5 to Midnight - Gospel Music and Christian Ministry
Songwriters Ken & Catharina Esplin met each other in 1985 in a large church where Cathy was a pianist and singer.
Ken Esplin asked God for a wife and one day as he got off his motorbike at a large church in South Africa he heard someone singing inside the church. God told him: "That's your wife" and 4 months later they were married. Since then they have performed in churches in South Africa and the USA. They have also played professionally for various Hotel chains and performed for a Southern African president (President Lucas Mangope of Boputathswana). Their songs have been played on Radio Pulpit in South Africa reaching also into surrounding African countries.
Ken and Cathy now live in Oregon in the USA where Catharina is a piano instructor ( http://www.cplessons.com) and Ken composes Music. Although they do not perform any longer professionally they create videos of their music for Youtube.
"Yes, I will marry you", I said looking into his sincere eyes, knowing I admired this man, but I did not love him. I felt both excited and apprehensive for the remainder of our short flight back to Johannesburg and when a friend met us at the airport she exclaimed: "You don't have to say a thing...I know. You're getting married!"
Well, let me go back a bit. I was born in Primrose, a suburb close to Johannesburg in South Africa into an Afrikaans family of six: my parents, one older brother, and 2 sisters of which I was second youngest.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior during my Senior year at a school camp. After finishing High school and University I had only one dream. That was to make it in the music world. This ambition was so strong that I didn't think much about what Jesus wanted for me...I kind of just hoped He would go along with my plans.
So after a short, disastrous trip to Italy where I thought somehow I could connect with musicians, I came back to South Africa and started my teaching career. But the ambition to "make it in the music world" wouldn't go away and so I joined an Italian band and worked 5 days a week as a school music teacher and 3 nights per week as a musician. The band leader and I started to live together to the disappointment of my Christian parents. We did well as a band and played as resident musicians in several upper-scale Restaurants, including Villa Borghese restaurant during which time we performed for a Miss South Africa function.
In spite of our success, I began to feel that something was wrong. I was holding on to the world with one hand and tried to hold on to God with the other. I was sitting on the fence and that ultimately was leading to my walking away from God. One day after taking up the invitation to join some of my students at a Christian meeting during school break, I started to feel troubled inside. Just before going back to my class one of the students had told me that they were praying for me....O boy! When one walks away from God and people tell you: "We're praying for you...", watch out! God has some ingenious methods of bringing His children back to Him.
I began to feel so guilty that I broke off the relationship with the bandleader and moved back into my own place. Yet I still left the door open, by continuing to perform with the same band on weekends. And then as one would expect I moved back in with the bandleader. The very night I moved back, God gave me a dream.
I dreamed that I was traveling up in a lift (elevator). God was telling me to push the button and get off, because this was a dangerous journey and I would get hurt but I said, "Just a little longer", hoping to reach the top. After 3 more warnings, the lift suddenly started to shake and I tried to push the buttons but it was too late! The lift shot up to the top floor crashed into the ceiling, and began to fall. I shouted "Jesus receive me!" and then found myself on the ground, looking out of an arched doorway onto a beautiful green lawn. I saw people in white clothes sitting by a table under an umbrella and everything in me wanted to join this peaceful, blessed group. I knew I would be instantly loved and accepted without any conditions. But as I was about to step out I heard the band calling to me: "Come here...this is where your success is...this is where your happiness is!"
OK, I guess I better tell you, dear reader, that I'm not nuts. It's just that I knew God was telling me to get out of the situation I was in...that pursuing this dream of music - my way (going up in the lift to the top), would get me hurt in the long run. He wanted me to trust Him for the plan of my life. God has a plan for everyone, but we miss out on this when we don't surrender our lives to Him. When God gives you a gift, He intends for you to use it to glorify Him and to be a blessing to others. But you may have a long road to travel (as in my case) before God opens the doors where He intends for you to use your gift of serving Him and bringing others to Him.
One night at the Villa Borghese restaurant another band came to listen to us to find out how we managed our sound and during one of our breaks we sat down with them. While everyone was talking, I quietly said to God: "I am ready to get out of the lift. You can take away whatever is between us." (And He has done that ever since believe you me!) I knew Jesus was my Savior, but this time, I also invited Him to be Lord of my life; to sit on the throne of my heart.
Now here is how it happened...and so quickly! The owner called the bandleader into his office. They shouted at one another and to our amazement, the bandleader stormed out and told us "Pack up! We're fired!" We couldn't believe it. After so many years of being really popular in this particular venue... the reason we got fired was so trivial it was almost funny! The owner said that our friends should not be sitting in the special area reserved for guests only, to which the bandleader became upset; shouted at the boss, and got himself and us fired. Hmm ...I wondered, "God did you allow that to happen just now...for insignificant me?"
Up till today, I know He did!
The next day I went to see a church worship Pastor and offered my services as a church musician...for free...the only thing is, he didn't want me. Oh, blind me...I couldn't see what was so obvious to God and any child of His. This good Christian man heard my story and said: "You're living in sin", to which I replied: "What is marriage? It' just a piece of paper. You prove to me that God says it's wrong to live together and I'll stop it."
He got up and quietly left his office. I watched him with suspicion as he returned and placed an opened dictionary in front of me pointing to the word: "Fornication".
" Read this", he said and continued on: "and then read this passage in the Bible." I read out loud:
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,....they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21
Suddenly all my bravado was gone and the tears just kept on coming. "I am sorry God please forgive me. I will stop, but you better help me. " And He did. How good and kind and patient God is.
That night I made good on my promise. I slept on the coach in the living room and the next morning as I woke up I prayed:
"God I don't know what to do...Will you help me please?" Instantly He answered: "Phone your brother".
That was the beginning of my journey back to God. My brother and his family took me into their home that same day.
Their Christian fellowship strongly advised me to break off this relationship for good.
I protested: "Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?" and instantly in my heart I heard:
"It is not them telling you - it is I ". And I knew God wanted me to leave my old life behind and follow Him.
One morning I prayed:
"I will not marry if you do not want me to, but if you do, then please don't let me fall in love again unless you choose the husband. And let Him be a man of God and let him love You more than he loves me and let him drag me all the way to You." A year later I was married to my beloved Ken, a man searching after God's heart. But that's another story I will tell you later.
(I must tell you that I did pray for the bandleader and his 2 sons but God told me to quit and that He would take care of them. I was too involved emotionally and praying for them made want to go back to them.)
(Here is an excerpt from a letter Ken wrote to Jan, his friend on November 13 ,2013.)
'I am also going to tell you a short version of what happened in my flat in 1984. Please understand that if I did not do this, I would be the worst friend in the world.
At that time I lived in Killarney in Johannesburg. Being very brief now I will say that my first wife, Maria had left me just a couple of days before Christmas and I was alone in my flat. I had been totally depressed for quite some time and was drinking and smoking the green stuff quite a lot, to try and get rid of the depression. It did not work though.
I called Maria that morning and asked her to come back and she said: "No...you will never change". I actually knew that she was right that I would never change and the only reason that I wanted her back, was because I could not stand the thought of her having a nice Christmas with her parents, while I was alone. She did not come back at my request.
So on that 25th day of December 1984, I decided to get on my motorbike and ride to Rhodes Park and find someone to talk to...anybody to talk to. I was wearing my full-face helmet, bawling my eyes out and I just could not get to talk to anyone at Rhodes Park, so I jumped on my bike again and went to Zoo Lake and tried the same thing. But I was crying too much and could not speak to anyone.
I went back to the flat still bawling. I opened the fridge and I had plenty of beers in there and I also had green stuff available but I just could not stomach it. I became more and more depressed and then became suicidal and went to the kitchen and took out a bottle of sleeping pills. There were 18 prescription pills in the container. It only took a quarter of a pill to knock me out when I normally took them.
I was too scared to take the pills yet, so I went and called my sister who was visiting my mother in Durban. She picked up how messed up I was and that I was suicidal and she tried to help me. She couldn't, and she then said that I should phone a friend of hers who lived in Johannesburg and was a Christian. The woman's name was Ann. The problem was that even though I was near suicide, I still had so much pride and was also still bawling like a baby and so I did not call her.
I spent the day bawling and in tremendous depression and still totally suicidal. I went to the fridge, looked at the booze, and then went to the living room and tried watching TV, but nothing could help me. After some time I decided that I should phone Lifeline and try to get help but at the same time, my pride spoke to me and said, what will the guys at work think of me if they find out that I called lifeline?... I mean me...mister cool, mister know it all...the person that you could not tell anything at all to...because he knows it all.
Well, I went to my bedroom where the phone was and as I came to the door and looked inside I saw a black cloud in the corner of the room. It was like a mat black and was a real actual cloud. It reached from the floor to just under the roof and was about 4 to 5 feet thick. I became instantly terrified and started to shake all over.
Now you must remember that I was deeply into worshiping Satan at that time in my life and I really mean worshiping him. I would watch demons come into me as I sat in front of the mirror doing my "stuff". I had a huge custom made double bed in the bedroom and the phone was diagonal across the bed from the door where I was standing and I would have to go past the black cloud in order to get to it. The shaking was uncontrollable and my whole body was shaking and as I looked at the black cloud I suddenly knew somewhere deep inside myself that it had come for me....to collect me. (Remember I am telling you the shortened version here.)
Back I went to the kitchen and the pills and still I was too scared to take them. I went back to the fridge and then to the lounge...doing the rounds so to speak...to try and escape.
Eventually, I thought to myself that if I could go to the room and go over the bed itself, I might be able to get to the phone without having to pass the cloud. I did do exactly that and I searched in the phone book and found the number for a lifeline. The black cloud stayed where it was which was now off to my right as I sat on the edge of the bed. I called the number and a machine picked it up and said: "The line is busy please call back in 5 minutes". I kept on pushing repeat dial and in my peripheral vision, I saw that the black cloud had come closer to me. I was absolutely terrified.
After about 5 to 10 minutes a man picked up the phone. I was crying so much that I could hardly talk but we did talk. All he knew about me was that my wife had left me and I was very depressed. He was not helping me so I decided that I should get rid of him. Remember that I was still crying full out while we spoke. I said to him that I must go now but he would not let me go and kept me on the line. We talked some more and then I tried again to get rid of him, but he still would not let me go. Of course, I could have just put the phone down but I was not thinking normally at all at that time. Anyway, it became dark outside and the black cloud had moved right up next to my head by that time. I knew inside myself that if it came on me I would take the pills.
Finally, I realized that to get rid of him ( the shrink) I would have to stop crying and I managed to get my crying to stop...well half-half... I said again that I must go now and he waited a while and then said these words to me...."OK...but the night is long ...call me if you need me". Right then, at that moment I knew that I would never make it through the night because to me the day had been like 6 months long and I knew that the night would drag on forever. I worked it out the next day that I had been on the phone with him for about five-and-a-half-hours.
Back to Christmas day now...I was still shaking badly as I put the phone down. As it touched the cradle, it rang. My hand had not let go of the phone yet, so I picked it up and this woman said to me...
"Hello, my name is Ann...I am your sister's friend...are you alright?
I remember saying: " No, I am not alright".
She said: "I have been trying to call you for over 5 hours and now that I got through I don't know what to say to you." Then she said: "Would you like to say the sinner's prayer?" I did not know what the heck that was, but I was so messed up and desperate for help that I said: "OK".
She said " Say these words after me: 'God please forgive me for my sins"...so I said:
"God please forgive me for my sins."
Then she said: "Jesus please come into my life and be my Lord and Savior"...
I repeated that and it was like an atomic bomb going off. Instantly I felt as if I had just had a shower on the inside of myself...I felt completely clean and new! I was so happy with what was happening that I fell down on my knees and burst out crying again shouting:
" He's alive, He's alive!"
She was shouting on the phone:
"What are you going to do ...what are you going to do?"
She did not know what had just happened to me.
The black cloud was gone instantly. For the next 4 days and nights, I had His presence with me. It felt like absolute safety... safer than I had ever felt in my life and safer than I have ever felt since. When I went to work my face was glowing for the entire 4 days and nights.
The guys at work could see that there was something different about me and they were all coming up to me and asking me :
"What is wrong with you?" I just said the same answer all the time...
"I met God yesterday ..." They sneered at me and moved off very quickly.
Since that Christmas day, my life has never been the same. I have still done some bad things, but He has never left me. Even if I wanted to, I could not go back to what I was before...it is impossible. He changed me...not I changed me, but He did.
Jan my friend, this is all real that I have told you. I have not embroidered anything. I pray that you read those words that Ann said to me on that 25th December 1984 and that you pray them yourself. One of the things I know for sure is that Satan is real. I met plenty of his high priests and priestesses during my difficult life.
Life is a serious thing and we are all given an invitation to God and heaven. The thing is we also have free will and can decide whether to accept the invitation or reject it. I was a hard case, but He did forgive me on that day in December. Please, please Jan...and you too Tracy... take this seriously. Don’t be put off with the "Christian" con men on TV and the "I want your money crooks". They do not represent God.
All my love to you both and I hope to see both of you in heaven.
I first saw him at Church. Someone had told me that there was a man who wanted to meet me and so I walked over to where they were sitting. As I introduced myself I stretched out my hand to shake his hand and then something beautiful happened. He blushed and gulped "I'm Ken" and slid a bit down his chair. Never have I been paid such a sincere compliment. He simply was the most open and genuine person I've ever come across. And I liked him ...instantly!
After the service, we met again in the "band room" at the back and Ken lived up to my first impression of him. "All I want to do is hold your hand", he said with a shy smile and so I awkwardly stretched out my right hand towards him. The comments and whistles of some band members walking past us didn't really help and this ...our first romantic moment was short-lived.
The next Sunday evening the youth group came to my townhouse and so did Ken. We started to speak and I found him to be a very deep person with a powerful testimony. All of a sudden he got up and told me that he was going home. I saw him to the door and my heart sank as he drove away on his motorbike. So I quietly told my roommate I was leaving and followed Ken. Was I smitten ...? No, it couldn't be. This kind of thing was not for me.
Over the next few weeks, we saw each other a lot and Ken made no secret of it that he believed I was going to be his wife. God told him so, he kept on telling me. I thought he was crazy and I said that if he mentioned it one more time, I would never speak to him again.
(Later... much later, after we were married, I found out that my dearest Kenny went home that day and cried in front of God so much that the polish came off the parkay floor on the spot where he was praying.)
OK. Let me tell you about how God made things happen.
Miracles in Durban
Ken invited me to fly down to Durban with him for 4 days for his friend, Jan's wedding and so we found ourselves in Durban alone in the flat of Onno, (Jan's brother) on Friday morning, after Onno left for work. Before I came out of my room to say hello to Ken, I prayed earnestly asking God to decide for me if I should marry Ken. God showed me through scriptures in my Bible that He would guide my feet where I should go. That morning Ken and I prayed together for a long time and then decided to go into town. As we walked down one of the busiest streets, I saw an Indian lady begging for money. I felt an urgency to go and pray for her but kept on walking away from her. I wasn't sure if this was God telling me to do so, but after I heard "Go pray for her " for the third time, I mentioned it to Ken and we turned back.
She was sitting in front of a store cramped up on her haunches and her eyes were rolling back in her head and her hands were twisted. We knelt close to her and I asked:
"Do you know Jesus?" to which there was no response.
"May I pray for you?" , I continued and when she seemed to nod in agreement, I asked Jesus to heal and deliver her from what was so crippling her. This time, at the mention of the name of Jesus, her head knocked into the store window.
"Did she have a stroke?" someone asked behind us and we looked up into a small crowd of spectators who seemed to have gathered behind us without us noticing. Ken, who didn't like to be at the center of attention cringed, but quickly responded: "No she's just full of demons" and suddenly people started to throw money into her little begging bowl. We spoke some more to Shirley and then asked if she would like to go to a church on Sunday. She nodded yes and we agreed to meet her in the same spot on Sunday morning.
Well here is something funny...My old Kenny (by now as I'm writing our story many a year later, you can surmise that I love him to pieces) wasn't comfortable with this idea of going to church with Shirley. So after I called a Taxi and we waited for quite a while, he starts asking God to please stop the Taxi form coming...Can you believe it? And I (a little frustrated) asked God to please send the Taxi. Guess whose prayer was answered?
As we drove up to our meeting spot - a little late I might add, Shirley wasn't there and now the following thing happened to me. I somehow knew where to turn and told the Taxi driver to turn here and here, and again here... and there she was!"
It was God showing us the way. We waved at each other and when she got into the front seat she turned around and she looked like a new person! Her eyes were full of joy as her first words came bursting out: "This morning as I woke up it was as if something dark lifted off me!" Oh, what great joy it is to see what the love of Jesus can do for someone!
Later on, in church I asked Jesus quietly if He could also please heal her stiff arm so she could raise it up in praise of Him and there in front of my own shocked eyes, her arm went up and her hand opened up slowly. After the service Shirley asked if she could come back with us to Johannesburg and we said that God was not only with us but also now with her and encouraged her to go back to her friends and tell them what happened to her. How beautiful it was to see her walking away with new confidence and a straight posture.
Let me go back again to the Friday when we first met Shirley so I can tell you of the other miracles that made me realize there was something special going on. It seemed as if God was saying "Yes" to Ken and I being together. Later on, Ken would say: "God was wooing you for me!" No chocolates and flowers and opening- the -car- door- for- me-stuff ( not that those things are not precious..but wow !) this was so much more right up my alley!
Remember I said that I prayed early in the morning asking God to decide for me if I should marry Ken and that God showed me through Scripture that He would guide my feet where I should go. So here is how this unfolded.
On Friday morning after our first encounter with Shirley, we went into a store and the sales lady behind the counter asked: "Why are you two so happy? Are you on Honeymoon?" Now I quickly slinked away because this was too embarrassing and Ken seemed to enjoy this a little too much.
Ken and I wanted to go to the Aquarium so I stepped into the first bus at the terminal and asked the driver if he could perhaps tell me what time could we catch a bus there and which one to take (there were about 5 buses there) The bus driver said: "This is it and we're leaving now." Hmm... coincidence?
As we got off I asked an elderly lady with a "cloth" on her head if she could point us in the direction of the aquarium. She said she was going that way and we could walk with her. Ken quietly told me to just let her talk...it seemed as if she was lonely and enjoyed speaking to someone. As we reached our destination and said our " Thank You's" and "Goodbyes" she walked away and just then I remembered something important. I realized God was doing special things and I might as well make the most of it. "Do you know Jesus?" I asked and she turned around with a great big smile.
"My dear if I didn't know Jesus I would not be here today", she said and then pointed her finger at me and said:
" Don't worry, God will guide your feet where you must go", and then walked away.
No Way!!! Did she really just say that? The same thing God showed me in His word earlier that morning? Yes, Way!!! She did and God did. Up to today He has so faithfully guided my feet...mind you not my head...that could get messed up pretty quickly since there's so much of the old selfish self will in me that God had to deal with and is still dealing with today. Thank God for His long-suffering patience with me and thank God for my consistently stable and truth-loving Ken who hears God clearly and has been following Jesus and leading the way for me. I am truly blessed and safe because of the love and faithfulness of God in sending me the husband of His choice.
Quick! Would you bear with me for a few more signs of God's approval on this walk to the altar of holy matrimony? As Ken bought some tickets for the Aquarium the person behind the booth said: "Why are you so happy? Are you on your honeymoon?" The exact words the sales lady in the store asked us earlier in the day! By now I started to get it. God was trying to tell me something and yet...I still wasn't absolutely sure. I really liked Ken but I did not love him.
Then Ken told me he has been noticing for a while now that people have been staring at us and I told him not to imagine crazy things. Upon which he challenged me that I should look back at the next group of people we passed and by golly there it was. Not a normal look-at-passers-by-look, but the whole group was staring...I mean really staring...for quite a while.
OK, OK...I can hear a skeptic out there saying: "Come on, these are all coincidences."
Perhaps ...for you ...but as for me- I've never had so many things happen: one-after-the-other. I knew it was God. And by now I was smiling just as much as Ken was. And we were happy.
That evening we went with Onno, the bother of Ken's friend, to a theater to watch him act in a play. After the play was over he started to have a few drinks with his friends and so Ken excused us and we went to sit in the foyer of the theater.
"I wish we could get a Taxi," I said and my words were not even cold when someone walked into the building and asked:
"Who called a Taxi? "
We knew it wasn't us so we just sat there and he went into one of the back rooms and we could hear him repeating:
"Who called a taxi?" Eventually, he came back past us and walked out the front door. We saw the Taxi out there and ran after him. We heard him say:
"Dead call " and then I asked if we could get a ride home. In the taxi, I sang some Christian songs and he asked:
" Are you Christians?" to which we both replied: " Yes" and he said:
" I've been trying to get back with God. Can you help me?"
God is incredible, I thought as we led him back to Jesus and prayed with him. And in reality, we did call a Taxi...just not using a phone - God must've planned it all so that this man could find his way back to Him and for us to see how joyful God is when He plans for two people to love each other.
God is so unselfish...so different from us. How can it be that He loves us so? All of us lying-hypocritical-self-pleasing-pretending to be wonderfully good, when indeed if it boils down to survival, we'll quickly grab the last lifeboat and push everyone else off it to make room for our family.
Back to the story.
On Saturday we went to Jan's wedding and I knew I had found my soul mate. Ken was my dream man! But I still didn't love him.
There, now you have it. Now you can see why I said "Yes, I will marry you", to a man I didn't love. As we sat in a Pizza Restaurant on Sunday evening and I saw once more how sincere Ken was, what a strong character he had and how much he was liked by the all the friends at Jan's wedding, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this gentle-hearted man. On the way to the airport, Ken asked: "Will you marry me?"
"You don't have to answer now, I've got friends in high places", he added and you know by now what followed. On the airplane, I turned to Ken and said: "Yes." We couldn't stop smiling for a long time.
And so this is how God changed my life. He turned me away from the wrong direction I was going in, thinking I could go up the lift towards fame and fortune, away from Him. He heard this lost sheep's cry for help and rescued me from Satan's oldest trick in the book: "Play now and pay later". And God showed me clearly with such joy that Ken was His choice for me. I walked down the aisle (or rather the garden of my parents, for this is where we got married, in a big yellow tent) and I still didn't love Ken. I waited until the wedding day and still... I did not love him. I could not tell my parents that even though I admired Ken and liked him tremendously, I didn't love this husband to be, so I just trusted God. It was pretty easy to trust Him by now. It was always hard for me to make decisions and now I could clearly see God was making the decision for me...so I was full of joy.
And then it happened! On the honeymoon, I fell deeply in love with my beloved Ken. And then I remembered the prayer I prayed right at the beginning:
" God I will never marry as long as I can be your child. But if you want me to marry, then You choose the husband and let him be a man of God, a man after your heart and let him love You more than he loves me. And please let me not fall in love again unless you choose the husband."
And so it was that God chose the husband and I only fell in love with him after we were married when he was, in fact, my husband! Just like I asked God.
It was while he spoke to me about the things of God that I felt it for the first time- that wonderful deep thing ...more than the insides-churning-skipping-butterfly-thing. That deep thing that whispered quietly: "You're the most beautiful human being I've ever known ...I will love you and protect you with my life. I will give my life for you every day and put your happiness and safety and comfort above my own. I cannot help it. You cause this reaction in me."
And dear Reader, I'm not an unselfish person, nor patient (and the list can go on) but Ken tells me I am, so you see: It's the love of Jesus that has worked something good through joining me together with someone I so deeply admire and love and I guess it's His love that makes you do kind and unselfish things and sacrifice for those whom you love. How wise God is.
You know, one of the amazing things Ken said to me was: " I just wanted someone that I may love." It never occurred to him that he may be loved in return, since he came from a childhood of abuse. Because Jesus is the center of our lives, His love causes the love we have for one another, to grow deeper all the time.
Truly God is a God of miracles. God is love and no wonder, for He gave up His only begotten Son to a spoiled and sin- hardened human race in the hope that some may respond to this vulnerability of His...this thing called love. May you see this vulnerable side of God. May you perceive that He who is holy could not be called fair, if He condoned the sin in us, which often causes hurt to other people whom He made in His loving image. This side of God...this thing called love is what gets to the most hardened criminal...this vulnerability that couldn't help but say:" Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do", as the crowd mocked the suffering King of Heaven on the cross. This is the love that made Him give up His life in our place and take upon Himself the just punishment that every sinner deserved. This is love indeed.
This is God's greatest gift.
Message of salvation
George Washington said: " It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being."
Marquis de Vauvenargues said: " As a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so does the existence of the Universe imply a Creator."
Out of love, God created the Universe and whatever life is out there and out of love he gave each of us the freedom to choose. The problem is we chose to go against God...like Abraham Lincoln puts it:
"I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."
God is holy and cannot compromise by saying it's OK for us to lie to one another, steal from one another, hate one another, be jealous and envious of one another, betray our spouses by lusting after someone else, etc. We have all broken God's holy commandments. Any Court of Law today, even though corrupted, still does punish people for their sins against each other.
God would not be fair if He said pertaining to the abuse of a small child: "It's OK to do that ...you won't be held accountable for it".
So there has to be a Day of reckoning and the Bible calls that day "Judgment day" when each person has to stand in front of God and give an account for the way he or she lived. The problem is that God's standards for holiness far exceeds our pitiful attempts of trying to be good and congratulating ourselves on our "good deeds" when pride and selfishness really underlines all that we are.
The Bible says that Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world to be a sacrifice for us - to take God's just punishment in our place. Then after this was established, God created the world and after that, He gave us 10 simple straightforward commandments:
- Thou shalt not lie...
- Steal...even if you took a pencil that didn't belong to you...
- Commit adultery...Jesus said even if you look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery...
- Thou shalt not murder...Jesus again said that even if you think a hateful thought against someone it's the same as committing murder...
- Thou shalt not use the name of God in vain...I believe we're all guilty of that one .....and so on it goes.
So we're all doomed!
That's why the GOOD NEWS is :
I quote from the Book of John 3:16-18
16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
18 He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation–he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]"
And Romans 10:9:
"Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
All you have to do is pray:
"Father forgive me for my sins. Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God who died in my place and that God raised You from the dead. I turn away from my sins and I turn to You. I ask you to be my Lord and Savior and I entrust my life to you. From this day on I will follow You. I know I cannot do a thing out of my own strength but I believe You paid for all my sins: past, present, and future and that You will change me as I remain close to You every day."
Talk to God...I mean what can you lose? And even if you still don't believe, tell God that....just be honest with Him...even if you're mad at Him... He can handle it all. He did handle it all, on the cross, and He did it out of love. He loves you.
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. Matthew 11:28
So there, dear reader I've said it ...I apologize for not being real good at writing, so I added a link to what I tried to say...and perhaps they put it better and more concise.
"At its core, Christianity is about the good news that God has made a way for you to be "right" with Him.
All of us have broken God's laws at some point. It may be that you stole something as a child or it may be that you've told a lie. What have you done that is against God's laws? (Romans 3:10-12; Ecclesiastes 7:20)
God is perfect and just. As such he has to punish all bad behavior. The Bible says that God will punish those who have broken his law by sending them to Hell, the everlasting lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Be honest with yourself. If God were to judge you today based on the 10 commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? Where would you be sent; Heaven or Hell?
God knows that we are incapable of completely keeping His laws, so in His love, he has provided a way to escape the punishment that we deserve. God sent his son Jesus, who lived a perfect life without breaking God's law. Jesus was then able to pay the punishment for the wrong-doing of those who believe in Him. We owed a fine for breaking God's law that we could never pay, but Jesus paid it for those who believe. (Matthew 5:48; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:4-5; John 3:16-18)
If we turn away from the things that we do that are against God's law and trust Jesus to satisfy God's punishment, the Bible says that we are made new again and that we are "right with God." You can know, now and forever, that God loves you and that He will take you to Heaven someday when you die. (2 Corinthians 5:17: Romans 3:24-26; Romans 5:1,9; Titus 3:5-7; John 5:24: John 14:1-3)
Believers in Jesus Christ always want to learn more about Him and to be more like him. The best way to do that is to do the following:
Pray. Pray that God will teach you His ways and show you how to be more like Him.
Start reading the Bible "
If this has been helpful to you in any way go to the contact page. We'd love to hear from you.