Tag Archives: gospel

Victory is Yours

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It was a crucial point in the ministry of Jesus. The man of ultimate betrayal, Judas, was about to be outed. But he isn’t the only one who has committed such sin. We too, every time we commit sin, are betraying God. 

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” John 13:26-27

Every person in this world is tempted with sin from Satan. For some of us, the temptation is great and the sins we commit are publicly destructive. These can be things such as sexual immorality, abuse, or drunkenness. For others, they are much more slight. These can be things such as lying, cheating on taxes (or a test), or watching pornography. Sins come in many shapes and sizes but in all them, we are betraying the God that loves us so much he sent his own Son down to this earth to die in our place.

“Sins come in many shapes and sizes…”

So how are we to overcome such things? Is it actually even possible to overcome these things? The answer to both of those questions is yes; for some people some of the time and some people all of the time. Let me explain:

Judas was tempted to betray Jesus with just a small amount of money. But that was the temptation, not the sin. The sin was not committed until later when he actual turned Jesus over to the men seeking to arrest him. Now you can argue (which I would probably agree with) that once Judas’ plot to turn Jesus in became his intent, that was probably a sin. But, the real turning point was in John 13: 27 above. At the point Satan entered Judas, there was no turning back.

What about us?

We are presented with temptation all day, every day. This comes as imagery, past desire, other people that are bad influencers, and so much more. If you are not a Christian, ultimately you have no power to deny Satan (and the sin) because he is the ruler of this world (see 2 Cor 4:4). That doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t deny sin, it just means that Satan has ultimate control and his desire is to see you sin against God and others.

If you are a Christian, you are faced with the same types of temptations as everyone else. You may try to avoid them by taking yourself out of specific environments or remove them from your life because that’s the “Christian thing to do” but those things are man-powered and as you saw in the paragraph above, man-powered only lasts so often and so long. But! BUT! You have the ability to deny Satan and deny the temptation before you sin, not because of who you are but because of what Jesus has done and what he has made you to be. This is a massive, and often times overlooked part of the victory Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. The cross just wasn’t for the forgiveness of sins (though that alone would have been amazing), but the power to overcome them and deny them before they even happen.

Because of Jesus’ victory on the cross, victory is yours too!

So what am I saying? Here are a few takeaways that I would love you to read through and pray over:

If you are not a Christian

  • Now is the time for you to make that decision. Maybe God led you to read this post so he could open your eyes to the fact that he has done it all for you and is asking you to accept him as your Savior. And if you do make that decision, or think you would like to, contact me and I would love to talk it through with you.

If you are a Christian

  • Is there any temptation in your life that you have been trying to deal with on your own?
  • Have you been open and honest with another Christian brother or sister about your struggles?
  • Are the Christians you have shared with trying to give you worldly advice or God’s word? (advice may help, God’s word is guaranteed to)
  • What sins have you determined as “just part of who you are”? (you never have to accept that)
  • Pray, pray, pray and ask God to take it away
  • Look ahead and see sins coming. Ask God to help you avoid them and then obey his guidance.

I didn’t intend to write this blog today but as I was reading Scripture and praying through it in my own life, I think it just had to be said. I have some great friends struggling in some of these areas and it hurts me so bad to see them like this. And if you are reading this post and struggling, it hurts me to know it too.

If there is anything I can do, please let me know whether you share it here or contact me directly through the contact page above.

God bless you!

 


No Pressure

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In many Christian circles highly pressured calls to salvation are the norm. Sometimes they are done in the midst of a church service as an altar call. Other times they are public evangelism efforts. Even others, people push to get every person they share the gospel with to pray a prayer of salvation.

In many of these instances I have personally witnessed people being encouraged, excited, enticed, and even coaxed to respond to the call being given. Too often, the purpose of these things is to feed the ego of the person giving the call or wooing the crowd get people to make a public proclamation of what they just heard before they leave the presence of the one giving the call. Now before I ruffle every feather of every person reading this, let me clarify a few things:

  • I believe that when done in proper biblical context, public calls to salvation are very necessary for sharing the gospel
  • I believe men like Greg Laurie are gifted to share these kinds of messages and encourage heartfelt responses to the gospel
  • I believe there are many other men and women with similar gifts that do so with great awareness of their actions and opportunities

So why did I start with negatives if I believe in the three statements above? Because way too often we think we are the final word in unbelievers coming into a personal relationship with Christ. We put so much emphasis on our responsibility to share the gospel and on the need to bring all to salvation that we miss the greater point. Here is a wonderful example from scripture where I think you will see where I am going:

Early in John chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. As they are in conversation, Jesus makes it pretty clear that He is the Messiah (“I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26). Now let me say this. I do not think that Jesus was weak in His evangelism. He was solid and knew how to tug on all the right strings when necessary. So here Jesus is, the super-evangelist, and the women gets away without praying her prayer. Yup, in John 4:28 it says that she left her water jar and ran into town to tell a whole bunch of people what happened. But there is no evidence to show that she actually came to salvation. As a matter of fact, I think there is more evidence to the contrary. In verse 29 of the same chapter she is quoted as saying “Can this be the Christ?”. So she didn’t personally believe. Jesus had a chance with this woman right in front of her to get her to proclaim Him as Lord and He let her go (because He is perfect and knows perfectly what to do). Additionally, after the woman runs into town to tell all the people what she had heard, John records this from someone in the crowd:

“It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

They no longer needed some person (the woman in this case) sharing their information, because God Himself allowed them to personally know who Jesus was.

So why then do we push so hard to get people to the “decision”? Is it for ego’s sake? Is it because we believe this is what we are called to do? Or is it something else? I think we need to examine our hearts and determine why it is we believe what we believe about the way in which people come to salvation. For me, I hold to the firm belief that God does ALL THE WORK before we ever share with that person as well as during the time we are sharing and after we are done. Now this definitely doesn’t mean I should just sit and do nothing. It means that:

  • I can freely share without the worry of “doing it right”
  • I can continue loving that person and believing God can save them even if they reject me
  • I do not have to get creative in order to share the gospel (ok, sometimes getting creative is fun)
  • I do not have to stretch or distort God’s word in order to lead unbelievers to Christ (yup, people do it)
  • I get to be blown away by the fact that God would use me to assist Him in doing a work that He can do all Himself

So go and share the amazing news of the gospel. Share it freely and trust that God has prepared you (and that person) for whatever may come as a result.

There is no pressure in that!

 

 


Silence Isn’t Always Golden

“I neither know nor understand what you mean.” Mark 14:68. This wasn’t the last time we would hear of the apostle Peter denying Jesus. And it really got me to thinking that silence isn’t always golden (regardless of what they say in the movie theater).

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For the apostle Peter, he was in great fear of what people would think, or do to him, if they found out he associated himself with Jesus. And that was a crucial time as just a few feet away, Jesus’ enemies had arrested him and were torturing him. Still, Jesus desired that all of His people would proudly proclaim His name. It was such a big deal to Him that in Mark 8:38 He said that being ashamed of Him would result in eternal consequences.

More and more, Christians get real quiet when they talk about Jesus. Not God so much because He is a universal language in many people’s eyes, but definitely the name of Jesus. And the greatest bit of silence happens in the business world.  People try and find secret small groups to join so they can vent their Christian beliefs in relation to their business, or so they can figure out how to wedge Jesus into their business without offending someone else. 

What about you?

Are you a Christian that openly speaks about your faith in Jesus or do you keep in quiet? Look, I don’t think it is appropriate to shove Jesus in everyone’s face. I also don’t think it’s appropriate, or even God glorifying, to shove Jesus into every conversation you have just for the sake of doing it.  But I do think that God has called you to where you are for His glory. God divinely orchestrates every conversation (yup, every one of them). God puts people in places of authority and influence. God allows people to see you succeed and fail. God does all of this so that the people on the receiving end may see some reflection of Him in your words or actions. 

By keeping quiet about Jesus, you are denying God the opportunity to use you in encounters with others and you are claiming shame, not joy in being a Christian.

I am thankful that God see every one of my shortcomings. I am thankful that even when I don’t do all that I can to glorify Him, He still loves me. And I am especially thankful that Jesus, in His infinite grace, will continue to use me to glorify Him anyway.


Live God-Centered

I recently contributed a blog post to the For His Glory Community Church website. If you have ever asked yourself what it looks like to live God-centered, I suggest you follow this link.

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If You Can’t Beat Em, Join Em

If-You-Can't-Beat-Em-Join-EmThis post was inspired by a recent sermon I preached on the same topic. It can be found in it’s entirety by clicking here.

Don’t you hate it when people want you to take their “side”? They argue just for the sake of arguing.

I am sure there was a time in the not-so-distant past when the majority of people actually respected each other’s opinions and feelings, but today people are much more concerned with us knowing their opinion and making their opinion ours. You know what I’m saying right? You’ve probably been baited into one of these conversations (more like one way transmissions) lately.

“It’s the Angels. THE ANGELS! Hamilton, Pujols, and Trout! Amazing offense, phenomenal defense. Don’t you know anything about baseball? You’re team is terrible. The Angels are the best!”

or

“What? How can you say that about our president. He is doing everything he can to improve our country. He has done his best to clean up all the old messes and move us in the right direction. You’re ignorant if you don’t feel the same way!”

Has someone made one of those statements to you? Maybe it wasn’t about politics or sports, but there are an unlimited number of other things people try to “push” on us. I can’t tell you the last time I had a conversation with someone that didn’t include them trying to sell me on their opinion or idea. I mean how dare they try to tell me I am wrong and they are right. Why can’t they understand that I have a brain? I have a heart, an opinion, and a point of view too!

Then it hit me! I too was that person. I began to realize that every time I got into a conversation with someone, I was trying to share force my beliefs with on them. For me, the topics have ranged from business success strategies to politics to Christianity. Too often I would take these “conversations” to a whole new level. I would get my sword and my shield out to prepare for the fight I was willing to start…..and win.

It wasn’t long before I began to see what I was doing to others. I was doing the very thing that they were hurting me with. I made them feel like their opinion didn’t matter. I made them feel stupid for thinking their way was even remotely possible. So what would it take to change the way I engaged others with my opinions and theirs? Simply, instead of trying to fight with them I decided it was time to join them. Not to take their side and compromise my opinions or beliefs for theirs, but to come to their side with an open mind and attempt to learn the who, what, and why of their point of view.

This type of approach is especially important when it comes to the topic of Christianity. It is hard for me to admit this as a pastor, but most Christians do a terrible job of listening to what non-believers (people that are not Christians) have to say. They don’t seem to care about the thoughts and opinions of those outside their circles and it is such a shame for a multitude of reasons:

  • Typically more of the goings-on in a city happen outside the church circle than inside it.

  • There is much wisdom to be learned about the local church from people that don’t participate in the church circle.

  • When trying to engage the culture outside the church, it is important to know what the culture is all about.

  • Just because God knows everything doesn’t mean Christians do!

As a Christian, I think it’s time we go right to the word of God and see how God calls us to engage in conversation with people of other opinions and beliefs. In Acts 17:16-32, the Apostle Paul steps into a cultural context with which he doesn’t have much favor, and instead of putting up a fight with them he talks their talk. Paul spent time in the city of Athens sharing his heart for Jesus while listening to what they were saying. He apparently studied what was of importance to them (Acts 17:28) and he showed respect for them (Acts 17:22). Paul didn’t walk into Athens with guns ablazing but instead took his time to share in an effective manner. Surely he wanted to do his best to get his message across clearly and not jeopardize his opportunity by upsetting his audience.

What about us? How can we take a different approach to the same old fights?

When people are hanging out in the local bars until all hours of the night drinking and having a good time, don’t immediately attack their actions by labeling them horrible sinners. Maybe in fact they are there because that is where they have found a strong community of friends who don’t instantly judge the book by it’s cover.

Or the next time a conversation comes up on the topic of same-sex marriage, listen intently to why the defending party believes their side is the right side. Maybe it is due to the fact that they don’t believe in God at all. In that instance, fighting with them about God’s definition of marriage is pointless.

It’s not to say that we should never fight for what we believe is right. But each of us must do a better job of learning more about the other side of every opinion and belief. You never know when stepping to the “other” side wins that person right back to your “side”.


I’m Going on a Missions Trip

Summer is coming and churches everywhere are preparing their teams for missions trips. Maybe it’s a high school
group, a college group, or just a mish-mosh group from church that has a heart to go and reach an impoverished or unreached people group.

The planning and preparation required to go on a foreign missions trip can be so intense. Logistics, finances, passports, and clean bills of health. Who wants to go? Who can go? Will they get together all they need to in the amount of time they have to?

But what about the rest of us? What will we do this summer? Well as for me, I’m excited to say I’m going on a missions trip too. What’s crazy is I’m actually not going out of the country though. I’m not even leaving the state. Most likely, I won’t even be leaving southern California. So how do I claim to be going on a mission’s trip if I’m not really going anywhere? I think Jesus has my back here because He said…

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

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Did you catch that? He said Jerusalem. And He was talking to a bunch of guys in……yep you guessed it, Jerusalem. Now, I am in no way discounting the amazing and overwhelming work that needs to be done all throughout the world. There are people groups all over that have never even heard the gospel. How will they ever meet Jesus if someone doesn’t tell them (Romans 10:14)? We must go to them. It’s not even an option but a necessity. I have gone to a foreign country on mission and it was an amazing blessing. And I will go again too! My heart is for the gospel to go to all the world. But what I am not going to do is miss out on my opportunity to go on a missions trip every day for the rest of my life.

I have family that needs Jesus, I have neighbors that need Jesus, I live in a city with surrounding cities that need Jesus. And others that don’t need to meet Jesus (because they already know Him) still need the love of Jesus. There are people within my local reach that need food, money, and care for the things they are struggling with. I don’t want to miss those opportunities because I’m in my Jerusalem.

What about you? Are you going on a missions trip this summer? If you are, I pray that God provides all you need to get where you want to go and that your trip is a magnificent work of God. But as you prepare, don’t miss the mission that God has you on every day. If you’re not going on a trip, realize that God already has you on mission right where He has sovereignly placed you. He is going to put before you opportunities every single day to be His hands and feet. I encourage you to look for those opportunities always, in everything you do. At home, at work, and at the grocery store.

You never know when your missions trip to the mall ends up being a life changing moment for someone God has divinely caused you to collide with.


Is Enough Really Enough?

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“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” Luke 22:42-44

Do you ever experience those times when you just don’t want to deal with it (whatever it may be) anymore? I mean seriously, are there things going on in your life right now that have been going on for some extended period of time and you can’t help by cry out to God “ENOUGH ALREADY”? Maybe you are sick and your body is not recovering? Maybe you have been out of work for some time and there are no new jobs in sight? Maybe your spouse has neglected you for too long? Maybe your finances are in despair? Maybe your heartache is just too strong? Maybe a family member is dying? You see, the list goes on and on and at some point, we will all find something we can associate with. Life really hurts sometimes and there are things thrown our way that just don’t make sense. Nobody wants to suffer yet it seems to be a part of who we are as humans.

But look at the verse above in context. Jesus goes up to the Mount of Olives to pray. And while Jesus made prayer a regular part of His life, you get a sense that He had specific purpose behind this one. The weight of what He was facing must have been extremely heavy. I mean think about it. The sins of the world were going to rest on His shoulders. The salvation for multitudes was going to be gained.  It got to be so heavy that Jesus cried out to God, ENOUGH ALREADY!

But He didn’t stop there.

He completed His sentence by saying; but if you want me to endure this trial then I will see it through. We would expect there to be this aha moment where Jesus is burdened, He asks God to take it away, God doesn’t, and then there is great rejoicing. But it doesn’t play out that way, most likely because that’s not how these things practically play out in our own lives. We are hurting, we are struggling, and we want God to take it away so we ask. But God says no or sits silent at times and we continue to struggle through it. This is reality. And this was Jesus’ reality too. He asked God to take the burden (coming crucifixion) away if it was His will and it wasn’t so Jesus knew He would have to continue to endure it. This caused Jesus more agony, to the point of sweating blood. So what’s my point? Well two things really.

  1. When we hurt and struggle it is ok to hurt and struggle. We have feelings. We have desires. Nobody wants to suffer. It feels much better to be in good health with good wealth and have a good relationship with God. It is ok for us to want to feel good all the time but that’s not always reality.  When we don’t feel good, be encouraged in knowing there were times Jesus didn’t feel good either. Just don’t let that suffering control your life or your relationship with Jesus. In His time He will answer.
  2. Even though you may think where your at is enough, God may have different plans. He won’t break you so trust that He has you there for a reason. Could you imagine what would of happened if God’s answer to Jesus’ question in Luke 22:42 was, “ok, I will take the cup from you?” We would all be destined for hell! Thankfully that is not the case. God knew that Jesus had to endure for our sake. There are things that God is having you endure for the sake of yourself or others around you. Trust God. Submit to His will. I can confidently say that He knows much better than we do!

My prayer is that if you are in the midst of suffering right now, you would have someone to practically lean on. If you don’t have someone or can’t find someone then I ask you to follow this link as I would be honored to come alongside you in prayer. The Bible says we are to bear the burdens of one another so never feel scared or ashamed to reach out to others. It’s what God wants!

We know how the story ends with Jesus and it is pretty awesome. As a child of God, your story will end pretty awesome too!


Tell It

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

Could you imagine if all you ever heard was Jesus?

There are over 250 million proclaimed Christians in the United States. I’m not going to debate that number (even though I could) but use it to show something quite shocking. Stats on the web show that in order for a topic to trend on Twitter, it needs approximately 30 tweets every 5 seconds. If approximately 500,000 people tweeted once per day something about Jesus, He would never leave number one. Jesus would be the most talked about (trending) topic on Twitter every single day. And that’s only 500,000. Could you imagine if 1 million people tweeted something about Jesus. What if 100 million people tweeted Jesus? Instead of Jesus, we get trending topics like #20ThingsIDontLike or #TheEndofTheWorld #122112. Those are recent topics that have trended on Twitter. Other days, it’s the name of the latest celebrity that got pregnant, the most recent famous couple to get a divorce, or both. For a while it was all politics. Food probably lands there from time to time. It is just ridiculous to think that anything other than Jesus would be number one.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, your Savior if you call yourself a Christian. Through none other will you receive the eternal security that you so dearly hold on to.

So how about personally? What do you like to talk about? What trends in your life? As Christians, we are called to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are we glorifying God when we spend so much time talking about the things that we do? I know I’m not.

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Now let me take a breath for a second so I can say that we don’t need to run around saying Jesus with every breath (though that would be cool). God isn’t asking us to only wear clothes from Christian companies, read books by Christian authors, and watch corny Christian movies (ok, that’s a joke). But really, we just need to think about the things we do and what topics are at the top of our life.

So what do I do to make sure Jesus trends in my life?

I try to wake up every morning before my family gets up so I can pray for 10-15 minutes and then I read my Bible. Sometimes it is a specific devotional (like the Live Second book) while other times I just get into a chapter of the Bible and read a few verses.

I use social media as a tool to share about my faith in and life with Jesus. Not every post has Jesus in it, but I want to be transparent in communicating how I live my life so people see the real me and that Jesus is real in my life.

Professionally, I own my own business so I have a little more liberty than some may to share their faith. All my colleagues and business partners know I am a Christian because I tell them so. I’m the guy that doesn’t drink at business functions and doesn’t cuss with the other guys (and some girls) at networking events, not because I’m a holy roller but because I want to set myself apart from the world when it comes to those things. I have a platform to speak to others and do so with the utmost honesty and integrity so God willing, people see Jesus in me.

The Christian life is not easy. Glorifying God in all you do isn’t automatic. It takes full dependency on the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to let Jesus trend on Facebook, Twitter, at the dinner table, in the grocery store line, while on the job or at school. He is definitely worth the placement!

Thank you for joining me as I shared my story. Now it’s time to share yours.

 


After

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

The day after…

“But it is a simple story of what we have seen and heard that people want to hear most.” Live Second, page 78

I really wish I would have read that simple part on August 14, 2006 (the day after I got saved). Instead, I took matters into my own hands and began slashing everything that wasn’t “good” for me. You have to know me a bit to know how true this statement is but to explain it best, when I do something I do it with radical abandonment. Remember my gambling problem in my “Before” story? Yup, go big or go home. So I took that same tact when I became a Christian. No drinking, no friends that were bad influences, no this, and no that. I didn’t want to associate at all with the past. The problem was that I was still at the controls. I could only last so long steering that ship in the storm until I lost control again. I didn’t really have anyone discipling me and was left to what I thought I knew about being a Christian and what I was hearing in church week in and week out. Another part of the problem was that I was in church some Sundays hung over from the night before so I couldn’t hear half of what was being said. I was still blind, leading my own blind self!

That changed shortly before the following August when my wife and I decided to get baptized. God began working in my heart to show me that He needed to lead and I was just to follow. It was a tough concept but one that made a whole lot of sense. If I couldn’t do it before, I couldn’t do it now. I mean that’s why I accepted Christ in the first place.

We enrolled in a new believer’s class at our church and began to learn the foundational aspects of Christianity. I started to see how I could apply what I was learning to my life by letting God lead. We enrolled in another class a few months later to get deeper in the word and prayer. I started memorizing scripture. My radical behavior started being used to pursue Jesus. I was soaking things up like a sponge.

Fast forward to August of 2011 where while sitting in Haiti on an 8 day missions trip, I was presented with an opportunity to pray about planting a church with a pastor I had grown to love (the same pastor that was guest speaking the first day I went to church and got saved).

Fast forward to August of 2012 where  I entered a Biblical theology and pastoral training program with Mars Hill Church in Seattle as I began seeking to answer the calling I believe God has on my life. Just two weeks later my family would embark on a journey to help plant For His Glory Community Church in Claremont, California (www.forhisglorycc.org) where I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as executive pastor alongside two of the most Godly and amazing men I have ever met.

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What have I learned (and am still learning) along the way?

  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8)
  • When God wants us, He will grab onto us and not let go (Daniel 4:35)
  • We must allow Jesus to be Lord over our whole life (Romans 10:9)
  • No matter where we are in life, God’s plans are greater and He will blow our minds (Isaiah 55:8)
  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8) YUP, I SAID THAT ONE TWICE

Join me tomorrow for “Tell It”, the next chapter in my story.


The Moment

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

“Those of us who follow Jesus have all had a moment of realization.” Live Second, page 77

In a moment my eternity changed!

It would be cool to say I had an apostle Paul moment (“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me.” Acts 22:6 ESV). I mean seriously! Well I can’t say that happened to me. Actually, there really wasn’t anything tangible about my experience that day. But to give you the best perspective, I have to back up a few days.

The week leading up, I was in Chicago on a business trip (I’m from So Cal). On the last night a big group of us went out and partied pretty hard. We got back to the hotel, went straight to the bar and proceeded to continue the festivities. I was hanging with the guys and flirting with the girls while overindulging in cocktails until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully I made it to my room solo and crashed for the night. But I woke up to a different sense than I had ever felt. It was as if I knew I needed to change something. A little bit of what my friend Dean had shared with me over the years started clicking. On the plane ride back home, I started asking questions of one of the guys I was on the trip with who was a Christian and lived it well. He was a great husband and father. I asked him what the whole church thing was about and what it meant to be a Christian. You see, I grew up going to Catholic church and made most of the sacraments but I never got it. It wasn’t ever real to me. Darren had a great way of politely sharing things and this conversation was no different. He didn’t lay down the law and tell me give up my junk, he just shared a few basic thoughts and told me to find a Christian church close by my house so I could hear for myself.

The night I got home I shared with my wife that I felt like it was time to check out the whole “church thing”. She agreed and we figured we would go that Sunday. My friend Dean had been telling all about how great his church was and it was close by our house. He shared about how good the pastor was and how laid back the church was. But when I told him we were going that Sunday, he said he had other plans. That could have easily derailed the process as my wife and I were going to have to go on our own but we figured we might as well give it a go anyway.

That Sunday morning we walked into Calvary Chapel East Anaheim and were excited to see what Christianity and the hyped-up pastor were all about only to find out the pastor was out of town. Now for anyone that has invited a friend to church, you never want the pastor to be gone when the new people show up. I mean the guest pastors are never as good, right? Wrong! The Bible says in Isaiah 58 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” God knew exactly what He was doing that morning. The assistant pastor spoke and nobody else had to be in that church that morning. His message was clearly from the Holy Spirit, through the pastor, to me. I heard in a gracious and loving way how everything I was doing was so backwards but in Christ, it could all be redeemed. I heard that it wasn’t too late for our broken marriage. I heard that by accepting God as my Father, I could become the image of Him to my daughter.

There was no altar call.

There was no call to pray a prayer.

But God was calling me to Himself. I could feel it and I had to respond.

In a quiet moment inside my heart on August 13, 2006 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Join me tomorrow for “After”, the next chapter in my story.