Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Whatever You Ask??

Really?  Did Jesus actually say that?  Well, yes He did.  We find those words in Matthew 18:19; 21:22, Mark 11:24, and John 14:13-14; 16:23.  And they are powerful words indeed.  The requests that we offer in prayer are verbal acknowledgements of our dependence on God.  We recognize that God can do what we cannot.  So we pray and we ask.  Such prayer, lifted to the throne of God in sincerity and from a pure heart, will often radically change people and circumstances. 

But let's not get the mistaken idea that our great God is some sort of cosmic game show host who awards a jackpot to those who put in just the right words and phrases.  The God of the universe cannot be manipulated.  Yet, we often try to do that very thing by taking a verse or two out of context and using them in an effort to fulfill our selfish desires.  To that end, the Holy Spirit inspired James to write these words:  "You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.  Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong --- you only want what will give you pleasure."  James 4:2-3 (NLT)

Did you notice the highlighted portion above?? Even though Jesus has told us to ask whatever we will and it will be done, God the Father has the final word.  And if our motive for asking is selfish -- in any way outside of the Father's will -- He does not respond. 

Now it IS possible for every follower of Jesus to be a powerful prayer warrior.  But that power has a price.  To become a powerful prayer warrior requires that we give prayer a place of high priority in life AND that we always subject our requests to the will of the Father.  John Wesley prayed every day from 4am until 6am.  Martin Luther is known to have spent 2-3 hours in prayer.  David Brainerd, missionary to American Indians in the 1700s, could often be found kneeling in the snow praying for God to open the hearts of native Americans.  He died of TB at age 29.  Tradition tells us that David Livingston, missionary to Africa, died while on his knees in prayer in his hut.  Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, prayed daily at 9am, noon, pm, 6pm, and 9pm. 

To these men, prayer was the fertile soil in which their life work was rooted.  Their commitments to prayer and their obedience to the Father gave them power for their varied callings, circumstances, and cultures.  They knew that prayer was not just an emergency tool to be used in times of crisis.  It is the lifeline of the believer, his/her connection to the Father. 

Yes, Jesus said "Whatever you ask in My Name, believe that you have received it and it is yours."  But that's not a blank prayer check!  It's an invitation to a deeper relationship.  In John 15:7, Jesus said, "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, (then) ask whatever you will and it will be done for you."  Do you see the conditions for the promise there?  We must abide in Christ and His words must abide in us.  Simply put, Jesus said, "If you do your part, ask whatever you desire and the Father will do His part." 

SO, what is our part?  Let me offer you six things. 

1.  We are to be subject to the Father's willI John 5:14  The more of our selves that we surrender to Jesus, the more our own desires align with God's desires. 

2.  We realize that Jesus is always our Intercessor.  John 14:13  We ask in Jesus' Name because it is only through Jesus that we can approach the Father.

3.  We must be instructed in the truthJohn 15:7   We should be seizing every opportunity to deepen our knowledge and application of God's word.  The Bible becomes our guide for life. 

4.  We strive to obey!    I John 3:22   Our obedience is the outward expression of our faith in and submission to Jesus.

5.  We cling to the promises of God!   Matthew 22:11  This is another expression of faith.  We believe God is faithful and will do what He has promised.

6.  We act on conviction!   Luke 11:9   Daniel 3   In others words, we put feet to our prayers.  In Exodus 14:15, Moses prayed for deliverance and God said:  Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the people to move forward.    Sometimes, we pray and wait idly for God to act when God might be waiting for us to act in faith. 

God is waiting to hear from you.  He wants to do things that are even more awesome and beautiful than you've dreamt or imagined.  But if you want Him to give weight and power to your prayers, you have to do your part. 

Become a powerful prayer warrior for your family, your church, your community, and your nation!  If you do your part, God will certainly do His. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Reminder of Who's in Charge - Throwback Thursday

I was moved to do a little throwback Thursday post.  God led me to my journal post dated May 16, 2013. Someone needs this today.  Maybe you.

4 days until surgery.  Nine weeks after diagnosis, I will have a radical prostatectomy.  Try saying that 3 times quickly.  During the last three weeks, my emotions have simply blended into a fog.  But fear has given way to resolve and anxiety has given way to that "peace that is beyond human understanding."  

As I approach "C Free Day" (Cancer-Free), let me pass on some things that I have learned over the last 2 months.  Things that have renewed my passion, reaffirmed my values and reordered my priorities.

1.  This hasn't caught God by surprise.  There is no sunrise that He has not already seen.  No road that He has not already traveled.  No valley that He has not walked.  No mountaintop that He has not traversed.  HE IS GOD!  Take a moment right now.  Leave the blog and turn in a Bible to Psalm 139 and read it slowly, deliberately.  Whatever you're facing, He's known about it before you ever left your mother's womb.  So as you face your giant, navigate your storm, or walk that valley, just remember!  He knows, He cares, and He's in charge.  

2.  God does NOT condemn our fear or anxiety.  I wish that I could tell you my great faith cast out my fears when I heard the words, "You have cancer."  It didn't.  My wife was sick in bed when I received the diagnosis.  How would I tell her?  How would I tell my kids?  Why now?  I'm not even 60 yet.  There were questions, concerns, uncertainties.  AND, there were some regrets and unfulfilled dreams and hopes.  I have to confess that there were many moments of fear and anxiety.  And God took me a verse that I've loved for years.  Psalm 103:14 -- "For He knows how weak we are; He remembers that we are only dust." 
God, my Father knows and understands my fear and anxiety and offers Himself as the Answer.  

3.   God's desire is to use these kinds of things to shape us into the image of Jesus.  Sometimes these things are used to correct us.  Sometimes He uses them to redirect us.  Sometimes He will use them to convert us.  He always uses them to teach us.  And ultimately, He will use them to prepare us for future service or ministry to others.  Romans 8:28 is a well-known verse in Christian circles, often quoted to give us hope in the midst of difficulty.  But Romans 8:29 really needs to be linked with that promise.  We do know that God works in all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. But He works in those things (good AND bad) to make us more like His Son, our Lord Jesus.  

4.  God's power is always best demonstrated in our weakness.  That's Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10    Americans are, culturally speaking, prone to be "in charge."  We are control freaks and when a situation is out of our control, it causes stress, anxiety, and a host of emotional responses.  Paul would have done well in America.  But what he learned about weakness is simply this --- when we are weak, that's when God is strongest in our lives.  Faith really is all about letting go and letting God.  When the situation is out of our control, it's good to have intimate relationship with the One Who is really in charge.  

So whatever you're going through, whatever you're facing, remember!  You know the One Who's in charge of it all. Abandon yourself into His hands.  I know I will because I realize that His hands are the safest place to be.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Use US to Bless the USA


An essay by Samuel Adams in the Boston Gazette dated 1771 states:  "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.  We have received them as fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors.  They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood and have transmitted them to us with care and diligence.  It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us . . . without a struggle or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."  

Wow!  396 years ago, a small band of courageous men and women stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock. Months of hardship and much loss of life were among the sacrifices made in order to achieve religious freedom in a new, uncharted land.  For 150 years, this "new frontier" flourished, colonized by the British empire and strengthened by the blood, sweat, and tears of noble individuals who believed that freedom was worth the risk, hard work, and sacrifice.  

BUT, control by the British crown increased during that first century and slowly began to choke off some of the freedoms that these folks had risked their lives to attain.  It has always been true that as the size of government increases, the true freedom of the governed decreases.  So, small groups of colonial citizens began to rebel with such tactics as the famed 'Boston Tea Party.' Thus was born the American spirit . . . a prevailing attitude that was absolutely instrumental in winning our freedom.  This spirit, perhaps the most formidable weapon employed by this rag-tag army of colonial rebels, became known as the "Spirit of 76."

In the spring of 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Franklin, Madison, Hancock, and Henry.  Adams and Jefferson, too.  They were all there.  The course of action taken that spring literally changed the course of the world.  It was there that Patrick Henry said, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, almighty God!  I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."  Thomas Jefferson penned these words:  "The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy it but cannot disjoin them."  

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was presented and proclaimed its foundation in this way:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;  that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Note that phrase, "endowed by their Creator."  With all of their faults, with all of their flaws and character quirks (we all have them), with all the shadows that loomed over their private lives, these men recognized that the true Source of their life and liberty was God.  A new nation was born.  A nation that would become the greatest civilization in the history of mankind.  From the lives of our young men to benevolent needs across the world, no other civilization has ever given so much to defend and help the poor, the weak, the defenseless.  

In the last full paragraph of the Declaration, the framers stated, "We therefore . . . appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions . . ."   Are you familiar with that word, "rectitude?"  Its definitions are "quality or state of being straight; moral integrity; the quality or state of being correct in judgment."  Throughout the process, these flawed men sought the wisdom of God.  Then, by affixing their signatures to that document, they each pledged their lives, the honor, and their fortunes to birth a new nation.   That war for independence cost 5,000 patriot lives.

Freedom has never been free.  It always requires sacrifice and perseverance.  It is tempered with responsibility and respect.  It flows from the hearts of people, NOT the halls of government.  And it is NOT to be taken lightly.  We are privileged still to live in a great nation, this United States of America.  But as citizens of heaven, we have an even greater responsibility, given by Jesus Himself, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16)   God is waiting for US to stand in the breach and intercede for a nation that He desires to bless.  (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)

SO, this Independence Day, amidst the Bar-b-ques and ball games, the late morning brunch and the late night fireworks, consider spending some time in God's presence and renewing yourself regarding these commitment:

PRAY - Become a prayer warrior for our nation.  Yes, we have issues and yes, our choices in this critical election year might seem distasteful, but WE are the ones to whom the responsibility is given to intercede for our leaders, our warriors, our children, and our grands.   I Timothy 2:1-4

BE CHRIST-LIKE -  Whatever happens, whoever is elected, whoever is "in charge," remember that there is no authority in place anywhere that is not allowed there by God.  Romans 13:1   So our responsibility is to follow the admonition of Philippians 1:27 -- "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."  

BE INVOLVED  -  Salt that remains in the salt-shaker is of little value.  We are called and commissioned to be the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)   We cannot positively affect the world by withdrawing from it.  So be an involved, principle-based, values-based participant in our culture. Biblical principles and values communicated with a Christ-like authority in the arena of debate and in the voting booth.  Pray, Be Christ-like, and Be Involved.  And leave the results to God.

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!  And remember . . . If anyone asks you if they have a fourth of July in England or France or Canada, the answer is yes.  But it's just that --- the fourth of July.  

IF you want to read the Declaration of Independence in full, go to www.ushistory.org/declaration 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So What's the Problem?

It was a crisp, clear January day in 1977.  My father, who had suffered a heart attack on January 6, had finally been moved from the ICU to a private room.  His first request was a haircut. Just before his barber came in, the doctors stopped by, gave him a quick check and said that everything was progressing favorably.  Shortly after the barber started, my father slumped over in the chair in cardiac arrest.  

My sister alerted the doctor and nursing staff, who responded to find my father blue and unresponsive.  No pulse, no respiration, no sign of life until . . . CPR was administered until a defibrillator was brought in.  With one shock from the paddles, there it was.  A cough, a gurgle, and suddenly, my father was alive again.  It was there that I first grasped the concept of revival.  From listlessness to lifelessness to LIFE because of an external force.  

Alive Again!! That's what it means to be ReVived.  The church of Sardis, found in Revelation 3, was a church with a rich, productive past.  But when Jesus addressed them in Revelation 3, their present was characterized by a listless, lifeless faith. Jesus' words were:  You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead . . ." Some might consider this a eulogy, but it was not. Indeed, it was an invitation to Revival!  Certainly if we or any church are to offer eternal, abundant life to those who are dead in sin, we must be alive and healthy.  

If Jesus' message to Sardis warns us of anything, it is a warning against looking to past glory and victories while neglecting the needs and opportunities of the present.  Far too many individuals and churches fall into the pattern of those who, as Paul wrote, ". . . hold to a form of godliness while denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:5)   Spiritual lethargy is often masked with religious activity.  Adequate attendance and offerings keep us comfortable and, as long as there is no major conflict looming on the horizon, we feel pretty good about things.  

But here is the problem.  A comfortable church is the equivalent to a spiritual couch potato.  Unwilling to experience the comfort and pain of an exercised faith and spiritual growth, we develop a survival mindset instead.  We avoid risks at all costs, we claim possession of what Jesus purchased with His own blood, and we expend our energy just trying to hold on to what we have.  The result is spiritual stagnation and ultimately death.  

What's the answer?   Revival!  But in order to be revived, we must be willing to admit that our health might not be good.  We must admit that we're on a course that is leading toward an ultimate death.  God described it in 2 Chronicles 7:14 as humbling ourselves.  Notice in that verse that the onus for revival is on US.  We must Humble Ourselves, Pray, Seek God's ways, and Turn from Our Wicked Ways.   God waits with great desire to give us Revival.  Perhaps we're just not desperate enough yet.   Leonard Ravenhill is credited as saying "The only reason God has not given us revival is because we're willing to live without it." Sad.  

Now I know the context of these verses.  I know that God spoke these words to Solomon for the nation of Israel at the dedication of the Temple.  But, are they not applicable for us today?  Hear them again.  Read them aloud.  "If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to every prayer made in this place."  

Sounds like HE might still be waiting to hear . . . from me and from you.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Keep Up the Good Work!!

 For all my fellow followers of Jesus who might be feeling a bit discouraged in your work, here is a story that might help you.  

His name was Herbert, but most folks just called him Buddy.  To a Sunday School classroom full of ten and eleven year old boys, he seemed to be a hundred years old.  He had grown up during the Great Depression, so I'm sure his formal educational opportunities were limited.  Why in the world would he subject himself to the unruly behavior of an unappreciative group of boys Sunday after Sunday?  Perhaps I have an answer.

I was a member of that class.  I don't remember a single lesson he taught.  I remember no powerful principles for life that he imparted to us.  What I DO remember is that he was there every Sunday. Consistently, faithfully, patiently, he attempted to teach a class of boys with very short attention spans and a variety of interests that seemed much more exciting than a Sunday School lesson.  

12 years later, I remember Buddy standing in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit.  In a matter of days, my father's heart had failed and he was snatched from us at the age of 59.  Once again, I cannot remember anything that Buddy said that night, but I will always remember that he was there when we needed support.  

I've thought of Buddy often over the years, wondering if he ever knew the positive effect that his faithfulness, patience, and love had on that class of boisterous boys.  I haven't kept up with my classmates, but I do know one whose life was eternally affected by the quiet, consistent, caring presence of that simple man.  It wasn't what he SAID that influenced my life.  It's what he WAS.

Buddy is a beautiful example for Sunday School workers, pastors, youth workers, coaches, and mentors who might feel like giving up. If that's you, please take a page from Buddy's playbook.  Don't worry so much about what to say.  Just be there!  Be patient, consistent, and loving.  Stay the course! Do NOT get weary and discouraged.  Those things spring from the heart of the devil with the intent to make you give up.  DON'T LET him WIN! The positive effects might not be evident yet, but you are having an effect.  God will use you to change some lives, just like He used Buddy to change mine.  

I never told Buddy how much he meant to me, but I'm sure he knows now.  One day, when God calls me to my eternal home, Buddy will be one of those to whom I will say, "Thank you for giving to the Lord, for I am a life that was changed.  Thank you for giving to the Lord.  I am so glad you gave."  (Ray Boltz)

In writing to the Galatian church, Paul told them, "So let's not get tired of doing what's good.  At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up!"  (Galatians 6:9 NLT)

Nothing you do for others in Jesus' Name is every wasted. NOTHING!   So Keep Up the Good Work!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

If You Feel Blessed But Stressed . . .

 . . . you're in good company.  

I was listening to "Let the Waters Rise" by Mike's Chair.  It seemed appropriate for my mood.  I, like each of you, sometimes feel the weights and pressures of life closing in on me.  It's easy to turn our focus toward the those things that stress us and the danger in that is simple.  You can't focus on two things at once.  Mike's Chair reminded me of that.  Take a look at these lyrics:

 Don't know where to begin.  It's like my world's caving in and I tried, but I can't control my fear.  Where do I go from here.  Sometimes it's so hard to pray.  You feel so far away.  I am willing to go where you want me to.  God I trust you. 

There's a raging sea right in front of me, wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees.  So let the waters rise if you want them to.  I will follow You.   

I will swim in the deep, cuz You'll be next to me.  You're the Eye of the storm and the Calm of the sea.  You're never out of reach.  God, You know where I've been.  You were there with me then.  You were faithful before. You'll be faithful again.  I'm holding Your hand.  

God, Your love is enough.  You will pull me through.  I'm holding on to You.  

Stormy seas often produce flooding.  In 1989, scores of people took shelter at the Lincoln High School shelter In McClellanville, SC to escape the fury of Hurricane Hugo.  That shelter almost became a death trap as the storm surge flooded the building and required many adults to hold children over their heads as they sought refuge on the roof.  The rising waters could have quickly taken the lives of many of the 400+ folks seeking shelter that night.  By the grace of God, no one died there.  

I was pastoring in North Charleston at that time.  I met with some deacons who tried to persuade me to focus more on the JOY of following Jesus when I preached.  Their chief complaint was that I spent too much time talking about valleys, storms, and difficulties.  My explanation didn't change their minds, but I still hold to it.  MOST of life for MOST of us is lived in the storms and valleys and flood waters of life.  Whether it's health issues, employment issues, relational issues, financial issues or any other kind of issues, following Jesus does NOT guarantee that those things will dissipate. When we come to faith in Jesus, the only guarantee we have (other than the certainty of heaven) is that HE will be with us in those valleys, storms, and flood waters.  

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that walking in God's will means the absence of stress.  It doesn't!! You need only to read the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to discover the distress of David and Solomon.  You need only to read of the persecution of the early Church, the stoning of Stephen, the killing of James, the thorn in Paul's side, and the Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 to discover that following Jesus really IS taking that hard road (Matthew 7:14 NLT).  It's not for weaklings, cowards, or quitters.  

In Matthew 14:22-32, notice that Jesus could have stilled the winds and waves on the Sea of Galilee that night, but He didn't.  Surely it would have been easier for Peter to step out onto a sea as smooth as glass.  But when Jesus told him to step out, the wind was howling and the swells continued to crash against the boat.  As long as Peter kept His focus on the Christ Who called him, he could literally rise above the normal effects of the storm.  BUT, at the moment he changed his focus from Jesus to the rising waters, he began to sink.  At that point, Jesus reached out to rescue him and said, "You of little faith.  Why did you doubt?"  

For most of us, life will continue to confront us with issues, dilemmas, and stresses of every sort.  The winds will continue to howl and the waters will rise and fall.  Between all the mountaintops, we'll be forced to travel through the valleys.  WHY?  Because that's where ministry is needed.  Those valleys and stormy seas will be littered with hurting, frightened folks and we can point them to the One Who can help them rise above it all.  

So when you find the waters rising in your life, ask yourself a couple of questions:
1.  Have I lost my focus?  Am I distracted from Jesus?

2.  What is it that He desires to teach me in this storm or valley?  Is there someone that I can help because of my experience?  How will He use this to strengthen my witness?  

Distress comes to us all.  Fear is natural.  Questions are OK.  But obedience is the key.  Even when we're afraid . . . even when we don't understand . . . even when there seems to be no answers, keep your faith and keep your focus on Jesus.  His love is enough and HE will pull you through.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Lesson from Steve Harvey


OK, so it's December 22, 2015 and it's been two days since the Miss Universe Pageant.  That's two days of news media and social media taking shots at Pageant host Steve Harvey for his undeniable gaffe.  If you've been on a media fast or simply out of touch because of the holiday rush, this is how it played out.   There were two contestants left.  Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines were the top two of the five finalists.  Harvey had carefully read the identities starting with fifth runner-up.  Miss USA was third, by the way.  With only two names remaining, the standard operating procedure is to announce the winner (Miss Universe) since the remaining candidate would then be first runner-up. Unfortunately, Harvey continued to read down the list and read the first runner-up, Miss Columbia, BUT proclaimed her to be the new Miss Universe.  Yes, it was a snafu of biblical proportions. Internationally televised with millions of viewers including those from the Philippines and Colombia.  

Steve Harvey had blown it and he knew it.  So he did one of the most honorable and painful things I have ever seen.  He acknowledged his mistake, took full responsibility, and apologized.  Yes, it's true that his actions did not remove the embarrassment Miss Colombia must have felt.  It didn't assuage the anger that the people of Colombia felt.  But it was quick, direct, heartfelt, and courageous.  I have liked Steve Harvey for a while, but on Sunday, my respect level for him shot way up.

For years we have been living in a culture where accepting responsibility is the exception more than the rule.  When things go wrong, when mistakes are made, we often look for scapegoats in order to escape responsibility.  It's nothing new.  In fact, it started in the Garden of Eden.  If you check out Genesis 3, you'll find that when God confronted Adam about his eating of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam's quick response was to blame God.  "It was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit . . ." (v. 10  NLT  Caps emphasis mine)   Let's get this straight.  Adam and Eve sin and bring sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).  When confronted about their wrongdoing, Adam blames God and the woman and Eve blames the serpent (vv. 13-14).  It was the beginning of denial, the unwillingness to take responsibility for our sins, mistakes, and failures.  

Blaming others is easy.  Accepting responsibility and consequences takes courage.  Blaming others is childish.  Taking responsibility for our words, actions, and failures is a sign of maturity.  Steve Harvey could have blamed the designer of the card or the lighting or the pressure of the moment.  Instead, he showed the world the card and owned his mistake.  

And that is exactly what we must do IF we want to have a personal and intimate relationship with God.  We cannot blame others for our sins, our selfishness, or our character flaws.  We must own them, take responsibility for them, and confess them to a holy God.  The word confess literally means "to say the same thing."  When we confess, we take responsibility by saying the very things that God already knows to be true.  But John the Apostle tells us in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, we can depend upon Him to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every unrighteousness."  The "Him" John refers to here is Jesus (see I John 1:7)

This is WHY Jesus came.  God actually took responsibility for a creation that had become mired in sin, selfishness, and self-destruction.  No animal sacrifice or religious ritual could remove the stain of sin from the crown of His creation.  So He took responsibility and gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who places their faith in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16  NLT)   Now it's up to you!  God has done His part.  But He expects you to take responsibility for your sins, confess them, receive His forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and be born into His family as a child of God (John 1:12).  

I might not agree with everything Steve Harvey says or does, but in this instance, He showed us the way.  Take responsibility for your life today, confess your sins to God, receive the free gift of eternal life by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus, and enjoy a new life in Jesus Christ.  

Father God, I know that I'm a sinner and I take responsibility for my own life.  I cannot change on my own, but I now know that this is why You sent Your one and only Son.  Thank You for sending Jesus.  Thank You for His death of the cross which makes forgiveness of my sins possible.  Thank You for raising Him from the dead which makes eternal life a reality for those who trust and obey Him.  Today, I become a follower of Jesus.  I place my faith in Him and pledge my obedience to Him.  

IF you prayed that prayer, find yourself a good, Bible-based church this Christmas weekend and go there.  Let those people know what you have done, then follow the example of Jesus by being baptized as His follower.  

And if you're in the Walterboro, SC area and don't have a church, please consider Nova Church.  We're at 4955 Jeffries Hwy. and our service begins at 10:30am.