Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Good Friday? What exactly is so good about it?

When I hear the word “good”, I think of things that bring a smile, or something that is positive in my life or the world. I think of a light rain that waters the grass. I think of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I think of the embrace of my wife and her kisses. I think of how God describes His creation…

It is difficult for my human brain to understand how a day filled with severe, disfiguring pain can be good. Two beams of wood, three large spikes, and a long walk to Golgotha… can’t be good, right? To think of these spikes, driven into the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as he is nailed to the cross…

To imagine him placed on this cross, where He struggled to breathe, until He breathed His last… All of this while He is forgiving His executors, and inviting the one next to Him to join Him in paradise… how can we describe this as anything but horrific and tragic?

And yet… it was good.

This is Friday and all appears to be lost… but Sunday’s coming… to use all the pain and suffering for the good.

Jesus was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Along with Nicodemus, they wrapped Jesus’s body in burial cloth. They rolled a big stone over the front of the tomb, and walked away… Their thoughts are not recorded but can you imagine what they were thinking? Burying someone who had taught and performed miracles before them…

Guards were placed outside the tomb for fear that someone might come and take the body.

His disciples hid for fear that His fate would be their own. Women wept and planned to come back to the tomb and give His body the traditional burial treatments.

In their grief, everyone thought it was over… But God…

In God’s economy, the word “good” is not used often. The first time it is used was when God described His creation. So if we take that meaning and apply it to this day of events, we can see He is calling it Creation Level Good! What He is saying is that what has happened on Friday is about to change the world! And change the world in a way that is beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend.

You see, what appears to be over and impossible… does not necessarily make it so. With God… all things are possible.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

Dr. Cliff

#YourLifeMatters

Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian Blog

Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian blog and commentary on Crosswalk.com.
— Read on www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/why-pastors-need-to-stop-preaching-what-people-want-to-hear.html

Transformed!

We talk about it…

We quote the verse…

We want it…

So why don’t we experience it?

We don’t experience real change because we are not willing to let go of the old long enough to allow God to do His perfect work. How can we expect change when we won’t stop doing what is killing us?

Here are a few steps to try…

Step 1 – Recognize that God can transform you.

Step 2 – Ask  God to transform you!

Step 3 – Let go of the past and all that holds you back.

Apply this verse and a few more.

Transformed-slide-title

We will talk more later!

Love ya’ll!

Cliff

 

He Knows Your Name!

I love this song. What inspired this post was my morning Bible Study where I am beginning in the book of Ezra and God, speaking through the prophet called out Cyrus by name to deliver the people of Judah and rebuild the temple is Jerusalem. This Kings name was foretold in the book of Isaiah over 150 years before this man was ever born.

God knows your name and cares deeply for you. He sent His Son to bring us salvation. He gives us grace for daily living through the power of His Holy Spirit. This gives us the privilege to be called sons and daughters of the Most High! Matthew West has a video that helps put this into perspective as well.

 

Hello My Name is by Matthew West

Let me ask you a question –

book_of_life111111There will be some that Jesus will have to say to –

“… I never knew you, depart from me…” Matthew 7:23

For a long time I would have told you that I was saved and I even did very religious and churchy things. Yet, it was an act. I had no hunger for His word. I lived like hell Monday through Saturday and put a mask on for Sunday. I may have fooled the people around me but I didn’t fool God. Then one day my choices brought me down to the lowest point I could ever imagine. I wanted to die – I wanted out but it took that for me to realize that I needed a Savior that was real and I turned my life over to Him.

Since that moment, a very real transformation has begun. I am not where I need to be but glory be to God I am not the man I use to be. I know the risen Christ and my name is written in His Book of Life – Is yours? If it is, great!!! I shout, “Praise God” and I know that I will see you one day in glory. For those of you who are unsure, you don’t have to be any longer. Ask Jesus to come into your life and heart today. Just say –

“Jesus Christ, I know I need You, come into my heart, forgive me of my sin and help me to become the child of God you have called me to be.”

If you truly believe and place your trust in Jesus your name is now written in the Book of Life and the Holy Spirit has sealed you! Now get involved in a good Bible teaching and Holy Spirit filled church in your area. Share your decision with the Pastor and be baptized. Then share your new found faith with those that you love. Some won’t accept it but there will those who do. And maybe one of those you share it with, will give their hearts to Christ as well! The Angels in heaven are already warming up for their shouts of victory that one more person has given their hearts to Christ.

 

Is Real Change Possible?

Transformation“But you don’t know how bad I am …. I have ___________________! There is no hope for me – I am doomed, helpless and hopeless.”

I have heard this many times and even said it myself. Our society can be pretty unforgiving of the mistakes of the past. A record can follow you forever.

But what is interesting is that some of the most famous, interesting and successful people have a record. They have been to the pit. I remember hearing T.D. Jakes preach one day about a Pastors conference he had attended. He was recalling the Pastors stories of faithfulness and many had only been married once and had served the church all their life. He said –

“While all those stories were great and I am very happy for them, they had nothing to say to me. You can’t help me if you have never been through anything.”

Bishop Jakes story rang really true to me. Then I recalled the story of the Maniac of Gadares. Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee just to see him and it changed everything. This man couldn’t live with the rest of the people. They tried to chain him but he was so crazy that he broke the chains. He lived in a cemetery, probably waiting to die – wanting to die. Anybody been there?

After one touch – one word from Jesus, his life was different. In fact, he was so different and the change so radical, that it scared the people of the closest town. The man wanted to leave with Jesus but Jesus knew that this man had a mission. Jesus told him –

“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee and had compassion on thee.” Mark 5:19b

Do you know what the man did? – exactly what Jesus told him to do. Yet, not only did he go home, on the way there he…

“…and began to publish in Decapolis [Ten Cities] how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” v. 20

Real change is possible! Jesus can take you from insanity to peace. This transformation is what Paul describes as “You are God’s Masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus…” (Eph.2:10 NLT). But you are not saved to sit. You are not transformed to be placed upon a pedestal and pose. You are saved to serve – transformed to testify. The Maniac of Gadares published, which means to spread the mission far and wide, and the people all marveled. His life now made a difference, where before he only wanted to die and he had to be locked away. Now that he was free on the inside, he shared it with all who would listen.

You too have a mission – Paul continues to tell us in that same verse,

“created anew in Christ Jesus for the good works ordained for you from the beginning.”

God has a plan for you and it is a good one. God had Jeremiah, the prophet, tell people in “captivity” aka -Jail, this:

“For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord. Plans for good, not destruction. To give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11Past-Lesson

There is more here but I want to stop and hear from you. Let me know what you think and if you want to talk more about this reach out to me. I would be honored to hear from you. Maybe you want to share your story of transformation – this is a good forum to do so. I will accept guest blog posts about this topic as well. Have a blessed day and let not just talk about – let’s be about it!

Praise Him!

Cliff Robertson, Jr.

2 Timothy 4:2,5

Anybody Smell Smoke? There Is Fire & You & I Started It

ashes - remain

 

Before Ashes – There Was A Fire

fire ragesbeauty-for-ashes

In the passage – Isaiah 61:1-3 – we all want to rush off to the “Beauty… and the oil of joy… and the garment of praise’

Before there could be an exchange for beauty – there had to be a fire to create the ashes. That means that something went horribly wrong. Yet, Christ has an answer for that to. In order to get to that we must begin with the ….

tough part-

We have to

  • Jesus Came to Preach the Good News to the meek
  • To bind up the brokenhearted
  • To set free those that are bound
  • To open the prison doors and set the prisoner free

 

The meek are

The broken

The destroyed

The One’s whose lives are just not want they ought to be and they know they need a change.

Some of the Meek in Jesus day were the Tax Collector’s, the prostitutes, the people that no one else wanted to have anything to do with – because they knew they needed help.

The Meek are really you and me – He came for us! Sinners in need of a Savior. But if we miss that then we can miss the greatest gift the universe has ever seen or will ever see.

 

To bind up the broken hearted

Anybody here eve have their heart broken?

Anybody here ever lost anything precious to them?

Loved One

Friend

Anybody here ever been lied to by the person they are supposed to be able to trust?

 

Christ came to deal with those hurts in a way that only He can – I call it Holy Heart Surgery.

The passage says He came to bind up the broken hearted – so that means that He is reaching inside of us, at the point where the pain is greatest, where the need for healing is the greatest and where if healing doesn’t come, all the rest will be wrecked.

He isn’t just touching it, He is binding – hearts take time to heal so He binds them so that they can.

 

 

 

To set free those that are bound

  1. Addictions
  2. Depression
  3. Money problems
  4. Pride
  5. And More

 

These things can be more oppressive than any prison.

 

To set the prisoner free

 

  1. The Bible is full of examples of this chainbreaking freedom
    1. Peter
    2. Paul
    3. Joseph
  2. To me the greatest example was the thief on the cross – He wasn’t set free from the penalty that the worlds system had imposed upon him but he was set free from a far greater eternal punishment – He was in paradise that day!

 

 

 

Beauty for Ashes –

  1. Before there were ashes – there had to have been a fire.
    1. What caused the Fire
  1. Bad Choices
  2. Personal Tragedy
  • Addiction
  1. Fill in the blank
    1. Why didn’t the fire get put out sooner?
  1. Why did it burn to the ground
  2. Why did it get out of control
  • What was the trigger
  1. What fueled it

 

  1. It happened
    1. What do we do with the mess?
    2. Did anybody Notice?
    3. Can hide it?
    4. How do I begin again?
    5. How can I put my life back together?

 

YOU CAN’T – HE CAN!

  1. This Fire/Tragedy
    1. Didn’t Surprise God
    2. Ashes can’t be restored – they blow in the wind
    3. Jesus will take those ashes and give you something new – Beauty
  1. The beauty is Himself
  2. The beauty is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • The beauty is an eternal home
  1. The beauty is an everlasting hope
  2. The beauty is healing
  3. The beauty is transformative
  • The beauty includes the gifts of the Spirit
  • The beauty gives us the confidence to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
  1. The beauty tells me that I am more than a conqueror
  2. The beauty tells me that I am not my own any longer – I am a child of the King – saved by grace – adopted into the family of God
  3. The beauty means that I am now “ God’s Masterpiece – created anew in Christ Jesus for the Good Works that He ordained since the beginning of time.”
  • The beauty means that I have a job – “ the good works” “ to build, raise up & restore”
  • The beauty give me double for my trouble.
  • The beauty restores my family

YES – REAL CHANGE IS POSSIBLE! THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO DEFINE YOU!

Jesus Christ will perform this Great Exchange & do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

 

THE OIL of Joy for mourning!

  1. If there is mourning, there is loss
  2. Loss takes on many forms
    1. Loss of a loved one
    2. “   “ friend
    3. A job
    4. Financial stability
    5. A relationship
    6. More

 

  1. Christ understands – He wept when he saw the mourning of the people who loved Lazarus
  2. He promises the Oil of Joy for Mourning
    1. Oil is thick
    2. Oil sticks with us
    3. Oil soaks in and goes down deep
    4. Oil becomes a part of who we are

SINCE IT IS THE OIL OF JOY –

  1. His joy is thick
  2. His Joy can stick to us like glue
  3. His Joy can sink down into our hearts and change everything
  4. His Joy becomes a part of who we are

 

But we have to be willing to say – LORD, I’m hurting and I need healing – my heart is broken and only you can heal it.

Binding – Oil – And a touch from the Masters Hand – The Great Physician.

THE GARMENT OF PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS

Depression – The worries of the world weighing you down? This is one of the greatest problems in America today. Many have a general sense of hopelessness because there is a general decline in the morality of America, a decline in the family unity and way more problems than we have the time to go into here. The common denominator with all of them is the fact that each day, God is being taken further and further out of this society.

The answer is Jesus Christ – when we turn to Him and give Him our lives to Him, we can put on the garment of praise. Depression cannot remain when we are praising God.

I can tell you from experience that this has happened to me. I could feel depression like an 800lb guerilla on my shoulders. I gave my life to Christ at the lowest point in my life and the ugly monster of depression got up off my shoulders and walked out the door.

You need to know that sometimes depression has come back to visit to me. When it does, it sneaks in like a thief, trying to steal my joy and make me not want to praise. I find myself praying and wondering what is wrong. What I learned is that, on my own, I cannot win but if I will turn to God, depression will flee. So let’s get practical – how do you do that? What I will do is pray and then put Christian music in my ears as I go about my day. When I do this, before I know it, I am praising God and depression is no where to be found. I have put on the garment of praise and there is no room for anything else.

 

Where does this leave us?

 

Christ has a great plan for you and me. He came for us – at our worst – He came for us. He came to bring healing, to set us free and cut us loose from the pain of our past decisions. When we turn fully to Him, we get the exchange of beauty for the burned out shell of an existence that we had before – aka “Ashes”. We get the oil of joy for mourning over the past destructions of life and peace that we experienced. Then we get the garment of praise, for the weight of the world we use to carry around with us. He does all of this because He has a plan for us.

  • He wants to be planted by the river so that we can be examples of grace – for His glory.
  • Then He has a job for us –

 

  • “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations… For your shame ye shall receive double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.” Isaiah 61:4 & 7

 

You have a job – a divine mission that has a specific reward.

Let’s live His Mission & Receive His Reward!

The Great Commission In Action – The Living Bread Story

At the end of Christ’s journey here on earth, He issued a command that has been the battle cry of Christianity since the very beginning.LBM - PHOTO

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. AMEN” Matthew 28:19-20MissionTripPageSlider

As we study scripture and Church history, we see how the mission has been carried out in the past. Men and women with great zeal and faith have done the amazing. But the work is not done as long as there are those who have not heard the “Good News” of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This command is far more than just going and preaching an evangelistic crusade and moving to the next venue. No, it is marching orders that require that leaders and teachers be hands on with believers in a community, that Christ called His Body throughout the world.

In modern cities this is part of the normal missions of local churches and they are doing a good job. But what about the poor cities, states and countries where there is no running water, much less electricity? What about the global poor who have no advocate, no money but whom Jesus Christ died for nonetheless?

Jesus never said that His path would be easy. In fact, a number of times He told us that it may cost us everything to walk His well-lit narrow path. So as we look at the challenge presented by the Great Commission and the huge need of the global poor – what is our response? Yet, the problem doesn’t stop there. The command of Christ was that they not only hear it but that they be engaged in a church teaching environment so that they can grow in Christ. This is essential so that the new Christian can get to the point where they can begin to teach and spread the Good News even further. This isn’t an easy call to answer but…blog picture - living bread

One man and his wife did answer this call – Patrick and Barbara Hubbard began Living Bread Ministries in 2004. Patrick tells us that “our heart was to spark a movement to plant churches among the global poor. Even more, we wanted the movement to be comprehensive in nature, planting churches and equipping them to minister directly in their communities.  Finally, we wanted it to be a movement that is participated in by the whole Church working together.”

Eleven years later, this ministry is working in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Here is a quick video from their website that tells a far greater story than my words can do it justice:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/95570758″>Our Mission</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/livingbread”>Living Bread Ministries</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This is only a small sampling of what this awesome ministry is doing. Recently, I had a chance to ask Mr. Hubbard a few critical questions about this church planting movement among the global poor. Without further delay – let’s hear from the founder.

– Mr. Hubbard, thank you so much for your time. Can you please tell me about this incredible ministry?

Living Bread Ministries (LBM) has a very unique vision. As far as I know, LBM is the only ministry whose sole focus is comprehensive church planting among the global poor. This is unique in two regards. First, our focus is church planting among the global poor. It is uncommon for organizations to church plant among the impoverished. These communities are usually engaged through humanitarian or development ministry. However, this is often done outside a local church context and typically by a Western organization.

This brings me to the second unique aspect of our approach. Our church planting efforts are comprehensive in nature. This means we do not differentiate between the physical and spiritual. Rather, we work to proclaim and manifest the implications of the gospel today and in eternity. Practically, this means that as we are making disciples and planting churches among the global poor, we actively equip these local members of the body of Christ to identify needs and implement solutions in their communities through the local church. The result is that we plant churches and equip these churches to implement many of the humanitarian and development ministries other organizations do, while actively proclaiming the gospel and calling people to repentance and faith. You can learn more at www.livingbread.org/vision.

– It sounds like you guys get down to the “nitty gritty” of the fulfillment of the Great Commission. While there have to be some amazing stories of God’s grace being poured out, can you share with us your greatest joy?

My greatest joy is seeing lives transformed and the kingdom of God manifested in some of the darkest, most forgotten places on earth. Often when I attend worship services at our church plants, I find myself standing in the back of the room, listening to praise being lifted up to King Jesus from people who seemingly have no earthly reason to do so. I can’t help but praise him myself, through tears.

– Ok, now that we have discussed your greatest joy, let’s turn the page and ask the tough question: What is your greatest burden?

 

My greatest burden is to see Christ glorified. I believe transformed lives and the local church ministering to their own community in a comprehensive way, just as Jesus did, brings him tremendous glory.

 

– I have to say that your answers are humbling and challenging. Too often we get stuck on numbers and the insignificant. Sir, your answers have caused me to do a double-take on my own motives, burdens and what is truly the greatest burden on my heart. The truth is, for every believer, our burden should be to see Christ glorified in our words and deeds! If our focus is anywhere else then we are simply missing the mark.

– I know many people reading this and going to your website are going to be moved and desire to help in some capacity. What is your greatest need from the Body of Christ?

 We, of course, need prayer. Our churches are ministering in some of the darkest most dangerous places on earth. The enemy has held earthly dominion over urban slums for a long time and he has no desire to surrender it, but we rejoice that he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

 

I don’t like to talk about it, but the reality is there is a cost to this work. We have counted the cost and are willing to pay it, but we need others to help us. We need the church to invest in comprehensive church planting among the global poor to help us expand our work throughout South America and Southeast Asia. If anyone would like to partner with us they can do so at give.livingbread.org.

 

Anyone who would like to keep up with our work can sign up for our updates, and we will send them a thank you gift. www.livingbread.org/coffeesleeves

 

Thank you so much for your time and your heart. I look forward to hearing more about what is going on this ministry. Personally, I will contacting your office to see how I can get more engaged.

 

So now I have question for each of you that read this brief interview about Living Bread Ministries – What are you going to do about it? If you have been moved, as I have, I encourage you to reach out to them today. I like this approach – GET UP! Give, Engage, Tell – Undertake, Promise!

GIVE what God puts on your heart! You have TIME, TALENT & TREASURE – Why not give some of all three?

 

ENGAGE in this mission at some level – pray, volunteer, seek opportunities where you are.

 

TELL everyone you know about it! Get your church involved. Light up social media with all the information you can get. The livingbread.org has more media to share than you can imagine.

 

UNDERTAKE to make your involvement, at whatever level God puts on your heart, to be part of your daily walk, prayer and meditation.

 

PROMISE! It’s a big word but if you will make a commitment, giving this commitment to God, you will be amazed at how God will open doors for your. This is a ministry right at the very center of his heart and I believe He will move mountains for those who are sold-out for His causes!

 

So, GET UP Today! Do the next right thing and see how Christ will be glorified in your life.

Thank you Jesus for this incredible opportunity to share your story being lived out through this ministry! Amen

“How Can This Be A Good Thing?” Tests & Trials

christian-inspirational-quotes-6

There are many times when we go through things and we have no idea why. In fact, we may voice the following to God –

“Why would You allow me to go through this? What did I do to deserve this?”

In previous posts we have talked about King Jehoshaphat and the trouble and the trials he went through and the time he was almost killed for hanging out with King Ahab. He learned in that trial that his hope and only real strength could be found in God Almighty. In Chapter 19 of 2nd Chronicles we see that he brought the whole nation into a full on revival.

When a football team goes through Spring Training or two-a-days before the season starts they are being prepared for something – the games. So King Jehoshaphat was being prepared for something as well – war – but not just any old skirmish. No, a group of armies from at least three different kingdoms had joined together to come up against Judah.

These forces vastly outnumbered the King’s army and he could see very quickly that he was in trouble. So what was he to do? What would you do? The King did what he had been prepared to do – Call On God!prayer - small

“And said, ‘O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rule not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to stand thee?…. And now behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir…. Come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given to us… O Our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.” 2nd Chron. 20:6-12

This is not the typical response of a king. Most military leaders would be all about rallying the troops – making battle preparations – calling on allies and anything else they can think of. But this king was different – he was a man of God. His previous tests and trials had shown him that his King could be trusted at just such a time as this. King Jehoshaphat was not disappointed.

God sent a message through a prophet that told him…

“…Thus saith the Lord unto you, ‘Be not afraid, nor be dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.” vs. 15

WOW! What a message. Now the word went on to give them instructions. They had to go out to the field of battle but they would not fight; only observe what God was going to do for them. So the next morning, the King got everyone together and went out as instructed. On the way to the battlefield, the king stopped everyone and decided to make one of the boldest statements of faith I have seen in scripture. He put the choir out in front of the army to sing praises to God. Telling the world of God’s greatness and that His mercy endures forever. Again, this is not the typical battlefield strategy but God doesn’t require our ingenuity to be successful. He wants us to believe and testify.

Here’s what happened next –

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against …Mount Seir, utterly to destroy them: and when they had made an end of … Seir, [then] everyone helped to destroy another… none escaped.” Vs. 22-24

So what is our take away from this event? I believe that it should give us great confidence in the face of our daily tests and trials; knowing that there is a greater purpose than we can begin to imagine. I believe that we should be willing to step out in faith, even in the midst of impossible odds, knowing that God is with us and that means everything.

This story should also force us to look inward and check our faith in the mirror and ask the question – Do I really believe? Do I truly trust? For a long time I said all the right words but down deep, my belief was in me – If it’s to be, it’s up to me. That strategy didn’t work out so well. Today, I have been through the valley and the enemy is overwhelming in my tiny personal perspective. But when I turn my eye to He who created the world and place my trust in Him saying – I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on YOU LORD – He makes a way through it or delivers me from it, using methods and people that I would have never known were available. My King is bigger than all the kings of this world and no weapon formed against me will prosper.

If you are going through a tough time right now, I want you to do something that seems to be against everything the world teaches – put the choir out front. Begin to praise God for the challenge, the test and the trial. The only reason your going through it is to prepare you for something even greater and a victory so large that it can’t be contained. That’s what He did King Jehoshaphat – the spoils of that victory took his men 3 days to gather up and carry back to Jerusalem – that was a lot of stuff. But not only that, the chapter goes on to say that –

“And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.” vs. 29

What you may be going through right now may just be a prelude to not only a great victory but a huge testimony for the Glory of God and an incredible blessing for you.

Praise Him!

Cliff

Why Write This Story – This Book? Good Question!

THE TRANSFORMATION PROJECT

The question was asked:

“Why? Why would you write this book? Why would anyone want to read it?” I have to say that, I was a bit startled by the question. The man asking the question was not only challenging the work that I committed myself to do for several years but, to me, it was also deeply personal because this book that I am writing tells my story and what I believe to be God’s message to a broken and hurting world.

As I am preparing to fire back, he hits me even harder as he asked,

“There are tons of books on ‘recovery’ and memoir’s are a dime dozen. What makes your book so special?”

My pride wanted to rise up in me and vigorously defend my work. When I was done with that, I was thinking that I could then turn the tables on him. For me, there was no way he could be asking those questions if he had really read what I had written. When I was about to fire my first salvo in what was getting ready to be a war of words, I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the shoulder and tell me in my spirit,

“Stop and listen, he is right and trying to help you… Let the questions sink in and I will guide you to the answers…”

It was then that I understood… “Why should he read it?” was an excellent question that needed to be answered. In fact, why should you read this blog? I can tell you that seeking the answers to these questions created a whole new outlook and also a lot more work. As I sought the answers to the questions for myself, I began to turn the questions over and over in my mind. I began to make them very personal – Why did I write the book? Why should someone read it? How does it differ from the others?

Internally, as I began to process this, my first response was that, “God told me to write the book.” But then this just leads you to the next logical question, “Why would He want you to do that?” I this question isn’t clearly answered to me, how can anyone else get it? There has to be a greater purpose behind this than just getting a story published.

As I dove into these questions, I began to see and really understand that while there are many books on recovery and memoirs about changed lives, none addressed the real power that is truly required for transformation. There are many “step”-based programs out there like – A.A., N.A., G.A., O.A. and the others. There’s even the “Christian 12 Step Program” which is just the A.A. program with a couple of words replaced. They are all functionally the same and it was in this that I saw a problem. While they all addressed the basic broken condition of men and women due to sin, they stop short of all that God intends for His children. We need to finish the job. I knew that what God had brought me through, that continues until this very day,  has radically transformed my life.

Since this is a story for His glory and not mine, I had to check all my motives in the mirror and understand that I might have to go places that I would rather avoid – that might be embarrassing. But if my story helps someone else, even though it embarrassed me, isn’t it worth it? I think it has to be.

So as I looked down the path I had walked, I saw distinct steps that God had taken me through. They are all laid out in the Bible and are consistent the Christian 12 step plan plus about 5 or so more. As I reflected back on the questions my friend asked me, I saw what God had directed me to do. This story is important because it puts His grace on display in the life of  truly broken man. How God was able to take man who had broken the law, broken hearts, betrayed the trust of many, destroyed his family and the lives of the people he worked with.

If this story gives one other man or woman hope that real change is possible for them, it will have been worth all the hours/years this story has taken to get put down. My prayer is that this story points everyone willing to read it and apply it to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. I believe this story is important and needs to be read because we live in a broken world and the only real healer available is Jesus Christ.

What started out as just a memoir has turned into so much more. Part One is my story. Part Two is Your Story. Part Three is a Bible Study and devotional. I tried to combine it all into one volume but it got to big. So it will be coming out in three volumes. I will be posting portions of it here at least weekly as it is coming together. So stay tuned.

Cliff

Victory Can Be Yours! Morning Bible Study Thoughts

As I was studying this morning I thought I would start writing about what I am studying. Since it is God’s Word I believe that it is significant.

I began this morning in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter 14. In it we find the story of King Asa of Judah. We will stick to the chapter at hand and not get ahead of the story. A little background though might be helpful. Asa had a good father who followed God. His name was Abijah. He stood up against the evil King Jeroboam in the name of the Lord and spoke words of great faith and courage in the midst of overwhelming odds. Jeroboam tried to be sneaky and do a flanking maneuver while Asa was telling Jeroboam about God and how he needed to get right. Well Abijah saw what was happening and cried out to God.

When a man of God, cries out to God before his men and leads them in a godly way, this gives them courage as well. They know that they can trust God because their leader trusts God. So the men shout – the priests shout and blow the trumpets. This whole scenario had to make God smile. Men who professed Him as their God and Father and Savior, calling out to Him for deliverance and then stepping out in faith into the battle trusting that God would indeed do what Had promised to do.

God did and the enemy ran for their lives. They ran for their lives, even though they were superior in number. They ran for their lives, even though they had the tactical advantage. They ran because they were no longer fighting man, they were fighting God Almighty. One man or woman, fighting in that power, is the overwhelming force of the day and will carry every battle to victory!

Now that I have told you a little about Asa’s dad, let me tell you a little about Asa. The chapter begins with telling us that “…Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:” vs.2

What did he do to earn such an acclaim – He took away idols, their altars, the places where these idols were worshipped and led the nation to worship God, the God of their fathers and to live in accordance with His word.

Can you imagine for a moment if our leaders took such a stand? What a different world this would be. But let’s not stop there, in fact let’s begin with ourselves. How different would our lives and families be in we led our families in this way? It would require that we lead by example more than word. It would require that we know God, have a personal relationship with Him. It would require that we take time to worship Him, pray to Him and share what we study with those that we love. It would require that we destroy the idols, altars and remove ourselves from the places where God is not honored.

This is tough but if we want the blessings, the abundant life and the peace that passes understanding we need to learn what it means to take up our cross and carry it daily. Our cross is the cause or mission that God has placed on hearts that is worth dying for dying for. So let me ask you a question:

1. Are there idols in your life? (an idol is anything we give an inordinate amount of affection or another of looking at it is – Is there anything in your life that takes you away from what God would want you to be doing? If so this could very well be an idol.)

2. Do you know God’s word?

3. Do you spend time with Him?

4. Do you truly know God – I don’t mean know who He is, I mean have a personal relationship with Him?

I know that there was a time, ok the majority of my life where, if I was absolutely honest, I would have to say that

– yes I had idols.

– No I didn’t know God’s Word

-No I didn’t spend time with Him.

– (And here is the clincher ) I had no personal relationship. I was lost.

But glory be to God I am not there any longer.

Asa was given mighty victory and I have seen victory in my life as well, now that I have not only turned my life over to Christ but seek Him daily. He has transformed me, and brother or sister, if you knew me, you know that I was in dire need of some serious fixing – I was very broke.

If you are struggling today – look to Him. Lean into Him and He will do more for you and with you than you can ever imagine. I still have a long way to go, but thank the Lord I am not where I use to be.

I will write more later.

Praise Him!