Astonishing Grace to the Chief of All Fools - Preface

Preface

Romans 15:17-19 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.  For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,  in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit;

 It was a Sunday morning in early 2001, at Northland Community church in Longwood, FL, where I was about to have a very bizarre experience.  My first wife and I had just opened our franchise of the Lord’s Gym health club in Orlando, FL.  I was so blessed by all that the Lord had done to make this happen.  Both the club and we as the owners, had been received with wonderful enthusiasm by the community. 

We were just finishing up the worship service and the sermon was about to begin when I was tapped on my left shoulder.  I turned my head as far left as possible, still only able to see the lady from my peripheral vision in the dimly lit sanctuary.  She leaned in and said, “The Lord will be magnified and glorified through your obedience.”  Those were the only words she said; I was stunned.  I sat down and went through feelings of wonder, joy, and then even some indignation.  At one point I thought, “Who says something like that to a complete stranger… she doesn’t even know me…why would she say that?”  I was barely able to listen to the sermon because I was so struck by her words.  I couldn’t wait for the service to end so I could inquire of her motive.  When the message ended, I promptly turned around and saw a family sitting in all the seats.  There were no other empty seats and no one had seen the woman I had just described. 

Hebrews 1:14, 13:2  “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

 Three months later on May 22nd 2002, at the age of 28 years old, the entire thing collapsed in a very tragic and public scandal.  The story ran each night on the evening news with me being slandered in front of hundreds of thousands in Central Florida.  The dream was shattered and were left with some half-a-million dollars in business debt.  I was so humiliated and afraid that we wouldn’t go to a grocery store within 5 miles of my home for at least six months.  I had failed terribly in a business with the Lord’s name on it, bringing much disgrace to His name.  Reflecting back on the words of that woman, I remember thinking how in the world will God ever be magnified and glorified through my life now…I’m finished!

 Fifteen years later in 2017, despite years of failure, brokenness, and spiritual ignorance on my part, that woman/angel’s words have indeed come true.  God has redeemed it all and magnified and glorified himself much through my life.  As I write this, without depending on any man for help and without doing anything to promote myself or the ministry, I currently have tens of thousands of subscribers on YouTube and several million video views.  I receive incredible testimonials from around the world to the praise of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Father is using RelentlessHeart.com, the John 7:17 Challenge, and my YouTube Channel to impact people’s lives in transformative ways for Christ all over the world.  The stories coming in are often so amazing that perhaps they one day need their own book, but let me share just a few examples here. 

There are stories like Kim, a 70-year-old man sitting in his RV, so lonely and discouraged about his faith and life that he found himself for the third time sitting with a 357-magnum pointed under his chin.

December 31st, 2016

My name is Kim John Curtis and I’m 70 yrs old. I was listening to one of your videos only because I opened the page by mistake, on YouTube.  I was sitting here in my RV with a 357 mag in my hand and aimed right under my chin. I am not sure what actually happened but the gun went off and fell to the floor. I just sort of sat there wondering why my eyes were still open and I could still hear your video. I couldn't figure out what went wrong, I'm a good shot, and at close range how could I miss?

Kim had been a professing Christian for 17 years.  He had attended three different churches and had been kicked out of all three after questioning what he called the greasy grace teaching.  He continues…

I gave up on God, Jesus, and reading the bible. I went back to my old lifestyle of booze, pot, cussing, but never cursed God.  I didn't chase women but I did pursue porno and masturbation.  I had and still have an intense hatred of those people.  After all they are Gods chosen righteous people, aren't they? I can't say that I hated God or Jesus, I just hated his chosen people. It has taken me about four months to get to where I am now. Even 48 hrs. from Bang! Ooops.. Missed, I still hate them mostly because they have convinced me that I am evil, no good, and unsalvageable.

When I read his email, I knew the Lord was after Kim.  I sent him a few personal recordings to encourage him and answered a few questions he had and then directed him to take the John 7:17 Challenge.  The John 7:17 Challenge is a step-by-step discipleship journey to help people experience God and find Life to the Full.  It is a 90-day hand-held journey through the top 90 actionable teachings of Jesus Christ.  The Challenge is available in a printed workbook, or it may be read and taken all online for free at RelentlessHeart.com or the John 7:17 Playlist on my YouTube channel

 Kim started taking the Challenge and within just a few weeks of him starting, I received this beautiful and glorious email from the very man who had pulled the trigger to end his life just five weeks earlier.  God is to be praised!

February 10th 2017

Hi Mike, I am really grateful for the book. I thank the Lord that he has given you such a terrific insight. Things are improving and I am very sensitive to the Holy Spirit now. It is not an emotional high, it is more like coming up for air after diving deep in the ocean. You know like when you aren't sure you're going to make it to the surface. And then you burst through and gasp for air. Suddenly you know you are going to be OK and you just float there sucking in air and then you relax for a few heartbeats and then you start swimming for shore. This may sound silly but I find myself reading the Psalms and then Later in the day I just close my eyes and make up my own Psalms and it’s like I can feel the heart of David as he prayed, praised and sang his own Psalms. All I know is that I don't want to stop and I know that there is the presence of the Holy Spirit all around me. I feel, I guess the word is INVOLVED. Not the spectator sense you get when just listening to some preacher or even music. This is well almost indescribable. All I know is peace and security and a real appetite for the red letters!!!!!!

As I was editing this part of the book, I sent Kim another email to check on him and ask Him if he was still clinging to the Lord.  I received the following reply, not from Kim, but clearly from the HOLY SPIRIT who is now alive and well inside of Him.  Hallelujah!

 July 22nd 2017

 YES !!!!. Things have changed for me so entirely that I can hardly keep up with them. I'm not getting rich or famous. I'm not getting younger and handsomer. I am getting free of my past and free to explore each day in the wonderment, the strength, and assurance that is in Jesus. I have been freed from the condemnation I have always felt because I knew religion but not JESUS. The Holy Spirit is reshaping my heart, my mind, and even my body. I am stronger and healthier. I have an insatiable hunger for truth that only found in prayer and worship or praise.  A relationship with Jesus is NOT about US. It is about Jesus. Obedience, that is our obedience to His Word, is our true expression of love for Him and gratitude for what He has done for us. "If you love me you will obey me. If you keep my words and obey me, then truly you are MY disciples." 

    How? Feed the poor. Visit and care for the sick, entreat and care for the widows and orphaned. In other words, do what He did. Do His works. It's not "What would Jesus do; but what DID He do? I believe that this is how we demonstrate our LOVE for Jesus. Seek His face instead of His hand. Our blessing is a closer relationship with Him and eventually eternal life. 

    I want to thank you for all the work you have done, and your steadfast obedience to Jesus. Because of your obedience and work, I am walking in faith in what Jesus has done for me. I am on the road to eternal life. I now know Love, true love and I am able to share that love with others. There are so many others out there just like me and you have the ministry and vehicle to reach them. I don't know how many other hurting hearts and souls are out here that will receive your message, but if it is only just one like me, then you must keep going on. I believe in my heart of hearts that a crown awaits its place on your head. Please be welcome to my testimony and use it as you will. I love you in the Lord and I praise God that He brought me to your video on that day. It saved my Life and restored my soul.     YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-SHUAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!  

 Oh, how amazing is our loving heavenly Father!   I wish I could tell you all the stories because they are just so incredible.  There’s the story from the young man in Ireland who was engaged and had two children with his fiancé.  He had gambled away 60,000 pounds which was all the money he needed for his marriage and their life together.  He lost all hope and wrote his suicide note while sitting in his car.  Before he got to the place where he was going to kill himself, he came across my story video “Trusting God in the Storm” and found hope in Christ.  Six months later he sent me the pictures of he and his beautiful bride on their wedding day.  I told him how impossible it was for me to try to imagine him not being in the picture and I just praised God.

 There are local stories of women like Kay an office cleaning lady, or Mary a music teacher, who I’ve had divine “forgiveness” encounters with.  Mary, in her late 50’s, was sitting outside of a Starbucks when I said hello.  Filled with pain and anger from the long-term abuse of a pastor, she was just days away from filing a very public lawsuit.  She had met with the attorney that morning and was convinced this was the right thing to do.  God did a miracle, and in one moment as I led her through the words of Christ on forgiveness, and into a prayer of forgiveness towards the pastor from her heart, she stepped into total freedom.  She came up from the prayer an entirely different person, literally exclaiming, “I’m free Michael…I’m free…I’ve never felt this weightless in my life…I never knew I could get to this place”.  For the next several years Mary was floating each time I ran into her at Starbucks. 

The story of Kay, the commercial cleaning lady is almost identical.  I saw Kay cleaning the office building I was actually living homeless in for four months (more on this story later) and I discerned something was wrong.  She opened up about her two sisters having stolen everything from her mother’s will and leaving her out.  Her heart was filled with hate for them.  Her life was changed in a moment of God’s grace and freedom, as she too agreed to obey the teachings of Christ on forgiveness.  I led her through the prayer while she was shaking like a leaf.  She came up sobbing in tears as a completely different woman, taking the biggest freshest breath of her life and giving me a huge hug.  Two weeks later, she came running in, “Michael, Michael…I helped someone else get free just like you helped me to get free…she was changed in an instant.”  There is power in the kingdom of God to change lives.

 There’s the story of the brother in Mexico who watched my videos and became so convicted by the Holy Spirit that he decided to sell his Tattoo business and give up all for Jesus.  There’s Mansan, the Christian businessman in India who had been struggling in his walk and business with Christ for years, never experiencing the joy and peace of the Lord.  Upon finding my videos and emailing me, He surrendered everything risking it all for the Lord.  One year after his surrender and a journey through the John 7:17 Challenge, he wrote to me about the peace of Christ in his heart and the miracles he had seen in his life and business since and how very thankful he had been for my obedience to Christ.

 There are stories of men and women finally leaving abusive unfaithful spouses who violently opposed their faith in Christ for years, people leaving watered down churches and false teaching who are now experiencing personal revival, people giving up ungodly careers, ungodly relationships, getting free from sins that had enslaved them for years, waiting patiently for God to act in their life, abandoning their will for God’s, starting ministries of their own, incredible stories of forgiveness, and countless believers finally discovering life to the full in Christ.

 God is doing miracle after miracle in the hearts of His chosen children through this tiny little one man ministry, even changing hardened hearts and opening the eyes of the spiritually blind and leading them into the light.  This is an email I received just last night as a timely example.

Name: Margaret Easey

Email Address:  easymargaret@

Subject: One more thing

Message: You might have seen my name written all over your videos in the comments because I hated you and what you had to say. It was so much truth and light at times that I had to call you a deceiver because I didn't want to hear it.  But there was a part of me that did and I kept listening and now I see I need to free fall and let go of all my life by His grace.  I see now it is the only way it can be done. In a small way thank you because this is a big step for me.

Father God is indeed being magnified and glorified through the once chief of all fools, Michael Chriswell.  He has done far too much for me to be able to tell it all, but in this book I want to share the astonishing story and the main events of how it all happened through God’s astonishing grace.  May God bless you as you read!

Psalm 67:7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him. 

Psalm 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalm 66:16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 

Psalm 75:1 We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.