Category Archives: Eternal Life

Religious Right or Wrong?

It is the turn of the year and I don’t know about you but I’ve already got a gut full of politics.  I have just about “had it up to here.”  The most disturbing aspect of all this is the antics of the so-called Christian “leaders.”  The “Religious Right” is in grave danger of becoming the “religious wrong.”  Along with the disgusting concentration on pre-election politics is the equally disgusting lack of concentration on what really matters: following Christ.

I have to believe that Jesus really meant it when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting…but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).  His life, ministry and teaching were decidedly “not of this realm.”  His emphasis was the Kingdom of God, eternal life and preparation for it.

Yes, He was deeply concerned with justice, mercy and love for neighbors and enemies.  When it came to earthly kingdoms and their governments, however, he was decidedly silent.  Can you imagine Him endorsing a candidate — even in our time?  Yet we read stuff like this:

“The Rev. Donald E. Wildmon is making an urgent plea to Christian voters in Iowa to vote for Newt Gingrich in their caucuses on Tuesday in what he describes as the “most critical” election in American history” (Newsmax.com, December 31, 2011).

This, in spite of repeated warnings by the Holy Spirit not to put our hope in human beings (Psalm 118:8-9; Proverbs 20:6; Jeremiah 17:5).

The only thing that can change this world for the better is the spread of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the values of His Kingdom.  Earthly kingdoms, empires, nations and governments can never approach the power for good resident in the Kingdom of God.  Faith, hope and love are not the results of the legislative, judicial or administrative processes.  So, why are our leaders seeking to manipulate earthly politics?  Could it be because they have lost faith the Kingdom and its King?

It is the right of all citizens of all democracies to participate in the government of the people, by the people and for the people.  As Christians, we should consider the issues and the candidates and vote according to our Christian consciences.  At the same time, we must beware of placing undue trust or emphasis upon or in this process.

Our emphasis must be upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  We must seek to influence our cultures by trying to live, look, love and smell like Him (2 Corinthians 2:14).  To put our trust in politicians is to risk stinking like them and, considering our present congress, behold, the stench thereof rises to high heaven.

You shepherds of your flocks, put your hope and trust in Jesus, the only one who can change hearts and minds and thus change our world for the better.  Proclaim Him.  Emulate Him.  Gather disciples to Him.  Don’t place your trust in some flawed human being.  Only Christ can turn this capsized world right side up.

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Filed under Change Agent, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Current Events, discipleship, Eternal Life, Faith, Good & Evil, Holy Spirit, Ignorance, Incompetence, Infidelity, Integrity, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Love, morality, Persuasion, Politics, Religion, Salvation, Scripture, Trust

Without Apology

“So, you believe that only Christians are going to heaven?”  It’s a question that has caused more than one person to squirm uncomfortably.  It is especially uncomfortable if the question is asked in a public forum (radio or television interview) in a challenging way by someone who (1) isn’t a person of faith or, (2) an adherent of a non-Christian religion.  In reality, any answer will offend someone, somehow.  One response will offend one group, the alternative will offend the other.  No answer at all will offend whoever’s left.

If you are a Christian and you believe the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be accurate accounts of the words and actions of Christ, only one answer is possible.  It is the answer Jesus gave to a disciple named Thomas.  Here it is:

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

It is also the answer that, after the death of Christ, Peter gave to the rulers, elders and scribes in Jerusalem.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Jesus and Peter said it, I didn’t.  So, you can get mad at me for believing it, but you can’t blame me for saying it.  I don’t have to apologize for their answers.  No uncomfortable squirming here.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Eternal Life, Evangelism, Faith, Jesus Christ, Judgmental, Quotations, Salvation

Guilty of Being Too Gracious

Trey Morgan

If you don’t subscribe to Trey Morgan’s blog, you ought to.  He is a very thoughtful writer and preacher.  He preaches in Childress, Texas and if you ask me, they are extremely fortunate to have him.  I had an article all ready to post when I read this and thought I must share it with all my readers. Take my advice and go to his blog site here and read his past and present postings.  You’ll be blessed.  I was especially touched by his latest: A $2.99 Hug.

When he asked me the question, I knew I’d heard that type of question before. It was one of those, “What if a person is doing…,” questions that ended with, “Will that person get to go to heaven or hell?”He was calling someone’s morality into question, and I could tell by how he asked, he wasn’t really asking the question because he wanted to know, but because he wanted to trap me with the question. It was the same thing the Pharisees did to Jesus on many occasions.

My answer was simple, “That’s totally up to God. He’s the one who makes the decisions on who goes to heaven and who doesn’t.”

I could tell my answer frustrated him. Redness was building from his neck up to his face. “I knew that’s what you’d say,” he said with a frustrated tone. “I don’t even know why I asked you. You’re too soft on people.”

I smiled and told him, “I’m sorry, but I got out of judging business long ago. Who gets in and who doesn’t is not not my place to decide. But”, I told him, “If I’m going to err on one side or the other, I’d rather err on the side of mercy.” He didn’t like that much either.

I left feeling good about my answer. I still feel the same way today.  I think Jesus was a perfect example when it came to being gracious to others. Remember how Jesus acted around those whose lives weren’t exactly to what God wanted? A prostitute, a wealthy exploiter, a Samaritan woman with several husbands, a woman caught in adultery – all people that Jesus would have had a problem with their lifestyle. Yet all found grace and mercy from Jesus instead of condemnation. No wonder Jesus gained the reputation as being a “friend of sinners.” Maybe we can learn a lot about how to treat people by watching Jesus in action.

When I stand before God someday, if I’m found guilty of anything, I want to be found guilty of being too gracious, too forgiving and too merciful. I feel I have a better chance with God that way than I do if I’m found too harsh, too judgmental and too unsympathetic.

“You’re too soft on people,” that guy said to me that day. Well if too soft means too merciful … then I pray I’m guilty as charged!

“So you must show mercy to others, or God will not show mercy to you when he judges you. But the person who shows mercy can stand without fear at the judgment.”   ~ James 2:13


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Filed under Attributes of God, Bigotry, Blogs & Blogging, Christlikeness, Condemnation, Encouragement, Eternal Life, Good & Evil, Judge, Judgment, Judgmental, Preaching/Teaching

New Blog by Randy Becton

I am excited to announce a new blog by my dear friend, Randy Becton,  called “A Caring Touch.” Randy will be writing words of encouragement and comfort in his inimitable style.  He has posted his first article, “Old Books and Forever Friends” and you may enjoy it by going here.  These will be great articles to send to friends who are in need of an encouraging word.

Be sure to subscribe and spread the word!

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Filed under Blessings, Blogs & Blogging, Encouragement, Eternal Life, Faith, Friendship, Life, Love, Meaning of Life

THE MEANING OF THE TOMB

Mark the 16th chapter begins like this:

After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they said to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (It was a very large stone.) Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back. So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe — and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here — he has been raised!  Look, here is the place where he was placed. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: “He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ “

But why the words, “Including Peter?” Why is that in this text?  Could it be because Peter had denied him?  In Luke 22, starting with verse 54 we read the story: Continue reading

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Filed under Eternal Life, Faith, Jesus Christ, Meaning of Life, Resurrection, Salvation

Tiger

“Those birds can’t make up their minds whether to fly north or south,” he said as I was walking to my table in the coffee shop, “…they’re going around in circles.”

Thus began a strange and confusing conversation with a man who calls himself “Tiger.”  He was out of the Army as a combat engineer but apparently had not seen combat.  He was now at loose ends, living out of his car and delivering pizzas in the evenings.  He was not completely broke since he was in a coffee shop but was about to leave for a bookstore where they served free coffee.

I asked him where he was from and he said, “Baytown.”  But it turns out that he was from all over Texas and elsewhere.  In short order I learned that he suffered from bone loss, damaged ligaments in his right arm and several industrial injuries.  He had been married twice, had three children and had lost another son to murder.

“I consider myself a professional singer,” he told me at least twice.  He had sung with several bands but it didn’t work out because he wouldn’t sing songs by Judas Priest for moral reasons.  Nevertheless, he had tried to be an alcoholic like the rest of his band but was thwarted by an allergic reaction to alcohol.

Finally, I questioned him about his journey of faith.  He had started out as an atheist because “something really bad” had happened to him and he decided there could not be a God.  Then “another really bad thing happened” to him and he nearly died.  He decided then there must really be a God because “He let me live.”

I asked him if he had been baptized.  “Oh yes…several times,” he said.

“Several times?” I asked.

“Yep.  Several times in different names…Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and in the name of Jesus only.”

“When I was seventeen I got the Holy Ghost at a Pentecostal church.  But then I noticed how the church people were treating others,” and even though he didn’t lose faith in God, he lost faith in churches.  Now he’s an attender of churches but member of none.

As the conversation continued, it was clear that Tiger’s mind is as confused as his life.  As we talked, different, disconnected details kept emerging.  “I try to forget the past, and press on to the future just like the Bible says.”

When I asked him about the future he told me he wanted to be a mercenary with the Israelis but he was vague about when and where.  “I don’t think I can kill anyone,” he said, “but I can hand bullets to those who will.”

What will happen to the Tigers of this life?  Is he destined to wander aimlessly taking life as it comes for good or ill just like those birds flying in circles?  What will be the eternal destiny of those like him?  I honestly don’t know.  But maybe I was not there for him.  Maybe I encountered Tiger so I could count my blessings.  I left the coffee shop in my old, but trusty car I’ve never had to spend the night in.  I drove to my comfortable home to eat a nutritious breakfast.  I sat down in my comfortable chair at my computer to write this article.  Later on I will talk with my beloved wife of 48 years.  Today I will be doing meaningful and purposeful work in the kingdom.  Thank you, Lord and thank you, Tiger.  Point well taken.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Baptism, Biography, Blessings, church, Eternal Life, Faith, homelessness, Life, Meaning of Life, morality, Scripture

The Christian Difference – 4

A Pilgrimage Mentality

Research by George Barna and others exposes a sad truth: very few differences distinguish Christians from their fellow-humans. To be blunt, those called-out from the world look a great deal like it.  These articles (of which this is No. 4) are ones man’s effort to review ways in which Christians can be in the world but not of it.

In the beginning, Jesus taught his followers to be visibly different in ways that would bring glory to God[1].  These are not mere distinctions in speech and dress even though as modesty and civility decline, Christians increasingly look, act and speak differently.  As the surrounding darkness deepens, the contrast sharpens.[2] We are unique because we have a pilgrimage mentality. This world is not our home.

Christians are different because our heart, and thus our treasures, are elsewhere.  We are strangers, aliens and pilgrims on the earth.[3]

Western Christians are well-supplied physically.  With some tragic exceptions, we have adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, transportation and medical care.  Still, this ball of dirt and rock is not our home.  We are in transit, on a journey, a pilgrimage; camping here and there, but always seeking a better country.[4]

Some see death as the final destination.  Richard Dawkins writes, “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.”[5] Yes, we do teach this “dangerous” truth.  Christians see death as the depot from which we catch the train for eternity.  All human souls are destined to depart this earth, one way or another.  Christians know this, and have sent their treasures ahead of them for deposit in a place where it can’t rust or rot.

This pilgrim state of mind distinguishes us from those who have no such hope.[6] When a faithful loved one dies, our mourning is tempered by belief that we shall meet again.  When we suffer, we look forward to a healthy, tearless, painless existence after death.  When we weep, we anticipate a place free of sorrow and tears.  Furthermore, since our real treasures are elsewhere, mature Christians place little emphasis on the material.  We try to be content with what we need and no more.[7] Our materially rich brothers and sisters are compassionate and generous.[8]

As beautiful and comfortable as this world is, it is not our home.  Brenda and I love “Charamon,” our earthly home in Abilene.  We have all that we need at Charamon.  We have a place to work, to extend hospitality, big trees, and a huge vegetable garden.  We also love Australia…that sunburnt country and its people.  We have sweet memories there, in many ways our heart is there.  But these places, as beloved as they are, are not our eternal home.  That means our heart resides elsewhere, that our treasures are with our heart in that other place.

We also contemplate the destiny of our fellow-humans.  It is important to us that all men and women have a chance to hear the good news of a better place and a better way of life.  This is why we try to talk to you about Jesus.  We know that, through Him, you can have an abundant, fulfilled life and sweet anticipation of eternal life.  We hope you’ll join our pilgrimage.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2)


[1] Matthew 5:13-16

[2] 1 Peter 4:4

[3] Matthew 6:19-21

[4] Hebrews 11:13-16

[5] Richard Dawkins, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (September 15, 2001)

[6] Ephesians 4:13

[7] I Timothy 6:3-10

[8] I Timothy 6:17-19

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