02 January 2013

The Relevance of the Bible

Picture found at www.crosswalk.com
I keep hearing people, Christians and non-Christians alike, saying that the Bible is out dated, not in touch with our generation, and too old school; I have to admit that I understand why non-Christians see the Bible this way, but Christians sharing this view point is somewhat striking. And you know what, the Church might not be arguing about whether or not circumcision is a barrier to Heaven, but many believers still think that we cannot get to Heaven without works. The Bible is as relevant today as it has ever been. When it comes to a guiding book of principals the Bible could not be more relevant to today’s Christians. Before we get started I want to say this about the books of the NT: the Gospels were written for everybody, Christian and non-Christian, whereas The Acts of the Apostles, all of the epistles, and Revelation were written to the Church, specifically. Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, Lord on high, we come to you humbly and in repentance. God we love you so much and give ourselves wholly to you. Father we ask that as we study your Word that your love sits on our hearts and your wisdom comes down encasing our minds that we might understand the true meaning of you mighty Word. Thank you for all you’ve given us and for all you’ve taught us, Lord we love you. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Psalms 119:105- Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Jeremiah 23:29- “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.”

Hebrews 4:12- For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

If Jesus is the word (John 1:1,2) having become flesh (John 1:14) and through Him all things were created (John 1:3). Now all things, that means everything from the first speck of space spoken into existence to the most recently created life form blessed into creation. If we accept that as true, we must accept that the Bible (the very word of God) is relevant today.

I could very well end with that, but I won’t I want to dig into this study and bring out scriptures from the epistles that are so relevant to Christian life today. So if you’re still with me let us continue onward.
In today’s church many believers struggle with how to live with the world. We are supposed to go into the world and share the love of Christ; I’m not going to give any one particular verse on this truth, but tell you to simply open the book of Acts and read for a few seconds and you’ll see how the apostles did just that here’s a link to show you how Christians are still doing that today. And the cool thing about God is that he didn’t just tell us to go out into the world he warns us not to be conformed to the World, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). And it is relevant that many Christians aren’t seeing the Bible as relevant, because like myself once, we’re allowing ourselves and fellow believers to conform to what the world thinks we should be like.

Aren’t we supposed to argue with atheists and other non-Christians, because we know God is right and that they’re wrong? And aren’t we supposed to correct people who are wrong? Now this is something that I, admittedly, often struggle with. Again let us go to the scripture. 2 Timothy 2:23,24,25- 23But avoid foolish disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,. Let’s break that down. I’ve been in plenty of debates regarding faith (just check out my FB) and neither side ever leaves agreeing with the other. Recently I’ve grown to converse often with non-Christians about things of faith (note the use of the word converse and not debate) and it’s not that people change through those conversations, but nobody leaves angry and people often leave with an understanding of the other person’s point of view and through that a seed is planted for Christ to grow. And yes the scripture does tell us to correct, but let’s first look at who it tells us to correct : those in opposition, if God grants them repentance. So that means we are to correct other (newer) believers in Christ once they give themselves to God. I’ve been through the NT and I’ll tell you what I’ve never read: be right, correct the non-Christians, or generate strife with those who would disagree. What I have read regarding instructing or warning others: Jesus told us to beware of the religious in Luke 12, nearly every verse written by Paul, James, or the other writers of the NT, and in nearly every verse they were instructing the Church how to act not people outside of the body. Sorry about drifting from the main topic, but it just goes to show you how relevant it is today.

Okay so let’s look at some problems and instructions given to the early church that are also relevant today (although you’d hear me argue that all of them are relevant, I’m not going to copy the entire NT onto this blog at this moment). 

Pride was/is a problem (James 4:1-3) therefore humility was/is instructed (1 Peter 5:5/James 1:6). 
Hypocrisy was/is a problem therefore wisdom was/is instructed (James 3:17). 
Judgment and partiality were/are problems therefor they were/are instructed against (James 2:1-4). 

Give me a problem you find in the Church today and I can keep this up, I promise, but I won’t unless prompted to.

In conclusion I think that we can all agree that the Holy Word of God is without a doubt as relevant today as it has ever been. Let us pray.

Father, we love you so much. Help us to trust in your perfect word and to find strength within its pages. Lord, when we come upon times in our lives that breed struggle help us find comfort within the written word of life. Lord we love you so, and thank you for such an amazing book in which you perfectly oversaw the writing of, to show us how much you love us and how to become more like you and that lets us know that one day we will be made perfect. We love you, In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

Please feel encouraged to leave a comment and/or subscribe. God bless you all and remember, there is no better substance than the word of God in which you’ll find the Holy Spirit.

09 December 2012

Christians, what are we doing?

In today's study we will be visiting a very important topic in today's church. Some might find this sour or baseless, but, like I said earlier I will speak only the truth on this blog. We're going to talk about one huge reason people are rejecting Christ and what we can do about it. Sorry to say it, the blame for many of those reasons are to be laid at the feet of the church, and we are going to discuss one of those. Whenever I think of this topic, I am reminded of the song If We Are The Body by Casting Crowns. Please go give it a listen. Sorry for such a brief introduction, but I'm feeling a bit antsy to get to the study. With that let us pray:

Lord, we come to you as your servants and your friends. Lord we ask you to forgive our sins and we pour out our gratitude, because we know you will, because you have promised your grace to us. We pray that we might be enlightened by your mighty Word and may come to see the loving truth of Christ Jesus more clearly. We love you so much and to you we give all the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, amen.  

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (NKJV).

Matthew 5:43-48 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (NKJV).

Luke 6: 37 "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

I'm praying to calmly pass this message to you, brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not want to come off as the very Christians I am talking about. I, as all Christians should, wish to be seen as Jesus would want me seen. With that said. I need some questions answered:

Where in the Word are we told to condemn all homosexuals to hell?

Where are we commanded to call would-be-mothers who abort their unborn child words that I won't mention on this blog?

Where in the Word are we instructed to abhor our fellow men and women who do not agree with our views?

Where are we called to humiliate adulterers? 

I will answer all of those questions for you with one word: Nowhere. I'm not at all saying abortion, adultery, and homosexuality aren't sins, so don't go putting those words in my mouth. The point I'm making is that we are instructed to love those people. Who knows what they're going through, but one thing is certain, they are seemingly doing it without Christ, so let's introduce the loving Christ that we know.

Only God can ultimately pass judgment. James 4:12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (NKJV)

Let us wander over to John 8. For those of you who don't know in this chapter an adulteress is brought before Christ, himself. Now, this woman wasn't just suspected of the shame, verse 4 tells us that she was caught in the very act. The men who brought her were trying to test Jesus to see what he would do. Jesus said to them in verse 7 "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone" (NKJV). Then one by one starting with the eldest of the men they all left, without throwing a single stone. Only Jesus, sinless, remained. And do you know what he did. He, the only one there with the ability to condemn her, let her go and instructed her to sin no more. 

There is much to be taken from this passage about the Pharisees and their plotting against Jesus, but we are here for another reason. We might not be throwing literal stones at people, but a lot of us do seem to think it is our place to condemn nonbelievers. Condemning others simply, as the Word has shown us, is not our place. Another point this passage brings out is the forgiving nature of Christ, our savior. I do understand that we cannot be exactly like Christ as long as we walk this Earth, but we can try our dearest and are expected to.

So how can we as Christians, who are not even acting in the way Christ has commanded us to act as a Church, expect nonbelievers to act Godly, when they have not been taught the ways of his truth, the only truth.

Today many Christians and churches seem to believe that a person should act Godly and then be afforded the 'privilege' of meeting Christ. I assure you all it is exactly the other way around. Once someone becomes a Christian and if they truly follow the Word of God, they will automatically start changing, through God. We cannot change the world when we throw darkness at the world. So let us shine our lights among this perverse generation (Philippians 2:15) Let us not hide our light under a basket (Matthew 5:15). 

We who know the Love of God should want to share the Love of God not condemn those who don't believe what we believe, if we do that, they will not want to know the Lord. Not knowing the Lord is the saddest thing imaginable. God has given me so many wonderful things, but there isn't one thing I wouldn't trade for his Love. If I could only experience God's Love locked away in a wet, dingy cell or have everything I have now without God's love I would put the shackles on myself after throwing the key in the Mariana Trench. Glory given to God, that isn't my fate. So, with that said Let us go and share God's great Love and Mercy, Jesus on the cross, as Christians and not as angry hypocrites.   

In closing, I hope this post talks to many people (To Christians I hope if you were condemning you find the error of your ways, and to the nonbeliever I hope you realize what Christ's Love really looks like). I love you all and pray for you all. Please remember those souls still lost when you pray, for the growth of his Kingdom is our mission (Matt 28:18-20), let us love them, even those that love us not (Matt 5:44).

Let us pray:

Father, thank you for your Son who you sent to save us, but not only that. Thank you for sending him to show us the error of our ways, Lord thank you for teaching us, through Christ, what true love is and showing us, again through Christ, how to bestow your love on others. Let us be slow or even halted to condemn and quick to witness your love. Let us remember how Jesus would act when we next see something that goes against your Word. Teach us to love those that would hate us. Thank you for your mercy, Father. We love you so much. In the mighty name, above all other names we pray Amen.

03 December 2012

Behaving like a Christian Romans 12:9-21

This is the first Bible study on this blog. The scripture presented is from the book of Romans and was written by Paul. The reason I chose this as our first study is that many Christians (all of us at times) simply don't act very Christian like. Our number one goal is tom through the Holy Spirit, bring souls to Christ. And unless we behave like we preach, we simply will fail to do that. Remember this is how we should act toward everyone, friend, foe, believer, or none believer. 

If you are a nonbeliever I thank you for being here and ask that you continue to read on and maybe you'll learn something that you didn't know about the Christian faith.

Let us open with prayer.

Dear Lord, we seek you humbled by your presence, and ask forgiveness of our sins against you, our fellow man, and ourselves. Lord we ask that you grant us an understanding of your perfect Word as we open our bibles for this study. Father I ask you that I stay true to your word as I give guidance on it. Father we thank you for everything and we love you so much. In the almighty name of Jesus Christ our savior, we pray, Amen.

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (NKJV). 

I'll quickly cover the first part of this verse, Let love be genuine. What is genuine love? The best example I can think of is Christ's example.  Christ went to the cross loving every man, woman, and child equally even the ones that would reject him, even the ones that beat him, and even the ones that wanted and ordered his crucifixion. 

Not only are we supposed to act like that, but we are to mean it. the word genuine means free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere; not counterfeit; authentic; real. So when you love do so wholeheartedly. 

We'll delve into the next part of this verse in later versus so we'll continue onward. 

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (NKJV)

The Greek word philidelphia is used when describing how to be kindly affectionate to each other (the writer, Paul was talking specifically to Christians). We are to regard our fellow Christians as we would our own brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, or parents, without even having to think about it.  

Romans 12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the lord; (NKJV)

Paul is telling the Romans that whatever they do as Christians to do it wholeheartedly, because everything we do should be to glorify God. Yesterday we discussed verse 10. This verse is telling us how we are to do as we are commanded in verse 10.

The word fervent literally means having or showing great warmth; hot; burning; or glowing. All who see should know who we really are, we should not hide are true identities as servants to the Kingdom of Heaven, but actually serve God wherever we go. 

Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (NKJV)

Many of us find it easy to rejoice when things are going our way, hard to stay calm during trying times, and only pray for a few minutes a day to ask God for that raise or quickly thank him for giving us everything without actually realizing that He actually gave us everything. 

What Paul is telling 
us to do here, for the most part, goes against our natural instincts. Rejoice in hope, when you're hoping for something that usually means that you don't have it yet, but here we're told to give God the glory even when we've yet to receive what it is we're hoping for; for Jesus is truly all the hope we need in this life. Patient during tribulation, for many of us some of the most trying times are waiting 20 minutes in a line, but here Paul is telling us to be patient even when you've been in prison for serving Christ and are chained up to a soldier for twenty four hours a day until you can finally get a trial with the emperor (as was the case with Paul when writing the epistle to the church in Philippi). And pray steadfastly; the word steadfast means firmly fixed in place or position; when we pray we are supposed to do it with complete faith, remember God gives to those who ask of him John 14:14

Romans 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. (NKJV)

Let's break this verse down

To understand this verse, we have to understand what a saint is. A saint is anyone who calls upon the Lord (see 1 Cor 1:2 and Heb 10:14). I'm not saying that we always "act" like Saints, but through the grace of God we are given, though unworthy, the title.

In the first part of this v
erse we are called to see to the needs of our fellow believers in Christ. Whether it be prayer, food, clothes, or shelter we are to see to the needs of the church. We are one body, you wouldn't allow your arm to fall of if you could help it, now would you? So why would we turn our back on our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Hospitality literally meas "love of strangers". The next part of this verse is referring to travelers, strangers. When we open our doors to strangers not only are we giving to the needy, but we're also given the amazing opportunity to witness the love of Christ to that person. 

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (NKJV).

Well this verse is pretty straight forward. 

There are many definitions for the word bless, they all say pretty much the smae thing so we'll go with the one below.
Blessing someone or something is defined as asking for God's favor to be given to someone or something such as 'bless this house'

There are also multiple definitions 
for the word curse.
Cursing someone is defined as the expression of a wish that evil will befall on someone or something such as 'curse the very ground you walk on'

As Christians are mission as sojourners in a foreign land (1 Chron 29:15) is to bring people to Christ. That includes those who will go to extreme lengths to mock you, jail you, or yes even kill you. 

Whether it be enemy or friend every person who we bring to Christ we pray for, asking for God's blessing (in this case the blessing of Christ) to be bestowed on that persons heart, before they convert. So remember next time you don't want to witness to somebody, because of something they may have done to you or a loved one, that Christ didn't only die for the people who you or I like, but for the world (John 3:16) and not to condemn the world either (John 3:17) as so many believers in Christ do on a daily basis. But that is a study for a different day, hopefully soon.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (NKJV).

I like this verse as with yesterday's it is simple and straight to the point. I really like that about Paul, no beating around the bush. 
We've talked a lot about unity as we've covered these verses and so we'll continue to do so.

Being a part of Christian group, whether a church or a study group, means more than goi
ng to the same places and seeing the same events, it means being of one spirit (Phil 1:27).

Rejoice with those who rejoice. When someone comes to you with good news praise God with that person, congratulate them, don't rain on their parade, build a float and join their parade. 

Weep with those who weep. Girls, I have to give you props on this one, guys we can do a bit better. Being in the service I've shared a few tears with fellow sailors and marines. When you become part of something greater than yourself with men and women who are truly a part of your life just as much as your own family it becomes easier to do this, but Paul isn't telling us to do this with this person or that group. He says "with those". When somebody comes to you with an issue do more than listen (listen as well) and don't just tell that person you'll pray for the. Actually pray for them, better yet pray with them. 

Remember a family is what we (all Christians) are apart of, so let us start acting as a loving one.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another, Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion (NKJV).

Be of the same mind simply means that we should live in harmony with each other as Christians. This is another verse, out of many which point towards the unity of the church. I'd stress how important that is, but space dictates. 

Don't set y
our mind on high things, but associate with the humble. We are not to be so focused on the big house, next promotion, or the fattest bank account; not that these are bad things, but we are being told to make God our focus. The next part of this sentence is pretty straight forward, but hard to do in today's world, that is why one of the things we should pray for is who we are around.

Don't be wise in your own opinion. This sentence brings me back to Prov 3:5. This really speaks to me, and many of us I'd assume, simply based on our FB posts. Remember unless you know you're right, because it is Biblical, you truly have no idea whether or not you're right, but no matter what not any single one of us is nor ever will be as smart as our Heavenly Father. This verse isn't telling us not to seek knowledge it is telling us not to be conceded with that knowledge and don't fully trust in your own opinion but lean on God in everything.

Romans 12:17 Repay no evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men (NKJV).

Repay no evil for evil. This is something my sister and I really could have had more understanding with growing up. This is simply telling us not to seek revenge, even for the small things. It says no evil not the really bad kind of evil. Simply, you can not right a wrong, with a wrong.

Have regard for good
 things in the sight of all men. People watch people; people, for some reason, especially watch Christian people. We are supposed to treat people with respect, regardless of the way they've treated us. This is no easy task. Every time I've taken this route, the high road if you would, people have taken notice, likewise people notice the low road too. What I'm saying is that as Christians we should seek the high road simply for our mission of bringing souls to Christ and our purpose to love God and all of his creation.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (NKJV).

So what does this mean, it's okay to be at war? This verse tells us that if we are to war it will not be at our causing. God knows that there will be people who will be set in hurting us. The best example in the world I can think of off of the top of my mind is Israel. They suffer constant threat and even harm 
(bombings) from every border, but they wait and wait, they try for peace, they negotiate, they give, they sacrifice, until they are truly pushed over the edge.

Some of our enemies are just hellbent on ruining us and those enemies' minds can only be changed by God, there is nothing you can say that will change their mind, unless God is speaking through you. We won't always be able to avoid war or other confrontations, but we should try our best to avoid it.

Romans 12:19,20 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord (See Ps.94:1). 20 Therefor "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head (See II Kings 6:22-23) (NKJV)."

Give place to wrath. That doesn't mean become overrun by wrath It
 means allow the one who wrath belongs to to serve vengeance. Ps 94:1 says that vengeance belongs to the Lord. This isn't always the easiest thing to do, but we are given a perfect example from our Lord and Savior. When Christ was on the cross he could have easily called forth an army angels, gotten off of the cross, and put down all who killed him. He didn't he stayed up there for you and I. Also this is another very good example of an opportunity to witness to our enemy.

Feed him, give him drink. In II Kings we are given an example, I'll let you read it on your own, but the outcome was that the attackers from the north (Assyria) stopped attacking. In the military once an enemy is captured, he is not to be harmed, and not only that, but if he's been hurt he is to be healed to the best of our abilities. Man, what a better way to spread the love of Christ than to show it outright. These verses are pretty straight forward so I'll leave you with that.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome bu evil, but overcome evil with good (NKJV).

So this one is pretty straight forward. So instead of explaining the verse, we're going to see how we can do this very thing we're commanded to do. Before we can start overcoming evil we have to know how not to be overcome by it, for this lets look at Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed be the ren
ewing of your mind... The world as we know is full of evil, so seemingly the easiest way to not be overcome by evil is to not conform to the world but to the perfect will of God. Now on to the second part of 12:2 ...that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. So not only does this verse tell us how to not be overcome by evil, but it also tells us that by doing so we will overcome evil with good (the perfect will of God).

So now we'll look at how to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. First I want to point out that this isn't something you'll learn over night or over a month or even a few years, but this is something we have to commit ourselves to daily. So let's look at some things we can do to overcome evil with good and transform ourselves.

Not necessarily in the following order, but these steps will help.

1. Meditate on the word. To the rest of the world meditating means, for the most part, looking inside of yourself, not moving, remaining silent. Not for the Christian. When we meditate on the Word we are to not only read the Bible we are to study it, pray while we do so, and maybe even rejoice.

2. Pray fervently, faithfully, and with understanding. Without faith a prayer may as well be said to the tooth fairy or a dead star. Read James 5:13-18. I also say with understanding, because every prayer will be answered, but some may not be answered how we want them. Jesus willingly went to the cross, but before he did so he prayed asking the Father if there was another way (Luke 22:42) but in the same breath he said not My will, but Yours. We must understand that as much as we may want one thing God's plan is perfect and will ultimately take precedence over our wants.

3. Worship. That doesn't mean just sing at the beginning of church by the way. In everything we do we are to worship the lord (Col 3:17). We are to continually thank god and send praise and glory his way.

For such a straight forward verse we sure could talk about this for a while, so I'll leave it at that. 

God bless everyone, this concludes the study on 'behaving like a Christian'.

Let us pray.

Lord, thank you for your amazing and word always being faithful to it. Father we thank you for the understanding you've given us and ask that you provide us with the wisdom to apply what we've studied today. Father, we know we fall short of your word so, often, and seek forgiveness, but we also seek the ability to fall less and stand more and father we know that only you can provide us with the strength to defeat sin and love always as Christ. Father we ask that we'll know when we are not behaving as you have called us to, so that we might be fast to straighten our way and provide ourselves as a witness to your name. We love you so much and thank you for everything you've given us. We love you, in the mighty name, the name above all names, we pray, Amen. 

God bless everyone of you. If there are any particular verses in which you would like to see covered on this blog, please let me know in a comment.

27 November 2012

My Testimony, Jesus Saves

Since this is the first of my Bible Study blogs I'm going to start with Jesus; the first scripture that will be posted on this blog is probably the single most important verse in the Bible. I will not stop talking about Jesus as long as I do this blog, but this first one is going to be about my not so straight and narrow walk with Jesus. My testimony, if you would. We're going to look at scripture. And this isn't going to be your typical Sunday school Bible study. If I offend anyone, I assure you that was not my intent, but I will only speak the truth backed up by scripture. If you don't believe that scripture is truth I pray that you don't leave now, but continue reading. The reason I'm sharing my testimony is because I feel that if you're to follow this Bible Study that you should know that man who is leading it with Christ as his guide.

So let us get started.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (NKJV).

I was young when I got saved. Unlike most people I can't tell you the hour, the day, the month, or even the year. I believe it was in 1998 or 1999, I honestly don't like admitting this, but it's the truth. Until the age of eleven I had been growing up in and out of churches, only going to church consistently when I lived with my grandparents. I find it a bit sad, that I don't remember the date, and often wish that I could, but my memory is not the best, my wife can attest to that. I may not be able to tell you that information (dates and times), but I still remember exactly how I felt.

Picture a boy, 10 or 11 years old with tears running down his cheeks, full of guilt. Guilty, because for the first time in my life I realized what somebody else had to do for me and for all of us. I was sad, very, very sad. I wanted to go back in time, roughly 2000 years, and climb onto that cross, take the one true God off of it, and put myself up there, after all I was part of the reason he was nailed to a cross.

I may have only been in elementary school, but I desperately needed Jesus in my life prior to that point (thank God that there was always family praying for me). I started hanging out with people that if I ever find out my son is affiliating himself with with I'll lock him down as well as myself. Why myself, because if I don't I'd probably commit murder or at least be drawn to. I'm not going to say what I was doing, but let's just say it could have landed me in a detention center very easily. Not only that, but I was good at lying, like not only would I lie, but I'd twist it with the truth. For example, I was not allowed to play in the river as a child, I taught my best friend at the time how to swim in that river; on the way home we ran through sprinklers. When asked why we were wet, well you get the picture, this continued even after finding the Lord all through high school.

Now that I'm a bit older I realized if I would have been able to get Jesus off of the cross and put myself up there, it probably would've been kind of selfish as there is no way on Heaven, Hell, or Earth I'd be able to save all the lost souls. In the words of Darrel Myatt, a pastor from Keller, TX "The best I can ever hope to be on this earth is just a sinner saved by grace." Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (NKJV).

Through my high school years I was like most kids. I played basketball until I got a job and I had a deep love for video games (still kind of do), and I had 'okay' grades, but I felt that I had a deep connection with God. I had planned to stay a virgin until I got married, though that may not have happened I made it through all of HS. I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I read my Bible. I fasted. I prayed a lot.

Let me rephrase that a little. I was a virgin trapped by pornography; Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart" (NKJV). I did go to Church as many Sundays and Wednesdays as I could make it and it truly was to experience the Lord and fellowship, although I really didn't have any grasp on what Christian unity truly was. I carried my Bible around, did I read it? Every now and again, somehow I thought carrying my Bible around made me closer to God. I fasted, but never without telling everyone around me, because I would complain about how hungry I was; Matthew 6:16-18 "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting" (NKJV). I did pray, mostly for myself; for my grades, didn't help much until I started to apply myself though. Even as much as a hypocrite as I may have been I never forgot that Jesus would be there for me and all I had to do was ask for him to be there.

When I went to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois it was the summer of 2006 and I was ready to serve my country until I retired from the Navy or until it took my life. When I got to my first training station in Pensacola I stopped going to church and started reading my Bible even less, okay I stopped reading my Bible. It didn't take long until being a virgin stopped being something I was proud of and quickly became something I was ashamed of. Not, because people were making fun of me, but, because I didn't want to be made fun of. I had no idea what being persecuted for Christ even meant (Call me a Jesus freak today and I would thank you for noticing and not even try to defend myself). I want to make this clear, I was never and have never been ashamed of Jesus, but I was embarrassed to be a virgin. As a matter of fact when I got to Pensacola I only told one person I was a virgin and we were kind of close, but the only reason I was telling her that is because we had been out a few times and I didn't want to be a virgin anymore. She ended up having a boyfriend back home so we stopped hanging out as much. But I still had one mission: lose my 'v' card. And once that was my focus it was gone. I'll never blame Satan for any of my sins, but I will give him credit in saying he is pretty good at providing the opportunity for sin. Can you imagine if my goal would have been to spread the gospel. Satan may provide opportunity to sin, but God will provide opportunity witness.

After spending a few years going to church maybe a dozen times between Air Crew School, Corpsman 'A' School, Field Medical Training BN, and my first duty station at 1st Battalion 9th Marines I left for Iraq. Half of that dozen was closer to the deployment when I found a good church in Jacksonville, NC. In Iraq I tried witnessing, but it wasn't easy when nobody wanted to listen and I didn't really know the word of God as I would have liked to. As a matter of fact the only person who would read the Bible with me was our Muslim interpreter who was considering coming to Christ. I don't know if he ever did, but I do know that a seed was planted in his heart. Again being around so many nonbelievers, I started slipping away again.

I remember when I got home, I didn't pray thanking God for my safe return home. Instead, we went clubbing and got our 'rewards'. Before I went to Afghanistan with MAG 40 to fly Casualty Evacuation, less then six months later my best friend came out to visit me. The morning she left she became my girlfriend. I deployed for eleven months, this time I shared a tent with a preacher. I wasn't where I should have been with Christ, but I was getting there. I read my Bible and I prayed. Actually I became a lot like I was in HS. I was happy that I was getting closer with God.

Less then a month after returning home my girlfriend, turned fiance and I got married. Nothing fancy, close relatives and a few friends at the Sacramento County Clerk house. After finishing my tour in North Carolina I got stationed in Italy, where my wife and I had our first child (still our only this far). My neighbors, God bless them, were not living in that apartment by chance. Instead of inviting us to go to a club or out to eat where we'd gossip they invited my wife and I to Bible Study. The study was led by a Navy Chaplain, but it was more of a conversation about what we were studying than a sit down and listen to what I have to say about the Bible. That is where I was taught humility James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord...(NKJV). That is where I found out about Christian unity Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (NKJV). 

Once the group had started to grow I was introduced to a book called Return From Tomorrow by George Ritchie and Elizabeth Sherrill (click here to see book reviews at Amazon). The book is about a man who in his early twenties (during the 2nd World War), becomes clinically dead for seven minutes from a horrible case of pneumonia and is greeted by Jesus. He claims that Jesus asked him what he had done with his life. He goes on to talk about all of his accomplishments. Jesus then asks him "What have you done for me?" When I finally come face to face with our savior I want to be able to answer that question. I can say that without a doubt that that book was placed in my hands not just by a friend who thought I wanted a good, quick read, but it was placed in my hands by God's perfect will and my friend was just the vessel for me to receive such a great blessing.

That chaplain has been stationed elsewhere and has left us, but the Bible Study group has ended up growing. God has moved so powerfully in my life in the short two years that I've been living in Italy that God has ended up allowing me to open my doors for our Bible Study group, to me that is the most humbling thing ever. I give all the glory to God.

I still struggle with sin, but am free from it and at least now I know how to combat it.

In short I would say that my testimony is close to the Parable of the Lost Son in that I've known God most of my life, but I abandoned his ways only to become lost in sin, but by grace I am alive again (Luke 15:32).

I hope you continue to come to this blog as the rest of the posts will be actual Bible Studies. But now that you've read my testimony you know a bit about me. I hope that this ministry grows and is Blessed by god.

Let us pray:
Dear Lord, humbly we seek your presence asking forgiveness of our shortcomings and freedom from the yokes of sin. Lord, I ask that you bless and ripen this young ministry so that many might come to know that you are the one true God. Thank you for your grace and the blessing of the cross. Lord, forever we seek your presence and sing your name. Father I ask for you to continue to bless the body of Christ and teach us how to love as you love. We love you Lord. Amen.