Saturday, May 31, 2014

What Scars Are For

Scars.  I have them.

Some you can see. Some you can't.

Scars on the outside. From surgery twice to remove cancer.

Scars on the inside. From an abusive marriage and divorce and foolish decisions in my youth.

You have scars. I have scars. Everyone does - unless you've had a perfect, utopian existence.

I heard a song today that has a great message for anyone with scars (and that's all of us).

For a long time, I have said my outward scars a reminder and a testimony of God's faithfulness and healing.

But what about the scars on the inside?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bible Study: Ascension Day

< Recommended Reading: Ephesians 1 and 2 >

“Our blessed Lord and Master has gone from us. From the mount of Olives, the place where in dread conflict his garments were rolled in blood, he has mounted in triumph to his throne. After having shown himself for forty days amongst his beloved disciples, giving them abundant evidence that he had really risen from the dead, and enriching them by his divine counsels, he was taken up. Slowly rising before them all, he gave them his blessing as he disappeared.” - Charles Spurgeon

Ascension Day remembers the event that took place 40 days after the resurrection. As told in Acts chapter 1, Jesus went with His disciples out to the Mount of Olives, where He told them they must not leave Jerusalem but wait for the Holy Spirit come upon them.
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9)

Ascension Day  is not observed in most churches outside of Catholicism unless in a study or sermon on Acts chapter one but without the ascension, where would we be?

This is not intended to be an exhaustive study by any means, but let's take a look at 4 blessings for the believer that have resulted from Christ's ascension.

1. Spiritual Gifts. 
"When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive,      
and gave gifts unto men." (Ephesians 4:7)

There are several interpretations given to the first part of that verse but for the purpose of this study, we will concentrate on the second part which tells us that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He "gave gifts unto men."

What are these "gifts"?

Many of them are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10...
  • word of wisdom
  • word of knowledge 
  • faith 
  • gifts of healing 
  • working of miracles
  • prophecy
  • discerning of spirits
  • divers kinds of tongues
  • interpretation of tongues

If Jesus had not ascended into heaven after His resurrection, these gifts would not have been distributed to His body, the church. Without these gifts, there would be little means to build up the church to fulfill the mandate to preach the gospel to the ends of the world and lift up the Name of Jesus over the nations. 

2. A Home in Heaven
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)

Jesus made that promise before He gave Himself for us. It was the ascension that made it possible for Him to fulfill that promise. He went up to heaven to prepare a dwelling place for His bride, the church.

3. A Seat in Heavenly Places
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.(Ephesians 2:4-7)
Take note of the progression in this passage. First, we were dead in sins, then we were made alive with Christ. Then we were raised up together with Him to a seat in heavenly places.

Some commentators say that the raising up in this verse refers to being made alive in Christ. I don't think so because as we noted above, there is a definite progression here. So after being made alive, what comes next? For Jesus, the next step was ascension. Our position in Christ, right now, is that we've ascended into heaven and are seated with Him in the heavenly realms.

Is that concept of identification with Christ in His acts of redemption so foreign? Paul said,

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)

Again, a progression. Dead, buried, risen. In Ephesians 2: dead, made alive, ascended.

4.  Authority

Sadly, many Christians struggle with the concept of the authority we have based on our position in Christ. It is something I am only beginning to understand. But come along with me if you will, please.

Paul's prayer for his fellow believers in Ephesus was,
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power..." (Ephesians 1:17-19)
[Lord, give us such a revelation, I pray.]

Paul goes on to say of the greatness of the Father's power on our behalf was brought to effect in Christ, "when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:20)

There's the progression again. The Father raised Christ from the dead and brought Him up to heaven...
"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:21-23)
Take a look again at the words in blue above, then reflect again on this:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7)

This is not about following some liturgy or tradition in recognition of the Ascension. Whether our churches officially recognize Ascension Day or not, we can rejoice in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ died, was buried, rose again and ascended for our sakes!

Think on that!

1.  If all things are under Jesus' feet and we're sitting next to Him, what is under our feet?
2. What made this position of authority possible for us as believers?
3. What made it possible for Jesus to prepare a home for us in heaven?
4. When did Jesus give "gifts unto men"?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review ~ One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Before we get to the review, I just want to say I owe Ann Voskamp an apology. It is unlikely she will ever see this, but it needs to be said. One Thousand Gifts was published 4 years ago. I allowed the opinions others expressed in some very negative reviews to dissuade me from reading it until my pastor's wife recommended it recently. So, Ann, please accept my apology. Some of those reviewers were wrong and so was I.

When I sit down with a good book (the kind based on truths from THE Good Book), I don't want to be bombarded with a bunch of Christianized “fluff.” I want a book that will make me sit up and take notice or make me sit back and ponder.

Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts accomplished both with a unique style that drew me into the depths of her experience and, at the same time, caused me to look within myself and realize how painfully far I lag behind on the path to a truly thankful and fulfilled life.

This is a book filled with surprises. Since I don't want to spoil yours before you read it, we'll just highlight a a pair of them.

The very first surprise came in the opening pages. An almost-too-literal description of Ann's arrival into the world would most certainly be surprising to my English mother's sense of propriety.

I almost put the book down at that point, but then came surprise number 2. I'm a fast reader, but was brought to a screeching halt as I read:

    “Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity:  
                    the sin of ingratitude...
            Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?”

A “selah” (a pause to think on it), might have been appropriate just there. After a few “selahs,” and some time hashing it over with the Lord, I could only conclude that Ann is absolutely right.

The main theme of the book is the author's personal journey into a more thankful and more fulfilled life, which sees God's hand and love in it all.

That Love leads her into deeper intimacy with which some are neither comfortable or familiar. That discomfort and lack of understanding led to some of the negative reviews already mentioned above.

There is some phraseology that I personally would tend to avoid and I can't say I agree with everything presented in this book. But does that mean I can't learn something of value from Ann Voskamp?

God has given each of us unique giftings and callings for a reason - to use them to build up the body of Christ. I believe He will use Ann and her writings for His purpose and glory.

One Thousand Gifts is not a book I would recommend to a new believer but would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is well grounded in God's Word and ready to be both surprised and challenged.

We all need to have a fresh view of grace and to nurture thankfulness for every moment, every gift, and every caress of the Spirit's breath upon our souls.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Strong Tower - Part 2

My Strong Tower - Part 2

< Recommended Reading:
 2 Kings 9 >

Photo: Tower of David and Jerusalem Walls at Night by Adiel Lo    
 CC by SA 3.0

Did you see Part 1 of this study? If not, you might want to go back and take a look so that Part 2 makes sense.

In part one we got some insight into the use of a tower, based on what we learned of the tower at Shechem.

Let's take a look at another tower in the Bible and see if we can discover a little more of what it means when we say God is our Strong Tower.

2. Tower at Jezreel
Before we go into what took place at the tower at Jezreel, a little background might be useful to set the scene. At the end of 2 Kings 8, we find that King Joram, son of evil King Ahab had gone to Jezreel to recover from wounds suffered in battle with the Syrians.

At the beginning of chapter 9, we learn that while Joram was in Jezreel, Elisha sent a prophet to find Jehu, anoint him with oil and deliver this message:

"Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of the servants of the LORD at the hand of Jezebel." 

[Jezebel, as you may know, was the wife of Ahab.]

Imagine this young army captain's surprise.  Here he was, meeting with other military leaders, and this prophet barges in and insists on speaking with him alone.

The prophet not only pours oil over Jehu's head but basically tells him, "God says you're the king now and you have to kill everyone that's left of Ahab's family."

Jehu immediately obeyed the word of the LORD and set out to find Joram.

As Jehu approached Jezreel, he was spotted by a watchman.
"And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company."
Where was the watchman? He was at his post, high above the city, in the tower.  It was from that vantage point that he was able to see an enemy approaching and to sound the alarm.

In part 1 of this study, we learned 2 important points about a tower:
- a tower is a regarded as a safe zone.
- a tower is a place to run to when the enemy comes.
In 2 Kings 9, we find a watchman in the tower, using the tower as a means to see who and what was approaching so that he could give a warning.

Take a look at the solemn instruction God gave to Ezekiel.

"Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." (Ezekiel 3:17-18)

So, what can we conclude about our Strong Tower?

- As long as we stay with our Strong Tower (who is obviously stronger and more able to protect than any tower made by human hands) we are safe. 
- Since we stand on our Strong Tower, we have a job to do. 

Those are just a couple of suggestions regarding what conclusions we may draw about our Strong Tower from the way in which towers were used in Bible times.

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." (Proverbs 18:10)

1. In what ways has God been a strong tower for you?
2. What is the job of a watchman?

Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Strong Tower - Part 1

Photo: Tower of David and Jerusalem Walls at Night by Adiel Lo  CC by SA 3.0

My Strong Tower - Part 1

< Recommended Reading: Judges 9 >

We talk and sing of our Strong Tower, but have you ever really thought about what that means?

Let's take a look at 2 towers mentioned in Scripture to get an better understanding.

1. Tower at Shechem
Do you remember Gideon, the guy who threw out a fleece to get an answer from the Lord? God cut his army down to just 300 men against thousands of Midianites, and then, with God's help, Gideon's little band of soldiers won the victory with the cry, "The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon!" (Judges chapter 7). Remember him?

A tower plays an important role in a story about Gideon's son, Abimelech. Abimelech did not follow in his father's footsteps (see Judges 8 & 9). In fact, he really wasn't a nice guy at all.

After Gideon died, Abimelech killed 70 members of his own family, then caused Shechem to defect from Israel and set himself up as their king.  When the Shechemites rebelled against Abimelech's rule while he was out of town, he came back and fiercely attacked them. He divided his army into 3 companies. One group stood by the gate of the city and killed anyone entering or leaving and the other 2 companies killed anyone working out in the fields outside the city walls.

The rest of the inhabitants fled to "a strong tower within the city,"  shut the door and went up to the top floor (Judges 9:51). Unfortunately for the Shechemites, Abimelech decided to burn down the doors to the tower. Those who were hiding in the tower didn't survive that day, but neither did Abimelech (read the rest of the story in Judges 9).

So, from the the incident related in Judges chapter 9 that took place at the tower in Shechem, we learn that:
- a tower is regarded as a safe zone.
- a tower is a place to run to when the enemy comes.

< Questions >

1. In what ways has God protected you from the enemy?
2. In Psalm 32:7, David sings to the Lord, "Thou art my hiding place." What does that mean to you?

Go to part 2

Photo: Tower of David and Jerusalem Walls at Night by Adiel Lo    CC by SA 3.0

Celebrating God's Word

Sweeter than honey. More desirable than gold.

This is how David describes the Word of God in Psalm 19.

But, wait...

Most of the 66 books of the Bible available to us today had not yet been written.

So, what was sweeter to David than honey and more valuable than gold?

The Torah.

“Torah” is a Hebrew word meaning instruction or teaching and refers to the writings of Moses in the first 5 books of the Bible.

In synagogues across the globe, the practice is to read through the Torah over the course of a year. In October, right at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, another celebration takes place.

Simchat Torah. Rejoicing with the Torah.

The Torah scroll is brought out of its special place (Torah ark) and given to members to hold and march through the synagogue. Everyone kisses the Torah scroll and dances around it as it continues down and around the aisles.

In Jerusalem and other cities in Israel, this parade of the Torah scroll sometimes takes place in the street. It is a time of great celebration, marking the end of the Torah reading cycle and beginning it anew.

Perhaps Christians (myself included) have something to learn from the great reverence and joy seen in the Simchat Torah festivities. Do we treasure God's Word in the same way?

We have even greater reason to celebrate. In His grace, God has given us His Word, including and beyond the teachings of the Torah. And, He didn't stop there. He has given us His Son, the Living Word, and has written His laws upon our hearts.

Do we rejoice, celebrate and treasure Torah and the rest of God's Word?

In the video below, Hasidic Jews in Jerusalem certainly seem to. The sound quality is poor but let's watch and think about how precious the Word of God is to us...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Will Hold Thy Right Hand - Part 2

Note: If you missed the first part, please see I Will Hold Thy Right Hand - Part 1

Into surgery I went.

Next, I was lying in a bed feeling rather mummified.

But no breathing tube – hallelujah!

As the grogginess wore off, I realized my right arm wasn't right. It lay limp at my side.

The reassuring voice came again...

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

After recovering from surgery for a few weeks, treatment began. It was not a pleasant time, but “the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him” continued to remind me...

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

College classes were out of the question at this point. I also wasn't able to go to work for quite some time and was unsure how I was going to provide for my children. Then, the reminder came again.

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

He supplied all of our needs during that time and continues to do so.

An EMG test later showed the extent of the nerve damage. The trapezius muscle was not functioning which at times caused excruciating pain in my neck, shoulder and upper back. 

Even after weeks of physical therapy, range of motion was still very limited and my shoulder continued to sag and rotate forward, causing the collar bone to move out of alignment.

Another surgery. This time to fix the shoulder and collar bone. Again, the promise...

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

After surgery, a new physical therapist. Exercises trained other muscles to compensate for the trapezius. My shoulder began to get stronger and more mobile.

I was told I would never be able to lift move than 20 pounds or do anything overhead, which meant nursing was no longer an option. Disappointing, to say the least, but again the reminder came...

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

My old job was too physically demanding for a gimpy shoulder, so I needed a new direction. I didn't know what else I might be qualified to do and spent several weeks in a fruitless and frustrating job search.

But that now familiar and faithful reassuring voice came again...

 I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

He did indeed hold my hand once again, leading me to a new job and better pay than I had before.

About a year later, I was in church one Sunday morning. The song we were singing had something to do with lifting up holy hands in praise. I raised my left hand.

The Voice said, “Lift up holy hands, plural.”

My head said, “I can only lift one.”

Lift up both hands in praise to Me. I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand.”

I finally obeyed. As my right hand went up, I heard a loud pop and crack in my shoulder. It was suddenly free to move and be as it should be.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a 50 pound bag of dog food in the store. It was heavy, but I was able to put it in the cart and then into the trunk of the car. At home, I picked that bag up out of the trunk and carried it in the house. No pain. No problem.

In 2006, when I asked how long I might around, the answer was “Maybe 5 years.”

In 2007 I was told, “You'll never be able to lift more than 20 pounds.”

It is now 2014.

I am still cancer free, have good job, and full use of my right arm.

And, I praise the Lord who has held my right hand through it all.

He is indeed “the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him.”

I Will Hold Thy Right Hand - Part 1

It's cancer... stage 4. 

When I heard those words, the bottom dropped out of my stomach and out of my world.

It was November 2006. My boys were ages 9, 10 and 14. I was a full-time student, taking preparatory classes to enter the nursing program. I also worked a part-time job. 

Cancer? Surgery? Treatment? My kids need their mom! I don't have time for this!

Dr B described the surgery. Right modified radical neck dissection. The risks? There were multiple tumors throughout my neck, but 2 areas were of particular concern.

Getting at the tumors around my trachea would be tricky. It was very likely that I would have to breathe through a hole in my neck afterward. There was also a large tumor sitting on the spinal accessory nerve. Removing it would damage the nerve and cause at least partial paralysis of my right shoulder.

I had to ask. If I have the surgery and treatment, what's the prognosis? How long do I have? Dr B was evasive at first but I was insistent, reminding him that I had children to care for. The answer? Maybe 5 years. And, without surgery? 2 or 3 months.

When I got in the car, my mind was in overdrive and I rambled on and on out loud to the Lord about my anxieties.

Lord, what about the boys?

Lord, let me live long enough to finish raising them, please.

Lord, I don't want to wake up breathing through a tube in my neck.

Lord, what about the boys?

Lord, help!

In the midst of my babbling, I heard very clearly, “I will hold thy right hand.” What? 

Again that quiet, assuring voice came. “I will hold thy right hand.

Thank You, Father.

I knew those words were from Scripture but couldn't remember where. When I got home, I looked it up and bawled as I read,

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. 
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness... 
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:9-10, 13)

Throughout the following week, those words were at the forefront of my mind and began to sink into my heart, into the places I needed them most.

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

The day of surgery came. My parents were at the hospital, as were some close friends in the Lord. As the nurses prepared me to go to the operating room, that quiet, assuring voice came again.

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand...”

Thank You, Father.

When I woke up there was no person in the room, but Someone was holding my right hand. I felt the warmth and tenderness of the grasp and felt secure in the strength of it at the same time.

Thank You, Father.

I once shared that incident with a Christian friend who said, “You must have imagined it.”

Absolutely not. My God keeps His promises. He promised to hold my right hand and He did.

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Thank You, Father.

Go to part 2

Memorial Day Tribute

I'm proud to be an American where as least I know I'm free

And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me

And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today

'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the USA

A Prayer For America

The Lord's Supper

When Jesus shared a final Passover meal with His disciples, "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV).

Jesus didn't say something mystical would happen when we partake. He simply was telling us to remember Him in this way.

Remembering Jesus and what He did for us at Calvary does do something for us. It sets us a memorial in our hearts, honoring Him and reminding us of His love and sacrifice for us.

Keeping Him foremost in our minds is essential to growth and becoming more like Him.

Looking back can indeed help us go forward.

Lord's Cup and Bread Photo by John Snyder
Licensed under CC by SA 3.0


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saddle Shoes & A Daddy's Love

Photo by Tom Roy Hobbs. Licensed under CC bySA 2.0

The year was 1972. I was so excited... I was finally a “big kid,” or so I thought. Kindergarten! New things to learn. New friends to know. New clothes. And, oh yes... new shoes.

A couple of weeks before school started, a girl came to my Sunday School class for the first time. She had the best shoes I had ever seen. Saddle shoes! Anybody remember those?

The following Saturday, my daddy took me shopping for school shoes. The first store we went to had some very nice shoes for big girls going to school but nothing I wanted. We went to another store and another and another. I still was not very impressed. (Spoiled brat? Probably.)

One more store, pleeeeeese, Daddy!” We must have hit every shoe store in Scranton. Then finally, at the last store, there they were! MY saddle shoes! They were the best shoes in the whole, wide world in my 5-year old mind.

On the very first day of school, a freckled little girl with ringlets said, “Your daddy must love you a lot. My daddy said those shoes cost too much for kindergarten.”

I have never forgotten those words: “Your daddy must love you a lot.”

My dad does love me. He has often called me his favorite daughter. (Let me clarify that lest you think my dad was a bad parent who practiced favoritism. I'm the ONLY daughter.)

I know another Father who loves me even more than any human parent could ever love a child. I am highly favored by Him, but not because of anything I have done or could ever do. This wonderful, unconditional love for me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with who He is.

The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God loves you and me so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place.

Why would God do that? Why did His Son have to die? Because God is also holy. “Holy” has been misused and misrepresented by our culture in so many ways. What does it really mean?

“God’s holiness is more than just His perfection or sinless purity; it is the essence of His “other-ness,” His transcendence. God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty.”What does it mean that God is holy, holy, holy? S. Michael Houdmann

We have all “...sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV). A simplified explanation of sin is anything we think, say or do that does not please God. God, in all His awesome holiness, cannot allow sin in His presence.

So, where does this leave us? Our sin has condemned us to eternal punishment and separation from God (see 2 Thessalonians 8-9).

Think about that for a moment. Every person who has ever lived deserves to be sentenced to eternal punishment. Everyone. You might say, “Well, I'm not that bad. I've never hurt anyone or stolen anything. I'm a good person.

By what standard do we measure what is good? We have all come short of God's glory, which means His standard of “good” is much higher than we can ever reach on our own.

The good news is, God doesn't want to leave us in our sin. He doesn't want us to suffer eternal punishment. He made a way for us to be forgiven and made right in His eyes.

Why? God is love. And, because God loves us so perfectly and unconditionally, He sent His only Son to take our punishment. Jesus never sinned. He never did anything to displease His Father.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took my sin and your sin, the sins of the whole world on Himself (1 Peter 2:24). He took our punishment. Our sin put a great distance between us and God and His promise of eternal life in heaven with Him. But, the blood of Jesus brings us near to God (Ephesians 2:13).

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”(John 3:17-18 MSG)

Did you get that? “Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted...” ANYONE. That means everything I've ever done that did not please God - my sin, your sin - all of it can be forgiven.

No matter how bad we may think we are, our record of wrongs can be wiped out (Acts 3:19).

How? A man once asked the apostle Paul and his friend Silas this question...

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31)

That man wanted to know how to be “saved.” He wanted to know how to be saved from the punishment he deserved for sin. He was right. God does save us from condemnation, but being “saved” is so much more.

Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, when we put our trust in Him, we have a right to come directly to God and talk with Him. We become one of God's children, part of His family and, like the loving Father He is, He provides and helps us through every part of life, if we just let Him in. The awesome news about Jesus is that He didn't stay dead. He rose from the grave on the third day and He prays for us to the Father.

God loves you. He wants you to be saved so you can be free from condemnation, have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him.

What must you do to be saved? Many people have tried to make it harder that it is. They think they have to DO something to earn salvation.

That's not what God says. HE DID IT ALL for you and for me. He wants us to come to Him.

He really did make it simple enough for even a child to understand... as easy as A, B, C...

If you want to be saved, if you want to be forgiven, if you want to know God...

A. Admit that you are a sinner.

B. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that He rose again.

C. Confess your sin and your faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, talk to God about it.

If you agree that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you and rose again and want to live God's way, then tell Him about it. Feel free to use your own words. Your prayer could be something like this...

God, I know I have sinned and I deserve to be punished. Please forgive me for everything I have done that does not please You. Thank You for loving me even though I don't deserve it and thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross and take my punishment. I know He is alive today. Help me live Your way from now on. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

If you prayed a prayer like that, I would love to hear from you.

You may contact me at

Have you been changed?

I have to be honest here. The first time I saw this video, that old legalism reared its ugly head for a few seconds. But after watching the entire video and paying close attention to the lyrics, I decided to shake that old legalism back in it's place.

Has The Great God Almighty changed you down to the core?

Then shake like you're changed :)

MercyMe - Shake (Official Music Video) from mercymemusic on GodTube.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Great Quote...

“He does have surprising, secret purposes. I open a Bible, and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. It’s hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts: “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7 NEB).” 

― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

About Faith Reviewed

The focus of Faith Reviewed is God's amazing love
and power to transform our lives.

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. -2 Sam 22:21-25 & Ps 18:20-24 (MSG)

Sometimes, looking back to see where God brought us from and how He has walked beside us on the journey can be a huge faith builder and spur us on to new heights with Him. But, this blog isn't just about looking in the rear view mirror. We also look ahead to the Author and Finisher of our faith who continues to lead the way for us.