Tell Your Story

We want to help create a community of encouragement with YOU as a member!

We hope you will tell your own Red Like Blood story in the comments section below. Or tell the stories about grace you’ve heard from others.

When grace flows over us and finds those places where brokenness has opened us up, it always does a deep and undeniable work. And those are stories that need to be told! So please . . .

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  • Angel Dague

    Hi may name is Angel and I am a beautiful daughter of The Most High King!

    I was taught about Jesus when I was a little girl. I always believed in Him what has made the difference in my life today is that now I have a relationship through Christ with God.

    When I was 13 years I found out I had to move with my family to Flagstaff, AZ. It was like I never knew I had red hair and freckles until that very moment. I was stricken by fear with what these new kids at a new school were going to say about me. For the first time ever I felt different. The ride out to Arizona was devastating for me. I worried about what was going to happen at this new school.

    I eventually start school and everything I thought was going to happen did. The kids made fun of me, called me ugly, teased me and called me freaks I took their opinions and made them my truth. I was embarrassed and from then on pretty much kept my face to the ground. I was raised with good morals and manners and I had a family who loved me but when I was rejected by my peers I began to struggle with my self-esteem. I was introduced to alcohol and marijuana. It wasn’t peer pressure, I was told I would not feel like I did and I was all for that. I was a black out drinker from the word go. I could never remember what I had done the night before. Marijuana made me completely paranoid but it was worth it to be out of my own head. I didn’t like not being in control. At the age of 14 I began looking for love through sex. I had sex with every boy who paid attention to me. My life was out of control but I was unwilling to let anyone know what was going on inside because I feared people would think I was weak. After awhile I decided I would try cocaine. My “better thinking” told me it was a better way. That relationship didn’t last long because it made my nose bleed badly. So my “better thinking” kicked in again and I was on to smoking crack. I loved it. It made me feel great. I truly believed that I had found the miracle drug, I thought I could control it and for the next year the devil made me believe I could. Of course I didn’t think the devil had anything to do with it. I had no clue that alcohol and drugs were the devils playground.

    I had a very bad experience one night with crack so I quit for the next 10 years. Little did I know then that it would be back later to try and destroy me. I continued to drink, smoke weed and pop ecstasy pills. While all this is going on I am in search for my knight and shining armor. I lost a bet to a man and I went to pay up and for the next two week we were like paper and glue. The I found out he was marrying the woman he had been with for 11 years, this was the first I heard about her. I still stayed because in my head I was worthless without a man. For the next year I was the mistress and I finally got fed up and tried to leave. He threatened to kill my family, now I don’t know if he would have or not but I was not trying to find out, so I stayed. It was miserable, he was both physically and mentally abusive. He made me feel even worse about myself then I already did. He later got himself in a lot of trouble and around that same time I was asking God to free me from this abuser, I was not real sure what God was capable of doing but I thought I would give Him a try. My prayer was answered but I quickly forgot about God saving me from this man and soon he was asking me to marry him. His wife had wised up and divorced him while he was incarcerated. I accepted for two reasons; first I was convinced I would only be complete if I had a husband and second I was deathly afraid of him. He controlled me for a long while behind bars.

    I’m married to a man with 18 years in prison, I have no idea what it looks like to be responsible because up to this point I haven’t been and I am still using alcohol, drugs and sex. I move to be closer to my husband. I am basically insane and trying to look as if I have my life together. My mom calls to let me know they are moving back to Ohio and she asks me to come back with them. Of course I have taken my moms love for granted and used it against her to get the things I wanted, I refuse. The next call I get is from my dad and he asks me to come back with them and I felt overwhelmed with emotion, see for a long time I believed my dad didn’t love me and now he was asking me to come to Ohio with them so I figured maybe he did love me and I accepted. I promise my husband this marriage is going to work and I am off to Ohio.

    A lot of things transpired before we made the move back to Ohio. My best friend passed away and I wasn’t there like I should of been. I held that against myself for a long time and eventually I believed God forgave me. Now I am on the road back to Ohio. I am extremely happy I am leaving these fools behind things will be great from here on out. I almost kiss the ground when we arrive. It doesn’t take long to figure out I brought the fool with me……Me! I am back doing everything I did in Arizona. I have found the bars, the hang outs and the drugs. The men who pay attention to me I am having sex with my life is spiraling out of control. I have been in many more abusive relationships. One guy I date brings a joint and says it could be laced. I think he is joking and grab it from him and it is laced with crack. The journey of destruction begins. It does not happen quick, the devil takes his time so I am blind to the misery and pain that is coming. Soon I am selling drugs and I think I am the “Lioness King” I am making a lot of money fast but at the time I do not realize I’m killing people to get it. One day, after 10 years I reach down in my own crack sack and I am off and running. I have no idea which way is up or down and soon I am hanging with a ruthless crowd. I get beat and put on the streets to prostitute. I realize how fast this money is to make and I have an addiction to feed so I become a full time, full blown crackhead prostitute. From this point I am raped, beaten and robbed several times. I am on the streets for the next 5 1/2 years selling my body to strangers for money to smoke crack. I am in complete darkness, I beg God constantly to kill me or save me but please don’t let me live another minute like this. I am in and out of jail, rehabs and once to the penitentiary. I forget quickly that I asked God for His help. All I can think about every time I get locked up is when I will get out so I can get high again.

    On March 31st, 2008 I’m arrested and I wake up in Summit County Jail April fools day with a different feeling inside of me. I am not sure what it is but I know it is different. I spend the next two weeks in jail waiting to be moved to the Glenwood Jail for the next 390 days. During this time I meet two amazing women of God. One who is incarcerated with me and one who is sent by my Judge to visit me. Both have made a huge impact on my life. The woman in jail with me starts going through the Bible with me. I am amazed at the love God has for me. I can feel Him for the first time in my life. I am blown away at Jesus dieing for me even though He knew I was going to be a worthless crack addict prostitute. He doesn’t see me like that. He loves me. My breath is taken away thinking about Jesus nailed to the cross with His arms stretched wide because He loves me. It did something inside of me I could not explain. It felt real and loving I was accepted and I knew then I had to know more about this God I had only believed in all these years. I was on a new journey and could have never believed it would be has great as it has been.

    I end up doing 190 days in the GWJ. I am then sentenced to a transitional house for women and I spend 5 months there. I was kicked out successfully by God’s Grace only. The woman that worked there at the time believed in me even though I had made many bad choices but through it all I have remained sober. I got a job while I was there and it lasted 3 months. I went everyday at 7:30 am and one morning in January 2009 I hit the snooze button, I felt peace and I was going to go in at 9am which was the time I had to be there anyway. I picked up the girl who worked with me and we pulled around the restaurant to the back, we were housekeepers and the building we worked in had exploded, had I been there at 730 am that morning I would not be here today. I knew right then God had a huge purpose for my life. I was on the front page of the Akron Beacon journal and the last line of the article read “Dague says God has huge purpose for her life.” I was 9 months sober then. I had been to The University of Akron 10 years before and messed up around $40,000 and they said to never come back to their school unless I could pay them that money. I prayed and struggled put in a lot of hard work and God blew open the doors gave me back my financial aid and I graduated a straight A student from The University of Akron last May 2102 with an Associate degree in Addiction/Community Service. I have been employed at a treatment center I once attended for one year now. I have my own house and my own transportation. I am affiliated with a ministry called RAHAB who reaches out to women trapped in addiction and prostitution. The other woman who came to visit me in jail she is the co-founder and without her I do not know where I would be today. I have been with this ministry a little over 4 years now. On April Fools Day 2013 I will have 5 years sober. I have learned that in my weakness God builds strength, that is takes struggle to get stronger, I raise my head today so that the Son light of the Spirit can shine light on my face, I read God’s word (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) and instill His truth in my heart, His truth has set me free! I know with God first ALL things are possible!

  • Michael Paul

    I am a former Iraqi who converted to Christianity. My family had me sentenced to death but I fled to Syria and applied for asylum to America. I was arrested and tortured nearly to death but God held me in His arms and spared my life. I was returned to Iraq where I hid homeless and hungry but always with my God. He never left me. I am in America now and often speak in churches about the Gospel and the love of the Lord. Some of my story is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/SalvationForMuslims?feature=watch

  • Laurie Coombs

    Torn Down and Saved
    Nine years after my dad’s death, Jesus brought me to my knees. You would think that the murder itself would have gotten me there, but no. I’m pretty stubborn. Yet, God’s mercy and grace is certainly bigger than me and my resistance.During this time, Travis and I got married, and we had two beautiful, healthy little girls. I was truly blessed. Aside from the murder, I was living the life that I had always dreamed of. Travis and I were happy together, and we loved our girls. Yet, I was still without God.Though I was never at the point that I was able to say with absolute certainty that God is not real, I highly doubted his existence. And so, I was the highest authority in my own life. I was the one in control. I was the one who defined what was right or wrong in the world, based upon my own “sovereign” moral compass. I was, in essence, my own god. The truth of God’s existence, in my mind, was ultimately unattainable. One could not possibly know of God’s existence nor could one accurately assess the divinity of this “Jesus” figure. There is no proof, I thought. Nothing to back it up. And I sure wasn’t going to be one of those “blind faith” suckers.Enter God into the scene.Little more than a year after having our second daughter, I began noticing problems with my health. I was nauseous, and I just didn’t feel quite right.“I think I’m pregnant,” I told Travis.“Really?”“Yea, but the tests keep coming back negative. Do you think I should get a blood test?”“I’m sure you’re not pregnant if the tests keep coming back negative, Laurie.”“Well, but Kim had lot’s of negative tests when she was pregnant,” I said. The next week, I went to my doctor. I wasn’t pregnant. So, I went to see a GI doctor, who told me that the nausea was probably due to stress. He gave me medication, and I left.Soon the nausea went away, but then came the headaches. Every day. Maybe something’s really wrong with me, I thought. And that was it. The thought was planted, and no matter how many times I tried to persuade myself that I was just fine, I couldn’t believe it.Symptom after symptom began showing up. What’s going on with me! Little did I know at the time, I was experiencing anxiety, both mentally and physically, as a result of the stress I went through in my past. I had never experienced anxiety before, and it was scary. Negative thoughts infiltrated my mind. Honestly, I thought I was going crazy.Soon, I became depressed, as hope escaped me. And I hated myself because of the depression. How can I not be satisfied with all that I have, when I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I am a horrible person, I thought.I had always been able to work through all the other difficulties in my life, including my dad’s murder. But for the first time, I couldn’t get myself out of it. I tried everything that the world tells you to do in situations like this. I tried counseling. I tried exercising more and eating better. I tried meditation. I was even considering going to a Buddhist retreat, if you can imagine that! Nothing was helping. So as a last resort, I tried an anti-depressant medication, but it only worsened my depression. And I was taken off of it immediately.I journaled, continually, trying to make sense of something. Anything. I wrote things like, “maybe I’m addicted to researching problems/being unhappy,” and “my main issue is control––control over my life in all aspects. I need to learn how to let go of control….” In one entry, I wrote,I haven’t been happy. I’ve been scared. I don’t know what’s going on with me. I’m afraid I’m losing control over myself and my thoughts. Why? I’m afraid something physically is wrong with me. Part of me wants this to be the case because it would explain it all, but then that would mean I’m not physically healthy. What if that means I’ll die young. I’ll leave my family and everyone I love! Rationally, I know this is a leap, but I go there. Then I’ve randomly thought that it would be easier to die. Though, as soon as this thought enters my mind I immediately think of how ludicrous the thought is. I don’t want to die––it’s my greatest fear!I was a wreck.One night, I told Travis, “I’ve spent my entire life trying to achieve and set goals for myself, and I’ve hinged my happiness on the achievement of those goals only to continuously fall short of true happiness. It’s like there’s this this emptiness inside, but I don’t know how to make it go away!” I felt empty, defeated, depressed, and anxious. And I had no answers. It was a very dark and lonely place to be. Over and over I kept saying, I just want to feel peace. I just want peace. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t save myself.And then I had a dream that I became blind and paralyzed. When I awoke from the dream, I was very disturbed. I didn’t know what it meant. But what’s interesting is that I was blind––blind to the truth. And I was paralyzed, for there was no way that I could have saved myself from the pit of darkness that I found myself in.Soon after, I called my friend, Sarah, and asked her, “What church do you go to?”“Oh, my church? It’s called Grace. Do you want to go?”“I don’t know. Can you tell me about it?” The following Sunday, my family and I went to church for the first time in over a decade. I was terrified, but more than that, I was desperate. It was my desperation that brought me to those church doors. While I didn’t know it at the time, the decision to go to church one Sunday morning would be the defining moment of my life.While sitting in my seat––my mind only semi-present due to the anxiety––something miraculous occurred. God showed up. During the sermon, it was as if I were having a one one one counseling session with God, himself. The preacher’s message spoke to where I was that exact moment. It was powerful. I thought to myself, the sheer probability of that alone is crazy! So, I went back the following Sunday and the one after that, each time expecting the God-thing to be a fluke. But time and time again Jesus showed himself. I was given the proof that I needed, and through the grace of God, I went from blindness to sight as my eyes were opened to see His love and grace.Yet, I was still fighting. All along the way, I fought Jesus as I tried to apply reason to faith. But in the end, Jesus won––as He always does. He rocked my analytical world. Tore down my every argument. And turned my life upside-down.Over time, the anxiety and depression subsided leaving in its place a newfound joy and the peace that I so desperately sought. My life was set on a new path––one that followed my God and Savior, Jesus Christ. And that void that led me down the dark alley of my soul was filled with the love of Christ.I had been made new.God is good! Even though this was one of the most difficult seasons of my life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being submerged in darkness allowed me to see the brilliance and beauty of our Savior and led me to where I needed to be most––wrapped in the loving arms of our Father.LaurieCoombs.org

  • richiej615

    I am a Christian, I asked Christ into my heart on April
    16, 1992.  True, I proclaimed my faith in
    Christ because it was a prerequisite to marry my first wife.  Many thanks to her for leading me to Christ.
    But the conversion didn’t go deep until, I hit rock bottom. Several years later
    after I had made a thorough mess of my marriage she left with our sons, and
    left me with an empty house. That was rock bottom, my sons were gone, my wife
    was gone. I didn’t have the slightest clue as to their whereabouts, health or
    safety. Left with only Christ in my life, I dove in deep into the Word.  I got a great NIV bible, (I had had a KJV
    earlier, it didn’t resonate with me).  I
    read that bible cover to cover in a year, That was to most eye opening year of
    my life.  The Gospel spoke to me
    personally. I went to Promise Keepers events in Cincinnati, Detroit, Indy and
    DC. I rededicated my life to Christ and my life changed. Inside my life
    changed, but it really hadn’t made it to the outside yet.  And that’s why I am struggling.

     

    I have been struggling with the Fruits of the Spirit
    lately, the problem is;  I don’t know if
    I have them… and that’s sad.  I lead
    worship periodically at Traditions and Celebration, I sing in the Choir, I
    listen to the Fish, I pray every day. I know I am a sinner.  I believe God sent his son to die for my
    sins. I believe that Jesus has died on the cross for my sins so the I can be
    reconciled to God.  I have a deep
    affection for Christ and my Abba Father. 
    I am in CLC with 11 other great guys. We study our lessons weekly and
    have fantastic discussions about the word and how it presents itself in our
    lives.  My Family you’ve seen us at church, short
    guy dark hair goatee, beautiful tall blonde wife and a slew of kids, 3rd row
    right side near main aisle. We come to church on Sunday and I am happy, I love
    our church, I love our music ministry family, as well as the rest of our
    brothers and sisters at CCChapel. So when you see me at church, I am all
    smiles, happy fun loving, affable, quick with a joke (though I have been
    reminded recently that I am not that funny; 
    some say that I am a much better straight man, but only marginally. But
    all in all I look like I am loving my Christian life. 

     

    But, since we are not allowed to live at the church, I have to leave
    church and go home.  I don’t even make it
    to the turnpike toll plaza before I am back to that other guy the spiritually
    bankrupt guy that reacts horribly to the person that is not making it through
    the toll gate fast enough. It should not be a surprise to anyone to know that I
    have cursed, cut off in revenge or rendered the single finger salute more than
    a few times.  At home, things are no
    different, I am quick to anger, critical, selfish, argumentative and not very
    loving to anybody.  So no surprise I have made a mess of this marriage, after
    I lost my job because of my anger, several blow ups with my wife and kids, My wife
    asked for a separation. I love her, I don’t blame her. I became impossible to live with. We still talk we still love each other, but I gotta get right. And she needs some healing too.But with God in this, it
    could turn out to be a great thing.  She
    asked me to leave.  So here I am at rock
    bottom again.

     

    So I continue to read my Christian books in my reading
    list, and do my studies for CLC and meet with my Peace Makers Coach, and my
    brothers who have come along side.  But
    through these conversations and lessons, most recently a studies in Romans 7.
    You know; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not
    do, but what I hate I do.”  Why do I
    do what I hate?  Why don’t I have the
    self-control to stop me from doing it? Why am I so quick to anger? Why aren’t I
    gentle? Where’s the Joy, Kindness, Goodness, Peace, Patience, Faithfulness,
    Love? Where the Change?

     

    This is why I am questioning whether the Fruits of the
    Spirit are in me. 

     

    So I spoke to Pastor Joe Coffee and received some good
    advice…Joe said amongst other things 
    “We should always remember who we are in Christ.”  Let that sink in a little…God gave his son
    for me, Christ was scourged for me, was punched for me,  was spit upon for me, made to wear a crown of
    thorns for me, he took a lance in the side for me, took nails for for me,  Christ died on a cross for
    me.  So that I could be together with him
    and His father. Because God loves us and wraps his arms around because our
    belief in Him and what he did through his son for us.  His Grace and Christ’s blood was poured all
    over us. So, If we remember this in all our life situations, we will act more
    in accordance with the fruits of the Spirit and be more emblematic of Christ.
    The Fruits of the Spirit will be manifest when we dispense to others the
    entirely undeserved grace that has given to us.

     

    An excerpt from a subsequent conversation with a great
    friend, we clarified it this way:

     

    J.R.: “So more of a conscious moment by moment
    thought process to extend the grace that we received.”

     

    R.J.: Exactly, we are wretched sinners saved by blood and
    grace. Who are we not to dispense what we have received.

     

    J.R,: So not that the Spirit is really doing a Geppeto on
    us,  pulling our strings and controlling
    our thoughts, actions and ultimately behavior patterns but us accessing an area deep inside us.

     

    RJ: The deep area of thanks and gratitude for what has
    been done for us. This area within our heart where Christ is living,

     

    J.R: The Area that appreciates God’s love and then
    compels us to act likewise. Thus being in the word daily helps us find that
    place more consistently. And therein lies the fruits.

     

    R.J. Yup.

  • Katie Mlady

    At the moment, all I want to say is THANK YOU!  Thank you for embracing the courage God granted you both to share your stories of grace.  Just finished the book this morning, I will tell you that I laughed, cried, and seemed to feel what you guys felt.  I truly believe your words have eternally impacted my life and my future relationship with God the Father and God the Son.  A million times thank you!!!  I plan on sharing this book with my whole family.  Keep fighting the good fight! PTL!  P.S. What an awesome idea to create an interactive website to keep the “grace” flowing.  Katie

    • Bob

      Thanks Katie. Joe and I were both encouraged by your comments. It means a lot to know that Red Like Blood is connecting with people. 
      I know everyone has a story to tell, and if they are honest and transparent it can penetrate a reader. For some people your story will resonate better than mine or Joe’s. So anytime you’d like to share your personal story of brokenness and grace, just put it up on Tell Your Story. Sometimes we turn those into featured “guest blogs.” You don’t have to be much of a writer because our editor and proofreader gets involved if it goes to the feature post. 

      You can launch off of one of our stories and take it from there. 

      Nothing like getting a challenge when all you were trying to do was give a couple battered writers a complement, eh?

      with gratitude for Him and you,

      Bob 

  • Anonymous

     
    First of all, I am the Prodigal.  Maybe this is for the parents of the Prodigals, maybe it is for the Church in general, maybe it is for those who were lost and are found but are still having a hard time finding their place, maybe it is for all of us.
     
    I have wonderful, Godly, forgiving parents. God knew that they were the couple to give Suzanne to, He knew that they would take me back all four of those times, even though a couple of those times it put them and my siblings at risk from a mentally unstable man. He knew that they would take me back when they knew that I’d probably just leave again. God always does know.  I’m thankful for my parents. God wants parents to show the love and forgiveness He does, it is impossible for humans to do that, but with God’s help even the impossible becomes possible. It is in the nature of human beings to rebel and try to do things their own way, just not everyone yields to their desires. It is when we yield our desires to God’s will that our lives finally make sense. 
     
    When I came home on the multiple times I had a lot of things to “give up” smoking, drinking, cursing, promiscuity, lying, cheating, fooling around with witchcraft. There was indeed a lot to give up. It took so many attempts to finally be at that place where I was willing to give it all up, not just so I could come home, but because of God’s grace, because of what He had done for me, and He set me free from those trappings when I was willing, He never takes away an “addiction” unless we are willing. He is God, He does not violate our free will to make us His puppets. He wants our love and devotion because we want to give it to Him, not just because we think we have to to get to heaven, or because we want to come home and crash mommy’s sofa because our boyfriend cheated on us. It has to be our choice. 
     
    It was years ago that I made that choice. Years since I came home for good. I met my husband, got married, had two beautiful babies, settled down into the typical church going, saved by grace, pro-life, baptist, housewife. I put my past in the past. Sometimes people who knew me then would say things like “remember when you dated that nasty guy” or remember that time you…” they never do it to hurt me or make me feel guilty, or out of any malicious intent, and I always try to smile and say yes, I’m thankful I didn’t marry that guy. In all honesty usually weeks and months can pass by without me thinking about the past, I don’t want to most of the time. I made a lot of mistakes, I participated in a lot of sin, but it has been covered by the blood of Christ, and He says He has taken a giant eraser to my past and that according to Him, those things are gone. And then there are those other days… Those days when I’m in church and I feel so out of place because I look around and think, I bet none of these people ever drank themselves silly, or lived with a man who wasn’t their husband who abused them. I feel like an alien, like a stranger, like someone who hasn’t been bought with a price, like I’m not their fellow heir with Christ. NOT because if these people knew what I did they would judge me, not because of that. I’m fairly confident that if I stood in front of my Church and laid out every sin I ever committed only a handful of people would gasp and not want me there anymore. So, I don’t know why, other than the enemy likes to remind us of our past and lie to us about our status with God, I would think that way or feel that way. I also am aware that the Church is made up of sinful people and that every single person making up the family of God is a sinner saved by grace, and I’m sure at least a few of them committed as ugly sins as I have.  I still feel out of place sometimes. Not that I’d want to know but, it isn’t like you can wear a shirt that says: “hey, anyone else here ever struggle with alcohol?” Or, “anyone else ever been held at gun point by their crazy ex-boyfriend?” 
     
    The other thing Prodigals face when they come home and have been home is the past catching up with them. God forgives, but sometimes we still have to face the consequences of our past, sometimes those consequences affect the present. Oh, my and the friends we use to hang out with. There is this social network site, called Facebook, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but sometimes your old friends can find you. Wow, do they have some shock when they find out you are one of those church going Christian types who votes…wait for it…conservative. I’m not sure what all they must think, that my family’s brain washing ways finally caught up with me, that I wasn’t strong enough to face life without a crutch…the Really funny thing is I have heard that before, yes, alcohol and tobacco and sleeping around was the strong choice, God is for the weak, yes, I’m laughing right now. 
     
    So, where does the returned Prodigal fit in? Where can she find a place where she will feel comfortable and accepted, and not afraid of the past catching up with her? I Know the answer is the Church, the family of God, the other sinners saved by grace. So, now how do I convince myself that on the days I’m sure people are not talking to me because they can smell the left over consequence of sin on me or something? The real reason I don’t feel I fit in all the time I’m sure is because I let the guilt of the past keep me from close friendship. I’m afraid of those questions that will come up. Like, wow, you got married in February of 2006, and Lilly was born in September 2006? Or, what did you do when you got out of high school. Or when I get on my soap box about Planned Parenthood and they find out I don’ t only not like them because they kill babies, but because I’ve been there and I know how they are. Those things. 
     
    Well, I suppose, if this gets read, the cat is out of the bag. I was a Prodigal daughter, I went away from my family full of their love, their values, their beliefs, the morals they taught me, and I came back used, broken, and empty, but by the grace of God everything that happened in between had been washed away. The good news is, I know my brothers and sisters will not keep a record of my wrongs, but that they will rejoice over my not being lost anymore. The other good news is, is that God is working on me still, He is helping me not to let the pain, guilt, and shame of the past stand in the way of what He has planned for me. I think that soon enough He will help me use the past to help other Prodigals come home. And I think that is the lesson being expressed in this. Your past is forgiven, and it will only be necessary for others to know about it because He can use it to help others, and I think I am willing to face the shame and guilt for His sake, after all, He did save even me. 

    • http://BobBevington.com/ Bob Bevington

      Thanks for sharing on the Tell Your Story tab of RedLikeBlood.com. As a fellow prodigal come home, I can relate!

      As I read your story, I thought I should share this link: http://www.thebookendsbook.com/media/BookendsPreview2.pdf

      It’s an excerpt from another book I coauthored, The Bookends of the Christian Life. Please read chapter 4 when you can, on the topic of Persistent Guilt. I think this will resonate with you and it could really help. 

  • http://wendell-ferrell.blogspot.com/ Wlferrell

    I guess I COULD have been rich IF I had only learned HEALTH SECRETS(found @ http://exciting-solutions.blogspot.com), before my Dad died of cancer.  Years later I discovered that the American Indians helped some Pilgrams get over cancer with an herbal tea. I believed that I could make vehicles much more efficient by eliminating the transmission & using instead a machine that would convert torque into thrust AND could store up AMAZING amounts of kinetic energy. This energy could be released to help accelerate or decellerate! My Dad told me that if I could convince him it would work, he would finance this project. I finally did!  BUT he died before I could  tell him how much I needed!  Oh well.

  • Dean

    I finished reading the last pages of Red Like Blood during the first couple of hours of an early morning flight back to Cleveland from Frankfurt, Germany. I set the book down next to me so I could rest and reflect while our flight attendant was clearing breakfast trays in the area in which I was seated.

    Before our flight attendant came to clear my tray the thought crossed my mind I should give our flight attendant the book. I typically do not offer books to people whom I have never met. For some reason I just thought our flight attendant should have my copy of Red Like Blood. Why not? I certainly enjoyed the read and I suspect anyone who reads RLB will enjoy and benefit from the experience.

    And then I missed an opportunity. It was obvious our flight attendant took notice of the book when she cleared my breakfast tray. I smiled politely and, well, I said nothing. Why? No good reason. I suppose I thought it would be a bit awkard to offer a complete stranger a book written by a pastor from the church I attend. Perhaps she would decline or maybe even be offended by my offer for some reason…”and how many more hours will I be on this flight feeling awkward when that happens???”

    But then she walked away and all I felt was embarrassed. I fully realized that giving our flight attendant my book was not a passing thought. I was absolutely supposed to give her that book; the book was her’s now; she was supposed to read my copy of RLB and there I was with the book she was supposed to have still in my posession. Not a thought, not an idea, not just a nice gesture. I absolutely knew with total certainty I needed to give my copy of RLB to our flight attendant.

    So I prayed. I asked God to give me the confidence to offer our flight attendant my book and that she would read the book and derive whatever meaning or insight she needed to from the book. And shortly after I prayed our flight attendant came over to where I was sitting and, with her German accent, asked “is that a good book, Red Like Blood?”

    “Yes, it is a very good book and I just finished reading it. Would you like to have it,” I asked already handing her the book. Our flight attendant accepted the book and responded “yes, I really would like the book; thank you.”

    I pray that God will grant me the wisdom and courage I need to serve him openly and without hesitation in all aspects of my life, including my work. Until God has facilited my growth in this area, though, it is nice to be handed an occaisional “lay-up” I can feel really good about. Praise God.

  • Bob Sutter

    This is the story of my son, his fall from grace, and his redemption.  I hope this inspires someone to believe.

    My son, Kenny, enrolled in Mighty Oaks Academy for Men during his 14 month stay at Minnesota Teen Challenge (a Christian residential drug rehab center).  His story is amazing!  We are totally blessed to be a part of his new life in Christ!  His growth has been extraordinary and he is eager to wholeheartedly embrace his role in the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Here is his story of grace, and the faith it instills in us showing Gods forgiveness:
    Ken was born outside of Cleveland, OH.  He comes from a broken home and spent various amounts of time with each parent in Ohio.  He took on more responsibilities with his siblings at a very young age.  At age thirteen he began a long period of rebelliousness and anger issues.  These issues, such as stealing cigarettes from his mother, associating with bad friends and drawing his siblings into his smoking and marijuana habits began a pinball lifestyle, getting him kicked out of his mother’s home.  After living with his father for a few years his mother decided to move out of state.  Kenny was allowed to go live with her as requested.    As time went on he soon wore out his welcome and began relying more and more on marijuana and at times OC drugs.   During this time he was arrested for a hate crime and spent some time in juvenile detention.  At 18, he witnessed a step-dad firing weapons in his home in a drunken frenzy.  After getting his family safely out, he soon moved out on his own.  He got a job, a car, and an apartment but wasted much of his money on his marijuana habit.  His problems continued to escalate.   One overdose on coricidin, send him to the hospital by ambulance.
    On Thanksgiving in 2009, at age 21, Ken’s mom invited him to Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania.  There, an uncle from Minnesota invited Ken to live with him and work for him on a farm in northern MN.   In January, Ken made the move, hoping to escape his bad friendships and start a new life.  His uncle soon became a part of the problem, as he too was using (and growing) marijuana.  Ken’s anger issues, culminating in a threat to his uncle, eventually got him kicked out again.  In desperation, Ken called his Dad, now a “saved” Christian man, remarried and saved along with his wife Kristin.  After much research, Ken’s dad urged him to enroll at MN Teen Challenge.  On March 27, 2010, Ken enrolled at MTC. After 3 months of a non-conformist attitude, Dennis Bradshaw of Teen Challenge issued an ultimatum.  Get with the system or get out!  Ken began to conform.  Soon thereafter, he accepted an alter call from Dan Stone at Jesus is Life Fellowship.  He received the Holy Spirit and was completely transformed.
    In January of 2011, Ken heard John and I speak at MTC.  He believed God was calling him to ministry.  Mighty Oaks began meeting with him and he enrolled.  Ken never wavered in his commitment, even when they told him that this will be a “pilot” year with only two students.  Within the ministry, Ken has become a deep man of prayer and conviction!  He is learning diligent work habits and training to become a leader.  The men of Teen Challenge joke “mediocre to Mighty Oaker” when he visits to minister there.  Ken’s vision for ministry also includes working with men.  He intends to stay with Mighty Oaks for at least another year as a summer guide and Night Watchmen of a new class beginning in August 2012.  Meeting Ken, you would never even see a trace of the anger issues he once battled.  He has NO desire for his former drugs!   He has been radically delivered by the blood of Jesus Christ and is thoroughly engaged in his training and classes through Mighty Oaks.  This young man will be a force in the Kingdom of God for a lifetime!
    Gods grace has transformed a troubled man in a believer, follower, and example of what happens when you put all your faith in God and trust He will provide.  God has shown my family tremendous grace, not just in His work with Kenny, but with his display of His ability to transform ones life from the bottom of a pit, to a wonderful, fulfilled life in Christ.  God’s grace is wonderful!  As we watch Mighty Oaks struggle with their first years class and watch how God has provided for the ministry we are continually in awe of His work and His grace!  Praise God!

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

  • Anonymous

    Hi, i’m Ryan Scott and i’m 12. I grew up in a catholic home, but we never went to church. I knew there was a god, but i never got into church or PSR or anything… Well, that was until April of this year that i went to CCC of Hudson with my father, Tom. I felt something inside of me just change suddenly when i saw the service led by Joe Coffey. It changed my life, and i kept going back ever since. On June 12, 2011, i accepted Jesus as my savior with pastor Marshall Brandon. It was so amazing and powerful for me. I started going to my youth group Edge in early May. I got accepted right in. I waspart of the sixth grade team that went down to Akron, Ohio to renovate a house. That was a big part of my relationship with christ because i felt changed after that… My dad and I got baptized toegheter on September 25, 2011. It was so cool because all my friends from Edge came, My dad and I did it toegheter, and the leader of my youth group, Todd Iannetta, baptized us! :) We got a standing ovation. :) I started going to the Door #2 arts ministry a couple weeks ago. I love it because i can express my love for christ with my other love, Art. God has changed me in so many positive ways, i can’t even express them all. :)
    Hi, i’m Ryan Scott. I’m a sinner, i’m a liar, i’m a pain-in-the-butt, But, I’m a christian, I’m confident in myself, i’m very faithful, I’m loving, i’m caring, and also, I love Jesus christ, my savior and redeemer, with all my heart! <3

    • Todd Iannetta

      Ryan, God is good.  It’s been a joy to watch you soak in the gospel and take steps in growing in your faith.  God has even greater things in store for you, my friend.
      Todd

  • Jamey Matheny

    Pay It Forward
    During one of my small group bible study meetings a couple
    of months ago, I listened as a man told of the bitterness that was in his life
    due to past marriage issues.  All I could think about was, “I’ve got
    to get RLB in his hands”.  I had already read RLB so I knew that the
    book and his life experiences were a perfect match.  So, one day after a small group meeting I
    offered RLB to him.  I told him about what great people Bob and Amy are
    and the good fortune my wife (Peggy) and I had to have them as our pre-marriage
    mentors when we lived in Ohio.  We
    are in Pure Michigan now. (and yes Bob, I’m still a loyal Buckeye).

    A couple of months have passed since I gave him the
    book.  Last week I knew he was going on
    vacation and I wished him well.  Then
    Sunday morning I got a call from him.  He
    had spent his leisure time on vacation reading RLB!  He could not thank me enough for leading him
    to RLB.  God’s grace and forgiveness has allowed
    him to let go of the bitterness he had. 
    I can’t wait until he gets back to fill me in on more of his experience
    reading RLB.  I ended the conversation by
    asking him to now keep his eyes open and look for someone else that may benefit
    from reading RLB and pay it forward.  He
    said, “Already done.  I gave it away
    already.”

    Thank you God for RLB. 
    Thank you for leading Joe and Bob to tell their stories and share their
    teachings for Your glory. Amen.

    • Bob

      Thank you, Jamie. Encouraging!

  • Mary M.

    Before a recent family vacation to the Carolina coast, a friend let me borrow her copy of RLB.   This is a story of how God has used Joe and Bob’s teaching to inspire and encourage me.   After reading all the stories about confrontations with grace, I so wanted to be an ambassador for Christ to my mom and her husband, my brothers and sisters  on this trip.   One morning  at around 7am I was on the deck overlooking the ocean praying that God would use me in some way through my words and actions to draw my family  towards Him.  
    Minutes after my prayer, I heard what sounded like a bag of rocks spilling down the steps of the deck and then a loud scream!  It was my sister falling, face first, down several wooden steps.  My heart was beating out of my chest as I ran to her.   She was laying in a pool of blood.  Her hands were covering her face.   When she looked up, it was obvious that she had a broken nose.   In my sense of helplessness, I prayed over her out loud.  
    After the ambulance came and a trip to the ER, it was determined she did have a broken nose and needed stitches inside of her mouth, and numerous scrapes and bruises.  The next morning, we were sitting on the deck and she thanked me for praying for her.  Through tears, I told her about my prayer asking God to use me. 
    God became very real to me, again, through this experience.  I continue to pray, “Lord, use me” and use RLB to encourage others as I have been.  Thank you!

  • http://www.chrismaxwellweb.com Chris Maxwell

    Red Like Blood: An Interview with Joe Coffey
     http://chrismaxwellweb.com/red-like-blood-an-interview-with-joe-coffey 

  • Dave Bergen

    I’ve found two places in the bible where the word “lavishes” is used.  One refers to God’s love and the other refers to God’s grace.  Awesome!  Isn’t it cool that God doesn’t give out His precious love and grace in dribbles and drabs, rather he drenches us in them both.  He knows we need them both in abundance.

    I purchased RLB this past Sunday and finished it on Wednesday.    I shed tears several times while reading it.  Wow, thank you Jesus for grace!!!  Over the last three years, I cannot help but weep when I think of the cross.  Joe and Bob do a fine job of capturing the work of Jesus, the pain He suffered and the brutal death He died for me.  Oh God, you are so good!

    Almost three years ago, my so called life imploded.  I thought I had it under control, that I could live two separate lifestyles.  What a knucklehead!  RLB talks about the cracks that allow grace to flow in. Ah, but the cracks must be present.  In a matter of 10 days in August 2008 I went from solid rock to a pile of pebbles.  God not only cracked me, He pulverized me! He knew I needed to be broken, smashed, crushed so that I would finally hear him.

    I so relate to David in Ps.32 when he says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away” and “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me”. After years of covering up a life of filth, lies and betrayal, I came clean.  Not because I wanted to be a good guy, but I felt the heaviness of God’s hand upon me.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I’d rather die than live with that feeling.  I couldn’t see then what I see now.  That was the only way God’s grace could do it’s work in my life.  And then grace began to flood into my life.

    I have to chuckle a bit when I recall what I must have looked like that Friday morning as I waited outside CCC for anybody that even looked like a pastor. (we had been attending CCC for about 5 yrs at the time).  Up all night, no shower, no comb, no toothbrush, same clothes, yuck!  Well, Pastor Jim drew the short straw that day.  As soon as I saw him walk in sipping his coffee, I walked up and said “Hi My name is Dave Bergen. We need to talk.  My wife will be here in a minute.”  With no hesitation, he said “OK, follow me”.

    Kim my wife and I spent the next several hours with Pastor Jim.  He was awesome!  He gave us direction and a plan.  He also painted no rosy picture of how this all might turn out.  He was brutally honest.  He’s a man’s man. 

    That next Sunday while the service was finishing up, I felt compelled to walk down the isle.  As Joe met me at the alter, he shook my hand and said ” Let the healing begin”.  The last part of Ps. 32, after David recognizes his forgiveness here is what he says. ” You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart my sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

    Grace flowed from my heavenly Father, my wife Kim, from my children and from my pastors. 

    Thank you Father for lavished grace.  And thank you for the cracks too!  Amen.

     

    • Joe Coffey

      I love your story, not because of the terrible pain but for the glory of a God of grace who can heal just about anything! Thanks for sharing.

  • Jeff Rolfe

    I was raised a preachers kid in a “holiness” church that didn’t exhibit much holiness. I grew up knowing that Jesus died for my sin while also thinking that He hated my guts and was just licking His chops in anticipation of damning me to hell. I always knew I was a depraved wretch. I had heard enough preaching on the law that I didn’t need anymore convincing. It wasn’t until I came to understand the Biblical definition of grace and that it is unmerited, that my eyes were opened to the glorious Gospel. Praise His Name! He took a broken, rebelious, church hating PK and transformed him into a broken, rebelious, pastor and chaplain who now understands its about Christ and His perfect righteousness, not about mine.

    Thanks for your wonderful ministry.

  • Tomescott

    I grew up in a wonderful middle class home in Avon Lake,Ohio.My dad worked two jobs so we could have everythig we needed and most of what we wanted.My mom didn’t work,she didn’t even drive.She was a housewife with four boys.We were Catholic,school and sunday mass.God was in my life in ways normal to Catholics.I was the baby of the family and i used that as an advantage even early in my life.I could whine my way into anything I wanted.In school I was a trouble maker and sister Mary whip ass would use her yard stick on the knuckles regularly on me.These would be behavoir problems that would grow very large, very soon in me.I was always shy and introverted so I became a chameleon and was very adaptable.Now this was the 70′s and you know what is next.At age 13 i smoked my first joint.At age 14 i was a daily user.At age 15,LSD and  anything else you put in front of me was fair game.We drank beer and booze regularly,and we drank till we passed out,puked etc.I suffered no consequences from this with parents or the law.Remember this is the 70′s so if we got pulled over drinking and drugging in Avon Lake the cops just took our stuff and told us to go home.Now is when things get crazy.My parents didn’t raise us like this but Satan had other ideas.I was the poster child for Satan in Hell,young,naive,stoned with no direction in life.He took me places i’m almost embarresed to talk about but God’s running the show now so i’m ok with it.I just finished reading Red Like Blood and it gave me great comfort.Now is when my Bob like episodes in life start to happen.At 13 or so i was molested.I think this could have been the catalyst that took me deep into drugs and booze.At 17 I started an affair with a 35 yr old married women wich lasted several years.I was madly in love with her and when it ended I was destroyed.The 80′s and 90′s are a blurr.I have two dwi’s to my credit already.I hit the mayor of Avon Lakes car for my first dwi.Now i’m a full blown alchoholic/addict and living in Cleveland.I spent the next how many years trying to kill myself with booze and drugs.I am nearly homeless,unemployable,and crazy.I’m carrying a gun.I’m hanging out on E55 and Kinsman area and shouldn’t have come out alive.But I did.My wife is an angel sent from God.I didnt know it at the time but she is.Now having affairs with married women young,running around chasing women in bars when married later is not real healthy.I never cheated on my wife physically but I wasn’t a good husband.My wife and daughter took the full brunt of my addictions for many years.I destroyed every fiber of my wifes soul and rubbed it into the ground with my shoe like putting out a cigarette.Why did she stay with me.I was insane.I know i was prayed into the rooms of alchoholics annonomys in 1997.When i finally surrendered i was fallen and broken in ways I’m still learning about.My wife was suicidal and depressed and curled up in the fetal position on the dining room floor.Sobriety was not good for several years.This was only because i was trying to run the show.AA is a we program,not an I program.My best efforts alone kept me using many years after I realized I had a problem.I alone can’t do it but with the help of God we can.My wife tried to give me 20 bucks and told me to go get drunk,she said I was flippin insane and at least if I were drunk she would know what to expect of me.Slowly,very slowly,my life started to change.This is the first time grace started to ease its way through the grand canyon sized cracks in me.My life was void of compassion,love,communication,a heart due to being an addict so early on in my life i believe.I had to develop those skills and it was knumbing to know I didn’t even have them.Well,guess where I found them.Crist Community Chapel.At the end of 2009 I walked into the doors at Hudson and met a man named Jim Colledge at mens fraternity.Not a bad way to start my journey.I met other men at saturday morning mens bible study,guess what,they welcomed me with open arms.Then i met Joe at sunday service and loved what I heard.Now to my amazement the next week when I returned Jim and Joe greeted me and remembered my name.This was the most important part of my life.In my past nobody wanted to know me,see me,or deal with me and here I am being welcomed.I love you guys for that moment.You didn’t run from me.Grace.Now in the last year and a half everything about me has change with the Lord inside me.I saw my first baptism there,it was a women named Cari.She lived a sordid life like me,she was a lesbian and lived a crazy life style till she found Jesus in Hudson and was being baptized.(Jesus must have a main office in Hudson).This was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and afterwords I found myself crying on Jim’s chest in front of the whole church.He just hugged me and prayed for me and told me this is what i’ve been looking for my whole life.Wow was he right.Grace.why does a drunkin bum,addict,coniving,cheating,thieving,no good loser like me get a second,third fourth etc chance.Grace.I know this story got long but this is the short versionand I thank you for listening to my rant.I have membership coming up.I want to be baptized soon,and i’m in a CLC gruop at church so my life with the Lord is growing in leaps and bound everyday.It could not be possible without Jesus as my savoir and you people at CCC.thanx I love you all….Tom Scott

    • Joe Coffey

      Tom,
      It has been wonderful to watch God move into your life. I love seeing the joy and the peace that has taken over. Thanks for writing this and giving everyone a peek into what has happened in your life and what the Gospel has done. your friend, Joe

    • Carigintz

      Hi Tom:

      Someone told me to read your story…have we met?  I think so….but not sure.  I loved reading your story!   Like Joe says…deeply flawed but DEEPLY loved.  Dark dark places is sometimes where the LIGHT can shine the brightest.  I surely hope you will be baptized and I would like you to tell me WHEN….you should do it next baptism…DON”T WAIT…please email me at carigintz@aol.com.   I promise to sit up front so you have a friendly face and partner in crime through this journey of life that fortunately is still happening for both of us…we aren’t dead..therefore God is able to finish…thank heavens for living long enough to come face to face with a healing, loving, and personal Jesus.  YOU, my friend are a testimony to that….and don’t forget it…and never let the devil tell you otherwise

      Cheers, Cari

    • Jim Colledge

      Tom,
      There is nothing that amazes me more than the move of grace. I have come to expect it and yet remain in awe of it. I thrilled at reading your story and will forever be grateful for what our Savior has done in your life. thanks, i am blessed because of you. Jim

    • Ryanscott901

      You should change it to i was baptized september 5, 2011. :) Love you dad and i think its so amazing for what you’ve been through to be here today. From: your buckaroo <3 

    • Missy Bunsey

      I have heard part of your story, but you hadn’t found CCC yet. Save the best part for last! :) Love, Missy

  • Glory

    Thank you for this spiritually moving, frank, funny, riveting, informative, and well-written book. Your forthrightness is refreshing. I was blown away by the stories of two incredibly strong, Christian women–Rita and Amy–because I am a Christian woman who believes real Christian women should support and lift up each other! For some reason, men do a better job; like the two of you who would “take a bullet” for one another. Karen is also a strong and brave soldier in the army of the Lord. (‘Awesome’ parents; and I don’t use that word much.) It warms my heart, Joe, to hear you talk about Karen – in the book and in your messages.

    All of us have stories about grace. Most of mine stem from the times I cared for my parents/ children/husband and partially for a sister and her son. It has only been within the last 11 years that I have had a chance to really care for myself. Although I have siblings, it became my sole responsibility–an Army wife with two children–to care for my father when he became ill and was abused by a greedy son who only wanted his inheritance. When my dear mother developed dementia my sisters did not lift a finger, at any time, to help me care for her. They too were looking for an inheritance. My parents had prodigal sons and daughters. While watching Mother die in hospice care for several weeks, I made the decision to never speak to my sisters again after Mother passed. She never knew how bitter I was toward my sisters and would not have approved. However, it was God’s sweet grace that prevented me from remaining bitter and carrying out this plan. Never is a long time. Yet, Rita and Amy sound more like sisters than my sisters and me. Joe and Brian sound like my sisters and I use to be. We do work at our relationships, however. Anyway, my stories of grace began at an early age and continue today with my siblings, children, close friends, and students – who often seem like they are my kids too. (I just got email from a student who has “run out of options” and asked me to co-sign a lease for her apartment.)

    Red Like Blood includes 15+ references to music! These references helped to make your stories even more interesting and readable than they were already. Reformed slave owner John Newton knew that “Amazing Grace” was the only thing that could save a wretch like him. I hope your book will help all of us who are broken, for whatever reason(s), to see and find our way.

    • Joe Coffey

      Glory,
      It sounds like grace has touched you in the midst of some very deep waters. I will pray you continue to be confronted with grace at every turn. thanks for sharing. 

  • Jfddds

    So I get your book last week and start reading last weekend. I usually devour a book quickly, not the best at letting it digest too long! This is a problem with me and scripture, I learn much better from a lesson than reading, but that’s just me. Your book however has caused me to hit the brakes hard a few times. Chapter 7 dealing with pride hit especially hard. Unfortunately I read it Wednesday evening before bed which was a mistake. I rarely lose a night of sleep, but I did that night. I realized just how pride can take the best of God’s glory and try to make it my own. I am clinical director of The Refuge Clinic which serves two communities in our area with free medical and dental care. As a group we just returned from 9 days in Honduras. I was getting pretty used to people telling me what a great guy I am for doing such great works, really started thinking they were right. The truth is I did nothing but God’s work, without Him I have no talent, no ability to travel, no time to help at a clinic, no resources for treatment, and certainly He deserves all the praise, not me. I actually addressed this with my staff at the clinic on Friday letting them know just how easy it is to let pride turn God’s glory into our own. My struggles are very similar to yours and you putting them on paper has made me stop and examine my weaknesses. I’m glad I bought 5 copies, have them in several hands now!

    • Joe Coffey

      pride is about the most pernicious sin. for me to think i have it under control would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. thanks for sharing. what you wrote convicted me again of the same thing. i guess we need to keep confessing to each other because it is only through confession pride is torn out by the roots. thanks.

  • Fayesnotes

    RLB was deep. Not like a book you read that is so theological or arrogantly verbose that you have to keep re-reading sentences to figure out what in the hell the author is saying. But deep as in it touched every area of my life. RLB reads like a trashy romance novel only ever chapter ends with the real answer to what every lustful human is seeking. I was turning every page with a craving to hear more about someone else’s sin while being haunted by my own. This book for me was inspiring on every level. I have to give my testimony on Sunday to a new community group for 20 Somethings. I was going to leave out the ‘dirty’ parts in order to save some face. After reading this book, I am inspired to reveal the ugliness of my past in order that He may be glorified. RLB makes me want to be more honest about my failures… proud- in a different kind of way.

    Pastor Joe, you asked me to get back to you with my favorite chapter. They are all my favorites. Truly. It is hard to choose between the sad, low parts and the shout- it- on- the- rooftop- parts. Some parts of this book made me laugh until tears came and other parts made tears come, and come, and come. I love laughing and I love hearing and feeling the depths of someone’s loss or the joy in someone’s healing… someone’s resurrection. Those two elements are in every single chapter!

    So, although I loved the book in its entirety I will just pick Chapter 5. Well, and then 13 because 13 goes along with 5. These are the chapters which challenge my faith the most. You see my mom is the one in the 2 bedroom condo- right now. Oh, wait, so is my step-mom…. My mom and dad divorced when I was 10. My mom kicked him out because he loved the bottle more than us. Backing up a little, I was raised with Rosicrucian Order* meetings taking place in my house. I have a picture of me as a baby, holding a rose, in the arms of a priestess called “The Master” in a purple and gold dress. FREAKY. My parents were so anti-Catholic that they practically threw the baby, baby Jesus that is, out with the bathwater. My mom eventually accepted Christ when I was in High School and tried to drag us three kids to church with her. I went a few times. I even went forward at a Billy Graham crusade once. But it wasn’t until I was 20 that I desired Him. I tried to fill “the hole” with you name it and just before it may have been too late, I received my Savior at the first bible study I ever went to-April 17th 1996. Can you imagine being those people at that study that night?! In 15 years I’ve never witnessed someone coming to Christ at their first bible study. Anyway, I think God came down, reached in, and plucked me out. The fact that I am not in a cult right now is evidence that God is real. So here I am with a Mom who knows Him and a wonderful marriage, fantastic kids, a truly abundant life with outreach and ministry opportunities that I still cannot believe that I get to do, yet my heart still aches.
    My earthly father is lost. He is so lost that he has left the state, not to mention 2 grandsons and a third on the way, to follow his heart- his deceived, rebellious, heart. He is the ‘minister’ of a cult* in Arizona. He is currently living with his mistress in his dream house.
    Chapter 5 was like reading the past 10 years of my life and Chapter 13 was like reading what it could be like… if only…..

    God has rescued me. He became my Father in every way and I will forever be grateful and amazed. Yet I still ask, “Why doesn’t my God rescue my dad? Why won’t He break him? Why haven’t two divorces and countless losses of friendships shaken him to his core to realize his need for a Savior?” A million questions go unanswered and yet year after year my Father has taught me to trust Him more and look for answers less.
    Although painfully, I still long for a Chapter 13…

    So Bob and Joe… that is just one of the many paths this book took me down. When I finished it I was exhausted. Overwhelmed by grace, by your transparency, by His love for all of us sinners. I was challenged to care less about what others might think of me and focus more on what they might think of HIM by thinking less about me! What a concept! And, I am still blown away by the fact that every, single, freaking, time I get to know one of you “Hudson People”, I am blown away and God reminds me why I really need to stop judging people.
    With gratitude,
    FS

    P.S. Bob, on behalf of all the kids with screwed up dads out there… thank you…. thank you for letting Him in, allowing Him to begin the healing process, letting Him break you, receiving His grace, and lastly, telling your story. I hope dads and husbands across the globe read this book and cry out for their Abba.

    *http://rosicrucian.org/
    *http://unity.org/

  • Naomi

    I have been a Christian for about 10 years. Of those 10 years, at least 5 of them have been lived in spiritual frustration. Maybe a better phrase to explain my state of being would be, passionless. I have heard Joe use the analogy of the pop-machine many times at church and I can relate. He says that many Christians (me, for instance) are in pop-machine limbo. I have put the coins in, but I am still waiting for my Coke! I have heard, understood, and accepted the gospel, but some days/weeks/months I forget. It’s helpful to go back and remember where I once was.

    I won’t start at the very beginning…there are too many unnecessary details. But, I do remember crying in the shower my freshman year of college. I don’t know how to explain why I was crying other than to say that I was tired. I was tired of living on my own. I was tired of running away from Jesus. I thought I had strayed too far because I specifically remember making a conscious decision to live however I wanted to because I knew that when I decided to come back, Jesus would forgive me. Here I was, in the shower, bawling my eyes out and wanting to come back to Jesus. I wanted Jesus, but I was too embarrassed to ask for forgiveness because of my own arrogance. I had taken advantage (and still do to this day) of Jesus’ grace. It doesn’t help that I am extremely stubborn. I wanted Jesus, but I imagined him saying, “I told you so.” I realize now that Jesus would never say that. His love is not conditional like mine often is.

    I have noticed a pattern when someone reads ‘their story’ before getting baptized. It goes something like this: I used to suck, Jesus rescued me, followed by a short explanation that becoming a Christian does not mean all your problems go away. Besides my inner turmoil disappearing, my life as a Christian has often been more difficult and frustrating than my life before I became a Christian. For instance, growing up I never dealt with body-image issues. (If you’re a women….you probably understand) After I became a Christian I instantly was drug down by worries about my body that I had been completely oblivious to in the past. I also quickly realized that my drinking buddies weren’t actually my friends. Realizing I didn’t have as many friends as I thought was really hard for me. I also lost the trust of some of my friends for acting ‘holier than thou.’ Putting too much emphasis on the list of do’s and don’ts in my early Christian life is one of my biggest regrets in life. I guess at the time I didn’t fully understand that being a Christian was about accepting grace and not what I did or didn’t do.

    On top of everything else, a desire to be a ‘good Christian’ has also plagued my Christian walk. I’m a pretty determined person. If I set a goal, I don’t have a problem making sacrifices in order to meet that goal. I’m also very competitive. I’ll make a competition out of anything. Let’s just say I have never let anyone running on an adjacent treadmill run faster than me. But the Christian walk doesn’t work that way. There isn’t a formula to be a good Christian because there is no such thing as a good Christian. Everyone is a screwup and everyone is in need of grace.

    Just recently I have realized the cause of my spiritual frustration over the years. It’s simple really: I have been trying to please God on my own strength and not relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, I have failed miserably. I have gone months and years at a time when I forget that I don’t need to try harder, I need to surrender and allow the Holy Spirit to take control. Control. That’s a tough thing to give up because being in control of my life not a conscious decision that I make daily…it’s my default mode. If I don’t consciously give Jesus control daily, hourly, then I take back control. I can relate to what Paul says in Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched (wo)man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

  • Kate D.

    I grew up in a ‘halfway’ Christian home – mom always loved God but dad did not. I think I always believed in God but it never impacted my life. My dad died in 2004 and I noticed an almost immediate change in my mom as she grieved by clinging to the cross – it’s amazing that what she probably calls the worst time in her life was the time in mine that I really saw her growing into someone that loved God and was making life changes that were God-honoring, something she didn’t really have the opportunity to do while my dad was alive. One of those God-honoring decisions was when she married the Godliest man I know, who ironically posted below me.
    I wish I had a more powerful word than “FUN” to describe my life the last 6 years or so, but it really has been fun. I married a godly man of my own in 2009 and now we’re expecting our first baby and it’s so exciting to see how different my desires and ambitions for my family are than what I imagined before I really had a relationship with Christ. I think the most “fun” part about when you really encounter grace is how thankful and grateful you feel about everything for the rest of your life: thankful for a piece of crap tiny apartment, thankful for mac & cheese every night for dinner because it’s all you can afford. I am overwhelming grateful for the gifts I never imagined I’d have: a husband who is determined to be the best man he can be to me and God, two wonderful parents with a beautiful marriage for me to aspire to, a church where I am constantly learning and challenged to know, grow and serve in new ways because THAT is who God created me to be.
    Mostly I’m just thankful.

  • http://www.endowedwithsplendor.blogspot.com Judy

    Hi Bob and Pastor Joe, I am excited to get your book and read it, I love the topic of grace and while I don’t feel comfortable with self-disclosure at this time, I would like to share some thoughts I’ve had about the grace of Jesus in my life and in others.

    I think of grace as an equalizer…it challenges our views of sin. As I’ve grown through my walk with Christ, I have found, that what I may perceive as a worse sin, really is not. This has allowed me to be able to stand outside of myself and show grace easier and even receive it. Someone I am very close to was fired from his youth ministry position for viewing pornography while at work. Suddenly his life and his family’s life was turned upside down. the details of his addiction came out and everything his wife knew to be true was a lie. As she worked through forgiveness towards him, I saw grace unfold. It also challenged me because I came to grips with grace as the great equalizer then. That if I step back and say that a sin does not define a person, that they are not their sin…that the grace he receives is the same I would receive for a “lesser” sin, then it changes grace completely. Suddenly I realized it was not about the act or the brokenness but it was all about the sacrifice that makes grace possible and that is where we find redemption. I love how grace is accessible to everyone and something that Jesus gives “just because”.

    When I think of how God has shown me grace in my ugliness, it completely humbles me. There have been times in my life where I have been so broken, that even the ACT of giving grace to me outside of the grace itself, was comforting. I think of the verse that in Christ, we are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come….grace is like that. It is forever changing me. Each time I receive it, I’m new. I’m better than I was before and so each time, I feel brings me closer to who I am supposed to be…more like Jesus. I find that the more I strive to be like Jesus, I realize how much like him I am not, and that in itself makes me more thankful for the grace I receive. Pastor Joe, I totally agree with how God loves to be necessary. because there is something in my life that was taken away and given back to me, and the only way it is accessible to me is to be completely dependent on HIM. It’s a humbling experience, but one I’m glad he allowes me to experience because it brings me that much closer to him. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

    Prayers that this book and this blog touch many people in Christ.

  • http://www.baasheepbaa.blogspot.com Brian B.

    I grew up in Christian home, prayed the sinner’s prayer and was baptized at 10, but failed to actually get born of the Spirit – (John 3:3) (2 Cor. 5:17). I was a false convert and up until Jan.6, 2007, my life could be described similar to the people we see in Matthew 7. My life was full of iniquity (lawlessness), and I was dead in my sins. I was a slave to sin. Lust, pride, anger, sloth, greed, etc…I knew there was a problem with my life and something deep within (my conscience) told me I was vile person that constantly violated God’s moral Law (10 commandments). But the harder I tried to fix myself, the more I realized how enslaved I was to my sinful desires. I was dead spiritually.

    In 2006 I started pondering what it means to be a Christian. Christianity teaches I was not supposed to be a slave to sin, yet I still was. Christianity teaches I must be perfect to have eternal life, which I was not. Christianity teaches I will have a burning passion to love God above all things; again, I did not. Christianity teaches that sin is breaking God’s laws, and when you sin you create a sin debt. And the last thing I remember thinking was this is why Jesus Christ came and died 2000 years ago. It was to pay the fine or debt for the sin I could not pay. Jesus was perfect and did not sin, nor did He break God’s law. He became a sacrifice for sin so that through Him God could forgive sin and give eternal life. So around mid December 2006 I started daily calling out to God something like this: “Oh, my God, I am guilty of sinning against You. I have broken all Your laws. God I do not want to sin anymore. I want to obey You and walk in Your ways even though I don’t know how. Oh, God, I fling myself at Your feet begging for mercy. I believe Jesus Christ came and was born from a virgin by the Holy Spirit and lived a sinless life. I believe Jesus was sacrificed for sinners, died on the cross and buried 3 days, and on day 3 You raised Him from the dead and He is alive today. Please, oh God, give me eternal life and show me, a sinner, mercy.”

    Well, let me say nothing happened at first. This crying or mourning went on for about 2 full weeks. On Jan. 6, 2007, God, out of His own good pleasure, decided to show me mercy and saved me at 4am during one of my pleadings with Him. It was a radical experience and conversion. No, lighting did not strike the tree outside, nor did I see a vision or hear a real voice, but let me tell you I did have an experience with the Living God of Israel. God touched my life at that very moment and impressed upon me I was forgiven. God impressed upon my heart and mind that my life was ransomed through the suffering and death of His Son Jesus Christ. From that moment I have become a follower of Christ. I am a slave to Him who has purchased me. All the guilt of my sin has been removed and I finally feel truly free and alive. I have a peace that surpasses the intellect that I will live forever. I no longer enjoy the sin I once loved, but have a passion to glorify God in all things I do. I believe I have found the key to eternal life, and I must share it with anyone who will listen. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and I pray God would do mighty and great things for you. Most importantly give eternal life in and through Jesus Christ…I believe grace does flow red like blood and I believe it flows in abundance.

    Thank you Father for this site and may you see fit to bless it and cause it to bear much fruit for your Names sake.

    • Bob

      Brian- Thanks for sharing your story of brokenness and grace. I wanted to know more about you so I clicked on your name and the Baa Baa Blog came up. There’s a story in Red Like Blood about my daughter, Grace, who had a brain hemorrhage when she was two months old. I won’t give the story away here, but all that to say I can relate. What is your connection with the Baa Baa Blog?

      • Brian B.

        I started the blog when God saved me to beat my small drum for Jesus. I believe we all have platforms – some small and some large, but all our platforms are big enough for a set of drums to drum for the glory of Christ. After little Anna Grace came my wife started using it more and more as an outlet to share our story as heart parents with friends and family, so I’ve pretty much turned it over to her.

        Will your story about Grace be in the book?

        • Bob

          Yes. Grace’s story in the chapter called Independence and a Toothpick cross.

          I’d be interested to see the guest blog your wife put up on her friend’s blog.

          Also, are you familiar with Greg Lucas? His blog or his book, Wrestling with an Angel? I think you and your wife should check him out. He’s on your wavelength, I think. Greg endorsed RLB–you can read that on our Endorsements tab.

          • Brian B.

            Great! I will order a copy of your book. It looks to be a great read based off your blog “How the Dead Sea Got So Dead”.

            I don’t have the blog address of my friends website, but you can read the blog my wife wrote at our blog here:

            http://baasheepbaa.blogspot.com/2011/01/anna-graces-story.html

            Just scroll down four paragraphs to – Anna Graces Story

            I’m not familiar with Greg Lucas, but his book looks like one I’ll pick up and read. Thanks for pointing me towards him.

  • Stan F.

    Lol. Sorry you had to “hear” about me….but the not-so-short version is this:

    Having accepted Christ in 1979 I spent the next 10 years or so growing in Him and growing closer to Him. Then gradually the thorny stuff of life began to interfere with my relationship with Him and His face grew cloudy to me although I continued to be a “churchman” and leader in my church.

    Then in January 1998…when life had lulled me to sleep…the company I had spent my entire career with was sold and I experienced the sadness of losing a job I really loved. But not to be outdone…in August of that year my wife of 19 years, high school sweetheart and mother of my children died unexpectedly.

    At age 41, middle aged and mid career with kids 14, 12 and 10….I was overwhelmed by grief. And single-parenting. I had never bought them school clothes. Did you know kids clothes don’t come in small, medium and large? And have you ever thought about how many kinds and sizes of construction paper there are now?

    I cried out to God….boy did I cry out. And our family motto was “….we don’t understand this but God does not make a mistake”. I believe that to this day.

    But the Hallmark ending of this story….with God lifting me to new heights and all my kids growing up to be missionaries to Zimbabwe… didn’t happen. Instead, in the midst of my grief and the overwhelming stresses of life I drifted farther and farther away from the One Who Loves Me. And I began to engage in a secret life that I will never detail except to say that the last four verses of Romans Chapter 1 pretty much sums it up. And I was a talented inventor. Yet through all these lost years the voice of the Holy One kept calling me back, pulling me back, whispering to me and pulling me back to spiritual sanity. He was undeterred by my wickedness.

    I cannot tell you how it happened or on what day. But one day I woke up homesick. I just wanted to go home to the Lord and know Him again. I went back to my old library of books which had grown a little dusty and pulled out Andrew Murray’s book Absolute Surrender. Then I came to the part that said:

    “God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell you, they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender. He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you to get a hold of Him entirely. And He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself Yes, blessed be God! He can do it, and He will do it”

    When I read that my heart just about leapt out of my body. And i prayed two things…that the Lord would forgive me of my sins…and that He would bring about my absolute unwavering and unswerving surrender to Him. And although a “seeing” person can see His Grace poured out to me all through this story…from that point on I was deluged with a tsunami of His free and unmerited favor. It is beyond my ability to describe it now. Regardless of my wretchedness and the fact that I was, truly, more deeply flawed than I would ever admit to anyone including myself…He loved me more than I dared to dream. The first time I heard Joe say that I felt sorry for the other thousand people or so who had showed up that day just to hear him talk to me!!

    The visible and tangible things that happened included meeting a wonderful, beautiful and godly woman who had also been widowed. I fell in love with her…and then her four great kids. I’m still working on how I feel about the “step-dog”.

    Cindy and her kids were attending the Jesus Mall (sorry) down in Hudson so since at this point my kids were grown I decided I would give it a try with her. I showed up at C3 (formerly HCC) and almost immediately knew this was where I was to be. I felt the power of The Cross and the breath of the Spirit and wanted to make this my home.

    Bob I’m pleased to tell you that today my personal prayer is Phillipians 1:9,10,11 (although I change it so that I address it to myself):

    “And this is my prayer that (my) love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that (I) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the Glory and Praise of God”.

    Thanks for the encouragement to share.

  • stan f

    Bob, Joe, thanks for writing this book! I am ordering mine today and am anxious to read it. My “story” is not blog-worthy but I can tell you this….I stand amazed at the relentlessness of God’s grace to me…no matter how many times I turned away, walked away or ran away from HIM….His pursuit of me through Grace has never abated.

    • Bob

      Thanks, Stan. But from what I’ve heard about you, your story IS blog-worthy. Come to think of it, who’s story is not blog-worthy if it has the glorious Person of Christ in it? So if you feel inclined to tell us, we’re listening!

  • Greg Bryan

    As I reflect on my life I feel like the athlete who once said “I was born on third base, but I didn’t hit a triple.”

    I grew up going to church with my family but I was not a Christian. We stopped going to church when my parents’ marriage started to unravel. When I was about 9 years old, I can remember sitting on the front porch with my Mom, the dinner inside on the table getting cold, as we waited and waited for my Dad to come home from work. He never came home that night. My Dad moved out of the house into an apartment and when I was a teenager, and my parents divorced when I was a freshman in High School. When they divorced, I became bitter towards God and doubted His existence altogether. The divorce really shook me up. I wondered how a loving God allow so much pain in our family. My bitterness turned into anger which came out with my relationship with my older brother. One time my brother made me so mad I grabbed a wood baseball bat and chased him into his room. With his door shut I beat the door until it was severely cracked and my sister threatened to call the police on me. I also struggled with a low self esteem. At school, I was picked on sometimes because I was the skinny kid. I spent most of my time listening to music and hanging out with my friends causing mischief like hitting golf balls at cars (what was I thinking?.) BOTTOM LINE: I knew there was a void in my life that needed to be filled, but nothing I did seemed to fill the hole in my heart.

    Around this time, my brother became a Christian and I watched his life change. At first, I thought religion changed my brother’s life but as time went on, I realized he had a personal relationship with God through Christ. One time, my brother and I were playing ping-pong. During the game, he tried to explain to me how I needed Jesus in my life. I got so mad; I threw my ping pong paddle across the table at him (I missed) and ran upstairs. About this same time, one of my best friends, who was also a Christian, invited me to go to Young Life meetings at his house. I went because it was a popular thing to do and a great place to meet girls. By watching my brother’s faith and attending these Young Life meetings I learned that God loved me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for my sins. I learned that God wanted to have a personal relationship with me. In June of 1983 at a Young Life camp in Colorado it all came together for me. Late one night I sat under the stars, confessed my sins and invited Christ into my life. Finally, I realized that only God could fill the void in my heart. He filled the void in my heart that night.

    Trusting Christ was by far the most important decision I’ve ever made. I remember riding back home on the bus from Colorado listening to my favorite group at the time: U2. All my favorite songs took on new meaning to me because of the change God did in my heart. I didn’t want to fight with my brother any more. Instead of the bitterness I felt due to my parents failed marriage, God replaced it with His peace and love. My self esteem changed, knowing that God loved me for who I am, gave me a new confidence that I didn’t have before. One of my greatest fears before I was a Christian was public speaking. With Christ in my life, God has helped me overcome that fear and now, I speak in regularly in churches and a variety of group settings and enjoy it.

    The year after I trusted Christ, I returned to the same camp and got to see God change my friends lives. That led me down a path of devoting my life to helping others to know Christ and make Him known. Because of God’s grace flowing in and through me, I am blessed indeed! I feel like I’ve hit a grand slam home run without even swinging the bat.

    By His grace and for His glory,
    Greg Bryan
    http://www.gospeldriven.org

    • Bob

      Thanks for sharing, Greg. For those who don’t know, Greg is the Director of the Navigator ministry on the campus of Kent State University. He is a good friend and he regularly beats me at Frisbee golf. But not by much.

  • Bob

    Thanks, Marylyn, for sharing your story here. I know you are an inspiration to many. Your life is a testament to grace. Maybe you should write a book!

    • Marylyn

      I have been trying to write a book but have gotten stuck many times. I will be taking a class for inspirational writing next week in hopes it will spur me to finish the task.

      • Bob

        Here’s my formula for writing stories about my experiences:

        What happened?
        How did I feel?
        What did I learn?

      • http://wendell-ferrell.blogspot.com/ Wlferrell

        I have thought about writing a book many times but didn’t know how. Then one day I read on the internet that someone wrote that they wrote a book by blogging. My book is at:  http://wendell-ferrell.blogspot.com. Where I REVEAL A LOT OF AMAZING SECRETS that anyone can freely share. I don’t claim to be a good writer-I just reveal secrets that have been suppressed that people need to know!

  • Marylyn

    It’s been ten years since I first step foot in the door of then HCC. I only knew two people, my brother and his wife, and I only just barely knew them. Walking into the atrium for the very first time I felt at home. I had only been to church a dozen or so times since I was 19. Before that I was in the Catholic Church. My brother had invited me to his ABF. I went in and was immediately surrounded by my new family. The very people who had been praying for me for 10 years. I never knew that they were praying for me but I knew something was stirring in my soul.

    I married at 19, divorced at 21 and when I was 23 decided to leave my indiscretions behind and move west, start a whole new life. I bought into the whole pot smoking, psychedelic, free love hippie culture. It had to be grace that kept me from getting a serious disease. I had a child with my live in boyfriend. When that situation wasn’t working for me anymore I decided it was time to go home. It took another 30 years and four more children before I made it.

    God’s grace permeataed those 30 lost years. I got involved in a polygamous marriage. We became a sort of nomadic tribe. Traveling in various vehicles in the west and southwest and eventually from coast to coast. Carrying all our possesions and children with us where ever we went. My children were all born at home, no doctor or midwife. Oh, the grace of God for safety through labor and birth.
    I could tell you so many stories that grace has flowed through my life and is still getting into every crack of my being.

    A year ago I started signing all my mail and e-mails with: “In His grace alone”. God’s grace is so much greater that all our sin.

    • Anthony Iannetta

      Mar – God is soooooooo good!!! I am so excited of what He is doing in you. I love you Sis!!!

      • Todd Iannetta

        Aunt Marylyn, thanks for sharing your story! I have a tremendous amount of respect for and only believe in the love and grace of God more so because of your story.
        Todd

      • Marylyn

        Tony, you must know that your faithfulness in prayer and support for me was crucial to my deliverance. Thanks for prompting the prayers from the body of Christ. Love you.

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