My name is Michael Waters. I was born in 1961 in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. My parents, Duane and Karen Waters, attended Riverview United Methodist Church when I was a boy, and it was there, on a Fall morning in 1970, in a Sunday School classroom, that I accepted Jesus as Lord. I became a member of God’s family that day. The Lord has been with me every day since then. Today I live in Keystone Heights, Florida with my wonderful wife Marilyn, to whom I am very grateful for all of her help and support in this cartoon project.
I began drawing cartoons based on Bible verses in the 1990’s. I have always loved drawing cartoons, and one day the idea came to me for a cartoon that would illustrate the relationship between faith and grace. Not long after, an idea for a second cartoon came to me. I noticed that the back page of the weekly bulletin at my church was often blank, so I approached the pastor with the idea of using my cartoons to fill that space, and he agreed to my proposal. After that, ideas for other cartoons started coming to me, and they became a regular feature of the church bulletin. I then thought of sharing the cartoons, which by this time were called Joyful ‘toons (so named by my wife Marilyn), with other churches, but I didn’t know how to do it. I tried contacting other churches through the mail, but that proved to be very difficult. I was only able to tell a few churches about the cartoons. After a while, I became discouraged with drawing the cartoons, and they all went into a box under the bed in our guest room. I didn’t draw any new cartoons for a few years. But then one day in 2006, I happened across the box under the bed, and began reviewing the cartoons. I decided they were too good to be hidden away. In the intervening years, I had been learning to work with computers, so I decided to try designing and publishing a website of my cartoons. The Joyful ‘toons website was launched on January 1, 2007. Since then, I have heard from churches and Christian groups all over the world who are using the cartoons in their newsletters, bulletins, and websites. The cartoons have also been featured on the Rejoice television program on the TCT network.
I first put my faith in Jesus to be my Lord and Savior as a boy in 1970, in a Sunday School classroom. The Sunday School teacher taught us from a series of Bible verses that are known as the “Romans Road”.
- It begins with Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, realizing that you are a sinner and cannot measure up to God’s standard of righteousness on your own.
- Next is Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Here we see the penalty for sin. The death referred to here is spiritual death, being completely separated from the presence of God, and sent into hell. But we also see that God has provided an alternative to this death, eternal life in Jesus.
- Third, Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In this verse we find that Jesus took upon himself the penalty for our sin. He died for us on the cross.
- We move on to Romans 10:13: for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross requires a response from us. Salvation has been made available to us, but we must take hold of it.
- Romans 10: 9-10: 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. We must respond in faith to what Jesus has done for us. We must believe in our hearts, and then we must speak with our mouths.
- The final verse on the Romans Road is not from Romans. It is Revelation 3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. It is Jesus speaking, inviting us to open the door and let Him into our lives. We saw from the previous milestone how to open that door, with faith in our hearts and words in our mouths.
- I would add one more verse, which I think sums up the Romans Road, John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
If you would like to invite Jesus into your life, here is a simple prayer that you can pray:
Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13). I am calling on You. I confess my sins before You this day, and Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive me of all my sins. I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord over my life according to Romans 10:9-10. 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. I do that now. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.
If you prayed this prayer in faith, then you have begun a new life in Jesus. In John 3:3, Jesus referred to it as being born again. And the apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:17 writes: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! There is so much more to this new life that you need to find out about. I strongly recommend that you get a Bible and begin to read it. You should also ask the Lord to show you a local church that you can become a part of.
There are many people I need to thank for helping me with this cartoon ministry. I start with my parents, who were always encouraging and supportive of my cartoons. Thank you to Pastors Danny and Jenny Smart, who were the first to publish my cartoons in their church bulletins. I also want to thank the late Ben Bateman, who drew the brilliant Mankind Toons, for his helpful tips on how to set up a website. I must include Martin Erwin for including my cartoons on his christiancartoons.com website, which gave my own website a much wider audience, and also for providing a way for Christian cartoonists to correspond with each other. Thank you also to Karl Zorowski, who draws the Church Mice comic strip, for his helpful advice. And most of all, thank you to my wife Marilyn, who is such a tremendous help to me. She is the one who gave my cartoons the name Joyful ‘toons. She helps me in many ways. I can always count on her for an honest critique of my cartoons, and she has always been my biggest supporter. And, of course, I am thankful to God, for it is He who is doing the work through me.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
– Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV