Man, I feel lucky!

Yes, I do.  I grew up with parents (and a God) that loved me!  Okay, most children could say that about their mom and dad, but God?

I feel lucky because my parents modeled Jesus Christ to me in such a way that I wanted to be just like the Jesus I read about in the Bible.  

Speaking of the Bible, it was a precious document in our home. We were careful never to lay anything on top of it, and careful to treat it with reverence.  Even so, frankly, I didn't read the Bible a disciplined way when I was younger.  My mom and dad didn't try to cram it down my throat like you would imagine some late 1800's Pennsylvanian, fundamentalist, snake-handling, religious fantatic might have.  Are those enough adjectives?  

I was familiar with the dramatic, sometimes graphic, if not scary stories in the Bible, but I couldn't quote their chapters and verses whatsoever... except maybe John 3:16,  "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son, so that whoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life."  

Meantime, my mom and dad "forced" our home to be a reliable refuge and sanctuary from the world.  I say "forced," because my brother and I were two very strong-willed boys growing up, that when left to our own devices would bring home testosterone-filled, worldly values, opinions, along with their destructive influences.  Later I realized how much I took the Christian  discipline of our household for granted.  

This all brings me to my faith and a point about the term "religion."  I don't call myself a "religious" person.  Rather,  I call myself a "believer and follower of Christ."   Am I splitting hairs?  Well, I have a relationship with God that transcends "religion."  

Otherwise, being "religious" is like saying, "Because I have an undying love and relationship with my mom and dad, I am 'religious about them'."  Not in the slightest.   So I have no "religion," as defined here, with Jesus.  Am I still splitting hairs here?

Well the word "religion" is partly defined as, "a personal set, or institutionalized system, of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices".  If I described my relationship with my parents as anything remotely like that, I would get strange looks from people.  If I had to reduce my relationship with Christ to that description I would be looking for someone else to put my faith in.

Meantime, no other belief system on earth starts out with a dynamic personal relationship with God that transcends the concept of a religion.  By that account, ALL other faiths can ONLY be defined as a "religion" and little else.    

To illustrate this, the Buddhist follower works hard to follow prescriptions in order to reach his god.  He has no guarantees of success and can only hope that somehow god will accept his sacrifice.  With the Hindu follower, there are also protocols to follow in the quest to reach god that include repeating incantations and emptying one's mind and self-flaggelation.  Yet again, there is no guarantee of reaching god by doing so.  It's just a hope.

At the same time, the follower of Islam is faced with the challenge of also following strict religious protocols in his journey and hope of reaching his god, which includes discipline, self denial, and works, but again, with no guarantees.   And the Spiritist or Voodoo worshipper seeks to reach god through a series of spells, incantations, meditations, self-denial, self-flaggelation, trances and works, but still has no guarantee of success in reaching god.
Finally, for the Christian follower, unfortunately, there is also no promise, or guarantee, or even a possibility of reaching God through the usual prescriptions practiced by other faiths, including incantations, self-disciplines, self-denial, emptying one's mind, by works, or even self-flaggelation.   

In fact, the Christian Bible, known to its believers as the "Word of God," explicitly says that these pursuits and practices are hopeless and futile remedies in reaching God.   That is to say, that there is nothing man can do on his own terms to either earn God's favor, or reach God.

So, you might ask, "Where's the good news here? 

The Good News Is...

The True and Living God...Reached Out To Us!  

There's only ONE God in the Universe that did this.... And that's the God I serve.  

"Wait, your'e saying we can't we reach God on our own terms?  I've heard that all paths lead to God." 

Adam & EveLet me answer with this statement.  All mankind was separated from God when a couple named Adam and Eve chose to disobey one rule God asked them to follow --- as a condition of their prosperity and everlasting life.  

That rule was simply, "Do not to eat fruit from the ONE tree in the garden."  And God added a penalty warning, "If you do, you will die." 

Well, they couldn't seem to resist rebelling against that one rule or take the "die" thing very seriously.  

So, they consequently separated themselves from God unto death.  That is, Adam and Eve gave up both their relationship with God, their prosperity and their right to live eternally.  That's quite a loss.

But again, there's good news...

God wanted to get back together with mankind.  So he sent his only son Jesus to reconcile Himself with us.  God did this by having Jesus sacrifice himself on a cross as an atonement for all of mankind's sin and rebellion, both past, present, and future.

Then, there's "bad" news...

Jesus said, "I Am The Way, The Truth, And The Life, Nobody
Comes To The Father Except Through Me" (John.14:6).

Jesus is the ONLY way to God?   Whoops.  Tough luck for those that have decided to take things into their own hands by meditating, emptying their minds, groveling, self-denying, and repeating incantations, and maybe poking pins in small dolls.  

What happened?  Jesus was crucified by hanging on a cross.   This act was required of  Jesus by God to atone for all of mans' sin.   

Jesus died alone and three days later resurrected himself.  He fulfilled a promise he made to come back and establish His kingdom in three days.  He also proved what was possible for believers; that they would experience a resurrection and be given new, glorified bodies, along with the gift of eternal life.   

Of course we won't experience the full benefit of this resurrection and eternal life until we've shed these mortal bodies first, but we now have much to look forward to.

How does all this happen?

When we accept God's forgiveness, and not try to earn it, but just accept it, God also promises to both forgive and forget all of our sins while granting us eternal life with Him.  To put it a simpler way, "God sent His only Son to die for our sins, so that He could bridge the gap we needed to reach God."

I accepted God's reconciliation offer when I was just seven years old.  It was a momentous event for me.  It was emotional, too.  I had never felt so unburdened, unbound, or free before as I told God how sorry I was for sinning against Him, while affirming my rejection of self-will from that day forward in favor of His will.

That decision changed everything about me for the good.  Since then, as I've regularly surrendered my will and way to God, and He has faithfully led me along a path with many twists and turns that have made my life both a challenge and an experience of joy, satisfaction, and meaning.  
It's been a 44-year journey so far!   Woo hoo! That's my faith experience!

Here's to eternal life and God successfully reaching you,

Jay Palmquist

P.S.  If you are tired of futilely emptying your mind, reciting incantations, self-flaggelation, self-denial, or working to reach your a non-responsive god that doesn't guarantee answering, why not consider the alternative...the God that works to reach you instead? The only God that loved you enough to sacrifice His son to create a bridge to you.  

If you're ready for that change,  just repeat the prayer I did 44 years ago...

It goes like this...

"Jesus, I receive your gift of forgiveness of my sins.  I accept you as my only savior.  I receive your gift of eternal life.  From now on I promise to follow only your word, your will, and your way for my life.  Amen."

Simple, huh?  If you prayed this prayer, you have accepted God's invitation to reconciliation, forgiveness and eternal life available exclusively through Jesus Christ.  

If you prayed this prayer and meant it, send me an email, because I have something that I beleive will help you establish your new journey with the one and only true God that is Christ Jesus... Click Here


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