Jesus Is My Friend

I wanted to write this article because Jesus has been my best friend for most of my life. For part of my life I didn’t realize it, but He was still there, being my friend. For a little while I did everything to go against what He stood for that I could. He still stayed as my friend and helped me pick up the pieces when that part of my life was over. He’s been such a good friend, that like any good friend, I want to tell everybody who will listen how good he has been. I know what my life was like before I found His love and couldn’t find a relationship with Him. Because of that I want to help everyone I can find what it means to have a friend like Jesus.

I learned when I was little that we were created to fellowship with God, but I forgot that when I became a teenager. I didn’t think about why I felt so empty, meaningless, and afraid. I just tried to deal with it. I guess I did that in all the wrong ways, drugs, alcohol, sex. But all of that made the feeling worse. You see I know what its like to forget my best friend. That’s why I hope you never do, or if you don’t know Him I hope this book will help you find him.

I have heard a lot of young people say I can’t be a Christian I’m afraid of what my friends will say. Little do they know that Jesus is a friend worth losing all other friends for. What’s sad is that they end up not serving Him when they know in their heart that they should. They then watch their friends go to hell without knowing God’s love. Did they even really care about their friends?

I can say in my decades of friendship with Jesus that He has always and I mean always been there, when I needed Him. No matter what I did He loved me. He never got tired of me and dropped me. He was my friend when I was 7,17,27, and 37. He always stayed the same, never up and down in and out. I knew no matter what happened or what was going on, He would be there to help me. I could talk to Him and He understood me better than I understood myself. He not only listened but also did something to help me. He could do things to fix my problems that nobody else could. He has the power to make a difference. He was there to shield me and take care of me. He was my shepherd and a mighty tower.

He loves me more than any friend I will ever have. Nobody else would die so that I could be forgiven. You see He didn’t die because you were good or you deserved it. He died because of your sin, and because you needed a Savior. Even though He died for the whole world, He would have died if you were the only person on earth. His love is personal. He wants to come in your heart and have a one on one relationship with you. When you find this you will know it is real. Jesus can be your best friend.

Chapter 1

Who Do Men Say That I Am?

Jesus was with his disciples one day. This story is told in Matthew 16:13-16. They had been with Him for a long time now. They had seen Him do many miracles; healing the sick, feeding 5,000 with a little bag dinner. They were there because, in some way, He had touched their life, enough so that they had left family, friends, everything around, to watch Him reach out to those who the world didn’t want. They didn’t understand it all. They only saw the difference He had made in them. We know now, thousands and thousands of years later, how He would use them to change their world and ours.

Some of them were fishermen. In that day this wasn’t exactly a prestigious job. Fishermen were mostly a smelly bunch. One was a tax collector. Now that was a low blow! Everybody hated them because they took the Roman taxes, no matter if you could afford them or not. Sometimes they doubled them and pocketed the rest. Most of the rest were uneducated. It was said years later that men marveled at their preaching. (Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”) As they talked with Jesus that day on the coast, He asked them “Who do man say I am?” Now that was a loaded question. One of the greatest wonders about Jesus is that He is the Son of man. I don’t understand how the Holy Ghost of God became His father and Mary a little Jewish girl His mother but I do know it was so. (Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”) I guess today we have become such thinkers that if we don’t understand it, we don’t believe it. Romans tells us about this kind of people in the first chapter, especially in verse 21 and 22, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” There are a lot of things that we use everyday that we may not understand how it works. When I was little, I loved to listen to the radio. I had no idea how that music got into that little box and out to my ears, but I still loved it. Even doctors admit it (if they are honest) that there is a lot about a person’s body and how it functions that they don’t understand. I sure don’t. But I’m still alive and functioning. When it comes to God and the things of God, though, it seems people want to say, “Now I don’t understand that so I can’t accept it. It can’t function that way.” I guess I’m a little different. I have had God in my heart for most of my life. He has protected me miraculously. He has healed me even from things that threatened my life. He has guided me, changing my whole life around for the good. Now if He were an ordinary type fellow, well, He wouldn’t have been able to help me much. I have always gotten into situations where I needed a miracle to help me to get out of them, or I’ve had physical things happened that I needed His touch. On and on, I have needed a miracle working God in my life. It has taken a supernatural God to take care of me. I’ve been a handful. If we admit, we have to say that we all need God to be out of the ordinary. I am so glad He is. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Now if He is going to be somebody we can trust to take care of us, somebody in charge of our eternal soul, He needs to be somebody beyond our understanding. Yes, there is a lot I still don’t understand about Him, but I can still assure you He can be your

 because He has been mine. You just need to take Him like He is. I am glad that He is so great, that we can do just that, and trust Him to never let us down.

I don’t know how God was his father and Mary His mother but I’m glad that He was born. Hebrews 2:16-17 tell us, “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham (He became people like us). Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren (us), that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” He didn’t come here like an angel. He came to earth to grow up just like we have so that He could really understand us. He knows what its like to be 2 years old, 10,16,20. How could He understand us if He hadn’t lived around us as one of us? He understands you. He understands you even more so when you have accepted salvation and He comes into your heart. How can we be saved? We believe, ask His forgiveness (which He gladly gives) and we ask Him to come into our heart. He really does. Then who can know us better than the One that is living inside our own heart? I remember a young man who was so afraid to give his heart to Jesus because he had been really rough and he was afraid he couldn’t do the things he needed to do to be a Christian. He hadn’t been around this way of life much and didn’t understand how any of it worked. I explained he just had to ask Jesus to come into his heart and when he did that, He would change him inside out. Well that boy asked Jesus into his heart. Now this boy had a really bad, knock somebody over the head, temper. Not too long after he asked Jesus into his heart and committed his heart and life to Him, another boy started giving the boy a really hard time. I watched his face and saw this young man fill with anger. Little by little it faded away and he walked away. He ran up to me later jumping up and down saying “I know God is in me now. Did you see that?” He had already started to learn how to let the Spirit of God that was in him, begin to help him do what was right. This changed his whole life. If I hadn’t known through experience that Jesus comes into our heart, that boy would have convinced me that day. He lives inside us. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and still loves us. He came to earth to be able to understand us and to be able to understand what we go through. He understands us from the inside of our heart. And He helps us from the inside out. What better friend can we have?

He also came to the earth to be born just like we are and to die just like we will one day. Why? We aren’t perfect. Matter of fact if we admit it, its easier to do bad than good. We can’t even really understand what good is. The Law of God says that if we sin we face eternal death. That means we die forever and are separated from God eternally, with our souls judged to spend eternity in hell. You see we were made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 tells us, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion….” We were made like Him with an eternal soul. God will judge us righteously and we will spend eternity either with Him or away from Him in hell. There are no other options. Before Jesus came, we had no hope. He died on the cross to take the punishment for our sin. He didn’t have sin Himself, but He took your punishment so you wouldn’t have to. That is why He came. That shows how much He loves you. If you had been the only one, He would have died just for you. If you accept His precious gift and His love and friendship you will never be the same, just like the disciples who sat with Him that day.

When He asked in Matthew 16, 13-16, “Who do men say I am”, they had some strange answers. Some told Him that they had heard people say that He was John the Baptist come back from the dead. Others said that they had heard that He was Elijah, or Jeremiah, or another Old Testament prophet. Today when we ask people who don’t know Him we get even stranger answers. Several people not long ago committed suicide so that they could go in a UFO to be with God. How strange and sad. Everywhere I go I see people trying to find what they think is God. He is supernatural so they look in the occult to find Him. There are more psychics on TV these days than I can take. Getting caught up in witchcraft is very popular. In trying to find God many get caught in the devil’s lies and he destroys their lives. (There are only two spirits, God’s spirit and the devil’s spirit. God is good, the devil is bad. If it isn’t God then it’s bad. There is no such thing as white witchcraft or harmless psychics. This stuff comes from the devil and his sole purpose is to destroy.) People try to find God in money and owning things hoping to buy a little security and peace. Elvis Presley, one of the wealthiest men in the world, died a lonely man without God. His money only bought him misery. People look everywhere to find God, someone to fill the emptiness in their heart and life. We were created to contain His Spirit inside us. When we don’t have it, we feel empty and our life’s meaningless. He gives meaning to our lives and a purpose when we serve Him. People search for some thing to bring them security and peace. There is so much fear in today’s world. Only God can help us and bring peace in a world of terror. We look for God everywhere except for where He is. He left us a book that tells us who He is and how to find Him, but I guess that is too simple. He sends people to tell us about Him, but we are too proud to listen or too afraid to trust enough to hear. He sends His Spirit to talk to our hearts but we shove Him away because we want things our way. When Jesus asked Peter who He was in verse 15, Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God”. We need to find out all we can about Him and personally get to know Him. We need to run to him with all of our heart. Peter had his whole life changed because he believed and accepted the love Jesus poured out to him. Will you?

Chapter 2

Jesus the Teacher

One of the things Jesus spent a lot of time doing on earth was teaching. He knew that there would be a lot of things about God, His ways, and how He expects us to live that we would not understand. When we get saved it’s almost like we have walked into a whole new world. There is so much to learn. If we listen to Him, Jesus will be our teacher, just like He was when He sat with His disciples so many times when He was on earth. He will teach you. I have heard a lot of young people who said that they were afraid that they might get caught in something that wasn’t true, because they knew there are so many things out there that are wrong. That is a wise thought. There really are a lot of false doctrines and some of them, because they deal with your spirit and soul, can seriously damage you. The Bible itself tells us to beware of false prophets telling wrong things. I John 4:1-6 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Verse 6 says, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” We need to watch out for false teachings, but we don’t need to be afraid. If we know God and we talk and walk with Him, He will keep us safe. He will show us what is wrong. He is our Shepherd and He will keep us. He also will teach us the right things that we need to know. He will do this through His Spirit. I John 2:27 tells us, “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” The anointing is His Spirit that speaks in and to our hearts. If we are not living in sin which means that we are not willfully doing wrong, and we want to serve God with all our hearts, He will keep us in the right way. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” People that want to excuse their sin so that they can get by with all the wrong things they are doing, and those that don’t love God with all their heart and don’t obey Him are the ones that get in trouble. If you stay close to your Shepherd, He will keep you. If you listen to Him, and obey Him, He will teach you.

I hadn’t been back to God for long when I got into a church that was wrong. They believed in a strange way and actually taught that the man who started their belief would one day come back from the dead. They would go every year and sit by his grave waiting. Now when I first went they seemed like normal people who believed in the right things. I didn’t know better. They didn’t tell you all this until they had tricked you into thinking like them. I had gone to church right much there and was playing the piano a lot for services. God started talking to my heart that this wasn’t the place I needed to go to church. But they were such nice loving people and they had taken me right in and made me feel a part. I just hadn’t seen any of the weird stuff. In my mind I thought how could they be wrong. God even sent a friend by to tell me to leave that church alone. I didn’t listen. One day I went to the church by myself to practice the piano. I had a key to unlock the door. The door unlocked and partly opened, but no matter how hard I pushed I couldn’t get it to open enough for me to get in. There wasn’t anything against the door. It was like God held it closed. After that happened, I went back to that church only one more time, and that was to tell the people that what they believed was wrong. If we listen to God He can keep us from learning things that are false. He can teach us what is right. He can use His Spirit inside us. He can also use His Word. He can also send others to tell us.

It is important to read the Bible. It is our map of how to get where we are going. When I first started reading the Bible I was so confused by all the thee’s and thou’s and funny talk in the King James Version. I was confused by all the versions. I didn’t know which was best. I asked God to show me, which I should learn. He led me to stay with the King James Version. Some versions may be OK, but some are all wrong. Some of the versions were made when only one man on his own decided to rewrite the Bible in the words he thought it should be. Some were written when a group of men decided how it should be written. I have seen how dangerous that is. They just left out some things that they didn’t know about or changed what they wanted to. It is good to stick with the King James Version unless you understand how the versions are written and what to look for to tell the difference in those that are wrong. The more you read the thee’s and thou’s, the less you’ll notice them. The more you read the Bible, the easier it will become to understand it.

The more you listen to God’s voice in your heart teaching you about His Word, the better you will understand It. It is important to hear what His voice tells you by the Spirit of God. I’ve read the Bible plenty of times all the way through. I never get tired of it. I’ll pick it up and just the exact verse that I need to hear to strengthen me or encourage me will pop right off the page into my heart. No matter how many times I read some passages, they always touch my heart. The Bible lines up our mind to think right. The things we listen to and read affect how we think. Think about that when you listen to the head banging music and other junk like that. The devil uses the world’s music, magazines, books, etc. to condition our mind to be on his wavelength. All these kinds of things can pervert our mind so that we can’t think straight. That will twist God’s truths in our mind. It is so hard to sort through all that stuff to see God as He is. Star Track says He’s an alien. In the movie Powder He was a blob of energy in the universe and we all get to die and be blobs with Him. Beetlejuice sure presents eternity in a warped way. If you listen to enough of the attitudes that are in TV and movies, you will be confused and even the perverted will seem laughable, when believe me, God says it isn’t. The world teaches that there are good witches, that angels make mistakes just like people, and then they fly away as doves. No wonder after putting all that junk into our minds that it is hard to understand what God is like and what He expects of us. That is why it is so important to read the Bible. It is important not to depend on our own understanding, but to ask God to explain it to us. It is important to go to a church that you know God has led you to where you can be taught.

I can say that even after having gone to school for over 25 years since I got out of high school (that sort of thing happens to teacher), Jesus has been my favorite teacher. For one thing He knew me from the inside out better than I knew myself. He knew when I didn’t understand before I even asked the question. He knew how to explain things to me in my heart in just the right way for me to understand. He delivered me, and set me free from things that bound me from being able to understand so that I could. I have worked with a lot of kids that had been in special classes. The learning problem that they had wasn’t as hard on them as the feeling that they had that they were too stupid to learn because they were in special classes. When they overcame that feeling, got delivered and set free from it, they could learn a lot better. Sometimes we have things like this that keep us from learning about God. For example, we might be feeling really guilty and condemned for things we’ve done in the past even if we are trying to do right now. Jesus tries to teach us about His love, but because of that condemnation, we can’t feel it. The Bible tells us that if we have repented from our sin and turned away from it, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”) If we are trying our best to walk in the ways of God, we don’t need to feel guilty, if we have repented of our sin, and we are submitting to God to let Him change us. We need then to be so grateful for that forgiveness that we make up our mind and heart that we won’t do that again, and we don’t. We need to get forgiven, not condemned. Guilt is another thing that can stop us from learning about God. If we are doing wrong and we haven’t gotten forgiveness that can block everything that we receive from God. God doesn’t play games. He doesn’t let cons by. He knows us from the inside out. He knows the real motives of our heart. It is very important that if we want Him to get real with us, that we get real with Him. Another thing that can stop us from learning about God’s ways and how to walk with Him is hate. If we hate anybody or hold anything against them, we can’t learn about God, because God is love. When we don’t forgive others, we ourselves can’t be forgiven. When we hate somebody else, we can’t even love God. (I John 4:20, If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”) If someone has done something to hurt you, no matter how bad it is, you have to forgive them. If you don’t it will only damage you. Remember when you can’t forgive someone on your own, ask Jesus to help. He is in your heart and He can change your feelings from the inside out, if you seriously ask and believe that He will. He is the One that hung on the cross and forgave those that hung Him there. He knows all about forgiveness. The Bible says that God will be the judge of those who do wrong. Give that person to God, and let Him be.

Jesus can teach us using others too. We need to let Him lead us to a church where we can be taught and where we can have a family of Christians to be a part of. We all need a body of believers, brothers and sisters in Christ to lift us up and help us. However, if someone is telling you things that just don’t seem right to you, that may be that Jesus is showing you that there is something wrong with what they are saying. We have to be careful when we listen to others that what they are saying matches what the Word of God says. The Bible is always right.

Let Jesus be your teacher.

Chapter 3

Jesus the Shepherd

Jesus often spoke about Himself as being a shepherd. I never really understood what all that meant until I read a book about sheep and their shepherd. You see, sheep are very timid. They have no defense against their enemies. They are so round with such little legs they can’t kick much. If they roll over they can’t even roll themselves back up on their feet. They are not cunning animals, almost known as silly. They are almost helpless. Humans, especially in today’s world, can relate to sheep. There were many times in my life before I came to God that I felt plain old helpless. I can remember when I was a senior in high school and even after that, I was scared of being out on my own. I would think about what career I wanted to get into and what were my plans for my future and I would hyperventilate out of pure fear. I knew I wasn’t ready to take on the world. I was too young to realize that nobody really is. I started drinking and doing drugs just to keep from having to face reality. That messed everything up worse. When I was younger I had been saved. I had given my heart to Jesus. As I got older I guess you could say I took my heart back and gave it to other things. I was like the person in Proverbs 2:17, “which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.” When these things nearly destroyed me I came back to the God of my youth. I found my shepherd. I wasn’t helpless anymore.

You see the shepherd is the protector of the sheep. If you learn about sheep and how the shepherd does his job you’ll see why that is so important. Those that take care of sheep are different. The shepherd would never drive the sheep like the cowboys in the western days drove the cattle. They led them, going in front of them. They guided them, gently nudging them with staffs to help them from danger. The shepherds know where the green valleys and cool streams are to make sure the sheep have all they need. They lead them into all the right places and away from harm. I can say that Jesus has truly been my shepherd. He provided day-to-day needs. He protects me. He leads me. I remember when I first graduated from college it was in the middle of the school year. This was bad because I had taken teaching in college. All of the schools around had already hired all the teachers that they needed by November, which was when I graduated. Everybody said forget finding a teaching job until next year. Out of the blue, without my having even put in an application there, a certain school called to see if I would come teach. It put me in just the right place for that time in my life. God knew I needed to be a teacher and guided me in that direction before I started serving and obeying Him. He did that because He knew one day I would be director of a Christian school that would later help to turn the lives of young people around. I’m glad my shepherd guided me. He’s provided finances when I needed them. I remember a time when I was teaching for a Christian school for only $200 a month as a service to help keep the school going. I had about $500 worth of bills each month. For over a year I faithfully made each payment on time. God led me into those good green pastures. He has fed me in the green valley and led me by the streams of peace. A girl I knew gave her heart to the Lord. She tried to describe how it made her feel but she didn’t know how to say it. I knew she was describing peace. So many young people today don’t know what peace is. They are full of fear and terror. Peace is such a precious thing to find. Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Verse 23-24 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

My faithful shepherd has also been my protector. One of the most hair-raising experiences I have had came on a missionary trip to Russia and Romania. We had gone there to meet with over 100 public school teachers who wanted to know how to put Christ in their classrooms instead of communism. (Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if the schools here wanted Christ that way?) We also helped start Christian schools. We went during wartime and were just a little ways from the battle. To get there we had to travel across country in a van. I was praying about what to do because I had learned the hard way before you make decisions you need to talk to God about the best way to go. He showed me that we needed to go by train instead of by van. I prayed and He worked things out so that the only way we could travel was by train. When we arrived at our destination, we learned that terrorists were mowing people down with machine guns on the very stretch of highway we would have traveled. I really thought about my wonderful Shepherd especially when I got home. My grandmother was a prayer warrior. She later told me that on a certain date she had gotten a burden to pray for me. She knew that my life was in danger and had prayed. I knew that God had answered her prayers when she told me the day that she had prayed. It was the day we had traveled across country.

I can remember another time my wonderful Shepherd protected us. We were traveling out of town to a revival. There were 2 carloads of us. I was in the first car. We kept getting the impression that we needed to hurry. The car behind us was delayed. Later we stopped at a gas station, and the other car pulled in. They asked if we had seen the plane that had crashed on the highway. It had crashed in between our cars, missing both. I know that our Shepherd is our protector. Here is a good example though of how important it is to obey God. What if we hadn’t listened to that feeling that we needed to hurry?

Today everybody is afraid of everything. Even young people worry and have problems with stress and fear. We live in a fearful time. How many people do you know, young and old, that are so mixed up with fear that all they can talk about is their problems and everything that is going wrong in everybody's lives. They worry about things that probably won’t even happen, fretting over everything. Jesus Himself said that one of the signs of the end times would be “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth….” (Luke 21:26). I remember when only old people had heart problems. Now those in their 20’s have heart problems because of stress and fear. All kinds of people are on medication to help them to deal with things like depression, stress, etc. All these things come from fear. We all need a Shepherd. Jesus says in Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What does He say to us today in the middle of a world that seems has nearly gone mad from fear? He still says the same thing that He told His children thousands of years ago, “Fear Not.”

How can Jesus be your Shepherd? First, accept His gift of salvation. Ask Him to forgive you and come into your heart. Then you need to let Him love you. His love is so great that it will turn you upside down. You need then to love Him back. You need to learn all about Him by reading His Word. Sometimes it will seem hard to understand. If you ask Him to, He will help you understand. Then you need to trust Him to take care of you and all the details of your life. Then instead of concentrating on all the bad and scary things that are around you, concentrate on the good. Isaiah 26:3 tells us how to have peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Keep you mind on Jesus, and not on things that make you afraid. Trust Him, and He will keep you in peace. Then most of all you need to listen to what He says and obey Him. If the Shepherd guides His sheep away from danger, but they don’t listen and run on anyway, there is nothing the Shepherd can do. I remember a girl whose sister had died in a car wreck. This girl was bitter and hurt at God for letting that happen. I finally got out of her what had happened the night the girl died. She was out partying and had gotten into a car with a drunk driver. How was that God’s fault? If we don’t obey God, and do the things He tells us in His Word to do, then even our Shepherd can’t help us. A 16-year-old girl came into the office the other day telling me she was pregnant. She was afraid this would really mess up her life. I knew that it wouldn’t make it any easier. She had moved in with her boyfriend months before. She told me that she really wished she hadn’t. She wished that she had listened to the Shepherd. God is not stupid and He loves you very much. He wants the best for you. His best is not boring. Young people often tell me, I want to get saved but I want to go have a good time first. We have a section of files in our school records, one for those who graduated, one for those who quit school, and one for those who died having a good time. That is sad, but true. Don’t die having your good time and spend eternity in hell wishing that you hadn’t. Besides I want to know what is such a good time in what people do who are running from doing what God wants them to. I have been in the drinking and drugs. Really honestly, is it worth messing your life up for? We all need to listen to the Shepherd.

We need to listen to God’s Word and those that we know are telling us things from the Lord. He’ll use other people to speak to our hearts, preachers, teachers, even gospel singers, and friends who are His kids. He’ll also speak to us from inside our hearts. I remember a time when God used something as silly as the floor mats out of my car to save my life. I was listening to Him, and knew how to hear His voice, so when it was important for Him to speak to me, I was ready and able to hear Him. I had washed my car and laid my floor mats out on the grass to dry. I was heading out in my car when the Lord spoke to me in that still small voice in my heart to stop and get my floor mats. I almost went on anyway thinking that was silly. I would do that later. Why would God tell me something like that anyway? But I stopped and got them. I had just gotten back in my car when I heard a crash so loud the ground shook. My street had a hairpin curve that narrowed down to one lane. A car had flown around that curve crashing into a tree right above my house. The car hit the tree so hard that the motor was wrapped around the tree. It would have hit me head on if I hadn’t listened. Listen to the Shepherd. If you don’t obey, how can He guide you?

You have your own personal Shepherd if you are an obedient child of God. You may read my stories and think that God won’t do these things for you. You may think that you are not that special. If you are a child of God, you are very special, very important and very loved by the Shepherd. Proverbs 8:17, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” John 15:13-14, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor power, nor things present nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Isn’t it good to know, child of God, that you have a Shepherd like Jesus. Isn’t it good to know how much He cares for you? Isn’t it good to know how much Jesus loves you?

Chapter 4.

Jesus Our Family

Luke chapter 8 verses 19-21 tells us a story of how one day Jesus was speaking to a huge crowd. His mother and His brothers came to see them, but they couldn’t even get to Him for all the people. Someone told Him, “Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.” I love how Jesus answered them. He said in verse 21, “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God, and do it.” His family was important to Him, but in this verse He told us that we were His family if we love and obey Him. It is important to have a family. I work with a lot of young people. Some of those who have the worst problems coping with life are those who do not have a strong family. I would like to say that most of the students that I have worked with in our school have had a strong family, but that wouldn’t be true. I remember the first time that I noticed that there were starting to be some divorced parents of the children that I taught. That was over 20 years ago. Now if I find parents who have the same last name as the child, I think how strange that seems. Most of the children who I’ve worked with through the years have divorced single parents or they have parents who at one time were divorced but have gotten remarried. One of the things that the devil fights so hard is our family. Maybe it is because there are so many families who are not centered with Christ as the head, and they are not built on His Word. Families have focused on everything but Jesus, and all too often because they are not built on the solid rock, they come crashing down when the storms of life crush in. When this happens, it is always the hardest on the kids. If you have been in this type of situation, then you know what I mean even better than I do. I have also seen many kids today who are being raised by grandparents instead of parents. This is happening more and more. Or I have seen kids whose parents are not alive, one or both of them have died. Or worse, I have known kids whose parents abused them. This is even harder to go through. I think when any of these things happen, it can leave emptiness and a longing that will destroy people if they don’t know how to deal with it. The only way to deal with these things is to take them to God and get His help.

When a family is broken, this leaves a void and a feeling that you are left out, that there is no one there who really cares, no one to look out for you. It can make you feel almost like you are afraid to trust those that are there for you because you are afraid that they will leave. It can make you feel alone and if you aren’t careful you will do anything to get rid of that feeling. Sometimes young people kid themselves into feeling that sex is acceptance, and they wind up getting in trouble because they throw themselves at anyone who makes them feel “special and wanted”. This can lead to all kinds of problems. For example, most girls, or guys, that get into abusive relationships, do so because of this void in their life. This someone that makes them feel special may abuse them, but they will put up with it because they have a way to make them feel special. Don’t put up with abuse from anyone. Don’t let anyone make you feel special, then abuse you. That isn’t reality, and that definitely isn’t love. What is the answer to all these needs that a broken family can create?

Let’s go back to the story I started the chapter with. Jesus Himself told us that if we love Him and obey Him, then we are His family. Here are some more times that God’s word tells us the same thing. John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Second Corinthians chapter 6, verse 18 tells us, “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Galatians 3:26 says, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 4:7 says, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Girls, an important thing to remember here is this. The Bible uses the word "men" to refer to mankind, which means all of us, girls and guys. Everybody is included in that. So it calls us all sons, girls and guys.) I John 3:1 tells us “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…” If you feel like you don’t have a strong family, then you are very wrong. One of the greatest families you can belong to is the one in which God is your Father and Jesus is your elder brother.

Another great thing about this family is that you have all kinds of brothers and sisters. The Bible tells us that all of God’s children, now and the ones that have lived before us all down through time, are your family, your brothers and sisters in Him. If we are the children of God, then we are all brothers and sisters. If someone is in God’s family for real, you will know it. They will love you because you are in His family, too. You will know that you are loved by a special love. You belong to the family of God.

If you do have a family then appreciate it. If you live with your parents appreciate them and love them. Don’t give them a hard time. Sometimes being a parent is hard enough. Don’t expect them to be perfect. Just love them like they are, and you will find that they will love you more in return. The greatest way to get love from someone is to give it. Appreciate them and what they do for you. Sometimes it is easy to see all that you want and not all that you are given. If you want respect too, the easiest way to get it is to respect others. If you don’t, you won’t be respected. That is how life is. Respect your parent’s and treat their trust with respect. Then you will be respected, and you will be trusted. Your family may be different. If it is a family that has been touched by divorce, then you may have to do some adjusting. If you really try, there is no reason that this new family can’t work out and be as great as the other family that you had. Then you will have two great families. If you make it rough on everybody because you are having a hard time coping with divorce, then that won’t help. It will only make things worse, and you may miss out on some great people, and some great times, and a great life. Divorces are hard on everybody, especially our parents. When they are going through something that rough, they won’t be perfect people. We may not be the center of their attention during that time because there are problems and problems make people tense. We just have to hang on and not let our attitudes get wrong in the process. Our attitudes can cause our life to be a bummer if we aren’t careful. Some people get chips on their shoulder, which makes everybody’s life bad. Especially our own. Don’t let that happen to you. If you are living with grandparents, or another family member, you may have some hurt toward your parents or toward God for whatever circumstance happened that caused your family not to be there for you. Don’t let hurt and bitterness destroy your life. Forgive and go on. If you don’t, you will be the one that will have to pay. Bitterness can cause us to have a miserable life with an attitude that won’t quit. God tells us in His Word that we have to forgive for Him to forgive us. Whatever has been done to you is not worth that. Forgive, and God will help you to forgive. After all He forgives you.

It is important for you to be obedient to be a part of God’s family. We have already talked about that. Obedience is also important to be a part of your earthly family. Ephesians 6:1-3 has a very interesting promise. It says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” In other words, God not only tells us to obey our parents, but He also tells us that if we do, we will have a long life. Sounds like good enough of a reason to me to listen to what our parents say and have an obedient attitude. Have you ever known anybody who didn’t listen and obey, and their life was shortened because they didn’t. The example that comes to my mind (though there have been many cases that I have seen this happen) is one of a young boy, about 10 who was told not to play with the families’ gun. He did. He didn’t live to talk about his disobedience. How many people do you know that didn’t listen, and obey, and they paid for it by their lives, or by messing up their lives, or the lives of others. It is important to obey. Respect is something that is almost a lost art. When I see a young person with a respectful attitude to their parents and to others around them, I take notice. That really makes an impression on me. I know that it makes an impression on God as well. We can be rude, selfish, full of wanting our own way, refusing to listen, or we can be full of respect. Which way will lead to success? You answer that one for yourself.

Remember you belong. You belong to your family. You belong to God’s family. You are His child. You belong to Jesus’ family. You are His little brother or sister. You belong to the family of God. You belong. You are loved and you are special to a lot of people, many that you might not even know. You are part of the family of God. So next time when you get those teenage blues that make you feel like you are nothing going nowhere and nobody cares, shake yourself. Don’t believe it. You are as special as it gets. Who says? God says. (Ephesians 3:17-21, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height: and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Romans 8:35-39, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Verse 37, “Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Chapter 5

Jesus - Our Heritage

I think one of the most important and one of the most wonderful things a parent can pass down to their children is the knowledge of God and His Word. (Now hold on, I know I’ve mentioned parents, but wait a sec, I’ll get to you.) This knowledge of God is so powerful that God’s Word says in Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I have worked with hundreds of young people for over 20 years. I have tried to tell some of them about God, salvation, His ways, and His Word, and they couldn’t understand what I was saying at all. It was foreign to them. They had never been around anything like that. The only knowledge they had of spiritual things was what music and TV pumped into their head, perverting their understanding. When you have been raised around Christian people and church it is easier to accept the things of God as they are. You know what it is all about. When we’ve heard the Word of God it really makes a difference in how we see things. We may turn away from it, like I did when I was younger, but the things of God that we have been taught will never leave us. On the other hand, if we have been raised in church and around the things of God, it is easy at a certain age to start taking it all for granted. It becomes something we do because we have to, rather than a real relationship with God. Long about high school, if our relationship isn’t real, then the relationships of our friends start to pull us away from God. Usually that doesn’t happen to someone who hasn’t been around it all their life. When they do find God for real, they are so grateful for the change that God has brought into their lives. They aren’t easily talked out of it.

Having a Christian background and family is important for another reason as well. When you have Christian people in your family, you have people that are praying for you. You can’t outrun the prayers of those that love you. I am so grateful that my praying mother, grandmother, aunt, others in my family didn’t give up on praying for me. They kept me constantly before the throne of God. These prayers are why I am alive and serving God today. You can do a lot for those that you love, but the greatest thing you can do is pray for them.

We can pass down a lot of things to our children, but the greatest heritage we can leave them is knowledge of the things of God. I work with a lot of young parents. Some of them are ready for the challenge of having a baby but many aren’t. Some of the youngest young mothers that we have worked with at the school have been 14 years old. No matter how old the parents are that we’ve worked with, I always start counseling by telling them whatever you do, get in church and raise this child in the knowledge of the things of God. You can’t do anything greater for them. One thing parents have to be careful of is to live the life before their children that they should. A lot of parents send their children to church and encourage them to live moral lives, when they themselves don’t. That sends mixed signals. The children see one thing but hear another. To bring up your children in the way they should go, it is very important to live it yourself.

There is no greater heritage than the heritage God fearing parents leave their children. They may not be perfect but nobody is. If they love you enough to want the best for you and they want to raise you in the ways of God, be thankful. Make their job easier. Don’t fight against it. Appreciate it. Thank God for them and pray for them. They need it. They have the job of raising you before God in a way that is right before Him. There may be times when we wish our parents were not strict, when we wish they would let us do more things that the rest of the world is doing. Admit it. Is that really what’s best for you? I have had so many young people come to me crying because they knew their parents didn’t love them enough to discipline them. They didn’t have time to in their busy lives to even know where their children were, let alone time enough to know if they were doing what they should do. Thank God for parents who want to guide you, teach and shield you so that your life has a strong foundation that can’t be shaken. If someone was building a building and they laid a weak foundation, I don’t care how strong they made the walls, the building wouldn’t last. Right now is when the foundation of your life is being laid. Don’t grumble and growl at the ones who are trying to help you lay that foundation. Thank God for Godly parents. They are few and far between. They are a gift from God.

If your parents aren’t Godly, that makes your life a little harder. There is one thing that you can count on. Draw near to Jesus and He will be mother and father to you. He will be the perfect parent. He will be there to direct you, guide you, strengthen you to do right, teach you, and He will be there at all hours of the day and night. He will be there just for you, personally. Find a relationship with Him. II Corinthians 6:18 says, “And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons, and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

We can’t really talk about families and a how important it is to give them a good foundation without mentioning this one thing. If you aren’t ready to give your child a good foundation, don’t have sex. God was wise when He created sex to be within marriage. Take it out of marriage and it looses the beauty that it has and becomes something that can destroy your life. Several years ago it became an unpopular thing to be a virgin. Sex became something like baseball, everybody played. Now we have aids, and the other diseases that run wild. Those who said it couldn’t happen to them found out that it could. The teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are at all time highs. Something created by God to be beautiful has turned into something that has lost its meaning and destroys. It is not a game. A good answer to the old saying, “Why not, everybody else does it” is “That’s why not, everybody else has”. Stand up for yourself and respect yourself and your body. If you don’t, nobody else will. Let God lead you in your relationships and friendships. How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I had never fallen for that guy or girl. They really messed up my life.” When God chooses your friends and your mates, they will be for life. Ask Him to help you find the friends that will add to your life, not take away from. The heritage you leave will be a solid rock foundation, not a shaky one bound for destruction.

One of the neatest examples of what a heritage means is found in my grand parents life. My grandfathers’ mother was a prayer warrior. She would not only pray for her children, but also her children’s children, and their children. (My grandfather had 19 brothers and sisters. That in itself would take a lot of prayer.) Four generations have passed. My generation has had children of their own. Each generation was taught what was passed down from the one before. They knew about God, His Word, His ways and what it means to serve Him. I know that our children’s children will be the same. When I meet some of my zillions of cousins, most all of them have happy and successful lives, founded on the same principles we had been passed down. They were given a strong heritage, something to keep them and guide them. And they walked in the prayers of their ancestors. Appreciate your parents, and give your own children a heritage that lasts. You can start today by building a foundation that will make your life strong. Build it on the rock, Jesus.

Chapter 6

Jesus The Healer

It is sad today to see the many Christians that can’t accept the supernatural works of God. We want things to be on a comfortable level that doesn’t threaten us. We talked about before in another chapter how that for God to be God He has to be supernatural. When we accept Him as He is, then we can accept what He can do for us. We will find Him to be everything we need Him to be.

One of the things He can be for us is a healer. (Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” In I Peter 2:24, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.” Now I’m not one of those people who say that it is wrong to go to the doctor. But I am saying that even if we go to a doctor we have to trust in the Lord for our healing. There have been times when I have had to go to the doctor, even have surgery, but I knew who my healer was. I knew I had to put my faith in Him for my healing. God is the healer. Sometimes He will use doctors as instruments, but the one who made this body is the only one that can heal. He can heal without doctors too. He made our bodies out of dust. He can surely fix them. I remember a lady who had part of her stomach and intestines eaten away by cancer. The doctors in the hospital where she was were more or less waiting on her to die. People prayed for her. She started getting well soon after that. Imagine the doctor’s surprise when they ran tests and found brand new organs in her body. God had recreated her organs. No surgeon had touched her.

I have been to many church services down through the years where God healed. He healed blind eyes, deaf ears, helped the lame to walk. These were not shams set up to fool people into believing, but these were known healings of people that I actually knew. God is a healer.

One of the most miraculous times God has healed me was several years ago after a car wreck. I flipped a compact car on its top going down the interstate. I had blood all over me, down my arms and legs, some on the seat. By the time they pulled me out from car, God had touched me and healed me. There was not a scratch to be found on me. I had no internal injuries. Whatever injury I had was gone and I was totally healed.

Not only can God heal our bodies, but He can also heal our hearts. When we are hurt, our heart is broken. So many things can hurt us: misunderstanding, physical and mental abuse, people that don’t care. We can carry scars around that are left over from a life when we weren’t serving God and doing wrong things that hurt us. We can even be hurt, sad to say, by Christians that make bad choices and let the devil use them. Hurt can separate us from being able to receive love, even receive God’s love. Just like God made our physical body He made our heart. Just like He can heal our physical body when it is broken up, He can heal our broken hearts. He can even give us a new heart (Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”)

God can fix us up like new. We have to commit ourselves to Him, trust Him to, and He can change us to be brand new: body, soul, and mind.

Chapter 7

An Eternal Friend Who Will Keep Us Forever

Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. What He was in Abraham’s day is still how He is today. What He is today will be exactly what He will be when you are 60. He doesn’t change. He stays the same. His ways and His Word does not change. I am glad. That means that I know exactly how things stand. There are no nasty surprises. I know what to expect. I know too that His laws, and what He expects of us, will never change. Now man will take His Word and switch it all around to make it say what he wants to hear. That is why it is important to find out for yourself what it says, and ask His Spirit to guide you into truth. That is why it is important to let God lead you into a church that is right, and when He does, stay there. Visiting around and getting into a lot of things that are not right messes up a lot of people.

When you find that relationship with Jesus, the most exciting thing about His friendship is that it will last forever. He will be there for you forever (unless you turn your back on Him. Even then, though, He will still be there. But you will be turned backwards, in the wrong direction, and you won’t see that He is still there.) He will be there when you are 7, 17, 70, when you die, and past that. He will be there for eternity. Your relationship with Him will never end. He will always be your friend. So many young people today are afraid of death. I guess it has to be because you really live in a violent world with a lot to fear. I didn’t have to be as afraid when I was your age. We didn’t have kids bringing guns to school or bombs to blow everyone up with. I am sorry your world is violent. But I know that the peace that God brings to our hearts can hold you even when it seems there is nothing peaceful there.

I remember a time in the Bible that was a very violent time. Especially for the children of Israel. Their story is found in Exodus. They were in Egypt. You probably remember the story. It was such a violent time that their babies, (every baby boy under a certain age) was being slaughtered by the Pharaoh’s army. Any one trying to protect a child was also killed. These people (who we now call the nation of Israel) worked as Pharaoh’s slaves. I am not sure, but I have always thought that they might have been the thousands of slaves used to build the pyramids and the great Egyptian cities. They had grown in number until Pharaoh was afraid that they might overthrow the Egyptians and take power. In order to stop that from happening he killed their babies. God had a plan of protection ready for one little baby boy. Moses’ mother put him in a reed basket and floated him down the river. Pharaoh’s own daughter found him. Now normally speaking that spelled disaster. Looked like it was all over for that little boy. God though put a special love in her heart for that baby. She brought him home and she really must have been her Dad’s pet, because she kept him and raised him up in Pharaoh’s own home. Later he was used to set the nation free from slavery and he led them back to their homeland. God can protect and keep you. When he says stay away from someone or certain situations, stay away. You’ll know in your heart what you need to do. He will keep you and protect you if you will let Him and listen to Him. No matter what’s happening around you, He is bigger than the circumstances. He will give you peace. You don’t have to be afraid. Here are a bunch of verses that tell us not to be afraid. Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Matthew 14:27, “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 43:2, “When thou passesth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon the. For I am the Lord thy God the Holy one of Israel, thy Savior…” Fear can be an awful thing. I talk to young people all the time who have to take medication because they are so afraid. The best way to fight against fear is by trusting God to take care of you. Sometimes we can let our minds run away with us thinking about things that are bad. We have to stop and learn to focus on the things that are good. When my mind wants to think about all the things that are fearful, I’ll start to sing or I turn on Gospel music about God’s power, His might, His love for me, and before long instead of being fearful I am praise full, full of praising Him for His goodness for me. What things do we need to fill our minds with? Philippians 4:8 tells us what to think about. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

A lot of young people have a terrible fear of death. If you are God’s child, you don’t even have to be afraid of death. Death is crossing over to the place that you can spend eternity with Him in a perfect place that He has prepared for you. That doesn’t mean that you purposefully can cut your life short to be with Him. To do that would be disobeying what plan He has for you. If you disobey Him by taking your life, you will run a very high risk of going to hell, not to heaven. We don’t need to be obsessed by death but we need to be caught up in living a victorious life full of God’s blessings. There isn’t much in the Bible about heaven. I think that is because it is so wonderful of a place that our human words couldn’t even describe it. There is a lot we don’t know. We do know that it is God’s best that He has made as a reward for our loving Him. We do know too that it is for forever. We know that it is full of God’s best for us. That is good enough for me. I don’t want to miss it for anyone or anything else, do you? The Bible tells us that it is like a precious pearl that someone sells everything to be able to buy. There isn’t anything we can give away that isn’t worth it. But we should never be a Christian just to keep from going to hell, or just because we want to get to go to heaven. We should be a Christian because we love God with all our heart. We should be a Christian because we have found that wonderful friend, Jesus. What is the greatest thing about heaven? Eternity to spend with our very, very best friend.

Chapter 8. Jesus Our Listener

Not long ago I went through a terrible time. It seemed like everywhere I turned things were falling apart. The devil was really mad and he was trying everything that he could to destroy me. Right and left, things were going wrong. For example, the day after a tree fell on my house I found out that I needed surgery. There were only two things that happened. There was more. I was very stressed out. I had never had anything like panic attacks before, but I was so stressed out that I started having what I thought was panic attacks. That was really just so much stress that I couldn’t physically, mentally, or spiritually handle it. It left me so that I couldn’t focus on anything, and I really needed to focus to be able to make decisions with what I was going through. All this really just made things worse. To make things even worse, nobody was listening to me. Everybody was too busy in their own concerns to take time to hear what I was going through. I guess that they figured that there was nothing that they could do about it, so why should they worry about it with me. I was doing enough of that myself. So I had to bottle all that stress up in me. I was like a pressure cooker with a stopped up valve and I felt like I was ready to blow. I finally went to God. I found out that the best thing that had ever happened to me was the fact that no one else had listened. Sometimes we want to run and tell all our problems to everyone except the One Who can fix them. We want human ears to hear about what we are going through. Somehow we want human hands to fix the situations for us, even though most of the time human hands won’t be able to. There is something about flesh and blood that we want to hang onto. We want to see the person that we are talking to, and if we can see them, we can have faith that they are there. It is much easier to talk to other people than it is to talk to God. We can’t see God. We can’t tell whether or not that He is listening. That takes faith. We have to believe that He is there. We have to believe that He is listening. We can’t see His eyes full of love for us, so we doubt that He really cares about what is happening to us. We forget that He is perfect and His love for us is perfect. We forget that He is so in love with us that He sent His Son to die for us. We forget that our well-being is His main concern with us. Not only our well being for now, but also our well being for eternity. So we run to everyone else and neglect the only One Who can really most of the time make a difference. So, in the middle of my hard time, after I got really depressed that no one would listen to me, I finally went to God. I poured out my tears to Him. I told Him what I was going through. I could feel His love and I knew that He heard me. I got a release from the burdens that I had carried. I transferred my load onto His shoulders, and it was nothing at all for Him to carry even though it had about destroyed me. Then I realized that those things that I thought were so terrible (and they were pretty bad) were not near as bad as I thought. I began to gain a perspective on them. The stress left, and with it so did the panic attacks. Faith moved in over doubt and fear and I found joy in its place. I found the joy that comes from knowing that God was in control and everything was OK. I finally let God be in control of me. When I did, I could give control of the situation to Him. First though I had to trust Him to take it, then I could let it go. Oh what a relief it is!! I had found that the Greatest Listener of all is the One that I really need to talk to. What happened about all my situations? One by one they were all fixed by the One Who knew just how to fix them.

It is a fact that we all need someone to listen to us. Listening is a lost art. There aren’t many people today who know how to listen to others. We all are too busy talking to listen. When we talk, we are full of ourselves. When we listen, we have to put ourselves in “neutral gear” and care about the person that we are listening too. As a whole, people are mostly too selfish and spoiled to listen. They don’t want to forget themselves and concentrate on others. No matter what we are going through, it is easier to handle if we just have someone who listens to us. If we have someone who will listen, then our stress level goes way down. Studies even show that if we have someone who will listen to us, our stress level will be so much lower that we will have fewer physical problems. Stress can even cause physical problems. Someone to listen can increase our health. We all need someone to listen to us.

I wish that one of the prerequisites of being a parent were that people have to be good listeners before they can become parents. If that were true, a lot of kids would have it easier. But, sad to say, being a parent makes listening even harder. Being a parent comes with its own stresses and battles and those can make listening a lost art. If parents would learn that by listening they would cut out a lot of their kid’s problems, the world would be a greater place for teenagers. You may have parents who have not figured out the art of listening. You may be one of those people who feel like I did, like you are about to explode because there is no one there who can hear you. You may feel trapped inside like there is no one to hear you, and you feel like you are about to explode, like I did. That is when you need to remember that you can go to the greatest listener of all time. His name is Jesus. Just like any best friend, He is there to hear you. But like no other best friend, He can actually do something about the situation, no matter how bad.

I was listening to a report the other day that was written for marriage counselors. It said that the number one reason that many people divorce is because their spouse didn’t listen to them. Then someone else came along who paid attention to them and listened to them. This broke up their marriage. I see so many teenagers today that find themselves in bad situations because of friends, or because of boy friends and girl friends. I see a lot of teenagers that compromise on everything that they believe, and get into totally wrong things that they know better to get into, just because those people that they are with make them feel special. They get into these things just because this or that person makes them feel like they are important, or just because they listen to them. So when someone does these things, they pack up their common sense, they pack up their morals, they pack up their relationship with God, and they follow after the crowd that makes them feel special. Then on down the road, after it is too late and their problems are a whole lot worse than they were, they realize that they wished they had never went with the crowd, or went with that person who made them feel special. Problem is, by then, their life may be a wreck. I am here to tell you that even though someone makes you feel special by listening to you, that may not mean that they love you at all. For example, I have known many girls that have gotten into relationships that were dangerous and abusive. The kinds of men that thrive on these types of abusive relationships are masters at making girls feel special. They practice being a Romeo. They practice making girls feel like there is no one in the world like them. It is kind of like a spider and a web. They make things look really good, then they go in for the kill. Because they make these girls feel special, the girls actually fall for it. They put up with all kinds of abuse, because they think that this is the way it should be when someone loves them. This is not love. These guys know how to seduce. This type of relationship is like a trap. I have known girls who would tell me that they were being beaten. I would tell them that they needed to leave that “low life” that was beating them. They would say no, they couldn’t, because that person loved them. Reality leaves us when we get into that type of relationship. If you are in that type of relationship with someone, that is not love, and you do not have to put up with that. The person that is abusing you is not right and you don’t have to put up with their sickness. Abusing someone is a sickness. They have the problem, not you. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that is love, no matter how wonderful they make you feel when they are not beating you. They are using you, and they are sick. This is only one example that proves that everyone who makes you feel special may not really care about you at all. That, I admit, is an extreme example, but if you haven’t faced that type of relationship, then you may know someone who has. By the way, abuse is not always limited to guys being the abuser. Physical abuse is usually guys, but emotional abuse is more often girls. I have known guys whose girlfriends made them feel special. But it was only because they had a nice car, or they had a good job with a nice paycheck and they could buy them all kinds of things. There was no love involved. They were just using them. Having people use you for their own gain is another kind of abuse. I know that there are special people out there, and if you have found one, hang on to them. My husband loves me better than his own life. I am very precious to him. I was when I first met him. I grabbed onto him and we have been married for over 20 years. Marrying him was the best thing that I ever did. But he didn’t have to buy my love. He already had it. Then because of that love he does things for me. If you feel like you have to buy someone’s love, if you feel like if you don’t give to them they won’t love you as much, then they don’t really love you at all. If they are making you feel special so that they can get things from you, they don’t love you at all. This not only works for boyfriends or girlfriends, but this works with friends in general. I remember in my days of doing drugs and drinking. There would always be someone who would make me feel special by including me at the party, especially if I would pay for it. There was always someone who would make me feel special and get me to do things for them, especially if I was the one who got in trouble. There was always someone who would make me feel special so that they could use me. Problem was, I didn’t see it until it was too late. I have known too many young people who walked out on their relationship with God and Jesus for people who listened to them and made them feel special. They walked headlong into trouble. Don’t let this be you.

Who can really listen to us like God can? I used to think that prayer was something that I formally had to say. I had to use thee’s and thou’s like they do in the Bible. I even studied types of prayers. There were books that I read that talked about the outline that we had to pray by to make our prayers happen. Now I know better. I just pour out my heart to God. I talk to Him all the time. The best thing about that is that I know that He is listening. I am just myself. I tell Him when I have had a bad day, and I feel the stress leave because I know that He is there for me and He loves me. I know that He not only hears, but I know too that He will answer my prayers. He may not give me everything that I want, like a million dollars instantly, but He gives me all I need, and He even gives me the desires of my heart if they are good for me. He is my best friend. No one can listen like He does. Don’t give up your best friend for someone who makes you feel special. That person may not love you. No one can love you like Jesus.

Chapter 9.

Jesus My Savior

Luke 19:10 tells us,” For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 3:16-17 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I Timothy 1:15 says, “This is the faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” If Jesus had not died on the cross, there would be no way for us to be saved. His love was so great that He died for us when we were sinners so that we could find salvation in Him. He took the punishment for our sins so that we would not have to. Nobody will ever love you that great. I John 3:16 tells us, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Hebrews 7:25 tells us, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Acts 4:12 tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” If you have been saved, you have given your heart to the Lord and you have committed and submitted your life to Him, then you are saved. One of the devil’s greatest tricks is to cause us to doubt whether or not we have been saved. When you read the scriptures that I have put for you, you will see that salvation has nothing to do with you. Matter of fact, these verses even point out the fact that you cannot deserve it, and that you can’t earn it. It has to be by the grace of God. That means it is something that you can’t deserve. We are saved because God is so good, not because we are. We are saved because of the Savior, Jesus, Who died for us. If you have been saved, believe in Him. You don’t have to believe in yourself. You can’t live the Christian life alone. You can’t do it without His help. That is why He comes inside of our heart to live. You have help available. Trust in Him. Then the next time that the devil comes around and tries to tell you that you are not saved, you read these scriptures to him. Give him God’s Word for it. He will have to go away and leave you alone.

What is the price that Jesus paid so that you could be saved? Read this section of scripture in John. Start with chapter 17. This is a prayer that Jesus prayed for you and for all of us. In this prayer you find the reason why He went through everything that He did. He loves us enough, and He loves His Father so much, that He wants us to be one with them the way they are one with one another. Jesus wants us to love Him and His Father, God, that much. He died so that we could be one the way He is with His Father. That is a lot of love. Read on after that through John chapter 18 and 10. The story of the crucifixion carries on through chapter 19. Remember, when Jesus hung there on the cross, it was for you as much as it was for anyone. He died for your sins so that you could be forgiven, so that you could be saved. Here are some of the words to a song that I wrote that tell about God’s love for you.

He Would Have Died

Chorus

He would have died if I had been the only one.

The blood that He shed would have fell if I had stood there all alone.

Still His great love was so much more that He died for the whole world.

Yes, He loves me like I was the only one.

Verse 1

Don’t you know how precious you are how much Jesus loves you.

Those nail scars on His hands, His feet, His sides, they were there for you.

That crown of thorns that He suffered, that piercing in His side too.

He would have hung there on the cross, if it had been only you.

Everything that He went through was out of love. That is the kind of Savior that He is. He gave His life so that we could be saved.

So is salvation a cheap thing? No it isn’t. It is very dear. Never treat it like it is something that can be trampled under your foot. I know a lot of young people who live like they are saved one week, go back to acting like the world the next week, then switch back again. They live like a yo-yo, up and down and up again. It seems like they really don’t understand what salvation is all about. When you really are saved for real, you will know the Savior. You will know His great love for you. You will want to give your life to Him, because He gave His for you. I think that when young people live a yo-yo life, they don’t really understand what salvation is all about. Don’t be one of those people. Get to know your Savior. He is your very, very best friend. Do you have another friend who has died for you?

Chapter 10.

Jesus Our Redeemer

In Bible times, when someone was a slave, there was one way that they could be free. If someone paid the price that was needed to buy them back, that person could set them free. That person was called their redeemer. Life for slaves back in that day was really terrible. Many died because of the conditions of slavery. Can you imagine how a slave would feel when someone paid a price for them, and then instead of keeping them as their slave, they let them go free. I imagine that their redeemer had a friend and faithful servant for life. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our redeemer. Proverbs 23:11 says, “For their redeemer is mighty; He shall plead their cause with thee.” Isaiah 47:4 says, “As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.” We have a redeemer, someone who has bought us back from sin and death. His name is Jesus.

So I imagine that you may be thinking by this time that you have never been a slave, so what does all this have to do with you. We are slaves to more things than we can even imagine. One of the things that we are slaves to is our own foolishness. How many times have you been mad at yourself for something stupid that you did, that you really didn’t mean to. But after it was done there was no taking it back? How many times have you wished that you could change but it seemed like there was no way that you could? How many times have you wanted to be better and do better than you did, but it seemed like every time that you did, you could only fail? We are slaves to ourselves. But when we ask Jesus into our heart, and we give our lives to God, we are not on our own. We have Someone inside of us that can help us overcome ourselves. Jesus redeems us from ourselves.

Jesus also redeems us from sin. We have a nature to want to sin. Nobody has to tell you that it is easier to do wrong than it is to do right. We talked about before how we inherited a nature to do wrong from our great, great, great, ever so many great grandmother and grandfather, Adam and Eve. Because they sinned in the Garden of Eden, we inherited a nature to sin. Have you ever wanted so bad to stop sinning but it seemed like you just couldn’t. The Apostle Paul had the same problem in the book of Romans. Read this section of scripture in Romans 7:14-25 and Romans 8:1. In this section of scripture Paul talks about how that the harder he tried to do good, the worse he would mess up. In verse 24 he says, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? In verse 24 he tells us who can deliver us from this predicament. Jesus Christ our Lord. We have talked in this book many times about how when Jesus come into our heart to live He helps us to be able to overcome sin. He gives us the strength that we need. We no longer have to be slaves to sin. Jesus has redeemed us from sin.

Jesus also redeems us from the world. The world is in a mess. It is in a mess because as a whole it ignores God, His ways, His Word, and His love. The world as a whole does not think the way that we need to. The world is full of people who are bound by all kinds of things. They are slaves to fear, depression, anger, hate, bitterness, greed, pride, and many many more things. All these things are destructive. They destroy not only your life, but also your eternal soul. One of the main attitudes that people in the world are bound in is the attitude of not caring. I run into so many teenagers that just flat out don’t care about themselves or anyone else. They do all kinds of stupid things and make all kinds of choices because they don’t care about the outcome. If you let yourselves be slaves to the world, that is the attitude that you will wind up with. Jesus died to redeem you from the world. He gives us a better way of thinking, and a better life. His love sets us free from all the things that bind the people in the world, and make them slaves. We are free.

Jesus is our great redeemer. He has paid the price to set us free. Since He has, stay free. Don’t become a slave again. Jesus Himself says in John 8:34-36, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosever committeth sin is the servant of sin…If the Son therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” I wonder how many of the slaves that were set free in Bible times went back to their cruel and destructive masters and asked them if they could become their slaves again. We need to be careful that we don’t return to be a slave ourselves. When Jesus sets us free, we need to stay free.

Chapter 11.

Jesus, Our Forgiveness

Have you ever done anything wrong and had to sit in it, worrying about who would find out and what your punishment would be? Did you have to sweat it out? Did you have to go through the pain of knowing that you had done wrong, and you knew that someone was going to be really hurt or disappointed when they found out? Then that someone found out. Sure it might have been rough sailing for a little while, but then they forgave you and everything was restored in your relationship with them. Then you know the great feeling that it is to be forgiven. I wish that I could say that when I was a teenager that I never did anything wrong. I wasn’t that smart. I got into drugs, sex, and everything else that I could find that was destructive. I turned my back on God and church and family, and set off for the unknown wild side of life. It didn’t take long for me to wreck my life. I found out the hard way that when the world says that it’s OK to do it if it feels good is really a stupid way of thinking. When you do wrong, when you go against God’s Word, then you know it. And it hurts. And it can destroy your life if you don’t turn around. I still have scars from those wild days. What you do, you pay for. There is a payday for the wrong that we do. Why did God make rules in the first place? Why did He tell us in His Word to stay out of bed with people that we weren’t married to? Why did He tell us to stay away from strong drink (and anything else that is in that same category)? Why did He tell us not to steal? Why did He tell us to be honest? Why did He tell us to work hard, and if we don’t we won’t prosper? Why did He have rules in the first place? The answer to all the above is that we serve a God that is very smart. He has been around watching after His people for thousands of years. The rules have never changed. Wrong is wrong and right is right. Our business is to get to know Him, submit to His ways, read His Word, and find out what is right and what is wrong. Then our business is to avoid what is wrong. If we don’t, we will pay for it. I used to think that God was a God that sat in heaven with a big stick ready to knock us in the head when we do wrong. He doesn’t have to. When we do wrong, we will reap the pain that goes with it. And I reaped it. Then I returned to God’s love. What a wonderful feeling when He forgave me! I was almost afraid that He wouldn’t. I think that is something that a lot of young people go through. I was afraid because I didn’t really know what He was like. I had forgotten that He was my forgiveness. That He died so that I could be forgiven. Now I know. That was over 25 years ago, and I have served Him and loved Him ever since then, because He loves me.

Another problem that comes with sin is that it separates us from God. When you do things that you know will hurt someone, then you have a breach between you and that person. Sin separates us from God’s love. Your wrongdoing will be a wall between you and God’s love, if you let it be. That is when we need to remember that Jesus is our forgiveness. We know that Jesus died to forgive us of our sin. He had no sin, and He took the punishment for yours. The wages of sin is death, eternal separation from God. That is how that is. When you sin, you automatically earn eternal separation from God. Our only hope is that when Jesus died, He took the punishment for all the wrong that you do. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Because He hung on the cross and died, you won’t have to die that eternal death that separates you forever from God’s love. Because He died, you can be forgiven. Jesus didn’t die because you were perfect. He died because He knew that you would need to be forgiven.

So what do we need to do when we sin? The worst thing that we can do is pretend that it didn’t happen. The worst thing that we can do is to pretend that it wasn’t sin at all. We can make all kinds of excuses for what we do, but God’s Word tells us plainly what is sin. God’s Spirit in our heart convicts us when we sin. We know when we do wrong. Never excuse it away. Repent. That means that you feel so bad in your heart because you let God down that you make up your mind you won’t ever do that again. Then you ask His forgiveness. Then you accept it. Don’t be like some people that I know. Don’t ever ask Him to forgive you, then go do it again because you know that He loves you enough to do so. Love Him enough not to expect Him to. The price that He paid to forgive you was His own life. Read the account of His death in the Bible in John chapter 18 and 19. Respect the suffering that He went through enough to never take it lightly.

Also, when you ask Him to forgive you, trust that He will. The Bible tells us that there is no condemnation from God after we have repented and we have been forgiven. The devil will make us feel condemned. He will whisper in our ear that we aren’t good enough to deserve God’s love because we have sinned. He will even tell us that we have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and that there is no forgiveness for that. That means that we have turned our back on God so many times that we can’t hear His Spirit when it is dealing with us to repent. If you are feeling convicted when you do wrong then that hasn’t happened to you. The devil will even make us feel like we are totally isolated from God and from His people because we aren’t perfect and we have done wrong. That is a lie. The One Who died to forgive you will never turn His back on you because you aren’t perfect. If He died to forgive you, won’t He do so? Remember, Jesus is your forgiveness.

Chapter 12.

Jesus, A Righteous Judge

I think a lot of times even older people are a lot like kids in how they think. I remember when I taught elementary school, I was trying to teach some second graders about why we have rules to live by. I told them that for 30 minutes I was going outside the room. During that time there would be no rules. They could do anything they wanted to do during that time. There would be no punishment because without rules to go by they could do no wrong. I stepped outside the door where I could hear what they were doing and keep an eye on them, but they didn’t know I was there. Well the whole school heard them when I walked out the door. They went wild. They were hanging from the rafters. Then I started to see a few little heads popping up over the glass in the door looking for me. In a little while the door opened, then shut. It wasn’t long until a little delegation came to ask me to please come back in and straighten these kids out. Things had gotten so bad that they themselves couldn’t stand it. Then they all came around. They realized that day that they did want rules and they needed somebody to make them obey them. Now that person that made those rules needed to be fair and right in their judgment. Human nature says, “I want to do my own thing without anyone telling me what to do.” When things get out of hand in our life, we realize that chaos isn’t what we need after all. Grown ups are just like kids in that respect.

I can remember telling my mother I couldn’t wait until I was 18 and out on my own. Then nobody could tell me what to do. She asked me, “Do you plan on going to college?” I answered that I was. She then told me that in school the teachers would be telling me what to do and if I didn’t, I would fail their class. She then asked me if I wanted to ever get a job. She told me my employers would expect certain things from me, and if I didn’t do them I would not keep my job. She asked, “Do you plan on getting married and having a family?” She told me if I did that there would be times when they would want their way as well. We will never live all to ourselves in a little world where we will get our way all the time. We will always have to take the people around us into account. We’ll always have to listen to someone. Most of all, we have to learn to submit to God. I have seen a lot of people who said they were Christians but they never submitted to God enough to daily listen for His voice and obey Him. Their life stays in a mess. God would try to lead them in the right direction but they wanted to do their own thing, and did it. When their life fell apart because there was such confusion, just like the kids in my classroom, they would go to God to ask Him to fix the situation. God is a perfect God. He is righteous, He is right in His judgment. When He says leave something alone, not to do it, or to be with that person, or go there, He means it. It is for our own good. When He says don’t go there, or go here, He does it for a reason, because He loves us and wants the best for us. The sooner you face it that you don’t know what is best for you, the better off you’ll be. I don’t serve a God that is dumber than I am. What would be the point in that? We could then be our own gods. I need a God that is real, and a God that is God. One Who knows what is the best for me. I want a God that I can follow and He’ll direct me in the right direction. Don’t make God to be any less. Don’t tell Him what you will or won’t do because you think you know better. That will make Him to be an awfully little God in your life. I don’t know about you but I need a mighty big God.

Not only is He a right judge of what we need to do, but of how we need to be in our hearts, inside of us where it really counts. Attitudes are so important. A bad attitude can cause us to sink faster than a hole in a big ship. Only Jesus can bring to our attention the attitudes that we have that need to be fixed so that we can be changed to be victorious people. Only He knows the ways that we think that get us trapped into being defeated. He is inside of our hearts and knows us from the inside out. He is a righteous judge that can judge us like no other person and we can trust that His judgment about us will be right.

The Bible says that God punishes those that love Him. Hebrews 12:6 tells us, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” He chastens or punishes those who are His kids. I have heard the old saying about how God can whip sounder than any parent. He knows how to correct His children in the right way to get their attention, and to get them directed in the right path with their attitudes and actions. I am glad that He does. In my classroom, I knew how to come in and restore order and peace to the lives of the children. He does that when we let Him into our lives full of turmoil and chaos. He will come in and bring His peace and order. If we allow Him to, He will direct our lives out of harm and into an abundant life full of good things.

Then one day the Bible says that He will be the righteous judge of all men. Romans 14:10 tells us, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” After the judgment of Christ, some will go to hell; the rest will spend eternity with Him. I heard someone say once that God loves everyone. He won’t punish anyone by sending them to hell. They were partly right. Hell wasn’t made to punish people. The Bible says it is a place of punishment made for satan and all the angels that help him. Matthew 25:41 says, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. Hell wasn’t made for us. God doesn’t want anyone to go there. That’s why God sent His Son, Jesus, to die so that we would not have to go there. God doesn’t put us in hell for our sin. We put ourselves there if we choose to go. If we choose to turn our back on our relationship with Jesus and His great gift of salvation and we choose to live a life everyday ignoring God, disobeying Him, doing our own thing, then we will send ourselves to hell. Hell is an eternal lake of fire, a place of torment. It won’t be a party. Matthew 13:42 tells us, “and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” It is a place of torment.

Jesus is a righteous judge. If He let anything go, just like the class of kids we would be begging for guidelines, rules to keep us safe. As a parent, good disciplinarians that discipline their kids soundly and consistently and fairly have well brought up kids. God is smarter than parents. He has set up for us guidelines in His Word to live by. He even set up laws that keep the earth and sun in orbit. His laws are just and His judgments are sound. We can trust Him to be a righteous judge. I am so glad He is. Aren’t you?

Chapter 13.

Jesus Our Vision and Hope

Jesus is our hope for tomorrow. On the night before I wrote this chapter we had our fifteenth graduation ceremony for our Christian School. During the ceremony our school Administrator told of how he had grown up really poor. He was very bashful. He had been so poor that he had to wear feed-sack shirts to school, shirts that were sewn out of the sacks that they got the cattle feed in. Then he told about how the Lord had not long before that very night of the graduation worked out a way for the ministry to buy the only radio station that was in the town where he had grown up. As he was going to pay for that station with the money that the Lord had miraculously given to be used for that, the Lord reminded him of how he had grown up. It was no accident that this station was located in the town where he had been so poor. In the graduation ceremony, Brother Goad told the seniors that if they give their life to God, if they live by the principles of His Word, and they obey Him, they can be and do anything, no matter what circumstances that they have to overcome. God would be their help. He will help us overcome our weaknesses and our battles and He will bless us. You may not have a radio station one day, but who knows what you will one day be if you put your hand in Jesus’ hand. He can be the vision for your future that you need.

As I mentioned before, I am writing this at the end of the school year, and at a time when I am counseling a lot of Seniors who have graduated. I have had several that came into my office this year and told me that they were scared. I appreciate their honesty. It is a scary time when we graduate. It feels like the whole world, that used to rest so securely on the shoulders of our parents, is in the course of a week transferred onto ours. We think that in the course of a week we have to develop a plan for our future. We think that we have to become self-sufficient. There are two ways to look at all this. The first is that we need to start preparing for our future a long time before graduation. We need to have a vision and a plan for our life long before we walk through the line to pick up our diploma. Our future has to start with a relationship with God that is obedient. It has to start with gaining a trust with Him that we know that He will lead us. (Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”) Then we will be ready to do what the next step is. Our future is a journey and it is made up of many steps. The first one does not start the day of graduation. We have to plan our future, get a vision for what we want to do with the leading of the Lord. We have to take the right classes in school and determine in our heart that school is important and we need to do our best. We need to care enough about our future that we stay away from the things that can mess up our lives, no matter who else is doing it. We need to find guidance from those around us that can direct us. We need to be looking ahead. Then when we graduate it will only be the next step on the road that we are already traveling.

Another way to look at all this is this. I remember that I was so scared up until the time that I graduated that I would nearly hyperventilate just thinking about it. But then the next day came, and the next. I took the next step in the journey and went step by step, and kept on walking. I found out that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. Life is a journey that has to happen one step at a time. When we look at it as being a whole trip, it can trip us out. We have to take one day and one step at a time. Don’t look at your future as a whole picture. That can scare you. Just look at it as the next day, and know that God will be there to lead you just like He did today.

God gives us a vision for our future. He has a very special plan for your life. His plan for me was to be a teacher. Now we have students all over the world. What is His plan for you? Only you can find it. Talk to Him. He knows how to lead you. Make yourself available to Him. I did, and I have never regretted it. We serve an awesome God who is able to give us even the desires of our heart. I used to be afraid to ask Him what He wanted me to do, because I was afraid that He would tell me to do something that I didn’t want to do. The Bible tells us though that He will give us the desires of our heart. It may be that the desire in your heart is a desire that he put there. Trust Him to be the guide of your life. You will have a wonderful future. Guaranteed.

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