Being reconciled to God an invitation to exercise your faith.

We know that God loves everyone .. He said so in His Word - but this wonderful truth has been twisted to mean that He would never limit His grace by claiming Jesus is the only way to be saved. Jesus said: I am the WAY, the TRUTH .. and the Life - READ John 14:1-13 ..

Why did Jesus have to die? Why must you and I have to accept Him as our Savior in order to be reconciled to God? Bible Study: Luke 17:11-19 .. find out in your heart where you fall in the story.. Ten (1) leprous men stood at a distance ( which the law required them to do ), begging Jesus to have mercy on them. The Lord instructed them to show themselves to the priests—the health inspectors of sorts in the Old Testament - the priests are the ones who could pronounce the disease healed or not (Lev. 14:7). Ironically, even amazingly - Jesus did not heal them on the spot. WHY? .. because they were being invited to exercise faith, as none were yet “clean.”

Picture these lepers, hobbling, limping .. some with visable decaying limbs and rotting skin, all the stink and smell of uncleanliness .. going to show the priests that their leprous bodies had been healed - when they weren’t yet healed? That’s why it’s called faith. But as they obeyed, the hobbling and limping became less noticeable, and their skin started to renew itself, as the power of the living God marvelously regenerated their bodies.
Jesus wanted them to personally experience faith, which is an invitation to join God in a miracle. JESUS IS EXTENDING THE SAME TO YOU RIGHT NOW! We step out in faith, and Jesus will meet us .. Yet in this parable - only one leper, when he realized he had been entirely healed and made clean, was so overcome with joy that he rushed back to say THANK YOU to Jesus - ONLY ONE! .. And it was a Samaritan. Jesus tells the man, “Your faith has made you well.” What is the invitation in this word? What is meant by acceptance? If you are looking for "salvation of body and soul" .. this is your time.

Try To Reflect this Holy Week ..

1. Most of Jesus’ healings were instantaneous, but that wasn’t the case with the 10 lepers. How did the delayed cure build their faith in Him? How might your faith be  stretched or strengthened if you aren’t healed right away?
2. Though 10 men were healed, only one returned to give thanks. How many times over the last year has God answered a prayer of yours or given you some good  thing? How have you returned to Him in gratitude and thanks?
3. Jesus sent still-leprous men to report to priests that they’d been healed. Scripture tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Can you remember a time when you had to step out in faith and God met you there? In which areas is He currently asking you to walk by faith?

HOLY WEEK BEGINS - are you willing and ready?

“You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ” — 1 Corinthians 6:11
In Old Testament times, priests who had already been consecrated for service were still required to wash their hands in the courtyard of the Tabernacle before they dared to approach that holy place. In New Testament times, those of us who are born again in Christ are completely washed and consecrated to God by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Though we are "washed" in Christ, the Bible still encourages us to participate in moments of deep repentance and reflection for our sins.

…Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded…Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” ..  James 4:8-10
Let's try to begin this Holy Week "experience" .. with a symbolic washing of our hands .. as a way to spiritually prepare our hearts, thanking God for opening the door for you and I .. to seek His face, and then asking Him to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds - that we might hear Him speak today.
This experience is between you and God. Before you begin, take a deep breath, pause, and ask God to help you enter into a time of earnest reflection and prayer this Holy Week .. Ask Him to open your mind and heart to whatever He has for you each day of this week, and pray that He might help you more fully understand and appreciate the events of The Passion of Jesus Christ durring this passion week. We believe a fuller understanding of the sober events of Good Friday will lay the foundation for an even greater and more joyous celebration on Easter

Holy Week, Passion Week, Easter and You

We want to remind you that our special series of Passion Week devotionals begins here this week -

For centuries, earnest believers have observed the “Stations of the Cross” as a devotional exercise to reflect on the importance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I can remember for years as a child atending St. Gerards Catholic School .. Holy Week was a special time and good Friday is indelliably printed on my mind and heart .. as we attended services and contemplated the Stations of The Cross - Jesus journey to Calvary where He laid Himself down .. and allowed Himself to be nailed to the Cross - for you and me.

It took a long time for me to understand what that meant - WHY would He do that for me, as sinful as I am? We believe a fuller and beter understanding of the sobering  events of Good Friday will lay the foundation for an even greater and more joyous celebration on Easter Sunday - for you and your loved ones.

So please visit and study .. read and pray .. and ASK GOD to receive and have eyes to see - and ears to hear whatever God has for you this year at Holy Week .. 

Give, and it will be given to you - Today is Your Day

Luke 6:38 (NIRV)
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good amount will be poured into your lap. It will be pressed down, shaken together, and running over. The same amount you give will be measured out to you.”

Our God is a God of abundance and blessings! He wants to pour out His blessings on you until you are so full that you are running over!

But, notice how today’s verse starts - It says, “Give and it will be given to you.” That’s because your giving sets in motion the blessings of God in your life. When you give, you plant a seed. If you were to plant an apple seed .. you wouldn’t just grow and harvest one single fruit .. that one seed grows into a tree that produces an abundance of apples - Mature apple trees typically produce 440 lb of apples each year. Trees grafted on dwarfing rootstocks will produce about 180 lb of fruit per year.

The keyword is "mature" .. That’s what happens when you obey God in your giving. You get an abundant harvest in return. You reap so much that you have to give it away, and the cycle just keeps repeating itself!

Is there something the Lord is telling you to give today? What do you have in your hand that you can bless someone else with? It can be financial or material, but take a step of faith today and open the door to His abundance in every area of your life!

Act of Contrition - Memories of my Catholic Youth

An Act of Contrition - Good Friday Prayer

O, my Lord Jesus, One with The Father .. I am heartily sorry for all the times I have offended thee .. 

I detest and repent of all my sins ...

Because of your sacrifice and punishment, which was borne by you ... and most of all because I know you paid the price for all my sins ...

Lord Jesus - I know you alone are all-good and deserving of all my love...

I resolve this day .. with the help of Your grace, to turn away from my sins and sin no more .. and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

Thanks You Jesus for dying on Calvary's Cross for me!

Don’t stop .. keep going .. never quit ..

Don’t stop, keep going, never quit .. a timely message today! April 10

For consider Him who has endured... so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. HEBREWS 12:3

From Today's Winning Walk message by Dr. Ed Young.

In the race of life, Jesus Christ is running with us. He is not only the starter of our race, He is our pacesetter, our encourager, and our partner. We live the Christian life not by our own effort, but by His strength. In Him, we are never alone. Without Him, we are easily discouraged, and tempted every day to quit. When I was a boy, I took piano lessons...but not by choice. My mother made me take them, and I quit as soon as I could. (Maybe you did, too.) But I remember a story about another boy who had real talent. His mother encouraged him to keep on playing when the scales got boring and the work was hard. When a world-renowned pianist came to their city, this mother took her son to see him play. She thought it would inspire him to continue. As the crowd gathered in the concert hall awaiting the performance, the boy wandered up to the stage to see the great, shiny, grand piano. Quietly, he made his way up to it, and very quietly started to play...chopsticks. The murmuring crowd quickly hushed, then began to protest. “Get that kid down. What is he doing up there?” The great pianist heard the commotion, and entered from the wings of the stage, putting his arms around the boy’s from behind. First, he joined in the boy’s simple song, then he began playing beautiful music, fabulous chords, part of a concerto...and it was wonderful. The whole time he played he whispered in the child’s ear, “Don’t stop, keep playing, never quit.” When you want to quit, remember, the Lord Jesus has His arms around you, and He is whispering in your ear: “Don’t stop, keep on, I believe in you.”

Catholic Church Catecism - Deception, Truth vs The Bible

I grew up as a Catholic, born in 1949 - and in my earliest days of school we were taught from something called the Baltimore Catecism - and my research and disputes for all Catholics is posted here for all to read and pray about .. my research says since its 1885 debut, the Catechism commissioned by the Third Council of Bishops in Baltimore has instructed generations of Catholic faithful - like myself growing up - may have supplied an easy to read question and answer format, but the Catechism combines a whole bunch of "Catholic doctrinal teachings" ( men's ideas, thoughts and organizationa guidelines ) ..  with little meaningful exposure to  Biblical Scriptural Truth .. yet a summation of many practical applications - not necessarilly backed up by what I read in my Bible.

Over time .. I hope to add some of the areas I have come to doubt .. and better understand .. through no help from The Catholic Church?  I recall times when I heard Catholics profess the thought - "if you are not Catholic then you are going to hell " ...  so in this blog .. I'll post and you decide ..

6. Q. Why did God make you? ...  A.. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

The Bible says:

Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Isaiah 43:7 - Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Ephesians 3:9-10 - And to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

The Term "Church" from Scripture .. 
The word translated "church" in the English Bible is ekklesia. This word is the Greek words kaleo (to call), with the prefix ek (out). Thus, the word means "the called out ones." However, the English word "church" does not come from ekklesia but from the word kuriakon, which means "dedicated to the Lord." This word was commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple. By the time of Jerome's translation of the New Testament from Greek to Latin, it was customary to use a derivative of kuriakon to translate ekklesia. Therefore, the word church is a poor translation of the word ekklesia since it implies a sacred building, or temple. A more accurate translation would be "assembly" because the term ekklesia was used to refer to a group of people who had been called out to a meeting. It was also used as a synonym for the word synagogue, which also means to "come together," i.e. a gathering. "Body of Christ" Since believers have been united with Christ through spiritual baptism, they are sometimes corporately referred to as the body of Christ. (Rom. l2:4-5; 1 Cor. l2:11,13,l8,27; Col. l:l8; Eph. 5:30) The idea seems to be that the group of Christians in the world constitute the physical representation of Christ on earth. It is also a metaphor which demonstrates the interdependence of members in the church, while at the same time demonstrating their diversity from one another. (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 12:14-17)

If one goes to .. and does a "keyword search" for the term = Catholic - this is what you get - No results found.

9. Q. What must we do to save our souls? ( emphasis by me - Get To Heaven? )
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.

The Bible Says: ( Top Seven Answers )

Romans 10:9-10  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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9   For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John 6:28-29   Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 3:16   “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 3:36   Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 14:6   Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Titus 3:5-6   He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy   Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

NOTE:  I could not find any answers related to - (a) recieving any sacraments? (b) confessing sins to any priest?

10. Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe? 
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

Note: I wonder what happened to God's Word?

11. Q. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths which the Church teaches in the Apostles' Creed.

NOTE:  The Apostles' Creed sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or "symbol". It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists.

Sounds like the Roman Catholic Church is still saying what it has always professed in my lifetime - The Church has all the answers

.. and their "priests" ( sinners just like us ) .. they have the right answers - and NOT THE BIBLE? I remember my mother telling me that they could not read and interpret God's Word - but that they needed the "priest" to explain and interpret God's Word from Scripture - seems to me the Roman Catholic Church is still trying to tell us that today?  .. they have the answer and everyone else is WRONG!  

The Catholic Church teaches that the 7 sacraments are signs of grace, instituted by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church ( NO ONE ELSE? .. Only The Roman Catholic Church? ) , by which divine life is dispensed to us .. and the visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions... whatever that really means? .. and by whose interpretation? Men? God?
The Catholic Church "lays claim" of and by itself ...
that it alone is the universal sacrament of salvation, the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church in the strict sense are seven sacraments that "touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith". The Roman Catholic Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for "salvation" ( No Where To Be Found In The Bible ) .. and although according to The Roman Catholic Church - not all are necessary for every individual, and has placed under anathema those who deny it: "If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; though all (the sacraments) are not ineed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."

NOW FOR THOSE OF YOU IN RIO LINDA ... "anathema"  means .. a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine.
The Church further teaches that the effect of a sacrament comes ex opere operato, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. ( If that were Satan Himself .. I guess this means it's "all good"? ) However, a recipient's own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the sacrament in that person. The sacraments pre suppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the sacraments as follows: The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

Personally, I like what Paul says in Philippians 3:4-11 (NIRV) ..
4 I have many reasons to trust in my human nature. Others may think they have reasons to trust in theirs. But I have even more. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am part of the people of Israel. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a pure Hebrew. As far as the law is concerned, I am a Pharisee. 6 As far as being committed is concerned, I opposed and attacked the church. As far as keeping the Law is concerned, I kept it perfectly. 7 I thought things like that were for my benefit. But now I consider them to be nothing because of Christ. 8 Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is the best thing of all. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can get to know Christ. 9 I want to be joined to him. For me, being right with God does not come from the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God. It is received by faith. 10 I want to know Christ better. I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. 11 Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead.

Who Is Jesus? .. Good man or GOD?

Who Is Jesus?

Jesus was a good man .. but He was more than a Good Man. If you are searching and want to know more about Jesus .. or hear about who He really is, then it is our belief .. you have come to the right place - and We Believe God Brought You Here!

If you are "seeking truth" and trying to find more about why people say that "Jesus Saves" .. we trust God that you can find theat truth and the right answer - Here. Every church known to mankind has some answer to the question - Who is Jesus? The Baptists, The Catholics. The Muslims, The Budists, The Evangelicals, The Hindu's - they all have some answer.

In Islam, Jesus is known as Isa and is one of God's highest-ranked and most-beloved prophets. The Bahá'í Faith consider Jesus to be a manifestation of God, who are a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world. Judaism considers Jesus to have been simply a man and not the Messiah. Other world religions such as Buddhism have no particular view on Jesus, and have but a minor intersection with Christianity.

The real Question is this - Who do you say that Jesus is? It was with that brief question that Jesus Christ confronted His own followers. The most important question and issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. They actually witnessed many "miraculous events" .. the blind gaining new sight, the lame began walking, the dead raised to new life .. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teaching - and He asked them - Who do you say I AM .. Who Do YOU SAY Jesus is? Your response to Jesus call will determine your values and lifestyle, but YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY .. as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Jesus .. 

JESUS IS GOD - While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn't decide or didn't care. But Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" ( John 10:30 ). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh. Many people today don't understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They're content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to be the Great "I AM" .. That's why they tried to stone Him to death ( John 5:18; 10:33 ) and eventually had Him crucified ( John 19:7 ).
C.S. Lewis observed, "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to" (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41). You decide for yourself - If the biblical claims of Jesus Christ are true, then He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY - God is absolutely and perfectly holy ( Isaiah 6:3 ), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil ( James 1:13 ). As God, Jesus embodied every element of God's character. Colossians 2:9 says, "In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form." He was perfectly holy ( Hebrews 4:15 ). Even His enemies couldn't prove any accusation against Him ( John 8:46 ) God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
JESUS IS THE SAVIOR - Our failure to obey God .. to turn from our sin and to be holy and righteous through His Blood - places us in danger of eternal punishment ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God ( Ephesians 2:1-3 ). The Bible calls our rebellion "sin." According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: "There is no man who does not sin" ( 1 Kings 8:46 ). "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" ( Romans 3:23 ). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." That doesn't mean we're incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we're utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one" ( Romans 3:10-12 ).
God's holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: "The soul who sins will die" ( Ezekiel 18:4 ). That's hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That's why simply changing our patterns of behavior can't solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy - Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" ( Acts 4:12 ).
Even though God's justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: "Christ ... died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God" ( 1 Peter 3:18 ) . Christ's death satisfied the demands of God's justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him ( Romans 3:26 ). John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." He alone is "our great God and Savior" ( Titus 2:13 ).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH - Some people think it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless. If you take poison - thinking it's medicine - all the faith in the world won't restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you're trusting in someone else -- anyone or anything else - for your salvation, your faith is useless. Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" ( John 14:6 ). He didn't claim to be "one of many equally legitimate paths" .. to God, or the way to God for His "day and time only" -- Jesus claimed to be "the only way" to God, then and forever.
JESUS IS LORD - modern day thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him. The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything ( John 1:3; Colossians 1:16 ). Therefore He also owns and rules everything ( Psalm 103:19 ). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship. Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority ( Philippians 2:10-11 ). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son ( Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31 ).
True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness ( Isaiah 55:7 ). Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" ( John 14:15 ); and "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine" ( John 8:31 ). It isn't enough to believe certain facts about Jesus Christ .. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God ( James 2:19 ), but they don't love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True "saving faith" always responds in obedience  ( Ephesians 2:10 ). Jesus is the "Sovereign Lord" of All - When you obey Him you are acknowledging His "Lordship" and submitting to His authority. That doesn't mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.
JESUS IS THE JUDGE - All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: "God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" ( Acts 17:30-31 ). Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of Our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND? - This Is The Only Question You Face of "eternal consequence" ..  Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge. Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you by His Blood and free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose.

Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Thought Conditioners - a Goldmine of Gems, Pearls and Wisdom

Years ago I received a little booklet entitled - THOUGHT CONDITIONERS - by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. I must admit, I was excited to recieve it because I was a salesman and was well familiar that Mr. peale was a formidable author of "positive thinking" ideals .. goal setting, as I was familiar with his book - The Power of Positive Thinking. This booklet turned out to be a goldmine full of nuggets of Wisdom .. exactly what I needed at this point in my life - as I was going through one of the darkest and gloomiest times of my life - getting a divorce, starting a new career and so much more. Bottom Line - God Used This Booklet over and over again in my life for the past 35 years!

Back in the day I would struggle to read articles by people like Og Mandino who wrote The Greatest Miracle in the World .. The Greatest Salesman In The World .. David J. Schwartz who authored The Magic of Thinking Big .. and others from past years like Art Linkletter, Robert Schuller, Paul Harvey,  Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and others who periodically wrote articles for Success Magazine or other publications to which I subscribed. In recent years people like Joel Osteen, John MacArthur, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Ed Young, Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D. have all helped in my day to day struggles - because they all directed me to the ONE BOOK I could never get away from .. because everything seemed to turn me back to the single-most positive thinking publication I had ever held in my hands - THE BIBLE .. authored by and through The One Who Spoke The Whole Universe Into Existence - Almighty God!

The fact is that God is The Most "prolific writer" of positive thinking ever! God is "well known" .. and is by far the most positive thinking motivational speaker one could ever listen to. God goes beyond positive thinking in ways we cannot comprehend. God is also the very best and most positive motivator - and promises success through His Word - The Holy Scriptures and through The Word Made Flesh - Jesus Christ, His Son!

Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

I Do Not Understand Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

The following message was delivered on July 22 by Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel, just days after the deadly theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. It is taken from a posting on Bible Gateway.

It was the worst mass shooting in American history – 70 people shot by a gunman, 12 of them killed, while they were watching the midnight showing of a new movie just 21 miles from where we’re sitting. There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have – and will – go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why did God allow this?”

This has been a heart-rending summer for Colorado. First came the wildfires, which ravaged the houses of hundreds of our neighbors – and prompted many of them to ask the question, “Why?”

And those two tragic events are on top of the everyday pain and suffering being experienced in individual lives – maybe including yours. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. And perhaps you’ve been asking the question, “Why? Why me? Why now?”

That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Several years ago, I commissioned a national survey and asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?” Incidentally, I did find an interesting statistical quirk – people who are married were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering. I’m just sayin’.

But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when they strike you with full force or they come to a loved one. And Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being illusions, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he said it is going to happen.

But why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow the gunman to spray the Aurora movie theater with gunfire just two days ago?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And frankly, the people suffering from the Aurora tragedy don’t need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that so many churches and ministries of this community are helping them experience that.

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. Friends, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. Let me give you an analogy.

Once Leslie and I were driving from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin, which is that thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. We were driving up the highway in the dark, when it started raining heavily and we hit dense fog. I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road. I couldn’t stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end us. It was frightening!

But then a truck appeared in front of us and we could clearly see his taillights through the fog. He apparently had fog lamps in front, because he was traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and I knew if we could just follow those taillights, we’d be headed in the right direction.

And the same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

What are those points of light? Let me go through five of them that I’ve personally found helpful whenever I’ve been prompted to ask the question, “Why?” The first point of light: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did they come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice.

If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love. When my daughter was little, she had a doll with a string in the back, and when you pulled it the doll said, “I love you.” Did that doll love my daughter? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to have been able to choose to love or not to love. Again – real love always involves a choice.

So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.

Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.

In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old cartoon said: “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”

The Bible says it’s because of sin that nature was corrupted and “thorns and thistles” entered the world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In other words, nature longs for redemption to come and for things to be set right. That’s the source of disorder and chaos.

Let’s make this crystal clear once more: God did not create evil and suffering. Now, it’s true that he did create the potential for evil to enter the world, because that was the only way to create the potential for genuine goodness and love. But it was human beings, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into reality.

Some people ask, “Couldn’t God have foreseen all of this?” And no doubt he did. But look at it this way: many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course — but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.

Now, the analogy is far from perfect, but think about God. He undoubtedly knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him — and it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great pain and suffering to achieve their redemption.

So, first, it helps me to remember, as I ponder the mystery of pain and evil, that God did not create them. The second point of light is this: Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.

He does this by fulfilling His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Notice that the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that he promises to cause good to emerge. And notice that the verse doesn’t say we all will see immediately or even in this life how God has caused good to emerge from a bad circumstance. Remember, we only see things dimly in this world. And notice that God doesn’t make this promise to everyone. He makes the solemn pledge that he will take the bad circumstances that befall us and cause good to emerge if we’re committed to following Him.

The Old Testament gives us a great example in the story of Joseph, who went through terrible suffering, being sold into slavery by his brothers, unfairly accused of a crime and falsely imprisoned. Finally, after a dozen years, he was put in a role of great authority where he could save the lives of his family and many others.

This is what he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And if you’re committed to God, He promises that He can and will take whatever pain you’re experiencing and draw something good from it.

You might say, “No, he can’t in my circumstance. The harm was too great, the damage was too extreme, the depth of my suffering has been too much. No, in my case there’s no way God can cause any good to emerge.”

But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said to me when I was researching my book The Case for Faith: God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide, or the death of God on the cross — and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?

He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.

Now, the third point of light: The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.

A lot of times you’ll hear people say: “If God has the power to eradicate evil and suffering, then why doesn’t He do it?” And the answer is that because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it. You know, I wrote my first novel last year. What if someone read only half of it and then slammed it down and said, “Well, Lee did a terrible job with that book. There are too many loose ends with the plot. He didn’t resolve all the issues with the characters.” I’d say, “Hey – you only read half the book!”

And the Bible says that the story of this world isn’t over yet. It says the day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be held accountable for the evil they’ve committed. Justice will be served in a perfect way. That day will come, but not yet.

So what’s holding God up? One answer is that some of you may be. He’s actually delaying the consummation of history in anticipation that some of you will still put your trust in Him and spend eternity in heaven. He’s delaying everything out of His love for you. SecondPeter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”To me, that’s evidence of a loving God, that He would care that much for you.

Point of Light #4: Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers.

I certainly don’t want to minimize pain and suffering, but it helps if we take a long-term perspective. Look at this verse, and remember they were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness and far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure. These are his words:

Second Corinthians 4:17: “For our light and momentary troubles” — wait a second: light and momentary troubles? Five different times his back was shredded when he was flogged 39 lashes with a whip; three times he was beaten to a bloody pulp by rods. But he says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Paul also wrote Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Think of it this way. Let’s say that on the first day of 2012, you had an awful, terrible day. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist and the ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car and had no insurance. Your stock portfolio took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. From start to finish, it was like the title of that children’s book: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

But then every other day of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your relationship with God is close and real and intimate. A friend wins the lottery and gives you $100 million. You get promoted at work to your dream job. Time magazine puts your photo on its cover as “The Person of the Year.” You have your first child and he’s healthy and strong. Your marriage is idyllic, your health is fabulous, you have a six-month vacation in Tahiti.

Then next New Year’s Day someone asks, “So, how was your 2012?” You’d say, “It was great; it was wonderful!” And they’d say, “But didn’t it start out bad? Didn’t you go through a lot of trouble that first day?”

You’d think back and say, “You’re right. That was a bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. It was hard. It was painful. But when I look at the totality of the year, when I put everything in context, it’s been a great year. The 364 terrific days far outweigh the one bad day. That day just sort of fades away.”

And maybe that’s a good analogy for heaven. Listen to me – that is not to deny the reality of your pain in this life. It might be terrible. It might be chronic. My wife Leslie has a medical condition that puts her in pain every single day. Maybe you’re suffering from a physical ailment or heartache at this very moment. But in heaven, after 354,484,545 days of pure bliss — and with an infinite more to come — if someone asked, “So, how has your existence been?”, you’d instantly react by saying, “It has been absolutely wonderful! Words can’t describe the joy and the delight and the fulfillment!”

And if they said, “But didn’t you have a tough time before you got here,” you’d probably think back and say, “Well, yes, it’s true that those days were painful, I can’t deny that. They were difficult, they were bad. But when I put them into context, in light of all God’s outpouring of goodness to me, those bad days aren’t even worth comparing with the eternity of blessings and joy that I’m experiencing.”

It’s like the story that British church leader Galvin Reid tells about meeting a young man who had fallen down a flight of stairs as a baby and shattered his back. He had been in and out of hospitals his whole life — and yet he made the astounding comment that he thinks God is fair. Reid asked him, “How old are you?” The boy said, “Seventeen.” Reid asked, “How many years have you spend in hospitals?” The boy said, “Thirteen years.” The pastor said with astonishment, “And you think that is fair?” And the boy replied: “Well, God has all eternity to make it up to me.”

And He will. God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever. Let the words of First Corinthians 2:9 soak into your soul: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” That’s absolutely breath-taking, isn’t it?

Finally, Point of Light #5: We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage.

We’ve all seen examples of how the same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter, to reject God, to become hard and angry and sullen, can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and more loving and more tender, willing to reach out to compassionately help other people who are in pain. Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair; another turns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

As one philosopher said: “I believe all suffering is at least potential good, an opportunity for good. It’s up to our free choice to actualize that potential. Not all of us benefit from suffering and learn from it, because that’s up to us, it’s up to our free will.”

We make the choice to either run away from God or to run to Him. But what happens if we run to Him?

I started this talk with part of what Jesus said in John 16:33. Now let me give you the entire verse: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

In other words, He offers us the two very things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. How? Because he has conquered the world! Through His own suffering and death, He has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn’t have the last word anymore. Death doesn’t have the last word anymore. God has the last word!

So let me finish the story of Leslie and I driving through the fog in Wisconsin. We were following the taillights of that truck when the fog slowly began to lift, the rain began to let up and we entered a town with some lights – things were becoming clearer, we could see better, and as we rounded a curve, silhouetted against the night sky, guess what we saw? We saw the steeple of a church and the cross of Christ. After driving through the confusion of the fog for so long, that image struck me with poignancy I’ll never forget. Because it was through that cross that Jesus conquered the world for us.

As that wise man once said to me: God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. Are you broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are you despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do you cry out that you can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray you? He was sold out. Are your most tender relationships broken? He loved and He was rejected. Did people turn from you? They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper. Does He descend into all of our hells? Yes, He does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: “No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” Every tear we shed becomes his tear.

And then the wise man told me this: it’s not just that God knows and sympathizes with you in your troubles. After all, any close friend can do that. Any close friend can sit beside you and comfort you and empathize with you. No, Jesus is much closer than your closest friend. Because if you’ve put your trust in Him, then He is in you. And, therefore, your sufferings are His sufferings; your sorrow is His sorrow.

So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.

As I’ve been saying, all of us will go through pain and suffering. But let me end by going back to this specific tragedy that took place two days ago in Aurora. For all the things it leaves us confused about, one of the truths it clearly illustrates is that life is so fragile and short. These people were going to a movie! They had no clue that this might be their last moments in this world. Friends, in this sin-scarred world, we never know when death will come knocking. Often, we don’t get any warning when a heart attack strikes, or when a drunk driver crosses the centerline, or when a wildfire sweeps through a canyon, or when an airplane loses power. And so the question I’m compelled to ask you is this – “Are you ready?”

One of the first verses I memorized as a Christian is 1 John 5:13: “These things I’ve written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”

God doesn’t want you wondering. He doesn’t want you steeped in anxiety over whether you’re headed for heaven. His infallible, inerrant Word says you can know for sure.

Don’t rely on the fact that you come to church or you’ve gone through some sort of religious ritual in the past. The Bible is clear that we can be religious but not be in a relationship with God. Religious activities and affiliations never saved anyone. Salvation comes from knowing Christ personally and receiving His provision for YOUR sin and YOUR future. It comes from making him YOUR Savior, by asking Him to forgive YOUR every sin, and by asking Him to lead YOUR life.

But it doesn’t happen automatically. It doesn’t come by attending a great church, or being baptized, or taking communion, or hanging out with a bunch of Christians. It comes from deciding in your heart that you want to turn from your sin, to stop trusting in your own resources, and to accept the forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross and is offering you as a free gift. THAT is how you gain God’s peace and confidence.

So settle it now! Resolve this today, at this moment, so that if tragedy were to strike, your eternity with God would be secure. I don’t know all the ways God is going to draw some good from this Aurora situation, but wouldn’t it be something if He were starting right now, with you personally, and using this message to bring you into His kingdom at this very moment? Let the pain of that tragedy open your heart to Christ. Let’s take what was intended for evil and watch God start creating something good from it.

Pray with me right now to receive Christ – so that you can know for sure that even if the very worst thing were to happen to you after you leave the auditorium today, it will immediately be followed by the very best thing of all.

Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the unique Son of God. I confess to You that I’m a sinner. In repentance and faith, I reach out right now and receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that You graciously purchased on the cross when You died as my substitute to pay for all of my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, lead my life – because from this moment on, I am Yours. I pray this in Your name. Amen.


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