Having Faith

Why do bad things happen in waves? I mean, I know sometimes bad things happen for a reason, but why all bunched up, one after the other?

Just this past Saturday morning, for example, I needed to drive my son to his part-time job. We woke up early, ate, and we were out the door right on schedule. I clicked the remote several times and there was no response from the car. I even tried to use the physical key to get in, but the car would not cooperate. It was dead.

My son ended up taking the bus, while I ended up on the phone with the rental car company trying to sort out the roadside assistance call. I am thankful for the insurance company paying for all the expenses until we received our car back from the repair shop for the accident my wife had had two weeks ago. Still, I was left scratching my head trying to make sense of it all.

Sometimes God allows things to happen in order to test our faith.

I cannot help but think of Hebrews 11. This chapter of the bible is often referred to as the faith chapter, and the one scripture that pops into my mind, when I think of all that has happened these past few weeks, is the one scripture that demonstrates absolute faith in God:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:17-19 ESV).

I find it inspiring that even though my family may feel the burden of multiple trials, I have yet to hear God’s voice asking me to sacrifice my son as a means to test my faith. In other words, I would gladly suffer these minor setbacks to relieve myself of the responsibility of deciding between life and death.

I know, it sounds extreme. But God is an overwhelming God. He strengthens me when I am weak. He picks me up when I have fallen. And, most of all, he shows mercy to me when I cry out to him in repentance.

Oh, how I wish I could come into his full glory now.

What a wonderful God I serve.

Advertisements

Giving Thanks Always

As I type this, it is Saturday morning, raining, and we are preparing for tonight’s Thanksgiving dinner. I am Canadian, so we have our Thanksgiving one month before.

When I think about this year, I suppose I have a lot to be thankful for. Family comes to mind. That is always on my mind. I am thankful for the closeness we have, the joy we experience together and the peace. That is important. Peace. Even with the health scare we went through with my son, I know it brought us closer, and that is all that matters to me.

My wife had an automobile accident recently, too. She walked away from it, but it could have been worse. I am thankful for the insurance company and of how quickly we were able to put in the claim. They were so readily available to help us get back on our feet. Yet, I cannot say it was entirely in their hands, as I know God was there protecting my wife and working out everything for his glory. I am so thankful for that.

Then there are all the little things that took place this year. I cannot list them all, even if I tried. I just know that I am so grateful for everything. None of it, really, is because of anything I did. It was all God and his wanting to extend his grace on me and my family.

I am thinking about the Apostle Paul right now, and what he wrote to the Corinthians, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:4 ESV).

The Corinthians were going through a lot of problems at the time (1 Cor. 5:1). Paul was even wondering if he ought to have written such a sharp letter to them to correct them of their behavior (2 Cor. 2:4). But in all things, in spite of the trials he faced with that church, regardless of the anguish he felt when writing words of reproof and correction, through the tears, and with Jesus’ spirit within him that strengthened him, he was thankful.

I am now realizing, as the years go on, my appreciation for trials has increased. As strange as that sounds, trials make me a better person. I wish it were not so, but it is true.

I guess what I am trying to say is this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for God taking the time to make me a better me.

New Beginnings

I am pleased to announce my latest book When Forgiveness Is Enough: Making Sense of God’s Calling will go on sale October 24.

In some ways, this book is a representation of everything I have gone through these past two years, and the joy I have felt acknowledging Jesus as the one true savior by whom God redeems the world from sin.

Even more so, this book release comes at a time when my family and I are working through a great trial God has blessed us with, to which we are learning patience, kindness and self-control. I do not think the words in this book would have carried the weight of God’s glory had we not gone through the events of last month, and learned from those events.

As I sit writing this, I cannot help but think how different my life is from two years ago when God began working with me. I used to write about zombies, horror and all sorts of dark themes. My life revolved around the latest undead news, theories and resolutions. My books were sitting at the top of the charts alongside the likes of Stephen King. Who in their right mind would give up such a life in pursuit of God, of all things?

Yet, when I began to read the bible cover to cover in January 2015, completing the task in December that same year, I did not realize God’s word was changing me. Without prodding from anyone, I was praying more, studying more, and meditating more on the things I read.

It did not end there. The biggest change is that I was praying for my enemies. I no longer wanted bad things to happen to those who I felt had wronged me. I was asking God to bless them in every way possible. I prayed for their families. I prayed for their employment. And most of all, I prayed that one day they would also come to the knowledge of Jesus and have faith that he will save all who believe in him.

I cannot express just how thankful I am to have completed this book with forgiveness as its central theme. It is my desire that whoever reads this book will go on to forgive others also.

Be Strong and Courageous

With summer being over and fall slowly showing its colors, I have had a trying month. I realize God does things for a reason, therefore I am not bothered when trials happen. If I am to partake in Jesus’ glory, why should I not partake in his suffering?

So when my son landed in the hospital for a week, and my wife and I took turns to stay by his bedside while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him, I prayed. I knew God was doing something great in our lives, but I did not know what it was.

Thankfully, we did end up finding out what was wrong with him, and we did end up taking measures to fix the problem.

Now that I have had the chance to think back on everything, I know for sure God was there every step of the way, guiding doctors and nurses to provide the utmost care my son needed in the short time he was there.

I remember reading when Joshua succeeded Moses, and Israel was about to enter the land of Canaan. Moses said to the assembly, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6 ESV).

For Moses to have said that, Israel had to have been in a dark place. From their perspective, Moses was old in age and about to die, they had Joshua as their successor, but still, could they prosper as God had said under his new leadership? Then there was the incident where forty years earlier God had promised the land of Canaan to the previous generation, but because of their disobedience, he had caused that entire generation to die. Who was to say God would not do the same to them?

Yet instead of allowing the darkness to penetrate their fortitude, Israel turned around and took those words Moses spoke to heart. They gathered their courage, followed Joshua and entered the land of Canaan, fully trusting God that he would vanquish their enemies.

I did not know how God would resolve my situation with my son, but I did know that whatever happened, it would be his will and it would all work for the greater good.

I am grateful for God’s intervention last week. I do not think I could have made it through without those words of encouragement spoken by Moses thousands of years ago.

If you, too, feel discouraged at times, fear not. For God will never leave you or forsake you.

There Is Hope

I would like to take a few minutes to talk about something that has been a weight on my heart for quite some time. Many of you may want to skim through this post to get to the point, but I know that if you read every word and listen to what I have to say, God will truly bless you.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalms 34:18 ESV)
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:18 ESV)

This year has been good to me. I found God again, I returned to church, and I have a whole new set of people of whom I now count as my friends. I have learned all about forgiveness, love and joy beyond that which is superficial. I am also able to worship God with arms spread wide toward the heavens, much as I have read David had done countless occasions when he praised God.

Consequently, I have also made changes in my life that I could not have made had I not received the Holy Spirit earlier this fall to help me with my daily walk with the most high God.

Now, it may seem obvious that I would want to talk about how God has changed my life, given how I used to write about horror and all its variations, however, at this time, I do not feel God is leading me to do that. I am sure there will be a period in my life when I will have the opportunity to talk all about my change from being self-centered to thinking about others. I just feel now is not that time.

Therefore, if I am not going to talk about what is on everyone’s mind, why even write this post at all?

A Calling from God

With the Holy Spirit leading me, I believe God has a plan for each person reading this post today. He has never been shy to reveal to me what his intentions are concerning my life. Somehow, I believe, some of you need to hear these words. Perhaps he is also revealing to you through me your calling to reach out to him for comfort.

I know life is hard. Life is tough—especially now. For some of you, Christmas is a dark time of year. The lights mask the loneliness you feel when everyone is telling you that you ought to be joyful. Yet, how can you feel joy if nothing exists in your heart but emptiness? Yes, the gifts are aplenty, the food is delicious, and the company you entertain during the holidays may make it seem as if you lead a fulfilling life. Still, the emptiness remains.

Conversely, some of you may not even have enough money to purchase the simple necessities, let alone a gift for someone. Your families may also be broken, which makes getting together a chore, rather than a delight.

I am here to tell you there is hope (Eph. 1:11-12).

God Comforts the Brokenhearted

God is love (1 John 4:16). He is here for those who are looking for comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4). He is here to heal the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18). He is here never to let you go. He really, really does love you, in spite of it all. You may feel that you have done the worst thing in the world, but if you come before God and sincerely confess your wrongs, he will forgive you (Acts 2:38). He always does. All he wants is to have a relationship with you.

Forget about not feeling worthy. Forget about the guilt. Allow God to give you wings so that you can fly (Isa. 40:31). Allow his light to flood the darkness and provide you the freedom to escape your troubles (John 8:12).

There is no other God than he (Deut. 4:35). He created the heavens and the earth (Isaiah 42:5). He set the earth on its foundations (Job 38:4-6) and separated the day from the night (Gen. 1:5). He made everything under the sun (Isaiah 44:24) and breathed life into our lungs (Gen. 2:7). He is the awesome God. And his life lives in every one of us who believes (John 3:16). His mercy is just and his righteousness endures forever (Ps. 111:2-3).

In the good and the bad, all glory goes to God.

Somehow, and you know who you are, you needed to hear this.

Miracles

Do you believe in miracles? I never did. In fact, there was a time I thought those who experienced a healing actually fell under some kind of self-hypnosis. I dismissed it as nothing more than an ol’ fashioned parlor trick found in a fantasy like The Wizard of Oz.

It goes that way until it happens to you. You never think it will happen to you. And sometimes, the little miracles in life convicts one into believing in the very thing he or she discredited in the first place.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)

Little Miracle #1

Some time ago, in celebration of my birthday, Luana and the kids treated me to lunch at one of the hotspots here in town. The food was great, the company I kept was satisfying, and the service was beyond exceptional. Shortly after the main course, the server came by our table and asked me if I had decided what dessert I wanted, given Luana had mentioned why we were there in the first place. I said I had not decided and we agreed the server would surprise me. Several minutes later, I was regretting my decision, but it had nothing to do with receiving the dessert. The server had not brought it yet. I was thinking, since the treat would be free, I imagined I would be receiving a simple scoop of ice cream, or one of those sweet cookies instead. Then I thought, I should have ordered my favorite—cheesecake. I imagined it dished with no topping except for strawberries and syrup on the side. I really had it in mind of what it would look like and mentioned it to my family.

What happened next left me in awe. The server had brought me a plate of cheesecake, strawberries and syrup on the side, and a big sparkler in the center.

Obviously, I was praising God all the way home.

Little Miracle #2

Recently, I took a vacation. The first two days were nothing short of awful. I fell ill with aches, chills, a fever, and a nasty headache. Two days later, I felt much better, except for the headache. It just would not go away. That same evening, I had fallen on my knees asking God for relief. I asked him to remove whatever was causing the pain so as I may not only feel better, but serve him in the way he wanted me to serve him.

It did not help. That is when I decided to bring in the big guns.

I immediately went to Luana. She knew what to do. She laid her hands on my neck and the back of my head, where I told her the headache rested, and prayed aloud. She proclaimed God’s promise of healing asking for the removal of not only the pain but the condition that was causing the pain. I believed with my whole heart that through her intercession my faith would heal me.

At the end of the prayer, after she had called on Jesus’ name, I soon headed back to bed. I did not even make it into the bedroom. The headache was gone. No pain. No weird sensations. Gone.

Other things have happened to me that I would classify as miracles. Rather than list those events, however, I am going to do something altogether different.

Jesus’ Miracles

Below are Jesus’ miracles listed in the gospel of Mark:

Missing is Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13), his prediction Peter would deny him three times (Mark 14:26-31), and many others. Mind you, I have listed these miracles from the gospel of Mark only. It goes without saying there are other miracles Jesus performed that I have not mentioned, detailed in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, such as Jesus turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).

Reading about all the miracles Jesus performed while he was here on earth inspires me to appreciate how God intervenes in people’s lives, even if it is surprising me with a slice of cheesecake with a side of strawberry sauce for my birthday, or healing me suddenly of a headache. God knows the needs of his children. He goes out of his way to make his children happy. And if God chooses to bless his children with a small or large miracle, it is entirely up to him.

A miracle is a miracle. It still shows how much God loves his children.

A Change in Heart

How does one go from writing about zombies to writing about God? Specifically, how did it happen to me? Believe me when I say, I did not go out of my way looking for it. I was curious, but not to the point where my life would make a drastic about face. Only a miracle could have done that. And earlier this year, I was not into miracles.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ESV).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

Yet, when you see your life slowly spiraling out of control, when once things made sense but now it is nothing more than a jumble of disconnected events, when your legs break from under you to reveal a foundation constructed out of rot, that is when miracles happen.

For me it happened when I began reading the bible from cover to cover, a lofty goal I had wanted to achieve since my early teens. Never had the notion entered my mind that I would not accomplish such a feat until later in life, but I held firm to the hope that I would find the opportunity. Eventually, with the success of my book series underway, my relationships with other people went in another direction. I could have been a better person, but I was not. For a while there, not only was I in a bad place with those around me, but I was also in a bad place with God.

What can I say other than I was thinking only about myself. I recognize that now. Back then, I did not.

Nevertheless, things began to happen to me late last year when I was in the middle of reading the gospels. Matthew 5-7 hit me hard. The simplicity of verses like, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2) prompted me to consider a time when I will not be alive, but will be standing before the throne of God to account for everything I had done while living on this puny planet called Earth (Matt. 12:36-37).

My life took a sudden and abrupt shift when I went from focusing on me to focusing on other people and God. It was not until April that I finally fell to my knees with the realization that I was a sinner in desperate need of God’s forgiveness. I knew then that no matter what I did, I could never earn salvation, but through his grace, God is willing to give it freely to everyone who repents (Eph. 1:7-10).

King David echoes my experience in Psalms:

“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).

Will I ever go back to writing about zombies? Maybe, since I always thought of them as sin incarnate seeking humans to corrupt. But that may not be for a while. For now, I am happy to write about God and his awesome plan for those who are searching for real peace.