Monthly Archives: December 2011

An Honest Look at Lying

Liar liar, pants on fire!  Everyone knows the saying right? We hear children on the playground shouting this at each other or maybe your kids have said this to you after telling them a nursery rhyme or a “fib.”  Let’s be honest, we have all lied at some point but why do we do it?  For my last post of 2011 I’d like to take an honest look at lying. 

Speaking from personal experience I would say the main reason people lie is either to make themselves look more impressive to someone or to cover up something they’ve done that they are ashamed of.  Either way we are giving a false representation of who we actually are.  So why do we constantly feel the need to make ourselves appear better than we are?   

“Be yourself” and “be real” are very popular words of advice these days.  There’s so much talk of “fake” people.   Everywhere I go someone is gossiping about someone else saying “they’re so fake.”  So who are the “real” people? Don’t we all put on some fake representation of ourselves when we go out into public?  Aren’t we all somewhat fake? People can get so obsessed with what others think about them.  After typing that statement I quickly felt the urge to let you all know that I’m no different and with that proving my own worries of what others think of me.  We all want to fit in and we all want to be accepted.  Does this lead us to lie?  Shouldn’t it be the opposite?  It’s quite paradoxical—we lie to be accepted but nobody wants to accept a liar.  So by lying aren’t we just digging our own grave?  We tell one lie and that leads to another, which leads to another, and another, until there’s no truth left in anything were saying.  It’s a terrible trap that we could easily avoid if we just don’t lie to begin with. 

As Christians we know we should not lie and it tells us this many places in the Bible. 

Thou shalt not bear false witness!” (Exodus 20:16)

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” (Prov 12:22)

We also know that if we do lie we should quickly confess.

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Prov 28:13)

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:15)

After Jesus had been taken prisoner Peter lied three times to people denying he ever knew Jesus.  Why did he do it?  Can’t we all relate to Peter sometimes?  I’m going to be honest here and admit that I have lied before to get out of having to talk about my faith.  I did just last week actually.  It happened so quickly I did it without even really thinking about it.  For work I deal with a lot of musicians and most of them guys.  I have a recording studio at my home and in the past—my pre-Jesus days—I’ve kept a few “girlie magazines” around.  After committing my life to Christ I threw these magazines away.  I had a past client in last week that asked me where the magazines were.  Immediately with almost no prior thought I lied and said I had given them away.  This was not true at all.  The truth is I threw them away because I take the problem of sexual immorality and pornography very seriously.  I will not have those magazines in my house anymore because I am a Christian and try my best to follow the moral law that God has given us.  That is what I should have told him but instead I made up a lie to avoid talking about Jesus.  It seemed like such a small little innocent lie but the Holy Spirit did not think so.  Immediately conviction set in and guilt arose.  The incident has crossed my mind quite a few times since and hence I decided to write this post.   

I’ve come to realize that it’s just not worth it to lie about anything… ever.  The Lord has set me free by forgiving me of my past sins so why do I want to put myself back into the pit by lying again?  One of the most amazing gifts we get with the decision to follow Jesus is peace from the past.  I have finally moved on and put my past self away.  I’m living in light now but how quickly my flesh wants to throw me back into darkness.   I refuse to live there and I encourage you to do so as well!  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and he also said “the truth will set you free.”  He was so right.  He was right about everything he said.  Instead of “liar liar, pants on fire” the saying should be “the truth, the truth, sets my heart on fire” for Jesus that is. With 2012 approaching it’s the perfect time to start over.  It’s time for New Year’s resolutions and I have figured mine out: to live in the truth that is Jesus Christ!  I hope you’ll join me!  Happy New Year everyone and God bless 2012!

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:8-14 NIV84)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Life Is What You Make of It: It’s Your Choice

Every day in life we face choices. We are all human and are all capable of making our own decisions no matter how old. From the minute we wake up in the morning to when we lay our heads down at night, our entire day evolves around us making decisions. We make decisions on what to eat, when to get out of bed, when to be productive and when to be lazy. We decide who we will spend our time with and how we will spend our time. I love the saying “life is what you make of it” because in a big way this is true. A lot of things happen in life that are completely out of our control but we have a choice on how we react to these situations. I’m sure you would agree that the choices you’ve made in the past have had a great impact on where you are in life today and that our choices will continue to have an impact on where we end up.

In Matthew chapter 4 we read of Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee when he saw two men fishing. Jesus said to them “Come follow me and I will show you how to fish for people!” These two men—Peter and Andrew—were faced with a choice. They fished for a living so they were basically in the middle of work here when a man they’ve never met before walks by and tells them to follow him. I like to think about what I would do in their situation. What would you do if you were in the middle of work and a stranger walks by telling you to follow him because he wants to teach you to fish for men? I would definitely be intrigued and curious but I don’t know if I would follow. I honestly would probably ignore the man. It would most likely depend on a lot of circumstances such as how busy I was, his appearance and just what mood I was in. That day Peter and Andrew made a choice that would change their lives forever. The Bible tells us they left their nets at once and followed Jesus.

What was it that led them to make this choice to follow Jesus? Maybe they could sense something good in Jesus? Perhaps they were bored with their everyday lives and had a feeling inside that there was something more, or perhaps it was just their own curiosity. I believe they could sense something right in Jesus. I believe it was a spiritual choice and something in them told them it was the right decision. I believe they could sense the truth in Jesus and they knew this is what they had been waiting for. I believe they felt this way because that is how I felt when I was called to follow Jesus. When I was offered the choice to follow I just went for it. I didn’t stop and break it down intellectually. I didn’t say, “Give me a day or two to think about it.” I felt that it was right and I made the choice to follow. My life has never been the same since.

Now later in my walk with Jesus I realize the decision to follow was not a one time thing. Everyday I wake up and have the choice if I’m going to follow Jesus today or not. We cannot just get “saved” at a Harvest Crusade and then pop right back into our old ways. This is not following Jesus. This is not what we were called to do!

Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Everyday we face choices. Today I choose to follow Him. Today I say: I am yours Lord! Today I seek a closer relationship with Jesus and pray that my passion would only grow by tomorrow because tomorrow I will be faced with the same choice—to follow Jesus or to follow myself.

“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently do we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17)

Who do you choose to follow today?

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

The Gift of Peace

This Christmas Eve there’s a word that has a new meaning in my life.  I have always known the definition of this word but I have never truly understood it.  This word is peace.

Jesus said: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” (John 14:27)

This Christmas I have a new found peace in my heart that I did not have last year.  I say a new “found” peace but I was not looking for it.  The truth is I didn’t think I needed peace.  The truth is I thought I was doing just fine.  For many years I celebrated Christmas and viewed it as a good time to get together with family.  I would usually go attend a church service because it was the traditional thing to do and it made my mom happy.  I knew that Christmas represented the birth of Jesus, but I was more interested in many other things than religion and really didn’t put too much thought into it.  I was content with not knowing what I believed.   I was your average American just trying to get by in life one day at a time.

Then something happened, something I cannot easily explain.  Something supernatural, unexpected and not of this world happened—peace found me.  Jesus found me.  We often hear the phrase “found Jesus” but this is not correct.  Yes, I made the decision to take a step of faith and dedicate my life to Jesus, but it was by the power of the Holy Spirit which reveals truth that I made this decision.  The Spirit of God awakened me to the truth and it was like a light bulb that came on.  A beautiful life giving light!

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  (John 8:12) 

I never realized how much in the dark I was until I was walking in the light.  I think this is the problem with so many people.  So many of us just accept life as it is and think “well I guess this is the best it gets.”  I urge you to not settle.  There is a longing in all of us to seek truth.  God places this longing in us.  I believe this is the power of the Holy Spirit which sparks our desire to seek God.  Follow it.  Open your heart.  Let Jesus find you.

Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20) 

So this Christmas Eve I have a new peace in my heart and for this I rejoice and say: Praise the Lord!  Although, with this peace comes a new restlessness—many of my friends and family remain in the dark.  I see suffering with a new compassion now.  I must spread the light!  I am a walking testimony that there is joy in Christ!  Jesus lives!! Peace is knocking at the door and all you need to do is answer it.  So this Christmas I pray that you would get the best gift anyone could ever give you—the gift of everlasting life, hope, peace, joy and love.  This gift the Father offers us through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ.  This gift is offered to us for free because the price has already been paid.  All you need to do is take a step of faith and open the door.  So what are you waiting for?

Merry Christmas everyone!


God as a Last Resort

Have you ever faced a life threatening situation? Have you ever been so scared that in a single instant your entire life flashes before you? Have you been involved in a difficult trial or task of life where you feel as if there’s no one else to depend on except for yourself? Life is unpredictable and every now and then a seemingly normal day can suddenly turn into a “once in a lifetime” experience that we will never forget. Some of these experiences can be good, some of them traumatizing and some of them life threatening. We never forget these moments. I can bet you’re thinking of one or two that you have experienced yourself right now.

When I was a young teenager I would go to the beach a lot in the summer. I enjoyed going out in the ocean and going body boarding or “Boogie boarding” as some call it. One seemingly normal day I was out in the ocean like usual trying to catch some waves. Out of nowhere a larger and stronger set of waves started to come in. These weren’t tidal waves or anything—they probably weren’t much bigger than 3-4 feet. I caught one and rode the wave a little ways and then it broke. Those of you familiar with surfing, body boarding or just swimming at the beach know that even a 4 foot wave can have a very strong current and undertow. As the wave broke it sucked me under. Suddenly other waves were breaking on top of me. I was being swung around under the water by the ocean’s current and could not reach the surface to take a breath. Finally the waves calmed and I was able to come up. It seemed like I had been under the water for five minutes but in reality it was probably only a few seconds.

From this experience I’ll never forget the fear I had when I was under the water. It was a fear of not being able to breathe but even more a fear of losing my life. In situations like this adrenaline kicks in and your brain kind of goes into auto pilot. One thing I’ve noticed with myself is that when my brain kicks into these auto pilot situations it also kicks into auto pilot prayer. In those few seconds I was under not only was my entire life able to flash before my eyes, but I was able to pray like I never have before for the help of God.

Often in my life as a “non-believer” I would find myself in situations like these, whether it be a life threatening situation or just a dramatic life issue. In these moments my brain would always kick into auto pilot prayer. I can’t speak for everyone and say that everybody does this, but I have heard many people say while they were not confessed believers of God in certain profound situations they’ve found themselves praying. Why is this? I think it’s because our hearts know God is there. Our hearts can sense we are not alone but maybe our upbringing, culture or science education has told our minds otherwise. The auto pilot inside of us has an urge to cry out to God but our minds try and tell us He is not there. I would like to urge you to listen to your heart with this. God is there and He would like to have a relationship with you.

Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

Jesus is here now and wants to help you through even the small parts of your life. He tells us that you can find rest with Him! He will bear your burdens and help you through everything. I’m thankful I have Jesus to take up my yoke with me. I don’t know what I did for so many years without Him. He brings peace and joy to my life and can do the same for you. So I encourage you to involve God in the small details of your life, not just the dramatic ones. Don’t leave God as a last resort, talk to Him right now.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Who Really Knows?

Ever since I was a young boy I have gazed up at the stars time and time again with amazement. The site of a clear sky at night is so beautiful. It is something I don’t think any human could live their life without recognizing. With technology we have been able to learn more about the universe and the stars. We learn how big the universe is and it leaves us feeling quite small in comparison. We learn of millions of stars, other planets and galaxies. From what we know we could conclude that the universe is endless right? How could it have an end? Would the stars just stop somewhere and become nothingness? It’s very easy to have your breath taken away by what we know and even more by what we don’t know about the universe. People are often stopped in their tracks while gazing at the sky and say: “Wow, who knows?” We are but a speck in the universe right? Or are we more?

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The Skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…” (Psalm 19:1-4)

The book of Genesis tells us the earth was created three days prior to the sun, moon and stars. The stars were created to provide the earth a calendar system (Gen1:14) and perhaps even more importantly to reflect the glory of God to man (Psalm 19, Rom1:20). When I look at the stars and reflect on how big our universe is I think wow that’s God! Think about it; what could reflect an infinite, all powerful being like God more than a limitless, never ending universe? God would never limit the universe because He himself is limitless. The more we study the universe the more we realize how many little precise circumstances had to come together to make life possible. The stars, the universe and the complexity of life in itself make me wonder how anyone could ever say we are here by mere chance. How can someone believe that all this just popped into existence with no cause? Even when I was not a Christian I could never honestly call myself an atheist because of this reason. I cannot accept the belief that we are an accident. Life is far too complex and perfectly engineered to have just happened.

When people look up in the stars and say “there’s no way we are alone” they’re right! We’re not alone. We are with God and every time we look at the sky, or mountains, or a new born baby we are seeing the glory of His creation. Watch the video below and then tell me it’s all an accident.

We’re not an accident. We are not alone. Who really knows? God knows and He speaks. The Lord says:

“Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores.
I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?
As the light approaches,
the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal;
it is robed in brilliant colors.
The light disturbs the wicked
and stops the arm that is raised in violence.

“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
Have you explored their depths?
Do you know where the gates of death are located?
Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
Do you realize the extent of the earth?
Tell me about it if you know!

(Job 38:2-18)

I’ll be the first to admit I do not have all the answers. There are a lot of things we don’t know or understand but God does! So many men act like we know it all just because we’ve studied science. The study of the creation does not disprove the creator.

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

(to read more on why we can trust the Bible to be God’s word from a scientific standpoint read my blog: “Is The Bible The First Science Book”

“It’s ok to kill a baby in the womb when _______?”

First I would like to say that I did not create this blog as a place to debate controversial Christian issues, but more as a place to talk about issues that stem doubt in the Christian faith. However I do realize that it is often the biblical view of controversial issues themselves—such as abortion and homosexuality—that have caused many people to doubt Christianity. I have heard many non-Christians state that they feel the Bible has oppressive views on matters that have now become morally acceptable in our culture. They say Christianity holds back the development and evolution of humanity. The problem here lies in this disagreement: non-believers think they can be the judge of themselves and make up in their mind what they feel is morally right or wrong, while believers think it is up to God to tell them what is right or wrong. Obviously if you don’t believe in God then why would you think you should have to listen to a law given by God? The problem with the non-believer’s system is trying to decide what man is worthy enough to make the moral laws for society. If God is thrown out the window because of unbelief then what man can rightfully make a decision on what is morally acceptable to another human being? The answer would be no one man is righteous enough to make the moral law of others. So to make things fair in comes our system of democracy, where we as a collective group of disagreeing individuals get to cast our vote for what we think is right and majority rules. With this system comes debates and arguments with the motivation of hopefully persuading someone of the opposite view to change their mind and move to the stand point in which you believe to be right. With that introduction I would now like to talk about—and defend—the biblical view of abortion.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jer 1:5)

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

“From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:10)

These are a few of the verses in the Bible that clearly state life starts in the womb. I think that all people whether a believer or non-believer in God would agree that life starts in the womb. Of course it does. A baby is clearly a life before it is born. The question pro-choice activists bring up is: When does the fetus become a human life? Where can we draw the line? Is there anywhere the line can be drawn? Isn’t there life from the second a sperm fertilizes the egg and becomes an embryo?

The video below is of mathematician and scientist Alexander Tsiaras showing newly documented footage of life in the womb that was just recently made possible with technology advancements. This man has written algorithms for NASA and is obviously quite educated. With all his studies of science and mathematics he looks at this new data of life in the womb and cannot describe it as anything else than “divinity.”

Life is so amazing right? After watching this video I personally do not see how anyone could think something as complex and miraculous as life itself could against all odds come from nothing. That idea in itself is such an unscientific theory. From this video we see that at only 25 days a heart has begun to develop and by 32 days we see it beating. This is clearly a living human being and not just a disposable fetus. How could anyone argue and say that something with a beating heart is not alive?

You could say it’s a woman’s body and she has the right to decide. So because the baby will be developed within her body this woman then has the right to kill her unborn child? I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense. We as humans are the only creatures that are smart enough to control our own reproduction. So I do believe the woman has a choice. She has the choice to have sex or not. She has the choice to use birth control or not. She has the choice to give the baby up for adoption or not. She should not have a choice to kill her unborn child. Where is the child’s choice in this? Aren’t you glad your mother didn’t abort you? If you’re still not convinced then please watch the video below:

So in the words of Ray Comfort:

“It’s ok to kill a baby in the womb when ___________?”

The answer is never. I am not trying to instill guilt on anyone who has voted pro-choice in the past or anyone who has had an abortion but I am trying to raise awareness to the severity of it. The fetus is a human life. There’s no arguing this. Maybe today you’ve been shed a new perspective on this subject that you never saw before. If you’ve had an abortion before then know that God is merciful and He will forgive you if you seek to get your heart right with Him. It’s not too late to change your mind. Please vote pro-life.

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Lest You Forget!

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” (Deut 4:9)

In my last post I wrote about how when God feels distant He is in fact near. It’s very easy to look around in the world we are in and feel as if God is nowhere to be found. There’s so much suffering and evil that we say “where is God?” Our feelings make us angry and we start to blame God for our situations and we then start to doubt His existence. Our feelings will often lead us to make bad decisions. We cannot trust our feelings but we can trust God! God has placed us in these situations to help. We are to be the light of the world. The compassion you feel in your heart for the suffering of man is a gift from God and is in fact the compassion He shares with you. Act on it! Do not let your feelings distract you from carrying out God’s will. Do not let your feelings tell you God is not there for this is a lie! Satan would love nothing more than to blind you by his own corruption of man into thinking God does not exist.

“I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help.
You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me. ”

(Psalm 77:1-9)

When I read this psalm I cannot help but think about the state of our own country and the fact that so many people reject God’s existence because of suffering. Has God forgotten to be gracious? Have His promises failed us? Has He forgotten us? This is not the case at all! The problem lies in the fact that so many of us have forgotten God. We live in what many have called a post-Christian country. We are in the midst of postmodernism where anything goes and nobody is sure of any truth. You could say this is good in the sense that people are shying away from the ridiculous idea that science disproves God and are realizing that we will never be able to objectively prove the cause of our existence through scientific studies. The problem is people have gone the same way in a spiritual sense. Anything goes now and pluralism is all the rage. People are making up their own religions left and right. All paths lead to the same place right? I will only partially agree with that statement and say that all paths lead to the same God. All paths lead to the one true God—Yahweh the God of Israel and our Lord Jesus Christ! Psalm 77 continues to say:

“But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”

(Psalm 77:13-15)

God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and how soon they forgot Him. While Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days getting the Ten Commandments from God the Israelites became impatient and insisted on making up a different god to lead them. They took their own possessions of gold rings and melted them down to form a gold calf to worship as their new god. They had forgotten what God did for them and began to worship their own material possessions.

Why is it we humans insist on learning from our own mistakes rather than learning from the mistakes of others? Look at our countries current state. We are a country that was founded and created off of Christianity. Our country thrived and grew into a great nation! Have we now forgotten what God did for us? Have we began to worship our own possessions as the Israelites did?

The Christmas season is upon us and many employees of corporations can only say “happy holidays” because that’s considered politically correct. What happened to freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Statistics say 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas so where is this oppression of using the term “Merry Christmas” coming from? Has Christmas been transformed into a non-Christian holiday that is only about getting gifts? Have we forgotten God? Have our parents failed to teach us? Have you failed to teach your children? It’s not too late. Tell someone of the good news of Jesus Christ this “holiday season.” Remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was sent to earth and died for the sake of you and I. He suffered and paid the price so that we might be saved. Remember Jesus this year. There’s only one reason for the season! Join me in putting the Christ back in Christmas. Join me in saying Merry Christmas everyone!

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

When God Feels Distant

Spiritual experiences can be amazing! Our deep spiritual moments are all personal and unique and are a big way we as Christians get to experience God. In case you are not brushed up on your “Christian-ese” we often call great spiritual experiences a “mountain top experience.” The background to this saying is from Mark chapter 9 where Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain. There they saw Jesus transfigured in all His glory. The bible says: “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” I can only imagine what this might have looked like to the disciples; such an amazing experience that could not be justly described in words I’m sure. The bible states that Peter not knowing what to say asked Jesus if they could stay there. He wanted to build three tabernacles on the mountain. He was so amazed by what was going on he didn’t want to leave. Just after that the bible says: “And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” After this experience Jesus brought them down the mountain and immediately the disciples run into trouble. They come across a demon possessed boy and they cannot cast out the demon. Jesus out of frustration says: “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” He then casts the demon out Himself.

I can relate to Peter in this story a lot in the sense that I often wish we could just live on the mountain top. I have had some experiences where I feel so close to God and His presence is unmistakable. These experiences are amazing and very encouraging. During these experiences I wish I could always feel this way—much like Peter wanted to stay on the mountain—but the truth is we are not meant to live on the mountain. The mountain top experiences help inspire us and drive us so that we can live fruitfully in the valley. We absorb the light on top of the mountain and are to bring it back down to the valley, where we live to be the light in darkness.

I’ll be honest and say that sometimes God can seem quite far away. I don’t know why this is. I know the Bible states that He is always with us and I know that He is, but I do not always “feel” this way. Often God can feel shrouded. Spiritual highs are often followed by spiritual lows. This process tests my faith and can be very trying. The best thing to do is to take these experiences and learn from them. We are to learn not to depend on our feelings but on our knowledge of Him. From the mountain top we learn of who Jesus is. We are to take this knowledge back to the valley where we live in confidence knowing He is there even if He “feels” distant.

Jesus says to His disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” If you’re a Christian living in a dark valley today then rejoice! Know that this is where God has placed you. It is His will to have you there so that you can be a light to the darkness. Sometimes we might feel like there’s nothing that could be done in the situation we are in to please God but Oswald Chamber’s has written: “Never allow this thought—’I am of no use where I am,’ because you certainly can be of no use where you are not!”

The Father said: “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” The Son said: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). So even if Jesus may feel far from you know that He is in fact near. His presence is in the present. He was and IS and is to come!

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me

(Psalm 23:1-4)

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Back To The Basics: The Simple Meaning of Life

Today the Lord has put it on my heart to go back to the basics. We as humans love to make everything so complex but life does not have to be so confusing. Life really is what you make of it. I wouldn’t doubt that you’ve heard this message before but today I ask you to try and listen with fresh ears and an open heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

I’m sure you would agree with me that there is something wrong with humanity. There is an evil that corrupts man. I’m sure you would also agree with me that we have something called a conscience which lets us know in our hearts what is morally right and wrong. I believe our conscience is a gift from God and through our sense of right and wrong we can also sense an ultimate good. This ultimate good is God and He instills in us a longing to find Him and search for Him. C.S. Lewis and others have argued that if there is no such thing as a spiritual side to us then why do we have a spiritual longing? If life were meaningless then why do we have something inside of us that tells us otherwise and leaves us searching for the answers?

God has given us the answer. He has revealed Himself to us through His word—the Bible. God sacrificed His son Jesus so that you and I could be saved. This was the only possible way we could be made right with God who is everything good. Every man has his sins upon him but by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified we can be forgiven and reconciled with God. Because of God’s love for you and I He was willingly and brutally murdered on the cross so that our salvation could be justified. Jesus was then resurrected from the dead to show that He is all powerful and that He is God and not even death has control over Him. God out of His amazing love offers us salvation for free because He has already paid the price but people constantly reject this gift. Why? I think it’s because people over complicate it and make God into something that He is not.

Often I’ve heard people reject the idea of the gospel because they say: “What about little Joey on a deserted island out in the middle of the ocean that has never heard the news of Jesus?” I say don’t let a made up stranger that has not heard the good news keep you from accepting it. The Bible mentions many times that God’s judgments are just. From knowing this you don’t have to worry about little Joey. Situations like that are rightfully left in God’s hands.

I don’t think the problem lies in that people have not heard the Gospel but perhaps it’s the opposite. They have heard the Gospel so many times and rejected it so many times it’s lost its meaning and significance. There are bumper stickers, billboards and signs everywhere that say “Jesus loves you” but people see these and put no thought into the meaning behind it. I think many people have a completely distorted view of Jesus and Christianity. Much of this distorted view can be blamed on the church itself and the commercialization of Christianity. I urge you to not let other people give you your perspective of Jesus. Don’t believe the view you’ve come to have by watching hypocritical, judgmental Christians. Forget about any distorted, commercialized or religious view you may have of Jesus. Today I challenge you to find out for yourself who Jesus is. Pick up the Bible and read one of the 4 Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Pay extra close attention to the words of Jesus in red. Get to know the real Jesus and find out the true meaning behind all the signs declaring “Jesus loves you.” Albert Einstein—though never a confessed Christian—is quoted saying “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.” The only problem with Einstein is he was too analytical. He tried to intellectually understand God and break the system down into something like an equation. We will never fully understand God so please get this notion out of your head. Einstein and so many others take God’s simple system and make it too complex to understand by analyzing it. They then end up rejecting it because of their own misunderstanding of God. Let me try to put this into human perspective. Could an ant ever understand the way a human thinks and operates? The message of the Gospel is simple; it is man that makes it complex. Jesus loves you and wants nothing more but to wrap you in His arms and comfort you. He desperately wants to help you and bring peace to your life but you refuse to even acknowledge Him.

Today you have heard the Gospel. Today you are faced with a choice. Jesus said “He who is not with me is against me.” There’s no such thing as a half Christian. There’s no middle ground—though you may have made one up in your head to comfort you in your decision of rejecting Jesus. Please don’t say “I’m not ready.” What are you waiting to be ready for? Are you planning to wait until you’re on your deathbed and then you’ll try to reconcile with God? That’s no way to live your life. There’s peace and love waiting for you right now. Galations 5:22 says “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Who doesn’t want these things? I know there are people reading this that in your heart you feel this is the right decision to make but you’ve been fighting it. Perhaps you’ve been fighting it for years. Jesus through the Holy Spirit is speaking to you now. I urge you to go with your heart on this one. Maybe you’ve followed your heart before with other decisions and were left disappointed. Let me give you some very important advice: do not blame God for man’s shortcomings. He is always faithful and His promises hold true. Do not let your pain caused from corrupt humanity rob you of Gods greatest gift of salvation. If you say “this sounds great but I have too many doubts of God’s existence.” Don’t worry about your doubts, take a step of faith and allow God to deal with them. Through faith He will reveal Himself to you in a personal way, but if you don’t give Him a chance you might miss out on the most important opportunity of your life. Jesus said you cannot put new wine into old wineskins because the old skins will burst. I urge you today to shed your skin and try on something new. Try living life with Jesus on your side.

If you’re thinking this makes sense and you want to give God a chance then the next step is simple. You don’t have to go out and make a public announcement. The Bible says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NKJV). It’s just between you and Jesus from where you are at right now. You can ask Jesus into your life and we do that by prayer. I’ve written out an example of a prayer you could use below. If you feel this is the right decision for you then follow along and speak to Jesus.

Lord I realize I am a flawed human being and with that a sinner. We all are. With this realization I ask you Jesus to forgive me and help me. Walk with me through my life. I give my life to you so that you can bring life back to mine. Fill me with your Holy Spirit Father God and teach me to be a true disciple of Christ. From this day forward I will follow you. Amen.

If you have just said that prayer then know that God has written your name down in the book of life! All of heaven is rejoicing over your decision! The next step would be reading one of the Gospel books in the Bible and getting to know Jesus better. Build a relationship through prayer. He will guide you from there.

Thank you Lord for your word and thank you for the peace you have brought to my life! I pray for anyone reading this that you would speak to their hearts and draw them near to you so that they might experience the same undeserved grace you have shed so mercifully on me.

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]

Addicted To God

We live in a society today that is highly affected by addictions.  Some would say addiction is a part of human nature.  I would bet that anyone reading this has either suffered themselves from an addiction or has known someone personally who has.  Addiction is clearly not a new problem to the human race but is perhaps more of a problem now than ever.  People can get addicted to so many different things.  Alcohol, tobacco and drug addictions are probably the first that come to your mind but food, sex, pornography, gambling and even coffee addictions are just as common if not more.  The definition of an addict is someone who devotes or surrenders themselves to something habitually or obsessively.  I came across a blog by an atheist a while back that was comparing prayer to pornography stating that they are similar in the sense that they are both addictions because both acts are done habitually to create pleasure. While I do not agree with his statement—mostly because I do not believe prayer is an addiction but more of a discipline and Christians clearly do not pray only to create pleasure—it got me thinking can someone be addicted to God?

For the most part the word “addiction” is used in a negative sense but can there be good addictions?  You might say someone is addicted to studying or addicted to exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  I think there’s a very fine line in all these things where it’s ok to have good habits, but not to let these habits control your entire being so that they affect you or the people around you in a negative way.  Still with stating that I think it’s going to come down to personal morals and opinion as far as what can be considered an addiction and what—if any—addictions are good.

Now let me touch on physically unhealthy addictions, which I’m sure we can all agree on are negative addictions.  These are addictions like alcoholism and cigarette smoking that we have seen the unhealthy affects of again and again.  My wife and I recently lost a family member to leukemia and cirrhosis of the liver.  I cannot help but wonder how much alcohol played into the effect of his young, undeserved death.  I myself have struggled with alcohol abuse.  I am now sober but I will admit I had a problem with alcohol abuse for about ten years.  I had surrounded myself with friends who all drank about as much as I did so I had justified it in my mind thinking it was the norm.  I am now only 31 years old and have been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes.  Again I can’t help but wonder how much affect alcohol has played into my contraction of these two pandemic diseases.

So why do we let ourselves be taken over and controlled by substance abuse?  I can tell you from personal experience that addiction is not a thing that happens over night.  Addiction develops and I would go even further to say that to become an addict a person has to let it happen.  I knew I should not be drinking as much as I was.  I knew that I had a family history of alcoholism.  I knew the health risks involved with heavy drinking.  I didn’t care.  I liked drinking and even with all the warning signs I allowed alcoholism to develop within me.  It’s not that I volunteered to become an alcoholic but more that many times on the road there I could have chosen to turn around and did not.  I started drinking because it was at first fun to me, but then addiction reared its ugly head and took the drivers seat.

So how did I get control of the wheel?  Well this is a Christian blog so I bet you could guess what I’m going to say.  I bet you’ve heard this story before too.  I found strength and help through faith in Christ. I knew I could not get sober on my own.  I had tried before and failed again and again.  I approached God with a humility knowing I needed help and asked Him for strength to achieve sobriety.  It worked.  Almost instantly my desires to drink went away and when they did come back I had strength to overcome them.

So am I addicted to God?  Did I substitute one addiction with another?  Well I do make it a habit to read the Bible and pray to God everyday.  I do involve Him in every aspect of my life and you could say, yes I am obsessed with Jesus.  If you want to call that addiction then fine, I am addicted to God.  But I would have to say that this is the only addiction that fills the void I had in myself before.  This is the only addiction that makes me feel complete while other addictions left me feeling despair.  This is the only addiction that changes my life in a positive way and builds me up instead of knocking me down.  This is the only addiction that saves families instead of tearing them apart.  God brings joy, not depression.  He brings peace, not hopelessness.  If you want to call my relationship with God an addiction then I would have to say that it is the only addiction we are meant to have.  I would go even further and say that many other addictions in life are caused because of people trying to fill the void they have in their life living without Jesus. Oh and Jesus will never give you a hangover.  You never hear someone on Sunday morning saying: “man I really wish I hadn’t of hung out with Jesus last night.”  I’ve never heard a person say: “I wish I never started my relationship with God.”  You hear the opposite.  We praise Him because we love Him and what He has done in and through our lives!

If you suffer from substance abuse today please know that there is someone who can help.  His name is Jesus. God does exist and there is hope. If you’re reading this it’s not too late to get help.  If you’re traveling down the wrong road then pull over and let Jesus take the wheel.  He’ll turn that car around real fast!  I am a walking testimony that Jesus can help you but you just have to ask Him first.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13) 

-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]