's not about me anymore, it's about us. There is no room for selfishness in the marriage. When two people decide to get married in actuality they are giving their lives to each other. We said words like; Love and Cherish, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, on our wedding day, and then we get upset when she wants us to go somewhere with her that we really don't want to go to (shopping for example). Or she makes plans for an evening out but you were hoping to watch the big game on TV tonight when you got home from work. Sometimes I feel that my whole life has been a sacrifice in one way or the other, but I believe the reason most men struggle with this is because their ego's get in the way. If you find yourself saying things like that's not what I want to do, or I wanted to do this instead, or I hate doing that or you should have asked me first, well then you may be seeing the trend here (me, I, etc). Don't misunderstand me here. This is not easy and you may feel this isn't right... that's fine. I just seem to take tremendous joy in making those sacrifices for her. With practice it becomes easier and eventually those things don't bother you much anymore. Start making those sacrifices for your wife and you'll see it works out both ways and hopefully you'll both be sacrificing for each other because you both want to please the other person. So if you want to help your marriage, be sure to make those sacrifices for the one you love.

We each have done things that has hurt the other. We've done hurtful things, said hurtful things, and fought over things. Let me tell you now what you will argue over... Money, the children, work, and lack of making sacrifices (refer to the above note on sacrifices) I'm sure there are other things to argue over and other things that we do to hurt each other of course, but these are some of our favorites! The key here... FORGIVENESS! Just as you're going to say and do things that hurt her, she going to do the same to you. You have to learn to forgive! Yea but what she did was wrong, you don't know how bad she has hurt me! No I don't, but I do know that if you love her like you should love her, you will forgive her. If you don't forgive, you'll resent and resentment turns to hate, not love. You have to forgive and I don't care what it is or what she has done. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward and begin again. Forgiveness starts the healing process. It's not easy, but you must do it, or your marriage will not survive.
Why did Jesus forgive those that crucified Him? Because they didn't know what they were doing and He also loved them so much that He was willing to die for them. Can you forgive your wife when she's hurt you? Find it within yourself to forgive and try and get to the root problem of why she's hurt you. I've often found out I had something to do with it.

The thing to remember with trust is this... TRUST is earned! You mess this up, and you start from the beginning. You have to be able to trust your spouse and she has to be able to trust you. There is no room for jealousy. Do not give her reason to be jealous. We should be above reproach and always avoid the appearance of unfaithfulness. Early in the marriage, it's easy to get jealous with each other, we haven't lived together long and we think or fell insecure in our marriage and we basically are not mature enough to handle our feelings and we haven't yet learned that we can trust each other. But eventually we learn to trust each other, we begin to see that we can trust each other with our money, with our secrets and our hurts, with our intimacy, and also with our faithfulness to each other. We begin to feel safe with each other and this is because we trust each other on all levels. Trust is a vital part of any relationship. Violate trust and you compromise the relationship. A huge part of trust is HONESTY. We have to be honest with each other. If we lie to our spouses about anything she will learn that you can't be trusted and if we lie about this thing then she knows we'll lie about other things. Trust eliminates worry or fear in our spouses. Our wives feel safe and secure when we can be trusted. So men... don't blow this trust thing. If you do... the worlds not over (it may seem like it, but it's not) but you must understand that to rebuild trust takes time and effort. By being trustworthy, over time, this helps soften the pain and eventually trust can be restored in the relationship. Trust is key to the success of your marriage.

My wife has been my best friend. She is someone that I enjoy being around and with. I guess that's why I don't mind going shopping etc with her, I do hate holding her purse in the department stores while she is trying on clothes in the dressing room, but other than that I don't mind going because I enjoy our time together. It should'nt matter much what you are doing if you truly enjoy being together. We laugh together all the time, we have fun being together, we enjoy being at home together or watching a movie together. I guess this is because I love her so much. There are two kinds of love in my book.

1..There's the kind of love when we fall for someone, we become attracted to each other and fall head over heals in love for each other, we want to be together and do things together, we enjoy each other and can't hardly stay away from each other. Always on the phone and never apart if we can help it.

2. And then there's a committed love for each other, this love is developed over time. It means that no matter what happens, I'm committed to the relationship and making this work because I love her. We all know there are times when we're not happy with each other. Like I said before, we can say things that hurt each other or do things that hurt our spouses and if we're not committed to each other and committed to love and cherish each other then we would eventually fall apart. We wouldn't reconcile and fix the broken relationship. Restoration happens only when we love each other. Ask yourself this question... Do I still love my wife? You think... of course I do! Then show her you do. We men are the worst at taking advantage of the marriage. We court, and date and do anything we can before we're married to show our love and we love being together and we enjoy each others company. So much so that we can't imagine life apart, so we get married. But then over time we begin to forget what it means to love someone, we forget it's about respect for each other and each others feelings, we forget it about sacrifice and doing things for our wives because it makes her happy and our reward is in her joy, we forget that love means we forgive each other when we've hurt one another. We don't hold grudges because we know this will only hurt the relationship, we throw our pride out the window for the sake of our marriage. And finally we forget that love is about trust and that trust comes from being honest and true to each other. I guess this brings me to my last but not least word.

Our marriage would not be where it is today without commitment to it. It takes work and it takes effort, it takes the ability to look past our selfish desires and put our spouses above our own. It means we value the relationship and our marriage more than we do our individual needs or wants. We are partners in this journey in this part of our lives. We're doing this together and we finally realize we're incomplete without the other person in our life. If you are committed to it, you'll find a way to make it work.

These are some of my experiences and a short list of some things that I feel have been instrumental in our success with our marriage. But honestly, we could have done all of these things that I mentioned above and it may still not work out between us. I know that. I not naive enough to think that my marriage works only because of this list that I try to live by. YES, they are helpful and I believe if you can live by these values, you'll have more success than not, of course! But it's by God's grace, mercy and love that we've been so successful in our marriage. I'll be honest with you, in my own weaknesses I fail terribly as a father and a husband. I know that my marriage could end someday and someone could read this list of things I've written and call me a hypocrite. But God helps both my wife and I to overlook our weaknesses. He helps us to forgive each other when we mess up. He helps remind both of us that it's because of His blessings that we are together and we have each other in our journey in life to share life's joys and hurts or sadness's with. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us and He's committed to me even when I mess up over and over again. This is a perfect example of how I should be with my wife. If we'll just let the light of Jesus shine through us to our spouses then we'll be loving our wives as God intended for us to love our wives. I can't see a marriage failing if we love our wives with the love of Christ in us.

May you all have many happy and joyous years together in your own marriage. My hope is that God will give us another 28 years together. Thank you God for blessing me with my wonderful wife Brenda. Help me to always remember how blessed I am to have such a blessed marriage, wife, and family. Thank you Lord.


Friday, April 13, 2007

How to become a Christian

How to Become A Christian

You're not here by accident. Jesus loves you, and He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him. There is just one thing that separates you from God. That one thing is sin.
People tend to divide themselves into groups - good people and bad people. But God says that every person that has ever lived is a sinner, and any sin separates us from God. That includes you and me.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

According to man's rules, people should be punished or rewarded according to how good they are, and it might be hard for you to understand how Jesus could love you when other people don't seem to. But I have great news for you! Jesus DOES love you! More than you can ever imagine! And there's nothing you can do to make him stop!

Are you thinking that you should make things right in your life before you come to Jesus? Many people feel that way, but that's not what God says!

"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

For you to come to God you have to get rid of your sin problem. But God says that you can't make yourself right with God by being a better person. God wants to save you JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!

"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy." Titus 3:5

It's God's grace that allows you to come to Him - not your efforts to "clean up your life" or work your way to Heaven. You can't earn it. It's a free gift.

"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

For you to come to God, your sin must be paid for. God's gift to you is His son, Jesus, who paid the debt for you.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine by giving His life on Calvary's cross. God brought Jesus back from the dead and paved the way for you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus.
All that's left for you to do is to accept the gift that Jesus is holding out for you right now.

"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

God says that if you believe in His son, Jesus, you can live forever with Him in glory.

"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

Are you ready to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now? If it is your sincere desire to ask Jesus to come into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then talk to God from your heart:

Here's a Suggested Prayer:
"Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to purchase a place in Heaven for me. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in You alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life."

With God, Anything is Possible, Wayne's Story

I want to share a story with you that really blows me away when I stop and think about what God has done and is doing in the life of a friend of mine. His name is Wayne and I've visited with him and told him that I wanted to write a devotion about him and he immediately said that would be OK. You see we both believe that our life experiences are the best testimony we can give. When Christians share with others what they have been through... where God has brought them from and taken them to, then others can relate. That's why testimony is so important. It's real and others can see it and testify to it. And when we see God at work in the lives of others we have hope. Hope that He can change and affect our lives in the same way, and of course, He can!

Wayne was my next door neighbor. He and his wife were great neighbors, very friendly and fun to be around. My wife and I grew to love our neighbors, they were good people. Unknown to us for some time however was Wayne's secret addiction to drugs. His wife of course knew about it, and I'm sure those real close to Wayne knew it, but as it is with all addictions, he tried to keep it hidden from others. Without going into the details of his addiction, let me just say it was very bad and he was very addicted. His addition was to prescription drugs and his addiction affected his family life, his work life, and basically everything he did. Trying to manage an addiction to drugs and live a normal life is not possible, but to the person addicted, they're not themselves and they don't think clearly. Wayne struggled with keeping his job and his marriage was suffering as well. He struggled with trying to get clean and stay clean and he would try, but of course he was never able to stay the course. He'd always fall back to the urges and give into the desires he had for the feelings he got when he was high, also at this point his body just wouldn't function well without them... that's why it caused addiction. He'd become dependent on the drugs to deal with issues in his life, but the drugs were slowly destroying him more and more every day.

After a period of time of remaining clean, or at least I thought he was clean, he asked me to hire him because he needed work. Being a friend of mine and someone that I cared about, I told him if he passed the drug test, I might have work for him at the store. Well he passed the drug test and was soon hired on at the store. Unfortunately after a few weeks of work I started noticing signs that he was high at work. One day as I was talking to him at work, His speech was slurred some and his eyes were bloodshot and he had difficulty focusing on the task at hand. He wasn't real bad but enough that I had my suspicions that he was on something.

One of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make was about to happen, but I knew I had to do it. There was no way I could allow him to work for me anymore. I made the decision to let him go. I called him into my office and I explained to him what I was seeing in his work performance and I told him I was going to have to let him go. I told him I didn't know if he was on something or not, but by his actions he appeared to be. He didn't deny it, and he was very sorry that it came to this but he did understand why I was firing him and he understood that I had to.
As I was filling out the paperwork to terminate his employment, I had this overwhelming feeling, something inside of me kept saying to me over and over, Steve you have to do something, you've got to tell him about Jesus. He will never survive if he doesn't find Jesus. As awkward as this was for me I felt strongly that God was telling me to witness to Wayne. I remember thinking, this is not the time God, I just fired the man! I suddenly said... Wayne, do you care if I take you to lunch, I really just want to talk to you about something. He said he would go to lunch with me. I was amazed at how understanding he was about all this, but I guess he knew deep down this day would come. You can't go to work under the affects of drugs and expect to keep your job. I quickly finished the paperwork and we went to my truck and I drove us to Sonic. I knew what I was going to talk to him about and I didn't want to be in a restaurant, I wanted to be where we could talk and I felt my vehicle would be the best place.

I prayed for God to give me the words to say because I still had no idea how I was going to bring up the subject of Christ. I knew he needed to hear it, but would he listen, would he care? Would he be angry with me and tune it out? I knew that he knew I was a Christian, we'd talked about spiritual things before, but never really in much detail. He knew that I prayed for him and his addiction and I trusted that he would listen to me because I knew he respected me as a friend because of our relationship that we had established over time. I also began to realize that it was only by God's intervention that I would even be able to be sitting here having lunch and talking with a man I had just fired. I again apologized to Wayne for having to let him go and he again said he understood. He started talking about his issues, telling me about his addiction and the struggles he's had with it, when he started and how it all evolved and the consequences of it all. Then he told me something I will never forget. He said... "Steve, I think I have a demon living inside of me and I don't know what to do." I feel that the demon controls me and it scares me because I don't know what I will do." I have terrible evil thoughts and I really do believe I have a demon in me." This scared me.
He was genuinely worried and he was asking and searching for help. I really didn't know what to tell him, but one thing. I said, "Wayne, I don't know much but this I do know, If you do have a demon living inside of you there's only one way I know to get him out. When Jesus moves in then the demon moves out. (Darkness always fleas from Light) He listened very carefully as I explained about how Jesus moves into our heart when we ask him to save us. I explained he can't lick this addiction problem or beat this demon on his own, He needs Christ to help him overcome. It won't happen any other way. We talked some more and I answered a few more questions that he had and finally I asked him... "Wayne, do you want to invite Jesus into your heart and give your life to Him?" He said, "Yes, I do." I asked him if he would go to the church with me right now, and he said he would. I had a key to the church because I was a deacon in our church and I know we could have prayed right there in the car, but for some reason I felt lead to go to the church. It only took a couple of minutes and we were sitting in a pew in the back of the church. I explained the plan of salvation in detail to Wayne and after I was sure he understood what it meant to give his life to Christ, I again asked him if he was ready to pray and give his life to Christ as his Savior. He said yes, and we prayed together asking Jesus to Save him. He thanked me and we drove back to the store. After he left I was amazed at what had just taken place. If you would have ever told me that I would fire someone and then help lead them to Christ all at the same time, I would have told you, you were crazy. But... With God, anything is possible!

I'd like to say that from that day on everything was wonderful but the worst was yet to come. After giving his life to Christ he began to read his bible and he'd try to learn more about Christ and what had just happened to him but even though he now had Christ in his life, he still struggled with his addiction. To make a long story short, he finally got to a place in his life where he just kind of disappeared for a few days, we all feared the worst for Wayne. We knew he was struggling with his addiction and we worried that he may not survive. He was very depressed and he told me later that while he was a way for these three days, he began to take many drugs. He took so many drugs that he recalls that it should have killed him. He finally starts to pray, but not for healing, he prays for God to take his life and end this mess, then he passes out. Much later when he awakes he's surprised at how good he feels. He's also surprised to see he's still alive. Strangely though he feels no desire to use which was very abnormal for him. He is convinced that he's been healed by God and he prays and thanks the Lord that He healed him of his addiction. Days go by and still no desire or urge to do drugs, it's completely gone! He begins to share his testimony with others and he begins to become involved in Church and bible study. He finds a good job and months go by and still no desire to do drugs. He eventually goes to the doctor for a check up and the liver damage he used to have from all the drugs he'd taken over the years of his addiction, is gone, amazingly he's been healed! He proclaims that God healed him of his addiction and gives testimony to all who will hear. Now any of us that have any experience with drug addiction knows that you're never completely healed. You have to constantly be aware that you are still an addict and if you are not careful you may slip back into using again. Every addict knows this. But here Wayne is telling everyone he knows that God healed him of his addiction. It goes against everything we've all learned and know about addiction... that is unless we realize one very important truth... With God, Anything is Possible!

Although Wayne's health and his addiction were healed, his marriage didn't survive. Both of them are still dear friends of mine and I love them both. Wayne continued to focus on Christ after his divorce and he started taking classes at our associational office to learn more about the Bible. He became very involved in mission work and went on Mission to Brazil. This trip ignited a passion in him like none other and the Lord lead him to making the decision to completely sell out for Christ and attend seminary and become a full time missionary as his vocation. He left his job and moved off to go to seminary. Currently Wayne is a student at Boyce College at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has his own blog site as well and he fittingly calls himself, "Mission Rookie." If you want to encourage Wayne you can write him or read his blog at

Like I said in the beginning of this post, I'm amazed at how Wayne's life has changed over the years and I'm also amazed and encouraged at what God has done through my good friend Wayne. Wayne is such an encouragement to me because he reminds me that we should all be faithful in whatever it is that God wants us to do. God is just waiting to work through us if we'll just be obedient and follow His Spirits leading in our lives. I wish I could see into the future for Wayne. Where will God take him? Who will God touch through Wayne and his testimony? Only God knows for sure. One things for sure though, as Wayne faces those difficult challenges that I'm sure face him in the future, he knows who to lean on for strength and endurance to stay the course. He can always depend on God, because God healed him when nothing else could. Now God is using a poor broken sinner that was addicted to drugs to do His work! I say it again... "WITH GOD, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE"

God bless you Wayne! I love you and I want you to know you are such an encouragement to me. You will always be in my prayers and my hope is that God will use you in great and mighty ways for His glory and to build up His Kingdom.

Your brother in Christ,


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Footprints in the Sand

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path ofhis life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the verylowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way.But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."The LORD replied:
"My son, my precious child,I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering,when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

written by Mary Stevenson

Unwanted Child

Sometimes life just doesn't seem fair. We'll, let me say that another way... Life is not fair! Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. We ask ourselves why? We're confused because if God is truly a God of Love, why would He allow things to happen to us that hurt us or our families so much?

I have the same questions for God. I'm angry at times that God has allowed my son to become addicted to drugs. I'm hurt and deeply saddened at the pain and suffering this addiction has caused my family, especially my wife. All the worry, all the sleepless nights, all the courtrooms and arrests, all the financial costs and personal time and effort, all of the different rehabs we tried that in some ways we thought worked but later learned they really didn't much, all of the missed hours from work and the inability to focus on work. My frustration with God affected my ability to worship and participate in church activities. I wanted to hide, I wanted to quit, and I did quit many things because I could not bear being around people anymore. My hopes and dreams were gone, I didn't care about the future anymore, I could have cared less what happened tomorrow, I just wanted to get through today. Why did God allow my son to end up in jail for three years? Why us, Why my family, why me God! WHY!

Then I remember one very important truth... God loves me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for me. That if I will believe in Him I will not perish, but I'll have eternal life.

John 3:16 says this... "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

So what helps me get through all of this is truly knowing that God loves me so much that He has provided a way for me to live forever with Him. I also know that this world we live in right now is a sinful world. No matter how I live I must understand that the world is full of people that are controlled and or influenced by Satan, and my pain and suffering might be a result of that influence around me. Remember, Satan and his demons roam the world just looking for people to deceive and hurt. If the devil can cause confusion in the minds of people to the point they blame God for their pain and suffering then Satan has been effective in destroying a relationship that person would have with God. Satan wants us to think that God is not really good, we begin to think that if God were good He would never allow something so bad to happen to us. Then we think, "Why would God let us suffer if he loved us so much? We begin to doubt God's love for us.

To get past all of this we have to understand that this world we live in right here right now, is really nothing at all compared to what awaits us if we belong to Christ. Sometimes we forget and we think this is all there is! We think that the pain we're going through is too much to bear, but God says... He will never give us more than we can handle. We have to take our problems to God, for there is no problem that God can't handle and take care of for us. We have to trust Him and realize that He is not the source of our pain, He is not the reason for our suffering, He is not allowing this to happen to us because He doesn't love us, He wants us to turn to Him for comfort during difficult times, He wants us to seek His face and allow Him to give us the strength we need to overcome the obstacle's of life. Satan's trying to convince you that God's to blame, but you have to know that God is the answer and that He alone is the only way out.

My favorite verses that have helped me when I'm hurt, suffering and experiencing pain are found in the book of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

(16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
(17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
(18) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It's easy to lose heart and quit. We all have faced challenges in our work or relationships that make us want to throw in the towel and just walk away. Paul though, rather than walking away and giving up concentrated on experiencing God's inner strength from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Don't let pain, suffering, fatigue or even feeling abandoned by someone force you to quit or walk away or even check out. Don't forsake your eternal reward because of the intensity of today's pain. Your very weaknesses allows the power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment. Our troubles should not weaken our faith in Christ. Even though it's tough sometimes we should realize there is purpose in our suffering. Problems and human limitations have several benefits.

1. They remind us of Christ suffering for us!
2. They cause us to look beyond this brief life.
3. They prove our faith to others.
4. They give God the opportunity to demonstrate His awesome power.

Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing pain, persecution, or suffering is the realization that this life is not all there is - there is life after death! Knowing that we will live forever with God in a place without sin and suffering can help us live above the pain that we face in this life.

To the person that left me your comments yesterday on my last post. You are not an unwanted child! We will always be disappointed by other people throughout our lives. The only One that we can fully trust and to expect to never waiver in His love is God. To prove this to you and me He sent Jesus to provide a way for you and I to live forever in a place where there is no suffering or pain. He knows we experience all those things here, so He gives us eternal life because He loves us so much.

This person that has hurt you so much... I can't explain that to you. I can't explain why it happened, just like I can't explain why the terrible things have happened to my son and my family. But I can tell you this... Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning. God can give you the strength to go on. My suggestions for you to help you would be to seek Spiritual advice and council from a Pastor or Minster that can help you with your struggles and help answer your Spiritual questions. But trust me on this... Just because those you love have abandoned you or forsaken you, God never will. NEVER.

Hebrews 13:5,6 says... "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

The answer of course is nothing. Nothing, no one can separate us from the love of God. His love is that strong and powerful. So if you feel lost and confused... turn to Jesus for comfort, seek His face, and you will have peace. I will pray for you as often as I remember you. Don't let this situation take your focus off what's important. True love is found only in Christ and this pain you are feeling will pass. Christ can help if you'll just ask Him to. Run to Him, not away from Him. He is not the enemy here, He is your Savior in this situation!

May God's blessings be upon you, Steve

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I pray for this individual that is so hurt and in such pain. Please Lord Jesus let him know that he is loved. He is wanted and needed. Help him to know that you have a wonderful plan for his life and help him to know that You are there to comfort him during this painful time in his life. Lord I know that we are made stronger in our faith through our suffering, but Lord it hurts so much. Please give this person Your Strength to overcome and help him to again feel like he has a purpose in his life, because he does. Thank you Lord, for helping me through all I've been through and all I am still going through. I could not do it without you holding my hand or carrying me when I fall. I love you Lord Jesus! Amen

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Family Reunions

Sorry I haven't written for a few days. I had my inlaws come to visit for 10 days. Yea, I know what you're thinking... 10 days with the inlaws!

Well, I just have to say it was a great time! Brenda and I certainly miss our family and we long to see them. My job has taken me far away from home for many years now and we're lucky if we get to travel back home once a year to see our families. We miss them and when we get the chance to be together, well it's a great time of catching up and doing things together. Sometimes I think we take our families for granted. When we're able to be with them day in and day out we begin to tire of being around each other and eventually we tend to become complacent in our relationship. But that changes when you never get to see your family. You begin to long to see them. You remember the things you did the last time you were together and when you have the opportunity to get together again, well it's like a reunion each time we meet.

This reunion got me thinking about the best reunion anyone of us will ever have. That time when we'll go to be with the Lord in Heaven and we get the opportunity to reunite with those that have passed on before us. I'm sure this will be a great time of fellowship and catching up. Of course I can only imagine how it will be, but the bible does talk of a great reunion in the family of God. But we have to understand that to be born again, means that we belong to a new family. We belong to a family of believers and we are God's Children. We are adopted into a new family. Take a look at these verses...
Matthew 12: 46-50
(46) While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.
(47) Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."
(48) He replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"(49) Pointing to his disciples, he said, "here are my mother and my brothers.(50) "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
You see, the reunion that takes place in Heaven will be the greatest, because everyone that is there is a relative that has been adopted into the family of God. We all know how wonderful it is when we see family we haven't seen in a while, now imagine what it will be like reuniting with our new family in the presence of God!
Ephesians 1:5 says... In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

If you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have been adopted into the family of God. God is your FATHER, and we are his adopted sons and daughters.

There is a sobering reality to all this though. This reunion we're talking about is only for those that know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The reality is that we have loved ones that we care so much about here and now and if they do not come to Jesus, they won't be adopted into our new family. Only those born again get to go the this reunion.

If you know someone in your family that doesn't know the Lord, then find a way to tell them about Jesus. If you don't tell them, they may miss the greatest family reunion of all.

I'm so thankful that my inlaws are saved! We'll be together forever!

Praise the Lord!


Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I love this time of year. After being couped up in the house all winter long it's so nice to see blooming flowers and budding trees and the grass turning green again. Spring time is wonderful. I think it's so fitting that along with Spring time comes new life! What seemed to be dead looking for so many months suddenly shows signs of life! It's a refreshing time of year isn't it?

What does Easter mean to you?
When I was a child I thought Easter was only about the Easter Bunny. Much like I thought that Christmas was only about Santa Clause. We'd dye and color those boiled eggs and place them out for the Easter bunny to hide before us kids went to bed the night before Easter. We couldn't sleep just thinking about maybe catching a glimpse of the Easter Bunny coming into the house and leaving us baskets of candy and goodies and taking the time to hide those eggs we boiled and colored. Then when we'd finally wake up early Easter morning, we'd run to the living room and see what the Easter Bunny Brought us! The rest of the day was a time of family reunions and lots of food and hiding and hunting Easter eggs all day long. It was great!

It wasn't till many years later that I learned what Easter was all about. After being disappointed at realizing and knowing that the Easter Bunny was all a lie... I was even more surprised to know the true meaning of Easter. For many years even after learning that the Easter Bunny wasn't real, I still never heard the true Easter story till much later in life. I mean I knew it had something to do with Jesus, but I really never knew what? I knew it was a religious holiday, but I never knew why or how? You see, unless you are raised in the church or able to attend once in a while, you just don't know! Easter is what you see in the stores, or what you are told. It's very easy to get caught up in the commercial side of the holidays isn't it?

You know, I still look forward to the days when my granddaughter Halle will be old enough to come over on Easter and enjoy a fun time with family coloring Easter eggs and hunting eggs all day long. But I also look forward to taking her to church and answering all her questions when she wants to know what Easter is really all about. I can't wait to tell her about Jesus. I can't wait to show her in the bible how Jesus died on the Cross but then rose to life that Easter Morning so that she can have eternal life if she gives her life to Him (Jesus). My hope for Halle is that she will give her heart to Jesus and make Him her Savior. Then she'll know that from that day forward the wonderful sacrifice and gift that Jesus gave us that first Easter Morning. Then when she looks at the blooming plants and budding trees and green grass she'll know that her life is the same way. She'll never die, but have eternal life through Christ Jesus her Lord.

There's nothing wrong with having fun as a child and enjoying the games of Easter, but what a shame if we go through life and miss the true meaning of Easter. I thank God for sending His Son Jesus to take our place on the cross and giving us the free gift of eternal life!

I love this time of year and the reminder of what Jesus did for all of us! Thank you Lord!