“The Insanity Of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected”- A Book By Rik Nipken

“Would He really allow people who dearly love Him (Jesus Christ) to fail? And if so, is this a God who can use Holy failure to accomplish His purposes?”-Nik Ripken

“Follow You”- ft. Mac Mac & Miseal

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”-Hillsong United

Getting The Greatest Valentine Day Gift… LOVE! (The Old Reliable)

I tell you, Valentine’s Day, sneaked up on me this year partly due to procrastination. I am usually right on top of this one, in particular, (non) holiday, usually planning way in advance what I am going to get for my wife. However, this year it is different. Valentine’s Day is here in America, and I have decided to go with “the old reliable” in the pressure cooker of time. My wife is beautiful, sexy, and intelligent to match my personality. What’s wrong with me?

Although the answer to that will take up to much of your time (and it comes from a one-sided perspective) the question still arises, “What am I going to get my wife for the 2019 Happy Valentine’s Day that I haven’t given her already?” Probably, I will give her “the old reliable” gift of a Valentine’s Day card, red roses, and chocolate.

Yet, what is wrong with “the old reliable?” To me, it can become just old hat, something that you get when you’re running out of time with no real emotion attached to the gift. I don’t want that to happen between my wife and I, so I usually start way in advance. For I like to plan things for this Valentine’s Day, but due to procrastination, procrastination has robbed me of that. Yet, maybe “the old reliable” will work giving that “the old reliable” consists of a Valentine’s Day card, red roses, and chocolate (all the things my wife loves)?

Spiritually, maybe “The Old Reliable” will work for you by starting a new or refreshed relationship with”The Old Reliable” (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit)? If you can see what all 3 of Them (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) did for you as a tandem unit, then I am sure you will be convinced.

As a challenge, study John 3:16-21 and John 17 for the red letters contain the words of life forevermore. Then move on to Matthew 16:24-25 and Luke 9:23 because there was this lie (and maybe it still exists) permeating through American society that said: “if you become a Christian you have voluntarily decided to become a wimp.” That is definitely not true. Furthermore, if you decide to go for starting a relationship with God, “Getting The Greatest Valentine’s Day Gift… LOVE!” there will be ups and downs like any human relationship; however, there will be only one difference: God is correct, and you are wrong.

If you don’t have access to a Holy Bible and have internet access, you can use http://www.youversion.com to download the app on whatever device you have. That way you can see for yourself what I am saying is TRUE.

For I know one the ways to further you on your spiritual walk is through music. Click on these artists if this is one of the various ways in which you are encouraged:

Red Letters”-DC Talk

“Red Letters”-Crowder

“The Insanity Of God: A True Story About Faith Resurrected”-A Book By Rip Nipken

“Does God, in fact, promise His children safety? Do things always work out for those who are obedient? Does God really ask us to sacrifice? And to sacrifice everything? What happens when our best intentions and creative ideas are not enough? Is God at work in those hard places? And does He expect us to join Him in those hard places?”-Rip Nipken

“Go Hard (or Go Home)”-Lecrae ft. Tendashii

Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”

Trying to bring God into this new era, is not easy, for Jesus Christ prayed to His heavenly Father this prayer for believers regarding this:

I am not asking You to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Make them ready for Your service through Your truth. For their sake, I am making Myself ready to serve so that they can be ready for their service of the truth. I pray for these followers, but I also pray for all those who believe in Me because of their teaching. (John 17:18-20 NCV)

I never expected God to use me in the way He did. Yet my prayer ever since I was an early teen was for God to use me in the way that would most benefit His kingdom. And it was on a cloudy but not raining autumn day, right after school that I received His calling on my life. But calling to what? In my stupidity, I thought God was calling me to be a youth pastor because God wouldn’t call me to be something that I would find too difficult. Would He? Besides, I was having to much fun in the youth group; why not make a career out of leading the youth?

It wasn’t too long until I made up in my own mind that I was going to stay being a youth pastor no matter what opportunities came my way. See, just about all Senior or Lead Pastors had their turn at being a Children’s or Youth Pastor. But I wanted to be different, something that you will take notice of. So I didn’t want to waste any time, so I told my youth pastor. I remember my actions around the church being watched, not only by my youth pastor but also by the Associate and the Senior Pastor. I did not care since I was doing what God wanted me to do, and I began to enroll myself in youth preaching competitions-during youth retreats, regionals and summer camps. The important people in the Northeast Assemblies of God began to take notice. I even won at a summer camp that hosted over 300 teens as I knew how God hates pridefulness, so I directed all of the glory to Him. But at the same time, I used it as confirmation of my calling.

A few years had passed, and I was all ready to go to college. The only thing for me to do was graduate from high school; however, about 2 weeks before my graduation, I had a dream. In this dream, I experienced similar things I did in my one-month coma, for I did not know that nearly 5 weeks from that dream, I would experience a near-fatal car accident that I was near death for the first 3 days in the intensive care unit in the hospital.

You might be wondering why I chose the picture of a 1985 Dodge Charger Shelby Turbo for my cover of this blog? The reason I chose the photo of a 1985 Dodge Charger Shelby Turbo was that was the car that I got into the nearly fatalistic accident with. It had been 4 weeks since I bought it used. I was flying high. Picture this if you can- a new (used) 1985 Dodge Charger Shelby Turbo (although the colors were reversed on the outside since silver was the main color with the turbo in black) purchased just days before my graduation from high school, my high school graduation, parties to celebrate graduation, my best friend’s graduation and party at his house, plus working all sorts of crazy hours to support my car and other things. I was confident beyond belief that God would take care of everything. My college I didn’t have to worry about that either, for I knew if it was God’s plan for my life I didn’t have anything to worry about. Everything in my life was pointing to satisfaction with God, for I wanted for Him to be satisfied with my life that I tried to live for Him.

Yet, on the early morning of June 28, 1989, I apparently swerved off the highway since I was too tired coming home from a full-time job. However, that didn’t cause my crash; my over-correction, although, did send me into a ledge made out of granite rock. As I said before, 3 days of not knowing whether I was going to make it or not in the ICU unit, 30 days in the ICU in a coma, 3 weeks in the ICU Step Down Unit before I got transferred via ambulance ride to Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital as I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Countless pieces of broken glass filled my bloody, left front skull that was shattered beyond belief. As the left portion of the brain controls the right side as I was paralyzed on my right side throughout my stay where I received life-sustaining treatment in the ICU Units to keep my physical body alive. Then, I remember being transferred from the Elliot Hospital to the rehabilitation hospital that specialized in brain injuries.

There were several moments where the doctors could have given up on me, and almost did. However, through the persistence of my mother (yes, that is what I call her out of respect) God used her to make possible my tremendous recovery.

So, I have a supernatural experience that I can point to, saying:

“… With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)

I really hope that you do not have to go through pain in order to experience God, but even in the pain of this physical life, you can find God more clearly if you take the time and not wallow in your own self-pity.

“Supernatural”-DC Talk

“God Of The Impossible”-Lincoln Brewster

“Supernatural”-Planetshakers

“The Insanity of God: A True Story Of Faith Ressurected”- A Book By Rip Nipken

“Like Job n the Old Testament I knew that my Redeemer lived, but I couldn’t figure out why He was being so painfully silent. I was desperate for answers, but my questions just seemed to hang in the air.”-Rip Nipken

“The Book of Job Explained”-Inspiring Philosophy

Let’s Bring Matthew 5:13 Into Today’s Society…

Most of us are living in an IT (Information Technology) Age. And that is pretty apparent to just about all the people in the world. In fact, I am using my smartphone right now, in order to convey the words I want to share. What makes the phone smart? This little handheld device contains vast number of resources including (but not limited to) email, music, internet, etc. All the stuff you want to make your life go “easier.” Remember the first generation of software that came out with the floppy disc? Or how about those smaller hard floppy discs that were 3.5 inches all the way around? * this has a purpose in trying to relate what I am trying to get across, so we will leave this behind right now.

Christians all around are familiar with Matthew 5:13, I am assuming. You know, the passage that Jesus Christ during the Sermon on the Mount gives a teaching concerning the salt’s usefulness, and how if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Well, why not take it straight from the Holy Book itself as Matthew 5:13 says,

You are the salt of the earth. But if it loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and walked on. (NCV)

In Jesus Christ’s day, there were plenty of uses for salt. As a flavoring, as a preservative, as a disinfectant, as a part of ceremonial activities, and as a unit of exchange for it could be used in these only if it had its saltiness. If it were not, it could be used as only, well say, an old tattered tongue of a shoe. Not to useful. Wikipedia says that

The issue of salt losing its flavour is somewhat problematic. … Of the substances in this mix the NaCl (the chemical make up of salt) was the most soluble in water and if exposed to moisture the NaCl would disappear leaving a white powder looking just like salt, but not having its flavour or its preservative abilities. (Wikipedia)

The reason I chose the picture of the multi-colored hard floppy discs was because most Christians have a hard time accepting progress. As part of the Infomation Technology movement, the floppy discs are old and not useful anymore, except for coasters that we use for our living rooms, bedrooms, and the like in the house.

Jesus Christ addresses this very topic in John 15:1-5 where He says:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of Mine that does not produce fruit. And He trims and cleans every branch that does produce fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Remain in Me (even in the most difficult times), and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone, but it must remain in the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but (you) must remain in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remains in Me, I will remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without Me they can do nothing. (NCV)

So, this presents a problem for the church, the gathering together of local believers in Jesus Christ. So, if Jesus Christ used the current situation to get His point across, don’t you think that Christians should use the current situation to get stories from the Holy Bible across to people in this present age? After all, 1 Peter 2:21 says to do so:

For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, LEAVING YOU AN EXAMPLE, so that you might follow in His steps. (ESV)

Do you see what I am trying to get across to you? Let’s Bring Matthew 5:13 Into Today’s Society? 🤔

“Change”-Lecrae

“Word”-P. Lo Jetson

“War of Change”-Thousand Foot Krutch

“The Insanity of God: A True Story About Faith Ressurected” -A Book by Nik Ripken

“…I was told as a young believer that discouragement in my life would surface from time to time. But this was something different, something I had never faced before, and I had discovered that I had no tools to deal with it. Nothing in my background helped me deal with despair. I didn’t even have the vocabulary to describe it.”-Nik Ripken

“Praise You In This Storm”-Casting Crowns

“Broken Hallelujah”-The Afters

“Even When It Hurts”-Hillsong United

What Is God’s Will For My Life?!

Doing God’s will is tough. God’s will often comes without direction, leaving you to lean that much more into God. Since Adam and Eve (the first humans on the planet) took a bite of that tempting, ever scrumptious fruit hanging down from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, humans have been trying unsuccessfully to prove ourselves “worthy” to enter into God’s grace again. That puts all the effort on us to get into God’s good grace. Doesn’t it?

Well, no! It takes belief in Jesus Christ as the One that provided us a way to escape hell. Two thousand years ago (plus or minus), there was this baby who was born in the most deplorable conditions. In a barn that was used for animal’s at the inn in Bethlehem, Israel. Just think, who would want their baby to be born in an animal stable where there was gross excrement, and lay your baby down in a feeding trough where slobber abounds. Now, if someone saw this, the authorities would be called. Yet, that is how Jesus Christ was born coming down from His holy dwelling in a world outside of ours to endure life here on this earth, only to be ridiculed all the way to His death on the bloody cross to purchase salvation for you, me, and everyone who accepts that financially free gift. (See Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Hebrews 10:12 in the Holy Scripture)

However, I have not answered the question “What Is God’s Will For My Life?!” I know. It is hard to wait for an answer. Sometimes, finding God’s will for your life is quick, but the quickness of it will determine how long it will last in our memory. Take the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites back in Exodus 14 where after that super miraculous event they turned and worshipped a “god” made out of their own gold shaped into the form of a calf just chapters later (Exodus 32). Yet, something that takes a “long time” in our eyes has the potential to last in our memories. Take waiting for God to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that he would have descendants like the stars in the nighttime sky (Genesis 15:4-6)? Or, better yet, look at Jesus Christ’s full life (as in the gospels) culminating with His death on that bloody cross. We are still seeing positive results from Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in people of the world turning into people of God.

Getting impatient? Well, that is precisely what I want to do. See, it takes patience to see what God is up to in your life. Maybe you could be going through heartache for someone else. The way you handle it (seeking God all the way through), might offer hope, encouragement, and inspiration through Jesus Christ to others? Who knows? God the Father does, and that is what Jesus Christ (His Son) was saying when He said in Matthew 24:36-

But about that day or the hour no one knows, not the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father. (NCV)

So, to answer the question “What Is God’s Will For My Life” looks different to everyone of us True Life Christians. So, in doing God’s will, you want to be 100% positive that you will not fail especially where your joyfully serving the God of the Universe. I completely understand, but I caution you. 100% positive doesn’t come. Most you will get little glimpses of His will along your journey with God so you won’t go off and do your own thing for the Lord completely messing up His will for your life.

The person who is writing this has a deep understanding of this because I was called by the Lord at the age of 14. Called to what? I thought it was to be a youth minister, only to turn out that wasn’t God’s will for my life. No, in order to accomplish His will would take a month-long coma, having to relearn everything, suffering from expressive aphasia, being slow as compared to a normal person, and an incredible amount of frustration and patience. Things with which a person with God in a similar circumstance can truly understand. I have a traumatic brain injury suffered when I was 18 to the glory of God.

Now it is your turn. What has God allowed in your life that you didn’t see as glorifying to God causing you to reevaluate “What Is God’s Will For My Life?” Go, take your pain, and use it to glorify God!!!

“Jesus Freak”-DC Talk

“The Insanity of God: A Story of Faith Resurrected” (A Book By Nik Ripken)

“… It might be, in fact, to be safe in the center of God’s will, but we would be wise to stop and think what it means to be safe.”-Nik Ripken

“While I Wait”-Lincoln Brewster

“Thy Will”-Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

To Be Like Jesus Christ, Would You Walk Into A Situation Where You Find Yourself Being Tempted?

Temptation is around us all day, 24/7. If you’re truly a Christian, things like calling out sick from work to get a day off from work should bother you since the Holy Spirit lives inside your soul. True Christians are supposed to be like Christ as much as possible, and Jesus Christ would not tell a fib (lie). For I could give you many more examples, but I won’t giving you the benefit of the doubt trusting you know exactly what I am talking about.

However, Jesus prayer to His heavenly Father, He prays for us that His Father will keep the evil one from us (John 17:15). And all true Christians should know that Satan is the father of lies, and he successfully tricked the first humans (Adam and Eve) that were on this planet by getting them to eat of the scrumptious tree of knowledge of good and evil. Instead, humanity had to wait for the second Adam (Jesus Christ) to come and successfully fulfill all the requirements of the Old Testament Law. And Jesus Christ had fulfilled them perfectly, but still rejected by His own people, the Jews. In fact, some of religious elite in His day wanted to kill Him several times. Yet God the Father allowed the people in His day to crucify Jesus Christ, God’s Son. To Satan’s surprise, God the Father raised Him from the dead, 3 days later. “What was that for?” you maybe asking. Well, I will tell you, for 1 Peter 2:21 says this:

For to this, you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might walk in His steps. (ESV)

Both in Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23 Jesus says that if we are to follow after Him we must take up our cross and follow Him. So where would temptation come in?

For,

As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up out the water. Then heaven opened, and He saw God’s Spirit coming down in Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love, and am very well pleased with Him. Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 3:16, 17; 4:1 NCV)

For true Christians, could the Holy Spirit lead you into an area where Jesus Christ knows you have trouble giving into temptation? I think yes. Let me explain.

True Christians have to be close to Jesus Christ. Correct? Well, then in order for you to become more like Christ, the Holy Spirit (who is inside of you) would lead you out into your own personal desert to cause you to rely on Him more. Correct? No?

I am going to repeat a verse that comes from 1 Peter 2:21:

For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. (ESV)

I may be going out on a limb here, but isn’t most of our spiritual walk in order to become more as Christ paved with heartache now only to be a blessing in the end? Remember Romans 8:28 which says:

And we know that for all those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (ESV)

I believe that every day we battle with temptation, but for the True Christian; I believe this includes temptation in taking up your cross every day (not trying to avoid it at all costs).

I heard on a Christian radio station a meeting to help you out of temptation. There come on was, “If you are get hit with a temptation that seems too much for you to handle, then come to this conference and we’ll equip you to handle whatever the temptation might be.” Mainly, to stay away from the temptation. However, if you get caught in an unbelievable situation, then apply these principles (that you will have to go to the conference to get). Really?

What if the temptation is a beautiful girl or a physically appealing guy (who seems to say all the right words around you) at work? As a true Christian, you pray that your paths don’t cross, over and over again. Yes, then there is an opening for your manager, and you find out that they applied and received the position. So, now, you are going to have to deal with why God did not answer your prayers. Let me repeat the last verse I gave you:

And we know that for all those who love God all things work together for good (even though they might seem bad at the time) for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

(I am not suggesting going against what Scripture says when it tells you to flee from sexual temptation as you will see in the verse below {Colossians 6:18-*click on the Temptation link by 116}. On the contrary, I was putting the emphasis on God has the power to use things like temptation to bring humanity closer to Him.)

Or on your way to work, someone cuts you off in your car. You are tempted to do as everyone else does and react in anger (not righteous anger) but in anger nonetheless. Anger that produces some swears that come out of your mouth, or even if they don’t you are still thinking them (which as God sees it, you are guilty of saying those swears). God places in our way those situations (temptations) which are supposed to drive us back to Him. Instead, we have the free will to choose Him or not; sadly, we choose the latter rather than the former (I am including myself in this).

Yet for us true Christians, there is a warning involved given by the writer of Hebrews. Hebrews 10:26-27 gives a stern warning, for it says,

If we decide to go on sinning after we have learned the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins. There is nothing but fear in waiting for the judgment and the terrible fire that will destroy all those who live against God. (NCV)

Further, I know I am heading into a slippery slope to a majority of Christians (maybe) who view temptation differently. But these are my thoughts, and if I am wrong, I will have to answer for it in heaven along with those who take up my stance. However, what if I am correct? 🤔 It is worth thinking about, isn’t it?

*I can only see only sexual temptation is the exception, for Colossians 6:18 cries out:

That is why I say to run from sexual sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body. (Version Unknown)

“Temptation”-116

“Blessings”-Laura’s Story

The Insanity of God: A Story About Faith Resurrected (a book by Nik Ripken)

“I admit, however, to my surprise, I found myself living a life that was neither safe nor secure. I was stunned, when I considered a life of sacrificial obedience, I could point to very little in my ministry that was effective.”Nik Ripken

“Tremble”-Mosaic MSC

“Blessings”-Laura’s Story

The Insanity of God: A Story of Faith Resurrected – a book by Nik Ripken

“…Obedience to God’s call would result in a life of safety and security. Obedience, was implied, would lead to effective ministry and results and even success. ‘The safest place to be,’ I was told more than once, ‘was to be in the center of God’s will.’ And that sounded both true and reassuring.”-Nik Ripken

“Trust In You”-Lauren Daigle

What Happens When You Fail As A Christian?

If you are a Christian of any sort, whether a baby Christian all the way up to mature, congratulations! You need to be celebrated, for the people of the world will not celebrate you for following God’s Son, Jesus Christ who took the way the world operates and turned it upside down where the world has at its mantra “everything to better me” versus Jesus Christ’s mantra of “everything to better others.” Jesus Christ commands people for helping others, where humility wins out over peacefulness.

Everything about Jesus Christ goes against the people in the world (worldly people). But weren’t we worldly people to, once? Yes? Yes, we were. And we, Christians, find ourselves turning to worldly people ways of finding solutions to our problems whether it minor to catastrophic. However, being a Christian means you have to wait on the Lord, but with all the pressing demands of the world Christians don’t have a second to waste. So what is the God-fearing and respecting Christian supposed to do?

What could be better than sharing my constant battles waiting on the Lord and the demands of worldly people in a fast world? The whole perspective of my life changed when I turned 18.

See, shortly after I turned 18, it was early summer. Not a full week had gone by when I was in a horrifying, almost fatalistic car accident, for I got into my accident June 28th, 1989 around 6 am (with hours to complete before a full week of summer had passed by into all eternity). I had several pieces of glass lodged into my head plus an open traumatic brain injury Thus began my journey into the land of waiting on the Lord and the demands of worldly people living in a fast world.

For even after it was clear that I would survive (1-month coma until 3 weeks in my rehabilitation stay where I made a solemn vow to the Lord that I would live out whatever life He had for me), I still found recovery extremely frustrating and difficult. However, once I asked a doctor walking down the hallway of the rehabilation hospital how long would I have expressive aphasia, he just looked at me and said never. It was devastating that my recovery would only be partial at best. There was nothing I could do; I would have to start accepting my “new normal” as Jeff Huxford, M.D. describes it in his new book, “Finding Normal.” *-a book about a doctor who had just reached his ultimate goal of being a doctor only to have it ripped away twice by a closed traumatic brain injury.

It is not easy. In fact, I continue to warn people about the dangers that contributed to my almost fatalistic car accident. Yet I do not know where I would be without that car accident. Before the accident, I was confident that I knew what God wanted for my life since the age of 14. It took the accident to reevaluate my life that I was God’s, and He could do anything with my life. So, I let Him- 3 weeks out of 2 1/2 months into my in-patient rehabilitation process.

You may say, “Excellent story. But how does this have to do with failure as a Christian?” Ever since my accident, I have become more self-aware (to almost a detriment), except that it makes me lean on God more. I am being honest.

I have a master’s of science in human services, but I haven’t been able to use it because of my slowness, the way that I talk due to expressive aphasia, my slowness of speech, and a constant limp on my right side. Most of the time, I don’t notice my constant limp except on deep, ominous, dark cloudy days to when the barometric pressure decides to go up or down. Yet the rest, I am pretty much aware of on good days, self-loathing on worst of worst days.

During the worst days, I feel like I can’t do anything right, leaving me with an over-sense of failure. As a Christian (especially a True Life Christian), am I supposed to feel that way? Yes and no. Let me explain.

Coming from Genesis 1-3, the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, introduced sin into the world. Ever since then, the human race has tried to reach up to God. However, since sin separates us from God, Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Eden was guarded by an angel. Since sin separates humanity from God, God had to send His Son (Jesus Christ) to take the weight of the whole world’s sin (both past, present, and future) and die a bloody death on a cross, thus sin was paid for as long as humanity has to accept Christ (John 3:16-21). Yet three days later God the Father raised Jesus Christ, God the Son.

However, I am supposed to explain the overwhelming feeling you and I get in response to failure as a Christian. This is where one of my favorite passages of Scripture comes into play. Romans 8:26-28 says this:

Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. And He knows what is in the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit speaks to God for His people in the way God wants. We know in everything God works for the good to those that love Him. They are the people He called, because that was His plan. (NCV)

So for you True Life Christians out there, I have some more good news for you! What Happens When You Fail As A Christian? You are forgiven because Jesus Christ has taken punishment for all sin all of the time, but do not take that forgiveness for granted. As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:4-6:

For He (Jesus Christ) was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are also weak in Him, but in dealing with you we will live with Him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether or not you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or you do not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless, indeed, you fail the test! I hope that you find out that you have not failed the test. (ESV)

Remedies for What Happens When You Fail As A Christian:

1. You are forgiven!

2. Ask for forgiveness anyway because that keeps you sensitive before God. Examine yourselves.

3. Rejoice over your continual forgiveness!

“Forgiveness”-TobyMac ft. Lecrae

“Forgiven”-Crowder

“Forgiveness”-Matthew West

“The Insanity of God: A Story of Faith Resurrected”-a book by Nik Ripken

“… This is what God offers His people. This is God expects of His people, and His people will respond with obedience and trust. I am not suggesting that I always got it right because I didn’t. But still, the way to be so trusting seemed clear, and the need to be obedient was beyond question…”-Nik Ripken

“Trust and Obey”-performed by Big Daddy Weave

A True Wish For The New Year!

How has the year 2018 been for you? It could have been the year of surprises, disappointments, or both which if in all honesty is like that for many of us. Whether you have the past year as full of many pleasant surprises or disappointments leading to disasters, I have some good news for you.

”What good news do you speak of?” many may wonder. What I am about to tell you unfortunately been communicated before in various words. As you read this, I beg of you not to treat this as another broken new year’s resolution. In fact, I heard with my own two ears that 80% break their new year’s resolution sometime in February and that most of them have to do with exercising, losing weight, and/or eating better. Year after year, we keep doing the same thing.

In a recent church service, the Bedford Campus Director gave a pretty interesting way to overcome this sense of failure to keep the New Year’s Resolution. He suggested one day at a time. He gave personal examples of things, such as health and personal fitness, and he is now confident that after a time he won’t be drawn into those behaviors again. He then got a little bit personal as he told us of a personal sin that he has been struggling with but knew it had to come out of his life if he would ever want to move forward with this one area of his spiritual life.

“One day at a time,” he said, “with being intentional about giving it to the Lord.” Give your life to the Lord, that is the only way to have A True Wish For The New Year!

“Vow”-Kutless

The True Ultimate Meaning of Christmas

You have less time than you think before Christmas is here. I just finished shopping for my wife; I bought an extremely sappy card, and I wrote in it an extremely sappy message which I meant and continue to mean. Yet, is family, close friends, even parties at Christmas time is all that there is, to say we survived another Christmas? I know this season can be extremely difficult. Say someone died that you were really close to, and you know it’s not good for you, but you can’t seem to let go. There are diverse reasons that this may not be the most happiest time of year. Although I can never walk in your shoes, this can’t be the only meaning of Christmas? Is it?

Husbands, wives, fiancees, close couples, families, close friends, etc… tend to look forward to Christmas, but have we lost The True Ultimate Meaning of Christmas? In America, I think we certainly have.

Just today, I was perusing a bunch of Christmas cards at a famous store where you can buy tv’s, laptops, smartphones, etc… in the electronics department; while still at the same store you can buy food items; men, women’s, children’s and babies clothing; household items; sports and outdoor equipment; various pieces of furniture; and stationary which includes Christmas cards.

While perusing I found several with Christmas sayings on Christmas cards. They had all sorts. Some were funny; some were more serious; some tried to impress you by having a Thomas Kincade photo with snow covered tress and yard, followed by a 6 foot lamp that was shining into a all-decorated house with a real Christmas decorated tree sitting inside this large living room. However, searching for Christmas cards proved largely futile because they largely didn’t mention what traditionally is the focus of this time of year-the birth of Love, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Even the Christian card I got for my wife had a verse from the Song of Solomon, a highly erotic book in the Holy Bible. There were a few cards under the religious section of the whole wall of Christmas cards. But who wants to get that where people are subject to an impersonal God?

God is holy. Yes, but God is also personal. Take a look at this-

God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so whoever believes in Him may not be lost but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NCV)

The last time I checked, love is a deeply personal act. It says in Scripture that “God loved the world so much…” indicating that He loved the people in the world so much that He decided to give His one and only Son to save the people in the world both past, present, and future.

Good News! This gift is indeed life everlasting, and it is not for sale indicating that it is free. Yes, that is true. Yet, if you are truly saved from eternal separation from God you (at some time(s) in your physical life) will experience trials to help you grow to be more like Christ. For 1 Peter 2:21 says-

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might walk in His steps. (ESV)

What is The True Ultimate Meaning of Christmas? It is simple. God sent His one and only Son (Jesus Christ) to die a physical death for us. So, accept God’s gift to you, or continue to make excuses as to your free life eternal?

“We Believe”-Newsboys

“The Best Song About The Free Gift Of Salvation”

Finding Normal and Being Different Collide… (Jeff Huxford, M.D. and Darren Beattie, BA, MSHS)

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One night, about 7 p.m. in April 2018, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jeff Huxford, M.D. over Twitter. The story of his vehicle crashing and him getting a traumatic brain injury was remarkably similar to mine, although a few minor details were most definitely different. However, God uses different people in different ways. Such as the length of the coma (he was short; mine was long), and age plays a difference as well as he was in his thirties while I was just 18 coming into my adulthood.

Yet, overlooking our accidents as the ultimate blessing to God, that is why I choose this famous verse. It comes out of Romans 8:28, and it says:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those that are called according to His purpose. (ESV)

Just like Jesus Christ when He performed miracles. He performed His healings a little bit different every time, so that way to gain access to the healing it wasn’t reduced down to a formula (which all of us want to do). I will give you the references to prove it (Mark 10:46-52; John 9; Luke 7:1-10; John 14:1-6; Mark 2:1-11; Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 9:14-29; etc.).

There’s a temptation to think that all of Jesus healing miracles were almost commonplace when Jesus was physically around; in fact, I suffered from this delusion until I went to college. Then, through the help of my professors, I began unraveling the mysteries of Jesus healings. In fact, it was just a little different each time, just like the True Life story of Jeff Huxford, M.D and mine.

See, God uses different people in different ways to accomplish His purpose. Several times in the Old Testament passages, He does just that. The two that come to mind is the Babylonian Empire and the Assyrian Empire found in the Books of Daniel and Jonah, respectively. You can read them on your own.

God has a way of working it out, though what we determine as bad circumstances. We say things like “How can God be at work when one of His troopers is seemingly knocked down and given minimal chance to live?” Yes, I understand that sentiment, yet you are talking about the God that performs the impossible-like raising His own Son from being physically dead.

Luke 9:23-26 says this:

And He said to them, “If anyone comes after Me, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it profit a man if he loses and forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of man will be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and His holy angels. (ESV)

You can read it, hear it, listen to it through the pages of the New Testament starting with the Acts of the Apostles down through Revelation.

Jeff’s favorite verse comes from the Old Testament Joeseph (which to be honest, I like this verse, too):

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20; ESV)

That verse speaks about the horror of his car wreck and subsequent rehabilitation, but I have one also steeming from my car accident from which I was almost dead. It comes from 1Peter 2:21 which says:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you may walk in His steps. (ESV)

“Blessings”-Laura’s Story

A Short Interview On “Finding Normal”-Jeff Huxford, M.D.

Finding Normal: An Uninvited Change, An Unexpected Outcome by Jeff Huxford, M.D.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thank you, Jesus, for giving me a story and thank you for saving my life so I could tell it. I hope and pray I tell it well and it points people right back to you.-JEFF“-Jeff Huxford, M.D.

“Blessings”-Laura’s Story

“Thank You, Lord”-unknown artists

“The Huxford Family Story: Finding Normal After A Traumatic Brain Injury”

Finding Normal: An Uninvited Change, An Unexpected Outcome by Jeff Huxford, M.D.

*note: these Before and After statements are coming from Before and After Jeff’s major incident which left him with a traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Before: Even when I felt close to God and I was spiritually healthy, I didn’t feel it was my duty or I was qualified to tell others about Jesus and what He had done for me. That was a job for ‘professional’ Christians.

After: Because of what God has done for me, I can’t help but tell people about Him. This is somewhat difficult with my speech difficulties, but I am finding a good outlet for this on my blog. I get better with my verbal skills and I am confident that if God wants this, He will make it happen. I know now that we are all powered by the same Spirit, so we all have the ability to share our faith in our own unique ways, and maybe not in the way we expected.”-Jeff Huxford, M.D.

“When I Am Weak”-The Response Band

A Warning To All Christians Worldwide!

At the end of the most famous of His recorded sermons (spanning 2 chapters in Matthew), Jesus Christ says this concluding all that He has taught by comparing which house will survive-the one built on the rock or built on the sand:

Everyone, who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. And the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, because it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not keep them will be like a foolish man who builds his house upon the sand. And the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (ESV)

This passage of Scripture has been used by many preachers, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists to convey to the sinful world that they better accept what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross, or they are doomed for hell. Yes, that is true. And there is no way of getting around it. If you don’t accept Jesus Christ you are forever lost or eternally dead.

However, take a look at what Jesus Christ said in John 15:1-6:

I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that will bear much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (ESV)

It seems like Jesus Christ is saying you can have an initial moment of salvation (going from eternal death to eternal life). However, if you are truly saved, the Holy Spirit inside of you will cause you to act because so many others are spiritually dying.

The parable of sowing seeds is another prime example. Take Luke 8:4-8:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town to town came to Him, He said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell on good soil, and it grew and yielded a hundredfold. As He said these things, He called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (ESV)

The house, the branch, and the seed stands for people (you and me). If we don’t build on the rock (Jesus Christ), eventually our house will fall, just like if you built it on the sand.

Similarly, Jesus Christ uses the grapevine to make His point. We all need to be grafted in; however, some branches (people) won’t take because the nature of the vine (Jesus Christ). Lastly, the farmer (sower) gets ready to sow his seed.

Let me explain. I picture the farmer with a wheelbarrow full of seeds going down some bumpy road. As a result, the some of the seeds get deposited on someone else’s footwear. Though careful, he can’t help but spill some of the seed with the bumpiness on the road. Most of the spilled seeds (anyone who does not have a firm position on where they stand with Jesus Christ) gets easily swayed and not being able to put down roots anywhere.

The same goes for the vine. You have to believe in what Jesus Christ did for you on the blood-soaked cross, and God the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead, three days later. Yet that is only the first part. You got to act with boldness and tell others of the new spiritual life you have found. Correct? For the branch that withers, gets tossed into a pile, then ultimately gets burned is the so-called “Christian” who said a prayer to accept Jesus Christ when that person was younger than what they are right now and thinking they are good to go. Living a life like that, I would be shakin’ in my shoes.

Also, Jesus Christ said in Luke 9:23:

If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up your cross daily and follow Me. (ESV)

In a similar verse, 1 Peter 2:21 it says this:

For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. (ESV)

Leaving A Warning To All Christians Worldwide!

“Cornerstone”-Hillsong Live

“On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand”-(unknown)