Saturday, October 31, 2015

THE BIGGEST DECEPTION OF THEM ALL

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


A few Sundays ago we had a time of cardboard testimonies during our service at church, and I was privileged to be a part of it.

You see, several years earlier, I didn't know I had a testimony to share.  My conversion experience had been less than dramatic, and I thought testimonies were what people like former warlord and gang leader turned Christian evangelist Nicky Cruz had, or what addicts, criminals, or victims of abuse who had hit bottom had when they came to know the Lord and their lives were miraculously transformed--not people like me.

One day, however, during a discussion with some friends, the light turned on, and I was struck by the sudden realization that I did have a testimony, a testimony no less remarkable.  The miracle of my testimony was that I found the right path at all, considering I believed I had already found it and was no longer searching.

My memoir, "Sincerely Wrong: An Improbable Journey," tells the story.  It can be downloaded to your computer as a free PDF file by clicking on the image of the book cover on the sidebar of this blog.  The short version though, is that I grew up with a desperate need to feel significant, and after a long quest for roots and purpose, thought I had found them in New Age and occult doctrines.  My vulnerability led me to believe in a lie that I persuaded others to believe in as well.  I was not consciously deceiving anyone; I was just sincerely wrong.

Don't be deceived, as I was, into thinking that there are many paths to God, or that we get to Heaven by being good.  That is the biggest deception of them all.

Although we were created to have fellowship with the Lord, Adam and Eve's sin caused us to be born into a fallen world.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and in Romans 6:23, that "the wages of sin is death." Because of this, a vast gulf separates us from our Heavenly Father, and there is no way we can cross it through our own efforts.  Only one path can lead us to eternal life, and that is Jesus (John 14:6).

The good news is that "God so loved the world [you and me included] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God loves you so much that even if you were the only person on this Earth, He would still have sent Jesus to die for your sins so you could be set free.  It is a gift that can only be received by grace, through faith. It cannot be earned by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and as much as it is not God's will for anyone to perish, He will not impose His will on you or force you to accept it. The choice is yours.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking and waiting for you to answer (Revelation 3:20), and I implore you to open the door before it is too late.  Accept His invitation to enter your life, forgive your sins, and make you a new creation.  Don't believe the lies!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TOOLS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his
face always. Remember the wonders he has
done, his miracles, and the judgments he
pronounced." -- (1 Chronicles 16:11-12)

Many years ago, I heard a sermon on the importance of keeping a record of what God has done in our lives.  The account of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37) was used as an illustration.  David, remembering how God gave him the strength to wrestle a lion and strong-arm a bear that had snatched a lamb from his father's flock, was able to boldly proclaim, The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:37)

Inspired by this message, I gathered all my bits and pieces of paper with scribbled notes of things the Lord had done, organized them by topic, and copied them into a tabbed notebook, along with some relevant Scripture verses and choruses.  So, for instance, I put all descriptions and dates of times the Lord rescued me from very close calls or intervened to turn a negative situation around for good under the God's Grace tab; financial breakthroughs under Jehovan Jireh, My Provider; miracles of healing under Jehovah Rapha, My Healer; and so on.  I even have a Lessons Learned tab where I've recorded times I missed out on God's very best for me because I let pride or fear keep me from making the right choice. 

On the cover I have pasted the Awesome God chorus, and added the title, Memories to Ponder on Difficult Days.

I must say, no matter how deep into the doldrums I might be, I can't stay there long if I start leafing through this notebook so full of instances of God's faithfulness, and the unexpected ways He has come through for me when I was facing issues that seemed insurmountable at the time.  It is also a great reminder of His unconditional love, and how much better His timing is than mine. 


Shortly after that, I started another tabbed notebook, a little fat one entitled, "It Is Written," each section dealing with an issue I struggle with in my personal life--Anger, Fear, Health, Discouragement, Spiritual Warfare, Who I am in the Lord, and so on--and every time I find a verse that speaks to my heart, I copy it into the appropriate section.  This little reference book has come to my rescue on more than one occasion when I was trying to think of a particular Scripture or where to find it, but my mind drew a blank.

Eventually I turned it into a published book, by the same name, which is available as a paperback, and also in Kindle or Nook versions (see the sidebar of this blog if you are interested in purchasing a copy).  If you are reading this post though, and would like a free PDF you can download to your computer,  leave me a comment with your e-mail address, and I'll be happy to send it to you--no strings attached.   Or, you could even start one of your own.

 I've also taken to marking up my Bible by underlining verses that have special meaning to me, sometimes putting little hearts next to them, and whenever a promise is actually manifested in my life, I put a little TP (Tested and Proven) next to it, along with the date.  This helps keep me from wavering or being influenced by someone else's thoughts when I hear them say these promises are not for today.  I can tell them they've arrived too late with their message, because I've already seen them manifest in my life, and that is evidence that cannot be disputed or denied.