Being Part of God’s Family

Last week at my appointment with one of the cardiologists, she tried to put me at ease by saying, “we are all one big family here” in reference to the heart unit at the hospital. My first thought was, “”a family I do not want to be a part of.” Side note- my heart is in good shape just out of rhythm.

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Growing up in a family with abusive parents, I had the same thought about my biological family. I did not want to be a part of it. That is a big reason why what Jesus said in reference to Mary and his half brothers coming to ‘take charge’ of him resonates with me so much. In Matthew 12:48-50 we read:

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

When we become Christians by trusting in Jesus and his death/resurrection for us, God adopts us as his children. We become part of a new family.

I have friends at my church who are my go to people. They are the ones I confide in, seek advice from, and want around when things are not going well for me. They are the ones I have mutually encouraging relationships with. They are the ones who are a safe place to land. They are my chosen family.

It all begins with believing in Jesus. John 1:12-13 says:

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The cardiologist was trying to communicate to me that the ‘family’ in the unit will help me with healing for my heart. My brothers and sisters in Jesus help with the healing for my soul.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy 90th Birthday in Heaven to My Earthly Father

January 6th is my earthly father’s birthday. He passed away fourteen years ago, so he is celebrating it in heaven. The fact that I can say he is celebrating it in heaven is a testimony to the grace and love of Jesus. I shared in my post Forgiveness From Me Led To My Father Receiving Forgiveness From God about how my earthly father came to know Jesus in his final months of this life.

After he came to know Jesus while in a hospital bed, each time I would visit he would point to my bible indicating he wanted me to read to him from the bible and then he would put his hand up for me to hold his hand while we prayed. Basically I was his pastor during his final months in this life. I was with him while he was dying reading the bible to him.

His funeral was a Christian funeral with my pastor doing the ceremony. That was a minor miracle in and of itself. I never thought that would happen until the final months of his earthly life. When my earthly father came to know Jesus, the old labels of associated with him being an alcoholic were changed to child of God.

My earthly father’s story is a great example of it is never too late and not giving up hope for those we are praying for.

Happy 90th Birthday in heaven to Gary Kohrell.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Voices- Which One Will We Pay Attention to?

I watched a movie over the weekend, which was Violet starring Olivia Munn. In the movie she plays the part of a woman dealing with negative voices in her mind always tearing her down as a result of growing up with a verbally abusive mother. As someone who grew up in a family with two abusive parents, I could so relate to the character she played.

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There are voices competing for our attention, our own inner voices, voices of others, and even the voice of the deceiver Satan. Darkness loves to jump on people to drag them further down.

Jesus talked about his voice and those who follow him. In John 10:3-65we read:

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

It is so important to learn to listen to his voice. His voice guides us and gives us life. In John 10:10 Jesus said:

:The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

There are voices that seek to destroy us like a death of a thousand cuts slowly and repeatedly over time. By contrast, Jesus’s motivation is to give us life to the full. He brings healing to our lives. He gives our lives new meaning and purpose.

We can learn to listen to Jesus’s voice by spending time reading the bible, listening to worship music, spending time in prayer, and having friends we trust who will speak truth into our lives. It can also help to meet with a therapist or a pastor to sort things out.

Choosing which voice to pay attention to is a continual battle, but well worth it if we choose the voice of our Savior Jesus who loves us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Would I Go Back to Change Anything?

Amanda is a young woman who grew up with a speech impediment performed on America’s Got Talent. She sang an original song she wrote about the hard times and that she wouldn’t go back and change anything because it made her who she is.

Her story spoke to me because as I look back over my life and all of the hard times and if I was given a chance to go back to change anything, I might be tempted, but then would it mean not having met the refugees and immigrants God has called me to teach and befriend.

I thought about Romans 8:28 as I listened to her song.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

God has taken all of the hard times in my life, alcoholic father, mentally ill mother, getting sick and almost dying resulting in having to leave the school where I was studying for the ministry, and caused all of that to work for the good in my life.

So even if I was given the opportunity to go back and change anything, I do not think I would because it could mean not having met all of the refugees and immigrants Jesus has connected me with. Some have come to know Jesus through my work and ministry. Many have been helped.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

In Memory of My Earthly Father

My earthly father passed away thirteen years ago today. I was with him reading the bible to him. He was unresponsive, but knowing he might be able to hear me, I read from 1st Corinthians 15 to him.

Jesus blessed me with the experience of sharing with my father about Jesus and praying with him 14 months before he died. My father had his share of problems during his earthly life. He lost a business and found out he was diabetic in the same year. He struggled with alcoholism. He never wanted to hear about Jesus from me until that day in February 2008.

I shared about that experience in Forgiveness From Me Led to My Father Receiving Forgiveness from God.

He breathed his final earthly breaths as I was reading this passage from 1 Corinthians 15:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

After he died, I realized how fitting it was that he died while I was reading about a seed that falls into the ground and raised a spiritual body. My father was an avid rose gardener,

In his final years, there were other blessings. We finally began to reconnect. When he was in the hospital one time, he saw my hobby of learning greetings in other languages become evident. As nurse assistants and housekeepers came into his room, all of whom were from other countries, I greeted them in their languages. It surprised him.

It is never too late to reconnect and we do not lose hope for loved ones. He is in heaven now having received the free gift of forgiveness from God. One day because of God’s grace, I will see him again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Question for My Readers

I am working on two writing projects. One is about my life journey ranging from growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and mentally mother, head trauma, a health crisis, and how I came to know Jesus along the way, to where I am now. It is more of a testimony. The other is a bible study guide about living with trauma and how Jesus can help.

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So I am toying with the idea of combing the two into one with the bible study guide being the second part.

Please let me know your reaction. Separate books or combined?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Wants to Free Us from Shame

When Jesus died on cross, he died for our sins so we could be forgiven 100%. That alone is the best news.. There is more that perhaps we do not talk about enough. When Jesus died on the cross, he made the way for us to have a relationship with God. We can be reconciled with God 100%.

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But what about the effects of sins committed against us? What about the shame we might carry in our spirits because of past abuse, neglect, assault etc? Survivors of sins committed against us tend to live with shame.

Isaiah 53:4 says:


Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Any suffering we have endured, Jesus took upon himself on the cross.

Isaiah 53:5 says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus died for our sins and more than that so we can be made whole.

I love the principle behind Zephaniah 3:19:

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.

While that is a direct reference to Israel being brought back from exile, there is a principle to embrace. God will deal with those who have harmed us and will bring us to a place of honor.

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It is not easy to do and therapy and pastoral counseling can help. Releasing someone who has harmed us to God’s hands is a freeing experience for us. God does not want us living with shame because of what others have done to us. He wants to make us whole in him. He wants to give us a new identity as a daughter or son of God.

God wants us to step out of the shadows of shame in live in the light of his love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

I Am No Victim by Kristene DiMarco- Why It Means So Much to Me

“You did not become a statistic. Many people who go through what you went through growing up become alcoholics or drug addicts. They end in prison or dead. You make a difference in people’s lives every day. You are not a victim. You are a survivor and a victor.”

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Those words were spoken to me by my therapist. Growing up in a family with a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic father, having an accident where I fell off a hayrack ride and hit the back of my head on a gravel road knocking me out and then causing depression when I was a young man, experiencing a health crisis in my early thirties that I almost died from, and living with autoimmune problems for about 30 years have had a cumulative effect on me. So I thought perhaps it would be good to take advantage of the fact that the insurance company for my school system is making sure teachers can have counseling free of charge during this pandemic.

The sessions have been helpful. She is Catholic and I am a Christian, so we are free to bring Jesus into the sessions. We end each session with prayer. When I shared some of the things with my pastor that I shared with her, his response was, “wow you are brave, you are strong.” The diagnosis? Dysthymia, General Anxiety, and PTSD.

So how did I become a home missionary, a teacher, and a friend to the refugees and immigrants in my city? A one word answer- Jesus. It is why I will write a bible study guide for people dealing with things like trauma, depression etc. I have lived through it and because of Jesus, I have become what I am and did not end up a statistic.

I am sharing a wonderful song by Kristene DiMarco- I Am No Victim.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Journey to Healing: “Rejection” — Journey In His Word

Everyone in this world has encountered the enemy of “rejection.”  Rejection is the root cause for many of our character flaws such as, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, feelings of not be loved or lovable, etc. Photo by: Off Focus Rejection originates from how we were treated as children and how we internalized the acts done to […]

Journey to Healing: “Rejection” — Journey In His Word

Wellness Wednesday- Jesus Understands Scars

When we think of scars. we tend to think of physical scars. I have many of those. But there are also psychological and emotional scars. Jesus understands scars. He suffered for us and still has those scars. He also faced rejection and betrayal. I would like to share the following from an old post of mine from three years ago when I first got going with blogging.

12 scars on my body tell stories of my life. Some are from surgeries like the  scar from an appendectomy when I was 21. Some are small like the small scar next to my left eye from a freak accident while setting up an outdoor activity for kids at church. The tiny scars from arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder in 1990. The scar on my stomach when I was attacked by a dog when I was 12 is symbolic of the upheaval in my youth. The two inch scar on my left hand from a surgery to repair damage when I had a hand injury in 1996 represents my health struggles of the 1990s.

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Scars represent our wounds that have healed. Some heal over correctly but some wounds that ‘heal’ over leave places that will never be the same and sometimes not work well.

But what of the scars from wounds no one can see? The scars from being abused. Scars left from struggling with addiction. Scars left from being victimized. Scars from broken relationships. Some wounds go so deep into our souls that we wonder if they will ever scar over the way physical wounds do when they heal.

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One day Jesus told Thomas to reach out and touch His scars from the nails that pierced his wrists and the scar from the soldiers spear that pierced his side. His scars are still there to show us His love. Having all power, he could have stopped his crucifixion, but His love for us made Him lay down His life for us.

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He says to all of us, “Look at the scars on my wrists and feet. Look at the scar in my side. My scars are for your scars.”

His scars are there because he wants to bring healing to our souls and spirits. His scarred wrists reach out to us saying, “Come to me all who are weary and find rest for your souls”

One day I reached back to his hands extended. I reached back to find rest and healing from my past as the son of an alcoholic father and mother with mental illness. Rest, oh yes rest, from the anger, confusion, doubt caused by my own sinful reactions to life.

The hands on his scarred wrists long to hold our hand and walk in this life with us. Jesus is reaching out to you. Will we take the hand offered in love and friendship offering healing for our souls?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.