When you have lived what is in your heart to write, the words can’t get on the page fast enough. I was messed up, I had a broken heart, I just couldn’t find contentment. After accomplishing the goals I set for myself, after finally reaching a point when finances weren’t as much of a struggle, after being in the small town (pop. 17,409) pit of politics for 8 years, after doing all those things that are supposed to make you happy, I still wasn’t there. Something was missing – I wasn’t content.
Sadly it took me too many years to realize what the pages before you have explained. So many ‘wasted’ years, it seemed, but they were all part of God’s plan for me. I let go of God but He didn’t let go of me! He has given me so much grace and mercy. And I am forever grateful to Him that He didn’t give up on me, that He rescued me, that He made me a new person, all through His Son Jesus! I am not the same person! He made all things new.
For me, the change, the true ‘turning my life over to His control’, occurred at my baptism. Joe (my husband) and I were baptized at sunrise in a lake close to our home by our senior minister and with God’s 24/7 help, I was able to truly change to be the daughter He wants me to be. I couldn’t do it without depending on Him – daily! Even 10 years later! I still mess up but now I know what to do to get out of this mess!
The words in this book just came pouring out because I have to share the answer to getting out of life’s messes. I lived in a mess and came out of it so I have to share the ‘secret’. I can’t keep the joy inside – it just spills over. My prayer is for others to experience this amazing new life which is full of peace, contentment, and real happiness. WOW! What a thrill and what a feeling!
This book invites you to a freedom that can only be experienced by taking the steps described. Jesus extends this invitation to you personally, because He knows you by name – in fact He knows every hair on your head! Take Him up on His offer – open your heart and let Him in!
My name is Robert and my sin of choice is worry. I worry about everything. I understand that most don’t think of worry in the traditional, pleasure-seeking realm of other sins of the flesh. But at its core, worry is simply the byproduct of not being able to fully control everything in your life. And by doing that, and by worrying about everything, you are in actuality denying the power of God. That’s sinful. You can’t worry and give praise at the same time. Given this admission, one would come to the conclusion that in several ways---I’m in trouble. My problem would be cyclical in the sense that on one hand, I struggle with not being in control and on the other hand, I worry of the eternal consequences of that worry. Uh oh. A non Christian would be left in a state of total despair and anxiety. But I have a sense of relief.
Forgiveness is infinite for those who are truly seeking it. If we humbly seek it, there is infinite grace. His grace is greater than all of our sin. Grace is not an excuse to sin however-- but there is a way to be made whole and right. I may stumble, but I don’t live a lifestyle of continual, unrepentant sin. I may continue to struggle, but Jesus promised, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The good news is that although Christ is not pleased at my practice of worry, the Spirit will therein provide a wonderful conviction within me when I do. And chances are, Christ next goes to work on improving my situations, largely never realized by me. You may recall the story of the disciples’ fear of an impending storm while in the actual presence of Jesus…He first rebuked their lack of faith, but then lovingly rebuked the wind and the waves. I believe this is what He is doing for me.
I will begin by stating that I am unworthy of the love and many blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon me. He has blessed me with so much that I am thankful for! The greatest gift was when He brought Amy into my life for it was through her family that I came to know Him. I had turned away from the Father early in my life due to circumstances that I will not detail here. When I met Amy I was a self-proclaimed atheist suffering from severe depression. It was she alone that brought me peace, as I had been a long tortured soul battling and rejecting God on all fronts. It was her family that took a genuine interest in me particularly her grandfather Cecil Stringer. As things between Amy and I became more serious her grandparents allowed me to stay with them so I would not have to drive so far to see her. The condition of course was that her grandfather used every opportunity to minister to me. Needless to say at the age of 21 I was baptized in a small Baptist church in Ohio I remember the day well as I was white-knuckled in resistance on the day the walls I had so carefully built came tumbling to the ground.
It was her family that surrounded me when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. The Lord then began using my musical gifts in the church. I would soon find myself serving in various worship leadership roles within various churches. Let it be said that these roles came with there ups and downs. Still my heart began to stray as I knew then that the Lord was calling me into fulltime ministry but I refused to commit. The performance aspect of the music became the focus of my worship instead of the only One Who is worthy of my worship. I began to grow distant from my family, which at the time consisted of Amy and our two beautiful children Sarah and Brayden. I became so consumed with making money to fund the next musical project that I lost sight of what was truly important my relationship with the Father and my relationship with my family. I had forgotten what it meant to serve, as I was a servant only to my desires and myself. There were many circumstances that began to turn our family life upside down. I was a liar and a terrible husband and father. It was in that moment that the Lord changed ours lives forever.
On Good Friday April 4th 2007 Amy and the kids were in a terrible near fatal car accident that changed everything. The kids were bruised with minor injuries but Amy was in really bad shape. I remember seeing her there on that hospital bed, as they were getting ready to wheel her in for emergency surgery. I had never seen her so frail, she was my rock and my strength and she was slipping away. She suffer severe abdominal trauma and her hips were fractured in eight places. It was in this time that I learned what it meant to serve someone instead of myself. There is no doubt that God used this terrible thing to awaken me to the fact that I was losing my family. I still feel that this entire situation with Amy’s injuries is my fault as God was trying to get my attention and I was brushing Him off. God really speaks to us in these times.
Since her miraculous recovery we have been blessed with two more children Noah and Samuel. We have also been blessed with an awesome church family in which we currently serve fulltime. The Lord has blessed us so richly and I am so undeserving but I thank Him everyday for the saving blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as it is He that has taken this worthless, unclean shell of a man and made him a servant of the Triune God of Grace!
Being brought up in a Christian home in Ohio, I was never far from a Bible or lack of church going. I remember sitting at the feet of my grandmother Cook, my mother’s mom, while she read Bible stories out of an illustrated Bible. She would read then show us pictures from what she just read, like Daniel in the Lion’s Den or David and Goliath.
At the age of 12, I was baptized in a local creek along with my three sisters and mom and dad. It was a fantastic day, knowing that our entire family held the same belief and commitment to serve God.
After graduating from Ohio State, I moved to Chicago where I met my wife Annette. After we got married we joined a church in Chicago where I became a Sunday school teacher, Deacon, men’s Fellowship Leader and Usher.
We moved back to Ohio to start a family where we were blessed with two daughters, Jaime and Kaitlynn. In the same tradition both Annette and I were accustom to, we took our girls to church each Sunday and again we became active in the church.
Being blessed knowing the Lord all of my life, I was never one to stray away from what I learned at a very early age, that God is our Savior and Lord and to trust Him with all our hearts.
I feel God has been in my life giving us two wonderful girls; a wonderful wife…a pretty hard life, but we never ever went without a meal or day on the streets. After reading the Genius of Generosity I was thinking about all the things I have done in my life to be generous and came to this conclusion…I can always do much more.
When I was making big money and Annette was too, we had “the American dream” – big house, expensive cars, expensive clothes and we gto to travel all over the place both in the US and Europe. Eating out, buying anything we really wanted - not just needs but wants. I was so afraid to lose my job because I had so much and we owed so much.
I lost my job. I was so afraid I was going to lose my house and cars. I lost my house and had to sell the cars. I was so afraid I would get sick and have to give up my favorite job and all of my work toys. I lost my job again and all of my trucks, mowers, bobcat. I was mad and angry and did a pity party for a long time…why me God? I thought you liked me. You gave me so much, You blessed me over and over again, why would You take it away? Don’t you like me? I loved to play tennis more than anything, You won’t take that God? My tennis game was taken away. I thought, God, I am not pleased with you right now. I am a man, a man is supposed to be able to provide for his family. I can’t work now. Now what?
Time passed, no answers, I felt God here and there. I continued to pray and say all the right things and tried to keep pushing in the right direction and not giving up on my faith. I have a ton of questions. People kept saying to me “it could be worse”, I laughed really out loud at them, thinking they have no clue what I have been through.
Then my health got worse and I went through some things and I prayed to God, please don’t allow this to happen to me…and it did. Can’t run, can’t crawl, can’t sit long, on handfuls of medicines. I love to paint and play drums, my arms and hands hurt so bad I can’t play or draw or paint as much as I want to.
Ok God, you have me to a point where I have to rely on you. I am broken…thank you. Yes God, thank you. You were with me all that time, every move, every disaster after disaster. Now I am at a point where I really have to have faith. I have to talk to You, I have to read the Bible to get some answers. I have to go to Church to find friends. What now? Jim…my son…I never left you…you stayed with me…not happy, but you stayed with me. You need more faith, you have to have faith, you have to read the Bible, you need to go to Church when the doors are open, you need to make friends, you need them to lean on. Seek Me first and all other understanding will come to you.
God is with you and will not leave you. Sometimes it is so simple it is hard. It isn’t the money or the huge blessings of abundance. It isn’t a feeling – feelings are up and down and all over the place. It is a relationship. Do you live your life as if He is with you? Do you acknowledge that He is the truth, the light and our Savior? Do you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness?
This is my story, I know God loves me, and I know that He loves you too!