“For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Jesus
Angels from the Throne in Glory
Come to earth to tell a story
Of One who came to testify
We can live even when we die.
The realms of Heaven and earth collide
Leaving us with no place to hide.
All is clear to Him on the Throne,
He sees both worlds; they are both His own.
But with love He looks on what He has formed
And bids us each to be reborn;
To accept His life coming from On High
And join the swimmers in the sky.
(Thanx to Ariela for challenging me to write a poem on the Swimmers in the Sky.)
It seems like a terrifying time to be alive. Fear and depression stats are off the charts as government officials warn to leave masks alone for health-care workers, then warn that if you do not wear a mask, you are committing a crime against your community. Then you don’t need a mask anymore, then you must wear one. And don’t even get me started on the politicization of gene therapy that has been misnamed “vaccines.” When Michael Crichton wrote The State of Fear, I wonder how fully he realized how accurate he was.
Fear controls. Fear restricts. Fear dominates. Fear enslaves. Fear manipulates.
Laura Dodsworth, a British photo-journalist used a similar title for one of her books, A State of Fear and spoke to Epoch Times about it on American Thought Leaders.
Curiously, the most common first words out of angels’ mouths when they showed up in the Bible were, “Fear not.” Unlike the nice little girls in a church Christmas pageant, they must be pretty scary when they materialize!
Scripture teaches there are two great fears every person has, and the first and foremost is fear of death. There is a mystery in Hamlet’s “undiscovered country” that makes us willing to suffer all kinds of burdens because we do not know what lies beyond since no one has come back to tell us . . . except Jesus 😉. And for those who have accepted His salvation, we can say with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)
Yet, even knowing what will happen AFTER I die does not completely remove the fear of this final baptism into the unknown. Of course, there are matters of pain, disease, or injury that are frightening, but when you read of martyrs who gave up their lives rather than renounce faith in Jesus, one cannot help but be moved by the lack of fear! Yet that hesitant fear remains.
It reminds me of my first time on a three-meter diving board. I had fallen from higher limbs out of trees onto leafy ground. The gym teacher had effectively taught me how to swim and I had even been in the “deep end” when swimming lengths of the pool. The week before, everyone in the class had jumped or dived off the low board. But as I climbed the 10 foot ladder to the platform my knees trembled and I was scared. One after another, classmates before me walked up (in what seemed to me overconfidence or bravado) and just casually walked to the boundary of common sense and suddenly they were GONE!
The splash that followed 1.42 seconds later did not give me any more confidence. I was going to leap to my death!! But I knew the line behind me would want me to get over the brink as quickly as possible so they could jump, so steeling my spirit and mind against the despondence of my doom, I also walked up and off the edge! The comfort of feeling the water enclose around me removed all my fear. So I expect it will be something like this when I “cross the Jordan.” Like the old hymn sang, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
But most of the people in the world do not have this comfort. For them, the fear of death is paramount in their minds. Everything they do (with the exception of adrenaline junkies) is to try to stay alive. And even adrenaline junkies take precautions and plan their escapades in expectation that they will survive. R.J. Corman reportedly offered $1,000,000 to his doctors for every year he lived after a cancer diagnosis in 2001. Many octogenarians and older still look for organ transplants and medical ‘miracles’ that will keep them alive “just little longer.” Without Jesus, death is the most fearsome adversary mankind faces. Even though everyone will die at some point, many often go to extremes to put off this inevitable contest with an opponent who is destined to win. Some even freeze their bodies in hopes that before frostbite sets in someone will come up with a cure for whatever is killing them!
The second greatest fear most people experience is, “What will the neighbors think!?” Okay, maybe not neighbors, but someone else. Fear of what other people think runs a very close second to the fear of death. Some people even risk death to avoid being thought foolish or vain or somehow less than what they wish they were. We joke in Kentucky, Bubba’s most common last words are, “Hey, ever-body, watch THIIIS!”
I recall when Nokia cell phones first came out, a man entering an elevator continued talking about his financial wizardry as we ascended 15 stories in the building. What he did not notice was the light on the face of his phone had gone out, indicating he had lost the connection in the lift! 🙄 But rather than admit to us strangers that he was not as savvy as wanted us to think, he kept up the charade.
Jesus warned specifically not to fear what people may think of you. “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves,… have no fear of them,… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:16-28) However, some authorities in Israel did not get the memo: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42-43) Sooo sad.
For the Christ-follower, this is an ongoing battle with the flesh, to be humble and obedient and not worry about what people think. Some of us struggle with this more than others, but we are on the right path when we say with the author of Hebrews, “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)
In Jesus discourse the night before His crucifixion He told His disciples, and by them tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“ (John 14:27)
“Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.” Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated at age 39
Satan has a season when he loves to prick the saint’s conscience — their dying day! Alas, he comes with all those failing spots to which the saint has succumbed! (Psalm 90:7-8)
When he comes, we may as well say to him: It is true, Satan. I have failed often, more so, broken asunder to despair and despondency. But also, listen. Christ accepted me in my wicked state; died for me while a whore, a swearer, a guiler, an idolater, adulterer, a fornicator, and all the filthy exercises about which you think. I say Christ died for me in all this mud of sin (Romans 5:8). All that is good in me is but by His unmerited grace, undeserved mercy.
Death, to a Christian, is a doorway to glory. To live in Christ is to keep in step with Christ. So also, he that would die well must never put off the inevitability of death — he must live as a dying man. The Christian’s death is the ending of his troubling sins, an entrance to a land where sin and sorrow are no more. We must look at death as a thing we must meet, and look upon ourselves as a thing with which we must part.
It is never too soon to make friendship with death. We never get what we think we want because God always gives us what we need. One day our need will be death.
Death is gain; freedom from doubt and unbelief. In Heaven our faith will be turned into sight. Here the best are liable to doubt about their personal piety, and often experience many an anxious hour in reference to this point. In Heaven doubt will be known no more.
Death is the grave of all temptations. A Christian’s death delivers them from the second death. Put another way, a Christian dies natural to live eternal. In Heaven there are no graves, but eternal grace.
After our death, we will be met by our believing loved ones who went ahead of us to be with Christ. O beloved Christian, why fear death? It is natural to fear death, but we may meet it with faith in Christ.
When death knocks at your door, don’t murmur and grumble about it. Rejoice, you are going Home at last! Does the prisoner, long confined in a dungeon, dread the hour which is to open his prison, and permit him to return to his family and friends? Does the man in a foreign land, long an exile, dread the hour when he shall embark on the ocean [or the sky] to be conveyed to where he may embrace the friends of his youth? Does the sick man dread the hour which restores him to health; the afflicted, the hour of comfort? The wanderer at night, the cheering light of returning day?
And why, then, should the Christian dread the hour which will restore him to immortal vigor? Which shall remove all his sorrows? Which shall introduce him to everlasting day? Smile at death when your time draws nigh.
Death is an awful reality to men who have made this world their only home and the things of this world their only possessions. Do not waste any unnecessary time below here. Let us live as diligent laborers in a field full of harvest, harvesting men to Christ Jesus.
Live as men who appreciate the world, but let us live like men who are more in love with the world to come, the world of Christ Jesus. To die and be with Christ is the final pilgrimage of the wounded saint. The saint finally meets with Eternal Rest and Blessed Felicity.
The door of death is inscribed thus: “Prepare to meet your God!” Christ is best!
Death is sleep. “The girl is not dead but sleeping.” (Luke 8:52) The natural man is tempted to laugh. You’re wise and know how to apply. Death will very soon reveal the children of God and the devil.
We must have our heart and mind in Heaven if we are to look at death with courage in Christ. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Beware of head-knowledge in the face of death! It will not comfort you. How is your heart and way of life instructed by your accumulated knowledge on the things of God? Do you know God, or things about God? That’s the question! Be honest with yourself!
I’ve observed humble men die well. Improve life by dying daily to self and enrich the soul by being alive in Christ. I am homesick for Heaven.
You’re not too young to die. Make peace with God. This old fellow knows his time is nigh. Here today, gone tomorrow. Make no permanent nest in this world. Death is a golden carriage that lifts the soul to a golden city, a celestial city. Fellow mortal, cease playing Immortal.
The whole world is a big cemetery of dead men walking. Those that resolve to repent tomorrow intend to be wicked today. A delay of repentance breastfeeds and strengthens our sin — and the wages of sin is death! (Romans 6:23)
The conversion of the thief at the cross is not a canon that all of us are guaranteed conversion to Christ at our death-bed.
We read in the Holy Scriptures of men who were called at their infancy such as Jeremiah, Samuel and John the Baptist. Some were chosen in their prime age of youth like the four Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel. Others were called in their advanced adulthood such as the disciples, John, James, Peter, and Andrew. Other were called while carrying out their business of the day as Matthew, the tax-collector and Luke, the physician. Others were called while in their sin-business as the forgiven harlot and the woman at Jacob’s well. Others while gazing at a fig tree or climbing a sycamore as Nathanael and Zacchaeus. Still others were called in their old age as Joseph of Arimathea and the Jewish scholar, Nicodemus. And last of all, at their death-bed — the thief at the cross!
There’s no such thing as purgatory and indulgences. When you die, you are dead! And all must die! If not now, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, the next day. If not the next day, then, the following day. If not the following day, … then the next!
Death laughs at bags of gold. Death is a level ground where the rich and poor; proud and humble; high and low; prince and peasant, all lay and become wholesome meal for the worm. (Job 21:23-26) A man’s life, however great it was, is always summarized by this little word — Death!
Jesus Christ not only died. He conquered death by death itself! Christ stung death to death!
He is our resurrection!
Snow, being one of the most astounding miracles attesting to the existence of God, early January brought an amazing overnight and all day miracle to Lexington! Three neighbor boys made snow angels. The oldest and the youngest were done and gone before I could get my phone out, but the middle one stayed with it for the picture.
There is something sobering about getting a couple phone call messages, texts and emails from your favorite doctor concerned with your latest lab results, especially on December 30, so close to the year’s end. Sobering, but not frightening, as it may be for those who do not have hope in Jesus. I know where I am going and I know the One who knows the way. (John 14:1-4)
All six of my strokes since 1999 have been ischemic (clot) strokes, meaning my body likes to throw coagulated blood at my brain. But getting a lab result that suddenly and without warning shows one’s ‘blood-thinning’ medication makes you at significant risk of a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke is cause for concern. No changes in diet, no alterations in activities, no travels to strange lands (like Norway 😉), no deviations in sleep nor major stresses; so why the drastic change in medical results that two weeks ago were fine?
Suddenly my mortality faces me like an impressive off-season Halloween costume, trying to scare me by telling me I could have died this week if a significant blow had struck me, or I had fallen with just a simple trip on the sidewalk. But the Spectre does not alarm me; death has lost its victory; the grave has lost its sting because my life is hidden in Jesus, the Christ, and nothing will happen to me that my loving Lord does not allow for my good, even it the event is to take me Home. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)
So as 2021 comes to its finale, I consider the New Year’s Resolution I made in 1969 at 18 years old and have faithfully kept every New Year: “Resolved, I will never make another New Year’s Resolution!”
This is not to suggest that we should not look back at the fading year and evaluate what we could or should have done differently. Nor does it mean that we should not plan some improvements and developments in the approaching New Year. However, as noted on , most resolutions do not make it to January 31! And none of us has any guarantee of tomorrow, much less the whole year ahead. Whether one runs like James Fixx or manages one’s food with self-control like Ang, there are no warranties we can claim any more than righteous Job.
Thus, I encourage you at this changing of the days to consider your life: its value, its impact on others, its final destination. And walk in fear of The God Who Is, one who loves you more than we can grasp in this life, and who has revealed Himself most clearly in the God-Man, Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Then you will not fear when the clock turns to midnight, just because one minute after midnight you could find yourself in His arms and in His kingdom in Heaven.
Happy New Year to all who are reading this, and with all my heart I hope to meet you someday around the Throne of God to praise Him together.
yours and His,
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God; Psalm 90
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of Adam!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
The Gaither Vocal Band is bringing their sweet gospel music to Lexington, Kentucky, November 5, 2021 for a concert at Lex City Church at 7:00 pm. General admission is $25/person, $22/old person like me 😤 or children 12 and under. If you buy as a group of 10 or more, it goes down to $20/person. If you haven’t heard Ladye Love Smith’ angelic sound or listened to Kevin Moore “fiddlin’ around,” these each would be worth the ticket price. But the venue is stacked with other gospel voices worth listening to, not to mention the Gaither Vocal Band, one of the most iconic groups to bless the Heavens and earth with their original melodies.
Bill and Gloria remain one of the most beloved and musically gifted musical duos in America.
“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:4
“God won’t send anyone to hell, He’s too loving and nice to do that.” This is an opinion uttered by many who believe God is all-loving and compassionate. And with good reason: He IS. However, those who express this view do not seem to understand the depth of His mercy: He will not violate anyone’s free will. THAT is how loving and compassionate He is.
Many people will articulate this viewpoint in one breath and then in the next condemn someone who has done something they consider wrong, especially if it was done to them. They do not like the idea of living next door to a witch, a rapist or child-molester, a murderer, or a greedy thief or liar. How would they enjoy sharing Heaven with one such as these?
There are evil people in the world, those who get pleasure out of watching others suffer. There are those whose only joy is to feel powerful over another or to use people as their toys. Many a shoplifter or liar has stolen or told a fib without any need, but just for the delight of it. These are the ones Revelation 22:15 calls dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters and practitioners of falsehood.
“But,” they will say, “when they have learned their lesson by suffering for a while in hell, God will let them out.” True enough. In fact, God’s mercy is SO immense that if Lucifer, the devil himself, ever apologized and admitted that he was wrong to try to take God’s place, God would even forgive him! How soon will that happen? Try never. The devil is so self-deceived that he continually thinks that somehow, someday, in some way, he will be able to overthrow The Uncreated One. Even into the eons of eternity he will continue to plot, plan and program what he believes will be his ultimate win: “I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14)
In the same way, those who have believed his lie, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (Genesis 3:5) will follow him to their doom. It is true that if they would learn their lesson, if they would turn from their selfishness, enjoyment of others’ pain, their immorality or greed, Father would forgive them and allow them into Heaven. But habits are hard to break, and the older habits get, the more set in the avenues of our minds they become until they are unbreakable, even for God. Thus Revelation 22:11 says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
We see this in the judgements of Revelation 16:9, 11, and 17. Even when they are facing unquestionable judgements of God, instead of repenting and asking for mercy, people curse God and blame Him as though all the problems being visited on them are HIS fault. Even then, if they would just ask, God would be merciful, but they simply refuse to see what should be plain in front of their eyes. “They did not repent and give him glory.”
The bottom line is that God will not send anyone to hell. In fact, He did not even make hell for humans. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce) But God is so merciful, He will not allow anything evil to enter into Heaven. In His Final Mercy, He will isolate the recalcitrant sinner so they cannot go on sinning, injuring others and themselves. And that final separation from all others who live in God will be hell.
In this series on The Promise of His Coming, I have presented The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice, details of what The End might look like, and how the enemy of our souls has deceived the whole world with pseudo-science to deter people from believing that Jesus will come again. It is my sincere hope that someone reading this will begin to investigate: Did Jesus arise from the dead? What are the implications if He did? Will He come again? What will the End Times look like, if not like our present troubles?
There is always hope for anyone, no matter what you have done, how you have lived your life, how ignorant of The God Who Is you have been, how far from God and any goodness you have moved. All you need is Jesus. He will forgive; He will restore what was broken; He will give you eternal life . . . if you will receive Him. (John 1:12)
Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.
“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:4
As I noted in Part 1 of this series (initially titled, “The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice”) we humans are a short-sighted race. Peter realized this when he penned the words in his letter about the question that would arise in a few years. Even in that first century that was as yet to be marked by the life and death of Jesus dividing between B.C. and A.D., philosophies of life already abounded that said nothing ever changes.
From the various human origin stories of ancient times, the central idea of all false religions is that we somehow have to please a god in order to arrive at a state of perfection. Most people live their lives with no hope of eternal life, but simply anticipate that when you die, you no longer exist or get recycled for another try. The Great Deluge (whether in the Hebrew tradition or religious myths about a local flood) is now considered an old wives’ tale, so most think the world will simply continue as it has since they were born.
In the case of the Hebrew story of Noah (see Genesis 7–11), only eight people survived to repopulate the earth. By the time Abram arrived on the scene, many had already forgotten the Creation and the Flood story. Myths about the beginning of human history began to evolve and people began to worship “gods” that had nothing to do with the creation of the world. Noah and Shem had recently died and language had been confused at Babel, so their story was not getting much traction in the widening world. Only in Abram’s ancestry was the story of Creation and the Great Flood still told accurately. Noah’s grandson and Shem’s son, Arphaxad, born two years after the Flood, was the most reliable source for history, although all the generations between Noah and Abram had known Noah before he died, including Terah, Abram’s dad.
Now, removed from the Flood by more than 3000 years, we have come up with new stories to explain human origins apart from any divine power or design. Who would have thought that a first century prophet like Peter could have foretold of Darwinian evolution and its deceit of the entire world? Even among many Christ-followers, excuses are made for accepting a directed, but billions-of-years process of selection of microcosmic changes, that have resulted in humans, butterflies, whales and cattle.
Scientific establishments are often the last to continue fighting scientific discoveries. Copernicus and Galileo were denounced by both the Church and scientists of their day for proposing that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth. Louis Pasteur was ridiculed by “modern medicine” for claiming that disease could be spread by bacteria too small for the eye to see. And in our generation Stephen Hawking and populists like Richard Dawkins refute the evidence for Intelligent Design (ID) that would destroy their ideas that the universe is a self-directed (i.e. NON-directed) cosmos with no Designer. (Not to mention, more general acceptance of ID would put a damper on their book sales.)
This is in spite of Darwin thinking that cells were self-contained and very simple machines that could replicate themselves. Now we understand that the complexity of the machinery, even in parts of a cell, are so extreme as to be unimaginable that all the pieces needed could somehow come together at once, by chance, to make a living thing. Leave any one item out (of the thousands to millions in each part of the cell), and all you get is a non-living blob that cannot reproduce. But, of course, the scientific community continues to deny the obvious that the earth revolves around the sun . . . I mean, that life is too complex to have evolved, even over the billions of years that they fabricate to claim that this is exactly what happened.
Most important is the focus of Peter’s argument. The idea that everything continues as it has invokes the concept that it will keep on continuing, at least for the next few billion years. Therefore, they reason, there is no need to fear an end of all things the way burlap robed hippies and crackpots warn, carrying signs, “The End Is Near.”
So at the risk of sounding like a burlap robed hippie, I will assert again that the end IS near. “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11 If this was true in 55 A.D., how much nearer is it today?!
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord WILL come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” 2 Peter 3:10
Jesus is coming soon, and in order to be saved all one needs to do is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of sin and be baptized for the removal of your sins. Then you can begin living a life filled with God’s provision for every need, protection from every danger, and recovery from every disease, even death! You can live forever, and that will be with Jesus, who loves you so much He would have gone through all those miseries of His crucifixion and lousy Easter dramatizations (😉), even if you were the only one who needed Him.
It is my sincere hope that someone will read this and follow the links and consider that the truth of the Bible will lead to the only life worth living, actually the only life that will live, and that will be forever.
If one refuses, against all evidence, to believe in the Name of the Son of God, they will not stop existing. For that person, God who IS love, has reserved a Final Mercy, the topic of next week’s blog and the last in this series, .
Maranatha. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come.