Resolve & Faith: Prayer Week Five

Resolve and Faith


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

In our pampered day and age, we have very little resolve. As a matter of fact, resolve is not really even talked about any more. Not only do we not talk about resolve, as if it were some foreign language or legalistic law, but we also rarely talk about faith that leads unto godliness and truly growing in Christ in order that we would get over ourselves and see others as truly better.

Peter talks about how we have been granted “everything pertaining to life and godliness,[1] and yet so many, through their lifestyle, show this statement to be false; but let me tell you, this in not false, but a powerful truth that proves so many have forgotten, maybe never known, from what they were saved, if they indeed are regenerate. And in the midst this “everything” we see that both self-control and perseverance[2] are both indeed included of the gracious gifts that “pertain to life and godliness” granted through God’s “divine power.”[3]

This truly is to say, a resolve upon God, in relation unto our “life and godliness” has been given to the believer. This challenges us to ask ourselves, “Am I at all concerned about being Christ-centered (Christocentric) and focused and fixed upon Him, His will, His commands, His reality unto living for Him, through Him and in Him? Do I really desire to grow in holiness and sanctification and to be godly? Am I resolved, no matter what comes against me, to continue to lie down personal, and often fleshly, desires and to flow against the system and values of this world?

Friends, there is but little time to grow in the things of God, to be about His business, prayer, the study of the Word, and loving others greater than ourselves. But to the contrary, this world’s system, and all that the devil and his workers has to offer, is time to do anything and everything that would bring temporal flashes of emotions and leads our soul from God; thus paving the way straight to hell.

Therefore, let us put to death the selfish emotions of temporal and fleshly seeking entertainments offered up by Satan, and the wretchedness of our deceptive hearts; may we, as the Apostle Paul, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”[4]

Joy is the devil’s substitute for joy.” Leonard Ravenhill

Listen to what Henry Scougal says,

Let us be often lifting up our hearts towards God; and if we do not say that we love him above all things, let us, at least, acknowledge that it is our duty, and would be our happiness, so to do: let us lament the dishonor done unto him by foolish and sinful men, and applaud the praises and adorations that are given him by that blessed and glorious company above: let us resign and yield ourselves up unto him a thousand times, to be governed by his laws, and disposed of at his pleasure: and, though our stubborn hearts should start back and refuse, yet let us tell him, we are convinced that his will is always just and good; and therefore desire him to do with us whatsoever he pleaseth, whether we will or not.[5]


Jeremy B. Strang

Christian. Husband. Father. Author.

Grace Upon Grace / Foothills of True Grace / As Christ: A Man and Marriage / Realities of a True Christian


[1] 2 Peter 1:3

[2] 2 Peter 1:6

[3] 2 Peter 1:3

[4] Philippians 3:13b-14

[5] Henry Scougal, “The Life of God in the Soul of Man,” pg. 93

Prayer Week Three: The Will of God

Prayer Week Three: The Will of God


Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10

Have you ever thought about the will of God? How about the will of God as it directly relates to us personally? We know “that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us,”[1] but have we really considered His will – that working that is in heaven that we would truly desire to see it come down here and be amidst us on the earth?

When we take the Scriptures in their totality, we find that the will of God has less to do with our temporal receiving and experiencing good things, although there certainly is an overflow and reality of this in God’s grace, love and joy, but rather more has to do with our being and doing.

The doing, such as, “faith without works,”[2] and, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,”[3] all revolves around “being” a child of God as being a chief reality. It is within the context of God’s will regarding our first “being” as a reality that we must consider, not only our starting point, but our continual growth in the temporal life as we prepare for an everlasting eternity.

Over the next couple weeks we will consider our reality of  being especially as it relates to prayer and God’s will. Therefore, this week let us consider our praying and God’s will in the passages below.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification… For God has not called us for the purposes of impurity, but in sanctification. So he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”[4]

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification[holiness; purity] without which no one will see the Lord.”[5]

Let us consider this in our own lives, and as we pray, let us intercede for the church to this end unto Christ. For we know if we ask anything as to God’s will, He hears us and we shall be given that which is of His purposes and will.


Jeremy B. Strang

Christian. Husband. Father. Author.

Grace Upon Grace / Foothills of True Grace / As Christ: A Man and Marriage / Realities of a True Christian

Upcoming Book Signings 


[1] 1 John 5:14

[2] James 2:14-26

[3] 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7-8

[5] Hebrews 12:14

Prayer: The Life of God in the Soul of Man

There is without doubt, to grow deeper in our walk with God and relationship with Christ, we must be like our Lord  be about His business. But how can we be such a people and do such things when the world and all it’s carnal desires seeks to drain the life out of us? How can we really “walk with God” like Enoch did, for he had no Bibles, no books, no men’s groups, no churches – yet he had so much more; he had God Himself.

Consider what Henry Scougal writes below regarding prayer. This comes to us from his book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a letter to a friend that became a book in the mid 1600’s. This book has such an effect, through the power of God’s almighty hand, to the early pre-converted George Whitefield, that when beginning to set out in reading the book, Whitefield was convicted to say, “Lord, if I am not a Christian, if I am not a real one, God, for Jesus Christ’s sake, show me what Christianity is, that I many not be damned at last.”

Having said this, consider Scougal’s writing below, ponder it, take it in deeply and then open your Bible, on your knees, and set out to walk with God deeper, or for some, maybe for the first time, truly for the first time.


“There remains yet another means for begetting a holy and religious disposition in the soul; and that is, fervent and hearty prayer.

“Holiness is the gift of God, indeed the greatest gift he doth bestow, or we are capable to receive; and he hath promised his Holy Spirit to those that ask it of him. In prayer we make the nearest approaches to God, and lie open to the influences of heaven. Then it is that the sun of righteousness doth visit us with his directest rays, and dissipateth our darkness, and imprinteth his image on our souls.

“I cannot now insist on the advantages of this exercise, or the dispositions wherewith it ought to be performed; and there is no need I should, there being so many books that treat on this subject: I shall only tell you, that as there is one sort of prayer wherein we make use of the voice, which is necessary in public, and may sometimes have its own advantages in private, and another wherein, though we utter no sound, yet we conceive the expressions and form the words, as it were, in our minds; so there is a third and more sublime kind of a prayer, wherein the soul takes a higher flight, and having collected all its forces by long and serious meditation, it darteth itself; if I may so speak, towards God in sighs and groans, and thoughts too big for expression.

“As when, after a deep contemplation of the devine perfections appearing in all his works of wonder, it addresseth itself unto him in the profoundest adoration of his majesty and glory: or when, after sad reflections on its vileness and miscarriages, it prostrates itself before him with the greatest confusion and sorrow, not daring to lift up its eyes, or utter one word in his presence: or when, having well considered the beauty of holiness, and the unspeakable felicity of those that are truly good, it panteth after God, and sendeth up such vigorous and ardent desires as no words can sufficiently express, continuing and repeating each of these acts as long as it finds itself upheld by the force and impulse of the previous meditation.

“This mental prayer is of all the others the most effectual to purify the soul, and dispose it unto a holy and religious temper, and may be termed the great secret of devotion, and one of the most powerful instruments of the divine life; and it may be the apostle hath a peculiar respect unto it, when he saith, that ‘the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, making intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered’; or, the original my bear, ‘that cannot be worded’.

“Yet I do not so recommend this sort of prayer as to supersede the use of the other; for we have so many several things to pray for, and every petition of this nature requireth so much time, and so great an intention of spirit, that it were not easy therein to overtake them all – to say nothing, that the deep sighs and heavings of the heart, which are wont to accompany it, are something oppressive to nature, and make it hard to continue long in them. But, certainly, a few of these inward aspirations will do more than a great many fluent and melting expressions.”

pages 105-107


Jeremy B. Strang

Christian. Husband. Father. Author.

Grace Upon Grace / Foothills of True Grace / As Christ: A Man and Marriage / Realities of a True Christian

Upcoming Book Signings 

Prayer

Prayer Week Two: God as the Most Elevated

Prayer Week Two: God as the Most Elevated


Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Matthew 6:9

Without a doubt, the centrality of Christ, His witness, and His praying was all in, around, and with His Father; for He “hallowed” and loved His Father perfectly. He left for us both a demonstration and a teaching that we ought always to be about this business, not merely in word only, but in reality of lifestyle.

A true encountering relationship with God leads us to a place whereby we are to be about the “hallowing” of God – in private and in public. Yet, there is much in our lives we have to learn and yet bring into obedience and conformity to Christ and His will.

I love looking at the experience of Isaiah and his response to God.

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’
And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’”

The true presence of God never leads us to acting like uncontrolled animals, nor like drunkards reveling in sin, nor like maniacs, nor like those with spasmodic movements of the flesh; but rather, personal sin is exposed and we are literally confronted with who we are apart from Christ. In this way, we are drawn unto repentance and begin to see God as is His eternal reality – The Most High who is hallowed and lifted up.

Let us this week, and forever and ever, be about the elevating of God, His name, His testimonies, His graces and mercies. Let us consider our ways, in light of His Word, and boast in Him alone.

Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not the rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on the earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.


Week One: Do we see the need to ask? / Prayer Main Page / Download Week Two

As always, feel free to comment or connect with me privately if you wish.

Should We Examine Our Faith?

Should we examine our faith?

There is without a doubt, especially in this day and age, there is a great need for people to examine their faith – regardless of what faith they are claiming. And, I believe, even more so, a great need for professing Christians to examine their faith, but is such a question scriptural and is this this even the greatest of questions we ought to be asking of ourselves?

First, yes it is very scriptural for believer to examine themselves. Read 2 Corinthians 13:5 below for starters.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?[1]

Throughout the Scriptures, not just the passage above alone, a professing Christian is indeed to be about the examination of their faith. For example, if you read the book of 1st John with diligence, line by line, you will begin to clearly see a trend. Not only does John labor to say why he is writing his letter, and this for a variety of reasons, but you begin to see a “two-edged sword” – on the one hand a serious examination for those who profess and on the other hand a building up of the truly regenerate believer.

Yet, is the question, “Should we examine our faith?,” really be the chief question here, meaning, ought we to stop with such basics or should we continue further down the path of our salvation and sanctification? Could it be that the greater question may be, “How shall we examine ourselves?

You see, to ask questions of ourselves and that which we claim, is necessary for the discovery of truth, for the sorting out of falseness, for the growing in God, and ultimately for the reveling, glorifying and knowing God Himself. It’s not a matter of “if we should,” but rather, “how shall we?

So then, how shall we carry out such examination and introspection?

I remember back several years ago. I was walking down the road with a friend and we were talking about our walk with God and multiple other things. At the time he was struggling with how others were viewing him and his faith.

Now, we had talked about this at times and in length, but this day was to be altogether different. While we were walking I guess I had said something that the Lord would use to help set him free. In the Lord’s perfect timing, and while I could not have mustered any short of power in the flesh, the Lord was pleased to flex his muscle in just the right way.

I said, “You know, it does not matter what others think and what we think of those who are thinking bad of us, we cannot compare our walk with their profession. But rather, we are to compare ourselves to Christ Himself. How are we walking in faith in light of Christ?

You see, that really is where the place begins as we ask the second and greater question, “How shall I examine myself?

If the Bible’s claim to itself, God’s inspired word,[2] is indeed true, then why do we not begin our examination right there – through the pages of the Bible? Why is it we often begin, and of course end up so opposite God’s will, with a half-hearted inward look comparing ourselves to everyone else? Simple, we: 1.) Walk by the flesh instead of the Spirit. 2.) We are self-absorbed. 3.) We really do not want to be conformed into the image of God.

Yet, in this, “how shall we,” we are not to make ourselves the focus, but the One who is the Author and Perfecter of our Faith. For it’s in looking to Jesus, with a singular gaze, that we will find where our faith and verbal profession really lies.

Having posed the former question, being foundational and yet somewhat basic, and asking the deeper question, we must still reason with the end goal of why we should regard such questions in the first place. And if we will go to this depth, go to such honesty of heart, we will discover the importance and eternal relevance that lies at stake.

You see, these questions, having real practical applications, will serve us eternally, that is if we dare grapple with them in truth now. And how will we benefit? We will find out if indeed the faith that we lay hold of is true; we will come face-to-face with the one true and almighty God; we will come face-to-face with who we really are and our great need; we will find peace, joy, love, grace and mercy; we will come to experience and lay hold of the reality of salvation/regeneration/conversion and walk rightly with God.

What is at stake if we dare not examine our faith according to God’s word? – the very real possibility of false eternal safety, a false ideology of self-goodness, and a false idea about heavenly things.[3]

How shall we not examine our faith?


Jeremy B. Strang

Christian. Husband. Father.

Grace Upon Grace / Foothills of True Grace / As Christ: A Man and Marriage / Realities of a True Christian

Upcoming Book Signings


[1] 2 Corinthians 13:5; NASB version

[2] 2 Peter 1:21 & 2 Timothy 3:16-17

[3] Matthew 7:21-23

Resolve.

Resolve.


Without a doubt, especially as the days grow so ever darker, we, especially us men, need a holy and right resolve unto godliness.

Recently, the Scripture passage below has been exceptionally convicting and challenging for me. I pray that these words will stick firmly in the mind and grip the depths of our innermost being. Personally pray and seek God as to the really of this type of authentic reality and resolution.

“I will ponder the way that is blameless.

Oh when will you come to me?

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.

I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.

A perverse heart shall be far from me; 

I will know nothing of evil.”

Psalm 101:2-5

All of Psalm 101 is edifying, but these few verses alone are enough to send us to our knees.

Let us ask ourselves, as we ought to do:

Is this a reality in my life?

Is this my resolve to be godly and seek to please God?

Have I been convicted to live in such a way?

If not, may we be a people, men, who will live in such a way!


Jeremy B. Strang

Christian. Husband. Father. Author.

Grace Upon Grace / Foothills of True Grace / As Christ: A Man and Marriage / Realities of a True Christian

Godly Sorrow

Yesterday we had a wonderful time of musical worship and teaching in the Lord Jesus Christ at our new home church, Faith Fellowship, Marshfield, WI.

The topic of our discussion was godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow as Paul discussed in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

As I sat down to begin reading today, I picked up my book, “George Whitefield’s Journals”, and under the May 14, 1740 date, in Nottingham, Whitefield recorded this:

“I was invited thither, by some of the inhabitants, who had a good work begun amongst them, some time ago, by the ministry of Mr. Blair, the Messrs, Tennents, and Mr. Cross, the last of which had been denied the use of the pulpit by one of his own brethren, and was obligated to preach in the woods, where the Lord manifested forth His glory, and caused many to cry out, ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ It surprised me to see such a multitude gathered together, at so short a warning, and in such a desert place. I believe there were near 12,000. I have not spoken long before I perceive numbers melting. As I proceeded, the influence increased, till, at last, (both in the morning and in the afternoon), thousands cried out, so that they almost drowned my voice. Never did I see a more glorious sight. Oh what tears were shed and poured forth after the Lord Jesus. Some fainted: and when they had got a little strength, they would hear and faint again. Fathers cried out in a manner as if they were in the sharpest agonies of death. Oh what thoughts and words did God put into my heart exclamation point after I had finished my last two scores, I was so pierced, as it were, and overpowered with the sense of God’s love, that some thought, I believe, I was about to give up the ghost. How sweetly did I lie at the feet of Jesus! With what power did a sense of His all-constraining, free, and everlasting love flow in upon my soul! It almost took away my life.” – George Whitefield

After having read that this morning, I thought it only appropriate that I should share our message from yesterday with those of you who would hear.

May the Lord Of Glory Be glorified, may you be edified, and may the church be built, unto maturity, on the solid ground of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Be sure to give a review of my new book on Amazon, let me know you commented and I will send you a free printed book.

UPDATE: Letter from Paul Washer

hc89-150x263UPDATE: Paul Washer.


The letter below comes from brother Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society. This was recently published in the Jan-Mar 2017, #89, edition of the HeartCry Magazine.


“My dear brothers and sisters, I hope this brief introduction finds you growing in your understanding of the person and work of Christ upon which the entirety of our hope and salvation rests.

“You may know that it has been an eventful several weeks for my family and me. On March 20th, I suffered a heart attack in my home. Before the paramedics could transport me to the hospital, my heart stopped beating on three separate occasions. I do not remember the first several days in the hospital; when I finally became aware of my surroundings, I was told that I had suffered a heart attack. As a result, I had also suffered temporary loss of short-term memory.

“The days in the hospital were painful, but I could not have asked for better care from the doctors and nurses who attended me. I also praise God that I was afforded nearly countless opportunities to share Christ and hand out gospel literature to all within my reach.

“It is truly astounding how frail we are. I had been working out four times a week and was on a strict “heart-healthy” diet, yet I had a heart attack that could very easily have taken my life “permanently.” As my doctor reiterated: my lifestyle was “good,” my diet was “good,” but my genetics are “inescapable.” Almost all the men on both sides of my family have died of heart issues. As I continue to progress, I will rejoice in God’s special grace to keep me here a “bit” longer, and I will seek to submit to His common grace manifested in the wonderful doctors under whose care He has placed me.

“After several more days in the hospital, I am glad to announce that I was able to return home, where I am now spending my days rehabilitating, reading, and writing. I have finally made my way through the sixteen volumes of The Works of John Owen, Sermons of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Thomas Vincent’s The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ, and Octavius Winslow’s The Precious Things of God. I heartily recommend them to anyone who wants to grow not only in their knowledge of Christ but also (and more importantly) in their esteem and love for Him.

“I have also used these days to simply “watch” my family and delight in them as a true gift from God. My wife Charo is like a tower of strength, even though she is “too” severe with my diet and will not let me stay in my study as long as I would like. My sons Ian (15) and Evan (13) watch over me like guardians. My daughters Rowan (9) and Bronwyn (1) are simply a delight to behold.

issue89

“My family and I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of you who have prayed for us and my recovery. Your kindness is a great encouragement. Thank you. I will return to the doctor in a few days to find out when I can return to the HeartCry office. I am afraid to stay away too long for fear that they will discover that they are better off without me! I know that even though I will be able to return to ministry, it will be a long and slow road before I am traveling to the other side of the world. Pray that God will give me the grace to use my “down time” for His glory. I will be dedicating most of my time to several writing projects, and as always I will be in need of grace. Again, thank you!

Your brother,
Paul”


 

Grace Upon Grace: A Story of May Eighteenth

Grace Upon Grace


 Story of May Eighteenth

 Download a FREE eBook (PDF) here: Grace Upon Grace

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May the Lord be glorified, my wife be honored and my kids grow in the true grace of God.

As special thank you, to my wonderful wife Trish – Your love, patience and endurance for me is testament to God’s grace.


For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

John 1:16

Intro

There is no other date on the calendar that reminds me more of God’s grace, the life of Christ and His propitiation, than May eighteenth. This year marks another milestone twofold. First, the powerful work of God’s grace for the exchange of my sin. Secondly, for the grace given me again one year later, a blessing of blessings upon the earth, a grace given over and over and over again.

Context

Before diving forward, let me set the stage and lay before you the history and context of my life up to eighteenth of May.

You see, I was a simple Midwestern boy from a good family. I lived with my mom, dad and brother. We always had everything we needed; my mom was a nurse, my dad an electrician. I grew up going to church and lived a model, yet modest, America life. I grew up being taught simple prayers and that Jesus Christ was true.

I was a quiet child, very much a loner and a son of a loner. And although a loner, I had several friends in our little neighborhood and a few more at school.

After the summer of 1980, having moved earlier that year, this quiet loner of a boy was surrounded by new people, in a new town, in a larger school, and completely out of his element. I faced all new challenges. All of my previous friends were gone, the comfort and reliability of the environment outside of my home was radically changed, and yet nothing at all uncommon about the story, unless of course you’re a shy loner of a boy.

But something radically changed within me. Within the first few weeks at my new school, fear and depression began to creep into my life. I cannot explain it, for I had not experienced any traumas nor had any gross incidents at school, but nonetheless, darkness gripped me as if a strong-man grasped my neck, thus my very heart and life. I was powerless to understand what was happening to me.

During the first year at my new school, second grade to be exact, I began to cry every morning while sitting quietly at my desk. My teacher would comfort me by day and my mom during the night. For the first three months this repeated daily.[1]

This led to a destructive, dark, hidden life that no one could imagine the depths of; even to this day I will not share some of the thoughts that came into my mind during my years of transitioning from second-grader to 28 year old. The resulting effects sent my sinful heart deep into itself.

As I grew older, my pride was fueled, my anger grew, my many fears repressed, alcohol became my friend, and my treatment of women was horrid. Music became a way of escape. Gangster rap in my early years to heavy metal as I grew older, the false allusions of music and man-centered power, mixed with the toxic doses of adrenaline, was the release I often craved.

Many more stories of my past could be shared – the painful school years, the competitive Ice Dancing, the martial arts, my first of many jobs, hidden wickedness and etc., but I find that for the purposes of this book, these things are best, at least for now, left for personal conversations, many of which ought never to be heard by another’s ears.

A Year Prior to May 18th

Why do I say a year prior to May 18 eighteenth? I mean, had I not lived through 28 other May eighteenths? Yes, but allow me to lay before you the year prior. For it is my desire to demonstrate to you not only the common grace of God, but further yet, His “grace upon grace” that has been bestowed unto me.

In late 1999, having graduated Radiography (X-ray) school earlier that year, I found myself working in Bloomington, IL. In November I met this sparky little girl who caught my attention. She was a traveling X-ray technologist who was working in the Radiology department. At the time I was working fulltime in the Calcium Score Cat Scan Department – real technology at the time. Our meeting was not while working, but on a ‘booze cruise,’ basically meaning, we were on a bus that drove us around from bar to bar while drinking heavy amounts of alcohol for twelve hours.

Now, don’t let this time fool you, my life was anything but stable. I guess obviously stated since a ‘booze cruise’ was a highlight in my life.

I was living in a hellish deep dark depression, one very hidden, and controlling of my life. As a result, this helped to fuel my pride, empower my anger and enslave me in lust. I was a liar, a thief, an adulterer, a drunk, a malicious gossip and a flat out God hater. In my use, or abuse, of women, I was truly a murderer at heart – of course not physically, but spiritually. I used profanity as communication, anger as a lifestyle, all while deceitfully justifying myself. I lived with thoughts so dark and so wicked it was as if hell itself lived inside my mind. Nearly every day suicide swirled about my head. This was my reality.

Come January of 2000, and surprisingly having kept up some sort of a relationship with the girl I had met, I decided I too would hit the road traveling, after all, what did I have to lose, and besides, this girl was cute.

So before long, this Midwestern boy found himself in beautiful Taos, New Mexico. The three months I spent there were great, yet my life inwardly was a train wreck that was still very much hidden to the outside world.

Over the course of that year, that cute little girl I had met in Bloomington, became more of a girlfriend, and we traveled all over the United States. We worked at many hospitals traveling through and/or visiting all the states east of the Mississippi River and seven to the west. It was a busy year of work, but yet we made sure to live as reckless as possible nearly every chance we had. Little did I know at that time just how much she was working things out in her own life and mind as well.

After a year of heavy traveling, we both found ourselves working back in Taos at the Holy Cross Hospital. This stop would be one we would forever remember.

Back in Taos

It had only been one year since I had first discovered Taos. This was a beautiful and artistic, a bit eccentric, mountain town in northern New Mexico.

After only a couple weeks of us being back in Taos, I worked with a man who I had met the year prior. For two weeks we worked the evening shift together. Ironically enough, we had a slow two week period.

During this time I learned more about this guy as well he learned about me. The more we talked the more I realized he had something I had not. And although I was a bit intrigued as to what this might be, I really did not want to talk so deeply regarding spiritual things and things to which I had to give an account.

He shared stories and facts about Taos, and things about Christianity, most of which, I have to confess, I don’t really remember. The few conversations of his I vividly recall, and resisted, was his constant invitations to join his family Sunday morning for worship at their church. This had absolutely no appeal to me at all. I grew up attending a small church back home and was content to never cross those doors again. After two weeks of persistence and patience in inviting us, my girlfriend and I went the next Sunday morning – this of course only so that my co-worker would not ask me anymore.

During that first church service, I quickly realized I had a strange comfort yet disturbing hatred with being there. As the worship music commenced, I noticed that they (the church) did not have a bass player. Considering my obsession with music and playing bass, regardless of the style, I naturally thought to myself, “What an opportunity to show these people my talent.” (I now laugh thinking about this)

Amazingly, we went back three weeks in a row, although I had no idea why. After the third week, I approached the pastor, Larry Seguin[2], about the idea of me playing bass for him. We talked only for a moment when he asked about my story. I gave him some pathetic lie of how good I was and how I knew all about this Christian church thing. He responded by saying that we must find a time to sit down and talk prior to any of my involvement. Looking back, I can remember him staring at me, with his head slightly tilted and a smile on his face, like I had absolutely no clue of what I was saying.

That third Sunday I also remember, as we were on our way down to Albuquerque, my girlfriend asking me, “What does Larry mean by having a relationship with Jesus? You grew up going to church, what does he mean?

I replied, “I have no idea, I just skip that part of his teaching.”

And so went my life – a denial of that which I cared nothing about. I continued disguising a false front all while my dark realities ragged in an embittered hellish prison cell deep within.

May Eighteenth

Then came Friday evening May eighteenth two thousand one.

That early evening I was scheduled to meet with Pastor Larry about my playing bass. I somehow knew that the meeting was pointless. I mean, I certainly would not let someone like me to be in front of some church and play music, so I already knew he was going to tell me no.

Now my plans for the evening were simple: get the meeting over with and go out drinking it up while my girlfriend was at work. I had no intentions of having any kind of serious discussion nor was I seeking some sort of help, in all actuality, I didn’t even really want to be there at all.

Regardless, Pastor Larry and I met. We sat at this little round table inside of the quaint church building. After some small talk, Larry said to me, “I have only three basic rules if you want to join the praise and worship team.”

Whoa, stop right there,” I said, “I don’t want to join some team; I just want to play bass.”

He patiently and kindly replied, with a smile on his face, “Ok, I only have three rules if you want to ‘play bass.’

First,” he said, “no public drinking of any kind.”

This of course perked my attention.

He went on to explain,

The Bible does not say you cannot have a drink, but it is clear you are not to be a drunkard, or one who drinks until drunk.” He said, “We have many people here who are recovering addicts and one drink for them is death. When they see you ‘up front’ playing bass, you are seen as someone in leadership, approved by the church and a representative of the Bible. If they see you out in public having even a sip, they do not know your situation and they will very easily perceive it as being ok for them to do as well. This is why it is our rule, not to be legalistic, but to be accountable to God.

I nodded my head in agreement but had no plan of following the notion. What Larry said made sense to me, but at that time, it had no impact upon me.

Secondly, no pornography of any type – period.”

I responded with a half-truth, “Well, that really is not a problem for me.”

Now, this was partially true, for I was ingesting so much speed I could not sit still long enough to get caught up with pornography as we think about it today. Yet, I was living in the depths of my self-pleasing, self-exalting sin, and had committed all kinds of vile perversions in this area.

By this point, I really wanted to just get up and leave, and yet, I continued to sit there with an uncomfortable pressure upon my chest.

Soon, Larry began to elaborate on his third rule.

Thirdly,” he said, “to obey all the commandments of the Bible.”

Out from under his mustache he smiled and continued, “Now I know no one can do such a thing, but there is one specific thing I want to talk to you about.

Strangely I could sense something more serious was about to transpire. And with a new determined and serious change of tone in his voice, he said, while thumbing through his Bible, “Excuse me, I need to find this verse I am looking for.”

I was never more uncomfortable.

Very humbly he said, “I am sorry I do not know my Bible better than I ought.

He then stood up and walked over to the little corner of books and grabbed a large concordance from the shelves. He wanted to be absolutely sure of what I was to hear next.

I thought to myself, how could this Pastor not know what the Bible says?

After finding the passage of Scripture, he said, “Son, there is this one thing you are doing. You are sleeping with your girlfriend, am I correct?

He looked at me, as if looking into my soul itself, and waited for my response.

I was not enthused with the question nor was I happy being there at that moment, but I answered him honestly, “Yes.”

He asked, “Do you know what it means when the Bible uses the word fornication?

Yes sir,” I mumbled, yet I had no idea what the Bible had to say about it.[3]

He then began to read, opening the Bible before me, first-Corinthians 6:9-10 which reads:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral [fornicators], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”[4]

I was completely struck, left dumbfounded to myself and in a shock of sorts, but yet free in a way I could not describe. I sat there unable to speak. It was as if a light switch flipped on in my mind. The light of Christ[5] flooded my heart, exposing my sin, and my great need to be rescued was revealed.

And in this moment Larry perceived me correctly for he came down with the final blows to my soul, and yet he did so with compassion, love and utter power.

He said to me, “There is something else you are, that is not on listed above. You are a murderer!

I sat still. I was completely motionless and in awe.

He continued, “Every time you fornicate with that girlfriend of yours, you keep her further from the truth, further from Christ, further from knowing God. Thus, you are a spiritual murderer.”

And I could not help but agree!

What? How could I be in agreeance? How is it that I recognized that I was almost every single one of those things as described in the Bible passage above?

Simple, the Spirit of God opened my eyes to see the truth, the truth of who I was apart from Christ, the truth of my wretchedness and hopeless depravity, the truth of my absolute need for a savior – grace was coming into my life, deeply, powerfully and in a way I could not describe. And not only grace, but mercy upon mercy – freedom, life, and restoration. It was as if a blind man had just been granted eyesight for the very first time and I was that blind man.

I believe Larry noticed something was happening in me and continued to tell me,

You need to go to your girlfriend and apologize to her. You can stay at our home until you can work out different living arrangements. Now, what I believe you will do is what I did when I was a young man your age. I had a similar offer, but I turned it down. I went out and immediately got married just so I could continue pleasing myself. We were divorced three months later and I regret it to this day. So, what are you going to do?

Good question, what was I going to do?

But I knew exactly what I had to do.

He then sent me out the door, no prayer, no false salvation or profession of faith, he simply said to me, “If the Lord is working here we shall see. Now, go do what you need to do and my door is always open to you.

I stepped out of the doors of that little church building standing for a moment on the steps and looked at the beautiful New Mexico sunset that was hovering just above the mountains to the far west. I threw out all my drugs. I determined, thus by the power of God’s Spirit, that I must apologize to my girlfriend. I called her immediately and said that we must talk when she got home. I then went to our small rustic Spanish casita and replayed the events and words of Larry over and over in my mind. My plans to go drinking were not even a second thought.

Later that night, after my girlfriend got home from work, we talked. I told her about my conversation with Larry, what I was experiencing, what I felt and apologized to her. I shared with her exactly what Larry had told me and the verse from first Corinthians. I told her I could no longer be with her as I had for the last year and that if she thought I was completely crazy I understood. If she wanted to break everything off, I was willing to let her go her own way.

Around two am we finally stopped talking. She went into the bedroom to sleep and I to the couch. We had no idea what was ahead for either one of us. But one thing I knew for sure, that May eighteenth of two thousand and one the grace of God was made manifest to me!

Unlikely Witness

The next morning we sat at the small kitchen table talking of what we were going to do. We were out of sorts; everything we had normally been accustomed to doing was changing. This day was most certainly different for me as I had a freedom I could not explain and I certainly wanted to know more.

It was Sat morning, and not knowing what to do, I called Larry and shared what I had said and where we were at. He invited us to come down to the church building and talk some more.

Once there, we shared our conversation from the night prior and he encouraged us onward. As we talked with him, we started to stack up books they had for free via donation. They had some really good books that were very solid biblically and served to help our newly found faith. We nearly grabbed every book they had and we put all the cash we had into the donation box.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I started to notice a real change in my girlfriend. It was quite amazing to watch. She began making changes in habits and her talk. During this time, she kept searching and reading about this Jesus who saves. I know this, whatever work was being done there was not of me, nor directly of my story, but a working of the Almighty God who was working in and with me. I had been praying that she would experience this new life that had been granted to me. And indeed she did!

Who would have guessed that any of this could have taken place in our lives? And I certainly would never have guessed the Lord could use my testimony of God’s grace to impact anyone, especially my girlfriend. I was without a doubt the most unlikely of witnesses, yet I know that absolutely no credit was mine for the taking.

Over the course of that next year, much had happened. From New Mexico to Arkansas, from Illinois to North Carolina, from Wisconsin to Michigan, the Lord was working in my life and I shared it everywhere I went. The details of that year I believe could fill many more books.

Two very crucial things happened for me over that year.

First, I was introduced to the persecuted Christian church. This had a deep impact upon my personal life and propelled me to continue growing in this new profession of faith. Second, was with regards to my girlfriend.

I ended up taking an assignment nearly a thousand miles away from Taos where she was still working. During this time, we began to learn to communicate about deeper topics. Our main discussion quickly became centered on whether or not we would go our separate ways or move forward towards marriage. It became apparent as we talked that marriage was the path we were going to take.

This seriousness in our relationship, along with the new found life in Christ, caused this cute little girl who I had met in Bloomington, IL, to become more than a girlfriend and traveling coworker. No longer was she a girlfriend, but soon to be a fiancé. She became who she really was, Trish, my future wife and sister in our shared Christian faith. She was becoming my best friend and someone who knew me better than anyone else ever had. It’s not that I did not have many good friends, because I did, but no one knew the deeper realities of my past.

So in late September of two thousand and one, Trish’s assignment in Taos was nearly over. I was working in Arkansas and she was going to come and work there as well.

Before leaving Taos, on one early Sunday Morning, in the crisp cool air, we took a hot air balloon flight over the Rio Grande Gorge. A thousand feet above the white waters, and just a few miles outside of downtown Taos, Trish agreed to become my wife.

Later that morning, we went to our last church service together at that little church building. There we shared the news with everyone, said our goodbyes, and headed out onto a new road with an unknown journey ahead.

Grace Came Again

A year had transpired. We continued traveling the nation, began to cut off ties with our old habits, and continued to grow in grace and the knowledge of our dear Lord and Savior. During this year we decided to settle down, at least for a couple years, in Stillman Valley, IL, my home town.

We naturally thought we should ask the local pastor, to marry us. His name was Pastor Rod, and he knew, at least to some degree, my past life of rebellion and sin. He had been a friend to my family and the pastor of the church I used to periodically attend.

We had yet to share with Rod how God radically changed our lives. After asking him to marry us, hesitant as he was, he agreed to sit down with us in discussion. My plan was that we would tell him at our first meeting.

There we sat, Rod and his wife on one side, Trish and I on the other. I have to admit, there seemed to be an uncomfortable tension in the air. After about 10 minutes of watching Rod squirm in his chair (I believe he was working up the right way to tell us he was not comfortable about our marriage), I told him all about our last year. We told him how the Lord had exposed our sin, gave us His grace, and set our sights on eternity.  Both he and his wife were shocked and completely overjoyed! Those times of meeting with them were good and a real help for our future days to come.

A week before the wedding he asked us to pick a few Bible verses that we would like to have read individually. Without telling one another, we picked the exact same verses.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.[6]

So on May eighteenth two thousand and two, Trish and I were married.

After being announced husband and wife, and before we kissed, we had decided that communion and dedication to the Lord would be our primary commitment. We had many people there who did not know what had happened to us and why we now were so different. Pastor Rod explained what communion was all about and why we had chosen the act of communion as our first act as husband and wife.

Grace came again to me on May eighteenth two thousand and two. First the grace of God came in form of forgiveness of my past, freedom from my sins and new life in Christ Jesus; and grace came again in the form of my new wife Trish, whom I was now one with, in marriage and a symbol of Christ and the church.[7]

Amazing, simply amazing!

The Christian Life

It has now been 15 years that we have been married. I have been set free and saved unto God for 16 years now. We have 5 children, lived in 6 states, and met wonderful people from all over the world.

But don’t let me fool you, the Christian life is not some ‘name it and claim it’, ‘grab it and blab it, prosperous ease while bidding our time here on earth. The fact is that the true Christian life is one of constant commitment. It requires diligence and steadfastness; is full of failures and forgiveness; has victories and tears; and is most certainly active and dynamic. Although, it certainly is not one of perfection and the pleasing of one’s own self – not at all.

The longer I have been a Christian, the more I realize how weak I am. I have days where it is truly a spiritual battle to do the right thing.[8]

You see, although I had not been looking for God, at least not as I would have known, God came to me, taught me His word, gave me His grace, showed me my need, offered His Son and gave me new life. I was utterly helpless to be a ‘savior’ to myself. All the self-help in the world is nothing but powerless humanism. All of my attempts to be a ‘good person’ were miserable failures.

God has given us all a will to use, a will with the ability to seek, a will to make cognitive choices. And let me assure you, we will answer for how we have abused these common graces. For these common graces of God are bestowed upon all of mankind, and are meant to draw us to the powerful saving grace of God. For in His grace reality unto a new life really does exist and hope really does reside. And yet, we need the sovereign God to do the work that only He can do, His powerful work of conversion through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross; yet His common grace of free will having been bestowed to us still stands, just as His promise is still available to those who will seek Him[9] – this all by faith through grace.[10]

Yet I too must apply this personally in my daily walk with God, I must everyday chose whom I will serve, not that I am saving myself over and over, but that I must chose whom I place as first in my life each and every day, myself or the God of the universe. When I wake up, I know where my help comes from[11] and to Him I must go, but I must activate that which he has already given me. I must choose with my mind from where I will draw my strength and what shall be my eternal purpose.

And you too must use the common grace God has given you. Will you seek God? Will you not? Will you be brutally honest with yourself and with your inability to make yourself right with God? Maybe you have tried all the philosophies and self-helps there is and you know there is yet more to life?

Or maybe you are running down roads similar to my past? Maybe you have never been as ‘bad’ as me and believe yourself to be a good person? But let me assure you, we are all fallen and separated from God.[12]

Regardless, you have to do something with Jesus.

If He is just another wise guy to you, then you have to do something about what He said and what He did – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”[13]

If He was a lunatic or a man who simply lived and died, then how could He be so hated, even unto this day, if He was not true? Why the hatred for that which would have had no power, no truth, no lasting effect?

Yet, maybe, He is true and you have been casting Him off as simply some messed up religion or some ‘church’ affiliation? Maybe you have been hurt by people who call themselves some sort of ‘christians’ yet never seem to demonstrate compassion, patience or love?

I do not know your stance, your situation in life, your worldview, or how you have been treated – regardless, you will be held accountable for your actions and disregards of God’s varied grace.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring specifically, I cannot sway the sea of hypnotized people consumed by the narcissism of multimedia, nor can I predict when the economy will fall, but this one thing I do know, this truth I will declare, this transforming power I will defend – the grace of God is true, powerful and life changing.

And the God of this grace will forever be my boast as to the best of my ability. And although I still fall short, I will make the “one true God[14] my boast forever and ever.

Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”[15]

And if you do not think that the true grace of God is powerful and working, alive and transforming, read what the Bible says about the grace of God,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”[16]

Although this book is merely a small glimpse into the history of my past, and maybe my experiences have not been yours, please know that there really is hope and more to this life – for “grace upon grace” awaits you.  Again though I must ask, my friend, what shall you do with it? Will you throw it to the wayside or receive it freely?

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”[17]

“…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”[18]

If you would like to know more about the grace of God or the realities of the true Christian life, please take a look at some of my other books. The Foothills of True Grace is a beginning look at God’s “manifold[19] grace and you can get a free copy of the book, plus others, on my website.[20]

For it is true,

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

And why do I share this story? Why put myself in a place of vulnerability and apparent weakness? Three-fold.

First, that my God would be glorified.

Second, that you may come to experience the realities, the love, grace, power and mercies, of this one true God.

Third, that my testimony would stand as a memorial for what God has done in my life, always reminding me of His attributes, His incredible salvation, His undeniable love and His redeeming grace.[21]

Indeed, May eighteenth I received “grace upon grace.”


“Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has not let me alone! I have thought, ‘If God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I would have been! I would have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil. Nor would I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me!

“If feel that I would have been a very king of sinners, if God had left me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace.”

~ Charles Spurgeon ~


[1] Interestingly enough, later in life I found out that my special reading teacher had prayed over me and all the kids in the school. She was a godly woman, very much the grandmotherly type.

[2] Larry passed away and went to be with his Lord on March 5th, 2014. Visit my website or The Taos News to view my letter to the editor, which the newspaper titled, “My Turn: In Memory of Pastor Larry Seguin.”

[3] Interestingly, the word, “fornication,” popped into my mind months prior and I thought about looking it up in the Bible, but chose not to do so at that time.

[4] [fornicators] King James Version (KJV©)

[5] John chapter one.

[6] 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

[7] Ephesians 5:31-32. Also see my book, As Christ: A Man and Marriage.

[8] Ephesians 6:12; John 1:12

[9] Matthew 7:7-8

[10] Ephesians 2:8-9

[11] Psalm 121:1-2

[12] Romans 3:22-23

[13] John 14:6

[14] 1 Corinthians 8:6; plus several other passages

[15] Jeremiah 9:23-24

[16] Titus 2:11-14

[17] John 1:12-13

[18] John 1:17

[19] 1 Peter 4:10

[20] http://www.jeremybstrang.com

[21] I love the story of Joshua 4:1-7