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Pulling Teeth and Jesus

by on Nov.05, 2017, under Hope

My tooth has had a hard life.  Maybe it was too much chewing on things that were really too hard to bite.  I may have weakened it somehow over the years.  But it was really giving me a hard time.  Hairline cracks, the occasional abscess, an ache, or a sharp pain when I bit down on something. 

It was not as if I never tried to fix it.  I mean, after all, I wanted it to be different and better.  So my Dentist would file it down and smooth it up.  I got a crown.  Had a root canal.  Sometimes it would feel better for weeks or even months.  Until I got back into the old habits of chewing things I shouldn’t.

I finally decided I could not live with it like that any longer.  My Dentist agreed and guided me through the process.  He pulled the tooth.  Just took it out.  Gave me a new start.  Now we are putting in a permanent bridge.  It will look the same and function just like a tooth should.  It is amazing.  No more pain.  No more medicine.  No more wondering when it was going to hurt again.

Maybe you have had a tooth like that. 

Or maybe you have had a life like that.  It is just not working.  It may show up in addictive behaviors, or unhealthy relationships, or negative attitudes.  You have tried different things to do better but nothing lasts. 

Maybe it is time to do something radical.  Let the old life die and be born brand new again.  Have a new and better life.  The life you were meant to live.

Jesus can do that for you.  There are stories on this very site of people who have had their old lives made new by Jesus.

He wants to help you.

Let him. 

Blessings,

steve


Knowing the People Makes the Difference

by on Oct.01, 2017, under Hope

Three weeks ago I was in Vienna, West Virginia, to speak at the 36th Street church of Christ. What I knew about the area was gleaned from song writer, musician, John Denver and that it was “almost heaven.”

That weekend was also when hurricane Irma raged from the Caribbean through Florida and turned northwest. Millions evacuated, people were injured and some died. Destruction was everywhere! Not “almost heaven.”

That morning in a church in West Virginia we all prayed for those affected by the gale force winds, overwhelming rain and storm surge that inundated coasts. I told them about my friend Tony Fernandez who lives in Matanzas, Cuba, where Irma had just passed by. During Bible Class, I told about Tony’s commitment to God, his congregation, and that I had not heard from him since the hurricane passed over. The prayers changed, because we “knew” the people who were affected. In fact, as we talked more, it became obvious that many of us knew more people who were in harm’s way that weekend. Then during worship, I received an email that Tony was safe and read his description of what he saw as he tried to help others.

Knowing the people makes the difference!!

Who do you know that needs your prayers and your help? What else can you do to help them because knowing the people makes the difference.


Fishing Guides and Following Jesus

by on Sep.03, 2017, under Hope

My family loves to fish so it was an exciting adventure when we chartered a boat with a guide to fish for ocean trout.  My son and I along with my three grandsons (ages 11, 9, and 7).  The guide explained about how to fish for trout and told us what to expect.  He was very careful with the equipment and started by making the cast for every rod.  He would then fish each one and explain what he was doing and why.  He would show us how to hook the fish.  When he hooked one, he would hand the rod to one of the boys and they would reel it in. 

After a while, the guide let my son start working the bait after the guide had made the cast.  Then eventually my son made the casts and worked the bait.  Then our guide worked with me and then the oldest grandson.  By the end of our charter, the guide was working with the seven-year-old, my oldest grandson and I were fishing by ourselves, and my son was teaching his oldest son how to cast and fish.

Our guide explained the process, demonstrated the process, helped us to learn the process, and even let my son begin doing the same with his son. 

It got me to thinking about helping someone learn to follow Jesus. 

So if you are thinking about following Jesus, here is how we can help you.

We can connect you with people who will tell you the Jesus story:  the most important things to know, the most important things to do.  But they will also be showing you how to live as a follower.  Making Jesus choices about life, serving others.  They will answer questions; they will be there as you start your faith journey.  They will speak truth into your life and pray with you.  They will teach, demonstrate, and work together to learn to live as a follower. 

So that one day you will find yourself teaching someone else. 

If you would like to start this journey, write me at steve@hopeforlife.org.

 


What I Learned about Jesus from a Crazy Ostrich

by on Aug.06, 2017, under Hope

It was a fun ride through a wildlife park with our grandkids.  The grandkids were especially enjoying getting to feed the animals.  They would come right up to the car and even eat cubes out of their hands.  Everything was wonderful, until the ostrich showed up.  There were several of them and knowing a little of how aggressive they could be… we were careful to drop the feed pellets out the window instead of holding the food in our palms.

But there was one ostrich that was very aggressive and stuck his head right inside the driver’s window.  And that is where I was.  My grandson was in the passenger seat and being a quick thinker, he decided to throw pellets at the ostrich.  He assumed it would be so interested in catching the pellets that it would move its head back to catch them.  So he threw a pellet.  Good arm, good accuracy, and no cooperation from the ostrich.  The food bounced right of its beak and back into the car.  On me.  Which led the ostrich to try and retrieve it. 

Let’s just say it is funnier now than it was then.

But I did learn a few things about following Jesus.

Good plans well executed do not always turn out like you planned.  Life is unpredictable.  You may think you have your whole life laid out before you, but it only takes a year or two of real life to figure out you were wrong.  Economic downturns, illness, and evil are all things that may change things in a way that alters your plans.  Which reminds us we are not in control.  And ostriches end up chasing food inside your car instead of outside.  Maybe it makes sense to follow someone greater than us.

People are who they are.  They do not always act like we want them to, or like we expect them to act.  People do bad things – sometimes to others.  Sometimes even to you.  And sometimes you do bad things and make poor choices.  An ostrich is an ostrich and behaves like one.  People are people, and they act like it.  Only Jesus offers a chance to really change things in your life. 

This world is not our reality.  The whole idea of a wildlife park is not real.  That park has fences, animals are separated, and the whole thing is fenced in.  We rode through the park with dozens of other cars, feeding “wild” animals out our window.  It was not real.  This world is not our reality either.  It seems as if there are bad things everywhere.  Bad enough things happening to you that it seems as if there is no hope, joy, or peace to be found anywhere.  Not true.  Joy, peace, and hope can be found in Jesus.  

I was reminded by a crazy ostrich that I am never really in charge, that people are messy, and that this world is not what it seems.  I need to remember that.  Maybe you do too.

 


Please Pick Me

by on Jul.02, 2017, under Hope

It is All-Star season where I live.  It is that time of year when Little Leagues pick their all-star teams.  And just like every year, it results in hurt feelings.  Really good players somehow do not get selected.  Some make the team because their Dads have influence.  Some are left off because of the way their parents behave. 

The same type of thing happens on playgrounds too.  Choosing sides and seeing the look in the eyes of the kid who gets picked last.  Not big enough, or athletic enough, or fast enough.  Or popular enough. 

It is not just sports either.  Will anyone ask you to the dance?  Will your child be asked to the sleep-over?  It does not even change when you grow up.  Promotions given because of family connections or friendship with the boss.  Business decisions made in back rooms instead of on their merits.

We all have those experiences when we were desperately hoping someone would pick us.  Please someone think I am good enough to belong.

So welcome to the good news of Jesus.

He selects people for God.  He is not picking a team, but a family.  He chooses people to be part of the family of God.  His picks are absolutely fair and completely unbiased.

That should probably worry us.  After all, who is good enough to be part of the holy family of God.  We have all made the wrong choice and the bad decision.  We have hurt people.  We have done what we should not have done.  And we did not do the things we should have done.  So no way does Jesus choose us.

But he did.  He picked us because he loved us.  Loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins.  He wanted you to be part of his family that much.

And now he waits for you to decide to pick him. 

We can help you with that decision.

Blessings,

steve

steve@hopeforlife.org.


Sharks, Life, and Jesus

by on Jun.05, 2017, under Hope

Sharks, Life, and Jesus

 

The shark jumped right into his boat.

 

Terry Selwood was fishing of the coast of Australia, just like he had hundreds of times before.  Something almost knocked him down and when he turned to see what it was that hit the boat, he realized that a seven foot, 440-pound Great White shark had jumped into his boat.

 

I wonder who was more surprised – the shark or Mr. Selwood.  After radioing for help, he hung on the side of the boat until he was rescued.  He evidently did not think it wise to share his boat with a shark.

 

You never do know when life will take an unexpected turn for the worst.  It could be a natural disaster that destroys property, an unforeseen layoff at work, or bad news from your Doctor.  It can be something evil done to you or someone you love.  We live in a hard world and bad things happen.

 

And that is exactly why we need Jesus. 

 

Because of God’s promise found in the book of Romans, Chapter 8, verses 38-39.

 

 … in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

And this promise from Jesus (John 16:33).

 

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

We all need someone to rescue us when times get tough.

 

I believe that Jesus is that person.

 

Check out some of the videos on this site to see what God has done in the lives of people just like you.

 

Let me hear from you.  steve@hopeforlife.org.

 

I can help.

 

After all, you never know when a shark is going to jump into your boat.

 

Blessings,

steve

 


A Rabbit, a Dog, and What I Learned about God and Me

by on May.07, 2017, under Hope

 

I found a rabbit in our yard the other day.  Well, to be accurate, I found the body of a rabbit.  I didn’t see exactly what happened, but I can make a pretty good guess.  Rabbits must really believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  Or they think dog food would be good to try.  Dogs do not like rabbits in their yard.  Dogs are faster than rabbits think they are.

 

If I could have spoken to the rabbit, I would have told him to not go into the backyard, that there was plenty to eat on this side of the fence, and that the backyard was dangerous.  I would have reminded that rabbit that the big dog really was a threat if you came into his territory. 

 

That is much like what God tells us in the Bible.  There is evil in this world.  God warns of the things that can harm us.  He even tells us that the devil is real and wants to devour us.

 

The rabbit could have been safe.  The dog was restrained by the fence.    All the rabbit had to do was trust me and it would have been safe.  So… God sent his Son to save us.  If we trust in Jesus, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.  Nothing.  The devil does not have unlimited power.

 

Satan has to entice us into his world. Make the grass look green, convince us that dog food is really good, and assure us that the big dog is friendly.  Maybe even convince us that the dog is not actually real.  Until the rabbit – and by rabbit I mean us — realizes that it was all a lie.

 

It is just a story about a dog and a rabbit, but it sure reminded me of God, Jesus, the devil, and me. 

 

God made us, knows us, and gave his Son so we could have life.  Trust him, believe in his Son, and live. 

 

He will keep you safe.

 

Blessings,

 

steve      

 

 


Rivals and a jealous God

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Hope

An enterprising young Chinese woman, identified only as Xiaoli, found herself a little short of cash. So she convinced her boyfriend to buy her an iPhone 7.

Then she got another iPhone 7… by convincing another boyfriend to buy her the smartphone. She did the same with yet another boyfriend. And another. And another.

Eventually, Xiaoli got 20 new phones from 20 boyfriends. She then sold the phones on the Internet and bought herself a house in the countryside! No one is sure which of the boyfriends will share the house with her or if any of them will.

In the Bible, God frequently told his people that he wasn’t willing to share their love. They could worship him, or they could worship false gods, but they couldn’t do both. God doesn’t want to be one “boyfriend” among many; he wants people to love him will all their hearts.

Are you willing to give your whole heart to God? Or are the things that would compete with him for the top spot in your life? Here are some common rivals:

  • Family. We’re often tempted to put people we love ahead of God. The Bible says that won’t work:

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)

  • Possessions. We love our stuff. We love money. We love having things around us. We can’t let those things become more important than God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

  • Sin. That should be pretty obvious, but some people have trouble coming to God because they don’t want to give up the bad things that they are doing. We have to be ready to let go of things that are wrong.

“But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:5–6)

  • Life itself. Sometimes, we’re so in love with this present life that we just aren’t that interested in the life that God offers. Jesus came to reach out to those who are weary of this world and long for something better. If we want to love God, we can’t continue loving the world as it is:

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

A girl with 20 boyfriends isn’t being faithful to any of them. Those guys aren’t going to let her continue to live that way and still be in a relationship with them. In the same way, if want to be with God, we have to be willing to put aside all of his rivals.
Jesus said it this way:

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37–38)

If you want to know more about loving God and giving yourself to him alone, contact us. Or just leave a comment on this post.


He Knows Everything about Me

by on Mar.05, 2017, under Hope

She was not the kind of person you would expect to have a religious conversation with.  After all, she had been married five times and now she was living with a man.  Maybe no one would marry her anymore.  Or maybe she was tired of the whole marriage thing at this point in her story.  She would not even fill her water bucket at the well with the other women in her village.  They would go to the well early in the morning while it was still cool.  She, however, showed up at noon.  Did the other women make her feel unwelcome?  Did she feel so bad about herself that she thought she was unworthy to be around the “good” women of the village.

Then one day Jesus was there.  Jesus, a religious Jew, and this Samaritan woman.  They talked about living water that would quench her thirst for something more in life.  She told him the Messiah would explain everything when he appeared.  Jesus told her that he was the Messiah, the one God promised to send to earth and save men from their sins. 

He let her know he knew about the men.  Knew everything she had ever done.  And was still willing to talk to her.  Still offered her living water.  Still offered to be her Messiah.  She was so astounded that she left her water bucket and ran to town to tell about this man who knew everything about her and still loved her.  This man who claimed to be the Messiah.

The whole town came out to talk to him because of her testimony, then ended up becoming Jesus followers because of what he said to them.  She brought them by her testimony and he taught them.

You can read this story for yourself in John, chapter 4.  You may think you have done things that make you unlovable to God.  Not true.  He knows you and loves you anyway.  Just like he did the woman at the well.

He wants to give you living water too. 

I can help you get to know him.  Let me hear from you.

steve


Walnuts and hand grenades

by on Feb.05, 2017, under Hope

The metal object was the perfect size and weight for cracking walnuts. The villager in the Shaanxi province of China used it for just that for more than 25 years. Who knows how many thousands of walnuts he cracked… with a hand grenade. Only when he saw a police leaflet depicting forbidden explosives did the man realize his mistake.

The friend who gave him the hand grenade didn’t mean any harm. Neither of them was aware of the dangers involved. They had no intention of doing anything wrong. But they almost killed themselves.

Had the grenade exploded, what sort of excuses would have saved this man?

“My friend said it would be okay.”
“I wasn’t trying to do anything wrong.”
“I’ve done it this way for years and nothing has happened.”
“Nobody told me that this was dangerous.”

We know that excuses wouldn’t protect us from an explosion. So why do we think we can use excuses with God? You know what I mean:

“This is what my family has always believed.”
“My friends all say it doesn’t matter what religion you practice.”
“As long as I’m sincere, I’ll be all right.”

Just as the leaflet showed the Chinese walnut cracker the danger of his actions, the Bible can show us where we might be wrong. It doesn’t matter what our family has always done, what all of our friends believe, or what we feel is correct. What matters is what God has revealed to us through his word.

The Bible says:

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23–25)

Take the time this year to study the Bible. Need a hand getting started? Look for the Discovering Jesus link near the bottom of this page (or just click here). Or write to me at tarcher@heraldoftruth.org, and I’ll give you some tips as to how to begin studying the Bible.



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