The Highway To Heaven-Use the Map

What is the right way to heaven?Have you ever gotten lost while driving to a place that you have never been to before? Prior to car GPS systems this was a common thing, especially when trying to find someone’s house. I remember years ago when trying to get to a customer’s house was a hard thing to do. And when I would stop to ask for directions, often I would be told, confidently, exactly how to get there. But it turned out that the person was wrong, and so I’d ask someone else. And they would be wrong too! Grrrrr-

This scenario happens all too frequently when trying to get to heaven. Everyone is lost, (Rom. 3:23) and must try to find the way there. Sadly, a lot of people do not care or will not try, but many of us will ask for directions. And there are many people who will confidently tell you exactly how to get there. The scary thing is that most of the directions you will get are wrong and will take you someplace you don’t want to go. Some of us realize that the advice we received was not correct and that we are still lost. Unfortunately, most people won’t discover that they are on the wrong road till it’s too late and they are forever lost!

Capital Punishment, A Biblical View Of The Death Penalty

Every now and then the topic of capital punishment, or the death penalty, becomes front and center in the public spotlight. These news stories are chosen because there is an angle, or twist, to the story that will serve the mainstream media’s objective to stop all capital punishment. Usually, it is a case where the circumstances are such that people who are undecided about the topic might be swayed to the anti-death penalty view that is being propagated by an ever growing amoral society. This nation has become so ‘nonjudgmental’, that sometimes people who cause the death of someone are not even punished at all! Perpetrators are pitied while victims and their families are forgotten. Christians can’t allow themselves to buy into this foolish thinking.

I can’t forget this one case about fifteen years ago. A person in Texas was executed for murdering a couple. There were no twists to this case; nothing iffy. Prior to the execution, the usual groups that decry capital punishment were there, speaking on behalf of the guilty. But what was unusual about this execution was the involvement of the religious community. Men such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were atypically calling for clemency. Why? Because the convicted person professed becoming a ‘born again Christian’ while awaiting execution.

The joy of one sinner repenting and being born again is one we all share, but this begs two questions. Should this affect our view of capital punishment? And does forgiveness by God mean the removal of consequences?

Christians must know God’s will in matters being debated in this country. If we don’t, who will speak up? We cannot expect a humanistic society to chance upon what is right. Civilization without God’s guidance would self-destruct.

Capital punishment bible flag and constitutionLong ago God observed, how great the wickedness of mankind was on the earth, and that every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time.  And He said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them” [Gen. 6:5, 13]. It was because of violence that God wiped out all life, saving only the lives in the ark. God did not want a repeat of the violence that characterized the former world. And when Noah left the ark, God made it very clear commanding, “Surely for your life blood I will demand a reckoning,” and “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed” [Gen. 9:5, 6]. This commandment was part of God’s ‘New World Order’ for the human race.

God said through Moses, ”You shall not take a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, he shall surely be put to death.” “You shall not pollute the land, for blood pollutes the land and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it except by the blood of him who shed it” [Num. 35:31-33]. Today, our country/land  must be blood red.

Now then, a murderer can be forgiven. By confession and repentance, God will forgive. But the consequences don’t go away! David, when he turned to God asking forgiveness for murder, was told, “The Lord has put away your sin” [David being King could not be executed]. However, the punishment previously pronounced by Nathan was not rescinded; therefore David suffered the destruction of his immediate family, and the death of three of his sons [2 Sam. 12:9-ff]. The Bible teaches that a truly penitent person never complains about their punishment – never! As Paul said, “If I am an offender, or have done anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” [Acts 25:11].

It is God’s will that we live in a safe society. Paul, speaking about rulers and authority, wrote, “For it, [authority], is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is God’s minister to inflict wrath on the wrongdoer” [Rom. 13:4]. The sword is supposed to be a symbol of  harsh punishment, not probation and psychiatric counseling. Criminals are not afraid of the justice system today. Believe it or not, prison does not put fear in the worst criminals. And in some subcultures, it is a ‘rite of passage.’ In a country where the average time served for murder is 5.9 years, it is no wonder it is not safe out there.

Capital punishmentAll systems have flaws because we, being human, make mistakes. However, we should at least try to do things in a God-directed manner. The Bible, in the writings of Moses, has the most sensible rules for justice. Did you know that crimes against property or self were not punished as severely as now? Only crimes against persons were harshly punished. However, in today’s society, if someone steals a child they often serve less time than someone that steals money from a bank. Solomon, the king, saw and lamented the lack of justice in Israel. The prophets also complained about the injustices of their day.

It is not surprising that there are people who will oppose fair and just punishment, but God’s people should not be standing with them. We should know better. For you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, remind yourself of this, “Then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him. And He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’. Then He will say to those on the left, ‘Depart you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.” Amen

Death Bed Conversion – Can You Be Saved Like The Thief On The Cross?

By death bed conversion I am not only referring to people who are dying and then call for a minister, but also to those who ‘plan’ their time for Christianity sometime after retirement. When someone decides to follow Jesus it should be an exciting and happy moment, but there is something , at least to me, very unconvincing about a pre-planned salvation.  It’s almost as if because they no longer enjoy doing what they want, or have done all they wanted to do, they might as well go ahead and convert.  And why live like God wants with all the sacrifices and obedience that accompanies a walk with God if it can be put off till the end? The ‘thief on the cross’ is often used or misused as a proof text to justify such a plan.

Can You Be Saved Like The Thief On The CrossWell, what about the thief on the cross? Does this passage, Luke 23:39-43, justify such a plan? What do these verses teach us about this man? Let’s see. He feared God, for he asked the other condemned man, “Do you not fear God?” He had wisdom, for he said, “Seeing you are under the same condemnation?”  He saw the illogic of insulting a fellow who was also being executed as they were.  He was like Job, for he accepted his punishment, as harsh as it was, without blaming God, for he said, “And we indeed justly, for we received the due reward of our deeds.”  He judged rightly, for he said, “But this man has done nothing wrong.” Finally, he humbly called on Jesus, for he said, “Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom.” The charges against Jesus were well known, and above Jesus’ head was written, The King of the Jews.

The fact that he was a condemned robber did not mean he was ungodly, because there were many Jews called zealots who took up the sword, believing they were serving God by opposing the heathen Roman government; kind of like Robin Hood. Remember, even David became an outlaw for a while, and God was with him [1 Sam. 22:1-5, 23:14].  He also lived when righteousness through Judaism was possible. Only when a Jew rejected Jesus as the Messiah did their standing before God fail [Acts 13:16, 45,46, 14:1,2]. From what we can determine about the ‘thief on the cross,’ he seems  to have been a just man who knew the truth when he heard it. Repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus was not preached till after Pentecost and so not involved in his salvation. The circumstances this man lived and died under, especially being with Jesus, will not apply for anyone today, and certainly, this verse lends no support for someone to delay following Jesus till the end of one’s life.

death bed conversionThere are many people who are putting off their opportunity for salvation, thinking that there is still plenty of time for that later. Just like Felix who said to Paul, “Go away for the present; when I have a convenient opportunity, I will send for you.” The problem is that there will not be another opportunity, because for them there is never a ‘convenient time.’  We do not know when we will die. Usually death does not give much warning. To plan your conversion for a more convenient time betrays a wrong motive and attitude that has no intention of changing. To delay was not acceptable, as Paul was urged by Ananias, “Why are you waiting?” and Peter, too, commanded response to the call of the Gospel [Acts 22:16, 10:48].

To delay following Jesus is to risk everything for no good reason. People who plan on an eleventh hour conversion often die at ten-thirty. As Paul wrote, “I tell you, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation” [2 Cor. 6:2]. Amen!

 

Growing Like Jesus

Does becoming christ-like seem like an impossible task? I have heard that some people are reluctant to becoming a christian due to their belief that it is too much for them. This is understandable; but this could be said about doing what an adult does if you are a little child. No one expects a 4 year old to do what a 40 year old does and God does not either. we are taught that it takes time to grow spiritually.

Growing as Christians is a lot like growing physically as human beings. There are a number of analogies in the word of God that explain for us spiritual development by use of our physical growth. The starting point is birth. Jesus said, ”No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again”. [Jn. 3:3]. This birth is of “water and Spirit” [vs. 5] “what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit”. [vs. 6] Through this birth we enter the kingdom of God, God’s family.

growing like JesusAs spiritual newborns, we must “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” [1 Pet. 2:2]. Infants like nothing more than to nurse, and a new Christian’s desire for spiritual nourishment must be as strong. A baby that is not hungry would alarm the parents and pediatrician, and would be terrible if not corrected. Likewise a new Christian that is not interested in the milk of the word should cause great concern for their elders and brothers and sisters. Without food, there is no growth! Thankfully most babies and new Christians do want to be nourished and so, must be feed. [1 Pet. 5:2, Eph. 4:11, 12]

Children must continue to grow. Children who cease to grow mentally and physically will not be able to function in society. They will have to be carried, being unable to deal with normal everyday life. So too with God’s children. Paul wrote that when evangelist pastors and teachers fulfill their responsibilities, we will “no longer be infants or children, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery……..but we should grow up in every way into Him Who is the head, Christ” [Eph. 4:14, 15]. In order to do what normal Christian life requires we must grow to maturity.

Sadly, a lot of time is spent in the church on those who are spiritually babies. Many elders are more like baby sitters than the shepherds God would have them be. Paul wrote, “brethren, stop thinking like children. In respect to evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature”. [1 Cor. 14:20]. We must be teachable and, ”submit to those who are over us the Lord”. [1 Cor.16:15, 1 Thess. 5:12]

Our goal is to grow up and be like Jesus. Jesus is what maturity is all about. Paul wrote, “for those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son”. [Rom. 8:29] God decided in advance that we should become like His son so that Jesus might be the firstborn [that is Preeminent, here stressing Jesus is the pattern], among many brethren. We become like Jesus when we take in or absorb the word of God. After Paul explained the superiority of the new covenant, speaking of it said, “And all of us, gazing with unveiled faces on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory into glory as from the Lord, Who is the Spirit”. [2 Cor. 3:18] From the pages of our new testament we can clearly see Jesus and become like Him.

The need for maturity is obvious and the problems that come from not growing are clear, such as the many problems in Corinth. [1 Cor. 3:1-ff] And the warnings also. [Heb. 5:12-6:8] So let us move on to maturity and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

What Is The Christian Hope?

The Bible uses the word hope a lot because we, as Christians, are taught that hope is essential to the Christian life. The divine standard of Ephesians chapter 4 is One God, One Lord Jesus Christ, One faith, One baptism, One body, One hope, and One spirit. Hope is one of the seven essentials for our unity as children of God. We must, therefore, be able to explain this hope. As Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” [1 Pet. 3:15].

Hope is a very positive word. I mean, the context is always uplifting. Some common synonyms are desire, trust, and expectation. According to Roget’s Thesaurus, the opposite of hope is dejection, impossibility, and ‘fat chance’. To hope is to look forward to something you desire and to expect that it will happen. The combination of desire and expectation equals hope.

Do Christians have eternal hope?Let’s look at some verses about hope. “In hope of eternal life, that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”, and “having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs in the hope of eternal life”, and that we are to live Godly lives “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” [Titus 1:2, 3:7, 2:13 ]. Paul, in his greeting to Timothy, wrote, “Paul an apostle…by the command of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ our hope.” Paul said while on trial, ”I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” These scriptures are speaking of the one hope, eternal life, that Jesus will give to the righteous at the resurrection when He returns. It seems that the return of Jesus and eternal life are so closely related that it is viewed as one event, thus, our one hope.

What a future to look forward to; the return of Jesus and eternal life. This hope can carry us through hard times. Paul wrote that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to this glorious hope [Rom. 8:16-25].

There are many, many people today without this hope. They have no hope because they live their lives without God. Their hopes are temporal and empty. And when things go wrong and life throws at them big problems, they feel fear, depression and rage. Others have false hopes given to them by liars and false teachers who say what they want to hear. These folks are deluded by the lies that make them feel good. They may feel happy now, but it is only temporary, and when judgment day comes, doom and hopelessness will be their eternity [see 1 Thess. 5:3, 2 Tim. 4:3, 1 Jn. 4:1, almost all of 2 Peter and Jude].

But for those of us trusting in God, Who cannot lie, our hope is real. It is an anchor for the soul [Heb. 6:18]. God has guaranteed it through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was willing to die on the cross that by His resurrection we might have a living hope [1 Pet. 1:3]. Death is not to be feared, nor should we be sorry for those who die in Christ. Though it is normal to feel sad at the loss of our brothers and sisters, we should remember that our loss is their gain [1 Thess. 4:13-14, Phil. 1:21-23].

Sometimes I ask myself, do I really look forward to the return of Jesus? Or are there things that I look forward to more? Hmm, that could be another topic…

Key versus used in the above article: 

1 Peter 3:15
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Titus 1:2
2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

Titus 3:7
7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 2:13
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Romans 8:18
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

1 Thessalonians 5:3
3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

2 Timothy 4:3
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

1 John 4:1
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Hebrews 6:18
18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

1 Peter 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Philippians 1:21-23
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

What’s Your Soul Worth

Ten million dollars? A hundred million dollars? In reality, a soul often sells for a whole lot less. Why? Because the thing we desire the most is what the devil uses to purchase our souls. He has been given power in this world to tempt and bribe us. Jesus faced such trials. “Then the devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘all this authority I will give you, and their glory, for this has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours if you worship me.’ Jesus replied , ‘It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him’” [Lk. 4:5-8].

What is your sole worth

Sadly, all of us fail and fall under the bondage of sin [Rom. 3:23, 6:20,21]. But the purchase price for a soul varies a lot. Wealth, of course, is a common bribe but it could be just about anything. For some it is succeeding at something and for others winning a race or election. It could be anything we have a great desire for. Even what we should highly value and love can become a bargaining chip. Jesus warned us, ”He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” [Mt. 10:37]. Our own life can be too precious [Mt. 16:25].

Somehow, the devil seems to find out what we want most. He then uses it as a wedge to separate us from God. Take the example of the rich young ruler. He was a good man. He kept the commandments. Yet he let something come between himself and God. “Then Jesus, looking at him loved him, and said to him, ‘one thing you lack, go your way and sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven—and come take up your cross and follow Me’” [Mk. 10:21]. Jesus saw that his “great possessions” had become too important.

The reason the devil so easily buys souls is because the desires of the “here and now” make us forget the more important things of the future. Like Esau, who to satisfy his hunger with stew and bread, sold his birthright [Gen. 25:29-30]. That’s the way it usually goes. In a moment of emotional impulsiveness, your whole life is changed for the worse.

The good news is Jesus Christ has come to seek and save that which is lost [Lk. 19:10]. In Jesus we are set free from sin to be slaves to God. The wages for sin’s slavery is death but the wage of slavery to God is eternal life [Rom. 6:16-18,32,33]. In Jesus, God will limit temptations to what we can handle [1 Cor. 10:13]. In Jesus,

He will intercede for us so our faith will not fail when we are being “sifted like wheat” [Lk. 22:31]. In Christ we learn new wants and desires. And when our minds are on good things, the things we want will be good things. As we grow as children of God, the devil’s temptations will fall on deaf ears. What we were unable to do before, we can now do in Christ.

Soul

The whole point comes down to this. Jesus said,”What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeit his soul” [Mt. 16:26]? Eternal life is much more important than even all the world. Amen!

Atonement

Recently, on the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement”, was celebrated. This is the most solemn and holy of Jewish observances. It is the one day even many secularist and religiously indifferent Jews show up at synagogue. As reported in the Chicago Jewish Star, “many synagogue seats are sold out and overflow crowds congregate in every type of hall around the country.” So, why so much emphasis on this day?

Let’s look in our Bibles to Leviticus, chapters 16 and 23. Here we learn that once a year, the tenth day of the seventh month was to be a day of total fasting, [the only 24 hour fast period required by Mosaic Law]. “For on this day, he [the priest] shall make atonement, [root meaning-to cover up] for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from your sins before the Lord”. (vs.16:30) The high priest would take a bull, two goats, and a ram. One goat would be set aside, the others would be sacrificed. Then he would enter the Most Holy Place and he would sprinkle their blood on the mercy seat, [aka the cover of the ark] first for his sins then for the sins of the people. Then, the high priest would come out from the Most Holy and apply and sprinkle blood on the altar. After this, he would take the live goat and put both his hands on its head and confess over it the sins of the children of Israel. The goat then would be led into the wilderness to an inaccessible region and released. This has become known as the scapegoat.

Yom Kippur Day of Atonement - Mosaic LawThe New Testament explains that “In those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin.” [Heb. 10:3,4] “But Christ [Messiah] came as High Priest….not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered into the Most Holy Place once and for all time, having obtained eternal redemption.” [Heb. 9:11, 12] “By the will of God we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus once and for all”. [Heb.10:10]

Today many people are yearning for release from guilt. Some look to psychologists to ease their conscience. Others turn to drugs or some strange religious philosophy. Humans seem compelled to seek freedom from a guilt laden soul. To the Jews of today, the idea of release from the power of guilt is potent enough to fill their meeting places.

The simple message of the gospel is what all of us need. We must look to God for our forgiveness. Jesus paid the price once and for all time! If we obey Him, His blood cleanses us from all our sins; through repentance [changing our ways and turning toward God], and baptism we can know this release from guilt, and look forward to eternal life when Jesus returns! “So, Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who eagerly are waiting for Him”. [Heb. 9:28]

Sphere Of Influence

Have you noticed that some people have an ability to influence others that is so great that companies will pay them to be the name and face of their products. These business’s look for people who have a good reputation and that are known and respected by the general public. People who are in big demand have an image that others like, such as confidence with humility, nice appearance, friendliness and stability. Traits that are universally liked.

I remember back in the later part of the 90’s when a certain basketball player announced his retirement. Perhaps no one was more marketable than he was at that time. The influence that he had on everyone – young and old, male and female, black or white, American, European – was enormous. Sometimes I think about such an individual as him becoming a Christian and preaching the good news of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. Wow! What good he could do! It is sad that things like this don’t seem to happen, but God is in charge, and He does spread His Word.

sphere of influenceHow? Through people who generally don’t have a lot of influence or charisma or power or fame. By just plain folk like you and me; through people who know the truth and are willing to spread His message to others. This is God’s way. When God sent His Son into the world, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him”. (Isaiah 53:2)

Paul also was not a good looking, crowd-pleasing speaker, but was weak in presence and unimpressive as a speaker. (2 Corinthians 10:10). As Jesus said to Paul concerning his physical limitations, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So, my point is this; the fact that people with great worldly talents and abilities don’t use them for spiritual good should not surprise nor disappoint us, because God intended all along to use us. And even though our sphere of influence may not be very much, we still have some influence on some people. Therefore, we are responsible to speak and behave as though those people are our sole responsibility. After all, if we are in a position to evangelize someone, maybe it is God’s providence.

Also, we should not get discouraged if we don’t see immediate results. As Isaiah said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth, It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (55:11) Or in other words, “one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

I suppose my day-dreaming about a famous person publically converting and preaching the gospel and saving thousands of souls may be a fun way to kill time, but it doesn’t do any good, because the reality is God uses Christians and wants us to view everyone we know as a potential Christian. Even though we may not have as much influence as a lot of other people in this world, if we allow Him to, God is able to use us effectively.

Set In Our Ways

Have you ever noticed that the younger a person is, the more open they are to advice? And as we age and get set in our ways, we generally do not take advice very well at all, especially from younger people? And the more important that a person thinks he or she is, the higher the probability that they don’t seem to want any advice? It’s our human nature. Take the following story by Steven Corey from the Naval Institute magazine, PROCEEDINGS.

While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noticed a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course. “Signal the ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.” The return signal came, “Advisable for YOU to change course 20 degrees.” The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.” The response was, “I’m a seaman second class, You had better change course 20 degrees.” By this time the captain was furious. He yelled, “Send, I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.” The reply….”I’m a lighthouse.”

This humorous story captures the fact that in life we all need to sometimes humble ourselves, take advice and change our course. This is what Jesus taught, “And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whomever humbles himself as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:2-4).

Set In Our WaysJesus said that we must change and become as children. Not in everything of course, but in our willingness to obey and trust. Notice how the child that Jesus used here came when called and allowed himself to be set in the middle of them. Children characteristically are void of shame. Humbling ourselves like a child gets harder as we grow farther from childhood. When was the last time you saw someone up in years get baptized? Obviously, something happens to us as we age. I think it’s called sinfulness. It usually manifests itself as the trait of self-righteousness that eventually will reject even God’s advice.

So, can you teach an old dog new tricks? Not without Gods help. Only God can prepare someone’s heart to heed His will. Take Lydia, for an example. God, in some way, opened her heart to listen to Paul. (Acts 16:11-15). We may not know what made her ready at that time but God knows what to do. And the Philippian jailer? It seems a little fear got him ready to pay attention. (Acts 16:27-34). Getting people to listen with an open heart is not within our ability, but being ready and willing to explain the saving gospel is! We should pray that God will continue to grant them time on earth before it is everlastingly too late.

It is hard for an adult to admit that the way we have been living needs to change. And the older we are, the harder it seems to get. But, change is what we must be willing to do if we are to live with God in Heaven. We cannot safely pilot our own ship through life. God is the lighthouse that keeps us from crashing on the rocks.

Reader’s Digest – Why I Am Not Renewing My Subscription

Reader's Digest - Why I Am Not Renewing My Subscription This morning I sent this letter (via email) to Readers Digest.  Although I did it my self, I do hope you are moved to do the same thing.

We are choosing not to renew any of our subscriptions with Readers Digest. It is unfortunate as my family, as well as my parents’ families (on both my and my wife’s side), have always enjoyed reading Readers Digest from cover to cover.

Those subscriptions, as well as the ones we have given as gifts, will not be renewed.

Our reason is simple – as a business Readers Digest has decided to take a side in the culture war on homosexuality. I (we) no longer want to read another article promoting a lifestyle that is deadly and immoral. This issue can be looked at both from a religious perspective, as well as a secular (non-religious) perspective.

Religious – it’s immoral. It’s a sin against the Creator of the universe. Both the Old Testament and New Testament declare it to be sin.

Secular – it is against the principal tenant of natural selection (The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring). It is also one of the most destructive lifestyles (the CDC’s own statistics). The homosexual lifestyle does not provide the ideal environment for children; it provides a destructive unhealthy environment full of contradictions and unmet needs.

In both of the above ways many more reasons can be provided.

Readers Digest has had a disproportionate amount of articles celebrating, promoting and legitimizing the homosexual lifestyle. You have taken sides.

I do not expect those with different views in this great country to not be able to share them. Nor would I expect a secular, non-Godly business, like Readers Digest, to not have an article that mentions homosexuality. It’s part of being a free society.

I do not choose whom I will conduct business with by their religious beliefs, nor any other belief that is protected by our Constitution – i.e. a person’s view of homosexuality.

However, Readers Digest has crossed the line from being a magazine to being a pro-(particular) lifestyle magazine; therefore it is not for me or anyone else that is a Christian or knows the facts about homosexuality. Readers Digest is no longer for the general public, but for those that desire a radical change from not only religious beliefs about homosexuality, but also of basic scientific facts and natural selection.

Readers Digest is no longer a safe magazine to have around my house or business. Readers Digest is no longer a safe place to expose young and old minds to open thinking about life and what we all struggle with daily.

For my house and those that I purchase subscriptions for, we are choosing to spend our dollars elsewhere. I suspect that it is more of a disappointment to me than it is to you; although I wish that were not true. That alone, if true, speaks more about Readers Digest “agenda” than anything else I’ve said.