Saturday, December 25, 1999

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I was at an account this past week and I overheard a couple people talking about Christmas. It seemed like a pleasant conversation at first, but then it turned disrespectful. One guy in the group started to rip on Christianity and in a very condescending tone stated, "What's the big deal about Christmas? It's just about gifts anyway!"

I wanted to jump into the conversation, and tell him all about the true meaning of Christmas. I wanted to tell him that Christmas isn't about the presents. It's about a man who humbled himself to reunite the two things that meant most to Him: His heavenly Father and all of mankind. It's about a man who was born to die and be the perfect and final sacrifice. It's about a man who forever lives to intercede for the people He loves.

I decided to keep my words to myself as my anger with his attitude was too great. I offered up a prayer instead, and before too long I began to agree with the very man who had spurred my wrath just minutes before. I realized that he was right; Christmas is all about the gifts - it's about the greatest gift that mankind has ever given or received.

May God bless you all this Christmas. May we always remember the man for whom we celebrate this day and the reason why He came. I pray that someday the man at this account will too.

Wednesday, December 15, 1999

A Story of Suffering & Perseverance

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

I read a story in the paper this morning that touched my heart. It was a story about suffering, perseverance, character, and hope. It told of a 36 year-old woman who in the span of the past 5 months has watched her life crumble around her. In July, she received the news she had waited 5 years to hear: she and her husband would finally be parents. But soon after hearing the news she became terribly ill. Her body swelled, and she gained nearly 80 pounds of fluids. She had surgery to reduce the swelling, but unfortunately, she lost the twins she was carrying inside her. She returned to the hospital a few days later only to hear even more bad news: the muscles in her arms and legs had died. The doctors would be forced to amputate or she would die.

Before and after photos showed the depths of the tragedy: a smiling, happy woman living in a new home with twins on the way versus a pain-stricken, broken woman surrounded by her family in a hospital bed. But despite all the sufferings, and despite what future struggles certainly lie ahead, her spirit has not been broken:

  • "We ask her if she still wants to live, says her sister, whose eyes drift from the woman in the bed to the photos on the wall. She nods her head. My sister wants to live."

Over five months, she has experienced more pain and suffering than one person should ever have to bear. Remarkably, her spirit, perseverance, and hope live on. I pray they never die.

Sunday, December 5, 1999

Christ: The Humble King

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Dee and I were shopping at Menlo Park Mall on Saturday, and decided to stop into the Mets Clubhouse store to check out the new gear. To our surprise, a starting pitcher on the NY Mets was but 5 feet away from us. As a teenager, this would have been my shining moment. I can think back to my Little League banquets and remember being in awe of the Mets player that came out to speak that season. I couldn't wait to finish dinner so I could hang on each word my worshipped Mets player would utter. But now, those feelings of awe and worship are gone. Standing in my presence was the proud owner of a couple World Series rings and the ace of my favorite team's staff, and it meant nothing. All my eyes could focus on were the sunglasses worn proudly on his face (indoors), and the unapproachable airs he seemed to exude.

Throughout the day, I could not shake the smug image from my mind and it made me contrast his image with Christ. I pictured Christ being in that same store. There would have been no sunglasses. There would have been no expensive rings on his hand. There would have been no air of smugness or arrogance. Thankfully, the Lord I serve came into the world not to sign autographs but to save sinners just like me. He came showing mercy. He came displaying unlimited patience. He came to yield eternal life to those who might believe on His name.

I look forward to the day when I will be in the presence of the one true king; a man who could have worn the finest sunglasses and most expensive rings, but wore instead a crown of thorns and endured the pain of the cross to save the people he loved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999

A Time of Thanksgiving

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)

This Thanksgiving will be a bit more sentimental for me than past years. As Dee and I prepare for our wedding, and I prepare to leave New Jersey, I've been reflecting quite a bit upon all the things I have to be thankful for. I'm thankful for all the people that helped me through some of the toughest moments in my life:

1) Broken ankle / full leg cast (August 1993): I remember vividly my mom rushing to the hospital to be by my side, taking time off of work to make me lunch and to take me to the doctor. I remember my dad driving me to Newark for graduate school, walking around the mean streets of Newark during my two hours of classes, and stating "You're my son, where else would I rather be?" I remember my friends stopping by on Friday nights to play chess so that I wouldn't be alone.

2) Missing the 5 year BA/MBA cutoff (1992): I spent one entire winter break at Rutgers studying for the GMATs in order to start grad work my senior year. I needed to score in the top 15%, but I came up woefully short on my first try. I was fully resigned to giving up, but my sister refused to let me do so, and encouraged me to give it one more try. Without that encouragement I never would have succeeded (let alone attempted) that 2nd time.

3) Depression (1992/1996): I remember a friend stopping by one Memorial Day with a platter of food from a picnic I could not bring myself to attend. I remember another friend taking my assignments to a class I could not find the strength to attend. I remember all the words of support from my family and friends who refused to let me give up, fueling me with the encouragement I needed to survive.

I'm thankful as well for all the people who helped make some of the happiest moments of my life:

1) 1st homerun (Little League): I remember hitting my first over-the-fence homerun in what could have been my last Little League at bat had I failed. It was my biggest moment to date, but what made it most special was a friend's dad running out behind the center field fence to get it and presenting it to me with a hug and a kiss.

2) Surprise birthday party (College): I remember my friends throwing me a surprise birthday party, some of whom even came in from far out of state to be there.

3) Meeting Dee (1998): I remember Dee coming into my life just at a time when I needed her most, and being everything and more of what I had always envisioned my wife to be.

I thank you all, but most of all I thank the good Lord who has brought each of you into my life. I wish you all a blessed holiday; may each day of your life be a time of thanksgiving.

Monday, November 15, 1999

How Far Would You Go For Christ

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
(Acts 7:59-60, 8:1)

The bible describes Stephen as a "man full of God's grace and power who did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8). He was also a man faced with a life or death decision: he could either publicly reject Christ and live, or publicly accept Christ and die. He chose the latter. But even more remarkably, Stephen had so much love inside him, he prayed for mercy and forgiveness upon the very people who were stoning him to death.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Christ was faced with a similar decision, with a few extra negative incentives: He would have to humble himself to become a man and leave behind the glory of his father's kingdom, knowing full well the people he was doing this for would openly reject, beat, persecute, mock, and crucify him. But despite all the negatives, Christ did humble and sacrifice himself, and upon his death expressed the same love that Stephen would later share: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

This lends the question, how far would I go in my walk with the Lord? Is my love for Christ conditional upon the safety of my environment? Would I cower in fear and reject the very man that humbled and sacrificed himself for me? Hopefully, my faith is never put to that ultimate test, but if it was, I hope I make the same decision that Stephen did.

Friday, November 5, 1999

All I Have to Give is Christ

Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)

The apostle Peter has an interesting resume:

1) Disciple of Christ: Gave up livelihood as a fisherman to follow some stranger who said he will make him a "fisher of men." (Matthew 4:18-20)

2) Doubter of Christ: Nearly drowned after losing faith in the same man he sacrificed everything to follow. (Matthew 14:28-31)

3) Believer in Christ: Boldly professed his belief in the man he sacrificed everything to follow but occasionally doubted in times of trouble; "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

4) Rock of Christ: Man he boldly professed his faith in tells him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)

5) Obstacle of Christ: Man he sacrificed everything to follow tells him: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23)

6) Disappointer of Christ: Failed to keep awake during the hour the man he sacrificed everything to follow needed him most; "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)

7) Rejecter of Christ: Rejected man he had previously boldly professed his faith in: "You also were with Jesus of Galilee, she said. But he denied it before them all. I don't know what you're talking about." (Matthew 26:69-70)

8) Defender of Christ: Vigorously defends man he previously rejected: "It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone." (Acts 4:10-11)

9) Persecuted for Christ: Jailed for defending man he previously rejected, disappointed, and obstructed: "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also." (Acts 12:1-3)

10) Healer in Christ: Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)

From obstacle to rock, rejecter to defender, and doubter to believer, Peter came a long way in his relationship with Christ. His walk with the Lord is an encouragement to me, for there have been times in my life when I have strongly believed, defended, and been persecuted for Christ and others when I have doubted, rejected, and been an obstacle of Christ. But like Peter, I hope that as my faith and walk with the Lord strengthens, I'll learn the same lesson that Peter learned: "All I have to give is Christ." There's no greater gift I could ever give.

Monday, October 25, 1999

What Money Can't Buy

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:24-25)

For those with great aspirations to be wealthy, this is a tough verse to read. We all know it is a physical impossibility for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. Hence, is it equally or more impossible for someone that is wealthy to make it to heaven? I'll answer that question with a personal testimony.

Throughout my life, I've been blessed. I have great family and friends. I live in a nice home, have a good job, and drive a nice car (granted it's getting pretty old). Frankly, if there's anything I want or desire, I simply go out and buy it.

But the picture I paint about my life isn't as rosy as it sounds. For so many years, my main concern was me. I had to be the best and have the best. If I didn't score the most points, bat 4th in the line-up, wear the best clothes, or have the highest grade point average, I had big problems. To be honest, I'd still be on that road today if the Lord didn't completely humble me a few years back. In a very short period of time, I lost my appearance, my job, my girlfriend, and my will to live. All gone in a matter of months. I quickly realized that fame and fortune did not buy happiness and they could not stop the downward spiral I was on.

At that lowest point, I said to the Lord, "this is now your life to live, for I no longer have the strength to live it." At that time, everything gradually began to change. My focus was no longer me, but Christ. With Christ at the center, other people actually began to matter. Sure I've always loved my family and friends, but I now had a deep concern for even those I disliked.

This past week, I saw a friend at the gym I haven't seen in quite sometime. He's a friend whose family and mine have a troubled past. I started telling him about the joys of my life: I was engaged, getting married, etc. But I could see the pain in his eyes and I stopped. He told me he and his girlfriend of 2 years had broken up. Within 2 weeks, she had started dating again, and it has placed him into a deep depression for the past 4 months. I told him the above story I just shared of my own history. The tears welled up in my eyes as I told it, for I could see him now in that same place I was in just a few short years ago. But those tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy as he told me that he has developed a strong relationship with Christ; stronger than it has ever been before. I knew then that he was in good hands; the very hands that carried me.

Friday, October 15, 1999

A Meaningful Life

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

My goals in life have changed drastically over the years. As a teenager, I dreamed about playing 3rd base for the NY Mets. I batted clean-up, I drove in 100 runs and hit 50 home runs per season, played an error-free 3rd base, and led my team to a World Championship every season I played. I was simply the best 3rd baseman who never came to be. In college, I scrapped that fantasy for something much more realistic. I was going to be the next superstar singer. I produced nothing but #1 hits and albums and graced every magazine cover known to man.

But as I grew older, I came to realize that a meaningful life for me would not entail being an all-star baseball player or a rock star. Homeruns and hit songs do not lead to eternal salvation; but Christ does. A few years ago, I asked myself a question that still sticks with me today: "If I died tomorrow, what would I be remembered for?" I put together a list that concerned me: good athlete, good student, Mets fan, Cowboys fan, Rutgers fan, etc. I made the decision that day to make a change. I decided to use the tools that the Lord had given me, and use them for His purpose.

One day, when I have left this earth, hopefully those that knew me would remember me not for the teams that I rooted for or the sports that I played, but as a man that lived for Christ and lived each day trying to lead others to Him.

Tuesday, October 5, 1999

The Glory of God

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night."
(Genesis 1:1-5)

For those of you who speak with me frequently, you know my 4 weeks in Canada have worn me down. I was sick for 2 of the 4 weeks, I had endless trouble getting across the border, the weather was wintery, the Mets were collapsing, there was no ESPN, etc etc. But the Monday morning of 9/27 was different. I decided to give my body a chance to regroup and flew in Monday morning as opposed to late Sunday night. Unlike the week before when it was cold, wet, and rainy the entire week, Monday was a warm, sunny, and beautiful day. As I got in the rental car and made the 2 hour drive north from the airport to the account, for the first time of my life, I really took notice of the colors of the leaves. Sure I've noticed the color change before, but I never really stopped to think about just how majestic the view actually was.

As I was putting together the Genesis verses Sunday night, the words that stood out were "And God saw that it was good" and "And it was so." Monday morning those words really hit home as I basked in the power and love in the God that I serve. I began to think about heaven and about what "eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has in store for those that love Him." Could God really top the majestic beauty I was seeing before my very eyes?

I long to witness the answer to that question when my short time on this earth has come and gone. I long to be in the presence of the one who "gathered the waters", "created man in his own image" and said "let there be light." One day I'll stand in judgment before Him, the God of all creation, and with His Son as my attorney, my eyes and ears will finally behold what they've been deprived of all these years.

Saturday, September 25, 1999

The Road to Salvation

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation. Eternal life. Heaven. It's something that most people either think about, don't care about, are confident about, are confused about, or are concerned about. I've had many conversations with people over the years about the subject, and they generally fall into one of the above categories.

Most of my life, I've felt confident about my eternal future. I base that confidence on the very words of Christ and live by the verse, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." I also fully acknowlege my sinfulness and realize that my salvation is not based on my own individual merit, but rather the perfect sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The main reason my confidence is as strong as it is, is that through Christ, I believe I can be reconciled to a perfect God that detests sin. Knowing full well that I am a sinner (each week the list of sins only grows), I take joy in knowing that each of those sins; past, present, and future have been fully paid for by Christ.

Many people that have a lesser confidence in their eternal future usually either question the authority of the bible, the authority of Christ, struggle with what will happen to good people who do not believe in Christ, or refuse to believe that God could ever forgive them for what they've done in the past.

To those who question the authority of the bible, I challenge them to read it with an open mind. Most people who question the authenticity of the bible, have never even picked it up. To those who question the authority of Christ, I ask you to read about him and come to know him. No relationship can be built between two people (physical or spiritual) without knowledge and communication. To those who question what will happen to good people who do not believe in Christ, I have no easy answer. But the bible does state that "to whom much is given, much is required." I believe that people who had a conscious knowledge of Christ, yet openly rejected him, will be held more accountable than those who did not. Lastly, to those who believe that God could never forgive them, draw strength from the thief who repented in his last dying breath. He said to Jesus, "remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Saturday, September 18, 1999

Forgiving Others

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Forgiveness is not easy. It is a struggle to find it within my heart to forgive another person that has gone out of their way to hurt or harm me. But God commands it, so I try. If you read the bible, you can not escape the concept of forgiveness. Jesus lived a life of forgiving others. He directed us to "turn the other cheek" and not to live with an "eye for eye" mentality. He directed us to "love our enemies" and not just those that love us. In the Lord's prayer he instructed us to pray the following: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".

I like to think that I "turn the other cheek", "love my enemies", and "forgive those who trespass against me" but I don't. At least not in the way that Jesus did. If I was betrayed by my closest friends, rejected by my own people, beaten, ridiculed, mocked, and crucified, the last words I'd be saying in my last breath is "Father forgive them for they know not what they do!" My words would be a bit less loving I shudder to say.

For example, take my trip home from Chicago this past Friday night. It was a day after hurricane Floyd pummeled the east coast and I knew the plane back to Newark would be packed. I had a reserved window seat, and when I went to the agent she switched me from 5A to 4E. In my mind, this seemed like a vicious, cruel act on her part. How could she switch me from my beloved window seat to a dreaded middle seat (B & E seats are always in the middle)! I begged her to give me my reserved seat but she said the seat was already taken. Being the Christian man that I am, I kept my mouth shut and calmly walked away. But don't pat me on the back just yet. Under my breath I was cursing her up and down. I fumed for the next two hours awaiting the dreaded middle seat in a packed plane. As my row was called, I slowly approached the ramp in disgust, and boarded the plane. I glanced to my right and counted 4 first class rows. As I moved closer to row 4, I saw 4A, 4B, 4D, and 4E. There was no C. The agent had switched me to a first class seat - I was furious with her for the past hour when I should have been singing her praises!

I then stopped to think what Jesus would have done if he was in my position. It made me realize that not only do I not "turn my cheek" as He instructed, but there are times in my life when I'm the one throwing the first "punch".

Wednesday, September 8, 1999

Depression II: The Example of Job

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. (Job 13:15)

If you ever find yourself sad or depressed, open up the bible and read the book of Job. I know of no man or woman in recorded history that ever suffered as much as Job did. He literally lost everything he had (donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, children, house, his own flesh, and on and on). But through each test, Job never wavered in his faith in the Lord. He persisted despite protests from his family and friends; his wife even encouraged him to "Curse God and die!" Job's response to her is something I wish we all had the wisdom to say "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

We all will face tough times in our lives whether it be financial, physical, mental, or spiritual battles. The key to remember during these times is that we do not fight the battle alone. God is ever present (although we often forget) to answer our prayers. It might take years before we ever see an answer, as was the case in my life, but the Lord works in His own time, and does not work around our schedules!

Most people have heard of Job and all of his misery. But many do not know how the book of Job ends: "After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before...The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters." I'm sure at the height of his struggles, Job never dreamed his life would turn around for the better. But he had the wisdom to know whom to trust and he reaped his reward.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

God is Faithful

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

This is a verse that is so easy to believe when life is going well. But how much harder is it to believe when the trials are coming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? When I think back to the periods of my life when I faced the toughest battles, I remember doubting God and questioning if and when He would ever turn my life around for the better. I'm not proud to admit it, but it's the truth.

This past Monday a friend of mine asked me the following question in between innings of a softball game: "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" My response was the following: "Why all the years of pain and suffering?" The rest of the game I couldn't help but think about all the "lost" years of my life and it really got me down. I drove home and turned on my computer to update the Verse of the Day. As fate would have it, the above verse was staring me in the face. It's funny how God works sometimes, and I couldn't help but laugh. I thought about something my pastor had said a few months back: "How easy is it to thank the Lord after He has answered a prayer? But how much harder is it to have the same thanksgiving at the height of our struggles?"

The good Lord has delivered me from every challenge I've ever had regardless of how I've felt about Him during those challenges. Unfortunately, I know there are rough roads ahead of me. My goal is to love Him more then, than I do now.

Friday, August 20, 1999

Crucified with Christ

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

This is one of my favorite verses from the bible and utilized in one of my favorite songs, "Crucified with Christ" by Phillips, Craig, & Dean:

  • "For I've been crucified with Christ, and yet I live. Not I, but Christ that lives within me. His cross will never ask for more than I can give. For it's not my cross but his."

I try to meditate on these words daily, and draw strength from them in times of sorrow and despair. If we open our hearts to Christ, he will come in. He will take away that sorrow, and will not test us more than we can bear. The hardest step is yielding our hearts. He is forever waiting for us to do just that.

Sunday, August 8, 1999

Nothing is Hidden from God

"Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" (Isaiah 29:15)

How many times in our lives have we fooled ourselves with this lie, "Who can see me? Who will know?" I've fallen prey to that foolish logic one time too many in my life already. In all honesty, Christ's perfect life is not easy to imitate. The road he walked is usually too difficult for my mortal body to want to follow. But that's no excuse for laziness. Many times when I fall into sin or temptation it's because I've strayed from God's word.

The main reason I created this site was twofold: 1) To share my love for Christ with others and 2) To overcome my resistance to read the bible. For most of my life, reading the bible has been as painful as pulling teeth. With this site, I'm now forced to open the bible at least once a week (outside of church) and type out all the verses for the week. Even if no hits were registered on "Frank's World", I'd still take joy, because for the first time in my life, I'm actively reading the bible.

It is through reading the bible that internal change takes place. It might take years to ever realize that change has occurred, but believe me, it does. When it does, it becomes a lot harder to question "Who can see me? Who will know?" and a lot easier to state "God can see me! He will know!"

Thursday, July 29, 1999

Satan: A Powerful Adversary

"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." (Job 1:9-11)

Many people envision Satan as a man with a red tail and a pitchfork. But the bible presents him differently. Satan was at one time the most beautiful angel in all of heaven, but his pride led to his demise. He is an evil, cunning, and powerful adversary. In Ephesians 6:12, the apostle Paul states: "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

The chief enemy Paul was referring to was of course Satan. On our own, we are powerless against him. But if we "put on the full armor of God", as Paul writes, Satan is powerless against us. Although Satan was already defeated, he still lives to war against us. Paul's advice? "Be alert and always keep on praying." I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, July 17, 1999

Overcoming Depression

If you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. (Job 11:13-16)

I've had my share of pain and depression in my life, granted not to the extent of Job, but I certainly have had my faith put to the test. A few years back, when I had lost all desire to live, I clinged to these words, and prayed that God would restore me. It took much patience, but He began to resolve the issues that were weighing me down one by one.

I guess it took coming to that lowest point for me to fully see the power of God. I look back at those low points of my life, not with resentment or regret, but rather with a sense of awe of just how much God has delivered me from. I have no misconception that the rest of my life will be an easy road, but I take joy in knowing that I have the hand of God to guide me home.

Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Finding True Happiness

Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. (Philippians 3:7-8)

I think the key to finding true happiness in this world is found in the verse above. Most of my life, I fruitlessly sought happiness in being successful; whether it be in sports, school, or career. Unfortunately, nothing I did was ever good enough for me. I couldn't hit enough base hits, get enough A's, or make enough money. It took finding a close relationship with Christ for me to finally let these things go.

In Christ, all those things became less important, and I began to live a happier life. I find it much more fulfilling to share the joy of Christ than to be wrapped up in the pleasures of this world. Hopefully, that desire will never change - no matter what personal sacrifices that might mean along the way.

Monday, June 28, 1999


He forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:16-18)

Talk about the end of the world has increased gradually over the years, especially as Year 2000 draws ever near. It's a topic I've taken great interest in, and have spent a number of hours reading the various books available on the subject; the book I've studied the most on it has been the bible. From the Old Testament to Revelation, there are a number of references to the end times. I've stopped trying to attach a date, since "No one knows the day or the hour", but I'll never stop looking for signs.

The increasing natural disasters are one clue. The gradual rebirth of Israel and the creation of the European Economic Community are others. But what most greatly concerns me is that the technology now allows for one man to govern the world as predicted in the bible. Over the years, microchips have been developed (currently used in animals) for tracking purposes. Signs are now pointing toward a cashless society whereby humans would have this chip and use it in lieu of credit cards or cash for identification and purchasing. Sounds great - no more running to the ATM for cash and no more worries about having your wallet stolen. But the amount of control this would allow an evil leader is frightening.

When I first read the above passage from Revelation, I laughed at the notion that people would ever allow a number of 666 be branded onto their hands or foreheads. Years later, I've stopped laughing as I now realize how subtle and how cunning Satan is.

Friday, June 18, 1999

Idolatry: The Forgotten Commandment

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

Most of my life, until age 24, I never knew this commandment even existed. Sad thing is I attended church every week and attended religious school for years (even taught it for a year to 5th grade students). I knew all about serving only one God, not taking the Lord's name in vain, honoring the Sabbath, honoring my parents, not murdering, not stealing, not committing adultery, not bearing false witness against my neighbor, not coveting my neighbor's wife, and not coveting my neighbor's goods. But this commandment was never taught to me, and it made me wonder. How could this commandment about idolatry have completely escaped me? Were there any other inconsistencies between my beliefs and the bible?

For months I compared bible passages to the official doctrine of the church I was attending. To my dismay, I found numerous differences between the two, and it greatly concerned me. After praying about it, I knew I had to make a change in churches - no matter how difficult it might be for my family and I. The day I told my family I was switching to a non-denominational church was one of the worst days of my life. But it was a choice I will never regret. It has taken a number of years for my family to begin to accept it, but I pray that one day they will fully understand.

Saturday, June 12, 1999

The Importance of Fellowship

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

This verse emphasizes the importance of fellowship in each of our lives. Living an isolated life is not only depressing, but can stunt our spiritual growth. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to have someone (or a group of people) that you can meet with regularly.

Off and on for the past few years I've been active in a men's group that has met on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. We conduct bible studies, share our struggles, and pray for one another. The difference in my life when this group has been active and non-active is amazing. When there is someone that is holding you accountable for your actions, it makes it a whole lot harder to turn your back on God's will.

Friday, June 4, 1999

Taking Responsibility for Our Sins

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

This verse challenges each of us to take responsibility for our sins. It is all too easy to commit a sin and then rationalize it by saying "The devil made me do it!" or "God is just testing me." It is far more difficult to say, "I knew full well what I was doing was a sin, and yet I went ahead and did it anyway."

No one likes to condemn themselves by admitting that they are a sinner, but this is precisely what God requires of us. He asks that we each acknowledge our sinfulness and our individual need for a savior. At first this might seem too difficult or humbling, but if we fully consider the price Christ paid for our salvation, we'll come to realize that we could never humble ourselves as low as He did.

Friday, May 28, 1999

Christ the One Mediator

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)

I think this verse is a good reminder of the power of Christ. He is the one mediator between a perfect God and sinful man. No one else has the authority to do so! Christ gained that authority by humbling himself to become man, living a sinless life, and serving his Father's perfect will.

Jesus shared our mortal body and shed red blood, but overcame the temptation and evil of the world. No other human being has ever duplicated the feat and no one ever will.

Saturday, May 15, 1999

Turning the Other Cheek

You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38-39)

I'm sure many people find this to be one of Christ's hardest commands to follow. One's first reaction to hearing this verse might be one (or all) of the following:

  • Why should I repay an evil deed with a good one?
  • Why should I allow someone to take advantage of me?
  • Would Jesus really want me to stand by while someone harmed or hurt me?

Believe me, I've asked myself these questions many times in my life. Although I do believe in self defense, I've never seen something good come from being vengeful or spiteful. Have people done bad things to me? Have people taken advantage of me? Sure. But it's during those times that I question myself all the more "What would Jesus do if they did that to him?" It gives me the time to find ways to forgive, as He would, and not plan my revenge. Will I ever be as forgiving or loving as Christ? Never. But it sure feels good to try.

Monday, May 10, 1999

Treasures on Earth or Heaven?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

I've used this verse to question myself a number of times, "Who/what is currently on the throne of my life?" Is it money? Is it the desire to be successful in school / athletics / career? Is it another family member or friend? Is it God? When the answer to this question is anyone or anything but God, my life, not surprisingly, has always been in disarray. It is only when I decide to fully yield my life to God that I find true happiness and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, this is an ongoing struggle. My natural tendency is to want to be the captain of my own ship - too bad I'm not as great a navigator as the Lord. When I reach the end of myself, He is always faithful to right the ship and steer me back on course.

Thursday, May 6, 1999

Judging Others

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

This verse helped changed my life dramatically in college. I was in a very judgmental stage in my life; what I like to call the "Frank is Perfect" stage. I remember vividly a non-Christian friend of mine quoting me this verse, and asking me to reexamine myself. My first reaction was "Who does he think he is quoting me, Mr. Christian, a bible verse??" It took awhile for his words to sink in, but they finally did. I no longer am so quick to judge people, but rather try to understand where they are coming from, or why they do the things they do. I no longer view myself as "Mr. Perfect" but as "Mr. Sinner" - a man in desperate need of God's grace.