Through it all…

god's been good

I know that I know that God loves me. He rescued me from the depths of my sorrow, fear, feeling abandoned. I’ve had seasons of great challenge. I’ve had times of pain both mentally and physically. But through it all, God’s been Good. I’ve placed my trust in the Lord and have given up the things of the world. I once thought that these worldly things were necessary for me to be happy. They are not. God has saved me, He has raised me, He filled me with the Holy Ghost. He healed me, to the uttermost. He picked me up and turned me around. He placed my feet on solid ground. For all of this, I thank Him and give Him Praise. Again, through it all, God’s been Good in my life.

You might ask why I am so confident of this.  How do I truly know?  Well, each story or in this case, every testimony is different.  When I received the touch of God, I was at my rock bottom.  Really!  I’m not giving you the standard testimony of someone who now goes to church and is all happy.  That kind of person, I am not.  I am a realist.  I was raised to study and investigate and always question what lies before me.  I lived my whole life that this was the only way.  To cover all the bases; to get all the answers to all the questions.

So how long do you think I studied the question, “Does God love me?”  Well, I don’t have knowledge of how long, but I will tell you it took 45 years for me to think about that infamous question.  My life was at a point where I needed to make a choice.  Sometimes that’s where you need to be so that the only thing left is “Choose Jesus or Die.”   “Oh, come on, George.  Really?  Sounds to me that you are saying all the right things. Is this real?”  Before I asked myself the question “Does God love me?” I was ignorant. I was wandering around lacking any knowledge of God’s love.  Jesus was calling me to come home to Him.  All the while, I closed my ears and eyes of that.  I know now the truth.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)  Yes, He was chasing after me from the beginning of time, though I didn’t know it.

My testimony began with a man sharing his love for me by telling me that there was a man who loved me and wanted a relationship with me.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  For me it was like bait in the water of a great pond filled with fish.  Except it’s not about hooking fish.  It’s all about His mercy and grace that pulled me out with one great pull.  Great is the Lord. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3 ESV) 

You may have heard the following praise, even if you don’t think of yourself as spiritual or religious.  It has been said, “God is Good all the time. And all the time God is Good.”   This has nothing to do with being spiritual or anything to do with religion.  It has everything to do  with relationship.  The Bible says this.  And it is a promise.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”” (1 Corinthians 2:9) “Does God love me?  Most wholeheartedly Yes.”  I now serve One Master.  It’s in Christ Alone that I give my life.  Has it been easy?  No. Have I been blessed?  If you’re looking for me to quantify this question, I can’t.  God’s blessings are immeasurable.  Overflowing.  More than I can even imaging.  His grace is sufficient for me.   Through it all, God’s been Good!

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing.  I  don’t know of the circumstances by which you live your life.  I don’t know if you feel that if God knew me, He couldn’t love me.  But I know this that God loves you with an everlasting love that can never change or be diminished.  If you knew Him like I know Him you would know that He is Alive and death has died.  Jesus paid the price for sin and death by His suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  I’m just asking you to come to  the everlasting love of Jesus and have a talk with Him.  My joy is unspeakable because I know that someone will read this and join in everlasting life, the Family of God.  It’s not how much you have done.  It’s simply about belief.  There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life.  God paid the price for you.  It’s His grace that will be applied to you once you accept Him.

Jesus, You paid the price for all of us to receive Your grace and partake in everlasting life with You in Heaven.  You’ve not applied a lot of rules or duties to receive the greatest gift.  We only need to believe.  Then we will see Jesus in all of Your glory.  Thank You that You have been with me since the beginning of the age and through it all You have been good.  Help me to understand more and more about You.  Bless our relationship Lord.  Forgive me sin and come into my life.  Thank You Lord.  I will serve You until I die.  I’m on the battlefield for the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Seize the Moment

“The National Football League” – “The NFL”. Of all the professional sports played, my favorite is professional football.  Well, I also love Curling, but that’s another story.  I have been a fan of pro football for as far back as I can remember.  I played intramural football in grade school and around the local neighborhoods.  I was very small while attending school so I did not participate in football in either Jr. High School or Sr. High School.  But that did not deter me.  Sunday afternoons were spent watching the NFL on television.

nfl logo

I guess you can say that I became a student of the game.  I was interested in intricacies of the game.  I wanted to learn both offensive and defensive strategies.  I understand the situations and play calling.  I was into everything.  I read a lot and studied my favorite teams.  I watch the NFL Draft every year.  I look at trades between the teams.  I am a FAN.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Vincent Rey

One thing I have learned is that the entire game of football can be expressed in taking advantage of every moment you get to move forward.  The whole objective of the game is to score points.  In order to do that you have to seize every moment that would produce points.  I’ve come to understand that as a team practices for the upcoming game, they go over everything that they need to have an advantage over their opponent.  They even go over what is called “the fundamentals”.  Those include blocking, tackling, running, catching passes, returning kicks, etc.  They also study play books and look at film.  You might say that this is enough, but many times it is not.  It all lies in the minds of the players.  Are they aware of what is happening on the field?  Do the really know what their opponent will do in every situation.  Good teams, playoff teams know their opponent that well.  Seizing every opportunity is key to success.  Their ears and eyes must be attentive to what is going on.

touchdown

Jesus Christ gave us very important instructions to seize opportunities that He lays before us.  Jesus said, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17 ESV)  This was Jesus mission.  He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ESV) Jesus was obedient to the end to reach those who were destined to die in their sins.  He looked and moved with one thought in mind.  This gospel that He was teaching must be shared to the entire world.  His plan would give everyone who believed the best opportunity to win.  The Bible says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)   For this is known, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 ESV) Here in lies the absolute truth.  If we set our ears and eyes on Jesus Christ, we will always win.  Defeat is not a part of those who believe.

We must seize every opportunity to share the gospel with a dying and lost world.  It is our command.  It is spoken in the Word of God and is the absolute and unchangeable truth.  The question is are we focused on ourselves or are we ready to take hold of the utmost prize.  No football game victory.  No Super Bowl win can compare to what is in store for those who believe.  The Apostle Paul said this, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV)  The game plan you need to have is Jesus.  He is all you need.  Victory in Jesus, on-time every time.  You just need to believe.  It’s that simple.

Calvary

Friend, you may not have thought about the intricacies of the sport of football.  And that’s OK.  Really there are a lot more things to focus your mind on.  But let me tell you this.  There is nothing more important than a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior.  I made the choice to follow Jesus and his plan for my life in 1999.  Since then my life, my focus, my priorities have changed.  Has it been easy?  No.  Every day I have to pray for Jesus to give me the necessary steps to take to glorify Him with my life.  If you have never made the step to believe and trust in Jesus, you can do that if you want.  You can simply talk to Jesus and He will listen.  You can then be on the everlasting winning team.  Pray this little prayer.  It’s not the prayer that matters.  It’s your heart and acceptance of Jesus that saves you.

Lord, I know that I am a sinner.  I know that I have made mistakes in my life.  I’m told that if I confess these sins to You and repent from them that I can be saved.  Lord, forgive me of my sins.  Every one of them and I believe that you came to earth, was crucified, and died.  And you rose from the grave to defeat sin and death.  I believe this.  I confess this.  I receive Your saving grace.  I am now saved.  Thank You Lord.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Glory to God!!!  Another child of God welcomed into the Family of God.  If you prayed and believed, it’s important for you to be fed daily with the love of Christ and the promises of His Word.  Find a local church to attend.  Talk to the Pastor and tell him that you are saved and want to know more.  I am sure he will be excited to walk with you on your journey to eternal life.  God bless you friend.  I will be praying for you.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

It’s a new day

his mercies are new

Snow White had some companions.  Yes, the 7 dwarfs.  They each had a specific name and that’s how they lived their life.

Bashful — Long beard — Brown top, green hat, long eyelashes
Doc — Short beard — Red tunic, brown hat, glasses
Dopey — Beardless — Green tunic, purple hat, big ears
Grumpy — Long beard — Red tunic, brown hat, scowl
Happy — Short beard — Brown top, orange headpiece, smile
Sleepy — Long beard — Green top, blue hat, heavy eyelids
Sneezy — Short beard — brown jacket, orange headpiece, red nose

I think that I have been a little bit like all the dwarfs.  Really.  When I first saw the Disney movie, “Snow White” I enjoyed all of the dwarf characters.  Dwarf Dopey was the cutest to me.  I liked his big ears.  Doc was wise and commanded respect.  Happy is what I always wanted to be.  But sometimes, well more often than the rest, I was Dwarf Grumpy.

From an early childhood, I had trouble getting out of bed and getting ready for school.  Mom often lovingly called me Grumpy.  As the day progressed, the grumpiness left me and the day was a lot better for me.  I began to take the likeness of Dwarf Happy.

Those are childhood memories.  Life goes on and we all grow up and have to live an adult life.  I don’t think any longer at the dwarfs but rather look at these kinds of things.

Pain – We all have it from time to time and it is dressed in both mental and physical

Despair – Colored in the garment of No Hope

Turmoil – Sorry but this one should be also named, “Ugly”

Sickness – His clothes are torn and tattered

Focus – He is also called “The Wanderer”

Purpose – He has a lot of questions and some of them seem never to be answered.

Family – Another name for this one could be “Joy” or not

It quite a change from the Disney film isn’t it.  Our lives take so many different paths.  Each day is filled with choice and change.  Success and failure.  Joy and Sadness.  I can go on and on but I think you get the picture.  But friend, there is hope in the chaos of the world.  We can get back on track and fulfill our specially designed purpose.  The Bible says this, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

You might be saying that “it can’t be this simple because you don’t know what I face each day.  I wake up frustrated and then the day goes from there.  Somedays I’m OK, but most of the time I am either blasting off in anger or cuddled in a corner of despair.”   I tell you friend, I’ve been there.  But I’ve learned that there is a way for you to start over.  And that is with guidance and direction.  Hope renewed in the Name of Jesus.  Yes, that’s the way.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48} and Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)  I believe that this is what gets me from day to day.  You see, it’s not my garment that I put on every morning, but rather the garment of Jesus Christ.  It is a garment of praise“The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3) 

Friend, we don’t live in a fairy tale.  I know that.  But what we have is a Way.  We can face each morning with the promises of God or not.  I choose God’s Holy Word to start my new day.  Do I forget sometimes?  Yes.  I’m not perfect.  But God…does not hold it against me because He is merciful and His grace has me covered.  Let me pray for you.

Heavenly Father.  Thank You for Your new mercies each day.  There is hope in You and the promises of Your Word.  Lord, turn our eyes and heart towards You each day.  You order our steps, may we remain in Your hand and walk with You.  Give us strength to face each day as we trust in You.  In Jesus Name. Amen. 

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road

There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road

two lane road

Where am I “going” with this?  (bad pun)  But maybe not so much.  I have lived in the inner city, the glorious suburbs, and now in a quiet little town.  I’ve watched race riots as a boy. I have lived in apartments that don’t qualify for being called a place to live.  I’ve lived in a suburban home with my parents that brings back some great memories. And now for the last 18 years or so, I have lived in a quiet little town. Not much happens here. I’ve witnessed growth in this town.  I’ve seen housing developments being started and new homes being purchased.  I’ve noticed an increase in traffic in my small town.  But yet, right now, I love it here.

We are filled with so much junk that being busy is the norm.  I can’t remember the last time when I looked at my calendar and found it empty.  This week, as I write, my schedule and commitments are many.  The only day open to relax is tomorrow.  That’s it.  Again, being busy is the norm.  This isn’t new to many people. We hear it in conversations all the time and we get excited sometimes to tell anyone who will listen that we can’t believe how busy we are and we don’t have time for anything more.

AND THEN… let’s talk about the time it takes to go from one appointment to the next.  Sometimes we don’t have a lot extra time to spare.  So our option is to hit the Interstates and drive as fast as we can, sometimes exceeding the speed limit. Driving recklessly. Our schedules and appointments dictate what road we use.  The Interstates have some advantages but sometimes very busy.  They are multi-lane extensions of our day that enable a multitude of vehicles to travel all at the same time.  It’s an efficient way to travel. Many travelers use the Interstates.

I, on the other hand, use two-lane roads to travel. It’s because of where I live and what I need to do.  I am retired.  My schedule, though busy, keeps me off the Interstates unless my wife and I are taking weekends away or even vacation.  We feel much safer driving.

What’s my point?  The point is where is our attention.  When we’re driving along the multi-lane highway, the extension of our day, there is more to be aware of.

It can be very stressful.  We continue down the road watching our left and our right.  We’re using the rear view mirror.  We’re watching our rear and certainly our front.  We see detours.  Closed lanes.  And then the crazy drivers.  Sorry.  And then, when we need to exit we find ourselves in the wrong lane.  HELP!!!

On the two-lane road, there’s not as much going on around you.  Now I know that I am a different kind of sample.  My living in the rural country enables me to stay away from the highways.  I am privileged.  Yes, I’ll even call it blessed.

My dissertation of road travel is a microcosm of life itself.  Our lives are busy.  Daily travel lines up with the craziness of our schedules.  The stress is the same if the choice is to move at the fastest pace possible.  Busy = Use the Highway.  That’s the only way.  Our attention is held hostage. We’re looking left and right and then left again.  So that is why I say, “There ain’t nothing like a two-lane road”.

When our lives get so busy that our attention is consumed by the “stuff”, that should be a problem not the norm.  It can even infiltrate our spiritual life.  Our relationship with God is affected in lots of the same ways.  We have less time to read our Bible, to meditate on the Word of God.  And yes, we take less and less time to pray.  And isn’t that what this blog page is all about?  I think, at least for me, it’s time to get off of the high speed interstate and get back on the two-lane road.  Slowing down is ok.  Really. It gives us all the time to enjoy God’s presence.  I can talk to Him knowing full well that He listens to me.  It’s a great time to pray.  Now it’s a good idea not to close your eyes when praying.  All kidding aside, the two-lane road opens us a lot of opportunities.

Friend, we need to slow down and realize there are other options in my very busy life.  One of those is to remain in a close relationship with Jesus.  Jesus said in the Bible in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As we find ourselves burdened with whatever is taking our eyes and attention away from Jesus, get off the highway and move over to the two-lane road.  There’s lots to experience when we focus on Jesus.  And there’s lots to see when we take the time to look.

Don’t believe me. Believe God.