I always find it interesting to hear what other people think about God and what God has done in their lives for them. This page is where I would like to share some of my own thoughts. First, I'd like to give you a personal story about something God has taught me in my life; after that, I have some random thoughts for you. I hope you find encouragement from something on this page.
Do you feel as though the only lasting legacy you can leave in this life is through the pursuit of success, accolades, or recognition? Do you struggle with a deep need to feel significant in this world? If so, you are not alone--I've been there, too. This is a story about one of my biggest disappointments and apparent failures in life. It is a story about how God has been teaching me what it means to achieve true significance.
I have always enjoyed playing sports. From the time I was very young, I have been involved in some type of sport. I did well in some sports and not as well in others, but I always enjoyed the competition and the fun of it. When I was ten years old, I got involved with wrestling. It happened when my grandmother signed me up for a sports camp at a local high school. We played all kinds of sports, but one day we learned some wrestling. They basically showed us a few moves and then let us go at each other. I ended up being "Camp Champ," and I even beat another kid who already knew some wrestling. I then joined a wrestling club for kids, and it just went from there.
By my senior year in high school, I had placed 5th in the state championships twice and was ranked #1 in the state. I had been the top wrestler in my weight class all season, and I knew that I was very close to my dream of becoming a high school wrestling state champion. I was so close that I could taste it. I had worked very hard and felt that God intended for me to have success. When the state tournament came around my senior year, I knew the championship would be between myself and the #2 ranked guy in the state. He was also a senior, and I had beaten him both times we had wrestled during the season. I just knew that God would not let me lose this match. I had worked too hard, gone to too many wrestling camps, done too many early morning runs, and prayed too hard for success. I felt as though no other outcome besides a state championship was possible.
Finally, the match came. The #2 guy and I had both advanced in the state tournament, and we were facing each other head to head. I was winning the match by one point at the very end of the match when my opponent went for a takedown (worth two points). As time ran out in the match, the referee had not awarded the takedown, and I knew that I had won! But then,
after the match had ended, I saw the two referees talking.... Suddenly one of them raised two fingers and said that the takedown was awarded. I had lost. As I left the wrestling mat, I could not believe that God would allow my dream to fall short. I felt that God had "let me down" after the many times I had prayed to him about this.
In time, however, I came to realize that God is not a genie that grants my wishes, and there are many things in life that are vastly more important and longer lasting than a wrestling match (although, at the time it happened, I could not be convinced of that). There are many people who go through devastating life events, such as the death of somebody close to them, serious physical injury, or other major catastrophes. Losing a wrestling match--even an important one--is really quite minor. However silly my feelings of disappointment in God may seem, many of us blame God for any major disappointment in life.
God never said that life would be easy. In fact, for the Christian, God specifically says that life will be difficult. There will be many people who will put you down and persecute you for your faith in God, but you have to be tough and fight through it because the prize to be won for enduring the hard times and remaining faithful to God is greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
After I lost that match, I seriously considered quitting wrestling and giving up. Fortunately, however, I stuck it out and decided to go on and wrestle in college. In the end, I accomplished far more than I ever thought possible when I was in high school--and I don't just mean in terms of wrestling success. The loss I experienced that day provided me with perspective. When I now think back on the pain of losing that match, it seems quite insignificant and unimportant
compared to the blessings that I have received as a result. Although that match meant everything to me at the time, God, in His perfect wisdom, knew all along exactly what he was doing (imagine that). Wrestling has taught me to work hard and endure hard times to reach my goals, it has helped me to deal with failures and setbacks, it has motivated me, it has
allowed God to open up many doors in my life, and it has taught me an invaluable lesson in trusting God. I strongly believe that the main reason God gave me wrestling was to teach me these vital lessons. I had to learn that life is not all about the successes and awards that I can try to accumulate for myself. God has taught me humility. He has shown me that I need to have confidence in God's wisdom--especially in trials and disappointments. No wrestling victory or championship could ever come close to the joy I receive in growing in my knowledge of God and his will for my
life. Wrestling is something I took pride in and enjoyed doing, but the lessons that I have learned from it are far more valuable.
I just want you to know that God wants you to be one of his children. God hears your prayers and answers them in his time and in his way--not yours. You may think that God has "let you down," and you may have no idea how the events taking place in our life could possibly be in God's will; howe ver, I encourage you to trust God that his plan for your life is for the best. Continue to seek his will and have confidence that he will guide you. Good times are nice, but it is in the tough times that our faith is really tested; that is when we really gain perspective on how dependent we are on God for everything. Just read 1 Peter if you doubt this. There is a real benefit to being "refined by fire," and I have seen this personally time and time again in my life. And never forget: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). Be careful not to indict God or doubt his goodness and power.
Please also take comfort in this fact: You are incredibly valuable and significant because you are made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:21)! More than that, God sacrificed his only Son--God in the flesh--and willingly suffered and died for YOU in order that you might turn your life over to him and receive the Spirit of the one true God to live inside of you (John 3:16). So I urge you to find the joy in knowing the God of our universe and finding your significance in him and him alone--not in worldly accomplishments. I know that you will be blessed if you do.
- The God of the universe--who created everything and everybody that ever has existed and ever will exist and has the power to do all things--wants me to have a personal relationship with him, and I can talk to God anytime I want to. How amazing is that?
- If we all were created by nothing and from nothing, then how are you and I and everything else here at all? Why is anything here at all rather than nothing? One observable fact that science has always shown to be true is the "Law of Causality." That is, nothing comes from nothing--not life and not matter. For me, simply observing all of God's perfect, complex, and intricate creation is powerfully convincing that there is "a god" of some kind out there (as Paul also says in Romans 1). The next step is discovering who this "god" is... My conclusion, from examining all of the evidence, is that the God of the Bible is the one and only true God. Besides all of the physical evidence around us, God has given us his Word (which is amazingly well substantiated and believable for those who examine the facts). The Bible is the most credible ancient document in existence and provides significant evidence that God is who he says he is. If you want to know more, please ask me... I love discussing the reasons for what I believe!
- There is absolutely no doubt that there existed a Jesus of Nazareth. Scholars are in agreement on this--even the extremely liberal "Jesus Seminar" concluded that the historic Jesus undoubtedly lived and died by crucifixion. There is an overwhelming body of evidence to support these facts. So it is up to you to decide, based on the evidence, who exactly this Jesus was. If you make an honest effort to explore the facts, I think you will be surprised at what you discover. I invite you to search this site and feel free to write to me if you would like to discuss why I am a Christian. I'll be happy to give you the reasons for the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15). Who do you say that Jesus is? That is the most important question (Matthew 16:15-16).
- God is offering us the most incredible gift that could ever be given. Although we all fall immeasurably short of his perfection and are guilty of breaking the law of God (our Creator and the one who gives us everything we have) on a daily basis, God still offers us the gift of eternal life in heaven with him. All that you need to do is put your faith in God and turn your life over to Him. This is just an amazing fact to me. God's grace is incredible, and so is His gift to us. It's a good thing that God's grace does not depend on our moral perfection!
- Back during my college wrestling days, I sometimes had the opportunity to speak to young people at elementary schools in my area. A couple of teammates and I would put on a wrestling demo for the kids and then we would each give them a brief message. I always talked about the importance of doing your best in everything that you do and having no regrets. I reminded them of the sick feeling that you get when you are about to take a test that you haven't studied for well enough. I also reminded them of how good it feels to face a test knowing that you are prepared and the even better feeling you get when you receive your grade. I also told them that it was my goal to never feel bad about losing a wrestling match. I always made it my mission to train as hard as I could and to give it my best effort every time. If I do that, then i have nothing to be ashamed of. I may make some mistakes and may not get the result that I had hoped for; however, I can always walk off of the mat knowing that I did the best I could do to prepare. I can only control whether or not I give it my best effort. It is important that we live our life for God in the same way. I know that I don't want that sick feeling of having to go before God on the day of judgment having regrets. I know that I will make mistakes in serving the Lord, just as I made mistakes in wrestling. Fortunately, God forgives me for my sins. Yet I also know that "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48). As a Christian who has been blessed with much, God expects a lot from me. I don't want to have to explain to God why I wasted my opportunity at serving him. I don't want to have any regrets when I look back at how I lived. If only I had just...... I REALLY hate that feeling.
- Why did God create us? Why did God choose to make us and create this huge universe to put us in? I think the book of 1 John gives us some excellent insight: God is love; God is light; and God is life. God was not compelled to create us, but he chose to do so. God created us in his image because God wants to demonstrate his vast love and wants us to choose to love him. God did not create robots or pets. Rather, God made us in his own image and gave us the free choice to love him and to love each other (Matthew 22:36-40 - God's two greatest commands). And how do we show our love for God? Simple--we obey God's commands (1 John 5:3). Because God is light (completely holy), he hates sin (anything that opposes God and separates us from God). If we choose to love God and decide to put our faith in him, we will have life - eternal life with God. These three elements, taken together, really give me at least a start at imagining who God is, where we fit in, and why God chose to create us.
- Nobody can get to heaven on their own merits because, as the Bible says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (see Romans 3:23). That is why God offers us His gift of salvation. All we have to do is accept his gift. The sad thing is that most people do not accept the most incredible gift anyone will ever be offered. I once heard an excellent analogy to this: You are shipwrecked ten thousand miles from shore and the captain of the only boat in the sea that can save you spots you and offers to take you onboard to safety. You have two choices: try to swim ten thousand miles to shore or accept the captain's offer to get on the boat. Obviously, there is only one choice that will work since nobody can swim ten thousand miles. And so it is with your choice to accept God's gift of salvation. Please make the smart choice.
- There are many things in this life that you can put your time and effort into, and many of them seem important. But consider this: Is God the focus of your efforts? Do you put God first in everything you do? The only thing in this life that has a lasting (eternal) value is serving God. This fact should reduce our concern with the struggles and worries of life that seem all-important but have no lasting value (money popularity, status, etc...). I have seen people on my mission trip to Haiti who have next to nothing by the standards of this world, yet they had joy because they knew God and had accepted God's gift. Without God, one's life is empty and meaningless--even if he/she does not realize it. Happiness depends on our circumstances, but joy comes from knowing God and doing God's will--regardless of the consequences. As the Bible says, store your treasures in heaven and not on earth.
- Why should we worry? It is silly to worry (as Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34). Yet I must admit that I am often one of the biggest worriers. I worry about things that I can't even control. However, at times when I am feeling stressed, I just remember that I don't have to face anything alone. Whatever difficulty is in my path, I can ask God to give me the strength I need to overcome it. We need to trust God's will and know that God does not make mistakes. As long as I am trusting God and remaining in fellowship with Him, then I can accept things even if they seem to turn out terribly bad from my limited human perspective. If evil people who don't seem to deserve anything good are enjoying success in this world while I struggle, I must not be envious or worry about it. As the Bible says, God "sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). Don't let worry eat you up inside, communicate with God, seek God's plan for you, and trust in God no matter what the outcome.
- A wrestling coach of mine used to say this about training for wrestling: "If it were easy, then everyone would do it." In other words, most things that are worth achieving require hard work and enduring tough times. Being a Christian is no different, and the Bible says as much. A friend of mine once asked me why God would put so many temptations in our path if God really wanted us to succeed. Well, first of all, God does not tempt us (James 1:13-18). We have a sinful nature, and the Bible says that "each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." We often allow ourselves to submit to sin, and we become slaves to our sinful nature (as Paul tells us). God promises that we won't be tempted beyond what we can endure--but you must draw on God to give us strength. God does want you to succeed, and God promised that He will help you. God knows what you are going through because Jesus himself, while on earth, was tempted in every way that you and I are. God understands your struggles (see Hebrews 2:18). Second, never forget the fact that God wants you to know him and wants you to accept his gift of salvation (1 Timothy 2:4). God didn't set us up to fail, but he did give us a choice. Fighting sin is all part of trusting in God, and you must remember that "if it were easy, then everyone would do it." I wish everyone would do it.
- When I was a young kid, my mother would always buy me popcorn to eat whenever we went to the movies (probably to keep me quiet). It didn't take long before I associated delicious popcorn with going to the movies; however, as I got older my mother stopped buying me the popcorn. Being a poor kid earning a meager allowance, I could not afford the expensive popcorn. At first, I really missed the popcorn when I saw a movie and felt like the experience wasn't any fun at all. I failed to enjoy the movie itself because I was so caught up in not having popcorn to eat. Popcorn had been the real reason I liked going to the movies. After a while, however, I became used to not eating popcorn at every movie, and I began to enjoy the movie for the movie itself. Sometimes it seems like sin is so gratifying that life just wouldn't be any fun or at all enjoyable without it--but that is because we are just so used to indulging in it. The trick, I think, is to let go of the things of this world that seem to have such a hold on us and just enjoy living with and for God. Life may, at first, seem empty without the sin; but as you grow in your relationship with God, you will realize that you have much more than you did when you were a slave to sin. Come to God and let him set you free. You may go through a temporary sin withdrawal, but as you mature as a Christian, you realize that you don't need sin to enjoy life. In fact, life is much more enjoyable living in fellowship with God. It may seem that giving up sin is making you a slave to God, but in fact you are already a slave when you are a slave to sin. God sets you free. Please don't be turned off from God by the fear of abandoning sin. I won't lie - it isn't always easy to live for God; however, I promise that living for God is worth it. Forget about the popcorn and discover the movie...
- Never forget that God will help you to not only resist sin, but to WANT TO resist sin (Phillipians 2:13). I think that this is one of the coolest verses in the Bible. We often pray, "God please help me to not do this or that..." BUT it is just as important to pray to God to help change your heart so that you no longer even want to sin. It sounds easy, but it can be very difficult to pray that and mean it when you don't want to give up the sin. Give it a try. If you are sincere in your desire to stop sinning, then you will be able to pray this prayer and mean it--but it will be hard.
- Whenever I encounter somebody who is completely closed-minded to God and displays a thorough lack of interest in even considering the possibility that Christianity might be true, I am very worried for them. I really don't know how I could go through life without God, and I don't know how they do it. Not only are these people completely without hope, but they don't even have God's comfort to help them through life's struggles. Please ask yourself, and be honest with yourself: Would you commit your life to God and place your faith in Jesus if you were convinced that the evidence supported and warranted such a faith? If not, then you have a more serious hurdle to clear--a battle of the will rather than the mind.
- Can there be a bigger or more important question than "Who is God?" or "Is there a God?"... If you find yourself disinterested in such questions, please be honest with yourself as to why that is the case. I do not believe in God because it makes me feel better to do so or because I am scared of death. I would take no comfort in my Christian faith if I did not truly believe that the evidence supports it. However, I can't imagine how anybody would prefer to not research whether there is a God or would prefer to blindly believe that there is no God. Please do your own research. I have no axe to grind other than the fact that I care about you even though I don't know you. I am not trying to win an argument or prove myself right or prove myself smarter than anyone else. I want to tell you about Jesus and why I believe for one reason only: I am convinced that it is true.
- Doesn't it seem impossible that God can be intimately aware of everything you do? After all, there are billions of people in the world. I'm just a drop in the bucket of humanity, and it would seem that there are much more important things for God to be attending to... Not so! Never forget that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and the limits that apply to us do not apply to God. We often put God in some kind of box in order to understand Him with our limited minds, but the reality is that God has absolutely NO limits. Don't be deceived and think that you can hide from God (Jonah already attempted this). God knows every thought that you think, every move that you make, the activities of every cell in your body, and, yes, even the exact number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). Think of it this way: When you pray to God silently in your mind, aren't you confident that God hears your prayer? Yet, when you are thinking evil thoughts in your mind, don't you like to pretend that God doesn't hear them? I know that I am guilty of this. It makes little sense, but when we think we can turn God on when we want him or off when we want to "hide out," we are only fooling ourselves.
- Have you ever asked yourself, "What is reality?"... Well, the neat thing about the Bible is that it tells you. The world we live in and the illusions that we chase after have nothing to offer us. This world is just a temporary dwelling for us; it is not our true home. We are strangers here who are just passing through (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 1:1,17-18; 1 Peter 2:11)... There is a vast spiritual world with spiritual forces in conflict all around us. Although our physical senses do not alert us to this reality, it is reality nonetheless. One of the coolest things about the Bible is that it shows you who you are, where your true citizenship lies, and where you belong. No matter how insignificant you might feel in this life, you are very important to God, and you have the opportunity to dwell with God forever. Hold onto God, put your trust in him, and never forget who you really are and the promise that you have if you believe. Don't forget 2 Corinthians 4:18 - "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
- Sometimes it is easy to become complacent and feel satisfied with the fact that I am a Christian and have the gift of God's salvation. But, if you are a Christian, don't forget what your mission in life is (or should be). The only thing of lasting value that you can accomplish in this world is to be used by God to make a difference for others by leading them to God and encouraging them in the Lord. The Bible tells us that it does no good to light a lamp and then hide its light. If you are a Christian, it is your obligation to do everything in your power to use the abilities and opportunities that God gives you to witness to others. Remember that this life is incredibly short compared to eternity. When we get to heaven, your opportunity to serve God, step out on faith, and take a risk to lead others to God will be gone because everyone there will be saved and there will be no more sin! The time is short, so use your opportunity while you still have it. You have all of eternity to be comfortable and satisfied with your own salvation.
- I don't know about you, but I'm pretty competitive. If I'm engaged in an activity where some kind of score is kept, I want to win. If I were playing checkers with a first-grader, I'd want to win. (Yes, I do have some serious issues.) However, one thing I always struggle to remember is that my worth does not come from proving myself superior to other people in some way. In reality, I don't need to accomplish anything for myself in order to be important. I've found it helpful to remember to focus on God and to remember that my value as a person does not come from any accomplishment that I have in this world (which will ultimately pass away). Sometimes I just have to force myself to simply be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). It is so hard for me to just relax, chill out, calm down and BE STILL. We are a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). Please don't focus on what you can accomplish in this world for your own glory. I know from experience that this only leads to a death spiral where you get more and more caught up in advancing your own goals and God somehow gets pushed out of the way. If you want to be successful and have something to be boast about, be successful in submitting to God and boast in the Lord (2 Cor 10:17 and Galatians 6:14).
- Sometimes I wish life came with a syllabus--you know, like the ones you got on the first day of school... Or maybe if life was like a treadmill so I could always stay on a stady pace... Unfortunately, it is not always easy for me to have the sense of urgency that I would like to have when it comes to serving the Lord. It is all too easy to get lazy and let opportunities slip by when I could be making a real difference. In school, a syllabus was always very effective at keeping me on task with homework and readings. I was obsessive about staying caught up so that I would always be prepared. Similarly, I always like running on a treadmill because it forces me to keep up a hard pace. I am motivated to keep pushing forward because if I don't maintain the pace, I fall off the treadmill (hasn't happened yet, thankfully...). The point is, life is short, and our opportunities are few. I pray that you would see this life as a mission and have a sense of urgency in being all that you can be for God. The Apostle Paul often compared the Christian life with a race or a fight. With those analogies, he encouraged others to push forward with perseverance. I pray the same for you.