An Absolute Necessity

You must be born again.

You know, there are some things that are optional, but being born again is absolutely necessary!

There are some things that are absolutely necessary, and there are some things that are optional.

One of those absolute necessities is why we have missions. It’s why Rusty and Brenda have gone across the sea. This absolute necessity is why you have a church.

Some things are absolutely necessary.

George Whitfield

In the early days of our country, actually, before the Declaration of Independence was signed there was a farmer named Nathan Cole. In 1740 he heard that a famous preacher, George Whitfield, was coming to the area and he wanted to go hear him.

George Whitfield
George Whitfield

George Whitfield. was originally from England, but he came to America and spent seven to 10 years here. It’s said that during that time, probably 80% of the population heard him preach. This was the time that we call the Great Awakening in the United States.

Things were happening all over the world.

In England, it was called the Wesleyan Revival and in Germany, it was called patriotism.

It was a time when God was working and why America became great. Somebody who visited America said the reason why America is great is that America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, then she will cease to be great.

I’m afraid we might be in a little trouble.

Well, Mason Cole had always wanted to hear George Whitfield preach. He was out picking up some tools to work with, and a rider came by and yelled out that George Whitfield was going to be preaching at Middletown.

Middletown was 12 miles away from Nathan’s farm so he ran to his house, and told his wife to get ready. because they were going to go hear George Whitfield.

Then he ran to the barn, saddled his horse, rode up to the house, hoisted his wife up on the horse, got back on himself, and off they went. Mason had that horse galloping just as fast as it could go.

They were trying to get there on time.

As they went he would notice his horse getting tired but instead of stopping completely to let the horse rest, he would get off and run alongside. Once the horse seemed to have gotten its second wind, Mason would jump back in the saddle and continue to ride.

Off in the distance Mason and his wife saw a yellowish cloud and thought it was very unusual. Then they heard what sounded like thunder.

As they continued on their journey the sound got louder. They realized what the sound was when they saw other people on horses and in wagons riding in the same direction they were going and joined up with them.

The Middletown Service

There were 1000s trying to get there to hear George Whitfield preach. It was amazing.

George Whitfield was not a very tall fellow. He was a very slim fellow but he had a very powerful voice. He was able to preach to 1000s of people without the aid of a microphone (they didn’t exist yet) or any other amplification.

When Nathan Cole and his wife got to where the preaching was to take place, they saw that there were already many people gathered around.

In the distance, they could see a river and a boat was docking. People got off the boat. Then two or three more boats came and hundreds of people were getting off.

There ended up being 1000s of people there that day and they all heard George Whitfield preach.

George Whitfield preaching at Middletown
George Whitfield preaching at Middletown

Quite often, John Whitfield would preach on one particular verse. It is a verse where Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus.

John 3:7 (MEV)

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.

The last part of that verse, “You must be born again.” is what George Whitfield preached time and time again.

One lady who heard him quite often asked, “Why do you preach on that verse so much?”

He replied, “Because, madam, you must be born again. It is absolutely necessary to be born again.”

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and that we have all come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

None of us are exempt from that.

You Must Be Born Again

In this verse, Jesus was talking to a man named Nicodemus, who was a religious man. He was a man who had a reputation as being a good, religious man of the religion of their day: Judaism. In fact, he was on the council that they had. Nicodemus was a religious man.

Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again."
Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

Jesus spoke to him and said, “Nicodemus unless you’re born again, you will not even see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Maybe you go to church all the time. Maybe you have better attendance than I do. . I don’t know. But I know this. You must be born again.

If you’re trusting in your church attendance to get you into Heaven, well, that’s not going to do it. That’s not going to be your ticket.

I had an aunt who started getting pins for attendance in Sunday school when she was about four or five years old. The way it was if you had perfect attendance for one year, you’d get a little bar-type pin. If you went two years, you got another one that could be hooked to the one above

Perfect attendance for Sunday school won't get you into Heaven.
Perfect attendance for Sunday school won’t get you into Heaven.

My aunt got so many that she finally got to the point where she had to put it on a cloth and put it around her wrist and it became a bracelet. After a while, she had so many, she had to put it on a longer piece of cloth and put it around her waist and it became a belt. Then that became a belt with the side of it dangling down.

I preached at her funeral just a little while back and we had them all laid out on the edge of the casket.

Now I’m firmly convinced that my aunt June went to heaven, but it wasn’t because she had 85 years of perfect attendance in Sunday school.

Nicodemus was a religious man.

You might be a religious person. But I want to ask you: Have you been born again?

It’s Not Automatic

If you have you’re safe and that’s wonderful, but if you haven’t, it’s absolutely necessary.

Now, it’s not automatic that we’re okay.

Some people say we’re ok because we are Americans. We are safe. We are fine.

Well, I’m glad to be an American but that’s not enough. In fact, that might be a hindrance in some cases.

The Jewish people said, “We are children of Abraham.”
John the Baptist told them, “Don’t think because you are children of Abraham, you will be safe. God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8)

Going to Heaven is not automatic.
It’s not automatic, because you live in the United States.
It’s not automatic because your parents went to church all the time.
It’s not automatic because you had a “drug” problem when you were young because they “drug” you to church all the time.

You must be born again.

When I was young, I heard my parents having a discussion one time. They were deciding where they were going to go to church.

I didn't want to go to the church with the angry pastor.
I didn’t want to go to the church with the angry pastor.

One church was the one that my mom went to when she was young. I visited there a few times, and the pastor seemed like he was mad about something. I figured out it was me he was mad about.

We had also visited a little Freewill Baptist church down the road and the pastor there always seemed like he was glad about something.

I didn’t weigh in on their conversation, but I hoped they choose the happy church, and they did, so I started going to Mount Zion Freewill Baptist Church.

I’m glad to be part of the association of Freewill Baptists, but I’m not going to have because of that.

There came a time in my life when I realized that I was lost, that I was a sinner, and that I needed a Savior. I knelt down by an old gray chair and called upon the Lord and invited Jesus to come into my life.

I don’t remember everything I said, but I remember part of it. I said, “Jesus, as much as I know how I give you my life right now.” and I was born again.

Praise God!

I hope you have too.

I made the right decision.  Have you?
I made the right decision. Have you?

Some of you may be thinking about it. Maybe you’ve been thinking it over. This would be a good time. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

In the 1970s Rhonda and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

It’s wonderful if you have the opportunity to go, but doesn’t make you any more spiritual or less spiritual. It gives you three years to spend studying the Bible and a chance to study techniques of ministry. It was the largest seminary in the world at that time, and I think still is.

The school had a chapel that could seat probably between 250-350 people.

We were not required to go to chapel but I went every chance I got. They once announced that a famous theologian was going to come and preach in two weeks.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I knew him by name. He was the editor of a wonderful Christian magazine and was associated with Billy Graham Association.

I was glad he was coming but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand him. I figured that he’d probably use some big theological words. (Like the word theological: the study of God)

Well, I didn’t have to worry.

He came in and got up in the pulpit, and said, “Please turn to John chapter three.”

He was preaching to a crowd of about 300 people that were preparing for Christian ministry or pastors and their wives. Some of them were ladies that were in music ministry.

It was about 300 people who would have been like Nicodemus.

I thought he would just talk to them about what Jesus said to Nicodemus and he said, “You must be born again.”

It was a great sermon. The time came for the invitation. I thought he would widen it out so that some of us could respond. But he didn’t.

He said, “If you have not been born again, I invite you to come to this altar and receive Christ as your Savior.”

There were 300 people there who were preparing for ministry. I was so glad I had been born again.

To my surprise, the song started and a young man and his wife stood up and came forward to the invitation, given to a bunch of preachers and religious leaders, to be born again.

Then somebody else stood up and then several single men stood up. Then there were more couples. I would say that probably about 20 people who were preparing to pastor churches came forward to get saved.

I’m not asking you if you go to church all the time. I’m just asking, “Have you been born again?”

If you haven’t, you can right now!

There’s a basis for you to be born again.

John 3:16 (MEV)

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Sacrifice

In the Old Testament, they had sacrifices they did time and time again. They were blood sacrifices. We wonder about that.

The New Testament tells us that the bulls and goats could not take away sin.

A blood sacrifice was necessary to atone for sins.
A blood sacrifice was necessary to atone for sins.

The significance of that was far greater than just bringing lambs and goats and birds and things like that. It was the shedding of blood it was showing that there was a sacrifice. They knew that they had sinned and that there needed to be a sacrifice for sin. If they were to bring one from their flock, they were to bring one without blemish, the very best one they had.

If there was going to be a sacrifice that would take care of the penalty of the sins for the whole world, it would have to be a perfect one.

Who was the only perfect One who ever lived? God’s Son Jesus.

So Jesus went to the cross.

us was the final blood sacrifice.  Nothing else is needed.
Jesus was the final blood sacrifice. Nothing else is needed.

Kerygma

Now there was the preaching of the early church. I’m going to spring a big word on you: kerygma. It simply means the preaching of the early church. Do you know what it was? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus did make His way to the cross, He did indeed die on that cross, and He was placed in a tomb. Three days later, they came to try to find Him, and they found the tomb was empty, and He was gone! (Luke 23 & 24)

Then he started showing up to people who knew him, and they couldn’t believe it! There was Jesus. He was alive again after being dead. (John 20)

One time he showed up in front of a crowd of 500 who knew who he was before. (1 Corinthians 15:6)

You can not deny the fact that He died and rose again.

That was the preaching of the early church. That is the kerygma.

The Debt Paid

The crucifixion was one of the most horrible physical deaths there could ever be, but something far worse than that going on when Jesus was on that cross: The sins of the world were being placed on His shoulders.

He who knew no sin actually, for a little while, became sin to pay the penalty of sin for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

There is a debt. Jesus paid the debt that He did not owe because there was a debt I could not pay and He paid it for me and He paid it for you. Because of that, you can be born again.

A Special Kind of Belief

The Bible tells us that you must believe but there must be a special type of belief. The demons believe in God, they know Jesus is the Son of God. When Jesus was healing two demon-possessed men, the demons asked Him, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)

They know their time is short. They know who Jesus is.

The book of Romans says all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

That word all means every man. woman, and child, every human, has sinned.

The Bible also says the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Two Kinds of Death

We’re familiar with physical death. That’s where the soul is separated from the body, but there is also spiritual death. And that is where the soul is separated from God.

The Bible says there are 2 kinds of death.
The Bible says there are 2 kinds of death.

Spiritual death will be when that soul is separated from God for eternity and sent to a place known as hell.

The book of Revelation says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”  (Revelation 20:14)

There’s a special type of belief.

You can believe the facts that Jesus died and rose again. You can believe the Easter story and Christmas story.

You’re close.

Romans 10:8-9 saysBut what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”[d] This is the word of faith that we preach: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, 

Do You Know the ABCs?

You may have heard someone talk about the ABCs of salvation. You acknowledge that you are a sinner You believe that Jesus died on the cross. Believe that He was the son of God. Believe that he Has the power over death. Believe that He offers salvation as an absolutely free gift. Believe that no matter how far back in sin you had gone, that gift is there. Then you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

You must be born again!
You must be born again!

If you do that, I will tell you, your life is going to change. It might be slow for some and quicker for others, but there will be a change when you come to Him.

Then the Bible says, Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13) It doesn’t say “might be,” it says, “will be.”

I want to give you the same invitation here that the theologian at the chapel did: Be born again today!

You need to know that you know. If you don’t know that you know, then you’re in dangerous territory because maybe you’re not born again because you don’t know.

Maybe you need to call upon the Lord. Night.

I preached a more in-depth sermon on this topic a few weeks ago. You can see the Rumble video here.

For more faith-based posts, click here.

If you want to talk more about Jesus and salvation, find my contact information here.

God bless you and have a wonderful day.

One of The Most Important Questions Ever

If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

In the past, I’ve posted information from the book 100 Bible Verses that Made America by Robert J. Morgan.  I’ve been going in historical order, so I’ve not gotten to the Declaration of Independence yet. The event here took place about 30 years before the signing of that important document. 

Sermon video

Tug-of-War

In the 1740s, there was a tug-of-war of sorts going on between England and France.  At the time, England had a great navy.  The whole world thought of it as being one of the best  France was trying to gain superiority.  

The Colonies, which later became the United States, had come from England at first.  During the war, referred to as “King George’s War,” the colonies were sort of the rope in the tug-of-war going on between England and France.

People in Boston were concerned, to say the least, because they had gotten word that the French navy was coming to Boston.  The navy planned to burn down the city.  Bostonians were in a panic.

The governor had no way to protect the city at that time.  It wasn’t the large city we know today.  There were only about 15,000 citizens in the 1740s.

The governor knew that they didn’t have the defense, the weaponry, or the military members that were needed to protect the city.  He didn’t know what to do.

But the community knew what to do.

They called for a day of prayer and fasting.  

October 16, 1746

It was October 16, 1746, and people flocked to the churches.  

Today if we don’t know what to do, how many people would?  How far have we come since those days?

They knew what to do.

There was a famous church called the Old South Meeting House, and hundreds of people went there on that day, knowing that the French navy was coming from Nova Scotia to attack their city.

The Old South Meeting House in Boston
The Old South Meeting House in Boston

Reverend Thomas Prince was a good friend of Thomas Whitfield  Whitfield played a large part in the Great Awakening in the 1730s.

On the day of fasting and prayer, Thomas Prince climbed onto the pulpit in the Meeting House and began to pray.  

He prayed, “Deliver us from the enemy! Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Raise Thy right hand. Scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds.”

The only pleasant part of that day so far had been the weather.  The sun was shining and the wind was calm.  

Suddenly, inside the church, they heard a sound outside.  Clouds had gathered and the wind began to howl. The windows shook and the huge bell in the steeple rang twice.

More boldly, Prince continued to pray, “We hear Thy voice, 0 Lord!  We hear it! Thy breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep. Thy bell tolls for the death of our enemies!” 

He bowed his head; when he looked up, tears streamed down his face. He concluded his prayer by saying, “Thine be the glory, Lord. Amen and amen!”

Amen, indeed!

Powerful Storm

The wind came where the church was, but out to the east, the sky also became dark and the wind grew more fierce and violent. A hurricane formed.

The report said that the admiral of the French fleet either took his own life or had a stroke.  Either way, he died that day during that storm. 

The people of Boston were crowded into the churches that day, praying that God would deliver them, and God did.

There were French ships carrying soldiers.  Up to 8,000 of them died in the hurricane that day.  

After that, the governor declared a day of thanksgiving, so the city came together to give thanks for their deliverance.  

After that, a particular verse was quoted over and over. 

Romans 8:31-32 (MEV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Confidence

Sometimes I wish that my nervous system could become a “confidence system.” That would be good, just once.

A man put on his tool belt and was out and about.  

Confidence
Confidence

He saw one of his friends and said, “You know, my wife isn’t very confident in my ability to work with the electrical things at our house.”

The friend replied, “Well, she’s in for a shock.”

Have confidence!  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Let’s look at the first half of that.

If God Is For Us

The second part of that verse is conditional on the first part: That God IS for us.

Some people wonder if God is for them.  There are reasons for that.  One is because they feel guilty.  We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) So indeed there is that is upon mankind.  Adam sinned and that nature was passed down through the generations, but we can’t exactly blame Adam.  Everyone becomes a sinner by choice at some point in their lives.  We’re all accountable for that. 

Everyone is guilty, and unless that guilt is taken care of, you’ll continue to feel that way. 

Some people are overly inflated in themselves and have no regard whatsoever, but others are just weighed down with guilt. 

Guilt and shame can make you feel like God is not for you.
Guilt and shame can make you feel like God is not for you.

If that’s not taken care of, you may feel like God isn’t for you. 

Others believe that no one would love or care for them.  

Some are outright opposing God.  When they are in opposition to God, they are His enemies.  There is no promise here for them.  God is not for His enemies  He would like them to be saved and their lives to be changed, but if they’re going to continue in opposition against Him, they are the ones who are going to lose. 

Then some know who God is, that He is the God of love, but Satan’s lies come to their ears.  Satan’s lies are, “God does not care for you.  God does not love you.”

If you listen to those lies, you’ll be beaten down all the time. 

But Why?

Why would God be for us?  

He created us.  He created the world.  He created the universe. He created all things, but He created us.  He has a special love for us.  

A boy built a boat but lost it.  Later, he saw it in a store.  He went to the store owner and told him that it was his boat.  The man asked for proof of ownership.  The boy told him that there was a special mark on the bottom.  The clerk turned the boat over and saw the mark was there.  The store owner told the boy that he’d had to pay for the boat and offered to sell it back to him for what he’d paid. The boy didn’t have the money, so he was sad.

He made you, and He paid for you!
He made you, and He paid for you!

He went home and asked his parents for the money and they gave it to him.  Happily, the boy returned to the store to get his beloved boat.  He gave the owner the money and walked out with his boat. He looked at the boat in his hands and said, “There.  I’ve made you, and now I’ve bought you.”

That’s what Jesus did for you.  He made you and He bought you.  He paid the price for your sins.  He loves you, and because He loves you, you have good reason to believe that He is for you.  

God LOVES You!

One of the attributes of God is that He is love. (1 John 4:8)

God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that if you believe in Him, you will not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

God also created us with the capacity to love Him back. It’s not like a computer or video game program.  It’s not mechanical.  

We are created in the image of God with the capacity to love and to hate.  He wants us to freely love Him.  

Those are just a couple of the many reasons to believe that God could be for you.

Now to transition to the second half of the verse.

Who Could Be Against Us?

A man said, “I went to the confidence store because I didn’t have any.  They sold it to me for $2,500…I think they tricked me.”

A group of engineering teachers was on a plane. A man got on the plane and informed them that the plane had been built by their own students. 

Several of the teachers got up and ran off the plane, but one man remained.  When questioned, he said, “Well, if it’s built by my students, this thing won’t even get off the ground.”

If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God is for us, who can stand against us?
If God is for us, who can stand against us?

Who can stand against us?

This is a rhetorical question.  A rhetorical question is one that doesn’t require an answer.  For example:  Do animals live in a zoo? (Yes, they do.)

The question is: If God is for us, who can stand against us?
The answer: Nothing and no one!

If God is for you, nothing can be against you.

No human, no being in the universe, no thing, can be against you if God is for you.

Romans 8:35, 38, 39 (MEV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, 39 neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is nothing that can withstand God.  

God is All-Powerful

A man was talking with a group of Christians and said, “God, if You’re real, I dare You to strike me with lightning right now!”

It was something he’d said several times before so he thought nothing of saying it that time.  

Suddenly, thunder boomed and a bolt of lightning shot from the sky.  

God is all-powerful.
God is all-powerful.

The man checked himself over, and he was just fine.  He began to scoff at God but noticed that the men around him weren’t looking at him but behind him.

The man turned to see what they were looking at and discovered his 12-year-old son lying on the ground.

While I do not know if God would actually do something like that, I do know that there is nothing that can withstand God.

Right now, there are wars going on, and there are rumors of wars.  Those are terrible things. There has been talk of the possibility of World War 3. But God sits in His Heaven and men on Earth make their plans, and He just laughs at those plans. (Psalm 37:12)

We may lose a battle from time to time, but we know how the war is going to end!  I’ve read the back of the book and we win. 

Principalities will not be able to stand against God.  

No one, or thing, ultimately, will stand against you.

As a Christian, you may face persecution here on Earth.  There might be illness.  You may have some battles.  But ultimately, those things do not win.  They do not!

I’ve seen it.

Going Home

In my business, I’m around death quite a bit.  I’m around people shortly before they pass from this life. 

There are people who have an experience that you wouldn’t believe.  They know that time is short and they talk very matter-of-factly about it. 

They say things like, “My time is coming, I know it.” 

Some have said, “I’ll soon be with my Lord.”

People have said, “I’m looking forward to it.”

That’s amazing!

How can you do that?

Death seems to be the thing that is most to be feared, but it is not for those who are Christians. 

If God is for us, who can be against us?

When I say I’ve been around death quite a bit, it has been deaths of the saints, usually.  That’s who I’m around the most. I assure you, there’s victory.  Death will be swallowed up in victory. “O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54 & 55)

Death is the ultimate victory when you know Christ.
Death is the ultimate victory when you know Christ.

There is victory over death and the grave in Christ if you know Him. 

There are examples from the past where God was with His people.  

Moses and Pharoah

God called Moses to go get His people out of Egypt.  Moses and his brother went before Pharoah and asked for the Israelites to be released.  It took 10 plagues, ending with the death of the firstborn child, for Pharoah to let them go.  

Even after all that, as Moses was leading the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, Pharoah changed his mind and gathered his army, and chased them to the Red Sea.

But remember: If God is for us, who can be against us?

Some of the Israelites didn’t believe that God would deliver them, but God was speaking to Moses.  

That night, God provided protection for them in the night and the Egyptian soldiers didn’t attack while they rested.

The next day, they were at the edge of the Red Sea. God instructed Moses to hold his rod (like a walking stick) out over the water, and he did.

A mighty wind came and parted the waters of the sea and the freed slaves walked across to the other side on dry ground, with walls of water on either side of them.

God was for the Children of Israel.
God was for the Children of Israel.

Pharoah and his army weren’t ready to give up, so they pursued their former captives onto the bed of the Red Sea.  God was taking care of His children, though, and the waters closed up over Pharoah’s army and they all perished.  (Exodus 3-14 contains the account of the call of Moses, the plagues, and the ultimate victory over Pharoah.)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The Ark of the Covenant

The Jewish people in the Old Testament had a special piece of furniture called the Ark of the Covenant.  It was a chest that was inlaid with gold all around, it was a holy item that was not to be touched.  If anyone who wasn’t authorized by God to touch it did so, they would die.  It happened.  (Exodus 25:10-22, 2 Samuel 6:7)

Contained inside the Ark of the Covenant were the actual tablets the 10 Commandments were on, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s (Moses’ brother) rod that had budded. (Hebrews 9:3-4) 

The story of Aaron’s rod is, at one time there were people who were opposing Moses and Aaron.  God commanded that they be brought together.  

When they were all gathered, they all laid down their rods, but only Aaron’s rod sprouted buds.  (Numbers 16 & 17)

It was there to remind them of the goodness of God.

There came a day when the Philistines came and captured the Ark of the Covenant.  They took it back with them and put it in one of their heathen temples.  They left it inside and walked away smirking and laughing about “those people and their God.”

The Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant

When they returned to the temple, the statue of their pagan god, Dagon, had toppled over. The Philistines set the statue up again and left the temple. They returned to their temple again and saw more things had been destroyed.  They quickly made the decision to get rid of the Ark of the Covenant. (1 Samuel 4 & 5)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The Day the Sun Stood Still

There came a point where the Israelites were in a battle.  They feared that darkness would come before they could be victorious.  They prayed and for an entire day and night, God caused the sun to stand still.  (Joshua 10)

Skeptics may say that it’s impossible; that it would throw the universe into chaos, or at least the Earth.  

But the same God who spoke the sun into existence when He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, the One who said the word and the Earth formed, (Genesis 1:1-25) was the One who caused the sun to stand still.  Any natural consequences that may have arisen from that event were under His control.  He commands it all.

There is an account in the Bible of God causing the dial on a sundial to go 10 degrees backward. (Isaiah 38:8)

God, in the form of Jesus, was able to walk on water.  He even took a frail human being and allowed him to walk on the water with Him. (Matthew 14:22-31, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

No one can!

None of us can!

Nothing can!

He has the power to take care of us.

God is in Charge no Matter the Circumstances

I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope you will be able to face it with confidence.  In all of the cases I’ve mentioned, their circumstances got better.  

It’s good when God comes and changes the circumstances, but He is able to take you through anything even when the circumstances don’t change.  He can give peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Romans 5;8
Romans 5:8

He can give you the ability to go through a terrible situation and make it through to the other side.  

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  

Are You Ready?

Are you ready?

That’s a question that everyone needs to face.

The title of this post is “One of the Most Important Questions Ever.”  The question is If God is for us who can be against us?

The answer is no one can.

Do you know that God is for you?

If He’s for you, then the rhetorical answer to the question is, “Nothing can stand against you.”

But I did say that there are ways He may not be for you.  

Are you ready?
Are you ready?

One way is to refuse to repent of your sins.  If you refuse to acknowledge who Christ is, God will not be for you, If you heard that God gave His only Son for you, and you scoff at that, He will not be for you.  

Have you come to Christ?
Have you repented of your sins?

Have you called upon Him and asked Him to become your Savior?

If you have, and you truly meant that in your heart, then God is for you and nothing can be against you. 

If you would like to know more, click here to be taken to other Faith-Based posts.

I pray God blesses you.

Writing a Book for the First Time?

Hello, everyone!

Writing a book for the first time. Here’s a secret that bi-vocational pastors and others can use to publish a wonderful and beneficial book even if they have never done so before.

Define a Problem

First of all, you want to define a problem. Once you have the problem figured out, then come up with a series of steps to provide the solution to the problem.

Once you have those steps, figured out, make sure you have them in the right order. Then you can prepare a series of sermons based on those steps.

Decide what you wait to write about.
Decide what you wait to write about.

It may be that that will be exactly what the Lord would have you to use for your congregation. If not, then you’re just going to have to prepare your sermons and deliver them to yourself or to your phone.

Either way, prepare a series of sermons based on those steps. A 30-minute sermon will provide a good chapter length for a book.

It would be best to have around seven steps to provide the solution to the problem.

Five to 10 would work and you can come up with a book by doing that.

Transcribing

Next, you have your recordings transcribed. You can do a search online and find services that will use artificial intelligence to transcribe your recordings, and they will be relatively accurate.

You can transcribe your book yourself, or hire someone.
You can transcribe your book yourself, or hire someone.

Depending on what kind of monetary investment you want to make in producing your book, you could hire a live transcriptionist. He or she may charge $1 or $2 per minute to transcribe your recordings.

Editing

After that, you’ll need to have the transcriptions edited.

You can hire editors to help you do that or, if you’re really good with grammar and writing, you can edit yourself.

Feedback

Find a couple people you trust to offer their opinion on your book.
Find a couple people you trust to offer their opinion on your book.

You should then give the book-to-be to at least a couple of people to get their feedback on it.

Publishing

Once you’ve done that, either send your book idea to a publisher or self-publish your book.

More and more people are self-publishing today, and they are not producing bad books. They are self-publishing good books.

Well, that is a way you can write and publish a book for the first time.

If you’re not a bi-vocational minister, just pretend that you are and prepare a series of talks and follow the steps above.

Whether you are a bi-vocational minister or just a regular person, these steps will work for you.

For more information about writing and publishing your own book, head to Randy’s Blogs where you can read many more posts with helpful hints.

For the ultimate guide to getting a book completed, my book “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death” on Amazon is what you need.

The best tips are in these pages!
The best tips are in these pages!

I hope this information has been helpful to you. I’m Randy Carney reminding you, YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

Everyone has fears about some things.  

Sermon video

When I have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the night, I try not to turn on the light so I don’t wake my wife. One time, though, just a few feet from the bedroom to the bathroom door, I couldn’t figure out where I was.  I knew I was in my house but that was about it.

Well, we have a picture of our four children hanging on a wall in our bedroom, and I almost knocked it down but I finally figured out where I was.

It was a little disconcerting feeling.   

Personal Fears

When our oldest grandson, Avery, was little, Rusty was having a conversation with him.  Avery was going to go from my mom’s house to our house.  There’s a little path through a wooded area and the circle drive. 

Rusty thought this would be a good teaching moment for Avery so he told him that no matter where he was, he didn’t have to be afraid because God is always with him.

They were going to walk through the dark from one house to the other.  They walked across and got there safely.  When they arrived, Avery looked up and asked, “Were you scared Uncle Rusty?”

Everyone has fears about different things. 

Monk

Some of you may have seen the television show “Monk” about a man named Adrian Monk who was a detective.  His wife got killed and he had a real problem dealing with that. He had what is called OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  It became magnified after he dealt with the trauma of losing his wife. 

Adrian Monk
Adrian Monk

The program goes like this: He can see things that other people can’t see and he comes up with the answer.  Sometimes he’ll point someone out and say, “He’s the person who committed the crime.” 

They’ll ask, “How do you know?”
Monk responds, “I don’t know, but he’s the one.”

By the time the program ends, it turns out he was right. 

But, he has a lot of fears. Number 6 on his list was death. Number 5 was milk. 

Laugh Lines

Everyone fears something.

Do you know what the fear of giants is called?
Fe, Fi, Phobia…

Did you hear about the rock who faced his fears?  
He did it and became a little…bolder.  

Then there was the man who had a fear of monsters under his bed.  Even though he was an adult and knew it was irrational, the fear still plagued him.  So he went to a psychoanalyst. He spent months, and then years, in therapy. Still, the phobia persisted.  He finally told the therapist that he thought he should take a break from counseling.  The doctor said it would be ok.

A couple of weeks later, the psychoanalyst saw the patient in the grocery store and asked how he was doing.

The man said, “I’m doing great! I’ve slept better than I have in ages.”
The analyst then asked, “How did that happen?  What have you done differently?  To what do you attribute your success?”

The man responded, “After I stopped seeing you, someone suggested I go see a behavioral specialist.  He told me I should do something.  He took care of my problem in one session!”

Amazed, the psychoanalyst asked, “What did he say?  What did he have you do?”
The former patient answered, “He told me to go home and saw the legs off of my bed.”

Proverbs 28:1&13 (MEV)

1 The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
13 He who covers his sins will not prosper,  but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The Wicked’s Fears

Today’s scripture says first of all that the wicked flee when no one pursues. 

Sometimes you carry these fears around and might be wondering if you’re being paranoid or if someone is coming after you.  They flee when no one pursues. 

Everyone has something they fear.
Everyone has something they fear.

This time of year, you hear about a big red “elf” that goes around making a list and checking it twice to find out who’s naughty or nice.

There could be a feeling of guilt, knowing that you wouldn’t make the nice list. 

Also, there’s a fear of the unknown; not knowing what’s coming up or what’s happening next. Sometimes the wicked are involved in the fear of the unknown. 

There’s the fear of punishment. They have seen the result of consequences of sin and they know that they’re involved in sin. They know they’re not doing what’s right. 

So they have a fear of those consequences coming to them.  

In verse 13 we read that whoever covers the sins will not prosper. 

The way of the wicked is to go around trying to rationalize sin and trying to blame someone else for their behavior. 

Sometimes they play the victim card, saying it’s not their fault.

Seeking to destroy.
Seeking to destroy.

We know that Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)   He will come into your life and cause terrible circumstances to come.  He will put lies in front of you and you’ll begin to believe the lies after a while. If that happens often enough, it can cause you to want to flee when no one is pursuing.

The verse says the wicked flee when no one pursues.  

If you’re saved, you are in the category of the righteous. Even so, you have to overcome fears that come into your life. 

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

There’s the example of Elijah in the Old Testament who had a contest that he proposed between himself and the prophets of Baal. They went to the top of Mt. Caramel, built two altars, and laid sacrifices on top of the altars. 

When that was done, Elijah told the prophets of Baal to go first.  They spent hours trying to bring fire to the sacrifices. 

Once they were done, it was Elijah’s turn.  He gave instruction for water to be brought and the sacrifice and the wood were drenched with it.  They poured water all around the bottom of the altar. Then he just prayed a simple prayer asking God to light the sacrifice, and fire came down from Heaven.  

Elijah may have been afraid, but he carried on.
Elijah may have been afraid, but he carried on.

Not long after that, the people saw that God was real and Baal was false.  They actually executed the false prophets. (1 Kings 18:20-40)

Elijah had a great victory.  Then he got word that they were seeking to kill him and his fear overcame him and he ran away.

God asked him why he had run.  He told God, “I’m the only one that’s left.(who hasn’t begun to worship Baal)”  

(Have you ever felt like you’re the only one left?)

God told Elijah that there were 7,000 who hadn’t begun to worship the false god. He just didn’t know about them. (1 Kings 19)

After that, he became a great prophet of God again – he overcame his fears.

The Disciples’ Fears

The 12 disciples had walked and talked with Jesus. They spent a lot of time with Him.  He started trying to tell them that something different, that they hadn’t experienced before, was going to happen. 

Each one of them experienced his own fear.
Each one of them experienced his own fear.

They had been with Him, He had preached, and the crowds had loved the preaching. They had seen people healed. Jesus had even sent them out in groups of two and people had listened to their message. The disciples had seen people delivered from demons. They had seen all those miracles.

But it wasn’t always going to be that way.

The great popularity that Jesus had at the beginning of the week was going to vanish. 

Before the week was over, they came and captured Jesus.  

The disciples were afraid.  

The Bible tells us when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of one of them.  

Jesus reached down and put the man’s ear back on.

Peter didn’t know what to do after that.  He was ready to fight to the death to defend Jesus. 

Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny Him three times. 

They arrived at the place where they were doing all the false accusations and the false trials.  The same crowds that had loved Jesus at the beginning of the week turned on Him and raised the cry, “Crucify Him!”

Jesus on trial.
Jesus on trial.

Jesus was by the fire and Peter was close enough that Jesus could look at him. Just as Jesus had said, Peter denied Him.  The third time, he swore that he did not know the Man. 

After the third denial, Peter looked up, and the eyes of the Savior fell right on him and his heart melted. (Luke 22:31-60)

The Bible says that all of the disciples forsook Him and fled.  (Mark 14:50)

Peter was close enough to the goings-on that Jesus was able to look at him. 

Persecution

In the early days of Christianity, the new converts were arrested and sentenced to be burned at the stake. 

One such man was waiting for execution in his prison cell.  There was a candle burning.  He was talking to God, telling Him how he knew He was real, but he didn’t know how he was going to get through the execution.  Curious he reached out and held his hand above the candle flame. He quickly had to pull away because the pain was too great.

Early Christians faced many fears.
Early Christians faced many fears.

Those were some of the fears that came to the early followers of Christ. 

Verse 3 also says that the righteous are bold as a lion. 

Why is that?

Miracles

It’s because of miracles that we’ve seen.

Some have seen x-rays that have actually shown “something”, only to go back to the doctor and that “something” is gone.

Only two possibilities exist.  Either it was a faulty machine or something miraculous happened.  I believe it was a miracle. 

Seeing miracles increases your confidence, as a Christian, as you go through life.

I mentioned the problem of guilt that caused the wicked to flee when no one pursues, but guilt can plague Christians, too. 

But Believers need to be reminded that verse 13 also says that whoever confesses their sins and forsakes them shall have mercy. 

The guilt is taken care of and it is removed. 

Peace that Passes Understanding

You will probably have one time, or more than one when you can’t understand how you’ll get through something. You think about how terrible it’s going to be.

But when you get dropped into the middle of that problem, you’re all at once at peace. You can’t explain why.  The circumstances aren’t any better. Any normal person would want to flee. Yet you have an unexplainable peace that passes all understanding. 

Philippians 4:7
Philippians 4:7

That increases the boldness of the righteous. 

Then there’s the resurrection.

He’s Alive!

Peter and the disciples saw Jesus crucified.  They were all feeling terrible for how they had forsaken Him. Yet, the women went to the tomb to anoint His body for burial and the tomb was empty and angels were there.

Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it to be empty. John got there first but Peter ran inside. It was empty. (Matthew 27 & 28:1-8, John 20:1-18)

That would be one thing but shortly after that, they were all in a room together (except for Thomas) and Jesus appeared in their midst.

He asked for food and they gave it to Him. He proved to them that he was not an apparition or a ghost.  (John 20:19-20)

Another time, Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6)  Usually two or three eyewitness accounts are enough in court.  These were hundreds who saw a resurrected Christ!

They knew that there was the power of life after death. 

What do You Fear?

If you’re afraid of death, as bad things come, your fear can increase.

But if you know for sure that you’re going to come through the valley of the shadow of death and come out on the other side, then death doesn’t hold as much fear for you. 

Elijah was afraid but God spoke to him so he returned and was a great prophet again. 

Peter felt so awful for denying Jesus, but when He arose and gave instructions to tell others, He purposely said to make sure Peter knew.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter, who had been so fearful before, was greatly changed and he preached, and thousands of people came to know the Lord. Part of the reason for that was the awareness of the truth of the resurrection. The other reason was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that came upon their lives in a wonderful way on the day of Pentecost. That power continued to help them day after day,

The power of the Holy Spirit continues to help Believers after all these years. 

All of that can increase your boldness.

Stephen and Saul/Paul

Then there was a man who thought he was doing right and thought he was doing God’s bidding. There was this upstart group that was talking about this Man they claimed was the Messiah.  He believed there was no resurrection, that His followers had just hidden the body.  

Then he was in the presence of Stephen when he was telling the story from the beginning up until the present day. It was even said that they were responsible for killing the King of Glory. 

The stoning of Stephen
The stoning of Stephen

The crowd grew enraged and wanted to stone Stephen.  Saul offered to hold their cloaks while they did so. 

Saul got letters from the religious leaders that allowed him to go into homes and arrest people who were part of this new movement they called “The Way.”

He was completely opposed to it. 

He was on the road to Damascus with the letters with the intent of arresting some people.  Then a bright light shone from Heaven and knocked him off of his horse.  Those around him said they heard thunder.  Saul heard the voice of Jesus.  The others saw the light but couldn’t comprehend what was said. 

It was the living Christ that came to him and it changed his life. After that encounter, he became known as Paul. 

He wrote much of the New Testament. 

The Missionaries

In the last century, there was a tribe in Africa that had a compound in their territory where missionaries lived. The missionaries would go out and preach to the different tribes.  

Some of the tribes were vehemently opposed to what they were doing, so they had plans to go to the compound one night and break in and slaughter the people who were there. 

But nothing happened that night.  The Christians slept peacefully that night.  

One of the tribal chiefs came to the Lord.  He later gave this testimony: “We were going to come and burn the place down.”  

When asked why they didn’t do it, he said, “You had the guards all around.  Some of them were 7 feet tall. I don’t know how they were divided up so well, but they were!”

A host of angels protected the missionaries!
A host of angels protected the missionaries!

Angels protected those missionaries in that compound that night. 

Then you have those who know that this life is not all there is. As we get older, we learn that there are some things that are far worse than death and some things that can cause even more fear.

You Can’t Scare Me With Heaven!

I was talking to a friend once and said, “Well, at least we know where they’re going.”

My friend replied, “Yes, but it’s the getting there that’s rough.”

My mother knew where she was going, and she was so excited and looking forward to it.  But getting there, for about 3 days, was awful hard to watch.

John R. Rice was an evangelist.  One time, while preaching, he started preaching about particular sins. There were some people in the crowd that day who were making money from those sins.  The crime syndicate got hold of him and took him out of town and pulled a gun on him.  He told them, “You can’t scare me with Heaven.”

The gangsters didn’t know what to do with that so they put the gun away and let him go.

A fellow church member and I went to Mexico on a mission trip.  While there, we met a man named Carlos; a pastor.

In the time since we met him, he had different groups that were meeting in the homes in Mexico. In one of those home meetings, one of the ladies had invited another lady to come. Unknown to her, the lady she invited was the wife of a member of the drug cartel.  Her husband wasn’t very happy about her involvement with Carlos’ church. 

Carlos preached Jesus, in spite of the threat.
Carlos preached Jesus, in spite of the threat.

He decided to put a stop to it.  He kept watching, and one day, he and 3-4 other cartel members caught Carlos alone, threw him in a car, and drove him outside of the city.
After they stopped, they got him out of the car and started to harass him and said, “We hear you preach Jesus. Now, preach Jesus”

Carlos looked around, and they raised up their machine guns.  He then began to preach Jesus.

How could he do that?  He knew that this life is not all there is. He knew that there is life after this.

Because Jesus rose, Christians have the assurance that if we were to die that we would be able to live. 

So Carlos preached Jesus.  The cartel members didn’t know what to do with him.  They could have killed him right then, but instead, put him back in the car and took him back into the city. 

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.   

Boldness in the Face of Fear

The man who had put his hand over the candle and couldn’t stand the heat was not the only one who had been sentenced to death.  The next day, the time came for his execution so they tied him to the post and lit the fire, and God protected him.  His body burned up, but he was able to stand it.

Boldness in the face of fear.
Boldness in the face of fear.

There have been testimonies of others who were able to sing while being burned.  Imagine that. 

How to Overcome Fear

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.  

You may not feel very bold but you can be like the rock who became a little bolder. 

You can do that by trusting Jesus.

Trust Jesus and overcome fear.
Trust Jesus and overcome fear.

Why should you trust Jesus?

If you do not know Him, if you have never called on Him, if you don’t have a relationship with the living Christ, then you don’t have a Biblical promise for boldness. 

But if you do know Christ and the Holy Spirit is dwelling within you, then you have that within you that can make you as bold as a lion. 

You might be like the man with his hand over the candle right before it happens, but God watches over and protects His children.

If you trust in Christ and the Word of God, He will make you bold!

The Dash

The Dash

Have you ever been discouraged?  That’s a crazy question, isn’t it?  Everyone has been discouraged at times.  Sometimes you’re only discouraged for a short time, and that’s good, and it’s normal. You go through life and have your ups and downs.  You’ll be discouraged for a while but you’ll have a lot of good times.

Sermon video

Discouragement

But sometimes, the discouragement can go on for a longer period of time.  Sometimes, there can even be a medical diagnosis of depression. If it is a medical diagnosis, you may be given something to help relieve the depression.

Sometimes discouragement comes and it’s not a result of a chemical imbalance or other medical condition.  It may be that Satan wants to come in and oppress and discourage you. In that case, there are spiritual battles going on.

Everyone feels discouraged sometimes.
Everyone feels discouraged sometimes.

Sometimes it’s a mental battle where you need to talk yourself into doing better and give yourself a little pep talk. 

While Rhonda and I were in Japan, I jokingly read out a statement from a book I was reading.  It was a quote from Joel Osteen.  It was something like, “Every day we have opportunities for little things to cause us anxiety and stress.  But when we dwell on these negative emotions, we allow something outside of ourselves to rob us of our joy.  We can choose to not let little things upset us”  (This is a paraphrase of the quote)

I read that for myself but I hope it helped some other family members as well.

Sometimes you can give yourself a pep talk and it will pull you out of your negative emotions and it will help you to be encouraged again. 

There are other times when it seems like it’s just one thing after another and things are just piling up on you.  

You need to think about the fact that God can help you in times of discouragement. 

Psalm 39 (MEV)

1 I said, “I will take heed of my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue; I will keep my mouth muzzled while the wicked are before me.” 2 I was speechless in silence;  I was silent to no avail, but my anguish was stirred up.3 My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “Lord, make me to know my end,  and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how transient I am. 5 Indeed, You have made my days as a handbreadth, and my age is as nothing before You  indeed every man at his best is as a breath.” Selah 6 Surely every man walks in a mere shadow;  surely he goes as a breath; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.7 Now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in You. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish.9 II was speechless, I did not open my mouth, because You did it.10 Remove Your blow from me; I am consumed by the hostility of Your hand. 11 When with rebukes You correct a man for iniquity.  You consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely every man is vapor. Selah. 12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears for I am a stranger with You, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.13 Turn Your gaze of displeasure from me, that I may smile, before I go away and am no more.

A Problem, A Time Frame, and An Answer

The above passage has the word “Selah” in there twice.  It means “so be it.”  I’ve also heard that it’s a musical notation and it shouldn’t be read aloud. 

Discouragement can be for a short time or a long time.  Isn’t it so good that when you come out on the other side, life is good and the sun is shining again?  

Today’s post is about a problem, a time frame, and an answer.

A Problem

The problem is that of vanity or hopelessness.  In verse 5, it says that man at his best condition is vanity. There’s a whole book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes, that talks about Solomon and what he discovered in life.

Solomon had asked God for great wisdom and God gave it to him.  But then he started experimenting and trying to figure things out on his own.  He started using some of man’s wisdom and when it came to the end of the book, Solomon said it was all vanity and emptiness.

People try all kinds of things to fill the void within themselves.
People try all kinds of things to fill the void within themselves.

The conclusion of the whole thing was that you are to fear God and keep His commandments.

Solomon learned through wonderful blessings from God, wonderful wisdom from God, and then from experience. 

Some people say that experience is the best teacher.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s the most effective and gets a hold of you the most.  But depending on how you use those experiences, it may not be the best teacher sometimes. 

Man at his best has the problem of vanity or emptiness or hopelessness.  

Verse 6 says that people are restless in vain.  

When I was in high school or college, there was a movie put out by the Billy Graham association called “The Restless Ones.”  It chronicled the idea that young people were restless because their souls were empty.  They were experiencing emptiness and meaninglessness in life. Many of them tried to cope with that by turning to alcohol. 

These days, many people are taking illegal drugs for the same reasons: to remove feelings of hopelessness and restlessness.  

Sometimes people will try to heap up great riches trying to fill the emptiness in their souls.

You Can’t Take it With You

There was a man who made a bargain with God.  He said, “God when I leave this life, I would like to take one suitcase with me.” (Of course, this isn’t how it works, but it’s for illustration purposes.)

God said, “Yes, you may bring the suitcase.”

What would his dash have been?
What would his dash have been?

The time came that the man died, and he stood at the gates of Heaven with his suitcase.  He was told he couldn’t come in with it.

“It’s ok,” the man replied, “I got it approved.”

After checking, it was discovered that God had approved the suitcase and the man was allowed into Heaven with it.

The angel who had let the man in asked, “What is it that is so precious to you, so special, that you had to bring it to Heaven with you?”

The man put his suitcase on the ground and proudly opened it.  When the light hit the contents, piles of gold lit up from inside.  The man had acquired all these earthly riches, and God had allowed him to bring them to Heaven. 

The angel who had let the man in looked at the suitcase, and then all around him and asked, “You brought pavement?”  (Revelation 21:21)

People try to gather material riches to fill the void inside themselves. 

Filling the Void

Everyone has an emptiness inside that they try to fill. Some try to fill it with alcohol, some try to fill it with drugs, and some people try to fill it by pouring themselves into their job. Some people try to fill that void with relationships, good or improper ones. 

Only God can fill that emptiness that is in your soul. 

The Gangster and The Preacher

There was a man named Nicky Cruz who was born in Puerto Rico. His parents worshiped evil beings, so Nicky didn’t know anything about God, or Jesus. 

Nicky Cruz
Nicky Cruz

Nicky was trying to fill the emptiness in his life. He tried filling it through violence and gaining power. It got so bad that his family couldn’t handle him so they sent him to live with relatives in New York. 

Nicky didn’t do much better in New York.  In his quest to fill the void, he got involved with a street gang called the Mau Maus.  Like all street gangs, they were involved in violence.  Sometimes they would have a “rumble” (like a war) with opposing gangs. They would use metal trash can lids as shields and come armed with baseball bats and knives.  There would often be deaths during the rumbles. 

Nicky was seeking power.  Drugs were rampant. 

In 1958, a few states away, in Pennsylvania, was a preacher named David Wilkerson.  One day, he saw a newspaper article talking about 4 young men who had been charged with murder.  At that moment, God spoke to his heart and told David to go speak to those 4 boys. They needed to know about the love of Jesus. 

So, David Wilkerson traveled to New York in an attempt to see the young men.

David Wilkerson
David Wilkerson 1958

When he arrived where they were being held, they would not let him in.  But a reporter saw him and asked his name.  He told them it was David and they asked him to hold up his Bible.  He did, and flashbulbs went off all over. 

He never did get to see those 4 boys, but his picture was in the newspapers in New York. 

While in New York, David Wilkerson heard about the street gangs, and he wanted to see if he could do something with them. 

He heard about the Mau Maus and asked if he could meet their leader. The leader was Nicky Cruz. 

On one occasion, Nicky commented on David’s shoes, saying that they were nice and probably pretty expensive.  David removed them and gave them to Nicky and walked away. 

Another time, David met up with Nicky and the young man pulled out a switchblade knife in an attempt to intimidate and frighten the preacher.  

David said, “Nicky, you can cut me into a thousand pieces, but every piece would cry out, ‘I love you and God loves you.’”

The Cross and The Switchblade
The Cross and The Switchblade

Nicky didn’t know how to handle that, and he put the knife away. But what David had said stayed on his mind. 

David found a local pastor and together, they decided to have a church service and invite many of the local gang members.

They rented a building and rented school busses and the busses went to the different neighborhoods and picked up members of the gangs.

Regular church people were sponsoring the event. They were skeptical if any of the gang members would attend. But to their surprise, the busses began to arrive and members of the different gangs began to get off the busses. Members of the street gangs came in and sat down in the service. 

That was amazing as it was and you may have thought God was really going to do something.  But the scene quickly dissolved into chaos. 

One attendee of the service stood up and lifted his shirt and claimed that a member of a rival gang had stabbed him. The tension began to build.

Then a young lady got up to sing a special. In the movie “The Cross and the Switchblade” (a movie based on the book of the same name by David Wilkerson) a young man stood up on his seat during her song and began to dance.

Then David Wilkerson went to the front.  He didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to handle the situation. He realized it could be a dangerous situation for the church people in attendance and could lead to an all-out fight. 

He had no words, so he just walked to the pulpit and bowed his head. Amazingly, the room grew silent.

Nicky Cruz was in that service. 

There’s an emptiness, a longing, in your life. 

That’s the problem.

Then there’s the time frame. 

The Time Frame

On your tombstone will be the date of birth, and the date of death. Between those two dates is a little punctuation mark; a dash.

Someone has said that’s what life is like: you’re born and you die and in between is the dash. 

Scripture says that, as well.

When you think about a grain of sand and compare it with all the sand on the beach, one grain of sand is pretty small.  A single grain of sand compared with all the sand in all the oceans is very small.  

Your dash is no more than a grain of sand in the scope of eternity.
Your dash is no more than a grain of sand in the scope of eternity.

People focus so much on their lives here on Earth, but compared to eternity, it’s like a grain of sand or the little dash between the date of your birth and death. 

Some of you have been around for quite a while, but still, compared to eternity, it’s like a grain of sand. 

Verse 4 talks about the “measure of days.”  You can measure your days.

In verse 5 it talked about days being a handbreadth, which is not very wide. (usually 2 ½ – 4 inches)  This is referring to that dash that’s on the tombstone.

In the book of James, it says that life is like a vapor.  It appears for a moment and vanishes away. (James  4:14)

You can look up at the sky and see clouds.  When you get into an airplane and fly toward the clouds but you don’t bump into them, it’s like fog.  You go through it and then it disappears.

You can see steam coming out of a tea kettle when it boils. It’s a vapor that appears for a little while and then it vanishes away. 

That’s what your life is like.

It may seem that I’m adding to the emptiness and discouragement by talking about this, but it’s a reality.

If God is telling you to do something, you need to do it now and don’t put it off.  

That’s one reason why the Bible says today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

You don’t know what the day may bring forth. 

Three feed away from eternity.
Three feed away from eternity.

I often say we come within 3 feet of death when we go to church because we pass vehicles going in the opposite direction. (When we were in Tokyo, I think it was more like 12 inches!)

Life is short.  If you have any inclination of coming to Christ, you need to do it now. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

That’s the time frame. 

But there is an answer!

The Answer

Verse 7 says your hope is in God. 

Verse 8 says you can pray for deliverance. 

Verse 13 says you can ask God to spare us.  

God can fill the emptiness within you and give you purpose in your life.

Nicky and David

I left the story of Nicky Cruz with him being in the service with the other gang members. David had just prayed and it got quiet. 

After the prayer, one more event was scheduled before the preaching was to begin: an offering. 

The local pastor was really counting on that offering because his church had gone into debt preparing for this special service. 

Instead of asking the ushers or members of the churches who were in attendance, the Lord impressed upon David to have some of the gang members take up the offering.  He called on Nicky, among others. 

They agreed and were given buckets (think KFC) to collect the money. The gang members started to take up the offering.

When they got to the people who were obviously regular church-goers, they held out the buckets.  If nothing was put in, the gang members would just stand there holding the bucket.

Other times, the amount put in wasn’t satisfactory to the gang members so they would just shake the bucket.

I guess they got a pretty good offering. 

After they were done collecting, they were to bring it back to Pastor Wilkerson. When they got down to the front, he asked Nicky to bring the offering up on the stage to him. 

Nicky had a choice to make.
Nicky had a choice to make.

The other gang members got excited.  See, there was a set of stairs to the side of the stage, a curtain, and behind the curtain was a door that led outside. Nicky could just walk out that door with all the money. The other gang members were sure that’s what he was going to do.

The thought crossed Nicky’s mind as well.  Then it occurred to him that David Wilkerson trusted him. At that point, Nicky made a decision.

He turned away from the door, walked out from behind the curtain, approached Pastor Wilkerson, and said, “Here’s your money, preacher.”

The service continued.  The quiet continued.  David preached about the unsearchable riches of Christ and about how life can be empty and meaningless.  

Then he preached about how Christ can come into your life and give you meaning and purpose. 

Then the time came for the altar call. After just a few moments of hesitation, two or three of the hardened gang members came to the front to accept Christ.  Nicky Cruz was the first one there!

They realized that without Christ, there’s no hope. He came in and filled the emptiness in their souls. They had a new purpose in their lives. 

About 15 years ago, Nicky Cruz came to Carbondale, Illinois (a college town not far from my home), and a group from the church I was attending went and heard him preach.

Having read the story, it was interesting to hear some of it from his perspective. He talked about how “Wilkerson” came and talked to him. 

David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in 2011.
David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in 2011.

Life at its best, YOU, at your best, are vanity. But God loves you. God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross to pay your penalty for sin. (John 3:16)  By accepting Jesus as your Savior, He will come into your life and make it new. He can change your life.  He changed Nicky Cruz’s. 

Make the Most of Your Dash

Maybe you haven’t gotten involved in a street gang, and maybe you haven’t lived a life of violence.  But most of the time, when you get in the quiet recesses of your soul, you realize that there is a place there that is just the size of God, and nothing or nobody else can fill it. 

You need to accept Christ. Let Him come into your life and fill your soul. 

If you’ve never come to Christ, I invite you to come to Him today. 

Tokyo Street

Tokyo

Welcome everyone to another session of a day in the life. their life. Today I am in Tokyo.

Vlog

I’m on the return route of walking my grandson Kelton to school. I’m actually about halfway back.

Tokyo Subway
Tokyo Subway

In a bit, I’m going to cross over where the subway tracks are. Behind me, you can see different areas. There is a Century 21 office and a shop on the corner in one direction.

In the other direction there in the distance you can see a train station-actually two train stations-that are close to Rusty and Brenda’s house. Right now, it’s open top right.

In this other spot, there is a nice little landscaped area in the middle of where the cars go and turn around from the train station.

Coming behind me is a trash truck just to the left.

On the streets, you have cars and bicycles and people walking. They all just kind of coexist. The streets are very narrow.

Now I’m coming up to where people have gotten off the train and are going to their destinations. The crowds seem to be thinning out a little bit but often there’s a great conglomeration of people in this area.

People in Tokyo
People in Tokyo

So anyway, this is a life in the day here in Tokyo.

These Walking with Randy episodes are usually talking about writing, speaking coaching, marketing and marriage.

I want you to always remember, though, that YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

If you’re interested in that or learning how to improve your marriage, head to Amazon for these great books.

The first is “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death.”

These books are all available on Amazon right now!
These books are all available on Amazon right now!

The other two are “21 Ways the Principle of Leaving Will Benefit Your Marriage” and “From Mountains to Molehills.”

I hope you have a great day, and I will talk to you later.

We’re in Japan!

Hello everyone! Welcome to walking with Randy here in Japan.

Vlog

I’m currently in the backyard of Rusty and Brenda’s place and just walking around here a little bit.

The video shows Rusty and Brenda’s backyard. They have a little garden and a lemon tree.

They were very smart and they put down astroturf so they don’t have any grass to mow.

Right next to them is a bicycle park. There is a parking lot in the other direction. So that means that on those two sides there are not any houses right next to them.

There’s a fence next to their house and then around a corner is a little walkway up to their front door.

In the distance, you can see a street. (I wasn’t able to walk too far from their house and still be connected to the Internet.)

View from the front of Rusty and Brenda's place.
View from the front of Rusty and Brenda’s place.

Just up the street, you can see a green sign that says let Lawson Store 100 That is a convenience store that is very convenient for them.

I hope you all are doing well.

It’s kind of an overcast day here. We’ve been enjoying ourselves.

Last Sunday. I preached at a church here and Rusty interpreted. Two days before that Brenda has some classes that she calls Mommy and Me classes. It is moms and some children.

We got to spend some time with some of the children in Japan.
We got to spend some time with some of the children in Japan.

Between the two days, I think we had about 20 children.

They had a fall party ~ not a Halloween party.

The pumpkin was a good visual aid.
The pumpkin was a good visual aid.

During the party, Rusty and I did a devotional that involved carving a pumpkin. We talked about how when you open the head, your brain is inside and that’s where you feel and we talked about how the pumpkin represents the head and face.

The face represents the entire person.

Then we talked about when you’re looking inside the entire person, you see their heart, which is where you feel. So with a head, we think and know and with a heart, we feel.

Then we took the insides of the pumpkin out and it gave us the chance to talk about sin and how our lives need to be cleaned from sin and a few other analogies there.

This class is an English class. On the first day, none of them were believers; they came for the English class. Brenda said that it was really good that we were able to give a clear presentation of the Gospel on that day.

Then the next day there were a couple of people there that were also a part of the church.

But, we’re enjoying our time over here. and traveling around here in Tokyo.

I do want to remind you that YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

Tips for getting started.
Tips for getting started.

If you’re interested in finding out more about that, my book “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death” is available right now on Amazon. I’ve got two books on marriage there as well. They are “21 Ways the Principle of Leaving Will Benefit Your Marriage” and “From Mountains to Molehills.”

To keep up with our time in Japan or for information on writing marriage, faith, or coaching, just go to Randy’s Blogs and find the tab you need at the top.

Until next time, I hope you have a great day!

International Speaker

Hello everyone! Welcome to another session of walking with Randy, or in this case, it’s riding with Randy.

Vlog

Rhonda and I are just getting ready for our trip to Japan. Tomorrow we have to go and get the required COVID test before we get on the plane for the stretch of the trip that goes to Tokyo. We will be well within the 72-hour limit for that. We’re excited about that.

I can add "International Speaker" to my resume now.
I can add “International Speaker” to my resume now.

So whenever I talked to my daughter-in-law last, she said something about looking forward to us coming. She said, “Be ready to preach, something else, or die.”

I responded to that and said, “Well, I hope it’s the first two but we will be ready for all three.”

So anyway, I’m excited that we’re getting ready to go to Japan.

I will have opportunities to speak over there and give our grandchildren some time with their grandparents and give our children some time for some well-deserved r&r on the mission field. I’ll also be able to minister and speak to the Japanese people with an interpreter.

The nice thing about needing an interpreter is my son is far enough along in his Japanese language skills that he should be able to do that without any problem.

I’m excited to be coming to you as an international speaker. I could already say that because I’ve spoken in Mexico, Australia and Japan before

You can write a book!
You can write a book!

As a final thought, if you would like to know about writing a book, or more about speaking or coaching, just check out the other categories here on Randy’s Blogs.

Also, there are some books on Amazon that can be very helpful to you.

The first is “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death.”

Marriage help
Marriage help

The other two are about marriage. The first is “21 Ways the Principle of Leaving Will Benefit Your Marriage.” The second one is “From Mountains to Molehills.”

I encourage you to take a look at one or all three of those books.

All right. Until next time for walking with Randy, I want to remind you that YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

Have a great day and I’ll talk to you later.

Refocus

Focus, refocus, rebuild.

Refocus
Sermon 1-2-2022
Everone knows the story of Peter and how he had denied Jesus. He felt this sense of shame for denying Jesus. We know that the rooster crowed and he felt that shame that was there. Then after it had happened, people wanted to make sure that Peter heard about it.
I think the shame he felt is expressed well in the Don Fransico song “He’s Alive”.
The gates and doors were barred
All the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away
And just before the sunrise
Heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
Hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldier’s feet
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him
Then I saw Him die
Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

Luke 22:60-62
60 Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” Immediately, while he was yet speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And Peter went outside and wept bitterly.

As we consider this concept of refocusing, we’ll think about three stages of life when we focus. Next, we’ll discuss refocusing at any stage of life. Finally, we’ll think about rebuilding if necessary.

Focusing in Life Stages

Child Stage

Let’s start out with the first stage of life; the stage of being a child. To some degree, this “child” stage is relative. My aunt is about 91 years old, so to her, I am still my sister’s child. So we’re just talking about rough ages here – generalizations. Of course, you begin with birth. Now, I know that teenagers don’t like to be considered “children”, and definitely not people in their 20s, but for my purposes here, they are grouped into the child stage of life until they become parents.

Lots of changes take place in the child stage of life.
Child Stage is the first stage of life.

In many instances, this is the stage of life where they become Christians. But not always. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity a few years ago to be a chaplain at the VA Medical Center. At that time, most of the population there were World War 2 veterans. They had lived, and were strong men, but they had finally come up against something they weren’t able to handle on their own. It’s unusual for someone their age to come to Christ, but I am thankful that they were open to the Gospel.

But the statistics are that most people who become Christians do so when they are children. That’s why it’s good to have all the noise that children bring in a church service. They’re hearing the Gospel. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me” (Matthew 19:14) and He said, “Except you become as a little child, you can not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

In some of the discipleship classes I’ve been a part of, we practice telling our stories to one another. Telling your story to someone who hasn’t heard the Gospel can give them hope. In hearing those stories, there are often two parts. The first part is a story of coming to Christ at a young age, maybe 4 or 6 or, in my case, 11 years old. Then there is a second more significant part of that story, where the teller committed their life to Christ.

Also in the children’s stage, the Bible says that young men (and women) will have visions and old men (and women) will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17) So, young people can see what could be, and that excites me. When they get it in their hearts about what it could be like. Could your town be changed? Could your friends be changed? Could those who have maybe gotten into some addiction be changed? Could I be used to tell others about Christ? That often happens in the child stage

Parent Stage

Then I think about the parent stage. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has to have children. It’s just the general age a person may be when people start having children.

Recently, a lady in our community passed away. While she never had any children of her own, I know she influenced several young people throughout her life. We sent our children to her for piano lessons, and we were glad for them to learn to play the piano. But she was such a wonderful influence, I had often said that I would have paid her just to spend time with them. She was so excited about what was happening in their life.

As parents, you’re in the position of moving into leading. Sometimes this happens, and you don’t really have the manual, and don’t have it all figured out. Suddenly, there are these short people running through the house and you’re responsible for them. What are you supposed to do? You need to take the Word of God and let it help you run your life. You’re leading your family and you’re leading your children when you’re in that parental stage.

Stage two - the parent stage - is the age group where people usually start families.
The second stage of life is often when people start families.

But you’re also serving. The four gospels present Jesus in different ways. The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as King. Matthew is primarily writing to the Jewish audience. The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus along the same line as some of the Old Testament prophets; as a servant. One of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, presented Jesus as a suffering servant. (Isaiah 52-53) So you’re leading your family and you’re leading your children. But if you’re a parent you’re a servant. You’re serving your family.

I had an uncle who was very rough and gruff. He wouldn’t go to church for anything although I do believe he got saved a day or two before he died. If I’m wrong, I’ve been able to cope with that thought through the years, because if I’m wrong it’s terrible. Even though he was rough and gruff, our daughters could wrap him around their little fingers. Because sometimes, we serve children. If you’re a parent, you may know what it’s like to be a suffering servant.

Oftentimes during this stage from the time that you become a parent up until the age when your children get married and have children, there often occurs, midlife reflection. Sometimes it becomes what is called a mid-life crisis.

What happens is you realize that your life is passing. You realize that you had visions and dreams to start with. Now you’re at the middle part of your life, your children are grown up, and you recognize your failures. You recognize that things haven’t turned out how you had hoped. Or, you may have a great deal of success in certain areas.

This is a good time to refocus. Have you been tied up with concerns with your job? Are you concerned with just your family just internally? Are you just being consumed with certain things? Meanwhile, the Lord has just been put off to the side. It’s a really good time for reflection and to realize that you need to refocus.

I have a book that was given to me by my children called “Half-Time” In the book, the author said in the first half of your life, you start making money and start working with your family. But then you come to a point where you have a parallel career. It may not be your main job or business. His point was that you ought to have a parallel career or start a new one. He said you should consider focusing on a ministry. During that mid-life reflection, I would hope that we would refocus on being more and more used by God. Many times the mid-life crisis hits men because of the weight of their responsibilities.

Grandparent Stage

Stage three of life I call the grandparent stage, and it's often when people move into retirement.
Retired/Grandparents

The third stage is that of grandparents. People who are around the ages of 50s or 60s and up. This would also include retirees.

I think if you are retired and you decide in retirement you’re just going to sit around and do nothing, you’re probably not going to be very happy. You might enjoy that for about a month. But, it may turn out that you’ll be so busy you ask yourself how you ever had time to have a job. I pray that’s how it will be for you when you retire.

I think of retirement as a time and opportunity for a new ministry. You might think that when I talk about ministry, I’m referring to being a preacher. But, every Christian can have a ministry and serve God in some way. In some capacity and I think they should find out what that is. It could certainly be part of that parallel career, and maybe you could devote all your time to it.

Well, when you’re doing this as grandparents, you’re helping and inspiring leaders: Now the parents of your grandchildren. Your children grew up and you get the opportunity to be present in the lives of their children. Your grandchildren may be driving your children crazy, and you might tell them “You’re paying for your raising”. Now, your children are thinking, ”Oh, now I understand. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my parents, but now I do.”

Remember earlier I talked about the young men having visions and the old ones dreaming dreams. Well, some of those dreams are remembering the successes. We have dreams for the future and may think that we may not be able to carry them out. Some of those dreams will be left for the younger ones to fulfill.
So, that’s focusing in the different life stages.

Refocusing at Any Life Stage

The second point is refocusing at any life stage. There is a story in the Bible about sisters named Mary and Martha. Jesus was going to spend time in their home. It was during His ministry and it was quite an honor. Martha and Mary spent a lot of time getting the house ready.

Martha was working while Mary was listening to Jesus.

When Jesus arrived, there were still things left to be done. Martha continued to work while Mary went and sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching. This angered Martha. She went to Jesus, the King of the Jews, and told Him to tell Mary to go and help her! But Jesus told her that what Mary chose to do is better. (Luke 10:38-42)

So with Mary and Martha, you have devotion, and you have action. Both were important. The reason why Mary could do what she did was because of the actions that had been done earlier.

I think about men and women. Specifically about women who have the heart to serve God. They often lead their husbands by their spirit and their love for God because they show devotion. Men do that also, but their expressing and showing devotion is different. Because of that, the ladies become a great challenge to us as men in the area of spirituality. So I’m praying that the Lord will bless you ladies in your devotion time. I know that if you take many actions you may be like Martha, too.

Men may wonder, “What’s this about coming and serving God? I just come to church and sit there.” I would suggest that you really focus on the words of the song as you’re hearing them sung. I would also suggest that you sing along. If you’re not comfortable with your singing voice, just sing quietly. But it’s almost passive, and you desire action.

There is action! Be active for God! Instead of just dropping the kids off at church, go inside and attend church with them. It’s good that you’re bringing the children to church so they can hear the word of God, but there’s something about the young boys seeing Dad there in the pew, worshipping, trying to sing, or with his head bowed. Sometimes, there’s Dad on his knees as an example.
“Looking for a few good men”

Leaders and examples for their families.
Leaders and examples for their families.

You have devotion in action. Do you need to refocus on your devotion and your love for God? Or do you need to refocus and take more action for God? Do you need to get out of your comfort zone? We talk about changing our Nation? It’s going to get changed one person at a time. What influence do you have on others that are around you?

Men and women both take action.

Rebuilding When Necessary

So we talked about focusing in the stages and refocusing at any age. Refocus and have a desire to have a greater devotion to Christ this year. Refocus and have the desire to do more action for Christ this year.

The third thing is rebuilding when necessary. Has it come to a point in your life where you need to rebuild? Sometimes people are dealing with addictions in their life, and it’s got such a hold on them. So they get a resolve. For example, the desire to quit smoking. It’s an addiction. It’s a physical thing and it’s very difficult. But the person begins the process. What happens, though, is that they have one slip-up and then give up. It can be another addiction or habit. It can be a bad habit you need to give up or a good one you need to start. But you have one bad day and quit trying.

There was a man walking down the street one day and there were two boys that looked like they were getting ready to fight. They had their fists up and were staring at each other. He came and stepped between the two because one boy was obviously a lot taller and heavier than the other one. So he was going to stop them before the younger one got clobbered.

Persistence pays off!
Perseverance.

The smaller boy said, “No, no, let me at him!”. It impressed him so much that the man stepped back and joined the rest of the crowd watching the fight.
They went at each other and the smaller boy got his nose bloodied. The man stepped in to stop it again. The bigger boy was smirking and gloating. Once again, though, the smaller boy said, “No. Don’t stop it. Let me back in there!” The bigger boy was taken aback, but the man stepped back again. The boys went at each other again, and this time the small boy came away with a busted lip. The man tried again to break up the fight, and the smaller boy said again, “No, let me back at him!” The bigger boy was getting tired at this point and was amazed that the other boy was still fighting. The fight went on for a while and each time the smaller boy was knocked down, he got back up and continued to fight. His persistence paid off and he won the fight!

II Corinthians 4:8,9
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

In other words, down but not out. Rebuild when necessary. You can be down but not out. If you fall off a horse, get back on. The pathway to success often has marks of failure on it. You can often learn more by failure than by success.

Think of Peter’s restoration. They headed for the tomb where they had placed Jesus’ body. On their way there, they worried about how they would remove the stone. But when they arrived, they saw that the stone was moved, and a man clothed in white was there. (Mark 16:5-7) They were frightened but were told that Jesus had risen. The angel gave them instructions to tell His disciples “and Peter”.

Jesus came and met Peter again. After a time of restoration (John 21:15), Jesus and His disciples were together, and Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus didn’t mention Peter’s failure. He just made sure Peter knew that He was coming back. Peter ended up being rebuilt in his life and on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and thousands came to know the Lord.

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried
He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace
He’s alive, He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive!

Focus, refocus, rebuild.

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Tips for Writing Fiction

A happy ending to your story.

I hope you’re having a great day. Today, I’m going to give you some tips for writing fiction. I’ll include four ways to develop a great story. As I discuss these four ways of developing a great story, I will place the tips into four different categories.

Video: Tips for Writing Fiction

Personal Tips

You want to make the story your story. It should be a story that you love, a story that you would like to read. You want to put yourself into it.

Write about things you know or love. Personal experiences can help develop a great story.
Personal experience can help write a great story

Then you want to make it your personal journey. As you do that, you don’t have to actually make it an autobiography. You might use elements of your own life story.

Practical Tips

Secondly, we have what I would call practical tips.

Daily writing can help avoid writer's block and keep you inspired.
Write every day.

First of all, write every day. I resisted journaling for many years because I didn’t know what to write about. I didn’t feel like I would be very good at it. Even when I had past attempts at writing diaries, I had trouble getting started. But in the past year and a half or so, I have discovered that I do actually enjoy journaling. The secret has been I just pick up the pen and start writing whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it is a diary entry, sometimes I talk about ways of doing things, and sometimes I talk about ideas for the future. But I just write whatever comes to mind. That is called free-flow writing. When you’re writing your actual book, of course, you will be writing daily in that regard. But write every day.

Next, you should read other stories. When you find a fiction writer that you really like, read a lot of his or her stories. Read other fiction writers as well.

There are also many ways to beat procrastination and writer’s block. I won’t go into all of that right at the moment. However, my book on how to write a book in 28 days or less goes into that in detail. One of the things that it involves is breaking your project down into smaller projects. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time? How do you write a book? Write a chapter. So you want to chunks.

Practice free-flow writing where you just write as fast as you can. Simply let the words come. Don’t correct that spelling mistake you obviously made, don’t correct that typo right there. Keep writing and get the flow of the story going. and practice that free-flow writing.

After you have your rough draft or a section you want to edit, read it aloud to yourself.

So far, we’ve had personal tips and then we’ve had some practical tips. Let’s go into general tips while you’re writing your fiction.

General Tips

First of all, ask questions. You can make your main character ask questions. You can have the minor characters asking questions. You want to think of what questions your readers might have and ask those questions. Ask yourself questions about the story. Ask yourself, how did they get in that predicament? Ask yourself, how are they going to get out of that? Ask yourself what comes next.

Next, you’ll want to withhold some information. Maybe withhold a lot of information. You don’t have to give the whole story the whole biography. What you need to do is to give enough info for the start of the story, and then you know where the story is going. Withhold information so you can have some surprises along the way.

Adding action or active voice to your stories will make them more engaging.
Add action to your stories

Use action and active voice. Active voice is where the subject performs an action. Passive voice, that’s where the action is being done to the subject. For instance, “The ball was hit.” In that case, you had the subject, which was the ball and the action was being done to the subject. But you can change that around and say “The batter hit the ball.” In that case, the subject is performing the action. The way to find this passive vs active voice is to look at your manuscript and find instances where you’re using that passive voice, and make changes.

So those are some general tips for writing fiction.

Story Tips

Now for some more specific tips: Give the main character a problem.

Next, get that main character into trouble quickly; very early in your story. Of course, the first part of your story should include a lot of information about your character’s regular life, before he/she gets thrust into the life-changing aspects of the story. But you want to get them into trouble as quickly as possible.

Then as the story progresses along, intensify the problem, make it worse in their minds.

Include a series of progress and setbacks.

Attempts to correct the problem seem only to make things worse. So show the attempts to correct the problem making things worse.

Finally, make the situation seem hopeless. Of course, you know the way out because you know where you’re going with the story. But write in such a way that the character doesn’t know how he or she is going to get out of this seemingly hopeless situation. Then guide your character down the path to where they get to a resolution to the problem.

A successful resolution to the problem or obstacle will nicely wrap up your story.
Victory!

That will make for some exciting fiction as you’re writing your story.

Well, I hope this has been helpful to you. If you’d like more tips like these, go to www.randycarney.com. If you would like more information about how to write a book, just follow this link for my book How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death.

Well, I hope that you have a great day, and remember, you can write a book!