Tag: heaven

Joanie

Thought I’d write a little about my sister in law, my brother’s wife.

Joanie Grace.

She is quite a gal. I say “is” because, though her body isn’t around anymore, Joanie is very much alive.

In Heaven.

And we who are still living on this earth miss her a lot; those of us who really knew her, that is.

Here’s what I remember about her…

She didn’t care for her given name, Joan, but always wanted to be called “Joanie”. I never asked her why, just figured it was her prerogative. It did have a more friendly “let’s get to know one another better” ring to it.

She did well picking out my brother for a husband (and me as a brother in law). Too bad she didn’t know how to pick a football team. She would actually make fun of my team! Her team? The Vikings. Mine? The Bears.

Really.

But at least she could joke about it. In fact, she really enjoyed teasing people she loved. I bet Jim got teased a lot!

She loved all 5 of her children, even though two of them were “steps”. That didn’t matter to her as she figured “step” meant she was to take the necessary steps to make certain all the kids were loved and included in her family. Also loved were her kids’ spouses and all the grandkids.

Joanie had a great capacity to love.

She knew how to make people laugh, especially my wife. They would swap stories, texts, messages, phone calls…always encouraging each other through difficult and trying times.

By the way, because life is rough at times, we could all use a Joanie in our lives.

She was big on establishing boundaries, keeping offenders at a safe distance. But she didn’t give up on people. However, she could slam the door on people who acted inappropriately.

Joanie had a hunger for spiritual things, a hunger to know God better. She enjoyed bible studies with Karen and Jessi, and from time to time would toss me a question requiring me to dig a bit for an answer. I was definitely okay with that.

I had the privilege of baptizing her and Jessi about 18 months ago. We, along with many others, witnessed her profession of faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

That is one of the best memories of all.

In fact, because of her decision to believe and obey the scriptures, I know I will see her again. You see, like Joanie and multitudes of others, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior some 42 years ago.

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:10 ESV)

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV)

If you miss her and want to make sure you’ll see her again, there’s something you need to do. Follow her steps to the Savior. Acknowledge your sin, your need for a Savior. Confess Jesus as your new, one and only Lord of your life, and ask Him for His grace to help you grow spiritually in Him.

Heaven is a package deal when Jesus is the Lord of your life.

I wrote this little poem as sort of a tribute to Joanie.

There once was a gal named Joanie, Who married her man for his money, At least that was said, Through the lies that were spread, But the truth was, her man was her honey.

Yes, Joanie and Jim were an item, And their love just continued to heighten, With her kids and his, And five cute grandkids, Their family was beginning to widen.

Then a nasty disease came along, Still the couple tried to be strong, So the battle ensued, But the cancer still grew, And in a couple of months she was gone.

But this isn’t the end of her story, Though her body became cancer’s quarry, With faith in her Lord, She’s alive evermore, Joanie Grace is living in Glory!

Now her Savior calls to you, Decide in your heart what you’ll do, A choice you must make, Before it’s too late, Receive Jesus as your Savior, too.

How do you say goodbye?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 3:2 ESV)

Ever since the fall of Adam, mankind has had to face the mystery and heartache of physical death. A loved one, a coworker, an acquaintance, a neighbor; we all know of someone who’s crossed over to the other side.

On December 12th, a dear friend left this old terra firma and was ushered into our Savior’s waiting arms. Actually, she was more than a dear friend; she was family. My brother’s wife, to be exact.

And man, it stinks!

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m glad she’s in heaven. I’m very glad she received Jesus as her Lord and had a hunger for God’s word. Now she’s right at home for all eternity, and has come face to face with the Living Word, Jesus.

But it still stinks!

It stinks for my brother (her husband), her children, grandchildren, family and friends.

I’m glad we had some time to tell her goodbye. Not much time, but some.

Though it’s not always easy to remember all the things you wish to say to somehone who has entered into the transition stage between physical death and the next life. I think it’s because at the time we’re so wrapped up in their pain and our own grief.

The physical loss of a loved one hurts. Plain and simple.

So I’ve been thinking…what’s the best way to say goodbye to someone who’s standing on eternity’s doorstep? If I had a list to remind me, maybe it would be a tiny bit easier to say what should be said.

Of course, we should reaffirm our love (if we, in fact, love them). They need to hear it from our own lips. Words of love do more than console; they are actual carriers of life, commitment, hope, and healing to their spirit.

Another way we can say goodbye to our loved one is to remind them of the beauty of heaven and the King. Read passages of scripture that describe the reality of their eternal home. Speak of the grace of God which made eternal life possible.

Here’s another thought we can so easily fail to grasp. The BEST way to say goodbye to someone (and I’m referring to someone who has received Jesus as the Lord of their life) is to say it KNOWING it’s only a short goodbye. Knowing that some day you’ll be saying “hello” once again.

Of course, it takes a certain amount of assurance for someone to speak in such a manner. But assurance isn’t hard to find, if one knows where to look.

“I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NLT)

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

God’s love is unconditional; there’s never been a person on this planet He hasn’t loved.

Yet His Heaven does have conditions, or qualifications, to meet if one is to enjoy eternity with Him and His.

Are the conditions hard to meet? Yes; in fact they’re impossible if we rely on our own strength, wisdom, goodness, or good works.

Can a person be so terribly rotten they’ll never meet the conditions? No, unless pride is their rottenness.

Heaven is for the pure. It’s for the righteous, the holy, the ones whose hearts have become new through faith in Christ.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:11 ESV)

So if you find yourself where I did the other day, and you don’t know how to say goodbye, think about these things.  If you aren’t sure about where the departing loved one is going, ask them. Share with them about the wonders of heaven and eternity with Christ.

If you don’t have an assurance in your own life about your place in eternity, now’s the time to take care of that matter. Don’t go another day without being connected to the family of God.

You, your loved ones, and, of course, God, will be glad you did.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 – 1:13 ESV)

Camping is nice, but it’s not like home.

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Camping is nice, but it’s never like home.

Growing up, I didn’t go camping much, maybe once or twice. Oh sure, us kids played tent in the dining room a few times; draping an old sheet over the table.

I camped a couple of nights in Rocky Mountain National Park, up around Manitou Lake, when I was a teenager. From our tent we had a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak’s north slope.

Camping is nice, but compared with a place called home, there’s no way it can measure up.

You see, camping is at most temporal. No matter great the tent is, it isn’t designed to last forever. The material eventually wears out, begins to leak, and must be discarded.

When that happens, the resident must move out.

And go home.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 ESV)

The Apostle Paul referred to our human body as a tent. Just an outward shell, a temporary house. Not the forever one everyone gets someday.

Man is a three part being; spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit and soul are the eternal parts, while the body is the temporal.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 – 5:24 ESV)

God’s plan, as demonstrated through His Son Jesus’ death and resurrection, is for you and I to make the most of our “camping experience”, by learning to hear His voice, trusting Him explicitly, and obeying Him unreservedly.

In other words, allowing Jesus His rightful place as Lord of our life.

That way, when the tent finally “gives up the ghost”, and mortality yields to immortality, our final home will be Heaven.
However, without Jesus’ Lordship and righteousness, the best a person can hope for is to keep patching the tent for as long as possible.

But may I remind you, your tent will not last as long as you (spirit and soul) will.

When you finally leave the tent, there will be a momentary visit to Heaven, but it won’t be home.

It will be an appearance before the Judge of the Universe,

Jesus.

So, let’s review a few certainties:

1. Your tent won’t last forever, but you will.

2. You will have a face to face encounter with Jesus; on His terms, not yours.

3. You will go to Heaven sometime after you die; for a brief visit, or as a permanent resident.

4. As only a visitor, you will be judged for your sin, with the penalty being eternity in hell.

5. As a resident, you’ve already been judged for sin, but the Blood of the Judge was shed in your place. Faith in Him has brought a not guilty verdict from the Judge.

Therefore, how’s your tent? Are you ready to move in to your permanent home? Do you know where it will be?

I hope so.

If not, let’s talk about it.

Scared Out Of Hell

 
I remember the time, way back in 1975, that my soul cried out to God. A God I didn’t know, wasn’t sure if I wanted to know Him, and didn’t pay much attention to what people were telling me about Him. You know, all the “God loves you” jargon. 

No, I didn’t cry out to God because I loved Him or because I heard He loved me. 

I cried out to God because I was scared. Just plain scared. 

I had a revelation, realization, or whatever you’d like to call it; I knew if I died before I got things straight with God I was going to hell. 

That scared me. Scared me enough to take the necessary action.

Some people thought, and maybe still think, I was stupid. They’re convinced hell isn’t a real place, that hell is what we make of this life. Same with heaven. 

“It’s all in how you look at it”, the wise ones say. “Treat people the way you want to be treated, and Heaven becomes a day to day reality. Treat people like crap, and you’ve made your own hell.” 

However, there was this man who said a few things about hell. He talked about hell, and heaven, like you and I talk about Chicago or Detroit. Real places. 

I’ve been to Chicago so I know it is real. I’ve never been to Detroit, so I’m not so sure about that. And to hear some folks talk about it, maybe I don’t want to go there. If it’s even real. 

No, this man who referred to heaven and hell a number of times, also said some other things; things people like to quote. 

Things like: judge not, it’s more blessed to give than receive, don’t call anyone a fool, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Great sayings, by a great man. But can He be trusted? Can you trust Him? After all, if He’s lying about heaven and hell, what makes you think He’s telling the truth the rest of the time?

Jesus is not a liar. He spoke of hell, and heaven, because He knew they existed. Though you and I can’t see them (yet), there’s coming a day when we will. 

One or the other. 

That’s why I was scared. I had heard in order to go to heaven (and thus miss hell, the place of the damned), I had to be as perfect, as sinless, as God. At that time, I wasn’t sure just how righteous God was, but I knew He had me beat. 

I didn’t know if He’d done anything wrong, but I knew I had. 

That reminds me: why do people say, “why you’d sure as hell better believe thus and so” when they don’t believe in hell in the first place?

Anyway, like I said, I KNEW I had done plenty of things wrong, so if hell was a real place, I was in a heap of trouble. 

Fire, sulfur, brimstone, total darkness, wailing and gnashing of teeth. My friends told me they planned on going to hell so they could party. But those words didn’t describe any party I’d want to attend. 

Especially one lasting forever and ever…

Have you ever heard a person wail and gnash their teeth? I have. When I was 15 I spent 30 days in the psychiatric ward of the county hospital. While there I was entertained (?) one night by a middle aged woman crying, at the top of her lungs, in an ear piercing, hair raising scream, “My straitjacket’s too tight! My straitjacket’s too tight!” 

No, when I heard that Jesus described hell as having people like had I met in the hospital, crying day and night, forever…

I got scared. So I called on the name of the Lord. “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'”. (Romans 10:11-13 ESV)

Call me stupid for being so fearful if you’d like. I don’t care. You see, since that time, you know, back in 1975, I’ve learned a whole lot more about the God I cried out to. 

I learned He really does love me, and proved it by sending His only Son, Jesus, to take my place on the cross, and made my payment to hell. He who was sinless died for the creep I was, and all others like me.

And God pronounced all debts paid when He raised Him from the dead that first resurrection morning. 

I’ve discovered He is merciful and kind, and is trying to let everyone know hell is not the place He WANTS to send them; He only HAS to send them when they reject His offer of eternal life. 

I’ve learned a lot about God, but even better is I’ve come to know Him personally. He leads me and guides me, providing for all my needs. 

Because of His love. 

Yes, I can love Him now because He first loved me. 

And you know what? His perfect love has driven the fear of hell completely out of me. 

I once was scared, but now I’m not, for I’ve had the hell scared out of me. 

And loved out of me. 

That First Morning

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I’m gonna miss my friend Ross. I’m going to think about him every time I see a garbage truck, or someone playing a guitar left handed, or pull in my fishing line with a big, ol’ catfish hooked on the end.

I’m going to miss his exuberance for Jesus, and his love for kids.

He was so proud of his family; his wife, kids, siblings, folks.

I will miss his texts, “Busy? Got a minute to talk?” And then we’d knock down 60 minutes talking about the things of God.

This morning Ross went to Heaven.

Every time a friend passes from earth to glory, I wonder what that first morning is like. Actually, I dream about it.

You might even say I fantasize about Heaven.

And why not? The Apostle Paul wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23 ESV) 

Notice he said, “FAR BETTER”.

That first morning will be worth all the pain, suffering, and misunderstandings endured as we followed Christ in this life.

Again, Paul wrote, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

So what is that first morning like?

Well, I believe it’s kind of like that first morning in the Garden of Eden. The dawn of creation. Where everything was just as God created it to be.

Good and VERY good.

Where Adam and Eve walked with God, without shame or embarrassment; and BEFORE the serpent manipulated his way into power.

Yes, it’s kind of like that first garden, only much better.

Better? Wasn’t everything perfect in the garden?

Apparently not. Could have been, however…

But that first morning in Heaven will be MUCH better than Eden could EVER have been. 

How?

Well, first of all, there’s no need for the sun (or moon); the Glory of God shining through the Son is its light.

Second, there’s no devil or tempter.

Third, sorrow and mourning are wiped away.

Fourth, we’ll have a grand reunion with our sainted loved ones.

But the main reason I believe Eden can’t compare with Heaven, yes, that first morning in Heaven, is the love relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Sure, Adam and Eve were forgiven in the Garden of Eden. But they had to leave. Those of us who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior have experienced the new birth, the witness of the Spirit, and the freedom that comes from knowing the love of God.

On this side of eternity, our hearts yearn, even ache, to forever be with the Lover of our soul. That’s something Adam and Eve couldn’t experience.

They never knew the power of the Resurrection. They were forgiven and clothed by God, yet could not partake of His divine nature as described by Peter in 2 Peter 1:2-4:

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:2 – 1:4 ESV)

That first morning in Heaven will be an unfolding of everything Jesus is to us, for us, and with us. 

And that first morning with last for all eternity; for the manifold wisdom and glory of God will never grow old, never run out.

I miss my buddy Ross. He’s the most recent friend to have completed his journey through this life.

So while I’m still here, kicking around my world, trying to let others know of my Savior’s love, my friend has just begun a brand new adventure; the final, forever adventure.

I can hardly wait. 

Here’s a nice, happy tune called “First Morning in Heaven” by Chris Christian. Enjoy.

http://youtu.be/S4jy3a_i8TU 

The Gambler

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He calmly walked into the room; just a slight hint of swagger recognizable. Dressed in casual fit jeans, scuffed Tony Lama’s, and a denim shirt one size larger than needed, he was dressed for the role right down to his dark shades and Chicago Bears ball cap.

Gambler.

The game didn’t matter; not as long as he could feel the adrenaline surging through his pronounced veins. Cards, dice, horses, sports; it was all the same to him. He was a gambler.

Sure, people had tried to reform him. Plenty of times. But they just couldn’t understand; he didn’t gamble because he enjoyed it any more than he enjoyed breathing. No, he gambled because that’s what gamblers do. And that’s what he was.

A gambler.

In the past he had tried to tally his winnings and losses. Maybe that could shake something loose, causing him to possibly change. But he never could remember all those figures. I mean, how does a person begin to remember how many breaths they’ve taken in a lifetime? It’s just something they do.

It’s what he does.

Because of who he is.

Gambler.

As he stood inside the large, shadowless room, something struck him as odd. Every other game room, poker parlor, and smoke-filled casino he’d frequented in the past had contributed to his gambling urge; stoking his inner fire, feeding his untamed desire to risk it all. There was nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice for the opportunity to win big. And he didn’t really need to win each time; not if he could keep running the risk, playing the odds, feeling the rush.

The gambler’s rush.

Yes, this room was different. It didn’t stir the urge or settle him down. Actually, it unnerved him; maybe even scared him a bit. He’d met a man earlier that day, a man who seemed to appear out of nowhere, who invited him to a high stakes game. The man gave him the address, and after reminding the gambler to bring everything he had, turned and walked away. Intrigued by the sudden appearance and the strange invitation, he decided to check it out.

Peering through his dark glasses, he scanned the room for any familiar faces. What? Where is everyone? Where are all the other gamblers? Am I early? No, right on time, he thought as he glanced at his wristwatch.

Just then, appearing as suddenly as he had earlier, he saw the man who had issued the invitation.

“I see you found the place.”

“Yes, but where is the game? Where are all the other gamblers?”

“You’ll find this game is different. Tonight’s game is for you only. Did you bring everything?”

“Oh sure. Do you take checks?”

“Sorry. Money isn’t what’s being gambled tonight. You’re not risking your finances, your car, or your home. Not this evening.”

The gambler tried to keep his composure, but even wearing his dark shades, one could see his poker face morph into a pale, nervous, twitch. He was definitely spooked.

“Who are you?”, he asked the man.

“Never mind that, right now anyway. Are you ready to gamble?”

“I, uh, I guess so.”

“Alright. I’m going to ask you a question. Answer correctly and you win. What are you willing to wager?”

“You already told me I can’t use money. What can I use?” The gambler couldn’t believe how nervous he was feeling.

“Only one thing. Your life. All or nothing.”

“But…”

“Silence! Don’t you realize what’s happened to you? You actually died earlier today, without warning, without any fanfare. The game you thought you were playing is over. No second chance. No borrowing from the bank. You’re flat busted, dead broke.”

The gambler’s glasses were off, lying on the floor. He just stared at the man, wanting to speak, but no words came out.

The man continued, “You have gambled away the most precious thing you own; your life. I sent people to you at various times in your life, trying to get your focus away from winning things, people, or money. I’ve spoken to you as you were sleeping, while you were driving, and yes, during some of your high stakes games. I’ve tried to get you to understand my love for you. I love you so much, but you treated my message as a game.

“I asked you the question over and over, ‘What will you do with the One called Jesus? What will you do with the gospel?’ You gambled, played the odds as you saw them. And you lost.”

As the man finished speaking, the gambler was turned by an invisible hand. No longer was the room flooded with light. It had become dark and dank, yet heat and flames were beginning to rise through the door he had walked through not long before.

He gambled because that was who he was. Only now, he was no longer a gambler.

He was a loser.

Growing Old Stinks

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Growing old stinks.

Some folks will tell you it beats the alternative. But does it?

Why do I think growing old stinks? Not because of the extra aches and pains. It’s not because I’m losing my hair, or gaining an extra pound or three around the middle.

It stinks when loved ones die, whether they’re young or old.

It stinks when a parent, sibling, or spouse dies. Or a close friend.

God doesn’t care for it, either.

When Jesus lost a close friend, he cried. When he lost his cousin, he took some time off for a little vacation.

I’m really tired of saying goodbye. I’m sick of crying. It hurts to see people I love lose a loved one. I am SO looking for the day when God’s last enemy will be defeated – forever.

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26 ESV)

If it wasn’t for the reality of eternal life, the promise of eternity with Christ, and the reunion with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, I am not sure if living would be worth it.

I know dying wouldn’t be.

So here’s to those I miss; those who have finished their course and have crossed the chilly Jordan. And here’s to the ones I love who probably don’t have much time left on this planet.

I’ll see you later. God said so.

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV)

And the fragrance of life will forever replace the stench of death.

Heaven is the WORST PLACE to be…

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Here are 40 reasons why you may not be comfortable in Heaven. It is the worst place to be if…

…you’re an atheist.
…you’re selfish.
…you don’t like to talk about religious things.
…you can’t stand to be around Christians.
…you’d prefer to live forever in total, absolute darkness.
…you’re really into grinding and gnashing your teeth.
…you absolutely love the smell of sulfur.
…the cross of Christ offends you.
…the greatest, most important thing in your life is to get smashing drunk.
…you’d rather see how many different sex partners you can have in a lifetime.
…you’re afraid of light.
…you’re smarter than everyone who believes that bible junk.
…you can’t possibly see why you’d need a savior.
…the Ten Commandments drive you up the wall.
…you’re much more comfortable listening to lies than truth.
…the idea of holiness seems too constraining.
…you hate true love.
…you believe the universe revolves around you.
…no one has ever been able to teach you a bloody thing.
…you’re too strong to know how weak you really are.
…you can’t tolerate indescribable beauty.
…you can’t accept help from anyone.
…you really believe you’re God.
…you can’t live without your toys.
…you’re convinced there’s neither a Heaven or a Hell.
…you just have to get stoned to have a great time.
…eternal life sounds like a real drag.
…worship and praise isn’t your thing.
…the glory of God makes you run and hide.
…you’ve outgrown all those silly bible stories you heard as a kid.
…scarred hands and feet make you sick to your stomach.
…you can’t handle someone judging you.
…you get mad when you’re told to obey a law.
…you’d prefer to always have center stage.
…you’ve always paid your own way.
…you believe you’re beyond help.
…you’ve rejected every invitation God has sent you.
…hope and faith are foreign to you.
…the unconditional love of God makes you angry.
…you’d rather be in hell.

Fortunately for you, if you believe Heaven is such a horrible place, you don’t have to be concerned. No one is forced to go there against their will.

And, if you’d rather not have anyone telling you what to do, you needn’t be bothered with that, either. You’ll only be commanded to do something one time. Just one time.

However, if you’re really interested in learning the truth about Heaven and how you can spend eternity there, please ask. Let’s dialogue about God’s eternal plan for you and I.

It just may brighten your future.

What Do You Believe About Jesus?

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Have you ever heard of Jesus? Who do people say that he is?

Or was?

What have you heard?

Some have called him Elijah; others, John the Baptist.

What do you say?

I’ve heard some people refer to him as Lucifer’s brother.

Yes, and there are those who believe we evolved from monkeys.

One of the prophets, the divine light, one of many gods, and eternal guide, to name just a few other purported names and views.

His name is used in many ways depending on the user’s belief. For instance, some use the name when they are mad or upset. Others, when they need heaven’s intervention. Many like to throw it on the end of a sentence as an exclamation point! Considering how many people speak the name, for one reason or another, it must really be a powerful name.

But what you heard? What do you believe?

Some have called him the son of David, the bright and morning star, everlasting father, mighty God, and prince of peace.

Down through the ages people have had varying opinions of this one called Jesus.

Do you have an opinion?

I’ve had different opinions through the years; especially the first twenty one years of my life. I remember when he was a non-entity to me. Jesus? Never heard of him. That’s when I was ten or eleven.

My twelfth birthday rolled around and I attended a Methodist Sunday School class a few times. My opinion quickly changed from a non-person to a mystery man who wore sandals and rode donkeys while crowds threw a bunch of sticks at him. Hosanna didn’t sound like praise. It sounded more like, “Get him! Hit him with the sticks!”

I learned a lot more about Jesus, and a lot quicker, once I began hanging out with older kids. I learned Jesus had a middle name that began with the letter “F”, that he was always ready to damn something, and that he didn’t like cute girls, rock and roll, long hair on guys, cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.

Yep. I never did meet a cute girl in church.

All my teen age friends agreed with me. Jesus might have been cool when he was alive, but that was then. I was told, over and over, God is dead.

My opinion changed when I was twenty one. That’s when I met this one I thought was a non-entity. I found out he did take a beating, and that he took it for me. Oh yes, and he took one for you.

He didn’t come to curse or damn anything. Instead, he came to try and release mankind from the curse they were covered in.

Cute girls? It’s amazing what happens to a person’s eyesight after Jesus has had some time to tweak their heart.

I don’t know what you have heard, or what you believe about Jesus. But whatever it is, you will conduct your life accordingly. And wherever you finally end up, you will be there because of what you’ve believed about Jesus.

Once there was a woman with a severe bleeding problem. She had it for twelve years, and though she kept spending her money on doctors and treatments, she never got any better.

One day she heard something about Jesus. I don’t know what she knew beforehand, maybe nothing at all. But now things were different. She heard he was healing people.

And she believed. And she acted on what she believed. And her life was changed.

“She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.”(Mark 5:27 NLT)

If you haven’t heard this yet, hear it now. Jesus loves you. He’s not willing for you to spend eternity in a hell prepared for someone else. He wants to make you a brand new person with a new mind, new language, new beliefs.

He did it for this twenty one year old; thirty nine years ago.

How about you? Isn’t it time you really considered this one called Jesus?

What you believe determines your actions. Your actions determine your destiny.

So what have you heard? What do you believe? Where are you headed?

And does that make you happy?

Hell, NO!

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“That movie scared the hell out of me!”

Oh?

“I had a hell of a good time…”

Really?

“Hell no, I won’t go!”

Is that so.

It appears to me, though I could be wrong, that the people who talk about hell the most are the folks who don’t believe in it. They tell someone to “Go to Hell”, but don’t believe the place really exists.

“What the hell are you doing?”

That’s like saying, “What the Peoria are you doing?” (Sorry, Peoria)

“I had a Des Moines of a good time…”

Doesn’t that sound better?

Hell isn’t a sentence “filler”, or something to say when you’re mad or excited.

Hell is a place. Not a party place, or a place to vacation. It is a damned place; the place of the eternally damned.

No, I’m not referring to the town of Hell, Michigan. I am talking about Hades, Hell, Sheol; worm capital of the entire universe.

If you can’t stand to listen to a baby bawl and squall in a restaurant or airplane, you definitely don’t want to go to Hell. Weeping, gnashing of teeth, wailing, all in utter darkness. Darkness so black, it’s beyond one’s comprehension.

“What the Hell?” Hey, I’m telling you the truth.

About Hell.

I think it’s time to talk more about Hell than Heaven. Why? Because people can’t go to Heaven unless they believe in Hell.

Maybe Hollywood should make a movie called, “Hell is real.”

“What the Hell are you talking about?“, I just heard you say.

Hell is for those who have rejected the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. Originally it was prepared for the devil and his crowd; his angels and demons. But ever since Adam said yes to the devil’s lies, the devil’s crowd consists of all people who have rejected the savior God promised. His son, Jesus. Why do they reject Jesus? Because they don’t understand their need for the righteousness only Jesus can give. They don’t realize their nature has Hell stamped all over it. Like luggage loaded onto an airplane, the tag on their life reads “Hell Bound”

Really a great message to sing about, eh...”I’m on the Highway to Hell!

Yep, it’s time to start talking about Hell. It’s time to start advertising the qualifications and conditions people must meet to go to Des Moines; er, I mean, Hell.

Maybe you’re like others living on planet earth who think it’s a “damned shame” to try and scare people into Heaven. I think it’s a “damned shame” if they go to Hell!

Because no one has to anymore. Not since the cross and the resurrection.

As for scaring someone…understanding the reality of Hell SHOULD scare the Hell out of everyone. Knowing people go to Hell for simply ignoring the Good News ought to get their attention.

“Damned straight!”

In fact, I hope to scare the people out of Hell, if that’s what it takes.

“Hell yes?”

Huh uh. “Hell, NO!”

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