About Avery Goodday

I am a former AF Pilot (Viet Nam era). I then worked 23 years as a Marketing Executive for a major US corporation. For 9-years my wife (of 38-years) and I traveled the United States as full-time RV'ers. We attend a non-denominational Christian Church. Over my lifetime I have made about every mistake "in the book"; many, more than once. (Sometimes I'm a slow learner). My biggest struggles are with "pride" and a "need" to understand ...even that which is beyond human understanding. I know God's grace is boundless -- I have tested it to the extreme. My goal is to do all that God would have me do to enable His Kingdom here on planet Earth.

Self-Help

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 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.

Let’s break this scripture down and expand it, for better understanding. After all, it maybe the most important and valuable thing you will ever read.

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 Prayer

Abba,(Dad)

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

Larry

Endnotes:

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.

 


Advertisements

Peace

It’s something we all seek. But, the fact is our world will never experience true peace—until Christ returns. It is simply not possible by worldly standards. Right now, there are 40 armed conflicts in which each and every one caused between 100 to 9,999 fatalities in 2016. But, the truly horrible statistic is, only four additional ongoing conflicts are (jointly) responsible for 2,882,000 fatalities from the start of conflict to the end of 2016. In both reports the fatalities were both combatants, and civilian. I hate to think about the total number of wounded.i God weeps.

Obviously, we do not live on a peaceful planet. Never-the-less, that does not mean there is no peace on earth. Peace is available to everyone on the planet. Many are not aware of it. Others reject it. Christians know about it, but many cannot find it. The irony is, as Christians we all start our new lives in God’s peace; and then we tend to lose His peace over time. Right now there are many Christians with serious doubts about their standing with God. They are asking themselves, “Am I really saved or not?”

Our human (thus worldly) behavior certainly can cause one to wonder. We start out to do the right thing and it turns out wrong. Sometimes very wrong. Our faith starts out strong and weakens when trials and tribulations assault us. We believe one minute and doubt the next. We get angry, we get downtrodden, we get depressed. Life isn’t fair or fun. It’s anguish, it’s one hurt after another, it’s divorce, it’s cancer, it’s stupid drivers who crash into you, or a thousand other things.

We’ve all been there. There is even a song (I Wanna Feel Like I Felt) that addresses the topic. Here are the lyricsii:

I wanna feel like I felt when His grace first fell on me.

I wanna sing like I sang when I saw how the Lord set me free.

I wanna go back to the place where He saved my soul,

Where I found His love, where he made me whole.

I wanna feel like I felt when His grace first fell on me.

When I first found Jesus, I made my vow

To tell the world of His wonder, somehow.

But the world has a way of changing what it used to be.

I started my battle with a sword in my hand;

But this soldier’s grown weary in this desert land.

I wanna feel like I felt when His grace first fell on me.

There is one more verse that I’ll share in just a bit. In the meantime, I want to tell you this song just about knocked me out of my seat when I heard it performed at a concert by The Cumberland Quartet. I thought it must have been written just for me! But then I realized this is exactly what happens to most, if not all, of us at one time or another.

When it happens it is because we are not living in God’s peace. I believe we can only move into God’s peace when we truly accept (recognize, believe, internalize, and live as God’s child). After all, God chose US! HE does not make mistakes! WE make mistakes.

The instant you accepted Christ as our savior, redeemer, and Lord, we fell under God’s peace. He gives it to us freely. But then, as the song points out, the secular influences of living in this broken world (think about Satan) begins to change things. And unfortunately God’s peace is one of the first things to go. And that makes it, …oh, so much easier for Satan and his minions to have a field-day at our expense.

BUT

God knew this would happen and he gave us very specific words and promises for when it does. Is this not just great, or what!iii

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! [Isaiah 26:3. NLT] (Isaiah speaking.)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” [John 10:27-30. NLT] (Jesus speaking)

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” [John 14:27. NLT] (Jesus, speaking)

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13. NLT] (Paul speaking)

Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-7. NLT] (Paul speaking)

And 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 our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No 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. [Romans 8:38-39] (Paul Speaking)

These scriptures are only a drop in the bucket of scriptures devoted to Jesus’ love, His Father’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s love for man; and, their combined assurances that we will never be lost or separated from God’s household. We are adopted sons and daughters in God’s family. Let that soak-in for awhile. Then read the above scriptures again, carefully. Do you really think God could, or would, ever lose track of you? That his love for a family member would ever falter for even 1-second? Impossible.

And now I will share the last verse of, I Wanna Feel Like I Felt:

Many years have passed since I began

The race for the good and the souls of lost man;

And so many days I feel like I’m on my own.

Then I remember the promise that He’ll never part;

And revival breaks out in the depths of my heart.

So in this dry foreign land I cry out for a brand new song.

What is your new song going to be?

My prayer:

Abba (Dad),

Right now I am lost in your peace. And, I hope never to lose it again. You cover me with your feathers and shelter me with your wings.iv I’ve never felt so secure and loved as I do right now.

I know you are omniscient—a big word for having infinite awareness, understanding and insight. And; I know you are omnipotent—meaning you have unlimited power, force and authority. And, when I think about you this way it is encouraging and comforting. I mean, who/what do I have to fear?

But, knowing I can call you “dad” or “daddy”, …well, that gives me a very different feeling in my heart. It fills me with peace and love. It encourages me to encourage others—because I wish everyone on earth could feel what I’m feeling now—and maintain it. I don’t know when I’ve ever felt quite like this, …in all my 73 years!

Thank you Lord,

Larry


i List of ongoing conflicts. Wikipedia

ii I Wanna Feel Like I Felt. Words and music by Wayne Haun and Depp Britt. © 2000, Christian Taylor Music/BMI (a division of Daywind Music Publishing). All rights reserved.

iii NIV. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.

iv Psalms 91:4. (Paraphrase).

Satan

If you are not a Christian, it is likely you do not believe in Satani. And there are many of you out there. Because I believe we are nearing Christ’s return, I am going to be as direct as possible.

You were created by a God that loves you very much. So much so, as to want a personal relationship with you. Through no fault of our own, we were born on a broken planet with what is called, original sin. (Sin means not knowing and/or not caring about what is right, …and doing what is wrong). we also have freewill—think of it as double-edged sword. Because we have freewill God will never force us into any decision, …period.

Jesus said however,“…I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.ii” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. We are free to live our life any way we want. But, to become a Christian you must come to the decision that you can’t live a sin free life by yourself. If/When you decide you need help and want to learn more about becoming a Christian, I would recommend finding a non-denominational Christian church that believes Christianity is about you establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about man-made rules and rituals. It is about establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ, and following the new life Jesus has for you. He will provide you a life tailored to the you, you will become. You will never be sorry.

Now, if you are a Christian you definitely believe in Satan, …or, you should. This is not my “opinion”. The Bible makes it very clear that Satan not only exists; but, is dedicated to destroying us.iii His first appearance in the Bible occurs in Genesis 3:1.iv The evidence of his hatred for God and Mankind, can be found in every book of the Bible, save one, …Song of Songs, in the Old Testament.

Satan has many names,v but the one which I think describes him best was used by Jesus when he said, …He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.vi (Emphasis, mine). Yes! “…A liar and the father of lies.” It fits him perfectly.

Now, I need to talk briefly about the word, “bait”; a perfectly good word. Think about fishing. Worms are not dangerous on their own. But, when used as bait, …well, things change. The fish recognizes a worm as desirable and good to eat. It has just found dinner. But, the truth is, the fish was lied to; and it has now become dinner! In this context bait is a lie. Bait is used to attract, capture and/or kill something. It does this by appearing to be non-threatening, desirable, benevolent, or good—when in reality it is quite the opposite. When used in human society, it can lead to such things as buyer’s remorse, depression, loss of integrity, divorce, suicide, even murder. It depends on who is using the bait and what their intentions are. And thus, bait becomes an extremely important tool for Satan’s use.

The very first time we see Satan in the Bible, he shows us His true colors. It was a set-up of Eve. We don’t know if this was the first time Satan had talked to Eve; but, I think not. Satan knew of God’s solitary rule given to Adam, and then passed on to Eve. And, it is amply evident that Satan had this conversation with Eve carefully planned. The story starts at Genesis 3:1.vii

It seems that Adam and Eve were both in the Garden of Eden. Apparently they were separated; but not by too much. Satan, seeing an opening, and knowing exactly what God had told Adam, approached Eve, …and intentionally misquoted God’s rule. God had said, “You may eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

But, Satan asked Eve this question, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” A misquote designed to give Eve some over-confidence, perhaps? Because…

Eve promptly responded, (perhaps a bit smugly), “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” That was a pretty good paraphrase of what God said; but, with a bit of embellishment on Eve’s part.

Then, …Satan came back with the bait! “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Wow! What an enticement. No consequences, i.e., It’s not going to kill you; and, you’ll become like God…! Now that’s some bait. And, …Eve was convinced.

She went all in. The tree was beautiful, the fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. She took some of the fruit and ate it. By now Adam has appeared on scene. Eve gave him some of the fruit and he ate it, too! Folks, it was all downhill for Adam, Eve, mankind, the earth, and every living thing on it, from that very moment.

The bible says, at that very moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Feeling guilty, (certainly a new experience for them,) they hid from God when they heard him coming. How sad is that!

If you read on you will find the full consequences of their actions. Paradise was lost! Oh, they didn’t die on the spot, but they did lose the opportunity to eat the fruit that would have bestowed eternal life on them—and mankind! Make no mistake about it, they learned about evil and the consequences of sin. Can you imagine how terrible that must have been—after what they had known before they defied God. Adam and Eve had to deal with their first son, Cain, murdering his brother, Able.  Tragic!  And, yes, Adam and Eve did live very long lives, but they eventually died just as God had said.  And yes, we will also die, unless we are alive when Christ returns.

So, now you have seen how Satan works. Satan will use every tactic he knows to lead mankind into sinning. And unfortunately, Christians—because we still live on this broken planet—do not have immunity to sin. What we do have, is forgiveness of our sins; and help, when we battle Satan and his demons.

We do not have a get out of jail free card. Don’t forget that as Christians, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, dwells in us. He knows our mind-set, our thoughts, and our intentions. We cannot hide from him. Just remember that He is a just God; and will never forsake us.viii He will help us. He will teach us. He will bless us. He will protect us from supernatural powers. But he won’t save us from the consequences we earn by using our free-will to deviate from his plan for us. Remember his plans are perfect. Our plans? …Not so much!

Satan may attack us at any time. Be ready. Fight Satan through prayer. Engage the Holy Spirit. Over time, as we learn more about God, our relationship with him will grow and we will find ourselves growing and strengthening in our belief. We will be able to recognize “bait” and turn away from it. We will also learn how to recognize God’s truth. We are being “perfected”. It is a process that will last until Christ either returns or calls us home. We will be perfected the instant we leave this planet, …with Jesus at our side.ix

My prayer:

Abba,

Thank you for helping me with this post. Only you and I know what a struggle we have had. I covet the safety you promise me.

Lord, while on the one hand I pray for the return of Christ, you know I also want to see as many people as possible saved before His return. Either way, you are the driving force; and, I will keep writing as long as it is your will for me.

It distresses me when I hear Christians say something like, “Well yeah, I think Satan is real, but I don’t believe he has any direct interest in me; or any other Christian for that matter. I mean I know what I’m doing; and, even if it isn’t exactly perfect I’m sure God understands. And, I think it’s pretty much that way for everyone”.

Father, forgive their arrogance.

Help me, Father, to show people how Satan uses us as his “pawns”, and sometimes as his “bullets” to attack You. I don’t want to scare anyone. Rather, I want them to recognize an attack on themselves, or others—no matter how benign it may seem. I want them to have confidence in you and to engage you immediately through prayer. I want them to be confident in your guidance which will lead them to victory. I pray they will stay the course, and come out the other end wiser, with greater faith, feeling blessed and praising you.

Thank you, Abba. Through Christ I pray, amen.

Larry

i There are many other religions that believe in Satan. In fact: many people worship Satan. And, like Christianity with it’s many denominations (I’m sorry to say) their are many different ways of Satanic worship. Then too, there are many other belief systems that do not recognize Satan or our God (YHWH). Most of these are Eastern religions.

ii John 14:6. NLT

iii As a Christian you do not have the right to pick and choose what you will believe from the Bible.

iv This begins the story of, “The Fall.” It is the story of how sin and death was introduced into God’s creation.

v Satan has many names. I found 40 in the Old and New Testaments. Some of the most common are: accuser, adversary, Antichrist, Beelzebub, devil, destroyer, dragon, enemy, evil spirit, Lucifer, murderer, murder from the beginning, son of Perdition, son of wickedness and wicked one.

vi John 8:44. NLT

vii All scripture quoted in the telling of this story is taken from the NLT translation of the Holy Bible. Quoted scripture is rendered in italics.

viii Hebrews 13:5 NLT

ix All scripture in this post is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In The Middle

And, now, Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. [Colossians 2:6-7. NLT]

God lives in us. Yet, sometimes he seems far, far away. And other times he feels very close.

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Have you ever gotten a love tap from him? And, how about getting some “concrete” guidance; or a clear clue to where he wants you to live? The job he wants you to prepare for; or take? Here’s three biggies—God, is this the person you want me to marry? Questioning your salvation; or, wondering if you’ve finally gone too far and he has forsaken you?

Do not become discouraged. Remember this: God is not in control of everything that happens on earth. God is in control of the heavenly realm. God will be in control of everything on earth when he returns.

The last statement will be very good news for Christians who are living when Christ returns. That same statement will be horribly bad news for everyone who has rejected Christ or put-off making a decision for him.

Let’s go back to the part about God not having control of everything happening on earth. It may not sound right, but it is true. Yes, Jesus does have possession of the key(s) Adam turned over to Satan in the Garden of Eden. But, for a reason known only to Christ, he bides his time. I think he wants to give more people time to find him, and accept his offer of forgiveness for their sins and restoration into God’s family.

In the meantime earth remains a broken planet—moving from bad to worse. Satan knows he has already lost the war; but, he is driven to attack God by using mankind in general, and often, you and me as his pawns. He is evil, and the father of lies. To Satan (and his demons) the fact his time is growing shorter only means he must work harder to create as much disturbance, mayhem, havoc, and death as possible. The tragedy is, he is good at what he does. To see this you have only to look around. Maybe even, at yourself….

You see, being a Christian is not always easy. Far from it. Have you noticed almost everything we do, or participate in, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, lets start at, “beginning”. Beginnings are usually pretty upbeat and exciting. You’re excited, glad and confident of your plan/idea. You just know this plan/project is going to succeed. Time passes. Maybe a little, maybe a lot; either way, as you approach the end it’s usually with either excitement, contentment, and joy; or with relief, possibly dismay, or worse.

If it’s the latter, what happened? The “middle” happened. You see, it is in the middle of our dreams and plans that Satan has set up his workshop! It is in the middle that you are likely to run into one or more of what I call the 5-Deadly D’s*: doubt, discouragement, diversion, defeat, delay. For discussion purposes, let’s look at the first three D’s, and then tackle the last two.

Doubt: It’s subtle, and operates insidiously. It starts oh, so simply: “Did I remember to…”? Or, “Did I miss something? This isn’t feeling quite right”. Well, doubt leads to more doubt. Doubt of yourself, others and ultimately, if left unchecked, you will begin to question God. “Why is God letting this happen to me?”

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. [Ephesians 1:4-5. NLT]

Just think what it means to be a part of God’s family—and a co-heir of Jesus. Remembering this, is my number two response when I find myself in doubt.

Discouragement: Usually a result of doubting yourself. It can grow to include others who may have a stake in the plan. Regardless, you will likely concentrate on the problems instead of engaging the one who can fix anything and everything. Re-read the opening Scripture, and remember…

Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. [Philippians 4:6. NLT]

This is my Number one response. Get use to talking to God. You can talk about anything. God is actually listening for your “call”. Talk to him as you would to your best friend. How great is that.

Diversion: Another one that is subtle, and insidious. It is right on the heels of discouragement. Satan diverts attention to all the wrong things. It’s a case of making the wrong things seem to be the right things. You spend your resources on the wrong goals, …usually making things worse. If you ever get the chance, ask Eve (that’s Adam’s Eve—found in Genesis 2) about diversion.

26aAnd the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:26a, 28. NLT]

Whoa! Does that mean even as Satan is trying to destroy me, God can cause Satan’s efforts to somehow end-up helping me or others? Yes! But do not stop reading at, “…those who love God”. That last period is mine. And the last nine words are critical.

The first three Dangerous D’s are pretty straight forward. And, if you have run your thoughts and ideas past Jesus, asking for his insight and help; then listened for, or found help by reading your Bible or in daily devotions, or other ways that God can “speak” to you; then you have already gone a long way to insure you are walking God’s path. Experience is a good teacher. So expect that in the future you will learn to recognize the first three D’s quickly and immediately engage Jesus.

A couple of cautions: First, be open and honest. Tell God if you think you made a mistake. Remember God knows everything. You cannot hide anything from him. But he wants to hear it from you. Second, be careful if you get advice from others. If it is biblical or “right” in God’s eyes that’s one thing. If it is from any worldly source, be skeptical! Anything you’ve read in any secular text, or gotten from social media, or from the television, radio, news paper, or just plain word-of-mouth must be examined critically. Then consider throwing it away.

Now, let’s look at the last two Deadly D’s…

If you are facing either or both of the last two Deadly D’s it is usually an indication of not recognizing the first three Deadly D’s and not engaging Jesus either soon enough, or at all. You are on dangerous ground as I noted above. Satan has a foothold—if not a stronghold. This is not a battle you can fight and win by yourself. Satan does not play fair. He is the father of lies. He is also not human. He is a fallen angel, a supernatural being. He has a large group of other fallen angels in his service. If you want to live, and I mean this literally, you must have God on your side.

Defeat: Feelings of failure. You can get to the point of, “…why try”. It’s a failure of faith. You’ve been beaten so low, you just give it up. Think about that and what it means to Satan, to God, and to you. It’s a dangerous place to be; but far from hopeless. In fact it’s also a place of high potential.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” [Hebrews 13:5. NLT]

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. [1 Peter 4:19. NLT]

Satan is rubbing his hands together and laughing. He figures he’s as good as got you. You, on the other hand realize that what you are seeing and feeling are not ways that God works. It is Satan who lies, cheats, steals and murders. It is Satan who has led you to giving-up. Quitting. And, yes, your relationship with the only person who has loved you from before you were even conceived is in limbo. It is your move!

But first, I want to discuss the last Deadly D.

Delay: Delay makes you put off something to the point that it never gets done. I think delay is the main tactic Satan uses when someone is being called to accept Christ as their savior, redeemer, and restorer. In other words being called to become a Christian and follower of Christ.

Satan whispers little things like: Come on, you know your going to hate all those rules and laws. You’ve already got a pretty good life going. I mean you got a job, a car, lot’s of friends, parties, the sex is great—even with your wife. Hey, you’re not hurting anyone. You’re a sly fox. And, you can’t show me even one so called Christian who hasn’t gone off the wagon in one area or another. The hypocrites! Besides you’ve got lots of time for fun before you might want to do something else. And, there are lots of religions. So don’t be too quick to jump. Let the good times roll. Yes sir, lots of time—for lots of fun.

That’s only one example, and for Christians we have to assume that putting off God’s plans for our lives is absolutely not going to have a good outcome. Think of Jonah! And ultimately for non-Christians, it will be fatal, …for eternity.

Remember those last nine words from Romans 8:28, where we were discussing being diverted. By living the life God has mapped out for us we are not buying blessings. Rather, we are following Christ by loving God in all we do, and loving others as Christ directs us.

Jesus replied,”’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment, A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37- 39. NLT]

If you are a Christian it is highly unlikely that you will die, because you have been forgiven, renewed and restored. When I said your relationship with the only person who has loved you from before you were even conceived is in limbo, I meant that God is ready to help you, but you must engage his support.

To open the door all you need do is ask. A simple heart-felt, “Father, I need your help.” will open the line and get things moving. Remember confession is the best place to start and while he knows it all, you really need to get it out into the open, as it were. It may take some time and there may be some unavoidable consequences; but with God, you will persevere. And just think, one minute Satan thought he had you ready to renounce your God, and the next thing he knows you’re not joining his team. And, Jesus has used him to give you a stronger testimony. Oh, the irony.

If you are not a Christian, it is likely that God is still waiting for you. Actually, God would rejoice if every single person on earth would come to Jesus for Salvation. Truly. (There is an exception. But more about that in a bit). When you realize the Holy Spirit is talking to you, nudging you, and encouraging you to accept Christ as your Savior, go to Christ by telling him you know you can’t save yourself and you are ready to receive his free offer of salvation and a new life. Confess your sins, and accept that Jesus is the Risen Son of the One True God. Ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to live in you as you begin your new life—free of all your previous and future sins. A new life that will become perfected when you reach your departure date from your current life and move into eternity in the presence of God, and all the saints that have previously made the same journey. (That’s everyone who has died in God’s Grace.)

Now, about that exception. God is a just God. Remember that, as I talk about a subject I’ve found a lot of ministers tend to talk around, instead of addressing head on. It’s not easy to talk about. And, God is the only one who knows it’s threshold. But it is, or should be, of extreme importance to all who are not Christians. It’s called “hardening of the heart”.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden you hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath. ‘They will never enter my place of rest’”. Be careful then, my dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning away from the living God. [Hebrews 3:7-12. NLT]

I used to say, when speaking of my temper, “I have a very short fuse—that is very hard to light.” I think that is a bit like what happens with hardening of the heart. Renouncing or rejecting God would seem to be a common factor. God may give you a lot of rope; but, at a point only he can see, your option for salvation is canceled, period.

The take-away is this. While “the middle” can be a very dangerous place, it does not need to be. As a Christian you will still sin. I’m sorry, but it is inevitable while we live on this broken planet. But, as a Christian you are forgiven and not carrying a burden of sin. You have unlimited resources at your side. Talk to God constantly, and keep him at your side. If you do this, God will take care of you. You have his promise. You may have rough water while in “the middle”, or any other time for that matter. By engaging Jesus, you will prevail and come out stronger, as a result.

If you are not a Christian, no amount of self help books or any New Age religion is going to help you—long haul, or short. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to a new life; and, an eternal life. That is the long and short of it. Your time is ticking away.

Abba – Father,

Thank you for your saving Grace.

Father your plan for salvation and restoration is so easy for some and so hard for others. I wish everyone could see the overall completeness of your plan for mankind. And believe.

Lord, thank you for showing me that Satan was destroying me. That I was destroying myself by listening to him instead of the God I had known. Even though I had done nothing to deserve another chance, and plenty to deserve a lightening bolt; you had a plan for my (new) life.

The part that I am still in awe of, is the many blessings you have given me after my return. And the blessings you have made me aware of receiving even during my dark period. That was,… I find no appropriate words. But I know you understand.

Father, I pray for every soul that is still undecided or has fallen away, as I did. Somehow they must be brought to an understanding of the futility of the path they are on, and the glory and blessings they can yet receive by simply asking.

I love you Abba,

Larry

__________

* The Five Deadly D’s are found in the Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream. Illinois. In my large print edition they are on page 13, in the third chapter of Genesis. The chart calls them, “Satan’s Plan Against Us”. For use in this blog, I called them the The Five Deadly D’s.

Playing God

My mother was a perfectionist. I remember taking my coloring book to her to show her my latest work. She said, “Oh, honey, that’s very good! I like the colors you used. And, if you had stayed inside line right there,” (pointing) “it would have been just perfect.”.

The funny part was, I was never disappointed. After all, she really liked what I had done. So I’d go color another picture – being very careful to make it, …“perfect”.

I became a Scout. Three years a Cub Scout. Three more as a Boy Scout. And, three more as an Explorer Scout. By the way, the Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. That was 9-years of “preparation”!

Later in life, I became an Air Force pilot. An occupation that left little room for mistakes and/or failures to plan. (A significant number of military aircraft are very unforgiving of mistakes!)

I became an Emergency War Order Planning Officer. We wrote the plans to implement the missions our Wing was assigned to fly if we went to (nuclear) war. We also wrote plans for deployments and emergency movements. After writing the plans, we would pour over our work doing “what-ifs”. Every sortie had a mission – and, a priority. “What if, sortie 3 doesn’t get started? Which sortie do we divert to take it’s place? What’s the ripple effect from that decision?” On, and on, and, …on.

I tell you this so you can see how I became something of a perfectionist, and a person who is always looking for the “potential point of failure, etc)”. I also want to share with you that this will affect your personal life; and more importantly, your walk with Christ

I can drive my wife to distraction with questions and what-ifs. She sometimes accuses me of negativity. I take umbrage, and tell her I just, “…want to be ready in case things go cross-wise”. She informs me our marriage is going to go cross-wise if I don’t let up. (But, she smiles when she says it.)

So here I am, constantly looking for potential problems or flaws in my plans: and the plans of others – when they involve my family or me . When I find flaws (or even just potential flaws) I start working to assure that I have the answers, solutions, explanations or whatever else may be required, instantly ready to be applied, when/if needed.

And that kind of thinking, folks, is bogus and sinful on many levels. It is also dangerous thinking. It gives Satan a foothold in my life – which I want to avoid like the plague. It’s a source of stress – which I don’t need. Sometimes it builds ego – which I don’t need. It causes friction within my marriage, and in relationships with family and friends – which, I certainly don’t need, or intend. But, most importantly, it is damaging to my relationship with Christ.

Have you ever thought about this? From the beginning of our life here on earth, (this applies to everyone), God knows our entire story. Everything! Nothing is hidden! Why is this important? Because regardless of everything else, God already has, or is going to offer you both adoption and eternal life. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Eph 1:5, NLT]

I must tell you that it is not an open ended offer. It is good only until Christ returns to earth – or, we reach our departure date and time. Whichever happens, we will be “sifted”. Christians will join the family in Heaven. Non Christians won’t.*

So God, who is omniscient – meaning: having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; and, omnipotent – meaning: having unlimited power, force and authority, …actually made a considered choice to include me if I would subjugate my freewill, and trust in Jesus. I did!

In all honesty I’m telling you, I have a problem – of sorts. I find myself trying to play god! Not only that, I’m trying to play god while God knows, and, I should know, all that talk about trying to be perfect and having all the correct answers is so much, …fertilizer. Yet I turn my back on him to pursue my own plans. Now, …How. Dumb. Is. That?!

Then why did I say, “a problem – of sorts”? Because, I really do know exactly how to fix this Problem.

My planning for solutions to the unexpected – in an unknown future, is a oxymoron. It is also worry, arrogance, and foolishness! It is also Satan using me to take a jab at God. And, it’s time to repent; and, ask Jesus for forgiveness. It’s not that I’ve lost my salvation. I haven’t. But, I am sinning, and I need to stop. And to stop I need help. Supernatural help. And I need to apologize to my best friend.

Might there be consequences from the plans I’ve already set in motion? Absolutely! I’ll get what I’ve earned. And, both the good (if any) and bad consequences (much more likely) will be “good”. Good, like when even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. And, the “unfavorable consequences” will be the lessons I need to internalize so that I don’t keep repeating my stupidity. I know God will help me. He chose me; and adopted me. He not only has a plan for my life; but, tells me time and again that He will never forget nor forsake me; that He has my back; and, wants only the best outcomes for me. He is slowly but surely perfecting me. But, because I live on planet earth, total perfection won’t occur during my lifetime. There is nothing perfect on earth, …yet.

Prayer:

Father, (Abba),

I can’t even begin to fathom your love for me. But, I do understand it well enough to know that when I come to you, broken and contrite, you never fail to set with me, brush away my tears, listen to my pleadings, and hug me close. Oh, how I thank you for those times.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly — far beyond my dreams. Yet I some- times get impatient or discouraged when dreams, plans, or prayers, seem to have gone astray. At these times, will you please remind me of all the times you have answered, …and all the times I have not even noticed or acknowledged your provision, …and it’s perfection.

Lord, please continue teaching me to rely on your love and grace. Forgive my egotism and conceit. Please help me to restore the relationships my pride and conceit have damaged. Show me the truth of your words; and make my testimony effective when talking with others in their times of need.

Lord I know you are still on the job and in control. Your provision has never failed me. I will praise your name forever. Amen.

Larry

* The straight truth is: 1. God loves his creation of man (and woman) more than any other. 2. When Adam and Eve sinned (by doing the only thing God told them not to do), they (not only) brought sin, separation from God and eventual death, into their own selves (body and soul), they also introduced it to the entire planet and all future generations. 3. God is Holy and cannot abide sin—in any form or amount. 4. But God is also love, …and grace. And so, from his great love and grace, God came up with a plan that could save mankind from eternal death. 5. For 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. [Jn. 3:16, NLT]

All we need do is: accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The only one who can forgive and cleanse our sins when we repent of them and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we become Christians. The Holy Spirit moves into us; and will reside in us while we live our lives on earth. And then, let’s not forget that we will have a perfected body and soul while living an eternal life in the presence of God.

If you don’t take that simple step; or, you intend to – but just don’t get it done; or, you go through the motions thinking you can “fake it” and continue living your previous “good times” life; …PEASE believe me! You are doomed to eternity in Hell. Period!** A place were there is NO good thing. Not one!

Christ is offering you a new life. A “do over” of immense proportion. Jesus will be your guide. You won’t become magically perfect. But you will change. And God promises you will change far beyond your expectations; if, you give him the reins.

** God is Just. Children, too young to understand God’s plan, will not go to Hell. There will be children in heaven.

The bible tells us that we are born with the ability to know and search for God. As we find new cultures on earth, we have never found even one that did not have a god or gods; and, codes of “right” and “wrong”. The Bible also tells us in the Old Testament – before God sent Jesus to earth (as the only possible sacrifice for our sins) many people “found favor” with God.

So, I believe those who have never had the “Good News” of the New Testament explained to them will still be judged by God. And, those in whom He “finds favor” will go to heaven. But only God knows those “requirements”. I believe the great “I AM” will make “perfectly correct decisions”.

 

Forgiveness and Grace

Or is it the other way around? Does it really make a difference? I’m not totally assured one way or the other. I know they are certainly intertwined in many cases. I guess I’d have to ask: can you have forgiveness without grace? Or, can you have grace without forgiveness?

I think we should take a good look at the meaning of both words from the source of all truth, The Bible.

Forgiveness: To acquit of sins. To give up resentment of or claim to extracting neither punishment or redress. To forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.*

Grace: God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity. Unmerited favor given to another.*

* In each of the above definitions the first sentence came from the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible. Following sentences were paraphrased from Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.

After looking at the definitions I found that I needed yet another definition. I needed the definition of “unmerited.” Not finding “unmerited” in either Reference book, I looked for “merit” and found it in the dictionary (only).

Merit: (Paraphrasing again): merit is something to be earned. In fact, while it can be considered as reward or punishment, it is usually applied in a positive way, such as: earning reward, honor, opportunity and esteem.

How many times I’ve heard someone say: “If he/she would just apologize (or give me a simple, ‘I’m sorry’, I could/would forgive him/her”. Or, “They’ve crossed the line one too many times! I will never forgive them.” Or, … well, I think you get the idea. And, I hope you now understand that “forgiveness” can only be offered in an unmerited manner. Forgiveness has no “if only they would do this or that…or any other attached strings or, fine print. You either forgive or you don’t—right where they are (right now), and/or whatever condition they are in (right now). Yes: it’s an either/or situation.

Don’t panic. I cannot think of anything greater than our triune God’s grace, except God, himself. Grace and forgiveness are blessings we receive from God. Out of God’s grace, He sent his son Jesus to an undeserved and incredibly painful death on a cross—as a sacrifice for our sin. But, that wasn’t the end of it. Jesus then carried that sin burden to Hell, …where the real price for past (and our continuing) sins was extracted. Make no mistake, God and his son Jesus, paid an unimaginable price for the forgiveness of your sins—and mine, as well. And, when that stone rolled away and Jesus Christ stepped out of that tomb—He handed us our free pass into Heaven.

In light of what Jesus willingly did for us, how can any Christian say, “I cannot forgive that person.” Grudges not only eat at our insides they feed Satan and his demons. We must stop saying, “I won’t!” Saying, “I can’t!” is more truthful, but it is still just an excuse. We will lose this battle if we charge into it alone. Remember, we are fighting supernatural beings.

Think about the size of the sin load Jesus carried to the cross to cancel your sin burden—and, it’s still working for you. Surely you can pass some of that along. And, if you’re still not sure; you NEED to read this…

Jesus is speaking… 14If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins. [Matthew 6: 14-15, NLT]

There are at least four other places in the New Testament (that I know of) that say the same thing. See: Mk 11:25, Luke 6:37, 11:4 and 17:3.

I know this will cause many people serious concernas it should. There is only one place to take that concern. Call: JESUS. He won’t put you on hold; and He is, I firmly believe, the only one that can understand exactly where you are, and why. Pour your heart out to Him. Out of His grace He can fix every break and bruise. And when the two of you are done with the victorious battle against Satan, He will have another priceless blessing for you—His Peace.

Oh, …Get Ready!

In Christian love,

     Larry

Who Am I?

Thanks for asking.

The simplest answer is, “I am a unique creation of Yaweh.” And, I’d like to add, “So are you!

I hope that doesn’t offend you; but if it does, I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with it. You can choose to ignore it, …but you can’t change it. And ignoring it isn’t going to work to your advantage in the long run.

You see, Yaweh is the one true God of all creation—the God of the Jews and Christians. Yaweh is the creator of the universe—and, every thing in it. Most importantly for this discussion, He created every human as a unique individual.

Have you ever really thought about just how unique you are? On the molecular level, consider your DNA. That alone distinguishes you from the vast majority of all humans wandering the planet. Other distinguishing physical traits are your unique finger-prints and retinal-prints.

Then there is personality—a small percentage of which you inherited from your mother and father. If you grew-up with siblings, think about the common experiences you shared. Did they effect everyone in the exact same way? Do you remember the tiniest details the same way, or would you even agree on what was “tiny” and what was “major”? Then what lessons did you carry away from those “common” experiences? And, how have they affected your psyche and outlook on life?

What you inherited, and what you have learned by formal schooling, street smarts, relationships, how it was taught and by who, your personal observations, and even where you learned it—it all works toward assuring your uniqueness.

OK. We’re both unique. So what?

Well, hang onto that thought while I tell you a bit about your creator YHVH.

“YHVH” is the Hebrew word that translates as “LORD”. This name is found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times). The title is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton,” meaning the “The Four Letters”. YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “to be” and is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations’”. [Exodus 3:13-14]. Therefore, YHVH declares God’s absolute being; and the source of everything—without beginning and without end.1

Now, let’s back-up for just a moment; and look at the very first name for God that we find in the Bible: “Elohim”. It is used about 2,300 times in the Old Testament and its first occurrence is in Genesis 1:1—the very first verse of the Bible. Elohim means, “all powerful”; and its form is, plural! Important? Oh, yeah! Originally a mystery, its meaning is slowly revealed throughout the rest of the Bible. While we worship the one true God, we (now) know our God is a triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a bit difficult to wrap your mind around. It helps me to think of God as the spirit He is, with three different personas. Each of which can operate separately yet stay unified with the whole.

OK. I’m sorry if your head is spinning. I know it’s a lot for some of you to take in. Here is a quick summary of the critical points:

Our God has many names and each name tells us more about Him. The two names we have just talked about, tell us a great deal about God; starting with—our God is not a created being. He is an absolute being. He truly exists. And more than that…

He is an eternal being, or Spirit—without beginning or end.

Our One God has three personas—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).

God is all powerful and the author of creation. The entire universe was set into existence by the spoken words of God. And that includes every living thing on planet Earth—including you and me. Mankind was created on the sixth day2 and created in the image of God.3

So just what is my point?

Well first, I have a question for you. Who are you?

Based on the above, you might reply that like me, you are a child of God.

And, while that would be a correct answer on one level, it may not be totally correct. You see, far… far… back in our lineage we have a set of grand-parents named Adam and Eve. That’s right. The first man and woman created by God. They knew God intimately. In fact, they physically walked and talked with God on their strolls through the Garden of Eden. They lived in a paradise with no rules—but one. They were instructed by God not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told them that if they did eat of it, they would surely die.

The short version of this story is that Satan, a fallen angel, deceived Eve by telling her if she ate the fruit, she wouldn’t die4. Rather, she would be like God, …knowing good from evil. Eve ate some of the fruit and then convinced Adam to also eat the fruit. And things changed—BIG TIME. Eve and Adam knew they should not go against the only rule God had given them, but they did it anyway, …and that is known as “sin”. Our grandparents, using their freewill intentionally disobeyed God and introduced sin into what had been a perfect environment. And their original sin has infected every man and woman born, or yet to be born, with a sinful nature5. It blocks our communication with God and condemns us to death and eternity in Hell. In fact, sin infected the whole physical planet; and caused God to withdraw to heaven.6

That’s It?

Oh, NO! Time passes. (And God had devised a great—an almost too incredible to believable, plan.) Out of God’s great love for His children, He devised a plan of grace7 that would blot out mankind’s sins for all time; provide for redemption, and restore us to God’s family for eternity. Many prophets (in the old testament) alluded to the plan. Some quite specifically, in retrospect.

Then, in about 5 BC, God implemented His plan. (If you get nothing else out of this post, read and consider the next two paragraphs. GET THIS!)

Out of Gods grace, He sends the Holy spirit to visit His children. The Holy Spirit looks into our hearts, and works to convict us of our sins and our inability to “fix ourselves”. Yes, we are all sinners, and we will be until we die, or are called home. No man or woman is perfect. It is impossible to live on this broken planet without sinning. Big sins, little sins, or both. (As we tend to think of them. Actually, to God there is no distinction. Sin is sin.) And, while God makes no distinction of sins, there is a distinction of sinners: Forgiven and Unforgiven.

None of us know the exact time of our earthly death. And in the meantime, the Holy Spirit is whispering, sometimes shouting.8 Trying to get our attention, fighting our freewill, convicting us to believe that God is God. That He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin; to live a perfect life performing miracles and healing the wounds and hearts of broken people; and then to be sacrificed on a Roman cross—carrying the sins of every person who has, and ever will, repent of their sins, from a contrite heart, and ask for forgiveness while declaring Jesus as their Lord and savior. And then He arose from his grave three days later, thus fulfilling prophecies from both the old and new testaments; not only proving His Deity, but, also giving us the promise of a new (eternal) life as a Christian, following his plan for our unique gifts. And, it is free!

And, I actually have three points to make…

First: God offers us his plan at no cost. All of this, …for only believing and asking, …bestowed through the grace of God’s great love for His creation, …YOU and ME. But remember, God is not “only” a God of Love and Grace. He is also a “Just” God. He will never force you to do anything against your will. Your eternal destination is 100 percent your choice. And choosing not to make a decision, or saying “not yet” is the same as saying, “No.” God does not want to send anyone to hell.9 In fact He grieves over every lost soul that is sent there. Never-the-less, He will send you where you choose, and you MUST choose before you die.

My second point is: While it is a given that every one on earth is a sinner; there are those of us who have asked for, and received, salvation, redemption and restoration to God’s family. We are living new lives patterned after Christ’s example, and have a personal relationship with Him that assures we will spend eternity in Heaven with our triune God.

My Third point is: If you recognize that you are a sinner, and know that you cannot save yourself, the Holy Spirit is talking to you and leading you to take action and become a Christian by repenting (confessing) your sins to Jesus and asking his forgiveness. Tell Jesus that you want to become a follower (which is what a Christian is—a follower of Christ). Tell Jesus you love Him and are ready to begin the new life He has planned for you.

It is truly that simple. Yet, for many it is too difficult.

When you do establish this relationship something truly incredible will happen. The Holy Spirit will move into your heart to act as your guide and interpreter. Really! And never forget this scripture:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:27-28. NLT]

My Prayer:

Yaweh (I AM),

Scientists tell us the universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago, when a tiny singularity (or vacuum fluctuation) containing (what we now call) the universe, and energy (known as a scalar field) suddenly appeared in space—out of nothing at all. The energy field in this singularity acted as “antigravity” inflating the bubble instantaneously to the size of a grapefruit. By this point the antigravity was converted to heat energy which kept expanding (at a more sedate speed) due to the push of the inflation. This is now referred to as the “Big Bang”.

I prefer the description of creation presented in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] And I see no conflict with the science. Now we know where the singularity came from and what triggered it—while providing the design, rules, matter and energy for the creation. Thank you, God!

Scientists tell us the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And mankind may be 50,000 years old. The Bible tells us you created Adam and Eve; but again, doesn’t tell us when. I do believe you created them. And would, if for no other reason than they are the most unique part of all creation. You created them in your image, and you gave them life!

Neither do we know when Satan seduced Eve into doing what she knew to be wrong—and, the same for Adam. Nor, do we know exactly how long it was before you chose Moses to lead your people out of enslavement in Egypt. But we do know the first book of the Torah (also the first book of the Christian Bible) was written about 1450 BC, by Moses.

Your Words, recorded in the 66 books of the Bible over that next millennium and a half, give me all the knowledge and instruction I need to know about you, the One True God. I know you love your entire creation—most especially, mankind.

40 Years ago, you chose me a second time; when I was as undeserving as I could ever be. You picked me up, dusted me off and led me into a new life. The path you set me on led to the perfect wife and life partner. Together, we have been blessed beyond measure. And now, we look forward to what you still have in store for us as we move forward loving God, following Jesus, and striving to love others as we love ourselves.

I know I am not perfect in my walk; never-the-less, your love, grace, and guidance, endure. I thank you, and praise you for your never ending love.

Your loving servant,

Larry


1. Although some pronounce YHVH as “Jehovah” or “Yaweh,” scholars really don’t know the proper pronunciation because the ancient Hebrew alphabet had no vowels. For pronunciation purposes due to the absence of vowels in the Tetragrammaton, Bible scholars have chosen to spell it either Yaweh, or sometimes, Yahweh.

2.There is much debate about the Creation of the universe. Some say in a great explosion of a singularity formed the universe.. Some say God started the process and the universe evolved over billions of years. Still others say; six days. And while almost all religions have a story of the creation, only the Bible postulates that one supreme God created the earth out of his great love; and gave mankind a special place in it. How long it took is unknown. The Bible does not say how long it took. Some take the term “day” to be a literal 24 day period. Others say the word “day” represents an indefinite period of time (even millions or billions of years).

3. What does it mean when the bible says that man was created in God’s image? Obviously, this is another occasion when God was not being totally literal. God is a Spirit. God can assume the form of man. What God did was create men and women as unique beings capable of communicating with him. No other part of creation can claim that incredible capability.

4. Satan was doing what he does best, …lying. And, using God’s children as a tool to attack God.

5. Except for Jesus Christ.

6. God is Holy and cannot abide the presence of sin.

7. Grace: unmerited favor. i.e. We didn’t earn it, nor do we deserve it. It is free for believing and asking from a broken and contrite heart. God also gave mankind freewill and the ability to reflect his (God’s) character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness.

8. You will not lose your freewill. God loves His creation and does not want robots who have no choice but to obey. At the same time it means you will never be perfect while on earth.

9. God created hell for Satan and his followers. While I cannot imagine exactly what hell is like, I can tell you that it is a place you DO Not want to be. I know it is totally devoid of God and any good thing. If you think life on earth can be difficult, try to imagine a place where there is no love, no kindness, no charity, no understanding, no truth, no mercy, no help of any kind, no music, no laughter. There will be constant pain and sorrow. And more filth.