My YouTube Channel

Hey everybody,

Wanted to touch base and give an update as to what has been happening as I have not posted in a while.

I am still working on my first book, entitled “The Simplicity of Christ”. In the midst of that endeavor, I felt like God was leading me to start posting videos as well. Here is a link to my new YouTube channel, “Simple Gospel”:

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTt-1XZvC0bgWRwBy84kfqg

 

I will continue to post more updates about the book. My plan is to release it sometime mid-2018. I will then most likely start a new site, to go along with it and include a link to the vintage posts on this site.

Grace and Peace,

John

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The Power of Weakness

Hey guys, I know its been a while. As mentioned in my last post, I am working on a book called “The Simplicity of Christ: (subtitle TBD)”. I also said I would be putting excerpts from the book into blog posts to provide a sneak peak.

So, here is a little tidbit from a section of the book on understanding mercy and grace. It is about how to view and deal with weakness. Enjoy!

As a younger man, I remember struggling with trying to be spiritual enough, faithful enough to my calling and a strong leader of my newly formed family. I would often get frustrated with myself and those around me when I felt like I was failing in one of those things.

One day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “The reason for your problems is that you think you need to be strong.” This message, although counter-intuitive to the unrenewed parts of my mind, resonated deep within and brought sweet relief as God quieted me with His love.

One of the biggest lies that has infiltrated the human race is that the reason we fail is due to our weaknesses. If God’s grace is sufficient for us, then failure is not due to weakness but to not walking in His grace.

Please note that by “weakness” I am referring to an inability in our self to accomplish the will of God. I am not referring to sin, which needs to be forgiven and cleansed, or wounds, which need to be healed. I am simply referring to the human frailty which needs to be empowered by God.

We sometimes think God is standing there waiting for us to be strong before He will join us in our endeavors. But in reality, He meets us in our weakness. When we try to be strong in ourselves, we are actually rejecting the very grace we need in order to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

When our vision of who we are in Christ eclipses our vision of who He is in us, we can become strong in our own self and spirituality. This sets us up for burnout and frustration. Do not become discouraged when this happens, but just realize that God’s grace does not burn out. It is a good indicator that we need to stop what we are doing and cry out for the grace to help in time of need.

Many times, all we need is a change in perspective concerning our Father’s heart towards us to overcome this hangup about our weakness. When we know that He longs to bring us into the sufficiency of Christ for our weaknesses, we will not feel ashamed before Him. We will no longer think we need to be strong to find God. We will get excited about Him finding us in our weakness!

This, to me, is one of the most freeing truths I have ever learned in God. In the world, people demand strength from you. If you don’t measure up to certain standards, you become weak in the eyes of certain figures in life (parents, peers, coaches, bosses, spouses, etc). We then expect Father God to be feeling the same way about us when He sees us struggling in this vessel of clay. Not so! The Holy Spirit loves to meet us in our weakness!

But I think many believers are convinced that they need to be strong to reach God. How many times have you asked a fellow Christian how they are doing and they reply with telling you all of the areas they are falling short in and how they would have a much better relationship with God, if only they were stronger. “Well, you know how it is brother. I know I should be praying more and reading the Bible more, but I end up getting busy and not getting around to it. If only I would be more disciplined, and I know I ought to, then God would bless me….”

We often think God is waiting for us to be stronger so we can be fit to meet with Him, but He is longing to come connect with us in our weakness; something that is uncomfortable and foreign in the performance driven world. What if that hypothetical believer’s nauseating response in the last paragraph were instead reframed into a prayer like this: “Father, thank you that though I am not feeling like praying, you love me and want to meet with me. Thank you that I live by the faithfulness of Christ in me and His grace empowers me. Father, I am so grateful that I don’t have to measure up in my own strength, but you measure me up by your mercy and desire me just for me.”

Paul was a man who learned this well, pretty early in His walk with God. Here is the account of his lesson on strength and weakness:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2. Cor. 12:7-10).

We take that whole thorn in the flesh thing and go crazy with it. Regardless of what it was, I think we miss the whole part about God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God was not saying, “Paul, I’m not going to help you out with this one. Just suck it up” He was giving him the solution. It was His grace, not Paul’s strength, that would win that one. Paul had been getting some colossal revelations. He had become God’s man of power for the hour. But then came the thorn and it deflated any pride that may have gotten in there and caused Paul to boast in his  own spirituality. He cried out to God for him to remove this thing that made him feel weak and helpless. But God instead, wanted to meet Paul in that place of weakness. He said, “Nope Paul, not going to remove the thorn. But how about I myself come rest on you instead? Does that sound sufficient? Bet that thorn won’t look so big then.” Paul was like, “Um, yeah… What a sweet deal. I think I am going to boast in this weakness instead.”

You see, if God has started to use us and do amazing things in our lives, as He had done in Paul, there can be a tendency to think that our own spirituality has had something to do with it. What can follow is a misguided trust in our own strength. But then, like Paul we might run into a wall that causes us to look back at the true source of strength.

We, like Paul, can also boast in the weak things that attract the power of Christ. This is not to mean that we are opposed to growing; it means that in whatever area we are currently weak in, we can view it as a gateway to the power of Christ.

Religious pride can be one of the most blinding things one can fall in. After all, we are not boasting in “worldly” things when we are religiously proud, we are boasting in what we have accomplished in God. But salvation is by grace through faith; not of ourselves, lest any man should boast, right?

Think about it, if our lack of strength is what is keeping us from God’s grace, then would it not be our strength that earns His grace? We read that God opposes the proud and gives His grace to the humble (see Jas. 4:6). Pride is at odds with the grace of God because it relies on human strength apart from God. To be humble is to simply be honest about our condition. Everyone needs grace. God wants to give it everyone. Only the humble receive it! When we have true humility, we then become open for a deluge of grace from above!

It is through receiving the gift of righteousness and the abundance of grace that we can reign in this life (see Rom. 5:17). What does that look like? Well, it means we can stand before the Father with the same right standing that Jesus Himself has. We then become the target for all of the grace that heaven has at its disposal. And in case you have not realized it, it takes an abundance of grace to match the challenges of this world.

Some of you might be thinking, “But I know I am weak! Why am I not experiencing the power of Christ then?” You might know you are weak, but the question is, what do you believe about the heart of God toward you when you are in that place? Do you think He is waiting for you to be strong and is disappointed in you? Ah, some of you just got it!

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My First Book: The Simplicity of Christ

Hello everyone! I know I have not been posting as much lately. In addition to being a father of four working a full time job, I have also been working on my first book.

One night, I was praying and I felt like God just downloaded the idea for an entire book into my heart. It was sort of unexpected and I had actually started working on a book which was focused on the difference between the Old and New Covenant.

But the message of the book I feel empowered and impassioned to write is all about returning to the simplicity of Christ. It is about escaping the confusion that can come through outside influences that try to add and take away from the central focus of our faith: Jesus Christ. Paul said, For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2. Cor. 11:2-3)

The cool thing about this book (and I am boasting in our Father who I feel gave me the idea) is that it is all about ONE thing. Rather than steps and formulas and hitting the points, it is all about beholding Jesus and what He did for us through different biblical themes, such as:

  • The two trees in the garden
  • Walking in the flesh vs the Spirit
  • The ways that we can get distracted from our fellowship with God
  • The Old and New Covenant paradigms
  • How reading the Bible can actually be simplified

So the goal of the book is not to leave the reader with a list of many things that they must do, but to show that the many things are really all about one thing: partaking of Christ. Jesus, the mystical secret of God, is like a beautiful multi-faceted diamond. There are many angles we can take to look at the riches of Christ. In this book, I am presenting different facets but one message. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ; the inebriating, transforming, unfathomable good news that answers the cry of humanity.

To stay in the place of abiding in Him and His message is what the Father desires. So much of religion, philosophy and psychology (self-help) have been put into the mix. This book seeks to remove the unnecessary distractions that get into our fellowship with God and bring us back into the simplicity of our first love.

So although I won’t be posting here for a little while as I feel I should focus that energy on the book, I will still be answering comments and questions. Also, I might release segments of the book in the forms of posts. The SiGGiT journey is not ending, just taking a different course for now.

Blessings in Christ,

John

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What is the Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings?

This is the second post in my series on everybody’s favorite topic: suffering. Again, the reason I feel compelled to write about this is because I have not heard much in-depth -mention about it in modern Western Christianity.

In the last post, I attempted to clarify how we do not suffer to earn righteousness, but because we have been given righteousness. The righteous live in a world of unrighteousness and therefore, run into conflict. In this post, I want to look at what Christian suffering entails.

I believe it can be summed up in one word: love. The first thing that the Bible says when defining love is that is “suffers long” (1 Cor. 13). You won’t learn that one in the world 🙂  Jesus said that no greater love has been seen then when a man lays down his life for his friends.

Both the triumphs and sufferings involved with following Jesus revolve around relationships. This is important to be aware of because there is a religious mindset that says Christian suffering is all about some weird inner struggle with sin or about harsh bodily discipline. But it is all about people.

Yes, there is an aspect of people trying to kill us because of the gospel and I do not want to minimize the struggle that some of our precious brothers and sisters experience in nations that are physically hostile to the gospel. But when you love someone, you open yourself up to hurt for them. This is one reason why there is much hardness of heart these days.

Taking up the Cross

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me (Matt. 16:24).”

For disciples, taking up our cross does not mean that we suffer to pay for our own sins or anyone else’s sin. That was Jesus’ cross to bear alone. However, the definition of a disciple is one who becomes like his teacher. Jesus’ cross was about laying down His life to save the world. Likewise, our cross involves us laying down our lives to lead people to the salvation that Christ purchased.

Roy Hession once said that Jesus is not the Lamb because He was slain; He was slain because He is the Lamb. Only the sinless Lamb could take our place and pay the price for our sin to make everything right with God on our behalf. But when we receive Him as our Savior and Lord, His nature gets birthed in us so that we can become like Him. Part of becoming Christlike means becoming like the Lamb who laid down His life so that others could be saved. Paul called this “the fellowship of His sufferings.” (see Phil. 3:10)

Yes, Jesus suffered for us and did what we could never do on our own as far as freeing us from sin and restoring us back to God’s image. But some view this as to mean that suffering is not something that should be in the Christian life. The result, from what I have seen, is a lack of understanding of how to process trials when they come.

Jesus: Our Substitute and Our Example

I believe one of the reasons that believers misunderstand the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings is because they fail to differentiate between Jesus’ roles as our substitute and our example. Jesus suffered for us once for all as our substitute (the Lamb which was slain). He also left us with an example of how we should expect and handle suffering as followers of the Lamb.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.(1 Pet. 2:21-23)

Christ left us an example by showing us what love was. It was shown in suffering for us. His love was demonstrated in the ultimate display when He took our sins upon Him. That same self-sacrificing love is our example. Though we will not atone for sin, we follow the way of love; loving one another EVEN AS Christ loved us. We also trust in the Father as Jesus did that He is working all things together for our good and for His plan of salvation for man as we live out His love.

So you see, love and trust are what Christian suffering is all about. I hope this helps to demystify suffering and encourages you to move forward in the grace of God, through the challenges of this life.

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Glory, Glory, Glory… and Maybe Suffering?

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Pet. 1:10-11).

I have heard much talk about experiencing the glory of God in the part of the church I have known. As much as I love that, I also have noticed that in just about every place you see glory mentioned in Scripture, it also mentions suffering. It is very important that we have a healthy view of this aspect of the Christian life; something I feel like I avoided for years out of fear that was rooted in misunderstanding.

So I feel inspired to write a series of posts on suffering. Don’t worry, this should be fun and enlightening 🙂 Though there is much mystery, myth and confusion surrounding the topic of suffering, I am finding that there are many New Testament passages that paint a clear picture of what suffering looks like for a believer. If this is not made plain and simple to us, we will “think it strange” when a trial comes upon us as it mentions in 1 Peter 4:12.

Throughout my life, I have seen two extremes in the way the role of suffering in the Christian faith is viewed. This can cause confusion and a bad taste for the topic.

One extreme makes it seem that we suffer in order to earn some sort of blessing or spiritual status. It can be seen as “our part” of the deal. Christ suffered really bad for us so we need to measure up to some degree and pay Him back a little.

The obvious flaw with this way of thinking is that it conflicts with the fact that salvation is a gift of grace. It also undermines our identity as sons by causing us to think we need to suffer in order to be approved. We might even think that our good Father is responsible for the trials in our life as we go through a never ending purging of sin through personal suffering (rather than trusting in Christ’s sacrifice).

On top of all that, the enemy can take advantage of this mindset. He will try to get us to tolerate demonic oppression and the effects of the fall of man as part of our “Christian” suffering. But we are born of God and can overcome sin and satan, right? (see 1 John 5:4-5 & Rom. 6:11-12).

On the other end of the spectrum is the thought that there is no such thing as suffering in the Christian life. I can understand why people embrace this view. Besides the obvious fact that we do not like suffering (or else it would not be called suffering), the victory that Christ won did provide freedom from suffering the effects of sin and the oppression of the devil. I also think some sway this way as a reaction to the miserable first view of suffering I described.

So the question is, what is Christian suffering? It is not suffering in order to be accepted, but because we have been accepted by God!

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matt. 5:10). He did not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted; they will become righteous.”

Righteousness is a gift (Rom. 5:17). But those who are made righteous through the blood of Jesus still live in a world of unrighteousness. They become a target for the very things that fought against the pure and innocent Lamb of God when He walked the Earth. Its that simple. The Bible boldly declares that if we say we abide in Christ, we should walk as he walked (1 John 2:6)! That means we will walk through the things Jesus walked through as we are “conformed to His image”.

This is why it is called, “the fellowship of HIS sufferings.” (Phil. 3:10). We do not go through independent suffering to earn an independent victory; we partake of His. Paul put it this way:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:16-17).

People who are of the 2nd mindset mentioned in the beginning of this post might gloss over the “if we suffer with Him” part of this passage, whereas mindset #1 interprets this as a works oriented verse. “You’re only an heir of God if you suffer.”

However, it is not saying that we earn our inheritance through personal suffering. It first says that we ARE children of God. It is simply saying that the inheritance we have in Christ comes with persecution. Walking with Jesus through the suffering and the glory are all part of being IN Christ. Always remember, we are saved by grace through faith.

No matter if we are in a glory moment or a suffering moment, trust is key. We trust in the ever present grace of Christ when we are going through hard times and discover His nature rising up within to overcome the fallen ways of the world that complain and self-medicate. We likewise trust Him in the glory times, that we will not pervert His blessings through the fallen ways of man. As we commune with Him, trust in Him and obey His calling, we become like Him. This applies to both suffering and glory moments.

So what DOES our part in His suffering look like if we know it is not suffering in order to earn forgiveness or acceptance? That will be the focus of the next post. Stay tuned.

 

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The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out] (Eph. 3:8, AMPC).

We need to be in the business of searching out the riches of Christ, not the riches of Adam. What I mean by that is we should not be searching the self life, the fallen life, to look for problems or solutions. The problem is that we were born into Adam. The answer for Adam is Christ. All the good things we need are hidden in Him.

Searching Adam is what psychology endeavors to do. It tries to turn over every stone in search for all of the reasons that we are a mess and then apply the latest remedies. I am not against psychologists as they are trying to help people and there is a place for recognizing problems. What I am saying though, is that the gospel is not psychology. It is the supernatural work of God that completely saves those who are completely helpless to save themselves!

 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.  This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Romans 1:16-17, NLT)

We as Christians have been taught that we are an onion. There’s lots and lots of layers that need peeling! Get ready for a lifetime of discovering your depravity and purging out sin.

However, the Bible does not describe the Christian life this way. It says you once were dead in sin (the whole onion was rotten), but are now alive in Christ (Ephesians 2). The problem for a Christian, and I have seen this play out in my own life, is the tendency to live from the old man instead of the new man. We are not old sinners trying to become new. We are new creatures who put off old things as we walk through this world system, which is no longer our home.

But I think that psychology has come into the gospel that we preach over here in America. We have a Christianized version of it. It involves a never ending quest to become free, whereas the Bible says our Christian walk is about staying free (see Galatians 5).

It says we need to go back and get rid of all generational curses. We need to dig up every hurt from since we were in the womb in order to be healed of the things we don’t even realize are hurting. It produces a self-gazing introspection and a sense of lack, whereas the gospel beckons us to look unto Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:1-2).

God is aware that we were all born into Adam and have grown up, not just in broken homes, but in a broken world! Everything we need, whether it be healing or cleansing, is found in our new life which is in union with Christ. As we simply trust in what He accomplished for us and is doing in us, we will see the fruit of the new as the old fades away.

Since we have been made new, it grieves us when we sin and go against the rhythms of the new life. This probably wouldn’t have bothered us before Christ. This is what John was talking about when he said:

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (1 John 3:9).

We just can’t go on in the old and be happy. Before Christ, were you going around confessing your sins to your buddies and asking them to be your accountability partners? No, you were going with the flow of Adam. But in Christ, you have been taken out of the river of sin and placed into the river of grace that leads to holiness. It grieves our conscience to go against that flow.

How to Be Transformed

Paul, addressing people who were already in Christ, said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

See, the blood of Jesus has already transformed us at the deepest inner level. As our mind starts realizing and resting in what He has done, we will see that transformation work its way to our outer life.

In another passage, Paul puts it this way:

…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

Again, the way to put off the old and walk in the new is to have our minds constantly renewed to the truth of our life in Christ.

As believers, we get to open up the never ending gifts under the tree and discover the beauty of Christ and His work in us, rather than endlessly unraveling the issues that pertained to the old man. He is for us all that we lacked in Adam. Let’s search out that which is unsearchable. We cannot calculate how much the Father loves us and wants to lavish kindness on us.

Posted in Experiencing the Presence of God | 1 Comment

15 Years of Knowing Jesus

Today is the 15th anniversary of when I gave my life to Jesus. So I would like to take some time to share my personal story in honor of the God of love, mercy and grace who surprised me with His goodness when I wasn’t even expecting it and changed my life forever.

To begin, I actually was well familiar with Jesus and the gospel from as far back as I can remember. I was born into an awesome Christian family. Read this post and that post if you want to find out about some of my family members.

I can remember experiencing God’s presence, hearing about and seeing miracles happen all around me. Perhaps I will take the time to talk about my childhood in another post. But as we know, children grow up and need to make their own choices. I had the truth taught to me and demonstrated from a young age, but seemed to make a series of wrong decisions in my teen years.

As a young adult fresh out of high school, I was bound by fear, addiction and emptiness. Rather than focusing on the outward sin and methods I chose to fill the void in me, I want to talk about the root heart issue. I simply was not walking with God, my Creator and Father. Jesus did not come to simply make bad men good, but to make dead men live. I was disconnected from the Source of life. The result of that was a misunderstanding of the nature of God as well as my true identity which could only be found in Him. Without those two key ingredients, only darkness and deception can fill in the gaps.

So there go I, a young man without a clue of what to do with my life. I was living with a deep shame and guilt since I was taught the truth but not walking in it. I also believed I could never live up to the standards that some Christian leaders in my life had portrayed; I was bound by sin and lies kept me in that place.

Now come the two words that turn any life and situation around: “But God!” One of my friends who I used to party with had encountered Jesus, gave his life to Him and went off to Bible college. On Christmas break of 2000, we met up again and he shared the joy and awesomeness of knowing God. I was in his car into the wee hours of the morning hearing him talk. Oddly enough I, who am actually known for having a good memory, do not remember a word he said. But I do remember someone else being in that car. While He was talking, the presence of God came upon me.

Now I have been in many church gatherings and personal prayer times where the sweet peace of God will fill my heart. But this was different for me. The way I describe this was being absolutely awestruck. It was as if everything disappeared and God was simply all in all. It was as if I was vibrating with awareness of God’s tangible presence.

My friend and I said our goodbyes and I walked into my home. There I lay awake in my room as the presence became more and more personal. It was as if everything in me was out in the open and God’s love and truth filled every part. I had a realization of His unconditional love that nobody could have ever convinced me of with mere words. I knew that He wanted me for me and not what I could do for Him. This was different than many of the “call to service” messages I, as a teenager in the Charismatic church, had heard. This was pure enjoyment. I felt the joy in God’s heart that He had for me and knew that Jesus’ blood had completely paid for the crimes of my old life of sin. It really was true. The simple gospel of “For God so loved the world…” exploded with life inside of me.

All I could do was laugh and cry, somehow at the same time. As someone who grew up in the Evangelical church, I knew that I needed to respond, do the “altar call” thing, say a sinner’s prayer… something. So I mustered up the strength to start confessing and renouncing some of the sins I had committed. But it was incomplete at best as I started laughing and crying more and more as I attempted to speak. I could feel heaven fill the room as they were celebrating my homecoming.

It was a true prodigal son experience (see Luke 15). Remember, the prodigal had a confession he began and never finished. He was going to give the best repentance speech he knew, in hopes of getting a servant’s job in the Father’s house. But he, like I, was surprised by the over-the-top love and compassion of his Dad. You know, I never finished that prayer.

Jesus also says in the same message that heaven throws a party whenever a sinner turns to God and is found after being lost.

…that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God (Luke 15:10, MSG).

I can also remember my mind fighting me that night. What were my friends going to think (fear of man)? How was I to explain myself to the ones who knew me and would expect me to continue in my old way of life, which apparently was just obliterated? But as my mind started to drift into fear, God’s presence lifted me above it. I remember feeling like I was a million miles higher than any problem on Earth (I was).

The next day, I would break out into tears when trying to talk about what I had experienced. My sisters were wondering what had happened to me as that was not the way I usually acted. I knew my life had been changed forever. That next week, as I was trying to process what happened, I slipped back into some old habits but I still knew I was a new creation and didn’t truly want to sin anymore.

One week after my encounter, we had a guest speaker at my local church, which was experiencing a powerful move of God’s Spirit at the time. He was a man by the name of Georgian Banov. He is a pretty well known Evangelist and musician, but back then he was much less known than he is today. His childlike love and joy as well as his fiery passion and total abandonment to God gripped me. That night, I knew that there was no going back. I belonged to God and was never going to know separation from Him again. I remember a sense of awe. It was as if I was dreaming, but this was real.

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion (Jerusalem),
We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal].
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting (Psalm 126:1-2, AMP).

My freedom from my old life was proven legitimate to me a few days later when I attended a New Years Eve party. Even though there were drugs and alcohol available, I had absolutely no desire for them. In times past, I would have seen this as an atmosphere of fun and freedom, but my eyes were opened and all I saw was death and sadness as my heart broke for my friends who were still trapped in my old type of lifestyle.

That night I remember having the greatest high I had ever known. My conscience was completely washed clean. I was aware of my Father’s love, acceptance and forgiveness without any shame or guilt. Victory was mine in Jesus and Satan had lost once more. I have not desired drugs and have been clean ever since then. I had found my Source of pleasure. I had viewed living for God as the “right” thing, but after my encounter, I saw that this was the most blissful thing.

I went back to the college I was attending after Christmas break was over with confidence in my future for the first time. My life was in Christ now. Even though I was feeling a call to preaching and I was used in ministry shortly after my experience, I don’t want to emphasize that. I knew that I was a son and that all of life’s work would flow from that place of abiding in God’s presence.

To further confirm the Biblical authenticity of my experience over the break, we were given quite the interesting assignment in my English class. We were to take one of the literary pieces we studied and relate our life story to it. One of the stories happened to be Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (mind you, this was a secular school). Wow. That was and is my story.

I have never left the party my Father threw for me that night. It resounds in my heart and my faith in Jesus and His salvation has strengthened over time. I am not saying there have not been trials and struggles as I have stepped out in faith. But I am saying that I have never been left alone and His flame within me has never been quenched. I am a son and I am home safe in my Father’s arms.

Whereas some would say my experience was just emotionalism and I was just a youthful zealot that went for the religion I had been taught, after 15 years my new addiction has gotten worse!

Since then, I have seen others join the party and receive the Lord Jesus. I have seen miracles and have had supernatural things in my life (the Bible says that signs will follow believers). But the greatest miracle of all is the love that I encountered 15 years ago and that continues to be my Source of strength. It is good news of great joy to all the world. It is the love that pursues us when we are far away and beckons us home. It is the love that believes the best of us, never gives up on us and sees us through to the end.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NASB).

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:10, NLT).

If you want to know more about how to know this God as your Father, please click here.

 

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