As requested by a friend in a comment the other day, I am revisiting the question of heaven or hell in smaller sections.

First, we need to clarify the gospel. There is but one gospel, not many. There is but one savior, not many. There is but one way to be saved, not many. I give you this instruction which I have received from the Lord through scripture and prayer, not to go off chasing after fairy tales and rumors of “new” ways to be saved. Peter was certain and clear, there is only one name by which we must be saved, Jesus Christ. Just as in the days of Babel, and in the days of Egypt, and Babylon, there have ALWAYS been false religions, counterfeits of the real thing.

Satan masquerades as an angel of light, so do not be deceived by these strange tales any longer. The gospel is simply that one must believe in Jesus Christ, and call upon His name to be saved. I read a blog today that asked, “What if I am mute, and cannot speak?” To which I answer, the calling is heard whether you speak it out loud, or silently, for God is not deaf to the human mind, and He searches the heart. If you have believed in Jesus Christ to be your savior, God will know.

There are some who will have you believe that all are saved. This is not true. Jesus called the Pharisees sons of the devil. By His own tongue, he told us those who have not believed in Him stand already condemned. The most vivid scripture describing who is saved is not John 3:16. Rather, it is John 3:15, which states, “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” You might say that I have taken that verse out of its context. However, the context is there for anyone to read, I just don’t want to copy two and a half pages of Scripture. Please forgive me, I do not mean to mislead any.

So, whoever believes will have eternal life. Belief is the criteria, there can be no doubt. Unless we take Jesus at His word, and stop trying to add things to scripture that just aren’t there, we will never truly accept Him as our King. But I do not own a corner on the market. Scripture today is there for most to read. Don’t take my word for it, read it, and see.

Hell exists. Jesus spoke of it often, and Jesus is not someone who involved Himself with idle chatter as we normal human beings do. To Jesus, I am sure Hell was not just an idea, it was a real place prepared for the devil and his legions, and for those who do not believe.

Listen, man is a rebel against God. We stand in direct disobedience to God, and we need a savior. There aren’t many ways into salvation. There is only one. Those who believe there are many ways are still standing in direct disobedience to God. What is God to do with such a man? Reward him?

God gave us His son, whom we slaughtered. But God didn’t let His Holy One see decay. He raised Him from the dead, for the world to see, so that man could see that he, and death, have absolutely no power over God. What man wrought, God has overcome. Now, it is by faith that we are saved, and this faith isn’t even our own, it is a gift from God, so that no one may boast. Yet there are boasters in this world today that say one does not need to believe in Christ to be saved. This is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for without the gift of the Holy Spirit, strong men are trying to force their way into the Kingdom. Acts 2:38 says, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ “

The gospel is not open to man’s interpretation of it. Salvation comes through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Why? Because without faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit is not given. One can say he is saved, and attempt to force his way into the kingdom, and this is what is meant by blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is the same as it has always been since Adam. Man thinks he does not need to heed God. So, he goes about salvation by his own effort and understanding, thumbing his nose at the Holy Spirit. What is God to do with such a man as this? Save him? No, the healthy do not need a doctor. Any man who thinks he does not need to believe in Christ to be saved is already judged, by his own blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Can Christ be any plainer than this in John chapter three?

So why the question of heaven or hell? There is heaven, and there is hell. Hell is a real place, and people who do not believe in Jesus will go there. That wasn’t my idea. I am just the messenger. Jesus was the messenger also, but He stood up for His message, and we killed Him for it. Those who would have you believe that all are saved would kill Him again if He came a second time to say exactly the same things He said the first time. The Jews killed Him not because He claimed to be the Son of God. That was their excuse. They killed Him because He told them the gospel, that all of their effort, all of their studying, all of their laws could not move one grain of sand against their eternal condemnation if they did not believe in Him, regardless of whether they were Jewish or not.

You see, to understand the Jewish mind of the time, you have to think like a Jew. That means you are in heaven, not because of faith, but because you are a Jew. Jesus destroyed that carnal way of thinking, and so destroyed all other of man’s attempts at self-salvation. The Jews killed Jesus because they believed salvation belonged only to the Jews, and Jesus told them it belonged to Him, that it was His to give as He saw fit, and He gave it according to how it pleased Him.

Read John 4:18 – 47. It is clear from this discourse that the Jews now had reason to kill Jesus, for He had just told them that it is not by their choice, or nation, but by his choice alone. In the face of so many who had spent their lives “serving” God, such as Nicodemus, what else could be the reaction of sons of the devil other than what they did to Jesus? Nicodemus reaction was different, because he asked Jesus to teach him. But the Jews did not. They judged Jesus and His gospel as being evil, from the devil. So Jesus, in those verses I listed, gave them four witnesses, John, works, the Father, and scripture.

Belief is the requirement, and the gift is Jesus’ to give. This is the gospel. It has not changed, but men with carnal minds have tried to force their own interpretations upon it. I say, it’s time to stop that nonsense. The gospel is still pure, and men of the world would have you believe that it is confusing, and at best, needs reinterpretation. Scripture does not come by man’s interpretation or effort. Therefore, what is written is written by the finger of God. You may not like the idea of hell. May I suggest that you focus on Christ, and not on something that none of us can understand? It is His to give, it belongs to Him. Who are we to question that, and how worthless is it to question the possession of God? Thank you.



How many people did I see today? How many of them knew Jesus? How many did I allow to walk by without bothering to find out?

At least if I didn’t bother to find out, did I let my light shine in such a way that they would praise my Father who is in Heaven?

If I didn’t even do that, did I at least by my actions not drive anyone further away from Jesus? Did I, in the end, have a good day?

Did I encourage anyone today? Did my words or actions lift someone up, or did I tear people down?

Did I give of myself today, to anyone, in any way?

Did I take an extra step at work today, doing something I knew I wouldn’t get paid for, nevertheless, doing it because I felt driven to be the best I can be, without worry of reward?

Did I have to be asked?

Did I complain if I did any of these things? Did I make a fuss, or did I just do it, hardly being aware that I was doing anything out of the ordinary?

These questions I have just asked, I am ashamed to say I rarely ever ask of myself. These questions are questions I want to be able to answer, “many, yes, and always” to. Somehow, there are only a few I can say “yes” to, and others I can say “sometimes” to. But I can’t say “many”, yet, not even once.

I am not satisfied. I am content, but to me, contentedness has more to do with circumstances, than it does with my faith. I am not satisfied.

I will not walk the rest of my life not being able to answer affirmatively to these questions. Something is going to change. My heart longs for more. More courage to speak out. More faith to believe and share. More wisdom to shine this light brightly.

I don’t want garbage, anymore. If it’s not real, then I don’t want it. If it isn’t going to last eternally, then I will think twice about doing it. I want to be the best I can be, at whatever I do. I don’t care about money, or accolades, or reward. All I care about is You, Jesus. You have overcome the world. It’s time for me to follow.

Yeshua, Son of God! I am not hiding! I am right here. You have known that all along, but have I? For I feel as though I have lived this faith in hiding. Thank you for the change, Yeshua. Thank you for life!!!! Thank you for a second life!!! Thank you for all of the pain, and the joy. Thank you for hiding pearls in oysters. Thank you for burying diamonds in caves. Thank you for exposing my weaknesses, and for making me to realize how much I need You. Thank you for swimming out to me, when I was drowning in my sin.

Above all, I am thankful, Yeshua, that you are God, and I am not. Thank you for this humble position in life. Thank you for making me neither wealthy nor poor. Thank you for providing just in time, and just enough. Thank you for keeping your covenant, and for not holding me responsible for breaking my end of it. Thank you for understanding that I am weak, yet always encouraging me to grow. Thank you for knowing me.

This, I will share. This I will deliver to those who have not the reasons to thank God that I have. Be it by pen, or by mouth, I will share it. This light, which you have given to me, and told me to call it mine, is shining. I will use it to make people warm. I will use it to give light in the darkness. I will use it as a sign, and as a roaring bonfire in the January cold. Then, I will thank you again.

One thing more. Yeshua, you will know what I have done, because I will not, and I am alright with that, too. If I do many good works, and never receive credit for them in heaven, it is enough just to be with you. I have longed so desparately just to talk with You face to face. That is enough, Jesus. I don’t need anything more, but I need that. Amen.



How does a man who believes in predestination also believe in spreading the gospel? Well, this post is my attempt to reconcile that.

I believe that God has chosen those who are saved. Does that necessarily mean I am right? I like to think it does, but I also am very comfortable with not HAVING TO BE RIGHT. That being said, I can still share the gospel, even while believing in God’s sovereign choice.

Here is how it works. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus is my King. I love Him, even though I know I do not often show it. He understands my physical lack, my heart still belongs to Him. Well, if Jesus is my King, then it follows that I am His servant. And, if I am His servant, then I serve Him as He directs me to serve Him.

Jesus told me to make disciples, and teach them to observe all that He commanded me. This is my focus. Whether God’s sovereign choice is true or not doesn’t affect that command, and it is a command. I come from the side that Jesus is a King, and as a King, He has dominion over my body, to do with it as He pleases. There is a scripture that talks about making our bodies living sacrifices, but I’ll leave it to you to look up. The point I am trying to make is, even if I believe that God has chosen them, still, I must be about my Father’s business, which is Jesus’ business. What I “know” doesn’t matter. What I do does.

And this much more is true. I do not “know” who they are. Father has not revealed that to me. All Jesus said was, “Go”, so I’ll go, and “make disciples”, so I will be about that. Again, what I “know” doesn’t matter. What Jesus wants does.

I will go, though I know not today where. I will speak, though I know not what I will say. I will be brought before people, and at that time, I will not worry about what to say, it will be given to me by the Holy Spirit. The hard work is not mine, it belongs to Jesus. Is it because we focus too much on ourselves that sharing the good news is hard? Is that it? Because the good news is not ABOUT us, rather, it is FOR us. This is what we have been given, and I am going to share it.

Where is the love? You might ask that. However, I only come to acknowledge Jesus as my King BECAUSE I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I acknowledge Him. So, this isn't just a command to me. It is the very opportunity to love Him more.

You can come with me if you like, but I won’t wait for you. Try not to take that as arrogance. It’s just that I have waited long enough, I won’t wait anymore. This is my focus, and I pray that sharing the good news with those who haven’t heard it will become yours, as well. If it already is your focus, then I simply thank God for sending workers into the harvest. God loves you as much today as He did yesterday. Amen.



“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John3:17

Doubtless, you have seen the new add flashing on my site, for GFA (Gospel for Asia). If you can’t see it, disable your firewall momentarily, then reload this page. There is a reason I want you to see the add. It is an offer for a free book written by K. P. Yohannan, called Revolution in World Missions.

Having read this book recently, I can say that K. P. Yohannan knows what he is talking about when it comes to missions. Normally, I’m not into advertising for people, but the book is FREE, they aren’t making money on it. They are giving it away hoping you will read it, and be inspired to help them in their mission. Actually, God will do the inspiring. All you have to do is respond.

Gospel for Asia has a website also, so click on the link, and check it out, if you are willing. After all, if they want you to help them share the gospel, why not see whether they are trustworthy? I think the book will help prove that, but some need more convincing than others.

I will be writing to K. P. Yohannan shortly, offering my weblog as another voice to help spread the news that aid is needed for native missionaries in Asia.

How does it all work? Gospel for Asia is not a Western Missionary group. The people who share the gospel are native people, from within their culture, or very near to it. They do not spend money building hospitals, or clinics. They do not have food pantries. This is not a social program. It’s evangelism, and evangelism is far more important than a hungry belly.

That is not to say that if we have the capability to also help feed them, that we should ignore the poor people of this world. The devil would say if they are going to die, at least let them go to hell on a full stomach. I say, if they are going to die someday, then give them the food that will sustain them unto heaven. That food is the gospel, and GFA focuses on spreading the gospel in places where it has never been heard, teaching disciples, and planting churches.

There is so much more information on their website, and I hope you’ll visit it. I cannot do justice to all they do. Give them a look, and if possible, open your hearts to the lost that before now, have never had a chance to hear the gospel. You don’t have to go anywhere, they go for you. You don’t have to say anything. They say it for you. All they ask is for financial support, and prayer. This is NOT JUST ANOTHER MISSIONARY. This is the gospel as it was spread in Acts. Don’t believe me? Check out their website, and see for yourself. Thank you very much. May God inspire you as He sees fit.


I'm off to work today!! : )
Just as the project I had been visited on fell apart so quickly on Wednesday evening, on Thursday night, we had a nasty storm. I told my daughter I can't remember when we had so much lightening. The sky was lit up almost constantly for over an hour, with torrential rains, and heavy winds.
I woke up to a sunny sky on Friday morning, and then a phone call. A good friend of mine (for whom I had recently built a closet with built in drawers) was calling. He told me he needed me to come over and look at his back door, which had been crushed by a falling tree. I had work to do!!
I had to wait to start, though, as the tree is still leaning on the house. By 10:00 AM today I should be able to start. I thank God for keeping me busy, and I pray He will continue. This might be a long day, dependant upon how crushed the door frame is. We'll see. Oh well, it's nothing a few sharp blows with a hammer can't fix, heh? I always say, there is absolutely nothing that cannot be FIXED with a hammer. Get that, Mr. Computer? : )
Maybe I'll be back in time tonight to write some more, maybe somthing that has a little more depth than broken glass and twisted steel, splintered wood, and finished projects. Thanks for bearing with me while I have been waiting. Hope all is well with all of you.



Having regained my focus these last days, I am led to write about something that many shy away from, even in introducing people to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Hell. Is it real? Or is it just something Jesus used as a tool to show what eternal life would be like without Him? Warning: This is my belief, and I do not force anyone to read this, or believe it. But, if you want to comment after reading, please do so with respect, and I promise you, I will respond with respect as well. Thank you.

Why this topic? Because my focus is the gospel, and I believe people can handle the full gospel, even if that includes words like hell, sin, and repent. Life is just too short to make the mistake of watering down the gospel to make it more attractive. We don’t have forever to do what we are still here to do. We are appointed so many days here, and then, we are no longer within reach of earth as we knew it. That means the loved ones we left behind are less one more person who could have told them the truth.

Is hell real? I believe it is. We know there is a judgment, and all will face that judgment. It will be a judgment according to what each one has done. For those who know the Lord, it is a judgment according to what Christ has done, for we no longer have an identity apart from Him.

But what of those who do not know Jesus? What will their judgment be like? I believe their judgment will be exactly as it is described, a judgment according to everything they have done apart from Jesus Christ. If this is the case, then judgment day does not bode well for them. For we know that all acts done apart from God are considered as filthy rags before God. In other words, they are all sin.

Sin is not so much an act as it is a position, and an attitude. A man may do an otherwise good thing, and still, it can be considered sin in God’s eyes. If the man gives no glory to God, then everything he does is done for himself, and thus, it is sin. Sin is the act and attitude of denying to God the glory due to him. If obedience brings glory to God, then disobedience certainly does not. This is one definition of sin. You may have a different one, but please keep in mind, that anything done in man’s name and not God’s is sin.

Placing judgment aside for a moment, what then should be said about hell? Is it real, or is it just a rotten carrot waved at people to get them to believe in Christ? I believe it is real, very real. Christ spoke of it, and the Apostles all wrote about those who would be destroyed in the judgment. Most notably, I find in 2 Peter this most disturbing statement.

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1

At first glance, that statement might be mistaken as a rebuttal against the idea that once saved, always saved. But that’s not what Peter is saying, at all. Jesus bought all of the world, his work from the cross was enough to forgive every sin, and redeem every person. But what does Peter say about those who are bringing swift destruction upon themselves? How do they come to the point of bringing that destruction? By “denying the Master who bought them,” they bring swift destruction upon themselves.

This is a hard doctrine, this doctrine of hell. After all, who really wants to think about it? And we who have been saved from it, would we want to think of it any the more because we have been saved? Certainly not. Yet it is present in Scripture, and spoken of by men whom we say are Apostles, and One whom we say is Savior.

It makes no difference if it is called hell, or destruction, or eternal punishment. It is all the same thing. But maybe we have been approaching this existence of hell from the wrong angle. It is certain that Jesus mentioned hell more than once, and even talked about the day of judgment in Matthew chapter 25. No would deny that his discourse speaks of a future event that has not yet taken place. But what they might deny is the road that leads to hell, and those for whom it is prepared. They may say that all are saved from hell, because Jesus died to pay the debt of the entire world.

These things would be true, Jesus did die for all, His work is sufficient. God hardly would offer eternal life to all, without making sure that all would be paid for, would He?

But why then mention hell? Why, if all are saved, is hell mentioned even once? What is the point of talking about eternal punishment, if eternal punishment will never be required? Let’s go further, and try to address another idea that I have heard, but which I do not believe.

There are some who believe that Jesus saved all people from eternal punishment, but not from eternal death. What is the difference? A whole lot less suffering, I should think. If one is resurrected to face judgment, and then dies a second death because his judgment was apart from Christ, then he does not suffer eternal punishment, only eternal death. But does this view jive with what Jesus said about eternal punishment? Or is eternal death the eternal punishment? Matthew 25:45-46 states,

“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The danger of all this is, of course, that we take these scriptures out of their context. But in this case, using the above verse, we have not taken it out of its context, because the entire context is speaking about the day of judgment. Therefore, on the day of judgment, Jesus will say to those on His left what is quoted above. The context speaks of a separating, and a judgment. And the statement made to judge the goats follows along well with the idea that if one does not know Jesus, it is impossible for him to do the good work which Jesus talks about within the context. Any work done apart from God is work which attempts to glorify man.

Feeding the least of these, visiting them, clothing them, and giving them something to drink is gospel speak. It is salvation language, all of it. Feeding, drinking, clothing, and visiting prisoners all talks about the work of an evangelist. Those who do not know Christ do not do the work of an evangelist. It is impossible for them to do so.

The gospel is the work. The recipients are the lost. When a man shares the gospel, he shares that which is most important to him. He gives clothes, food, and drink, to the one who is lost, the one who is held prisoner by sin. The clothes are the wedding clothes, which we wear, the food is the Word of God, and the drink is eternal life, which Christ gives through those who share His work. We must visit those in prison, for they cannot come to us, they are bound by sin to remain where they are. So evangelism is an active participation in building the body of Christ by visiting those who are in the prison of sin. This is the good works which we are judged for, and those who do not know Jesus have none. They have never fed Jesus, or given Him clothes, or something to drink, because they have never shared the gospel.

But, let’s take a look at this from a different angle. Rather than focusing on the day of judgment, let’s look at how one receives eternal life, for that is the prize, that life with Christ eternal, when we shall see Him as He is. I believe I can sum up all of the mentions of the path to eternal life in one verse. However, if you want to look the rest of them up, here they are: John, 3:15, 3:16, 4:14, 4:36, 5:24, 6:40, 6:54, 6:68, 10:28, and 17:3, Romans 5:21, 6:22, and 6:23, 1 Timothy 1:16, Titus 3:7, 1 John 5:11-12, and 5:13. All of these verses speak of the means to Eternal life. Without this one thing, there is no eternal life. What is that one thing?

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides in him.” John 3:36

This is the one verse I state here, because in it is found both the path to eternal life, and the path to the wrath of God, which is eternal punishment. Oddly enough, this verse was stated by the one sent before Christ, John the Baptist. It was his last testimony, and his most powerful one. It is the very foundation of his preceding work before the Lord’s coming. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. And what is that way? To believe in the Son of God for eternal life and forgiveness of sins. Apart from this, there is no salvation.

John stated very clearly that those who did not believe would see the wrath of God. So then, the path that leads to eternal life is through faith in the Son, and the path that leads to destruction is through not having faith in the Son.

I am writing this because my focus is back on the gospel, and the gospel is not pretty. It is not warm, and it is not fuzzy. It is Jesus, pinned to a cross with three inch spikes. I am a carpenter, I know what those spikes do to whatever they pass through. The gospel is not beautiful for those who don’t believe in it. It is foolishness. What shall God do with a man who calls Him a fool? Reward him with eternal life in heaven? Maybe a weak God would do that, but we don’t serve a weak God, we serve an Almighty God.

We do a disservice to those we share the gospel with if we do not tell the truth. The way is one of repentance, faith, and forgiveness. Repentance because we have all sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. Faith because without it, eternal life is not given. Forgiveness because we have believed that what Jesus did on that cross was enough.

Have all believed? Most definitely not. Then shall all be saved? I leave that answer up to you. But please understand one thing. We do not need to color the gospel with crayons. If hell hurts, it was meant to. If it is an affront to you, imagine what kind of an affront it is to God. If it causes fear, then let it, the fear of God leads to righteousness and wisdom. Why would we avoid the fear of the Lord? Worse, why would we deny that fear to those we claim to want saved?

I believe that one cannot believe in Christ without some fear over his sins. That doesn’t mean I beat him over the head with his sins. The bible tells us all have sinned. I believe all KNOW they have sinned. Give them a reason to believe and hope, but don’t cut the gospel in half.

Yes, Jesus Christ loves us. But He is not just love. He is not just a warm, fuzzy teddy bear. Had any of us been Pharisees, we would have experienced that first hand. He showed real anger, and real accusation against those who shunned Him, against those who did not believe. Will it be any different for those who STILL do not believe?

The gospel is beauty to me. It is not beauty to my neighbor, who does not believe. I am not instructed to make the gospel look pretty. I am only instructed to tell it. If they are to be attracted to it, then it will not be because I made them feel all warm and fuzzy inside about Christ. It will be because God has opened their hearts to believe. Remember, the gospel is foolishness to those who think they are wise. So it doesn’t matter how you present it. Showing them a weak God will only cement their belief that He is also foolish. We do not need to beat people over the head with their guilt. But they need to be shown that they stand in rebellion to God. An understanding of forgiveness requires an understanding of position. Without rebellion and sin being mentioned, they will never understand their position.

God has the power unto eternal life, and He has not wasted it. He has the power unto eternal punishment, and He will not waste that, either. It is His to do with as He pleases, and He will not suffer His CREATURES to question Him. I have no proof of hell other than what is written in the Bible. But we have plenty of proof that we were fallen before we knew Jesus. That isn’t something you can touch either. You just have to believe it, because God says so. There are some things, ugly as they are, that are true nevertheless. Jesus hanging naked on a cross is one of them. Hell is another. The gospel tells us that this naked man on the cross is the surest way, nay, the only way, to eternal life. If there is no belief in Him, what is the opposite of eternal life?



Writing is strangely difficult tonight. I went for my appointment made with the man who stopped because of my sign yesterday. I spent about an hour and a half with him and his wife. Took a lot of notes, made a quick, bad drawing (it doesn’t need to be good at this stage), and asked about a hundred questions. All in all, a very good visit with them, and I think we all felt comfortable with each other.

That’s important to me, that I feel comfortable with the people I work for, and they feel comfortable with me. My job isn’t just to take their money and build a few things. I often feel like I am building relationships with the people I work for. So, tonight was not a strange night at all. Rather, it was very normal. They asked me to come back tomorrow if I could with a computer drawing of their kitchen as they had told me to do it, and I said I would. I left feeling very good about meeting them, and I thanked God for the opportunity. Like I said, a very normal meeting.

Until about 8:00 tonight, that is. That’s when I received a call from this fellow, asking me to hold off on the drawing, and coming back for a while. He told me he would call me and let me know when they were ready again. Hmmmmm

Well, I will work on the drawing tomorrow anyway, in the hopes that someday, they will call. It will give me something to do. At the same time, there was some disappointment, but not much. This is the way it goes sometimes. It’s just this time seems a little strange.

Money was mentioned only once tonight, when they asked me how much a tile floor might cost. I gave them a very rough estimate, and told them I do not do tile floors normally. So we never discussed any amount of money regarding the work I would do. Usually, it’s the money that stops the job, so I am not sure of what is happening here. It may be nothing. Or, it may be something that this couple didn’t take into consideration before they met with me. Lord, I hope everything is alright with them. They were a really nice couple, someone I would have enjoyed getting to know.

Maybe all the questions made them realize they haven’t thought this through yet. Whatever it is, I don’t have the answer, and I am okay with that. I have already talked with God about this, about being frustrated, but also being thankful for the opportunity anyway. After all, I did what I was asked to do. There remains nothing else for me to do. So, here is a chance for me to trust God, and leave this with Him.

I have a sense of peace over this that goes beyond being frustrated. I feel like I have regained my focus for the gospel, and for the lost. Somehow, this phone call just doesn’t seem like all that big a deal. Thank you, Jesus, for restoring my focus, and for things I do not yet know about.



Today I get to post about a prayer that was answered. As I have already posted previously about my business being out of work, I won’t go into that too much.

I have been praying, a lot. Asking for direction, work, provision, and guidance. And, finding myself very thankful for what God has already done for me. Do you know, if God decided to never provide another dime for me, He already would have provided far more than I deserve?

Coming on the heels of yesterday’s post, I feel almost ashamed that I would ever worry about provision again. As it is, this time, I wasn’t all that worried. Running a business isn’t all that hard, but bringing in business, now that is a feat best not left up to me. So, I do what I can do, the best I can do it, and leave the rest up top God.

A few days ago, I looked at a sign I had made, and hand painted for my business last April. As I looked at it, I seriously wondered again exactly why I made this sign, why it sits at the edge of the road by my house. It is there for anyone with eggs or paintball guns to attack. Believe me, they have.

So, I wondered why I had done it. Why build this stupid sign that would never, ever, bring any business? What was I thinking? The phone doesn’t ring because of the sign, I thought. It rings because of my ad in the yellow pages, or because of “word of mouth”. So I am stuck with this sign, and I cannot for the life of me understand why I built it.

Today, there came a knock on my door, literally. I answered it, and there was an elderly gentleman, asking me if I built custom cabinets? Do I? He told me he stopped because of the sign. I invited him in, and found out he doesn’t just need custom cabinets, he needs an entire kitchen! Now, of course I have to give him an estimate, and I rely heavily upon prayer for those. But it doesn’t matter if I get the job or not. My question has been answered. That’s why I put the sign on the road, SO SOMEONE WOULD SEE IT!!


I asked God for help today. “Let me know what you wish me to do. Stay in business? Look for a job? Just show me, and I’ll obey.” Do I hope this man is the sign? I know he is, but I am not sure he is the sign I am hoping for. We’ll see. I said I would obey, and I will. That’s going to take a lot more prayer. You guys are the beloved of God.



Recently, Messy Christian posted about Mega churches, and there resulted such a split discussion that I feel led to write about it here. Having to do with building buildings against feeding the poor, my article will not mince words, so if you are lighthearted and unwilling to face the truth today, better that you do not read this.

Much of what is said here today is taken from a book I am reading called Revolution in World Missions, by K.P Yohannan. Thanks to Elaine for bringing me this book. To get to the point, Yohannan quoted Economist Robert Heilbroner, who describes the luxuries a typical American family would have to surrender if they lived among the one billion hungry people in the third world:

“We begin by invading the house of our imaginary American family to strip it of its furniture. Everything goes: beds, chairs, tables, television sets, lamps. We will leave the family with a few old blankets, a kitchen table, a wooden chair. Along with the bureaus go the clothes. Each member of the family may keep in his ‘wardrobe’ his oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. We will permit a pair of shoes for the head of the family, but none for the wife or children.

We move to the kitchen. The appliances have already been taken out, so we turn to the cupboards….the box of matches may stay, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt. A few moldy potatoes, already in the garbage can, must be rescued, for they will provide much of tonight’s meal. We will leave a handful of onions and a dish of dried beans. All the rest we take away; the meat, the fresh vegetables, the canned goods, the crackers, the candy.

Now we have stripped the house; the bathroom has been dismantled, the running water shut off, the electric wires taken out. Next we take away the house. The family can move to the tool shed….Communications must go next. No more newspapers, magazines, books – not that they are missed, since we must take away our family’s literacy as well. Instead, in our shantytown we will allow one radio….

Now government services must go next. No more postmen, no more firemen. There is a school, but it is three miles away, and consists of two classrooms. There are, of course, no hospitals, or doctors nearby. The nearest clinic is ten miles away and is tended by a midwife. It can be reached by bicycle, provided the family has a bicycle, which is unlikely.

Finally, money. We will allow our family a cash hoard of five dollars. This will prevent our breadwinner from experiencing the tragedy of an Iranian peasant who went blind because he could not raise the $ 3.94 which he mistakenly thought he needed to receive admission to a hospital where he could have been cured.”

How would you like to live there? Not much time, or money for that matter, to build a church building, is there? Now read what Yohannan says next.

“These extravagant buildings are insanity from a Third World perspective. The $ 74 million spent on one new building here could build nearly fifteen thousand average sized churches in India.”

That’s not to mention what it could do for feeding the people, and improving their way of life. How many “church” buildings are going up in America, all the while brothers and sisters in Christ are dying of starvation? Where is our compassion for them?

We can worship God in a tent. We can worship God in an outhouse, if need be. Why the need for ever growing glorious buildings? Why? To draw them in? I don’t think a family who is looking for a way to buy a meal tonight is going to feel too comfortable in a fifty million dollar mansion called a church. That’s just my opinion, but I think it is a fairly accurate one.

I have heard all of the excuses, and quite frankly, they are nothing more than justification. My own church is building an addition, and this addition has caused me more heartache than I care to admit. I cannot justify it, when I read about the people starving. Not even “for God”.

Jesus, interestingly enough, never built a building. He never left behind instructions on how to do it, or how big it should be, or how much it should cost. That’s saying something.

But the insanity doesn’t end there. One thing that the economist forgot to mention that would go would be American savings accounts, and retirement accounts. Yes, that right, nothing to retire on. There are people who have socked away well over one million dollars who cannot lift a finger to help the starving persecuted church because then they might not have enough to retire on. Many people are sitting on fortunes of one hundred thousand dollars and more, while their brothers and sisters starve for lack of food, or die of exposure, for lack of heat. I have heard people say that they can’t just give and give, otherwise they would be the ones in need. So, instead, they hold onto their money so that they can be in control. Where is the trust in that?

Buildings? They suck the life out of the local church. God is not glorified by bricks and stone, and flashing lights. He is glorified when we love one another.

A building is a cold, flat, unfeeling religious relic, unable to feel anything, not even the behinds that sit in its chairs. Our hearts, where God sits, are able to feel. Well, what do you feel right now? Yeah, I know, it can feel like one big guilt trip, can’t it? That’s not my purpose. But let’s open our eyes, and SEE. Because what we do is not right in God’s eyes. Not right at all.

I am going to be investigating and planning , and then carrying out how I can do more. I am led to find out what it would take to go there, and be with them, those starving, and those who don’t know Jesus. You may have a different leading. But whatever it is, don’t ignore it any longer.
After all, how can we justify spending millions of dollars on buildings in the face of millions of starving people? How can we justify our "nest eggs" when even a small portion of them could help a brother and sister in Christ so much? What will we answer to Jesus when He asks us, "Why did you not feed me when I was starving?". Will we ask back, "Lord, when did we see You starving?"



In four months, we may have snow on the ground. Today, it is sunny, and seventy-five, or so. Four months? And how much will the scenery change in that time! Leaves will begin to darken, to turn yellow and red. Then, they will fall, and the trees will be bare. We’ll hear the lake roar from my house nearly every day now, as the wind begins to be steadily stronger towards fall.

I love the sound of that roar, no matter what time of year it is. It is something I have come to look forward to, like a friend I see every so often, the reunion of which is always full of joy.

The lake is roaring today, along with something else in my heart and mind.

Today, my former wife approached me about our daughter. This is what she said, “I was wondering if you could talk to Ally about her attitude.” I looked at her, and asked, “What’s wrong with her attitude?” Nina began to explain that Ally isn’t listening to her, and is arguing about everything. My daughter is twelve, and in case you aren’t familiar with twelve year old girls, then you need to know that around that age, they begin to become more independent.

I have watched this side of my daughter for quite a while now, because she is a lot more mature than most girls her age. Yet, I haven’t noticed her attitude change toward me. Sure, she no longer wants hugs as often, and she gets all indignant when I tickle her, but beyond that, she seems to be more open about her feelings than I have ever noticed before. I have struggled with the idea of her growing up, but at the same time, I have wondered in joy at the growing I get to watch.

Attitude? I wanted to ask, “What’s your attitude like?” Instead, I just answered honestly, saying that Ally doesn’t often argue with me, and she does everything I ask her to. I didn’t tell Nina, but I’ll tell you all, my daughter is as well behaved a child as any I have ever met. I marvel at her intelligence, and at the same time, how she willingly cooperates within my house. Most kids throw tantrums, and try to manipulate. Ally doesn’t ever do that with me. Apparently, that is not the case with Nina, my former wife.

So, I stand at a crossroads, seriously wanting my daughter and her mother to get along, but I also wonder if it my daughter’s fault that there is strife in that house. Ally doesn’t seem to have any boundaries there. No bedtime, no regular chores to do. Everything seems to be hit and miss, helter skelter.

Now, my house is not a regimented military establishment. I flow with life as well as I can, but there are definitely certain things that need to be done, and I see to it that they are done. Ally understands this, and I don’t act as the dictator of the family. But she also knows that I am the father, and she is the child. She has boundaries, and she knows that certain things are things she needs to ask about.

I get the sense it isn’t this way in Ally’s other house. Knowing what I know about Nina, that is more than just a “sense”. It’s more like, “yeah, I know how she is”. But, that doesn’t mean it is my place to judge how she runs her house.

So, I have been asked to talk with Ally, and I have. I see no problem with her attitude. So, what am I supposed to say to her mom? Do I say, “Grow up, the problem isn’t her, it’s you?” That would seem more like the truth to me, and I am usually not so worried about just saying things like that. But, coming on the heels of losing my focus, and ignoring that others have a completely different perspective than I, I can no longer just throw a dart, and leave it at that.

Now, I am in a position I don’t want to be in. I don’t want to be the middle man. Nina made her choices a while ago, and we all have been paying for them ever since. But, that doesn’t mean I am not responsible to help with her relationship with Ally. Or am I?

This is not a crisis. It’s just a part of the same big problem that broken families suffer through. I’ll bet if Nina had been shown this, she’d never have done what she did. That’s how temptation is. At best, it is a half truth. At worst, it is a complete lie. But, that is something I can’t change, so I have to deal with what is in front of me, today, and all of the tomorrows God has in store for me.

You can bet that I have already asked God to help me, and will many times more. But if you guys have any insight on how to delicately handle a very fragile situation like this, I would really appreciate it. Am I to make every effort to be the peacemaker? Am I to tell her she needs to learn how to connect and relate to Ally on her own? What to do, that is the question. “Cynical me”, well, you know what he would tell her already. But “cynical me” is lying in heap somewhere, and I don’t want to wake him up.

Winter approaches, and with it, school will start, the leaves will fall, and everything will look dead. It only looks that way. The truth is somewhere beneath the surface.


It is absolutely amazing!! The difference a few days brings, that is.

Several days ago, I was wallowing in myself, focusing on the wrong things, and thereby making an arrogant ass out of myself everywhere I went. These last few days have been the gentle shower of grace my scum covered self needed. Things are clear again, even though circumstances are not. I am not going to worry about circumstances. I’ll do what I can do the best I can, and the rest, well, that’s up to God.

My pastor preached today on perspectives, and his message was like the voice of God speaking directly to me. This is the first time that has happened in weeks. I needed it, I needed to cement what I had been planting the last few days. (Maybe a better way to say that is “what God has been planting”)

Perspective is extremely important when we are dealing with other people, and let’s face it, we deal with other people all of the time. I was ignoring other people’s perspectives, at least to some degree, I was. But we can all do with less of our perspective, and more of God’s, I think.

I don’t have to be right, and more importantly, I don’t have to sacrifice others on the altar of right. Now that’s freedom! For those of you I was an ass to, I ask if you could forgive me? For those of you I was not an ass to, be patient, you’ll get your chance. (Joking!!!)

FOCUS!!! I lost my focus, briefly, as I said the other day. Issues and circumstances tempted me, and I followed. But the TRUTH hasn’t changed, it is the same today that it was yesterday, and that is why I do not have to climb back up to where I was. I told a brother today I had been focused on things like theological debates, and fear over other people’s ideas leading them into trouble. Okay, that is an explanation of what I told him. What I actually said was, “Again, it goes back to being what I am called to be, and an arrogant know-it-all ass is definitely not what I was called to be.” So, now you know what my real problem was.

I have another problem I am dealing with, and maybe if I have time, I will write about it tonight. Maybe if God so chooses, He can take this problem away without it causing more pain than it already has. We’ll see. It’s not a problem I am causing, but I sure am having to deal with it, an awful lot. Well, Jesus did say we would have trouble, didn’t He?



Having a relationship with God has been the most exhilarating, frustrating, joyous, tearful, wonderful, and frightening thing in my life. Recently, I have gone through what I think might be a test of my faith.

I allowed my focus to wander onto things it shouldn’t have, and my time was not well spent. Now, I am in a position where things are a little clearer, and I know some of what I have to do. I know I am being very vague here, because truthfully, I am still uncertain.

The last few weeks have seen me lose sight of the power of Christ within me. Thus, my “way” was off kilter. How do we get this way? When I know what I am supposed to be about, how do I get sidetracked so easily?

Prayer was difficult for me these last few weeks. Heck, just finding God anywhere was difficult. He wasn’t hiding, I was. He has been here with me, all the while whispering, then calling, then shouting. I finally heard Him last night. Not some audible voice, just thoughts, and prayers, and circumstances. It is such a relief to find my self needing Him, to recognize how much I really do.

Circumstances? These next months are going to dictate whether or not my business is going to be a success, or a failure. I am okay with either one, but as I know myself, I will work to make it a success. However, I can only advertise so much, the rest is truly up to God. He brings the people to me, I can’t just go out and ask someone if they’d like me to do some remodeling for them, or build them an addition. It just doesn’t work that way. My business is my livelihood, so the stress from it can become overbearing at times.

But, the stress from that is not solely to blame for my wandering. I am used to the stress, it is not a factor that is going to draw me away from God. No, my flesh is what draws me away from God. Wanting things to be the way I want them, not making time to talk with God, and ignoring the signs set before me all get me to where I am right now, which is a long way from where I once was. At least that is the way it felt these last weeks.

But, the joy is mine, because I have been forgiven. My arrogance? Forgiven. My attitude toward other people? Forgiven. All is forgiven. I have been restored.

You see, I love Jesus, and He has something that no other “religion” in this world can offer. It’s called true forgiveness, and when you have experienced it, nay, FELT it as much as I have, you know you are in the right God.

I don’t have to earn my way back. I don’t have to fight my way up the “ladder”. I am where I was when I left this path, not miles behind, like I would be in the world. And somehow, I know a little more, I have a little more wisdom, and I pray, a little less arrogance? I hope so.

Forgiveness, there is nothing like it. Today, for the first time in several weeks, I truly felt like a child of God again. I did nothing to bring this about, save one thing, I asked God for it. I stayed honest with Him throughout. That is something I learned in the past, that even when I go my own way, for whatever stupid reason, that I need to stay honest with Him about it. Maybe that’s why praying was so difficult for a while, because I knew I couldn’t go to Him and lie. But when I did go to Him, I told the truth, and that helped somehow. The Spirit truly does desire us to know God fully.

One of the best ways to get to know someone is to LET THEM KNOW you, honestly. My post the other night about being real was the first step back to reality. Hearing people say things about me that I knew were lies, no matter how good they were, snapped me back to God in a hurry. For how could I hear these things, and live up to them? I can’t, and it broke me. I am so thankful for that. Losing my focus sucks. But getting it back, that is more precious to me than all the gold in the world.

So, here I am, God. I am not much, except I am far more because You made me so. Thank you for calling me, for loving me enough to make it hurt. Thank you for the uncertainty in my business, without which, I might forget you for a while. Thank you for gently showing me that I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing, and instead, doing worthless things. I am yours. Do with me what You will.



I received a call today from my best friend, Brett. He was calling from the local hospital. He told me his daughter, Amber, who had surgery to have her adenoids removed last week, had just come through emergency surgery.

Here is how it happened, according to what he and his wife Sherrie told me. Actually, I can fill in some of the stuff before it all happened, because Sherrie called me just prior to it occuring to ask me some questions about truck shopping. I don’t recall exactly what time that was, but I remember the call, and I remember Sherrie telling me she had to go. I wonder if her daughter had discovered her problem at that moment? I’ll have to ask Sherrie about that.

It was a little before 11:30 AM at Sherrie’s house. Brett was at work, and Sherrie was getting ready to go looking for a truck to haul a camper they wanted to buy. Amber, earlier in the day had told her mom she did not want to go along, so she was going to stay home alone. But, at the last minute, she decided to go along anyway, so Sherrie had to wait a little extra while Amber made herself ready.

As Sherrie was waiting, she heard Amber call from their bathroom. Apparently, her mouth was bleeding, probably no big deal, just a result of the recent surgery. However, when Sherrie saw the amount of blood Amber was losing, she called the doctor. He told her to come in immediately. So, they rushed to the hospital, with Amber holding a one gallon bucket to spit the blood into. By the time they reached the hospital, this bucket was over half full. It only takes fifteen minutes to get to their hospital, driving as fast as Sherrie was driving.

Now, I do not know what all happened at the hospital, so the details are going to be brief. The reason Amber was bleeding so profusely was the clot on one of her arteries in her throat had either burst, or been scraped off somehow. Amber was bleeding to death, and didn’t know it.

Well, they performed the surgery, and re-cauterized her artery. Tonight, she is recovering well, but she has lost a lot of blood, and may need a transfusion. She won’t be out of the woods with this for another ten or twelve days, I forget which.

My daughter, Ally, and I visited her tonight. She is in good spirits, considering she nearly lost her life today. Brett and Sherrie are doing well, too, but Amber’s little brother, Brandon (or B-bob, as I call him) isn’t doing so well. He is very scared for his sister, and doesn’t really understand what is all happening.

Why did I tell you this? Because a miracle happened today, right in front of their eyes. You see, Amber is only alive because for some reason she cannot explain, she changed her mind at the last minute, and wanted to go along with her mom. Had she not changed her mind, she would have been home alone, with no way to get to the hospital. It is entirely possible that Sherrie could have returned home to find her daughter in the bathroom, in a pool of blood, lifeless.

We talked a little tonight about this sequence of events. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. Something happened within Amber’s mind, because she definitely is not the type to want to go around town looking at trucks. That’s something B-bob would want to do, but not Amber. Especially not since she still wasn’t feeling all that well from the recent surgery. I think God changed her mind for her. There just isn’t any other explanation for this one. Not if you know Amber. Brett and Sherrie believe it, too. Do you? Is this possibly something we can give glory to God in? I say, yes it is, and I am glad to be able to tell you that Amber is alive because God stepped in where no one else could.

Imagine if Amber hadn’t changed her mind.

I have asked a special favor of Amber tonight. I asked her if, when she felt better, she would like to write about this event on my web log, and tell us what she remembers, and how she felt as she was going through this. She said she would, so hopefully, we can look forward to a young girl writing to us about how God saved her life today. I am really looking forward to that, because the alternative could have been a funeral two days hence. Amber is one of my daughter’s best friends, and seeing those two hug tonight, well, I have to say, it’s just about the sweetest sight I have ever seen.. I am so thankful that God gave us Amber, and let us keep her for a while longer. Thank you God.



This will be a short Blog. An honest one, too.

If you have been reading my Blog, and are pretty impressed with this guy who writes these things, don’t be. I am not someone to look up to.

It dawned on me today that I had to do something about people seeing me in a better light than what reality actually shows. Too many times, people have told me things in person that lead me to believe the attention in my life is going to me, not to Jesus. I want that to stop, right now.

I am just a man, and not a very good one, either. I am learning how to crawl in my faith, because I keep stumbling. I haven’t got it all figured out, I don’t know everything, or even most things. Like everyone else, if there is a question asked, I, too, am not always certain of the answer.

I need advice as much as the next person, and if you receive advice from me, take it with a barrel full of salt. I need Jesus as much as anyone else, and probably more. My tongue is not tamed, and I am arrogant. I can spew forth a stream of expletives that would make you wonder whether I ever knew Jesus in the first place.

This last part is the most important part. Not once, and I mean not even close, has any change in my life come through any effort of my own, not since I have known Jesus. I have tried, but ALWAYS fail. That isn’t exaggeration, that’s the truth. Every single good thing in me came about by the hand of Jesus. It didn’t come about because I was surrendered, or had great faith. It came about because I gave up, and Jesus did the work.

I fail all of the time. But you see, that’s why I love Jesus so much, because He makes me REAL. So don’t think more highly of me than what is written here. I am not being hard on myself. I know the truth, and this is it. If you want to encourage me, that is fine. But please don’t make excuses for me, I don’t need them, for I am not ashamed that I need Jesus so much. I really am not. Living the abundant life to me means being free to be real, to be me. I am always changing, but not by my hand, so if you see something in me that you think is praise worthy, then know that the praise is due to Jesus, and all I ask is that you give it to Him. Thank you very much.



I had a weird thought, today. I was sitting somewhere, when out of nowhere, into my mind pops this idea to start a church somewhere in the Middle East, and live amongst them. You see, WEIRD!

No details, no location, no nothing, just that thought. And now? Now I find myself thinking about that. Here’s what I have come up with.

1. I would have to find the place, if God is directing me.
2. What about my daughter? Thoughts of God making it certain that my daughter would not be a stumbling block in this truly frightens me. So, I will not think about that.
3. Did I mention that all things God are weird?
4. I know God stretches us, but this idea seems so far fetched, that it seems certain it was just a “Tom” thought, and nothing more.
5. Upon reviewing number four, I find myself strangely interested in researching this, a little more. Hmmmmmmm
6. Where?
7. How?
8. Why?
9. I heard a thought in my head a little while ago. It could have been another “Tom” thought. It said, “Go share what I have taught you about being my body. You know what you need to know.”
10. Maybe I ate something that caused this?
11. I have time, I know this.
12. I will use that time to find out if there is anything to this.
13. If this ever happens, I will have an awful lot of people to say goodbye to.

After having a chance to think, while driving to pick up my daughter from music lessons, here is some more.

14. Why am I so attached to this place?
15. Who says I have to live here, can’t I live anywhere?
16. Then, there are more thoughts of my daughter. What about her?
17. I don’t know if I could be of help in starting a church with no one else to help. Then I think of Jesus. Oh yeah.

That’s about it, for now. Just some thoughts, yet there is a strange organization to them, at least from my perspective. You see, this is something I have wanted to do, only not now, but later, when my daughter is eighteen. Maybe the Lord IS telling me something. Maybe this isn’t something I ate. I don’t know yet. But I know I am going to find out. Hope all is well with you.



Predestination. God’s sovereign choice. I have written five different posts on this topic. This will not be my last, but I am close.

Before I begin, let me remind you that the most important thing is not that you become convinced. Rather, it is that you continue to trust in God no matter what is true about Him. The fact is, if it is true, then it is true in such a way that our human minds cannot yet understand. We cannot grasp the intricate workings of what feels like free will to us, against God’s free will. During this post, I may use such words as “impossible”, “always”, “never”, “only”, and a host of other strong words that portray my position. I do not expect you to agree with me, but I use those words because this issue is that way for me. So, please bear with me.

I thought the other day that I had the perfect way to tell you of God’s sovereign choice of us, but now, as I approach it, I am unsure.

The single most telling evidence for me that God chooses all of those who are saved, and that we do not choose Him is the numerous times in both the New, and Old Testament that depict God as the chooser, and us as the receivers. I have lost count at well over one hundred times, words both Hebrew and Greek that have been used to describe the process, or action of God choosing a certain “people”, “remnant”, or “elect” to receive His good gifts, most notably, grace.

So far, I have counted forty different instances of the words “chose”, or “chosen” when used in reference to God’s choice of those He did save. In other words, forty different times, the writers of New Testament Scripture used words very descriptive of God choosing the elect. To this, you may say, “So what? What does that prove?” By itself, maybe very little. However, when taken next to the fact that not even once do any of the writers of the New Testament mention any word even closely resembling the words “choose” or “chosen” in relation to us choosing God, you can see the significance. NOT EVEN ONCE!

Now, I admit my study has not yet been exhaustive. I have not poured over Scripture with a fine tooth comb, yet. I have only used a hair brush. There may be one or two gems hiding on me, and if they are, I will find them. But here’s my point; FORTY DIFFERENT times the Apostles wrote about God’s choice of us, by calling us the chosen, or by saying God chose us from before the foundation of the earth, and many other such phrases. Not even once did they write about us choosing Him.

The idea of God’s sovereign choice is all over this book we call the Bible. As I said, I lost count at well over a hundred times the Bible mentioned God choosing people, or places, or kings, or actions, over the very people He created. In the face of all this evidence, finding the idea of man’s fee will would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Put that thought on hold. Here’s a question. Why would God go to such great lengths to reveal the choices He makes, to tell us how He chose us, if it weren’t true? It is impossible to me to believe that we have free will over God’s will, absolutely impossible. When I did the search, by hand, I might add, reading many verses and their contexts, it became clear very quickly that God is the only one with true free will. After all, how many times does God need to tell us we are His chosen, His elect, before we believe it?

I only have one other thing I want to briefly mention tonight. It is the fact that prior to us being set free in Christ, we are slaves to sin. This is a fact well established , and I do not expect to have to defend it. What does a slave do? Maybe a better question is, whom does a slave serve? His master, of course. If there is a slave, then there is a master. In our case, before we knew Christ, sin was our master, and we were unable to break free, unable to escape. That is scriptural.

Now take that thought a little deeper. If we are slaves, are we free agents? In other words, if we are slaves, are we not owned by our master? And if owned, are we free to choose anything other than what our master demands of us? Are we free agents before we know Jesus? This is the most important question regarding our free will verses God’s sovereign choice, because if we are free to choose, then God has no sovereign will, He must leave us free to choose, and instead of planning, God must react to our choices. Now that is a very simplified way of describing a cause and effect that would be far more intricate and detailed. However, the basic thrust is the same.

If we choose, then God reacts. If I choose to believe in Jesus, then He MUST save me. Do you see the problem with our free will? Once we say that we chose God, we make God a slave to our choices. I’m not saying God couldn’t make it possible. But why would God say He chose us, if in fact, He is not a free agent, and we are? Both cannot be free, at least not in the way we understand free will. It is impossible. Either one or the other must be true. Either we are free and God is our slave, or God is free, and we are now His slaves. Please note that in Romans 6:22, we are described as having been freed from sin, and enslaved to God. Even Paul wrote in such a way as to say that we are God’s slaves, and slaves are not free agents at all, are they?

Furthermore, if we are slaves, and not allowed to choose freely, how can we be free to choose Jesus? A slave serves a master. We were slaves to sin, thus sin was our master. How could a slave choose what is right, if he is not free to do so? Paul used the word “slave” to describe us much more than that one time in Romans. I think he understood pretty well that we were not free at all to choose Jesus, but instead, the true freeing came when God chose us.

Again, I must stress that for now, it does not matter that you believe in God’s sovereign choice. The only thing necessary is that you remain in your trust of Him. All other issues pale beside that one. Be at peace, brothers and sisters.



I am coming to a new understanding of my reason for being here, on this earth. As you know, I have been struggling a bit lately, but not in a major way. This is how it is whenever I am being stretched by God. Things of a shallow nature, the temporal, bother me more than I should allow them. It is during these times that I become blinded briefly.

Let me just say that this blindness isn’t something I seek out. I think it just happens, maybe by God’s hand, maybe by something else. But the end result is always the same, growth and conformity to the image of Christ. I wish I could see that right away when it starts, but I think it is impossible for me to do so. To see it right away, I would think would allow me to surrender to it more rapidly, but then again, that is the mind of a man speaking, not the mind of God speaking. So I have to temper my opinion with the fact that I don’t understand everything.

There is so much I am seeing right now. Circumstances, thoughts, dreams, and other things are all pointing to a destination going in one direction only. Yet there is much I don’t see. People I have met, what is their purpose in my life, and what is mine in theirs? Things I have learned beyond my studies, things God has taught me without me being aware, what are the purposes of these things?

You see, I can’t see what God sees, but one thing I do know; He always reveals what He wants me to be about. I am finding some very great comfort in that right now. You might even call it joy, were it not for the anxiety over the unknown also. My heart, though it be filled by the Spirit, is still human, and I waver in courage sometimes. Even then, Jesus gives me peace to face what I will face, even today, as I do not know what I am about to face, if anything.

Patience and trust will bear the answers I am seeking. I do not like not knowing what God is planning. I don’t have to like it. I have experienced enough of Him to know that whatever it is will one day find me saying, “thank you” to Him.

I find it comforting that God knows, and that He is preparing me for whatever I have to do long before it is due. Whether it be to sweep the floor, or speak the gospel to many, I do not know. I do care, though, but trust means that whatever it is, even if it hurts, I will still love and follow Christ.

Saying that makes me think of all the people I love in this world. Will God use one of them? Will He allow one of them to be hurt, or to die? Will He use someone I know? Or will He use circumstances and things? Everything being His, I trust He knows what He is doing.

That’s why the hard doctrines like predestination do not bother me. It’s not that I am heartless towards those who are lost, I truly want all to be with me in heaven. But that is not my decision to make, and I do trust that God knows what He is doing. Even when it hurts.

I don’t know of any other way to be conformed to the image of Christ. He suffered, and He trusted. I have suffered, and my trust has grown. And now, God is teaching me to trust Him before any pain comes, IF any pain comes, and that sort of tells me that pain will one day again visit me in a most piercing way. It may be one day soon.

Will you be there when it happens? Will I be there for you, if it happens to you? These are the questions in my mind right now, and I think they speak very loudly of a trust that God is building in all of us, without our help.

We are here to love another, and to shine the light of the gospel into a very, very dark place. Trust will allow us to go where others wouldn’t go, and hope will help us bring some out with us. Thank you.



What a wonderful time I spent with the Boy’s Club tonight. For those of you not familiar with them, they are the group of men I meet with every Friday night, just to catch up with them, and to talk about things important to us. Things like knowing Jesus, knowing each other, and being alright with not knowing everything. This last is truly a miracle, if you know anything about men.

Men are hard-pressed to admit we do not know everything there is to know. Maybe it’s pride, maybe something else. Who cares? It’s God bringing us to a new place in surrender, and this is a huge step for us. WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING, AND WE ARE ALRIGHT WITH THAT! Hallelujah!

I am truly amazed at how close we seem to be growing. Gone is the need to “learn” doctrine. That has been replaced with honesty and openness, and all these things spur on wisdom, which in my mind is far superior to knowledge. Give me one thing to live in wisdom, and it will FAR outweigh every study I have ever engaged in. Tonight, I saw wisdom reign.

These guys are not perfectly open and honest, nor am I, but we are moving, and being moved. The changes in them, and in me are truly deep and lasting. We aren’t here to learn doctrine. We are here to love one another, and this group is doing that pretty good, I think.

Here is a truth for all of us to learn, that it is not knowledge, nor things, nor flesh that save us, but only love. And once we know Jesus, we will never do a greater thing than love each other. Guys, thank you for a truly joy filled, and delightful evening. Praise God for His life, for His truth, and for His wisdom in drawing us together, so we could draw close to Him.



Today, I want to talk about that day. You know, THAT day.

I want to know Jesus better than I do now, before that day. I want our relationship to be so close that when we meet face to face, it is like a joyous reunion between two brothers who knew each other well, but had to be in different places for a time. I don’t want it to be like I am meeting Him for the first time.

And when I see Him, I want to recognize Him right away, like I knew what He looked like all along. How is this possible? Well, the Bible gives some very good descriptions of Him, and I don’t think all of them are just figurative. So, I can get to know Him in the word He left behind on paper, AND I can get to know Him from my walk with Him. To know Him well then physically, and spiritually, that is what I seek.

Please do not think me selfish, but I want to know Him as well as any human being can. I will not compare myself with others. I just want to know Him, that’s all. The funny thing is, the more I know Him, the less I feel I know. It seems like the closer I get, the more I see how little I really understand. What an irony.

The Lord has given me eyes to see, and ears to hear. Why is it that I always wish I could see better with them? Possibly it is because it is not that day, and so long as that day is not here yet, I will always feel this way. At first, this can be disconcerting. But the more I walk with Him, the more I see that this paradox causes me to long for Him both here, and there as well. He truly does want me to want to be here, until it’s time to go Home.

A while ago, I had no problem deciding which I wanted. To be here meant each new new day was filled with pain more cruel than the last day. Now, however, Jesus has made me understand that pain is both necessary and good, all the while evil and undesired. What must Home be like when here, I need pain to know what health is? Or that I need weariness to know what rest is?

This world is screwed up. Nothing is completely the way God designed it anymore. To think about that in all of its depths is overwhelming, because nothing is left as it was at the first. Every rock has weathered, and every river has changed. Every tree is different than the first of its kind, and every animal is strange according to its ancestors. We have never touched perfect metal, or perfect wood, nor seen perfect blossoms. We, even we are tainted far from where Adam first strolled this earth. We scream for THAT day. I now scream for those who don’t know Jesus, for that day to put off one more day, please.

Jesus must have truly known suffering long before He was put on the cross. To walk amongst His own creation must have shredded His heart to no end. He is the only one of us since Adam who remembers what is was like from the beginning. Thank God for THAT DAY, when we too will see, and know what it was like at the beginning. On that day, when I am in Heaven, and I see my Maker’s face, I will not die again. Time will have no meaning, and I will never again have to wonder when Jesus is coming for me.



My God you are amazing to me. You are constantly on my mind, even when I try to hide from you. Where can I go that you are not there? When I sleep, I dream of You. When I wake, I think of you. You absolutely, completely, never-endingly blow me away!

Father, you knew I needed a God who WOULD blow me away. You knew I was a cynic, and arrogant, hyped up on my own intelligence. You know how I used to look at others, and KNOW they weren’t as smart as me, or as nice as me, or as driven as me. And then You came, and blew me away. You became my perspective, my holy point of view. With Your eyes and understanding, I saw a man, a very little man, without any hope at all. I saw this man searching for answers, because he had worn out everything else he had sought to learn. I saw him running for the truth, and looking in wrong places. Then, I saw him fall down, at your feet, and begin to surrender. I saw me.

Father, I am at a loss for all that has passed, for there is no explanation. The things you have shown me, the gifts you have given me, have all reflected Your Face. Oh, and what you have taught me!!! I do not even know how much it all is, or where it all begins. My studies cannot account for what you have made me know. My heart isn’t big enough to feel the love I feel. My flesh is not strong enough to do the things You have me do.

I sit here with tears, because I can’t praise you enough! I want to, but I know that what I say here isn’t worthy. Please make it so, dear Yeshua. Please add to my weak words what I cannot. I really, really want to praise you. I’m tired of singing lies! I’m tired of using “Christian lingo”. I want it to be REAL!

May You make my life a living symphony to You. May You make my heart a pool to pour forth from, for those who don’t know You, and for those who just need some hope. When someone needs to bleed, let it be me. Just please don’t let it be someone I love. And if it has to be someone I love, then give me the way to help them through, as You helped me through. Only please don’t let them be alone.

You are my reason for living. You are my reason for dying, so help me please die to myself. Let me run into the freedom fields of Your love forever. Let me fly faster than the speed of light. Let me speed my way to You whenever I have run away. Thank you for being my God, my awesome, HOLY God. So different and OTHER you are than anything else. Beyond description or understanding, You are.

Teach me wisdom, Father, because You are wisdom, and I am not. Teach me love, Father, because You are love, and I am not. Teach me miracles, Father, for you are miracles, and I am not. Grant me peace, Lord, for you have it to give, and I do not.

Do You see, Lord, how you are everything, and I am not? Do you know how I love you even when I sin? How great must be the mark you have placed on my soul, for I could not choose to love You this way. How much of everything you must know, to know that I would be here tonight, crying out to You, trying to praise You with words, when my heart already does. This heart belongs to you, Lord. Do with it what You will.



Today’s post is of a rather personal nature.

I was driving home from a friend’s house today, when I felt a desire to ask my daughter a question. The question went something like this, “So…do you have anything going on right now in your heart that’s been bugging you, anything that keeps coming back even though you try not to think about it?”

To my amazement, she said yes. She told me her mom and her step-dad are having financial problems, and fighting because her step-dad’s ex wife is taking them back to court to get more money. She told me they can’t really afford a lawyer, and can’t afford to give her more money. The reason she wants more money, apparently, is because she wants to send her daughter to a private school that costs $400 a month. Regardless of the reasons, my daughter is worried and anxious over it all, continuously. Not only that, but she has to be around sometimes when my former wife and her husband fight.

I just sort of immediately went into this mode I have, where if something is bothering, or could be a danger to my daughter, I get very cynical, and angry inside. I wanted to call, or write to this woman, and tell her what her choices were doing to my daughter.

I understand that she is not in a good position, and was hurt in the exact same way I was when her husband left her for my wife. But the comparison stops there, really. Since all that happened, she has been very vengeful and spiteful; doing anything she can to hurt those two. I truly understand this, but I am fed up with my daughter being caught in the middle, and I wonder if I shouldn’t gently remind her that Ally IS in the middle.

I would like to tell her that when she tries to hurt them, she also hurts my daughter, only right now, I really want to do it in a way that isn’t loving, or gentle. I want to lash out, and use these words to hurt, and throw darts. Why must my daughter be hurt for the rest of her life because the adults in her life are such assholes? Tell me, what one thing has she ever done to them? When is enough enough?

So, am I supposed to just sit here and let it happen again? This is an ongoing thing, and I am not a pacifist, despite my faith. Am I to allow my daughter to learn how to be abused, and harmed, and to think that for the rest of her life, this is how things are supposed to be? When do I get to act on her behalf, without other Christians saying, “Oh, Tom, you need to be calm, and speak the truth in love.” I don't want to be calm!!

Here also is the truth spoken in love, “You white washed tombs, you brood of vipers,” or how about, “Woe to you teachers of the law and scribes, you travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”? I am supposed to ask what Jesus would do? Maybe he’d say those things! How do we know?

Jesus certainly was not JUST love. He was not ONLY nice. He attacked, and kept the Pharisees on the defensive almost from the word go. His was a righteous cause, because his children were being harmed by the Pharisees. Is that the case here? Am I to react strongly because my child is being harmed by adults who act more like children than she does? IT'S BEEN FOUR YEARS OF THIS!!

I don’t know if I can do it any longer. I don’t know if I can sit by and watch quietly, as if I am not allowed to protect my daughter. I am sick of it all, and thinking very strongly that something needs to be done that will put an end to this stuff. Maybe reacting strongly will do it, I don’t know. What I do know is, something has to change. You can’t keep hurting a father’s little girl, and not expect to get hurt back. I guess that’s how I feel right now.



Okay. High speed internet is up and running, and I only had to spend one hour messing with it. Not bad, not bad at all. Now, if only I can fine tune my firewall so it’s not so @*!**?@! intrusive.

I thought I would write out a list of twenty things I’d like to accomplish before I die, as I was inspired by Messy Christian . Then I began thinking about it, and I realized I may not be ready to open up like that. My hat is off to you MC, you obviously are able to share more easily than I.

I don’t know why I am not ready for such a simple undertaking. Do I have something to hide? Not to my knowledge. It’s just that there are some pretty personal things on my DO-LIST, and I’d rather not yet share them publicly, if you know what I mean. Heck, some of them, I’m not even sure if I really want.

So, I will give a brief list of things that aren’t very personal, just dreams really, that will never happen, but that I wish I would get to experience.

1. Be the starting pitcher in a Major League baseball game. Haven’t thrown for any team, or played organized ball since I was sixteen.

2. Take back all the rotten things I have ever said to anyone. Since that is impossible, the best I can do is make sure it never happens again.

3. Live to see Jesus come back.

4. Finish my boat.

5. Know that I will be greeting everyone in my family in heaven.

6. Fly to the moon in a rocket.

7. Build my dream house.

8. Sit on my porch as an old man, and have a young man stop by and talk just because.

9. Help a group of believers be a church in a Muslim nation.

10. Write the longest coherent sentence ever. I’m actually doing pretty good on that one, I think : )

These aren’t in any particular order, and as you can see, they are dreams that most likely will never become reality. That’s okay, I’m fine with not getting everything done on my lists. I am sure most people are. But the personal things are mine, for now. Maybe someday, I will share them, when I know if I really want them or not. It’s to be left up to God, and I am more than fine with that, too. God bless you very much, all of you.



It’s Sunday evening, and it’s raining. What has this world done to my daughter?

I asked her if she wanted to go outside with me in the rain, and just play, run around like a bunch of nuts. You know what she did? She gave me that LOOK. You know the one. It’s the look that twelve year olds are famous for, and I have been getting it quite a bit lately.

It’s the look that asks, “Daddy, are you an idiot?” I love watching her grow up, but I’m not sure about this look. Did she learn it from me? I hope not!

And hey!!! I told her to stop growing up four years ago! What’s with this gross disobedience? Did she learn that from me as well? What punishments can I levy for this? I clearly told her, ”No more maturing, no more growing. From now on, you will be eight, forever.” What is this world coming to when our children misbehave like this?

Seriously, I am looking forward to the next few years, say four or five, with anticipation, and a very, very heavy dose of anxiety. Let’s see, she is twelve now…………..so in five years, she will be seventeen. Aaaaaagggghhhhh!!!!!!!!#@!@#!!

I have so much to look forward to, and so much to worry about. Take for instance, dating. My daughter isn’t going to date until she’s married. What’s that, you ask? “How can she get married if she doesn’t date?” Now you’re gettin’ it.

Okay, so I can’t keep her from dating, I know that. But this I also know; the poor chap who kisses her first will be beaten within an inch of his life, so he better wait until he asks her to marry him. Then, I might only pound him with my baseball bat a FEW times. We’ll see, it all depends on how I feel that day, because you never can tell, right?

Actually, none of that will PROBABLY happen, but I make no promises at this point. I just am really not looking forward to it all. I know how I was at seventeen. So she better steer clear of guys who are like I was. And I will be able to tell.

I will simply meet this fine upstanding youth at the door, ask him inside, and lay down the ground rules. Here they are, or at least a partial list:

1. Kissing is as far as you can go with my daughter.
2. Kissing is forbidden, so rule # 1 is really just built-in redundancy.
3. If you pick her up at 8:00 pm, she must be home at 8:15 pm, on the same day.
4. No driving is allowed, so rule # 3 is again, just built in redundancy.
5. If she says no to anything, and you disregard it, I will kill you.
6. If you go further than rule # 2, I will kill you.
7. If you think my daughter is a punching bag, run fast, because I’m one of those guys who LIKES hitting men who hit women.
8. Holding hands is allowed (hey! I’m not an ogre!), …………..so long as you wear surgical gloves.
9. Throw away the breath mints, or breath spray, you won’t be needing them tonight. Kindly see rule # 2.
10. Bow to me upon entering, and leaving, for I am king. : D

There is going to be a whole host of other rules, but for now, I have time, this will have to do.

Now, where’s that baseball bat?



Two weeks ago, I said I was going high speed. Internet that is. As I sit here writing this, I am still not high speed. No, it’s not because I didn’t make arrangements for it. It’s simply because I am still waiting to be hooked up.

I remember specifically asking the provider what types of problems I could expect with high speed internet. None, they answered. Apparently, they forgot the biggest problem, getting someone out to my house to ACTUALLY hook me up!!

Well, that is supposedly taken care of, as I am scheduled for Monday, between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, to be “connected at a very high rate of speed”. We’ll see.

High rates of speed. Now that I can identify with. Let me just say this as simply as possible. I like to go fast, really, really fast. Driving, that is. The faster the better, that’s my motto. Two summers ago was my worst infraction of the law, when I drove thirty miles in about seventeen minutes. That’s roughly one hundred miles an hour, on an empty freeway, in a car that could have gone so much faster. So, you could rebuke me for breaking the law, or……………………you could praise me for my remarkable show of self-restraint. It’s your choice.

I see many cars going that speed sometimes, but usually, they slow down after about a minute. I drive a car that can go one hundred miles an hour, literally for hours at a time. Most cars can’t do that. Lest you think I am just some lawbreaker, you need to understand how free I feel when I am flying along at high speeds. I praise and thank God for those times, even though I know I am “speeding”. Is this wrong?

In a strictly “legal” sense, yes, it is. But there is this whole other sense that tells me to praise God for the amazing things He has allowed us to discover is a good thing. And when I am going fast, I can do nothing but praise God. Oh yeah, and laugh.

I dream of taking a rocket to the moon. I watch films of rockets taking off, and I wish I was on it, feeling like my insides were about to come out of my back. Or, to fly a one man rocket in one day to the moon, now that would be cool.

For now, the car will have to do. It takes curves like it is part of the road, and on the straightway, well, I have buried the needle at one hundred twenty miles an hour, and kept going, so we just don’t know how fast it can go……………..yet.

Someday, I will grow up, and stop getting cheap thrills from driving a little faster than the road will allow. Let’s hope that day comes before my daughter starts learning how to drive, because she, like her father before her, likes to go fast, too.

I never drive like that on a busy road. But, there is the road that I live on, full of sharp curves winding through a forest that is somehow just too much a temptation to pass up. Yeah, maybe one day I will wrap my car around a tree, and lose life, but I’ll meet God that day laughing. I am not going to worry about crashing, because just as in life, crashes occur even when you are being extra careful, even when you don’t have a choice in the matter.

I say, live!!! If danger, or pain is going to get in the way, then run it over. God would not have us sitting into a chair, trembling as if the chair was going to disappear the moment we tried to sit. He would not have us approach the next step as if it could be our last. He would have us approach that step as if it is our first, with all the gusto of a ten month old baby walking for the first time. Babies don’t care if they might fall. They just take the step. I don’t care if I crash, and that isn’t selfishness. It’s part of who I am, and I will not live life in fear of what “might” happen. God has given me the joy of going fast, and fast I will go, all the while respecting the safety of others.



I took a brief hiatus from the topic of predestination, in order to ponder it more, and research more. Tonight, I have only one verse to talk about. It is a verse hidden in Acts, and not very well known. Here it is.

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. Acts 16:14 (emphasis mine)

Take a close look at the words I emphasized, “the Lord opened her heart to respond”. It is clear from this verse that Lydia did not open her own mind, or heart, but that it was done for her by the Lord.

I took the liberty of checking out the Greek word used for “opened”. It is dianoigo, and it literally means to open, to be opened, to have been explained. This word is only used four times in the entire New Testament, and each time, it was used when the Lord opened someone’s mind to the Word.

In the disciple’s case, when Jesus did it, it was used to open their minds to the memorized or written word. When Lydia’s mind was opened, it was opened to the spoken word. No other usage of this word is found anywhere in the New Testament. It has only been used in reference to the Lord's opening of someone’s mind, and they then understanding, then believing.

The root word for dianoigo is dianoia, which means of the mind, of the inner person, including the place where choices are made, the seat of which is the heart. This word is only used a total of seven times in the New Testament, each time referring to the entire mind, or place where choices are made. The first three times are used in the same quote found in three different gospels, that quote being the most important Law, which is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind (dianoia).”

The other four times it is used is the following; Colossians 1:21, Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16, and 1 Peter 1:13. The first three listed are the same verse taken from Jeremiah, when the Lord tells us He will write his Law on our minds. The verse from 1 Peter speaks of preparing our minds for action. The entire context of that verse is many verses long, and speaks in the end of focusing on the grace which is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Literally, that verse speaks in reference to the inner mind which belongs to Christ if we are saved.

The reason I went into this long researching of two words is simple. First, it is very rare to find such words as we have looked at here in the Bible. While we use the word mind to mean several things, the Greek word here, dianoia is very succinct, it means only one thing, that mind which is opened, or written on by the Lord. The English word mind is used many, many times in the New Testament. The Greek word normally used for “mind is nous, although there are others. None are as pointed as the words dianoia (mind), or dianoigo, (opening of the mind), however. These two words only and always are used in reference to the Lord opening the mind or heart, or writing on the mind or heart. They are used for nothing else, no where else.

The fact that Lydia’s mind was opened, and the disciples minds were opened speaks of a choice the Lord made. It does not speak of any choice the disciples, or Lydia made. They may have, after their minds were written on, and opened, made a choice to believe. But, without the Lord’s sovereign choice to open their minds to the gospel, His Word, they would not have believed, because they would not have understood. The key to believing is understanding, and if one is not made to understand, then one cannot believe.

If God writes His Law on our hearts and minds, does He do it only after we have believed? Or, does He do it so that we will believe. The evidence here is that Lydia, although a worshipper of God, was not a believer until God opened her heart to respond. She was most likely a Greek Jew, who knew nothing of the gospel until Paul preached it, and upon hearing it, would not have understood it to believe it unless the Lord had acted on her behalf.

Therefore, at least in Lydia’s, and the disciples' cases, it was the Lord who chose them first. Would it be prudent to say then that this is the case for all believers? Again, I say, unless one understands, it is impossible for them to believe, and how can they understand unless their minds are opened? We do not open our minds, God does that, for we couldn’t understand the foolishness of the gospel without His act of opening. Who could understand a man naked, nailed to a cross as an act of saviorhood? Who? Who could believe in the same man performing all the miracles He did, and acting powerless when it came to saving His own life? Who could believe such nonsense? I assure you, the world views this as nonsense, as utter foolishness. Ask a Muslim, or a Hindu what they would think of such a man. The only thing they would think was that He was dead, because He wasn’t very powerful after all.

Yet, you and I know differently, as if it is utter nonsense not to believe it. For us, it is foolishness not to believe. How can one explain the differences between the world and us if not for God’s first act of opening our minds? Certainly, we cannot rest on our own understanding, and say we chose Jesus, because if we say that, we nullify grace. Why? Because salvation comes to us through no effort, and no work of our own. The mere act of “choosing”, no matter how small an act, is still an act. And acts, or works do not save. Acts and works only cause us to boast, and Paul was clear when he said it was given to us as a gift specifically so we could not boast. The Lord has done it, and it is wonderful in our sight.
When it comes to free will, we can certainly truthfully say that God has it. I do not think we can say that we have it, at least not in the way God has free will.