1. Even when I was an enemy to God, a child of wrath who was dead in sin, God opened the eyes of my heart and freely forgave my sins by faith alone. I remember explaining Ephesians 2:8-9 away, but God used Romans 4:4-5 to conquer my heart. It is stark, unmitigated, notorious grace. The kind that makes people uncomfortable and seems too good to be true. And the kind that changed my life. I was told to stop working as though godliness was a prerequisite for justification and start trusting the God who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works. He counted me righteous even though I wasn’t, “transferred [me] to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13-14), adopted me and treated me like a son (John 1:12-13; Galatians 4:5), and gave me a security and a future in Christ (John 5:24; Romans 5:10-11; Romans 6:5).
2. Even when I find myself having fallen again into sin, God gives me an absolution and reassurance by helping me revisit some rock-solid truths. I am forever his, my future is in Christ. I was counted with the righteousness of Christ at conversion and was counted as righteous then as I ever will be. My identity is in Christ. He is my righteousness. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'” (1 Corinthians 1:30). My life is hidden with him. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). He “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Satan wants me to sink into sin to avoid taking recourse in the gospel, but the apostle John reminds me, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When my Father in heaven adopted me it was permanent. Sometimes I wander away from my home. But the door is always unlocked. He is always welcoming me back to restored fellowship with him. I once was a slave owned by my slavemaster, Satan, but I was bought at a high price by the Father—the blood of his son. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:8).
3. God has rendered certain the fulfillment of works by me which will bear witness to his work done in me. The Spirit of God will forever dwell in me and work in me “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). His help and enabling and strengthening are simply for the asking. I do not have to merit him or prove myself worthy of him. He is there forever with me. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27) I can work hard at being holy and giving honor and glory to God in my body and life because I am forgiven, because the Spirit is with me and in me, and because I forever belong to Christ. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12).
4. I love working with Bill McKeever and Sharon Lindbloom. Bill is a wise man who knows Mormonism well, loves the truth, and who presses on in the ministry. He is also a good friend. I never would have imagined two years ago that I would have the privilege of working with him. He is the best at what he does, and has in his ministry focused on substance and avoided vain sensationalism. Sharon is a dogged writer, always faithful to keep up the blog and keep up with current events. She’s an intelligent author and I think she should think about writing a book. I deeply appreciate these two people and their patience with me even when I keep missing deadlines.
5. All the bulldog countercult ministries and individuals who press on in their efforts to bring public clarity to the truth and privately reach the lost one person at a time. MRM is a drop in the bucket when one considers all that God is doing in larger Christendom to counter parasitic, counterfeit Christianity, and engage individuals on a personal basis with hard, negative truths about deceit and beautiful, simple truths about the gospel of grace. I thank God for groups like Concerned Christians, Institute for Religious Research, Watchman Fellowship, and Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. I also thank God for individuals like Mark Champneys, Rob Sivulka, Chip Thompson, Rocky and Helen Hulse, and Russ East. There are so many more I could mention!
6. The internet and all the amazing ministry opportunities it provides. So many people are living lonely lives, either isolated as individuals or isolated as members of a highly closed community. It’s hard to penetrate the many communal and psychological walls around Mormonism. Thank God for the many avenues the internet gives us so that we can interact with Mormons and expose them to resources they otherwise would be embarrassed to receive into their hands on the streets of Salt Lake City in front of their friends or family. I thank God for blogs, content management systems, video sharing sites, learning platforms, voice-chat, text-messaging, and social networking web sites. I’m glad God has sculpted my life and given me life-experiences that wired me for web ministry.
7. God’s word. I love knowing I can hear the voice of a living God just by opening the Bible. I love that it decides manners of faith and practice more authoritatively and clearly than fickle feelings and PR-oriented “prophets”. I love the word of God for being faithful, always proven right and true, even through the most intimidating challenges. With David in Psalm 19 I say,
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
8. My Mormon neighbors in Utah. I thank God for you, my friends, for keeping a beautiful state safe and pleasant. Thank you for your neighborly kindness, for having been good coworkers, and for the pumpkin pie. Thank you for your friendship and conservative values and family-valuing culture. I pray that we can someday become more than just neighbors and friends in humanity, but friends and brothers in Christ. I want to sing to and worship and serve the same God together. Until then, know that I pray for you and thank God for the opportunity to peacefully live amongst you.
9. God is both infinitely big and intimately personal. I don’t have to be afraid that someday I’ll run out of something new to learn and enjoy about God. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:34-35) God says of himself, “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24). When God is asked for his name, he says, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.'” Millions in heaven sing, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Revelation 15:4). May we say with Paul, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17). Amazingly this all-powerful and all-knowing and all-sovereign God is intimately personal and close and indwelling.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)
He is known by and knows his people, and he seeks to have a personal relationship with anyone who would come to him with a thirst for living water. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). May we say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25).
10. My wife. She is my friend, lover, companion, helpmate, coworker, mother of our child, and a sister in Christ. She spiritually challenges me, overwhelms me with her beauty, supports me in my work, keeps a wonderful home, and is thoughtful about family traditions. I love her more every day, and I thank God that neither of us have to make the spiritual varsity team to spend eternity together with all our brothers and sisters in Christ!