Posted in A Great Irony, Knowing Jesus, MY JOURNEY WITH CHRIST, Personal Relationships, The Journey Back, The journey begins, The Journey Continues, The Meaning of Life

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

Life is a funny thing. For many of us, we can look around and find a host of people, to compare to ourselves, who seem to face nothing of the rejection that we have experienced. However, at the same time, we can look around at others, who when we consider their plight in life, we just want to fall on the ground and thank God for sparing us their heartache, and then cry for them.

Personally, I have been married for forty-three years to a person who delights in others. She is warm and friendly, and many people over the years have expressed how much they wait for and enjoy her hugs. She loves to care for children, even though because of her partial disability due to back surgery, it is very difficult physically to care for them they way that she would prefer.

For many years it has been my privilege to observe the concern my wife has for people, and her willingness to give herself to those that others would deplore and avoid. It’s a strange thing, that the most common reaction that people have, who have experienced the kind of life as my wife, is to become hateful and try to avoid others as much as possible. On the other hand some try to gain the acceptance of others at any cost, that is, without really caring and giving of themselves to them. I have observed all three kinds of people many times in my lifetime.

I have had the good fortune, under the sovereign design of Almighty God, to enjoy the loving protection and care of two very loving and giving parents. My mother lost her own mom when she was barely four, and spent almost a year searching for her. My father possesses the manor, wisdom, and grace of sheriff Andy Taylor. Therefore, I cannot imagine what life is like to be brought up in a home, having been sent to my grandmother because my father didn’t want me.

My wife’s grandmother was a very godly and loving woman, who herself met with betrayal, rejection, and trials that no sane person would choose to face. However, in time she returned her granddaughter to her daughter-in-law so she could be with her mom. Her stepfather was very abusive and brought her up as though she was in the military and not a family.

Rejection defines my wife’s existence during her formative years. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my grandmother tell me my real dad is not the man, who is married to my mom. I would like to be able to say that abuse ended with my wife’s childhood, but that would misrepresent her life.

We all begin with the inclination to be selfish, hateful, jealous, spiteful, gossipy, and judgmental because we are all part of a fallen and sinful race – the human race. We begin innocent in the sense that we are born naive, and then we have to grow into an intelligent and discerning human being. The heart of every boy and girl learns from their parents, family members, peers, and culture as a whole, how to act and react to their environment.

The heart of each person begins soft and hardens over time, to some extent. For this reason the bible says, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7, 8a) Some people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and harden their hearts to the truth of His salvation. They refuse to accept the call to be saved from their own sins, being too self-righteous to accept the fact that they sin. Others, by the grace of God, turn from their sins, regardless of the suffering they have faced throughout the course of their lives, and turn to Jesus Christ as the Bible reveals Him.

Last night my wife, a friend, and I went to see, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Sitting their and observing the life of Bart Millard, I could only think about my own wife. During the eighties we went to visit her birth dad, whom she forgave for abandonment, and who never tried to contact her. As if feeling rejected for her whole life up to that point were not enough, she was rejected yet again.

Because of the love of Christ, my wife forgave even her stepdad, and has only said good things about him to me since that time. She honors him as a military man, having given himself to the service of his country for many years.

It is all too easy to become bitter because of difficult circumstances we face. It is also possible to respond in a positive way to the evils that befall us. We can pick our self up from trials and send our life in a new direction. I have witnessed numerous people make such decisions, as in the case of drug addicts. There is, however, a vast difference between picking up one self and being picked up by Jesus Christ.

It is one thing to be brought up in a Christian home, with all the advantages that such an environment brings, and still another to respond in faith to Him amidst all the pain and suffering that a wicked world can provide. It is one thing to see Jesus through the lens of our own perceived goodness, and still another to see Jesus through the lens of our own wicked reactions to the evils of this present world. For this reason Jesus said to a religious leader, who was consumed with his own goodness, who was judging Jesus for having kept company with a street woman.

“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. “You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. “You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Mark 7:44-47)

Those who TRULY love much have been forgiven for much, because they have recognized the depth of their own vile and sinful soul, and found forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love at the cross of Jesus Christ.

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In the heart of a person that has been rejected through neglect, and abused physically and emotionally by the one that should exemplify sacrificial love and respect, there is an absence of belief in the ability of others to love them.

Only God in Christ can fix it!

 

 

 

Posted in Knowing Jesus, MY JOURNEY WITH CHRIST, Personal Relationships, THE JESUS YOU NEED TO KNOW, The Meaning of Life, The Priority of Christian Knowledge

THE JOURNEY BACK

From the time that I repented of my sin and placed my faith in Jesus Christ for my salvation, until I began to understand the Bible was about six years.

There can be no substantial spiritual growth in the grace of God apart from faith in God’s word. It is impossible to have faith in God when we do not understand His will and what He expects of us. At the sixth year mark with no learning for support, I chose to go the way of sinful behavior.

My soul was torn within me, so that I could say with king David, “For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away” (Psalm 31: 10). As wonderful as it is to experience the joy of forgiveness, mercy, and grace, it is equally awful to grow distant from God, and turn back to a sinful way of life.

trust in GodSo desperate were my feelings of guilt that on the way home from work, seeing a phone booth (long before cell phones), I hopped out of the car, and called the Billy Graham organization for the phone number of a church, to seek counsel. Then a man stepped into my life, who held the truth in his heart, and who returned me toward an accountable relationship with Christ and the Church.

The only thing comparable to the experience of enjoying the grace of God for the first time is experiencing it for the second time. Every subsequent return to God for the saint is not for salvation but to restore fellowship with God. Returning to God has no meaning if a person is not united with God for the first time.

I am so thankful to God for having called me to Himself because apart from His calling and enabling me to exercise faith, I never would have come to 36724-cross-sunset-humility-pexels.1200w.tnHim for the first time.

Praise God for the cross, apart from it there is no turning or returning to God.

Some believe that turning to God is a one time act. You come to Christ and for the rest of your life you are right with God. However, while that is true by God’s accounting, that is not true in experience. The Christian is called to a life of obedience, which is possible by faith in God’s promises and the fellowship of the saints. Nonetheless, there is no sinless perfection this side of heaven.

In conclusionJonah and Great Fish for now, there are sins that we commit in ignorance or passively, in such a case there should be short accounts kept the Christian. Confession of sin (1 John 1) should be daily. There is a life style of willful disobedience, which is not acceptable for the Christian. Such willful disobedience brings chastisement by God, and should bring discipline by the local church (in love). Till next time!

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Posted in A PERSON OVER A PRINCIPLE, Jesus Christ: The Character of God, Knowing God, Knowing Jesus, MY JOURNEY WITH CHRIST, Personal Relationships, THE JESUS YOU NEED TO KNOW

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

It is one thing to hear the gospel call to receive Jesus Christ as Lord, and it is still another to to follow Him as set forth in the scripture. Barely a teen and a failure at reading the Bible, the way to follow Jesus was foreign to me.

The great lesson learned during those years was discipleship. There was no one in my life to help me navigate the terrain of the Christian walk, which involves separation from the world, war with our own flesh, and spiritual warfare. Some paths are best walked with an experienced guide.

My high school years were spent growing in the fine art of becoming an odd ball. As a typical teenager there was a desire to fit in, but there were some things I would not do. Something was different about me but I couldn’t identify what it was. When speaking to my dad on one occasion, the words rang out of my mouth with an assurance that had not been present before, “I know that there is a God.”

It is good to have assurance of God’s existence, however, the devil is assured of God’s existence and trembles. Furthermore, it is equally important to understand God’s will and to be empowered to carry it out. You can only coast for so long, where there is no growth the world, the flesh, and the devil will become too much to resist. So it was in my case, sin got the best of me after high school.

The authentic Christian cannot live with wrongdoing for very long, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, and makes living in sin completely unbearable. It is a hard lesson to learn but in the end it makes the student more empathetic toward those he/she will seek to help through similar circumstances.

As a along time teacher, it is never a good idea to be tolerant of sin. Furthermore, even though empathy is an important part of helping others to know that you love them, it is equally important to teach well that sin is the most destructive force in everyone’s life.

There is always a consequence to sin in this life and for the Christian that means discipline from a heavenly Father who loves us very much.