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Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

Click pic for 2015 post on "The Presidents Club"

The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

Click pic for "Revelation Song" sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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Our True Home Address

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‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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Cherry Picking 101

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Love Sweet Love

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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The Voice of Faith

Hebrews 11v6

I’ve written on the subject of faith in several previous blog posts, and faith cannot be underestimated in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. The most well known chapter in the Bible on the subject of faith (in fact, it is actually about faith in action) is Hebrews 11, which starts out with these three verses:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Starting right out of the gate, if a person does not believe “that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible,” his faith is Jesus Christ is suspect, for God has clearly stated that it is so.

The remaining verses in Hebrews 11 (which contains a total of 40 verses), describe “faith in action” in the lives of many famous and obscure folks in the Old Testament, starting with Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham through to Rahab, the prostitute, and ending with innumerable unnamed folks in the final verses 32-40:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

That promise came true in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is the something better” that was planned “for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” And the fact that Jesus Christ has always existed with God even before he came to earth in human form is clearly stated in John 1:1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

One must believe all of the above if one is a true believer in Jesus Christ. It is the foundation on which a Christian places their faith. They must also believe what Jesus stated to a Pharisee named Nicodemus during their conversation in John 3:1-21:

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

It is paramount that we understand and believe this if we claim to be a believer in Jesus Christ. Without this, any faith that we claim we have is faith in something or someone else.

While the people in the Old Testament did not experience Jesus Christ in the flesh, Jesus has always existed throughout the Old Testament (see article titled, Jesus in the Old Testament at this link), and that is why we find this statement at the end of Hebrews 11 in verses 39 and 40:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

The “us,” of course, is us (and always has been down through the ages since the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ), and includes all true believers in Jesus Christ. And immediately following those two verses that end Hebrews 11 are the three verses that begin Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [the Old Testament folks we just read about in Hebrews 11], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

hebrews 12v1Notice in those verses what we are to do. We are to . . . .

  • Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us
  • Run with perseverance the race marked out for us
  • Fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith
  • Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinners so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.

And what does it states about Jesus? It states:

  • Jesus is the pioneer and perfector of faith
  • For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame
  • And he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Christian life is not a cake walk, but a battleground, and the joy that was set before Jesus was not found on this earth but in Heaven. And he had to endure the cross and it’s shame to get there and pave the way for us to go there, too, through his sacrifice on the cross for us. For those of us who believe, he, indeed, “bore our sins” as stated in 1 Peter 2:24:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

However, he did not take away the opposition we will experience as his followers. In fact, Jesus clearly stated that we are to “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).” Got Questions.org gives a clear answer as to what that statement means to us as followers of Jesus (quote source here):

Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, Take up your cross and follow Me means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25). Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.

Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds. Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah, their view of who the Messiah really was—and what He would do—was distorted. They thought the Christ would usher in the restored kingdom. They believed He would free them from the oppressive rule of their Roman occupiers. Even Christ’s own inner circle of disciples thought the kingdom was coming soon (Luke 19:11). When Jesus began teaching that He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and their Gentile overlords (Luke 9:22), His popularity sank. Many of the shocked followers rejected Him. Truly, they were not able to put to death their own ideas, plans, and desires, and exchange them for His.

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.

In Luke 9:57-62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.

Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? The number of false converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27). The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26). (Quote source here.)

Therefore, we should expect opposition in this life, and expect it right up until we take our last breath. The joy that Jesus stated that was set before him in Hebrews 12:1-3 was found in Heaven, not here on earth. This life we are living is preparation for the next life. And that’s not often a message we hear today, but it is the reality of what Jesus had to say to those of us who truly follow him.

Faith isn’t found in the things of this world–money, materialism, success, careers, people, appearances, reputations, etc. Those things are all a part of life, but our faith should not be placed in any of  them. It can all too easily vanish and if we have placed our faith in anything but Jesus, we will be crushed under the weight of the loss when it happens. We are to “fix our eyes on Jesus (not money, materialism, success, careers, people, appearances, reputations, etc.) who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (the NKJV states “author and finisher of our faith”).

Tucked away in Hebrews 11 is a verse often quoted by Christians (stated in the picture at the beginning of this post) that states (Hebrews 11:6):
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
It’s probably a sign of the times we live in here in America that often we think of God’s rewards as being given in the “here and now”–a better job, higher salary, financial prosperity, and any number of “things” we want, but that is not the reward that is spoken of in Hebrews 11:6. That God often and does bless us in this life with good things (and not just materially) is clearly stated throughout the Bible (click here for examples). However, rewards in the context of verse 6 can be understood by looking at the previous verse connected to it (verse 5). Here are those two verses (Hebrews 11:5-6):

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

The rewards come when our race is done here on this earth. . . .

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

 “. . . looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God.”
~Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

So where do we place our faith?

In who we are, what we do, what we have, or who we know?

Or in Jesus . . . .

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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Love Is In The Air

Valentine-Day-2015-Greetings

I posted this blog post below on Valentine’s Day last year and decided to post it again for this year. It’s always a good reminder to remember what true love is really all about.

Happy Valentine’s Day, 2016!

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails.

~I Corinthians 13:4-8

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~Jesus (John 13:34-35)

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like JesusThere is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. ~1 John 4:7-21

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Sonthat whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. ~John 3:16-18

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And now these three remain:
faith, hope and
love.
But the greatest of these is
love.
~I Corinthians 13:13

YouTube Video: “Love Does,” by Brandon Heath:

Photo credit here

A Time For Every Matter

For everything there is a seasonI rarely go back and read previous blog posts on my blog, but once in a while I run across one that makes me wonder what I had to say back then, and that happened the other night. This particular blog post was written on February 2, 2013–exactly three years ago today. I was curious as to what I had written back then given that another three years has passed since that time, and my “situation” has still not improved due to circumstances beyond my control that I wrote about in a recent blog post three weeks ago titled, “Behind the Scenes.”

That particular blog from three years ago is titled, Against All Odds.” It was during February of that year that I became aware of a few more details that were involved in my circumstances (which are crystal clear at this point in time). It’s not that the additional information changed how I viewed my circumstances, but it give me more information to go on. Call it a “light bulb” moment. For the sake of this blog post, the details are unimportant, but it was an crucial piece to the puzzle I was in need of at that time.

Apart from the length of time mentioned in this previous blog post (e.g., “four years” is now seven years) and the fact that a lot more changes have occurred during these past three years since it was written to include the fact that I no longer live where I lived when I wrote that blog post (instead, I am currently living in hotels–sigh…), rereading that post was a great reminder to me of all of the ways that God has met my needs during those first four years since losing my job in Houston in April 2009. Who knew it would still be ongoing three years later from the time I wrote it. And now it’s been going on seven years and counting since it all first began.

Of course, since that time three years ago, my circumstances have changed considerably and now include, for the past 16 months, my current housing search while living in hotels; and that has actually been going on for almost two years now since I left that apartment I lived in for over four years at the end of March 2014. Hotel living (and we aren’t talking The Marriott, either) is extremely expensive, and it started when I went back to Houston at the end of September 2014 to try to find affordable senior housing which, after a thorough search, ended three plus months later when I could not find any affordable housing while living in hotels that I thought would be a very temporary living situation. I returned to Florida after the dismal outcome of my housing search in Houston over a year ago, and I’ve been living in hotels for that past year here in Florida while continuing to search for affordable senior housing that just never seems to show up no matter how hard I try to find it. Of course, it all has to do with those circumstances that are beyond my control.

I’m glad I ran into this particular blog post from three years ago as it reminded me of all the ways God has been faithful to me during those first four years after losing my job in Houston. We do have a “success” mentality in America and we tend to assume that anything bad that happens (and sticks round) outside of the parameters of that “success” mentality is suspect. And for the past several decades that “success” mentality has invaded Christian thinking and living in America as if it is some sort of “proof” that one is, indeed, going in the right direction. Yet history and many biblical accounts do not speak to “outward appearances” as having anything to do with what God views as success. Still, we tend to march to that particular drummer, and it sort of reminds me of following a Pied Piper. That term comes from “the Pied Piper of Hamelin (in German legend) who is a piper who rid the town of Hamelin of rats by luring them away with his music and then, when he was not paid for his services, lured away its children” (quote source here). In short, it means someone who offers strong but delusive enticements (source here). And we have much in our society today that lures us and our children down paths we never intended to go and that we are often blinded by.

However, I don’t want to get off the topic of this post. This post is a reminder that Jesus lived among an “unbelieving generation” who thought they truly believed but when push came to shove, they really didn’t believe, and their actions proved that to be the case. I’ll let the blog post explain it. So without further ado, here it is–a blast from the past . . . .

And, by the way, I still believe in miracles . . . Yes, I do!!!

Against All Odds 

against-all-odds2

(This post was originally written on February 2, 2013)

Do you believe in miracles?
Many folks say they do but when something miraculous actually happens many times they call it merely a “coincidence.” Dictionary.com defines “coincidence” as “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.” Mere chance . . . .

There’s a story in Mark 9:14-27 that I want to call to your attention regarding the healing by Jesus of a young boy possessed by an evil spirit:

“When they [Jesus, Peter, James and John] came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

 “‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked.

“A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’

“‘O unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’

 “So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’

“‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’

“‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’

“When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. ‘You deaf and mute spirit,’ he said, ‘I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’

“The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.”

If you had been in the crowd that day and witnessed what happened, what would your reaction have been to the miracle that you just witnessed?

There are two striking remarks by Jesus in this account: “O unbelieving generation” and “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Herein lies the difference between believing in mere “coincidence” (by an unbelieving generation) and believing in miracles (as believers in Jesus Christ). With God there are no “coincidences.” None . . . .

As I look back over these past four plus years from the time I landed in Houston to start that ill-fated job that I lost almost seven months later that has brought about almost four years of unemployment at this point in time (and I’m still looking) I see miracle after miracle of God’s provision in my life. Many folks might just say it’s “coincidence” that all of these things happened. However, I have never believed in “coincidence.” No, I believe in God and that He is ultimately in control of everything that happens to us.

It was in the providence of God that I lost my job at the very same time that extended unemployment benefits were being approved (up to 99 weeks) for the long-term unemployed when the worst hit in 2008-2009 (a very rare occurrence during the decades that unemployment compensation has been available—the normal maximum is 26 weeks). And, I did not know about “extended benefits” until my first 26 weeks of benefits were about to expire. Add to that the fact that if I had not returned to Florida when my lease was up on my apartment in Houston at the end of September 2009 (and I really wanted to stay in Houston but couldn’t afford to financially on the $275/wk unemployment benefits I received from Florida) I would not have been able to collect the “extended benefits” due to the fact that the unemployment rate in Texas wasn’t high enough to receive extended benefits through Florida, but the Florida unemployment rate (one of the highest in the nation at that time) was high right on through the entire 99 weeks that I was able to collect unemployment benefits which ended at the end of May 2011. [Add’l note 2-2-16: On July 1, 2011, the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits became much harder to receive and was eventually phased out.]

Also, I would not have been able to come back to Florida at the end of September 2009 had I not been offered the spare bedroom in the home of a good friend at the time. I had been looking for a room to rent in a home in Houston at the time of her offer, and that is when I decided to return to Florida. Of course, I lost most of my possessions (all of my furniture, over 1000 books, and other items) as I couldn’t afford to move them back to Florida. However, her offer and my subsequent return to Florida allowed me to receive the extended unemployment benefits.

tumblr_m4msyiX72n1rwf6i5o1_400Three months after arriving back in Florida I found a cute little completely furnished “seasonal rental” at a rental rate I could afford on the unemployment compensation I was receiving as my friend’s unemployed niece moved in a couple of months after I arrived and it made for cramped living quarters for the three of us. And, I found the seasonal rental by calling an ad in the Yellow Pages for a real estate company who just happened to have a furnished apartment available at the time that they usually rented out as a “seasonal rental” during the winter months. I’ve now been living in it for just over three years while still seeking employment, and I couldn’t have found a more ideal living situation especially not knowing at the beginning when I rented it that I would still be living in it right up through today. [Add’l note 2-2-16: the house where my furnished apartment was located was sold to new owners–an investment company–on March 1, 2012, and then again to an older local couple on December 31, 2013. The last owner–the local couple–hiked the rent significantly, and since I had no income at the time I moved out on March 31, 2014.]

In May 2011, when I finally ran out of the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, I still had just enough savings to keep me going for a few more months, and near the end of those few months when I still couldn’t find employment I had reached the “magic” age of 59 ½ and I was able to access my small retirement account without paying an additional 10% penalty required for anyone taking money out of a retirement account before the age of 59 ½. And that retirement account is what has kept me financially afloat right up through today. [Add’l note 2-2-16: Since I was still unemployed with no income since my unemployment benefits ran out at the end of May 2011, when I turned 62 in 2014 I applied for Social Security benefits which have provided a small monthly income since July 2014.]

From a medical standpoint, I’ve been very fortunately to be in good health all of my life. I was able to keep Cobra health insurance for the first 15 months after I was fired at a significantly reduced rate due to being fired (the reduced rate was not available for anyone quitting a job but only to those who were “involuntarily terminated”). Fortunately, I only had to seek medical help once during that time for a minor infection. Once my Cobra insurance ran out at the end of July 2010 I’ve had no medical insurance since then. In October 2010 I did have to seek help for a situation that required an MRI in order to find out what was going on and since I had no medical insurance it was hard to find a doctor who would see me without a large upfront payment except for one doctor (in a very upscale office and location) who charged me a very minimal amount to be seen. He also helped me find a place where I could get an MRI for only $300 (an astoundingly low price for an MRI). The situation was such that over the next two or three months I healed normally and completely without any additional medical care.

And from a spiritual standpoint, if you’ve been reading my blog posts, you know that I went from a very lethargic spiritual life (that I didn’t even realize was lethargic) when I landed in Houston to experiencing a living, breathing, vital relationship with Jesus Christ that penetrates every area of my life, and that my whole life, and especially my view of the world, has opened up in ways I never could have imagined. Not only that, I’ve been on an adventure that I wouldn’t replace for the highest paying job in the world. And just in the past year I was able to make trips to Atlanta and Houston that I never dreamed I could have afforded as an unemployed person on a very tight budget.

Now, you may say that all of these things that have happened to me are just “coincidence,” but that’s like looking at a full color photograph and only seeing it in black and white, or experiencing a 3-D world in only two dimensions. If you want to believe that everything that happens in the realm of “miracles” is only “coincidence,” you can continue to live on that flat plain. However, I’ll take the mountains and the valleys of real life any day of the week because I do believe in miracles. And they happen all the time . . . .

Jesus was frustrated by an “unbelieving generation” and that’s obvious when he stated, “O unbelieving generation. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19). And He says the same to us today.

Jesus told the father of the boy possessed by an evil spirit that “Everything is possible for him who believes” and “immediately the boy’s father explained, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:23-24). And we need to respond in like manner. We can either choose to see life as a series of “coincidences” or as a life filled with miracles. So I go back to the question I posed when I started this blog post . . . .

Do you believe in miracles?

I do, and even though it’s been almost four years of waiting for that miracle to show up that will finally bring an end to this very long time of unemployment, I have seen and experienced firsthand God’s miracle provision for me all along my path.

Do I get frustrated waiting for that miracle to show up? Yes, I do, absolutely . . . but all I can think of is that it must be one heck of a great miracle up ahead after waiting all this time for it.

Coincidence? Are you kidding me?

No, I believe in miracles!!!

Do you?

YouTube Video: “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City,” sung by Sinead O’Conner:

Photo #1 credit here
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here
Photo #3 credit here

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