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When I knew for sure

Lots of authentic Christ followers can tell you the time and place when they were saved. Or where they were on 9-11, or where they were when MLK was assassinated, or the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.

I can tell you the time and place I was when I learned my true identity in Christ. I was in Al Scardino’s bible study class with Marie at First Baptist Church Atlanta. It was August 13, 2000. We were studying Dan Stone and Greg Smith’s powerful book, The Rest of the Gospel.1 Page 90 to be specific.

It was one of those unforgettable revelation moments when the light flashes and all of a sudden you get it. You realize that you live in Christ and Christ lives in you. And that’s the only identity you need.

Satan hates it. Because at that moment in your life he realizes that he has absolutely no chance of EVER persuading you to reject God and follow him. It means he has lost that believer forever to victory in Jesus.

We exist and live in one of two realms. The eternal realm of the Spirit of Almighty God. IT’s where things simply are. Everything is completed, unseen, changeless and timeless. No fear. No pain. No loss. Just never-ending peace and love always in the presence of Almighty God living as his beloved children.

The other realm we call the natural or temporal realm. If you live in this realns. m you are dying every day. There is a beginning and end. There is good and evil. There is a past, present and a future. There is birth, life and death. Wealth. Poverty. Failure. Expectations. Limits and experiences. Consequences. Trauma. Fear. Hate. Rejection. But the worst part about living in the natural realm is you are separated from God.

Are you still living in the natural realm? If you are, how’s that working for you? Things are going to become progressively worse. Any happiness you may experience will eventually turn to disappointment, futility and loss. You will eventually have to admit that this life sucks. Nothing works out the way you thought it would. Failures mount. So does your emptiness and feelings of worthlessness.

Do you want to swap realms? Do you want a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe? Wouldn’t you love to have all your sins forgiven forever? Would you like to know your eternal home?

IF you’d like all this stuff you get by living in the realm of the Spirit, have all your sins forgiven and become a child of God and join his family forever just say this simple prayer and it will be a done deal.

“God, I confess to you that I have sinned and I am genuinely sorry. I confess that my life has fallen short of your glory because of the way I’ve been living.  I want to know you. I want a personal relationship with my Savior. I believe by faith in You that Christ died for my sins. I ask you now, Jesus, to forgive me of my sins and come live in my heart.  I trust you as my Savior and receive you as my Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.”

Congratulation. You have a new Father and a new life in Christ. Your old self is dead and your new life is alive in Christ forever.

1The Rest of the Gospel; One Press, Dallas, Texas, c 2000

2000; pg. 90

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You’re nobody. . .till somebody loves you.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was an American singer, actor, and comedian. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed “The King of Cool”.

As a singer Martin was probably best known for his rendition of the song “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”

Martin was a heavy drinker, a womanizer, a gambler and a chain smoker.

I’m sure he never imagined that one of his songs would bring believers so much comfort and peace and rest one day.

You see, as a believer you’re already loved deeply and forever. Almighty God already loves us unconditionally and with a love that will never fade or end. We have been loved since before Almighty God decided to create the heavens and the earth.

This love God has for us is indescribable. It is unfathomable. We can’t understand it. We can’t explain it. All we can ever do is receive it and share it with others. You can’t change it. You can’t refuse it. You can’t stop receiving it. You can never be turned down for it. God is love. He can do nothing else but love.

Here are just a few of the benefits that are part of God’s love for every believer

  • You are accepted just as you are, scars and warts and all.
  • You are totally forgiven for all your sins, past, present and future.
  • You can’t do or say anything that will change God’s unconditional love for you.
  • God makes you a partaker of an inheritance that is literally out of this world
  • You are made holy and blameless and righteous.
  • You are a precious child of God adopted into his family forever.
  • You have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through for you and through you.
  • You possess the mind of Christ and the peace that passes all understanding.
  • God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Not every child of God believes who he or she is in Christ. For instance some believers have done things they can’t believe God would ever forgive them for. Some believers can’t wrap their arms around the truth that they were created before God created the world and they will neve die.

Whether folks believe all the above stuff or not. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all true.

It doesn’t matter what you believe about God’s love. It only matter what God says about his love for believers. For everything God says or does is true.

I didn’t include any Scripture references in this post. I’m going to challenge you to seek God’s truth about Him and you in his word. All His truth is there.

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Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“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.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

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Unity please.

We inaugurated a new president, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, on January 20.

We’ve just completed the most significant benchmark in our entire democracy–the transfer of power from one presidential administration to another–pageantry we perform and celebrate every four years.

Vice President Kamila Harris
President Joe Biden

The quote that impacted me most in Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, and one I can imagine myself quoting in future blog posts, is what he said about unity. Mr. Biden said, “With unity we can do great things. Without unity, there is no peace.”

Unity please. We so desperately need unity in this country in this day and time, especially since Trump, in his last weeks in office tried to split our country apart even more.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

We can’t even begin to change our attitudes about being united with our fellow man until we undergo a transforming change of our collective hearts.

And God is the only one who can do that.

Are you prepared for Him to do that in your heart?

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He never invited her to church

butterfield

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radical unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.https://www.youtube.com/embed/hkJZSeUGzWw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

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God bless atheists this Christmas

A New Jersey billboard, paid for by atheists, depicted three wise men approaching Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in a manger. The billboard proclaimed, “You know it’s a myth! Celebrate reason.”  The atheist group reportedly paid $20 grand to display the message through the Christmas season.

A spokesman for the atheist group said the billboard was not to condemn Christians for celebrating Christmas; it was to encourage atheists to stop going through the motions of celebrating Christmas.

If you’ve ever debated Christ with an atheist or a non-believer you may discover their belief system sounds shallow. But many are adamant believers in their faith in a godless world. Isn’t that an oxymoron? If they have beliefs and faith, isn’t that, well . . . belief and faith in something?

But let’s not go there. I’m not seeking to belittle atheists or their beliefs and faith.

God still blesses atheists. Many of them are successful, well-educated, kind and considerate people. They go to college, raise families, contribute to their communities, volunteer their time and resources for the good of others. They prosper and add to our general welfare. Many are good people.

Like Christians, atheists live by the choices they make. From the beginning I believe God gave man freedom of choice in the Garden of Eden.  Atheists acquired their freedom to choose from the big bang, as they tell it, when their version of man’s ability to choose crawled out of the primal ooze, and, through osmosis, I suppose, seeped into his brain and enabled him to think.

As an authentic follower of Jesus I believe Adam and Eve’s garden experience instilled in every man and woman the ability to choose right from wrong and good from evil.

God, I believe, gave us the choice to believe in Him and Jesus as our Savior, or not to believe.

I believe when I take my last breath I will go to sleep (die physically) and wake up in the arms of Jesus. Atheists believe when they die their bodies will rot wake up in Jesus’ arms, but rather return to the earth as worm food. No afterlife, no heaven, no Jesus waiting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” no treasures in heaven, no trumpets, no mansion, no streets of gold, no peace.

And they’re entitled to believe that. They don’t have to believe they are God’s children and that He loves atheists every bit as much as He loves true believers.

I also believe, however, that those who don’t believe (like the atheists) will spend eternity separated from God (as He says they will in the Bible) for eternity. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

But God blesses atheists, and will continue to bless them with life and health and families and 401K’s and good jobs and food and clothing, just like he blesses us.  God will continue to love atheists until they draw their last breath.

Then atheists will discover, the moment after that last breath, whether they were right or wrong.

So will we.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

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Total peace and serenity

I love snow. Everything about it. The problem is I live in Atlanta. Snow is rare if ever a weather event here. Last year we had three days of winter when the temps plunged into the 30’s. That was it. Our winter.

I grew up in a small farming town in Southwest Iowa (5,000 souls). We had snow. Lots of snow. In fact snow was responsibifle for one my most precious childhood memories.

When a snowfall started filling up our yard and the yard next door I walked into our laundry room and looked out the window at the snow falling outside.

It was as if God turned off the sound. It was total stillness. Quiet and complete stillness.

It was as if God said to me, “Here, Steve, this is what total peace and quite feel like.

And I loved it. I’ve rarely felt so serene and in God’s peace. Often I’d gaze transfixed by the snow and stand at that window for hours. Several times I think I stood there till the snow stopped.

What a blessing. Even today I’ll call up those memories of looking through the window at the falling snow and rekindle that peace and serenity and feel it all over again.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

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Who’s in charge?)

What a mess!!!

So many conflicts. ballot challenges, accusations of cheating, stealing votes, lying politicians (of course that’s nothing new), more wild demonstrations, law suits, divisiveness, hate, protests, racism, a fractured church, a polarized society and culture, failure to communicate, a media gone mad…

How and when will it ever end? In my opinion it won’t. It Can’t. We’ve gone too far. I believe our wonderful constitutional democracy is witnessing it’s waning days. Congress can’t fix it, the courts can’t fix it, the president can’t fix it, Billy Graham or James Dobson or Dr. Phil can’t fix it.

I’m even beginning to wonder if 1st Chronicles 7:14 will still work:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” My people” can’t even agree with each other. The church today is about as fractured as it’s ever been. How are they ever going to be unified enough to humble themselves and pray as a unified body of believers–the church?

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

There are oodles of scriptures in God’s Word that affirm God’s absolute sovereignty and that Almighty God is still on the throne and in complete control of everything.

Remembering that and abiding in it, I believe, is our only hope today and in the future.

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What brand of nacre do you use?

No, it’s not misspelled. What brand of  n-a-c-r-e  do you use?

 Of course that begs the question,  what on earth is necra?

Nacre is the filmy layer of goo an oyster secretes to cover a grain of sand that has embedded itself in the oyster shell and become a nasty irritant.  The necra eventually hardens around the irritating grain of sand and exerts so much pressure on the  grain of sand  that it over time it becomes a beautiful diamond.of inestimable value.

Back to the main question– what brand of necra do you use?  Of course we don’t have any necra laying around when things irritate us to the point of distraction. Walmart doesn’t carry it. either. And there’s no limit to  the kind or severity of irritants we experience. The irritant can be is pesky as a snoring spouse or a banging toilet or a neighbor who parks two of his wheels on your grass.

Admit it. Things and people  irritate us almost every day.

Unlike the oyster we don’t have any goo to make the irritation go away or turn it into a sparkling diamond. If we don’t dispatch that pesky irritation, it will continue to fester and gnaw at us and make us miserable.

Let me  share  a two-step process it is guaranteed to minimize or completely eradicate any irritation you might experience.

Bathe yourself  in Psalms

It doesn’t matter which Psalms you read.  Just open your Bible and start reading Psalm after Psalm. . The Psalms will begin changing your attitude and lifting your Spirit.  Reading Psalms will give you an entirely new perspective of your irritations and give you God’s perspective and scriptures on how to handle them.

Remember, recite and meditate on Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is not just a promise God makes to us. It is something God does for us in our daily lives.  First of all every choice we make and everything we do gets filtered through God’s love and grace for us. And he uses our choices, decisions and actions for our ultimate good.  So if you are dealing with irritations in your life keep in mind  that God is going to turn it all into something for our good.

And bye bye irritations .If you don’t believe this method will work for you, try it and prove me wrong.

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Horoscope Hijinks

What’s your sign, man?

Horoscopes used to play an important role in my relationships–especially with women.. This was during my prodigal son romp through my recently divorced mid-life wilderness. 

When I became interested in a woman, the first place I went was Linda Goodman’s book Sun Signs to see if the woman and I would be horoscopicly (my word) compatible.If our signs didn’t cross and our stars didn’t align I was history. No way was I going to spend time, energy or money  on a horoscopic misfit.  

 It took me almost a decade and some serious Bible study and a boatload of God’s grace to figure out that I was born under a very different sign.  It read, ‘”Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

And I was adopted that moment by my Heavenly Father and became a son of God with all the riches in glory through my Savior, Jesus

Later it was hard to believe but for several years I looked to Satan’s lies in those horoscopes. That I would allow something Satan authored to help me make life choices and influence  some of my  personal relationships with so much Satanic bunk.

“So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ For it is a lie that they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish.”.  Jeremiah 27:9-10

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people .Leviticus 20:6.

I don’t think any serious believerr and disciple of Jesus Christ can justify astrology or horoscopes. Dare I say, you can’t believe in or follow Jesus authentically and follow astrology at the same time? I have known people claiming to be believers who check their horoscope in the morning paper religiously.  they read their horoscopes more religiously than they read their Bibles.

 If you are reading horoscopes now or relying on astrology to influence you at all let me encourage you do a word study on astrology. Find out what God’s word says. God’s word is truth. Horoscopes and astrology are both based on lies straight from the pit of hell.

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What’s your TQ–your Trust Quotient?

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When we see The Father for the first time

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Why forgive?

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God’s free gift of grace, to me, is. . .

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The other cheek

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Living under the other shoe

shoe dropFor years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When  I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did.  A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution.  I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?

Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”

I’ve never worried about that shoe again.

 

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I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me.

A Personal Relationship With God, acceptance, adapting to change, attitude, behavior, Biblical Principals, change, changes, choices, God's Power, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, God's Word, Grace, Grace / Mercy, growth, How God Loves Us, In the presence of God, kindness, knowing God, Loving God, Obedience, Peace, peace of God, Prayer, Prayer Request, protection, Relationship With God, Servant, Serving others, showing love, Surrender, Truth

Do I have to draw you a picture?

A Personal Relationship With God, abiding in Christ, Almighty God, Bible, God, God's love, God's purpose, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, Grace, Grace / Mercy, hope, Jesus, knowing God, Life, peace of God, Relationship With God, Resurrection, Surrender, trusting God, Worship

Riddle: What is full when it’s empty?

A Personal Relationship With God, abiding in Christ, choices, Creation, freedom, God's love, God's purpose, God's Will, God's Word, Grace / Mercy, Heaven, How God Loves Us, knowing God, loving others, peace of God, Relationship With God, Salvation Plan, Serving others, showing love, Truth, What I Believe

God Bless Atheists This Christmas

A Personal Relationship With God, acceptance, change, choices, finding your way, Friendship, God, God's love, God's omnipresence, God's Power, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, God's Word, Grace, Grace / Mercy, How God Loves Us, loving others, peace of God, Personal, reaching out, Serving others, sharing, showing love, The Gospel, The Gospel of Jesus Christ

We can’t end racism, stop abortion or save the world for Jesus.

Biblical Principals, Forgiveness, God's love, God's Sovereignty, Grace / Mercy, How God Loves Us, In the presence of God, Love, patience, peace of God, Relationship With God, Truth

The Day God Ran

A Personal Relationship With God, abiding in Christ, attitude, God, God's love, God's omnipotence, God's omnipresence, God's purpose, God's Sovereignty, God's Will, Grace, Grace / Mercy, Guest Blogger, How God Loves Us, humility, Identity In Christ, knowing God, Obedience, peace of God, Personal, Serving others, sharing, showing love, the cross of Christ, The Gospel of Jesus Christ

A young man with the right answers

A Personal Relationship With God, abiding in Christ, attitude, behavior, Bible, choices, freedom, God, God's omnipotence, God's Sovereignty, God's Word, Grace, Grace / Mercy, Loving God, loving others, peace of God, perseverance, Relationship, Relationship With God, sanctification, Truth

Some encouraging words

A Personal Relationship With God, abiding in Christ, attitude, behavior, Biblical Principals, choices, finding your way, Forgiveness, Friendship, God, God's Will, Grace, Grace / Mercy, humility, Identity In Christ, patience, peace of God, sharing, showing love, The Holy Spirit, trusting God, Truth

“Kind” on my mind