A word of explanation:
I hope, and pray, this post will help many people who are feeling lost and/or losing hope. I believe, in many cases, I will be leading them into new areas of thought. Therefore, I am including a great deal of “back-story” so they have some foundational knowledge for what I am going to ask them to consider, and encourage them to accept. The inclusion of so much back-story however, has created a longer than normal post. Therefore I have broken it into 5 sections, plus my prayer and the endnotes.
Self-Help? You tell me.
How many self-help books and magazine articles have you seen that claim they will help you find… “The Real You.” How many books and magazines have you bought to help you… “Realize Your True Potential.” Or, “Become The New You,” …sounds great! But, is any of this likely to make a permanent change? It’s highly unlikely. And now I hear a chorus of, “fouls” being shouted.
Please hear me out. First: let me tell you that I am a trained counselor with a Master’s Degree in counseling and psychological services. No, it was not my profession; but, I have had experience in providing drug and alcohol abuse counseling, marriage counseling, and “personal growth group” counseling. Second: currently living my 74th year and, having served as an officer in the military for 14+ years, followed by having a 23-year+ career as a sales executive with a major corporation—I may not have seen or heard it all—but I believe I have seen, and heard, quite enough to make some valid observations.
I know counselors and psychiatrists can, and do help many people. But, very often the change is not permanent. And while they may try to help you find the “real” you; how can you know who/what the real you is. It would be a shame to settle for 75% of a “Real You” because you couldn’t think big enough. And, it is highly likely that the “Real You,” the “True You” and/or the “New You,” will sooner or later assume some of the “old you” habits. Bummer!
I believe people who claim to be, “self-made” are kidding themselves; or greatly to be pitied. I have found few that were happy or content with their lives. They may seem to be popular and respected, but they seldom have true friends. Many have dis-functional families because their egos, greed, insecurities and anxieties rule their actions. They may be self made, …but what have they truly made of themselves?
I’ve noticed it is getting harder and harder to place trust in people, companies and government officials. Words seem to have a very short shelf-life. They are stated, or even written, but it seems they all have hidden clauses saying something to the effect of, “all promises are subject to retraction, re-definition, or out-right change at anytime and without notice”. Unfortunately, this seems to be spreading to individual values and group agendas. Which leads to…
My observation that moral standards within our society are changing rapidly with no input from the society as a whole. But, before I get too far afield, I want to back this down to the individual level.
Speaking on a one to one level, I can tell you in absolute truth that it is possible to change the “old you” into the “real you”…who is, I assure you, also going to become a “new you.”
So, if you find your life in a mess because you have totally screwed it up by making the wrong decisions and you feel like you are carrying a huge burden of lies, guilt, and immorality; or, maybe you’ve been used and abused (physically, sexually and/or emotionally) and dumped, and you may even be considering suicide because your burden is just too heavy—STOP! Know this: there is hope for you. There is peace for you. There is grace for you. There is love for you. There is a new start for you. And, it is free for the asking. It may be a bit hard to understand a first; but, with all my heart, I ask you to read on.
What you are feeling and hearing in your brain is very likely Godi. (in the form of the Holy Spirit) convicting you of your sinii; the fact that you unable to fix yourself; and, your need for his free assistance. God knows the true you. The real you. Yes, even the you, you may sometimes deny being. You cannot hide from God. God has known you, and loved you, since before you were even conceived. But, God is also perfect and has never committed even one sin. Therefore, he cannot accept you, …as you are. Relax, don’t panic, because we will come back to this in a few minutes—but first….
The Back Story (part 1):
Godiii. has multiple names. But, for now let’s just call him “God, The Father” or just “God” for short. We are now talking about the God of the Jews and Christians. He is also one of the designers and creators of the universe He is all powerful, all knowing, and he is eternal. But most importantly, GOD IS LOVEiv. Hang onto that!
Scientists say the universe is 13.8 billion years old. And, God tells us he spoke it into existence. (Fine by me, because the scientists do not know how or what triggered the event that resulted in the universe exploding into existence.) I do! God. Scientists say the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. They have theories about how it was formed. The Holy Bible tells us God formed the earth in 6-days. (Note: the Bible very often does not speak literally in relationship to time.) Scientists talk about evolution but cannot explain how actual “life” came about. They talk about the Theory of Evolution and extremely long periods of time without interference, to allow all the building blocks of life to form by pure chance. Scientists also say the scientific Law of Thermodynamics posits that all things on earth—if not constantly monitored and protected, will eventually die or decay back to their basic atomic structures. So tell me again how evolution works. Who or what was monitoring the development of “everything” without interfering? The Law of Thermodynamics contradicts the Theory of Evolution; thus, making it null and void.iv.
For those who haven’t read the story of Adam and Eve, here it is, in brief. Out of the dust God created Adam in his (God’s) own image; and gave him life. He then created Eve (sometime later) from one of Adam’s ribs. Not interested in little robots, God gave his creation of Mankind free-will. He placed them in the Garden of Eden and told them they could eat of anything in the Garden with only one exception. That exception was the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. (We find out later the tree was The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil).
We don’t know when, but, Satan (an angel created by God) tried to create a revolution of sorts, in Heaven. It was a pretty foolish adventure. God is God, after all. So, God banished Satan, to Earth. Satan hates God (and by extension) he hates all mankind. This is important because we now have Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, …and Satan shows up. He engages Eve in conversation; and by lying and baiting her, he is able to convince her that it would be a good thing if she ate some of the forbidden fruit. Engaging her free-will Eve ate some of the fruit. Then she gave some to Adam and he, also ate it. Only one rule, and they blew it.
By doing what they knew God had said not to do, Adam & Eve introduced sin into the world, and into Mankind. And that’s why you (and I) are born with the “instinct” to sin. God, who once walked and talked directly with Adam and Eve, withdrew to Heaven because He cannot abide any form of sin. And now we, using our very own free-will, sin quite often. Primarily, because we simply want to—for one “reason” or another.
Enough Back-Story For the Moment:
Remember when I said: “…he (God) cannot accept you as you are”; and, asked you not to panic? And, I also said to hang onto the fact that “God is Love”? Good! Now, I’m going to prove why there is no need for panic, and why There is no other God like our God. Here is a passage of Scripture from the Bible that I want you to read. It is a direct quote from Jesus’ recorded by John (one of Jesus, disciples). I cannot begin to tell you how important it is; and how important it is that you take it to heart, and believe it. It is, quite simply, the key to your new life! The scripture is John: 3:16.
“16For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”v.
John 3:16. Jesus, is talking to a man named Nicodemus.vi
He has just told Nicodemus that because God loves his creation of mankind so much—that he (God) has created a plan that provides a satisfactory redeemer for our sin burden. (We know from the Old Testament that a sin offering must be the sacrifice of a perfect, unblemished animal.) So what could the blood offering be that could cover the sins of all mankind, for all time? There was only one possible answer. Jesus! God’s only Son. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that He was God’s Son—and, would be that sacrifice.
Back Story, part 2:
Thirty-three years before Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, God put his plan for mankind’s salvation into motion. Jesus had been born of a virgin named Mary. God had sent an angel to Mary to tell her that she would conceive and give birth to a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She was told to name him Jesus; and, that he would become, “…very great and be called the Son of the Most High”.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Syria. He lived his first 30-years as a normal Jew; except, he never sinned. At about 30-years of age, Jesus began his ministry. He began to show that he was more than a man. He was humble, yet he could perform miracles. Over the next three years he taught the poor, the down trodden and anyone else who would listen. His message was of God’s love and concern for his children (mankind). His message was to love one another and to help one another. He healed the sick and the lame. He raised at least three people from the dead. At one gathering He fed 5,000 thousand people from the leftovers of one boy’s lunch. He had many followers. And, he scarred a majority of the Jewish leadership into hating him and plotting to kill him.
They succeeded by falsely accusing him of various crimes and claims. He was whipped, tortured, stripped, and hung on a Roman cross to die. He did. A spear through his side and into the membrane around his heart, assured his death. Then, just before sunset he was taken off the cross, his body was wrapped and placed in a tomb carved out of rock. A large stone was rolled over the entrance, to seal his tomb.
Jesus had told his disciples that he would be killed. And, he also told them that on the third day after his death, he would arise and walk out of his tomb. The Jewish leadership knew this and worried that some of his followers would remove the body and falsely claim that Jesus had arose. They convinced the Roman Governor, named Pilot, to place a seal on the tomb and place guards at it, as well. What they didn’t know was Jesus’ followers were afraid they would be next; and had locked themselves in the upper rooms of a house.
Well, when daybreak for the third day rolled around, …surprise! The tomb was empty. The Roman seal was broken, the stone rolled away, and the guards gone. The guards were likely running as fast as they could, since their lives were forfeit for allowing the seal to be broken and Christ’s body removed. Except, Christ’s body had not been “removed”. He had walked out of his tomb! Over the next forty days he made many appearances to his disciples, and quite a few others, including a group of about 500. Jesus was definitely alive! After 40 days Jesus, in the presence of two of his disciples ascended into the sky. He now sits at his fathers right hand, in Heaven.
End of the Back stories:
There is obviously a lot more to this story, but, the important points are these. Jesus died a horrific death on the cross as the only sacrifice that could cover the sins of Mankind. For all those who have chosen, or all who will ever choose to believe and accept Jesus as their Savior, theirs/our sin burdens have already been dropped-off in Hell. And, AND, when he then walked out of his tomb, he proved that death could not hold him, …and by extension, it cannot hold us, in it’s grip!
So how do we get on God’s team? Fair question. It is your acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ that will determine how you will live the rest of your life on earth—and, where you will spend eternity.
Accepting Christ is done by praying to God: expressing your belief in God’s plan for redemption. Confessing your sins and your belief that it is only through Jesus that you can be saved. Thanking him for your redemption and restoration as a son or daughter in his family, (really), and for giving you eternal life. Finally, tell Jesus you will follow him through his teachings and directions.
Thus you start a new life designed only for you by the God who has known you and loved you, from before you were even conceived. His love for you is infinite and unconditional; and from it flows grace, faith, confidence, your love for others, blessings, and everything else that is good and honorable.
If you have established a personal relationship with our God, you can now expect an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He will take up residence in you. Don’t get “creeped-out”. It’s actually a very good thing. Have you ever tried to explain something and you just can’t seem to find the words you need. Aha. Enter the Holy Spirit. When you don’t know how of what to pray for, ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you. Because he lives in you he knows your needs and desires. And, he will also pass information back the other way. Remember that voice in your brain that started this whole discussion; and I said it was a visit from the Holy Spirit? Well that’s part of it. The Holy Spirit will help you in many ways. Please do not push him into a corner, and forget he is there. I try to keep him in the Penthouse Suite.
Hear is some more scripture which may help a lot.
35Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity. Or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
37No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us. 38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor out worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.vii
My heart is heavy for those who do not know you. Our culture keeps trying to push you further away. And, many people are suffering because they have been convinced that religion is bogus. They have been convinced that they are “on their own”, and can’t trust anyone, because everyone has their own agenda. If only they could see through the lies, deceit, miss-direction, and hypocrisy.
Use me Abba, to help them see that we are not talking about religion—with it’s man-made rules, regulations, rituals, hierarchy and worldly objectives. It is simply about belief and their own personal relationship with you. Teaching them to know that You created them for a greater purpose—the pursuit of their God given destiny.
For anyone who may have just made this decision, I pray you will hold them in your hand, bless them, and lead them to other Christians and a fellowship within your church.
I pray this Abba, in Jesus name. Amen
i. Sin: When you know right from wrong and you choose to do the wrong thing anyway usually because it’s what you simply want to do. Very often because it’s either fun, or for personal gain on some level.
ii. God: You will need to accept this on faith. Our God is a triune God. There is God, the father; God, the son (usually called, Jesus or Jesus Christ); and God, the Holy Spirit (sometimes called the Holy Ghost). Together, they are God, and separately they are God. They are one, and yet can be in multiple places at the same time. They all have the same attributes and powers at the same time-whether together or separate.
iii. 1 John 4:16.
iv. Creation: Please get a Bible—I recommend either the New International Version (NIV) or the New Living Translation [NLT]. The Bible is not just a book. It is a compilation of 66 books, written by 40 or so, different authors over a time span of 1600 years. It contains historical, prophetic, poetic and apocalyptic literature. You will find the story of Creation in the first three (3) chapters of Genesis-the first book in the Bible. I also, consider the Bible to be God’s handbook for living on planet Earth.
v. John 3:16 [NLT]. Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
vi. Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish high counsel and one of a handful of the Pharisees who believed in Jesus. Later he would be one of the two men who carried Jesus’ body to the tomb.
vii. Romans 8:35, 37-39. [NLT]. I think Paul, the author of Romans, made it pretty clear. Jesus will fight for those who come to God through him. And, that is “everyone”; because, Jesus also tells us, in John 14.6, He is the only way to God. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And, that includes anyone and everyone who accepts God’s call. Their is no other criteria.