My Spiritual Birthday – July 11, 1977

Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977
Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977

July is the birthday of America. July is also my spiritual birthday.

What’s that? You don’t know about spiritual birthdays? My physical birthday is the day I was born. It was November 25, 1953 at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. My spiritual birthday is when I was “born again”. It is when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It is when I was “saved”. It was July 11, 1977 at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington.

Did you know being good doesn’t get you to heaven. Being “saved” does. Here’s my story of “being saved”.

On July 11, 1977, my life changed. If you look up that date in history, you will find nothing historically significant happened on that Sunday. It was a noteworthy day to me. That day was the watershed event in my life.

July 1977 found me on active duty as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. I was serving as Battalion Maintenance Officer, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Life was good. I had a beautiful, intelligent wife. I had a new son born in January that same year. I had just gotten a commendable rating during an annual general inspection in maintenance. It was the first commendable rating since the division had returned from Vietnam. Named an Outstanding Junior Officer of the Ninth Infantry Division because of the commendable rating, I received an offer of a regular army commission. My career was going great.

I always tried being the best I could be, and doing what was right. I was a detail-oriented perfectionist, high-achieving, and a workaholic. I excelled at most things I did. However, after all of this, I still had an empty, unsatisfied, void, and alone feeling. Beginning in my college years I tried drinking adult beverages, women, materialism, partying, and hanging-out with the right crowd to fill this unexplained need I had. I knew something was missing from my life.

I was also attending church. At my church I noticed a group of men my age that seemed to have what I was missing. I attended a Bible study with them. Here I found that God has given us an important manual for life — the Bible. He has the answers to the problems and emptiness we may face. I found out I was here for a purpose, and not by accident. I learned Jesus loves me, and desires to have a personal relationship with me. However, sin separated me from Him.

I realized I had a sin problem.

The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 But no one is perfect! Not even a perfectionist. We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by simply living a good life. Why?

I learned there was a penalty to be paid for my sin.

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

I learned God gives us a promise.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

I learned that God made provision for me.

The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10

I prayed to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

I prayed, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life in Heaven with You. I willingly repent of my sins and ask you to come into my heart and life. Take control of my words, thoughts, and actions. I place all of my trust in You for my salvation. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and this free gift of eternal life. Amen.”

What came next?

Since then my life has not been perfect. It’s been far from it. I have messed up from time to time, sometimes failing miserably in my decisions and choices. However, I have had direction and purpose in my life. I know where I am headed. I have the Bible to give me the principles for daily living. I am never alone. I have had real peace for the last 37 years.

How about you?

Have you ever been “saved”? You can do like I did. Romans 10:9-10, 13 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Can an intelligent person or intellectual/scholar believe in God?  Can an Intelligent Person Believe in Christianity?

The Real Question — The answer to the above question(s) is, “Yes, of course! We cannot deny that many intelligent people do believe in God and Christianity.” So a better question may be, “How can an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” or “Why would an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” Click HERE for more the answer.

About the photo: It was taken in February 1977 in my military quarters at Fort Lewis, Washington. In the photo in Miss Benita, my bride. We have been married since 1974. Also in the picture is our first child, Kristopher. Yes, I look tired. I had just returned home from a fourteen day training exercise. I had not had sleep in over 72 hours at the time the picture was taken. I was very tired. The picture was taken by my late father-in-law William Clarence Breeding, Sr. He and my mother-in-law had came to Washington State to help Miss Benita with our new son Kris.

Yes

Five Principles for Christian Writers

Ephesians 4

Five Principles for Christian Writers: Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6
Focus: Ephesians: 4: 1b – 3

Are you a Christian writer that writes inspirational fiction or devotions to encourage Believers in Jesus Christ? Maybe you are a writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes and principles for the mainstream market. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five principles that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Principle One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt. It should be about others, not ourselves.

Principle Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, you should be bold but under control. This does not mean to be a wimp. Just as the power of a racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer, we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible. Share how God’s Word is applicable t everyday living.

Principle Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

It is better to have a limited audience and impact lives for Christ than to be a New York Times bestselling author and have no impact or testimony for Christ.

Principle Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Unconditional caring is what we must demonstrate as writers. After all, as a Christian, you are, by grace saved through faith, it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

In Christ, we need to love people from where they are to faith and growth in Christ.

Principle Five: Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Principal five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

Encourage your friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie A. Kepler

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Feel free to share as the Lord leads.

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

Devotional: The Classic Spiritual Disciples

Below are reviews for four books that I read that have had a profound impact on my life. The author, Dr. Richard J. Foster, is a Christian theologian and author in the Quaker tradition. His writings speak to a broad Christian audience. He has been a professor at Friends University and pastor of Evangelical Friends churches.  He earned his undergraduate degree at George Fox University in Oregon and his Doctor of Pastoral Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Fullerton, California. He has written four books dealing with the classic disciples of the Christian faith. Enjoy the reviews and just maybe, you will read one of the books.

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster

The late Dr. Harry Piland who headed up Southern Baptist Sunday School work during the 1980’s and early 1990’s first introduced me to this book. He said only the Bible has had a greater impact on his life. As I respected Harry’s walk with the Lord, I wanted to see what was so great about the book. I found out in the first few chapters. I never thought that reading this book would change my life so deeply. Dr. Richard J. Foster, the preeminent Quaker theologian of this age, helped me to understand every discipline in a simple way and inspired me to put them in practice in my every day life. The book is divided into chapters that explore one of the spiritual disciplines in a deep, insightful, and yet simple way. The disciplines described are: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance and celebration. After reading every discipline you’ll know what it is, learn how to do it and most of all, you’ll want to do it! I have read the book (originally published in 1978) about every two or three years since my first reading in 1981, and every time it motivates me to seek for God’s will in my life and learn how to grow in my spiritual journey. The book is one of the all time classics in Christian literature. If the Lord tarries, this book will be read regularly until His return.

The Challenge of the Disciplined Life by Richard J. Foster

I first read this book in 1986. The Challenge of the Disciplined Life has guided me often from then until now. Its clear ethics will give valuable insight to all who will apply its ageless principles. Foster’s blending of practical reality linked with biblical concepts leaves one thinking in biblical ways that still make sense in a world whose ethics seem to be changing daily. The insights expounded by Foster will continue to make a profound positive impact. It shows the dangers/temptations of money, sex, and power to draw one away from Christ.

Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster

I bought this book in Nashville, Tennessee at the Lifeway Christian Bookstore. Written in the same warm, accessible style as Richard Foster’s best-selling Celebration of Discipline, Freedom of Simplicity articulates a creative, more human style of living and points the way for Christians to make their lives “models of simplicity.” Foster provides a way to review our priorities and to “seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.” He shows us how to live in harmony with the rich complexity of life while stressing the relation of simplicity to prayer, solitude, and all the Christian Disciplines.

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

This wonderful book is a nearly 20 years old. I have read this book twice. I have come back many other times to reread parts of the book. Richard Foster is a Quaker. He is probably the best known Quaker in the world today. He takes us into twenty-one different types of Christian prayer. He divides these twenty-one different types of Christian prayer into three movements of prayer, moving inward, upward and outward, which correspond to seeking transformation, seeking intimacy and seeking ministry. For those of us who love prayer, seek increasing intimacy with the Father or who have found difficulty with prayer in at least some of its forms, this book is a wonderful how to guide and aid. It helps us gain a better understanding of what each type of prayer is about.