Recently, I was sitting around with a group of guys, discussing everything from cloud computing to remote control boats to prostitution busts. Eventually, the conversation turned to faith and what are people’s most common hang-ups when it comes to surrendering to Christ. We went over the usual questions: How do I know God exists? What about Adam and Eve? Evolution vs. Creation? Why would God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why do Christians do wicked things? Etc. We decided that people could spend the rest of their lives debating these questions, or being lazy, or both.
Finally, we decided (I’m sure we weren’t the first to arrive at this decision, but I’m glad we did) that none of these questions really matter if you can’t answer these 3 questions first.
1. Did Jesus Exist? (Historical documents would tell you that absolutely He did.)
2. Did Jesus Die On The Cross For Our Sins? (I think there were a few people present to witness this one.)
3. Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? (A couple hundred people have been documented to say just this. I can’t imagine all of them having the same hallucinations.)
So, that’s it. Those are the 3 questions that really matter. If you can answer those, the rest aren’t nearly as important. Don’t get me wrong, the other questions are certainly worth your time, but they’re secondary to determining your salvation. Jesus died for each of us. He died for us so that we may live for Him.
Are you asking the right questions?
Needless to say, I was honored that they had me in mind for this opportunity. I've never really been one to shy away from discussing the works that God has done in my life over the last several years, so accepting this task was a no-brainer for me. I hope you'll take a couple minutes to watch this as well. If you have any questions or comments (good or bad), please let me know.
Also, here's a website you should visit: http://www.gracepoint.org/jeff
My video is posted there as well, along with a previous blog post I wrote late one night while sitting up in a hospital room with someone.
If you feel something stirring inside you, please contact me...or fill out the "Want to know more?" section on the website. I had felt that stirring deep inside of me for years before I finally reached out to someone. Everyday, I'm thankful I had the courage to do just that.
Most people put their hope in earthly things: "money, possessions, people, greed, stuff"...but I don't think I really had hope in anything. Don't get me wrong, I wanted someone to "fix" me, but I didn't really want to work for it or seek out a solution. I wanted a quick and simple fix for all the shortfalls that I felt…for all the wrongs that I felt others had dealt me over the years. Basically, I wanted someone to tell me that I was right and good, and everything thing else was evil…that I was great and everyone else was crazy…and I wanted that to be the truth. I secretly wanted people to feel sorry for me…and if they wanted to hand me a million dollars in the process, that would be alright as well. In my mind, that would solve all my problems and worries…life would be wonderful and I’d have a genuine smile on my face for the first time in years.
This spiraled to a place of nightly drinking to escape the reality that I had placed myself in. The reality that I felt I was going nowhere, and even if I knew how to change that, I didn't have the desire to put the bottle down and make a move. I had no desire to change my own circumstance. I just wanted the sympathy. This place I had put myself into made me believe that this would be my life forever. A life of addiction…and of loneliness… and of anger…and of feeling I was owed something.
One cold night, while sitting alone on my 3rd floor balcony drinking, I remember reaching my breaking point, my bottom...I couldn't keep going like this. I cried out to God and told Him I was finished...I was broken...I couldn't live like that anymore. It was either real life change or death for me...there was no other way out. I stood up, walked inside, and grabbed a Bible off my bookshelf. I returned back to the cold floor of my balcony and opened the book. I had no idea what I was looking for (since I never really read it), so I just opened it to a ‘random’ place; Philippians 4. I sat there, squinting to make out the words under the dim light from the far off moon and humming flood lights around me. What I read broke me to my very core:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:4-13
After reading those words, I knelt on the cold ground, put my face down to the floor, and wept. I cried out to God, and this was His answer to me. I asked Him to take control of my life...to make me new. That only He could save me...make me into the person that He had created me to be. And there I stayed, for an hour, bent over on the ground, crying to God, speaking to Him, praising Him.
That was 6 years ago, and I'm blessed to say that my life has never been the same since. I still have my struggles, I've had my share of difficult times...but the difference is that I know God is here...He loves me even in my worst of moments...He was the Savior I needed all along. He is love, and He is all I ever need. He chose to have His son Jesus die for me, and for all of us, so that no matter the trouble we get into, no matter the pain we feel or inflict on others, no matter how far we run from Him, we are loved all the same, we are forgiven, and we are given the same promise for those who choose Him over all else.
My story doesn't end there. Because ultimately; this story isn't mine, but His. Jesus called us to love all, and in order to know love, we must know Him. He alone is love. He showed us the way…and called us to share His love with the world.
Are you hurting? Alone? Angry? Seeking something greater? Feeling like nothing ever really satisfies? You are not alone…I’ve been there...there is hope!
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:1-10
that was 45 minutes ago...
as i sit here at work at my comfy desk... with a space heater warming my legs beneath it... pandora radio playing through the headphones plugged into my iphone... wireless high-speed internet blasting through my computer and uploading these images and words faster than i can type them... a warm lunch awaiting me in a matter of minutes... and another paycheck being handed to me in a couple days that far exceeds the amount of money i truly need to live... i ponder the words "give us today our daily bread"... and guilt rolls over me.
i sit here and think about this little boy (and the millions of others just like him)...who doesn't even have indoor plumbing, let alone the luxuries that i take for granted everyday... and i wonder... what am i really doing to help? awareness is worthless unless it leads to action, right? so what is my action? what am i doing to make a difference? how am i doing more with what God has blessed me with?
would giving money to red bowl help? sure.
would going and feeding this little boy in south africa make a difference? absolutely.
should i be satisfied with those simple things that we're all called to do? i fear that all to often i am.
do you struggle? are you in bondage? addiction? pain? hurting? lost?
are you in need of answers? do you feeling like something is missing?
are you full of pride? are you tired of life being "business as usual"?
are you a skeptic? been burned by others before? feel that hope has passed you by?
are you afraid of what you might discover if you go looking for answers? fearful of what others might say if you make a change? afraid of what will be required of you? afraid of the unknown?
if you're reading this, then I'm talking to you.
all these thoughts, feelings, answers and excuses fall well short of the hope that exists for you.
if this is you...text me...email me...meet me for coffee...whatever you need to do. just don't let these feelings pass you by. i was once the one asking all these questions...making all the excuses i could. doing my best to hide the uneasy stirring within me. then one day, i grew tired of who i'd become, and what i thought life was suppose to be. i went in search of answers...a solution that truly changes. below is my contact info. please, let me know what i can do for you. don't allow your pride to keep you from the freedom that awaits you.
as i got older and moved on from organized school sports, i always seemed to go back to running as my main source of exercise. the distances may have varied, as did the rewards afterward, (if you're really curious about the rewards, ask me about it sometime) but the motion itself stayed the same...one step at a time.
like i said, running is a fascination, but certainly not a love. quite often, i find it a chore to run...to train. the one thing that seems to keep my legs moving is the desire to accomplish a goal that i've set for myself. last year, as i was training for my first marathon, it was very difficult to wake up before 5:00am and run. nothing about me wanted to leave the comfort of my cozy bed for the humid mornings and stray dogs that the dark streets had to offer. i got up and ran in the morning for one reason, to accomplish that goal...to cross the finish line after 26.2 miles.
so, last year on november 15th, i crossed the finish line...i got a medal placed around my neck...i ran a marathon. when asked immediately afterward if i'd ever do it again, my quick response was "absolutely not". well, apparently time makes for cloudy memories. sure, i will remember the pain my body felt, and my mental strength running on fumes as i ran the last miles, but i've witnessed something else since then...i went to africa and saw starving, diseased, dying children without electricity, heat, or running water...and i now realize that a few hours of suffering on my part is nothing compared to the constant despair that they call everyday life. if by me running a few painful miles helps make a difference, it gives each of those aches and pains a purpose far greater than any medal could show.
true, there is much to do, but i believe there is something i can do, one step at a time.
want to help, click here and donate, or sign up and run with me.
click here for a video.