It's my birthday. I'm 9.

Yes, it's my birthday. Not my BIRTH birthday because that is February 25th but my spiritual birthday. That might sound weird to some of you or you write it off as some "religious thing". But hear me out and keep reading. It could change your life today and forever. Our Anguished Hearts ministry launch was on October 2nd. We did that because that was the day that our marriage as we had known it was over in 2006. However, October 8th was the catalyst in turning our marriage around. More importantly, it was the catalyst in turning my life around. I want to invite you back to that moment 9 years ago.

It was a Sunday and I woke up in Minnesota after spending a few days on a fishing trip. I flew back to Kansas City in the afternoon and had plans to be with Shayla’s father, Ted, in the evening. He was there to move Shayla out of our house. Even though Ted had just found out about the affair just 6 days prior, I was looking forward to seeing him. Ted was not just my father-in-law; he was the only man that I had ever really considered to be my “dad”. Even though I had broken his heart by cheating on his daughter, I wanted to see him. I needed to see him. I was a runaway son who desperately needed to be loved by his father.

I remember sitting in our living room with tears streaming down my face. I shared with him that I had this overwhelming fear of going to hell. I believed that there was a heaven and a hell. I believed that if you were a “good enough” person, you would get a free pass to heaven. My actions over the previous few years were adding up on the “bad person” list rather than the “good person” list. I had this image of God standing with the 10 commandments and keeping score of how many I had broken. Short of murder, I was pretty sure that I had broken the other 9. It was the moments that followed this that are supernatural. Dad shared with me that there was a way that could remove the fear of hell. There was a way that could heal all the pain that I was experiencing. There was a way by accepting Jesus.

Okay, this is where I might lose some of you. I said the word Jesus. You had been reading this blog and became engaged in the story and wanted to hear a happy ending but then I had to drop the J bomb. For some reason, any time the name Jesus is brought up, people get uncomfortable. I get it. I was once that way too. But stay with me. Keep reading. I am BEGGING you to keep reading.

If you are still with me, let’s continue. He shares this Jesus idea with me. He tells me that Jesus was sent by God to live on this earth and to die on the cross for MY sins. All I had to do was believe that statement. If I truly believed it, I would receive the gift of eternal life in heaven and I would no longer have the fear of hell. IT WAS THAT SIMPLE. I had tried so many things over the years to try to cover the pain and hurt that had followed me for most of my life. I was willing to try anything. I recited a short prayer with dad that said something like this…”Dear God, I am a sinner. Forgive me for my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I surrender my life to Him. In Jesus name, Amen”. That was it. 6 short sentences changed my life.

There is a story in John, chapter 3 that is one of my favorites. Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish council, questioned Jesus because of all the signs and miracles that he was performing. He says that he knows Jesus is from God because no one could do what he was doing without God being with him. We pick up the story in verse 3.

John 3:3-6 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Jesus makes it very clear that a rebirthing process must take place in order to enter the kingdom of God.

One thing that Shayla and I promised each other when we began to dream about Anguished Hearts is that it will never be about us. Yes, we will use our life experiences and stories to share with others so they can relate to their own story but we do not want “us” to be the focus. The focus is always about Jesus. We unapologetically share the hope that we have found in Jesus. I don’t know where you are at in life. Maybe you are at the end of your rope barely holding on. You recently lost your job. Your kids are a mess. You cannot seem to get over the addiction that has been haunting you for years. The cancer is back. Your marriage is falling apart. Whatever it may be, there is hope. Hope can be as simple as 6 short sentences.

Dear God, I am a sinner.

Forgive me for my sins.

I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me.

I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

surrender my life to Him.

In Jesus name, Amen.

There is light in the darkness but you have to be willing to accept it. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s grace. It is a gift that must be received. Are you like I was and your negative scale has been outweighing your positive scale? You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Freedom from your past is just a decision away. From this day forward, you can be a new creation. So on my birthday, let’s celebrate new life together. Today can be your birthday as well.

Happy Birthday,