RETURN TO HIM?
Why do I Believe?
A MESSAGE FOR THE BELOVED
Eyes of Purifying Fire
Audible & Peace
It's dark outside, the air around you is quiet, and everything is still.
You're getting into your vehicle about to leave for work.
You sit down and turn the key.
The radio startles you as you fumble with the knob to turn down the volume.
The glow from the radio reads 4:00 am.
The air is crisp and calm as you drive down the road, reminiscing of the previous two weeks.
The start of your freshman year in college and boy has it been a blast! Every night has been one party after another, no rules, no limits.
Freedom to drink what you want, smoke what you want, and sexual opportunities all in your grasp.
The sudden squeal of your wheels tests your nerves. You attempt to waken your drowsiness by slapping your cheeks as you continue down the highway.
Soon you start thinking about the day ahead:
Finishing your morning route, heading to class, scrimmaging at football practice, getting some food with friends, then going out to another party.
Ignoring your heavy eyes, you tell yourself, "This is the LIFE!"
Suddenly a loud humming noise from the highway alerts you as the tires drift off the edge. You notice that you missed your exit and try to correct the truck. Turning too sharp, the loose gravel grabs your tires, and your steering wheel locks up, rolling your vehicle.
You open your eyes to a feeling of pressure and sharp pain in your chest. You can't breathe, are you underwater? You panic and struggle to get to the surface as you begin to hear muffled voices surrounding you.
Finally, bursting through the surface of your unconscious, you awake and gasp for air as you find yourself on your back on the ground. Slowly a dim light starts to glow brighter as your sight returns. You see unfamiliar faces standing above you.
"Help is on the way!"
Scared and not understanding who these people are or what they are talking about, you try to stand up, but a sharp, hot blade pierces into your back, setting your spine on fire.
You scream! Then blackout again.
This story was an adaptation based on the accounts from what truly happened to my best friend when he wrecked his vehicle. Early one morning, heading to work, he rolled his truck three times, was thrown out the window, and stretched his spinal cord from the impact, paralyzing him.
I entered into a room that day at the ICU, seeing him locked down, motionless. Tubes were protruding from his skin, wires fastened to his body. In all the questions and emotions, I was told he might not make it through the night because of internal bleeding. So as I left the hospital, I started to pray.
"God, let him live… God, let him live...!"
Over and over, the same four words fell off my tongue, crying as I drove home. I entered my house and ran upstairs. Suddenly I was unable to move at the top of the steps, and an audible voice spoke:
"He will live."
Why couldn't I move?
Who was this standing above me?
The image quickly vanished as soon as it appeared. I felt the rush again like so many years ago. The pure water inside of my body overflowed my soul and filled me with such perfect joy that I couldn't contain my laughter.
During the next year, my friend and I became roommates.
Yes, he lived! His paralysis had moved from his neck down to his lower chest.
During this time, we had many discussions about life. Mostly in his depression, they would consist of complaints, hardships, and his desire for peace.
He was furious and blamed God many times for taking the life he had before the accident. He would ask me what I thought, and I would always answer that Jesus was the only way to peace, but every time that would end the conversation.
One night after dinner, he brought up again his desire for peace. I replied the same as before. Though this time, unlike before, he followed with a yearning and heartfelt question:
"How do I do that?"
So I shared the gospel and told him about believing that Jesus is the one true Son of the Living God. He said he would think about it more and so I left to meet with my bible study group that night.
A week later, at the same study group, we were interrupted in the middle of a verse, as my wife to be, came into the room. She told me the shocking news that my best friend was killed in a car accident.
Another accident, and that's it?
I just saw him last week, eating chicken together and now, he's gone?
I buried my face into my hands and asked if we could pray as I began to weep. The voices and sounds around me were all muffled. My thoughts and emotions were a mess, but a verse that we read earlier that night kept replaying in my mind.
It was an odd verse that I didn't recognize.
"Why cry for those already in heaven?"
So I asked the group if we could read that verse again, but was told we never read anything like it. I questioned what chapter and verse we were in so I could find it myself — determined in my confused frustration. Page after page, I couldn't find anything remotely close to what I heard. Then the leader of the study told me that what I heard was meant for me alone.
God lovingly was letting me know that my best friend was safe with Him, that he was finally at peace!
So what happens next?
Well, God had to do some major surgery on my heart.
In the next experience, He brought me through a battle.
His Holy Word versus my heart!
And He blew me away.
Through this battle, there were patterns I connected and saw in myself with other stories in the Bible.
I saw the same pattern of people wandering away from God and then how He brought them back to Himself, again and again. I was seeing Him do it with me, pushing me against the core issue we all have:
Who is God?
Am I god, or is it Yahweh the One True God of the Bible?
Even in my Christian religion, I had slowly turned to my ways over His.
How about you, brother and sister?
Are you walking in your own path, or walking with God in His path for you?
This spiritual battle is something that happens daily, over and over, moment by moment. The more we ignore or "let it go," the harder it is to admit we have a problem. The more we try to stay positive in our own power, instead of in Jesus's power; the more we end up lost behind our wall.
Continue reading my free ebook and let me share with you how God brought my heart back to Himself. Read the steps that we all go through in forgetting Him, to help you recognize when you are in a selfish lifestyle. With God revealing your heart and you being open to His leading, He will draw you back once again.
For you are His and He is yours!
Next chapter > God's Calling for Me: A Revealing of My Heart
Would you like me to share my story in person? Scroll down to my contact info.
Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit?
The joy, the peace, the power?
Have you ever grieved the Holy Spirit?
Being unforgiving and having no compassion or mercy towards others?
For a long time in my life, I thought I was living for God, and I thought I was doing His work. However, God revealed to me the darkness I was ignorant of. His Spirit searched me out, and in the depths of my soul, He showed the forgetfulness of pride I was living. I was lukewarm and about to be vomited out.
Do you struggle against the flesh?
Are you able to speak up and share your heart with others, or are you ashamed?
Do you think no one else can relate to what you have done and gone through, or maybe you think no one has time for you or even cares?
Can I share my heart with you, my pain, hurt, and shame?
In all things, I want to lift and glorify our Almighty God, and I want to inspire you of the mighty yet personal God we serve. I want to reassure you that He is real and alive! I want this message to be an encouragement for you to step up and speak out what is in your heart. To help battle the lies of fear with God's perfect love.
I have three stories to share of times the Holy Spirit moved in my life. A vision, an answer to prayer, and time of heavy conviction. Then I want to share how God brought me back to Himself and changed my hardened heart of stone to a heart of flesh. From my ways of self-righteousness to His ways of compassion and understanding.
Third Story: Eyes of Purifying Fire
1 John 4:18 (HCSB)
There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.
Is love perfected in you?
Are you able to drive out your fear, or do you live in torment?
Are you afraid to speak up, to confess, to share with other believers?
Does your shame, regret, or heartache continually punish you with worry that someone might find out your secret?
I have had a lot of shame in my life, but it was safe by keeping it under control behind my wall. Or so I thought I that I had control.
For the longest time, I didn't think of it as a big deal, but the wall started stacking up. Higher and higher it grew from all the excuses and lies to keep feeding my denial, to justify my actions, to fill my needs. The worst part was when others would complement and encourage my wall. It then built a reputation I had to uphold, and it was now defining who I was. So I would bury any hurt or rejection and continue to build my wall. All the while, smiling and saying everything is ok.
I came to a breaking point, though when the Spirit started tearing down my wall. God allowed this wall of control and pride to fall on me, but the whole time He never left my side.
One day, the weight had built up so much that I had to confess what I was hiding to the person closest to me. I had to tell my wife; actually, I was being forced to admit! I didn't want to for fear of my shame being revealed and what she might say and do. For the hurt, I knew it would cause.
I was betraying her. Every day, betraying her with lies and scheming for my self-pleasure. The more I put it off, the more pieces from the wall were laid on my back. It was getting hard to breath, hard to talk, hard to think. Finally, one night, I told her.
"Elizabeth... I have been struggling with pornography."
Within the church, we have a big issue with this problem. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the real, more profound problem inside us all.
70% of Christians admitted to struggling with porn in their daily lives. From a non-scientific poll taken by XXXChurch, as reported by CNN.
50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20% of the church-going female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis. From the results of a ChristiaNet poll reported by Marketwire.com
34% of female readers of Today's Christian Woman's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.
It's not just a "guy" thing!
Addiction to porn is now rising at a faster rate for women
than it has for men in past studies. At the same time, it will take men who are seeking after God's heart to start a real change.
The National Coalition to Protect Children and Families surveyed 5 Christian Campuses to see how the next generation of believers were doing with sexual purity: 48% of males admitted to current porn use 68% of males said they intentionally viewed a sexually explicit site at the school
Pastors.com website conducted a survey on porn use of 1351 pastors: 54% of the pastors had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.
In a survey of over 500 Christian men at a men’s retreat, over 90% admitted that they were feeling disconnected from God because lust, porn, or fantasy had gained a foothold in their lives.
Pornography has been a stronghold in my life, and it started around the age of 10.
At that age, a bunch of us in the neighborhood would hang out at a large grassy park. We would play football, climb trees and go on adventures in the round metal spillways under the roads.
One day, pretending we were ninja turtles, climbing into one of those pitch-black holes, we found something. Gathered around in a huddle, feet soaking wet from the shallow running water. We started going through this magazine we found, slowly, page by page. Viewing the images of a lady fully naked, doing things our young minds were never meant to see.
We decided to hide it rather than put it back to "help" the one who initially hid it in the first place. So down alongside the creek, we hid the magazine under a bunch of reeds and leaves.
On our way back to our neighborhood, we joked and talked about the magazine. So many images and questions were racing through our minds. As we arrived at our block, we each started giving excuses to split ways and go to our own homes.
When I arrived home, I went through my back door, through the kitchen, through the living room and right back out the front door. Quickly walking down a parallel street and taking a narrow road back down to the creek. Back to where we hid the mysterious treasure.
Kneeling in my muddy soaked jeans, I started to remove the leaves and sticks hiding the magazine, but I couldn't find it! One of my friends already had come back and grabbed it before me. Just a bunch of boys ranging from 6 - 10 years old, and from the few pages we saw, we all started scheming and planning in our young minds to get that magazine for ourselves.
I shared this and other stories with my wife as she wept from feelings of rejection and betrayal. She was comparing herself to the lies this world deems as sexy and attractive.
This whole time I continued to try my best to comfort, reassure, and ask of forgiveness from her. There was something else very present as we talked and cried together. Another experience inside me was going on at the same time. The eyes of Christ were aflame with His refining fire inside my body, and I was burning up.
I was nervous beyond measure confessing this all to Elizabeth. Still, this heat I was experiencing was different, and I had never felt it to this extreme before. It was similar to the times I experienced the pure overwhelming joy of the Spirit, but this time it was a burning fire overflowing in me.
Jesus's eyes full of flames were gazing through me, deep into my soul.
This experience reminds me of Revelation 19:12, where scripture refers to the fiery eyes of Christ and their awesome power.
I was cleansed, renewed in the kiln of my Messiah. Desire, shame, selfishness, my will was burning away.
I was free!
Then the next week, Elizabeth told me some exciting news. We were pregnant with our first child.
Please be aware, these three stories of when I experienced The Holy Spirit are not for my glory. There was nothing I did to earn them, no special prayer or tradition I was following. It was all God and His timing and His plan. It is all for His glory! These experiences have built my foundation. They helped me down the road with struggles of logic, evolution, and religion versus my faith in Jesus(Yeshua).
These and other experiences I had in the Spirit are rare. I greatly desire God to give them to me again, but I do not want to become one who needs to see signs or seek after spiritual encounters, to believe. Instead, these experiences are for me to move in obedience, not for me to reach a selfish state of bliss or enlightenment.
A better way I have experienced the Spirit is in the gathering of the body of Christ. Believers in Jesus gathered together and being truthful about the good and bad things in our lives, serving and loving others; this gives us Jesus's power in the Spirit.
Opening up to each other with our needs, hurts, sorrows, shame, successes, praises, and passions, makes us aware and able to connect. It opens our hearts in compassion to serve each other and to be used by God in seeking the lost. Then when God acts in His will, we witness it and glorify Him instead of ourselves.
Knowing God and His Son is a never-ending relationship, a continual walk He brings us through in sanctification. I will never reach a pinnacle or a goal of perfection in this current mind and body. After all these events in my life, can you believe I would become blind in my pride again and forgot these experiences I had!
First Story: Why do I Believe?
"And fear is no good reason to believe in anything."
Why do you believe in God:
Do you believe in God because of fear?
Do you believe in God because of your reputation?
Do you believe in God because you feel an obligation?
At an early age, I placed my faith in Christ and in Him alone but didn't have any discipleship or a body of believers to grow. Still, God showed Himself, guided me, and protected me many times. When I first started going to church on my own, I wasn't necessarily seeking after God; instead, I was seeking a young lady! Little did I know the path God was bringing me through in deepening the relationship with Him.
Yearly my youth group participated in a statewide competition called Extravaganza. Hundreds of teenagers entering into competitions of sports and talents. I decided to enter into the Fine Art competition. There was a problem though; I didn't feel inspired to draw anything. So I quickly gave up.
A few days before the registration deadline, I was encouraged to try again by my youth leader. So I went home praying and seeking God for inspiration but still nothing. I then remembered a large old Bible I thought might be able to inspire me.
I opened it, and the first page I saw brought a sudden rush of images appearing before me. I saw four sections of a picture with all the details revealed to me. Then a rush of pure joy filled my entire body, overflowing my soul like water overflowing out of a vase. I was in a state of unstoppable fits of laughter that protruded from the warmth inside of me.
And this was the piece that I entered for the competition:
This picture was the piece that I entered into the competition. At the award ceremony on the last day of the event, the third and second place winners went to accept their awarded medals. Then the first place was called, and my good friend went up to receive. We all clapped and cheered. I was truly happy for him and always had been impressed with his talent.
But I had to wonder why?
With such an intense and direct experience from God, why did my piece not place anything? As my prideful questions started scheming in my mind, I was called for Best-in-Show.
This experience wasn't just for me to be the "best" and win recognition. Instead, It was God's timing in revealing Himself. He is real and alive, just as He says in His Holy Word.
But also, this was the start of self-righteousness in my life.
Second Story: Audible & Peace
Return to Him: A Message for the Beloved
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The Proud vs. The Humble
There were once two men at the same church.
One man was proud and the other humble.
The proud man loved to serve and help others. In the workforce, he was good at connecting people with their passions and purpose. In his mind, he had all understanding and knowledge in faith but was blind to his pride.
Now, the humble man was aware of his issues and was seeking help. He couldn't break away from struggles and hurts in his life. Week after week, he came down to the altar, dropping to his knees in front of the whole congregation. Confessing sins, laying down his failures, seeking the Lord for direction and healing.
The proud man grew critical towards the humble man as he watched him walk down from the balcony every Sunday.
"What's wrong with this guy?" The proud man thought.
"Why can't he get his life fixed?"
"Is he going down to pray or just seeking attention?"
These two men would say hello and smile as they passed each other in the church building, but the proud man never took time to reach out. He never thought of engaging beyond the facade of being polite. No, he just continued to neglect the apparent need.
As we live this life, the mystery of how God changes our hearts will forever intrigue me. Especially how He changed my heart. For you see, this is a true story, and I am the proud man, and what about the humble man? Well, he no longer goes to the same church because he ended up taking his own life.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (CSB)
If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
I share this true story to encourage you. Let us stop neglecting each other in our prejudices but instead take risks in creating loving relationships even if those relationships start awkward, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable.
I believe our human nature quickly forgets and becomes blind to our selfishness from the conveniences in our daily lives. We desensitize ourselves, thinking we can fix any problem on our own, but as we fail, our hearts become hard. We convince ourselves that no one cares what pain we are going through.
I want to share my heart with you in hope of provoking your memory and encourage you to share and confess your heart with those you love and trust.
I was the proud man, and I confess to you that I neglected love towards my brother. To God be the glory who searches out the hearts of man, for now, I see the bravery of the humble man. He was unafraid to step out in front of strangers while I sat in fear and judged him.