Ron's Story: A "My Story" Feature (Blog)

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Ron’s Salvation Story

I was born in San Diego, and grew up as an only child in a Christian home. I attended private Christian school. My family attended a Baptist church. At 13 years of age, I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ one day in church, but I did not tell anyone. I guess that I wasn’t ready yet to make him the Lord of my life, and I was fearful of what the neighborhood kids would say about me. Maybe they would laugh at me, make fun of me, or call me a Jesus freak After all, the idea that Jesus died and came back to life seemed very unlikely to me. How could I possibly defend this crazy sounding story? If it was true, I wanted to believe, but I just didn’t know how, and I was too afraid to ask.
For 27 years, I walked through life believing that there might be a God, but was unsure. I believed that I was a pretty good person and deserved to go to heaven if there was one. However, my belief had no basis other than I had heard this for a number of other people and it seemed logical to me. Also, I was told by a close friend in college that there are a lot of religions, as well as, ways to heaven. And, in addition, religions just try to explain what we do not know.
At nearly 40 years old, I was in the best physical shape of my life, and everything seemed great. However, starting with my 40th birthday, I began to experience pain in a number of areas of my life. First, I became very aware that my marriage relationship was not in a good place. Soon to follow, my athletic triathlete body started to hurt from age and injury. I surrendered. I let go. No longer did I believe that I was in control. I began to work on myself. I began searching for answers. Thankfully, God had put many people in my path that would help me find a life of significance and purpose.
During that same year, a friend put his hand on my shoulder in the parking lot of a hospital, and prayed for God to make himself known to me in a way that I could understand. Eleven days later, the prayer was answered when God revealed himself in a powerful way to me. It was on that day of September 15, 2011, that God became real to me.

Ron’s Thrills and Trials as a Disciple of Jesus

I have been a believer now for almost 6 years, and it is time for me to work at going deeper. I want to be able to grow my faith and take it to a greater depth. More specifically, I need discipleship help in the area of leadership. I am a father to three children and I desperately want them to know God. And, I want to be a better father to them. Also, there is a new believer at church that is asking me to meet with him weekly. I want to know how to disciple him in his new found faith.

Ron and Podcast Seminary

I have lead a couple of small groups, and both times they have dissolved after two or three years. If I was better at discipleship, I believe that those small groups might have remained intact and still be thriving to this day. It is my hope that Podcast Seminary can help me to meet my spiritual growth needs, and as a result, I can become a more effective discipler and follower of Christ.

Listen to Ron’s Interviews on Our Official Podcast! Part 1 and Part 2

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Your Turn

Do you have a story? We want to hear about it. People want to read it! We are even willing to consider featuring your story on in a future post like this one.
Your StoryConnect with me through leaving a comment below or by going to the Contact page, and we’ll get started!

Can God Be Trusted?

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Can God Be Trusted post

Can God Be Trusted?

No, really.
That’s a question we see in the Holy Bible, like in the life of Job, and it’s a question we ask ourselves.

It’s a question we ask, so… Ask it.

“O.K., Can God be trusted?” This question of trusting God relates to the issue of “faith.” Faith is trusting what you know; not just what you see. That’s because what we can see is limited, and we usually don’t know all the facts.
What we know, on the other hand, is everything God has shown us about Himself, His character, and His truth. And that is what is meant by “Walk by faith, not by sight.” In testament to this, the Bible’s “Job” was telling his accusing friends that the bad things that had befallen him had not made him lose his faith. In fact, he said, even if God let him die, Job was going to trust His wisdom. But watch this:

Sometimes Life Doesn’t Add Up

Job acknowledged that some of life wasn’t adding up, and that he felt the security in his relationship with God to question why these things were happening, what was going on, and even to say to God that he didn’t know what he was doing to deserve the hardships he’d been enduring.
At the end of this story, which was life in middle-age for Job, he learned that all hardships aren’t because of errors on our part. He learned that the bad things which happened were not penal(ties), but that some were just righteous suffering.

Don’t Always Equate Suffering with God’s Disfavor. That’s a mistake.

In this case, problems were something God had allowed in order to further purify an already-good man. And all this, because Job truly trusted God (in spite of the harsh treatment that season of life had dealt Job), was meant to to deepen Job’s faith and to prepare him to receive the double-blessings God was soon to provide him.
These blessings were coming and, had Job’s heart not been purified, they have changed him for the worse or made him into another person. (We’ve seen that happen to some people). By going through the lowest of lows at this time in his life, Job was soon going to be spiritually-prepared, ready, to receive enormous blessings in life. But first he had to pass the testing of his faith.

Practically speaking, what is the point?

The practical point of this verse is that God allows us to question (to argue our ways before Him) because He knows we are working with only half of the facts. But the missing facts should be replaced by faith in God’s goodness. And we should trust in God’s Character, even if He allows otherwise horrible things to happen, because He always intends it for good.

So we can question WHY and WHAT He is doing, but we should never question “THAT” He is well within His authority to do whatever it is He does.

In acknowledgement of this, Job later says “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You (God) asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.” God then blessed Job beyond his wildest dreams.
The moral of the story is to trust God, no matter what, and feel free to talk to Him about what is happening and how you feel, just don’t accuse Him of wrongdoing or bad motives, or question His “right” to do what He pleases. Everything He does is meant to work out for our good (New Testament, Romans 8:28-38) and is designed to give us a better hope and future (Old Testament, Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Read this story’s exciting conclusion in Job 42:12ff.

Discernment: A Simple "How To" Guide

Cross RoadDiscernment
When Christians need to make decisions, they often have a hard time understanding what is going on inside of them, leading to greater uncertainty.
For example, some struggle with Visible Signs they are ‘seeing’ (circumstantial evidence for/against their decision). Others don’t know how to read their Instincts or Intuition. Still others don’t know how to read the internal Cautions generated within their emotions or spirit. These cautions often come to us in the versions of “fear,” “dread,” or “uncertainty.”
I hope this helps.
Let’s say you need to make a decision (X). You are unsure what to do. First, let’s take up this matter of Visible Signs, which can be confusing…
1. REGARDING VISIBLE SIGNS. The bad news is that when we get down the spiritual road toward maturity, we are given fewer and fewer visible signs about what to do. Meaning, outward, clear, visible signs are harder and harder to come by. That’s because God knows that we know His voice already and those signs are simply unnecessary at this point in our spiritual development and, ironically, also less reliable than Him speaking to us quietly within our spirits.
So don’t let the silence frustrate you– it’s an indicator that you don’t need outward signs anymore. John 10:27.

2. REGARDING INSTINCTS or INTUITION. Let’s assume that you are seeking God’s Will and walking in His Spirit (though this is a big assumption, we have to start somewhere). If you have gotten this far down the road toward your decision, and if you have been led here without clear internal warnings that you were going the wrong way and planning on doing the wrong thing– then you absolutely MUST trust your instincts now more than ever.
Here’s what I mean: Sometimes Christians pray and then feel led to do something– and this something is (let’s assume, unless you realize it’s not) from a healthy and holy motive. So they move forward and God apparently blesses the idea and things begin to unfold toward the realization of that dream and vision. But somewhere along the way, things hit a rough spot (and what you thought was crystal clear is now cloudy). It’s at this time that many Christians begin to question their entire discernment apparatus and their ability to hear God’s voice and to know His Will.
Point: God WANTS you to know His Will– more than even YOU want to know it! God wants you to know His voice. And the general demeanor of the Spirit-filled and obedient believer is “GO.” Believers should be seeking to conquer more ground for the Kingdom and Glory of God. So, you should actively seek to advance your life and opportunities for good and the like UNLESS AND UNTIL the Holy Spirit cautions you or stops you.
At a time like this, when you’re ‘that close’ to pulling the trigger and making a big decision, that’s not the time to second-guess your entire discernment apparatus. If you have faithfully prayed and sought the Lord “the best you knew how” and in that faithful pursuit of this dream, you did not have clear and obvious cautions– then you move forward in the way you were going, with CONFIDENCE.
3. DISCERNING CAUTIONS. That leads me to my final test of discernment (not that there’s not a lot more that could be said, but I’m gonna simplify it): YOU NEED TO IDENTIFY *EXACTLY* WHAT EMOTIONS YOU ARE FEELING BEFORE YOU MOVE FORWARD. DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF “FEAR” ABOUT THIS, OR A SENSE OF “DREAD,” OR A SENSE OF “UNCERTAINTY?”
A) FEAR: Fear isn’t of God. So when you feel ‘fear,’ that should not keep you from acting. So you musn’t let fear imprison you. Anytime I feel like moving forward in a decision but ‘fear’ exists, I put the pedal to the metal. I speed up; I don’t slow down. Then I brace for impact, because Satan may throw some stuff at me to make me question my decision.
B) DREAD (or ‘foreboding’): If you sense “dread” or a sense of foreboding– a deep, unshakeable and heavy, threatening sense of weighty, immobilizing dread… THAT “is” the Holy Spirit. In such a case, He is bearing witness in your spirit against a decision or action. When I sense this emotion, it’s clearly a divine warning.
But dread and fear or insecurity are different things. Dread ‘feels’ heavier and is unmistakably different than fear. Dread is always a “no go” for me.
C) UNCERTAINTY: Uncertainty can go one of two ways, and here’s how I approach it. (1) If the uncertainty was from the beginning, and if the uncertainty had been gnawing at me “all along” and it was something I couldn’t shake, in spite of ignoring it– and if I simply had (read this closely) a constant, unremitting sense of uncertainty… that generally means “WAIT.”
You then say, wait until ‘when?’ Answer: Wait until the uncertainty leaves or don’t do it. Uncertainty (when it manifests this way) is often an indicator of a lack of faith. So, when you have it– it doesn’t mean it’s not God’s Will… it just means that you lack the degree of faith to see it through, so whether it’s right or wrong is immaterial… because when the heat is on, you’ll fold… so don’t do it if that ‘all along’ type of uncertainty was there.
(2) If the uncertainty is a recent artifact that, hereforeto, did not trouble you– then you’re probably simply at a crisis of faith, and that’s more of an internal psychological matter of exercising faithful action than it is anything else. In other words, the uncertainty is just unexercised faith. Once you make the decision, you should then have a sense of increasing peace and internal witness that you did the right thing– whether or not the outward circumstances worked for you or not.
The only exception to this is, if after you make an initial decision, if you had a profound and absolutely unmitigating weight on your chest (when you SHOULD BE gaining freedom and liberty and excitement), then in that case, you misread your uncertainty. All other times, the uncertainty will evaporate after the decision is made, and you’ll begin to have joy and excitement about what God is getting ready to do.
One last thing– and it’s one of the most important.

Once all the facts above are considered, if you decide not to do it– there’s nothing lost (but nothing gained)… life goes on as it has. But IF YOU MOVE FORWARD, the best and only advice I’d give you concerning God’s Will is:
(IF YOU DECIDE TO DO IT) **Make a decision, then MAKE IT WORK.
After the decision is made (much like a marital decision), you don’t look back, you don’t second-guess… you simply ASSUME it was/is God’s perfect Will, then you FORCE IT to work.

I hope this is encouraging to you. It’s worked for me consistently.