“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
Told as a real story, this is a modern parable:
I was in Alaska doing a lawsuit. We were way out in the Aleutian Islands, getting ready to leave and go back to Anchorage and then home. And I had a ticket in my pocket to get on an airplane.
A pastor came up and he said, “Listen, I can save you money.”
I said, “How’s that?”
He said, “I flew a small airplane up here and I fly a small airplane, and I can take you in my little airplane, and you can save your ticket.”
And this did not sound – I said, “Gee, thank you so very, very much, but I’ve got this ticket. We’ll just make our way on home, me and this other lawyer with me.”
He said, “No, no, no. You gotta do it, you gotta do it.”
And against every better judgement I had, I said, “Okay.”
Well, we went out to the airport. He took us by this little plane and I looked at it, and I thought, “Well, one good thing, it’s shiny.”
Then he walked around it. We got in. He’s on the left front; I’m on the right front; the other lawyer is sitting right behind me, and he started it up. And it started up just fine. Well, we taxied out and I said, “Should we pray?”
He said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. We normally don’t ”
I said, “Well, this time we’re gonna.” And I’m telling you I prayed five, eight minutes. I prayed a long time. We went and got on the runway. He starts down the runway. The plane lifted off ever so gently, and we started climbing, and it’s wonderful; not a problem in the world. We started climbing and we flew probably three, four minutes, and something happened that will never leave my mind!
The pilot turned to me and he said, “We’re going in the clouds, and I can’t fly in clouds! They make me pass out.” I said, “Clouds make you do WHAT!?” Now, it’s been cloudy all day! And we go right up into the clouds and you can’t see anything. And he looks at me, and his eyes roll back in his head, and he starts mumbling and he passes out! Passed out cold!!
Now I grabbed him and shook him and I said, “Come on, you got to wake up!… so I can kill you!”
Now we’re in the clouds flying along with no pilot, and my friend in the back seat said, “We’re dead, aren’t we?”
I said, “There’s a very good chance of that, yes.”
He said, “What are we gonna do?”
I said, “I don’t know.” But there was a radio right there, and I handed him the microphone and I said, “Start asking for help!”
So he’s in the back seat reaching up and he said, “Hello, hello?” We didn’t know any proper radio etiquette. All we were saying was, “Hello?”
And somebody answered back, “ ‘Hello, hello?’ Don’t you guys know proper radio etiquette?”
I said, “Give it to me!” I said, “Tell — We don’t know nothin’! Tell them, we’re in an airplane with a passed out pilot, and we don’t know how to fly this plane!”
The guy said, “I’m a freighter flying out of Anchorage on the way to Tokyo.” And he said, “You’re telling me you have nobody who can fly that plane with you!?”
I said, “Tell him, that’s correct.”
Now you gotta understand I was sweating bullets! He said, “First thing I’m gonna do is start circling so I don’t lose you, because I’ll fly out of range of your radio, and you won’t have me anymore.” And he said, “I’m gonna get Anchorage Emergency for you, and Anchorage Emergency will be the people that can maybe help you; try to save your lives.”
After about five minutes Anchorage came on and said, “We understand you have a passed out pilot and those of you do not know how to fly that plane.”
And we said, “That’s right.”
They said, “Well, the first thing we gotta do is find you.”
I’ll never forget what this man at Anchorage said. He said, “My job is to get you home safe.” He said, “That’s my job. But,“ he said, “here’s the deal. If you want me to get you home safe, you gotta promise me you’ll obey my voice.” He said, “You can’t see me, but I can see you.” And he said, “If you’re not going to obey my voice, you’re gonna die.”
When you can’t see anything, you have no idea how disoriented you become.
Finally, he said, “Okay, I found you. Now hear me clear.” He said, “You’re four minutes from a mountain.” He said, “You’re gonna crash in that mountain and die. Follow my voice.”
I never said, “I have to follow your voice? Is that reasonable?” You see, I understood without his voice, I had nothing! And do you understand without God’s voice, you have nothing? NOTHING!?
Finally, he got us turned and he said, “I’m freezing all the traffic in the area.” He said, “It’s going to take me an hour and a half to get you to Anchorage, and there’s a lot of weather between you and Anchorage. You’re in for a rough ride.” And he said, “I want you to hear me. I don’t want you to look at what’s going on outside. I don’t want you to pay attention to the storm. Just MY Voice!” He said, “If you start watching the storm, you will die! But I’ll take you through it.”
Now, because they cleared all the traffic, several pilots, those nighttime freighters, those 747s, started talking to us. They said, “We’re praying or you men. You’re gonna make it! But listen to the Voice! That’s the key.” They said, “Trust the VOICE.”
Do you realize your head is full of voices? And everybody in this world wants to talk to you. And everybody wants to be the controlling voice. And God says, ”I want you to be a living sacrifice. I want you to put yourself on the altar and let My VOICE be [the voice you listen to].
Finally we went through the worst of the weather, but there was still more. And then the Voice came back, and he said, “Now, I’m gonna line you up.” He said, “I’m gonna bring you in right down the runway, and at the foot of the runway are some lights, and they’re in the form of a cross.” He said, “Don’t you forget this, The Cross Is The Way Home!”
Finally, he’s bringing us down. We still can’t see anything, and all he kept saying is, “Stay with me.”
“My sheep,” the Bible says, “hear My VOICE and they follow Me.”
Finally, just a couple hundred feet off the ground, we saw the cross. I landed the plane. In fact, I landed it seven times! Finally, it all came to a stop, and the minute we stopped the pilot woke up.
The voice said, “Thanx for listening. I watch them crash and burn all the time because they won’t follow my Voice. They don’t understand I’m the one who can see them even though they can’t see me. But they get the voices in their head and they kill themselves. They self-destruct. Thanx for listening to the Voice.”
Then they put us in a motel room, and about four in the morning, Knock, knock, knock, knock. A knock at my door, and I opened the door and a man was standing there. He said, ”Hello, David.”
I said, “You’re the Voice! You’re the one who got me home!”
He said, “I am.”
Do you understand one day you’re going to stand before Him and say, “YOU were the VOICE! You’re the VOICE that brought…me…Home!”
If you’re not on that altar as a living sacrifice, your head’s full of voices. And then we wonder why kids crash and burn? We wonder why marriages are shattered?
And the Lord is saying, “ I AM the One who [is] the VOICE.”
All I can remember is that Voice saying, “Stay with me… Stay with me… Don’t listen to what’s going on in your head and don’t watch the storm. Stay…with…Me, and I’ll take you through.”
Tonight you have a God who has promised to take you through. A living sacrifice. Holy.
My closing thought: Consider what you are listening for; what noises crowd out the Voice that you need to hear? https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/what-are-you-listening-for/
“As many were astonished at you, his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” Isaiah 52:14
Resurrection Sunday came, but not before THIS happened. Is it any wonder that as a man, Jesus was so strained in the Garden of Gethsemene, that “being in agony He prayed more earnestly; His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:43-44) Hematidrosis is a rare medical condition in which one oozes or “sweats” blood from the skin even thought there is no cut or injury. Though usually not fatal of itself, it has most often occurred in people as they died or in prisoners facing execution. He knew what was about to happen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=125baeLbGvU
Not just the physical torture He was about to endure, but He knew the spiritual battle that we will never see – the acceptance of sin for which He was not guilty, sin that was none of His doing; all the pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth that you and I have committed; all the hatred, lies, murder, abuse and wickedness that men and women have perpetrated since the beginning of the earth until its end! He was looking forward to bearing ALL that in a matter of hours.
And should we expect God will deliver us from all troubles? Yet, “God did not keep bad things from happening to God Himself and there is no darkness into which He has not descended. He knows the texture and taste of everything [we] most fear.” (Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night)
Western Christians have become so soft and comfortable that the idea of suffering for Christ seems completely foreign. Anticipating Sunday’s Resurrection, we glide through the pleasant days before with nothing to mark us but a little ash on our foreheads.
So many “prosperity gospel” preachers have pounded out verses like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” that we have come to believe any time we have a problem, we can just go to Jesus and He will fix it in a matter of minutes. They ignore the context of Jeremiah’s encouragement that was in a letter to EXILES! “To the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Note, to the surviving elders! Many had died; many more were taken into captivity in chains or herded like cattle between soldiers on horses.
Yes, it is a nice plan, but the prophet warned it would be 70 years❗, an average person’s lifetime, before God would start working out His plans for their welfare. And so Jeremiah warned, “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in My name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.”
Friend, if you want an easy life; if you want to avoid controversy; if you want to skate along with the culture, do not become a follower of Jesus! If you are looking for prosperity and the “wonderful plan for your life” that some gospel peddlers offer, just take up their pitch and rest easy. Go with the flow when government orders you to do something; obey every rule and do not make trouble. Remember that the Nazis loved to quote the Bible in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” But they avoided Peter’s assertion in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” And after beating the apostles, they let them go.
Stay with me here: the apostles did not go back to their little prayer group or life-affirming friends and say, “Oh, it was so terrible! Those guys were so mean to us. Please pray that Jesus will protect us from them and we will never encounter that again!” On the contrary, “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.” Then they kept on boldly teaching in the religious government’s headquarters (their Temple) and from house to house.
Are you willing to suffer loss for the sake of following our Lord? Are you willing to be ostracized as a narrow-minded, anti-science freak? Are you willing to “Count it all joy,… when you meet trials of various kinds?” (James 1:2) Have you read the Bible, the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This “cross” is not some illness or natural difficulty you may encounter. “There is something frustrating that occurs on earth, namely, that there are righteous people to whom things happen as if they were doing wicked deeds; and, again, there are wicked people to whom things happen as if they were doing righteous deeds.” (Ecclesiastes 8:14 CJB)
The cross to which Jesus calls us is a choice to obey Him against what your family will call “common sense.” Your friends will wag their heads and say, “Well, they went off the deep end!” Even some religious advisers will warn you not to get too radical. But for many of us, to follow Jesus will mean just that – a radical commitment to a God who was willing to suffer to redeem us.
Oh, and there is a reward, but we may not see it in this life! Do not be so hasty for Sunday morning that you miss what happens before the Resurrection. Are you willing to believe in a God who is willing to die for you? Are you willing to die for a God who will save you?
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:18-20
In the western world, dominated for over a century by the USA, religious liberty has been one of our rock-solid principles, delineated in the Constitution of the United States, in the First Amendment. It was not, as many have portrayed it, a “separation of Church and State,” but rather a constraint on government to not regulate religion. However secularists and those with aberrant religious views (e.g. Church of Satan, etc.) have modified the principle of the first amendment to mean that no religious views… except that of the secularists… are to be tolerated.
Aberrant religious views from Jim Jones style cults to some mainline churches have contributed to this confusion by making absurd claims and trying to defend themselves with the First Amendment. Claims by religious “organizations” that investigations by government agencies constituted intrusion into “Ecclesiastical Abstention” muddied the waters so that sexual abuse or drug use that was condoned or tolerated within an organization could be hidden from public scrutiny and legal consequences. Now, the “public good” is at stake when someone claims “religious exemption” from vaccination, and those who truly believe they should not be vaccinated are left struggling for an argument that will hold up in court.
All of this is to say that views that were once mainstream in America are soon to be considered deviant and dangerous. Marriage, universally and trans-culturally, has always been between a man and a woman, as is Biblically mandated. A child was a human from conception historically in almost every part of the world. Gender followed the science: if you have a penis, you are male; if you have a vagina, you are female. Espousing these views now is labeled as homophobic, patriarchal, anachronistic and damaging to others who disagree.
The recent court case in Finland where Päivi Räsänen was charged with “hate speech” for sharing her faith-based views on marriage and sexual ethics, in a 2019 tweet, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet ended well… so far. The prosecutors may appeal. But the fact that she and a bishop of her church were faced with having to defend what they believed to be Biblical teaching under threat of fines and imprisonment is telling; this in a country known best for its limited government and respect for basic human freedoms.
Here in the USA, we still have a large voting block that is “Christian” in name, but lacking in the zeal of previous generations of believers. And the tide continues to turn, especially as globalism goes “global.”
The privilege and freedoms associated to being a Christian in a “Christian nation” are going to evaporate faster than snow in the Arizona desert. In their place will be lawsuits (think Jack Phillips), job losses (the Navy finally had to allow religious exemptions over the government’s protests), and ostracization by those who claim moral superiority based on cooperation with a secular view of history, biology, and culture. And this is the world that either hated or did not care about Jesus.
When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” he was admitting to his lack of perception that there was a right and wrong. To him, there was only political expedience and this life, one of getting whatever one can and enjoying the ease that comes with advancement in the world’s systems.
If you are a Christ-follower, you need to be thinking about what it may cost you in the near future to identify as a disciple of Jesus. When laws are passed allowing “abortion” to be committed up to 28 days AFTER birth, when a man can go into a public restroom that your wife wants to use because today he claims he is a woman, when you are challenged to state what you believe in the middle of a PTA meeting about evolution, what will you do?
Make no mistake. We are not called to take up weapons of the world, but we must be prepared to identify ourselves as followers of Christ. Many pastors and churches are still teaching so much about the love of God that they are about to miss the opportunity to call their congregations to follow Jesus in His suffering.
Paul invited the Philippians to this fellowship that most Americans would find strange: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
We want the love and protection of God; we want to be able to walk through fiery furnaces unharmed; we want the prosperity and blessings, but we hate the idea of suffering for the sake of Christ. But that is what some of us will be appointed to; to bear the Name before a hostile world that will persecute us.
This is already true in most of the world. More people have been murdered because of their stated belief in Jesus in the last 100 years than in all the 1,900 before combined! Prepare your children, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces and any that are coming behind you!! We must be ready for what is certain to come.
Be warned, as the apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
(1 Peter 4:12-17)
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Most jets are outfitted with an orange “black box” flight recorder that can help investigators figure out what when wrong after an airline crash. The bottom line on most crashes is “miscommunication.” The pilot or navigator failed to get important information, either about the weather, another aircraft, the runway or some other factor that resulted in the deaths of most or all of those on the jet.
There is much about eternity and the nature of God that is like that black box; we do not understand on this side of the grave. And there is much about God we will never understand, even after we begin to live in Heaven. After all, HE is the Uncreated God and we are not.
But there is much about eternity and God that we CAN understand, as He loves us and wants to share our lives for all of time, and He has revealed to us what we need to know. What He has revealed is so simple a toddler can understand, yet so profound that the greatest philosophers and scientists can still miss it. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Matthew 11:25-26)
However, to get to know Him well we need more than the simple experience a child can fathom. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, “If a man once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he will be turning from something real to something less real… The map is admittedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based upon what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary.” (in Mere Christianity)
Such is the Bible: a map for those wanting to know The God Who Is. Like “cartography,” the study of maps, there will be much in this map of God that we will not understand at first, just as the novice explorer will not understand all the details of topographical or nautical instruction on his maps. But to fully understand the terrain or ocean on which the explorer roams, he must learn to use his maps.
In the same way, to fully understand The God Who Is, as much as we can understand him from this tiny blue ball we call earth, we must learn to use the Bible, with care, accuracy and precision. Biblical literacy is vitally important to fulfill all that Father intends for us to be and do while on earth. Jesus warned, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)
Some complain there are so many translations, which one is best? My “best” recommendation is to explore multiple translations any time you embark on Bible study, as various ones bring different innuendo to the text. See https://www.biblegateway.com/ for some excellent tools, including side-by-side translations, devotionals, blogs and other resources for Bible study.
There are three basic methods of translation: word-for-word, thought-for-thought, and paraphrases.
Word-for-word can be very awkward as languages have different syntax and structure. However, you can find “interlinear” Greek and Hebrew texts online if that is what you wish to explore. You will quickly see why translators for common folk such as us do not use word-for-word translation, but more thought-for-thought.
Of course, thought-for-thought can get dangerous if the underlying philosophy or theology of the translator is aberrant. Fortunately, there are so many translations available, these will usually be easy to ferret out; e.g., if a translator discards masculine or feminine pronouns or dismisses the miraculous power of God to overrule His laws of physics or biology.
Paraphrases are the most subject to the translator’s personal opinions, but often can provide insight into cultural phrasing and attitudes that straighter translations will miss. An example of this is The Cotton Patch Version’s treatment of John 1:5: “The light shined in the darkness and the darkness couldn’t do a blessed thing about it!” This captures somewhat the idea, but puts it in a particular vernacular of southern US culture.
The following is a graphic illustrating the degree of “accuracy” of several English language translations, listing some translations as word-for-word, although they are not interlinears. Note, for those who prefer King James English of 1611, the KJV remains one of the best translations for accuracy of the words. My only concern with KJV is that the Old English employed can leave one feeling like you are reading a foreign language if you are not schooled in Shakespeare. The poetry and beauty of it is unmatched by the NASB or ESV, but remember, when it was translated, THIS was the way common people talked!
The NIV is one of the most popular because of the excellent marketing the publishers did when it first came out in 1978 by one of the most prominent Bible translation groups around at the time, and its list of scholars were some of the greatest minds in evangelical circles. The ESV came out in 2001 and utilized updated research and linguistic scholarship in an attempt to render as literally as possible what was in the original autographs (which have long been lost to antiquity), including recognizing different writing styles of each different author of the various books.
As you read and study the Bible, expect there will be things that are difficult to accept or understand, but the Scripture is the proven Word of God just as surely as Jesus is the Living Word. It is not anti-science; it is not fantasy or myth; it is not racist or misogynistic or patriarchal. When understood it will reveal a God who is holy and loving, gracious and truthful, and transcends cultures and ages of the world.
As I have noted in previous blogs, There is no book in history that has been more reliably preserved and translated than the Bible. There is no book in history that has more power to change the human condition than the Bible. There is no book in history that is more important for knowing the God Who Is than the Bible.
See https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/the-reliability-of-the-bible-part-1/ for the beginning of a series on The Reliability of the Bible. Remember always that the Bible is the map, however, not the Atlantic Ocean! Use it wisely, but do not get caught in the trap so many theologians fall into of studying the map in their offices in such detail that they never get in a boat to go sailing.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John Shedd)
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
In Kentucky, people still go to the grocers, take their kids to school or get them ready for a school-bus; they attend church meetings and school assemblies for their kids; city councils still meet and debate whether to widen a road or how to change the construction code; my neighbors hired guys to put in a new fence and I am going to the garden center to discuss what to plant in front of my house to replace the yews I may remove tomorrow.
In fact, life in these United States and most of the world still plods on for most of us without houses crumbling in from missiles nor energy plants being shelled. No convoys of invading tanks, only a peaceful bunch of truckers who want to protest vaccines and masks that are about to be ended so the politicians will face less voter wrath next year. (I was told that state legislatures are considering bills to order men in city subdivisions to pair up with each other and go get a coffee or beer together once a week; but they are not going to call them laws… they’re going to call them man-dates. 🙄)
See, we even make lame jokes here, while an entire country is evacuating except for those willing to put their lives at risk and kill invaders from the neighboring nation. Some are kneeling in public squares to fast and pray for safety. Reports of deaths range from a couple hundred to a few thousand when you include invaders that have been crushed. Nuclear arms stand ready for a diabolical finger to push a button and blow an entire city off the map in a nation that does not have nuclear weapons.
Digression: On July 28, 1914, Serbian puppets of Russia assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo. Exactly one month later, August 28, with German support the Austrian emperor declared war, followed by Russian retaliation and World War 1 began, eventually leading to over 100 countries from every continent becoming involved.
“The War to End All Wars?”
Only in 21 years, in August of 1939, Hitler’s Germany amassed troops on the border of Poland and demanded a meeting in Berlin with the Polish ambassador (a plenipotentiary). His feet were hardly warmed at a fireplace when Germany invaded Poland on September 1 with a “blitzkrieg” to begin World War 2. This time 191 nations entered the war! (There are only 195-199 in the world, depending on who is counting.)
In the meantime, WW2 resulted in changes in China that culminated in Mao Zedong claiming the founding of the PRC, chasing his opponents (about 3 million) to Taiwan.
And the world has been at war ever since, whether in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kashmir, “Kurdistan,” Iraq, Iran and much of Africa and the Mideast.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8)
Back To The Point: All this is to say “the end is still to come!” And the question on everyone’s mind is, WHEN? With a conflict that could easily erupt into World War 3, which a Russian spokesman says will be nuclear, this is not a time to play games with life and with The God Who Is. Such an event would happen so suddenly, that while diplomats try to lie and say it is unlikely, most of the world will be shocked and caught off-guard.
So the question that should be on everyone’s mind is not when the end will come, but “Will I be ready if it happens tomorrow?” You can know that you are ready, and such knowledge removes the fear that is motivating so many political debates and military discussions. Knowing Jesus is not just knowing about Him, like reading a biography (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and getting the facts together.
Knowing Jesus is to meet Him. Granted, most of us will not have visions or dreams in which we actually shake His hand or see His face. But by praying and inviting Him to come into your life, if you ask with belief that He will answer, He will come into your heart. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
This invitation is to you. No matter where you have been, what you have done; there is no ethnicity, color, language group or nationality that is excluded. You can come to Jesus just as you are. Simply repent (i.e. turn away from your selfish choices and anything opposed to godliness) and ask Jesus to come and live in you by His Holy Spirit. And HE WILL! Invite Him to lead your life from this day forward and be submissive to what He tells you.
He will usually speak first through the Bible. Read it! It is not a single book, but a collection and there are tons of helps for reading and studying it, to understand the basics of what it means to become a disciple of Jesus.
He also speaks through your conscience, if you have not seared it with persistent sin or disobedience to what the Bible teaches.
Be open to instruction by followers of Jesus who have been following Him longer than you. They are not “the last word” on how you should live for Jesus, but rely on their wisdom to begin to consider how you should live.
Even if a world war is not imminent, no one gets a guarantee of tomorrow. “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 46:10, New Living Translation) And He is not telling most of us how many days we have left on earth. And even if you are younger than 70 years old, no one here gets out alive!
So do not wait. Do not hesitate. Do not say, “l’ll do it tomorrow.” Do not put it off for “a more convenient time.” “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT) Do not let anything stop you. Trust in Jesus today.
Email me (email@example.com) if you want to connect to Christ-followers in your city or discuss anything else about this decision.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
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!
This guest blog has been edited somewhat with a paragraph deletion, links added and minor changes; if you wish to read Lisa’s original, you can find Alabastersky’s “Deceived: The New Religion” here. People, we must learn to love Truth more than anything. Our Father guarantees that if you love the truth you will not be deceived. Galatians 6:7 commands, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” The Bible would not give us a command without the ability to fulfill it! As for those who are deceived, this is because they did NOT love the truth: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
It occurs to me that as we plummet headfirst more into darkness each day, that we compromise and allow deception to reign. There are those who become so far removed from truth along the way that they will begin to not only believe but to embrace the lie so much that they themselves are convinced by it. The deceivers actually begin deceiving themselves!
I’ll give you some examples. The New Testament of the Bible tells us much about the Pharisees. We always see them waiting to trip Jesus up, or catch Him in some blasphemy, or in an act violating their traditions. They truly seem to be a demonized and hateful bunch, and Jesus often appears saddened and annoyed by them. But I believe their zeal was not only born out of a perceived threat of loss of control over the people, but also out of an actual belief that Jesus was a crack-pot blasphemer who was leading God’s chosen people astray. It was a combination of these two (and probably other motivations not mentioned). But as we can clearly see now, and for anyone who wishes to study it, Jesus fulfills every Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah’s [first coming]* – every single one.
[*Editor’s Note, the only ones remaining are about End Times events.]
Jumping forward to today, I’ve often wondered how multitudes could be allured into buying wholeheartedly into the one world religion of the antichrist that the Bible describes in Revelation 13, but believe the sincere zeal of the Pharisees gives us a clue. From this chapter in Revelation, we learn that the antichrist (or beast* as he is called), together with the false prophet* (or second beast) perform miracles that are so great that they deceive even possibly the very elect (see Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). So we know from this that there is great allure and attraction for people to become followers of the beast who sets himself up not only as the Messiah but also as the fulfillment of all other religions, but is in fact the very antithesis of truth.
[*Editor’s Note: these leaders will NOT be called “antichrist,” “the beast” nor “the false prophet” in the media.]
This allure of deception was confirmed when I saw New York’s Governor on a news broadcast recently stating that she needed “apostles” to evangelize people to get the vaccine because “Jesus taught us to love one another,” and that people who’ve gotten the shots are “the smart ones” while those who refuse to get it “aren’t listening to God and what God wants,” Whose god, I wondered, and why isn’t she taking individual circumstance into consideration? I also have to ask if she herself hears “God” when it comes to the murder of innocent unborn (and even just born) babies?
Now if you honestly believe that the vaccine is the best thing for you, then by all means, go for it. That is your choice, and I’m not here to stop you. But if for various reasons there are those of us who do not believe it is the best thing, why is the government working so forcibly to mandate that it is not our choice? One has to consider that if a government (any government) can force you to take the jab, then they can also force you to take the mark of the beast. Compromise is made in small steps, and the lines we cross in the midst of compromise can be dangerously deceitful.
I’m still trying to figure out why those who have been vaccinated need to be protected from those who have not been vaccinated. If the vaccine is as good as they claim, why would that be necessary? If the vaccine is as good as they claim, why, according to CDC data, did the virus almost flat line as far as new cases in the US prior to the vaccine, and then suddenly and aggressively spike after people began being vaccinated? I’m curious to know why there is a higher risk of catching covid after vaccination than there is before, by the very people who have been vaccinated? I’m curious to know why countries like Australia never took the extreme measures they are taking now for covid against such things as the flu, since the flu has higher death rates than covid? I’m curious about a lot of things, and I know I don’t stand alone in my curiosity.
But I digress… The point I am hoping to make about the governor of New York’s appeal is that she, much like the Pharisees, has bought into this secular empire religion, and as a result not only perceives a threat of loss of control over the people, but also truly believes that those who act in an individual manner against the government-dictated social norms are crack-pots who are leading people astray.
Take that with another news article regarding a letter from a [national] teachers organization, that requested for parents who engaged in protests to be designated as domestic terrorists and treated as such, as if the government has final authority over our children. For anyone who is a Christ-follower, all of this appears to be the height of hypocrisy and lunacy, but to those who swallow the lies “hook, line, and sinker,” they are just as sincere in their belief in the deception as we are in the grounded and absolute truth of the Bible.
This goes along with a book my husband was reading recently, Hitler’s Cross by Erwin Lutzer, which analyzes what happens when a country forgets God, and declares the state in place of God in regards to what you are allowed to believe, and what happened to the church and Germany as a result. In the book he describes one of Hitler’s top enforcers, Heinrich Himmler, who believed in reincarnation. In his warped idea of spirituality based on a mix of Norse mythology, Hinduism, racism, and the occult, he believed that the Jewish people were “lower than the animals.” As a result he also sincerely believed he was actually doing the Jewish people a favor by annihilating them, so they could return on a higher rung of life than before. How absurd! Sin, hatred and the evil in which it is rooted has no bounds. Those who combine an almighty state with total control and a warped spirituality, and racism in whatever form, who deny Judeo-Christian values, advocate for loss of freedom, and the right to one’s life, and deny the right to decide what entails one’s own physical health, are crossing the line from welfare to tyranny.
THIS is why it is so important to know and understand our enemy is not flesh and blood but are the rulers and powers, principalities and forces of this present darkness (see Ephesians 6:12). This is also why it is important to stand and not compromise.
Letting go of our will in order to seek and fulfill His will instead has nothing to do with conformity. We need to understand that unity and conformity are not one and the same. We can all unite as one nation without conformity, keeping our individuality and God given rights. There is nothing more powerful [against tyranny] than being who God created us to be! That is why our founding fathers emphasized being created equal, with equal opportunity. Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome, and the sooner we return to that understanding, the faster all this racist nonsense being propagated by those wishing to divide and conquer through fear will come to an end.
Know this, the truth and understanding of which I speak is only imparted through the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that when we hold to His teachings, then we will know the truth, the truth will set us free (see John 8:31-32). Jesus said He IS the truth (John 14:6). You can know Him too. He is found by everyone who sincerely seeks Him, and He will set you free!
A blogger presented this on July 15, 2021, and wrote in much clearer fashion than I probably write. I have not been down all the rabbit-holes she went into, but investigated many of them including extensive reading of Vedic Literature, the Book of Mormon, prophecies of Zoroaster, the Quran, writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and others.
Altogether, the Bible is the only book (or library of books) that really tells the Truth about The God Who Is, how He has revealed Himself throughout history, and finally in Jesus, called The Christ. Read on for valuable insights.
In the 1990’s, in spite of the good little church goer that I was, there was about a 4 or 5 year period where I used to be attracted to anything new-age, from music to books and everything in between. Back then, to me, everything was a shade of grey. There was no black and white, and although you would hear me say that God and scripture were true and that I believed in absolutes, I had no clear understanding of what that really meant.
I was fascinated by Nostradamus and end-of-the-world prophecies, but if you told me I should study the book of Revelation, I likely would have rolled my eyes in the belief that (at least at that time) I was not a theologian nor even a book worm, so none of that would likely make sense to me anyway. The sad truth was that angels clothed in light, things written through trans-channeling (or auto-writing), and anything that focused on a better me and learning to love myself through my own independence and “woman had more of an attraction to me than anything “holy”.
One of the books I actually do remember reading at the time was titled Conversations with God. I found it interesting that the author claimed there was no right or wrong, there was only functional and dysfunctional. Sounds somewhat logical, right? Especially when wrong and right appear so black and white, so unloving and hateful! But let me tell you why all of that is deception dressed in light – taking what is truth, twisting it, and then repackaged it in a way that is always palatable and yet never powerful.
First of all I want to say that God is so much more than just sentience (or feeling) as new-age spiritualism would have us believe. That He is “more of a feeling” and is “everywhere and in everyone and everything” is a twist on the truth that He is omniscient and omnipresent. He is, in fact, an actual living, breathing, person, and His Word is not only truth but really IS ABSOLUTE truth, and very powerful!
After both of my parents passed away, I learned that grief is love that has no where to go, and because love never dies, grief may subside but it always remains under the surface. So imagine when it dawned on me that I had been grieving the Holy Spirit, because at that time I was so absorbed into all of this, His love for me also had no place to go. I didn’t realize I was actively resisting Him. If you were to ask me back then, I was in such a confused state that I would have even debated that God approved of that form of spiritualism, because I didn’t understand the difference between an “angel clothed in light” and an “angel of the Light“.
Only in Jesus Christ can I find freedom to live the life I was created to live – my purpose in this life. That was a game changer for me, because all of the sudden I saw sin (which is ANYTHING that separates me from Him) as slavery (black), and righteousness in Him as freedom (white).
“Oh but Lisa”, you might say, “there IS grey! Take for example the grey lines between male and female”! Yes, the male/female thing can be a big debate and a lot to unpack for some, but I have to tell you that the black and white in me no longer sees it as a debate. Once I aligned myself with scripture, passages like Psalms 139 (He formed me in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, all the days ordained for me were written in His book…) and Jeremiah 1 (before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…) came alive with meaning! I began to realize that if I choose to become anything outside of what He has created me to be (and this goes beyond just LBGTQ, it applies to anything and everyone) – if WE, any of us, choose any other path outside of the one He has created and ordained for us, then we set ourselves up for a life focused on temporary pleasures, and in the end are left not only unsatisfied and unfulfilled, but also in a deadly deception.
True science, in the end, always aligns with scripture (whether intended or not). Why? Because Jesus Christ, God Almighty, the Creator of this universe and everything in it, is immutable. We align with Him, He doesn’t align with us. He doesn’t sanction the sin, He sanctions the sinner. Once I recognize His authority in my life, I am the one who changes as I come under it. Anything less is expecting Him to change and bend to my will instead of me bending to His – and that in itself is saying that I do not believe He is God, because I do not value Him enough to bend my will to His. Truth: the fact that He sanctions the sinner and not the sin has nothing to do with Him not loving me, quite the opposite. It has everything to do with Him loving me so much that He takes delight in me as I discover what I was created for.
I’m just glad He caught my attention enough at the time for me to allow Him to stop the soul-sucking practices, habits, and bad theology I was mixed up in and allow Him to begin healing me instead. His Spirit was continuously wooing me back to Him. As I began to respond and desire conversations with the Living God Himself rather than with just His creation, I knew more and more that He really is immutable (the same yesterday, today, forever), and that scripture really is His holy word.
So that’s where I am with holiness on my end. It is what I call the journey of shades of grey into a solid state of black and white, because that’s what holiness does. Only those who allow His holiness to be imparted to them realize what a beautiful thing it really is to be set apart in this way. It is incredibly comforting in the chaos of this world, and touches the human spirit in a way that is far more than anything sensual this world has to offer!
Link to original blog: https://alabastersky.wordpress.com/2021/07/15/shades-of-grey/
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”
When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles. The same goes for blogging. When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).
We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog. We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are. Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).
Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time. I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)
But sometimes I do not “have it all together.” Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock with no light. I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more. So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.” He won’t let me up anyway.
I am not suicidal (See ). As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.” But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world. Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.
But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you. Life is about Him!
Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.” As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible. Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”
In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD. And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people. But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense. I was born spiritually blind and sinful. Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin. He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews. But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb. And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him. It’s ALL about Him!
I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters. It DOES! You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross! And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.
“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.” Job 19:25-27
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH. Habakkuk 3:17