I just happened to stumble upon this journal entry on my computer. It was written 3 months before James died.
The story of Robert
Today is Love out Louder Day for Calvary Chapel. It is the day that thousands of volunteers show up at the church at 7:30 a.m. and are sent out into the community to love on Broward County. They go to convalescent centers to jails to the beach. Anywhere people are that need to know about Jesus. I wanted to go and tried everything I could to get into a ministry group but failed. My daughter, Avery had a cheerleading competition at 9:00 a.m. which prevented me from participating in any of the outreaches. For weeks I prayed “God, I want to go out and tell someone of your love but how can I and still have Avery to her competition?” I resolved to try to shine the light at the competition instead. I took her coach a gift bag with an invitation to Christmas Eve service and a gift card to the church restaurant and prayed he would accept. He didn’t even care to open the gift while I was there but I trusted God would work. I left Avery and her dad at a local surf shop to wrap gifts and fundraise for their upcoming missions trip and came home for some lunch that same afternoon. My neighbor stopped by and brought me homemade tomato soup. Grilled cheese and tomato soup sounded good and I sat down to eat. As I prayed over my food, I was reminded of all the people loving on Broward County and was still a little sad I never got to tell someone that Jesus loves them when my phone rang. It was an out of state number. I answered and found out it was a wrong number. He was very apologetic and said “that’s weird, my phone just called this number and I don’t know why, I was trying to call a friend, I am sorry”. I told him it was ok and hung up. That’s when I realized I had missed the opportunity! That was the person I was to tell of God’s love! I quickly repented and asked God for a second chance. I text the number and said “wait, you didn’t call me by accident, God has a message for you”. Of and on we texted for about an hour. I asked him if he knew Jesus and if he died today would he go to heaven. He was receptive at first then started getting freaked out. He thought I was some radical Jesus freak. Truth be told, I am! He said he knew Jesus but was not going to heaven. That’s when I knew for sure this was the person I prayed for. This man needed truth! I told him to go to biblegateway.com and look up the Romans 3:22-24 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” It was truth telling time. He responded by asking if he could call me and then never did. The enemy won again, but not for long. I awoke the next morning praying for him. I had a early run planned with a friend so before I headed out I prayed and texted him to go on calvaryftl.org at 8:00 a.m. and click on live service. “God has a message for you”, I told him. Never heard back. I decided that week to just pray and I knew God was working in this man’s life. This was not just a coincidence. God truly did have a message for him and He was going to get it to him one way or another. As the weeks past I periodically would think of Robert and pray for him, wondering how God was trying to speak to him. I promised God that if he gave me a verse for him I would text it to him. It was on December 27, as I sat in church God gave me the verse to send to Robert, 1 Corinthians 2:9 … \”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him\”. He thanked me for the verse but I sensed some sarcasm in the tiny text. I asked him if he loved God and he said yes. I told him to go to Romans 10:9 That 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. He looked it up and texted it back to me. I began to take him through the verse first asking, “Robert, do you say Jesus is Lord”? He would replied “Yes, Tina, Yes!”. Then I asked him “do you believe that God sent his son Jesus to die for you so that your sins would be forgiven and you would have eternal life?” He texted back “OMG Tina, YES, YES!”. At this point, I still sensed sarcasm but continued in faith. Then, I said, “you are going to heaven, so the next time some random girl eating a grilled cheese asks you if you love Jesus and when you die are you going to heaven you can say YES to both”. Then came the heart break text. He replied “I only said those things to placate you Tina, but bless your little ole heart”. He was jacking me around! I was so angry. What a jerk, I thought. After the initial let down, I realized I was just as big of a jerk when others tried to tell me about God. I remembered all of those times I would blow people off when they would “push their Bible on me”. I repented and prayed. Still believing God would do the work and didn’t need me. That night as I prayed for Robert, I promised God I would not give up. I read, 1 Peter 4:14 “if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” and 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” earlier that week and knew that God was encouraging me to continue in the work He started in me. I resolved then to text him every morning with just a verse. It was God’s Word he needed, not my commentary. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”, Romans 10:17. So I added him to my Bible verse text list. I have three of my former students on that list and I added him the next morning. On 12/29 I texted them all 1 John 1:5-10 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives”. He replied soon after with “Good morning, are you a reborn evangelical?” And I replied, “yes, are you being a jerk again?” No response. The next day (12/30) I texted my list including him, John 13:10 A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.\” This was the verse that stood out to me in my reading and I questioned God. I asked him why should I send this to Robert, isn’t it Jesus talking to the believers and Robert doesn’t believe or does he? I sent it in faith, knowing His Word would accomplish what it set out to do. Robert quickly replied that I was scaring him again. I asked why and he said “I thing you are a psycho evangelical…no offense…and that last verse make no sense to me”. Well, that did it! I went off, texting like a maniac. I sent six or eight in a row ignoring his replies. I basically told him he could stereotype me anyway he wanted but the truth is that I am just being obedient to God. I retold him the story of how I prayed and my phone rang. He called and I was doing what God told me to do. I told him how I was saved by crying out to God one day saying “God, I know you exist, but who is this Jesus”. God lead me to Calvary Chapel twelve years ago to hear the truth. I was doing this same for him. Soon after my “text explosion”, my phone rang. I noticed it was a local, 954 number so I answered it. It was him! All this time I thought he was in NY and he lives right here in Hollywood! He began to tell me his story and what a story it was! About 12 years ago, living on the streets, having spent time in prison, he came to the point where he was desperate. He cried out to God to take his life or change it. He describes that night, sitting on a milk crate next to railroad tracks crying until morning. When he awoke the next day, he had a peace, “like a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders” he described. Since then, he went back to school, got his degree and certifications and is now a social worker in Hollywood. He walked with the Lord for about 6 years where God did miracles in his life and then as he described it, God wasn’t doing it anymore. Robert experienced great things from God, radically saved but unable to walk in faith he drifted from God. Now the text he sent me the first day we communicated made sense to me. He said “But I found Jesus and then lost him…I took it for granted, you don’t get it back”. The enemy was successful in pulling this servant way, discouraging him and stealing the plan God had for his life (at least temporarily). Here was God, speaking to him in the only way Robert knew, by a miracle. I knew then that God had his hand on this man and he had no choice but to get back on the path to righteousness. I told him, “Here’s what you are going to do. Will you do what I say, Robert?” He hesitated and I said, “Say yes Robert, just say yes”. He said yes and I told him to write this down. Calvary Chapel, 2401 W Cypress Creek Road, 9:00 tomorrow night. He said, “what is tomorrow night”? I said “New Year’s Eve!” He cried “Oh, my God!” He promised to be there.