Steve to Earth - Encouraging you the way I like to be encouraged.



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‘Special Entries’ Archive

Christ Esteem

Self esteem. The combination of those two words has always confused me, and my struggle with the concept has extended way beyond word combinations. Some factors beyond my control, mainly a foot problem that placed me in corrective shoes until I was eleven, greatly affected my self-image from an early age.

Despite my best attempts, I never understood how to get esteem from me. Even as I matured, accepted things beyond my control, made peace with things I had perceived incorrectly and returned to normal footwear, I still came up empty-handed when I tried to draw a bucket full of worth and value out of what seemed like the very shallow well of my life. Too often that bucket was brimming with things I wanted to throw back.

Sometimes I didn’t know much, but I knew that I needed Jesus as desperately as anyone alive, and somehow my value … my importance … my complete sense of worth inhabited a refreshing well very much not of me. I could only find my fill of those things in one place … one Friend … one overflowing, cleansing Fountain. I don’t know what I would do without Jesus. I’ve found everything I ever needed and lacked in Him.

My personal experience in this area led me to a different wording … a combination that made sense to my frustrated mind and nurtured my broken heart all at the same time. It just made sense to me to call it Christ esteem because He was … He is … my source of integrity … goodness … permission … and honor. He is my deep wellspring of endless, living water.

At the very same time, a few hundred miles away, one of my best friends was putting the same concept … and different words … together in a way that spoke clearly to him. He called it God confidence.

We only saw each other about once a year, so during one of our visits, as we began to share our journeys and discoveries and new word-combinations, we talked for hours … fascinated by the similarities of our struggles and our conclusions, despite the fact that we were physically separated by large amounts of time and space.

I don’t know how much two country boys know about the esteem of a human heart … or a wounded soul, but I think there’s a lady in Luke 7:36-50 who just might stay up late visiting with us one night if we ever met. I think that Jesus is having very much the same effect on our lives that He had on hers. Hmmmm … I wonder what she would call it.

I’m so thankful that Jesus knows everything about me … and chooses to be friends with me anyway. That’s Christ esteem. I wouldn’t want any other kind.

Note from Steve: Since my youth ministry days, I’ve been sharing my ideas about Christ esteem with family and friends, believing that the concept was unique to me. However, on February 18, 2005, I went to Google and searched for “Christ esteem” hoping the search engine would bring up my web site as a match.

To my surprise, there were over 700 matches. Most of those matches referenced a minister named Don Matzat and a book he published in 1990 through Harvest House Publishers titled “Christ Esteem, Where the Search for Self Esteem Ends,” ISBN: 0890817847. Wow! Just when you think you have a completely unique idea, you find out that over a decade ago, someone else wrote a whole book on it.

I’m not familiar with Mr. Matzat’s work, so I don’t know what he has to say on the subject, but the thoughts and experiences documented above are my own, and I hope they help you to discover the greatest esteem I’ve ever known … the esteem that flows from Jesus.



Imagine the moment your mission here is complete … the instant that your journey through eternity begins … your hope becomes reality … your faith becomes sight. Imagine no high wall and no pearly gates.

Imagine no holy mountain and no holy city. Imagine no throne and no river of living water. Imagine no tree of life and no crystal sea. Imagine no angels … no cherubim … no elders. Imagine no heroes of the faith. Imagine no open books and no streets of gold.

Imagine no robe and no crown. Imagine that Heaven is just you and Jesus … and He looks just like the person you dislike most in this life. Imagine you and Him forever. Imagine not wanting it any other way.

May you love Jesus just that much.


What If?

On extremely rare occasions I have spoken to a Sunday morning audience. On July 25, 2004, in my lesson “Maybe He Loves You,” a series of “What if?” statements seemed to resonate strongly with several of those in attendance. If you’ve ever felt like God merely tolerates you instead of loving you deeply, keep reading.

Excerpt from “Maybe He Loves You” »

I recently received a phone call from my cousin, Reneé. As we talked, I told her that despite my continual failures to master sin in my life, our Father just keeps nurturing … encouraging … and forgiving me. I said, “I don’t know why, but for some reason He just keeps putting up with me.” Her response was wise … gentle … and powerful. She simply said, “Or maybe He loves you.”

“Maybe He loves you.”

After our conversation, I cried. I realized that I was seeing our Father as a traveling companion who merely tolerates me. My mistake was especially crucial because I believe with my whole heart that we treat other people the way we feel treated by our God.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since that conversation, and there are some things I can’t help but wonder.

What if He doesn’t say, “Can he not do anything right? She has been nothing but trouble from day one!”

What if instead He says, “I am so proud of him. He always comes back to Me no matter how far he wanders away. Those trips out in the dark in the storms are long and hard, but I’d rather die trying to save him than leave him out there alone. I am so proud of her. No matter how bad her sin is, she never stops coming to Me for forgiveness and love.”

What if He doesn’t say, “How did this one get past Quality Control?!”?

What if instead He really says, “Wow! I remember the day I first thought of creating him … the day I first thought of creating her. That was a good day! That was a very good day!”?

What if He doesn’t say, “Well, if she doesn’t mess up today, I might write her name back in the Book of Life.”?

What if instead He says, “She sinned yesterday? Hmmmm … I had forgotten. I just remember her telling Me how important I am to her.”?

What if He doesn’t say, “When he gets baptized, then I’ll love him.”?

What if instead He says, “I’m giving him the very best of my love so that one day he will believe in Me and want to be with Me as much as I want to be with him. My kindness is perfectly designed to bring him to repentance.”?

What if going out after lost sheep where we live makes His day?

What if He anticipates sunrise in our neighborhoods?

What if He delights in cleaning us up … healing our wounds … wiping away our tears … the way a parent delights in comforting a dirty … injured … frightened child?

What if He doesn’t view our sin as an inconvenience, but rather as an opportunity for the world to see Him at His very best?

What if His power really is perfected when we are weak?

John tells a story in the first eleven verses of Chapter 8, and it’s not a story about a God who simply tolerates people who are victims of Satan’s lies. It’s a story about a God who loves the unlovable. We have been called to live like Him … to love those who have suffered through mere tolerance their whole lives … to extend grace to those who do not deserve grace.

I know that is difficult. Trying to live like Jesus is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I am currently re-learning who Christ is and what it means to live in relationship with Him. I am just now learning to accept Him exactly as He is … to accept myself exactly the way He made me … to accept His love that I feel so unworthy of … and to share that love with the people in my world. I’m learning to tolerate less and love more. What a great way to live!


Why I Choose Jesus

Forgiveness and friendship.

It’s just that simple. To be forgiven by Him and to have a close friendship with Him are my two greatest needs.

The world is filled with great religions and great prophets, but only one prophet and only one faith offer forgiveness for my sins. That prophet is Jesus … that faith is Christianity.

On my best days, I’m a sinful man. I can’t imagine having to carry the weight of that sin around with me every day, but thanks to Jesus, I don’t have to! He overcame my sin before I ever had a chance to commit it. He overcame death long before I breathed my first breath. He offered me a gift I couldn’t refuse.

I was baptized for the forgiveness of my sins and to receive the gift of His Holy Spirit. His grace reaches even me, and I’m blown away by that fact over and over again.

I have many wonderful human friends who bless my life in incredible ways, but I need something more. I need an unshakable friendship … an intimate relationship … with the Perfect Friend … with the God who knows how to successfully navigate the highs and the lows of this crazy life with grace … dignity … and honor, and I’ve found Him. I’ve never met anyone like Jesus.

I begin each day with two goals … to honor Him with every decision I make and to treat everyone I come in contact with the same way that He treats me.

If others approve of me along the way, that’s a nice bonus. If others disapprove of me, I consider the source and make adjustments if the disapproval is justified. But the power to affect how I feel about myself is reserved for the only person who ever lived a sinless life and then offered Himself as a sacrifice on a cross so that I could be forgiven … Jesus. As long as He is pleased with me, that’s all that matters. He’s simply the Best Friend I have.

He loves me. He forgives me. He knows me inside out, and He chooses to be friends with me anyway … despite me. That’s why I choose Jesus.


Mission Statement

I learned the value of mission statements in 1997. Now that my values and goals are written down and easily accessible, I find it easier to make wise decisions about how to conduct myself in life. Even my unwise decisions are easier to correct when I read my own mission statement because I am reminded of what is truly important to me in this life and in the life to come. If you choose to write one, just be honest about who you are and who you want to be.

Steve’s Mission Statement written in 1997 »

“I am Steve … perfectly created by the Holy, Living God. He is my Father, and I am His son. He speaks to me through His Word, and I speak to Him through prayer. I am a sinner, washed clean through baptism by the blood of Jesus Christ and filled with His Holy Spirit. My relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life, and my purpose, my esteem, my value, my sense of worth and my inspiration come solely from Him.

I live in a way that honors my Creator. I humbly accept my successes and gracefully accept responsibility for my failures. I compare myself to no one. I am a good steward of the spiritual, mental, social, emotional and physical blessings that flow to me from my Father, and I live each day of my life as a gift to Him. I approve and champion behavior that honors Jesus, yet I treat all men with dignity and respect.

I am content with the simple things in life, and I have my hope set on eternal life with my Lord. I am sincerely thankful. I pray fervently. I smile joyfully. I laugh heartily. I sing with my whole heart. I listen intently. I learn enthusiastically. I grow continually. I love God. I love others. I love myself.

I pursue qualities that are befitting of a respectful son, a loving husband, a nurturing father and a faithful friend. I am Steve, and through me, Jesus impacts the world to His glory. This is who I am. This is who I am becoming. This is who I want to be. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for leading the way!”


True Worship

There is a place … a sweet spot … a point of perfect balance … far from the extremes of legalism and reckless abandon … where spirit and truth find their perfect complements in each other … a marriage … a holy union … where the two become one … thrive … and create an expression of devotion and allegiance in worship … that is so harmonious … so beautiful … so Christ-like … that our Father seeks those who populate that holy place.

May you find that place.

May He find you there.

John 4:23


Pages for the Ages

Though I do it occasionally, it’s rare for me to read a book straight through. My favorite books have short 2-3 page chapters that don’t have to be read consecutively to be understood. My shelves are crowded with partially-finished volumes on subjects that include gardening, graphic design, computer coding, faith and the arts, so when the following suggestion arrived in my inbox, I was unsure if I had anything constructive to offer. I’ll let you decide.

The Suggestion

One thing I would love to see on your site is a list of your favorite books – the ones that have clarified your purpose and strengthened your relationship with God.

My Reply

As far as books go, you might be surprised at my answer. My reading and study habits are a little weird. I rarely ever read a book straight through. In fact, I rarely ever complete a book. I think I’m allergic to books that have long chapters and no pictures. I also glean from a very broad spectrum … from self-help to the arts. It all flows together for me. I’ve always learned from everyone … no matter who they are. That philosophy has improved my listening skills, broadened my horizons and helped me to be a much better writer.

If you just really want to get to know Jesus … I recommend John (friendship), Mark (power), Luke (healing) and Matthew (I’m still working on this one) … probably in that order … read very slowly … out loud. Oh, and read between the lines. Notice not only how He treats people, but also how He doesn’t treat people. Pay attention not only to what He says, but also to what He doesn’t say.

Thirst with Him by the Samaritan well. Believe that if you just reach out and touch the hem of His garment, you will be healed. Reach out and touch the hem of His garment … and feel the power that leaves Him and flows into you. Weep with Him in the garden. Leap for joy as He walks away from the empty tomb. Be a participant in the story … not just a casual observer.

Then read Psalms … slowly … out loud. Sing those songs.

Then study the prayers of the prophets and kings in I & II Samuel, I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles. Pray those prayers. Pray them again.

I could go on.

That’s the good stuff. All other books are written by people just like you and me. Learn from them, but develop a relationship with Jesus that is unique to you and Him. He didn’t go to all the trouble to make you unique so that you could be like everybody else. He loves you just the way you are!

I loved what you said about your reaction when you realized that you believed in God, but you didn’t yet believe some of His promises. You have a good heart … a soft heart … moldable in the Potter’s hands.

One night when I was studying with Brady, I told him that it really hurts when you read a parable and realize that you’re the bad guy. He said that what’s really sad is when you read a parable, and you don’t realize that you’re the bad guy. Realizing it … learning from it … letting His teachings change you … is what being a disciple is all about. That’s what His closest friends did when He was on earth with them. That’s what you’re doing. It sounds like you’re becoming one of His closest friends.


It Takes a Village

“It takes a village to build a web site.” Thank you, Vince, for that inspiring statement. Steve to Earth is a much better place thanks to the wise counsel of many good friends.

It has also taken a village to build my life. The list below provides just a glimpse into the priceless contributions made by some incredible people who bring out a better Steve in me than I ever dreamed possible. You feed my inner hero. Thank you …

Blu …

for believing in me more than I believe in myself … for envisioning a web site in my future and for encouraging me every step of the way from its inception to its reality. Your friendship makes me a better man.

Julia …

for writing the book The Right to Write which taught me how to give myself permission to pursue the things I’m passionate about, and for the knowledge (from page 97) that when I commit my thoughts to paper, I send a strong and clear message that what I am writing about and whom I am writing to matters.

David …

for sharing your heart through music and writing … for writing about love every day for a year on your web site … for encouraging me to bless others with my words. I’ll never write the same again.

Luke …

for your wonderful combination of faith, friendship and fun … for letting your inbox serve as a classroom for me to experiment in and learn new ways to communicate Christ’s love … for encouraging everything creative in me … for letting Jesus work through you to shape a ministry in me that I’ve been seeking for years. Without you, Steve to Earth would still just be a dream.

Brady & Donna …

for challenging me in my relationship with Jesus and expecting the same from me in return … those two qualities form the incredible foundation of true friendship … for feeding my heart … for energy from ideas … for looking at me through the eyes of Jesus and for nurturing my tender soul.

Steve to Earth Site Testers …

for your patience with my clumsy design attempts … for your honest, loving feedback … and for helping me view this site through the eyes of the user. Your contributions have made Steve to Earth a richer, warmer and more comfortable place to visit than I could ever have imagined.

to be continued …



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