Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day Eve (Halloween)

Today is all saints day eve, never heard of it before? That’s OK unless you were raised Catholic or Anglican it is most likely that you would have never heard of it.

The purpose of this holiday in the Catholic and Anglican churches has a few different meanings. The meaning that makes most sense to me is the honoring of the men and women who have gone before us and sacrificed so that we might hear the Christ story and follow in their footsteps and also avoid their mistakes so we might become the men and women of God we are called to be.

Paul wrote at least three times about the need to be an example, Philippians 3:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:9, and 1 Timothy 4:12.

I am not one who openly condemns trick or treating, especially for little kids who have no idea about its very dark and evil foundation. Personally, my kids did not go trick or treating, to be honest I was probably more concerned about the evil that people can do to the candy more than anything else. Is there any other time when you would tell your kids that it is OK to take candy from strangers. That being said let me share this scripture as to why I don’t condemn the idea.

“To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15

The idea of All Saints Day is that those who have gone before us are honored. I would like to recommend that if you are going to take you kids trick or treating that they dress as someone that they can honor. It does not need to be a Bible character but there are plenty of wholesome characters that can encourage your children to keep their hearts and minds on the world of possibilities that they can accomplish because of people who have gone before them.

Allow me to give you one other scripture that will keep you focused on what is important and what will be important for your children as well.

Philippians 4:8,9 The Message

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

If you are taking your kids trick or treating, please keep in mind that you are setting the tone for what they believe and what is important to them. Who do you want them to emulate? What do you want them to think is important? Let them be a character that is some one they want to be like. All of the Bible characters, Disney characters, super heroes, and others have their strengths and weaknesses, talk with your kids about the good things and they things their character needs to be an overcomer.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What about witchcraft and Halloween?

It is nearing Halloween time here in the United States. Every country around the world has a day very similar to our Halloween and the celebrations vary but have a lot of similarities. The idea is a day focused death, witchcraft, and our more ghoulish nature.

The children of Israel were told this;

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” Deuteronomy 18: 10 – 12

Why do you think this is so severe? It is rather simple if you think about it. God’s desire is to have an intimate, personal, relationship with each of His children. From the beginning of mankind He created us to have relationship with Him.

In the garden of Eden the serpent used witchcraft to convince Adam and Eve to sin. Now you’re saying I don’t see that in the Bible. What is witchcraft?

Witchcraft is a rebellion against God, 1 Samuel 15:23 says. It is also an attempt to fulfill your purpose or to override God’s purpose in your life through manipulation or control. Drugs (used for the purpose of mind control not healing), hypnosis (used for the purpose of manipulation), Ouija boards, séances, tarot card readings, astrology, gambling, and psychics all fall under the category of witchcraft. God has created you with a purpose in mind, something that will fulfill you and bring you great joy. What any of these types of things do is at the very least weaken your trust in God’s ability to impact your life or at most link you demonically to a hopelessness of Satan’s plan for your life.

Every human has been impacted by witchcraft. Because of Adam and Eve’s fall to witchcraft we all suffer the consequences. The cunning thing about these types of witchcraft they can at first seem to work. Certainly with drugs and drunkenness there is a sense of euphoria. There can be a “high” that takes place when a horoscope reading appears to be correct. When demons manipulate a present situation to make a psychic seem correct there can be a sense of awe. All the things that are either rooted in the flesh or in demonic activity ultimately end leaving you either addicted, hopeless, feeling used, or any combination of all three.

Why is it that 95% of all significant lottery winners wish they had never won! The works of the flesh and the enemy always leave us empty, used and hopeless.

God loves us all and wants every person to be fulfilled, loved, whole, and filled with hope and power. We only get that when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us because we have surrendered completely to the Lord.

Very few are in bondage or immediately addicted the first time they try one of these things. It is gradual and steady. Before you realize it something else is controlling you and your joy has left you.

God’s plans for you are amazing, beyond your wildest dreams. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation, believe Him for the amazing plan He has for you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What do you do when you are over burdened?

I have been hit with a number of people who are feeling so overwhelmed they don’t know what to do I felt I need to revisit a topic I preached a while ago.

Here is a simple scripture that everyone has heard at one time or another, these are Jesus’ words.

Matthew 11:28 – 30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Three quick points

1) If you take Jesus’ yoke, He is the one carrying the load. In ancient times a larger, mature ox was yoked to a younger ox to teach them. The older ox carried all of the load and the younger ox merely had the yoke resting on it. Jesus was, most likely, seeing such a situation when He said this to the people. He wants us to understand He will carry our loads for us if we allow Him.

2) When we are “yoked” to Jesus we are right next to Him. He is within a whisper of all that is going on, He sees what is taking place in our lives. We can be assured that He is with us. We never need to feel abandoned again. Jesus is always right beside us an easy ear-shot to our every prayer.

3) We will never get lost again. If we are “yoked” to Jesus then we are sure to get where He wants us to go. We will fulfill His purpose for us because we can’t do anything but go where He wants us to go. God created each one of us for a purpose. If we try to fulfill that purpose in anyway but through the Lord we end up frustrated, empty, or at the very least fulfilling far less of what we can do than God had purposed.

Stop carrying the burden! Give it over to God. You may very well have to say, “God I can’t carry this burden. Please help me to release it to you.” As you do, you will see the Lord do amazing things through you. You will also gain back the peace, joy, and love you once had.

God does not give you burdens to ear you down or out. He gives them to you so you can change your world but He will carry the load if you will let Him

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How near are you to God?

Sounds like a funny question doesn’t it. As Christians we believe that God is omnipresent meaning that He is everywhere. That being the case we are always near to God.

If you have heard me speak or have read this blog over the last eight years of my doing it you will have heard me say things like, “God is always speaking to us”, “God will never abandon you” and “God is right here with us.” All of these are true however there are times when we feel closer to him than others. Why is that? Is there a way, in those times to draw nearer to Him?

Here is what the Bible says:

James 4: 7 – 10

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James is talking about people who are disobedient and rebellious. They are in the church but rather than acting like saints they are acting like sinners. They are quarreling and arguing with one another, not preferring one another. They are more worried about getting what they want than trusting God to give them what they need. In other words, the world’s attitude has crept into their lives and they have wandered from whole-heartedly following the Lord to half-heartedly following Him.

Even as they have rejected the Lord, and to be honest in our growth all of us go through times like this, times of selfishness, God is showing mercy and saying, “just turn around, I’m right here!”

Even when we go through times of rebellion, God is still right there drawing us back to Himself.

Sometimes it is just the stuff of life that makes us feel so far away.

Hebrews 13: 5 - 8

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The writer of Hebrews (because of the style I believe was actually Apollos) Is telling us in chapter 13 there are things that we go through, simply the things of life. God is always there her will never leave you, you are never alone and guess what, the God of the Old Testament miracles, the God in flesh that walked among us and performed great miracles and showed us great love, He is the same God.

Whether it is sin or simple the stuff of life that has you feeling like God is so far away, don’t believe it. God is right here with you. Even as you are reading this blog, He is saying to you He is right here with you. Just come to Him. Wait for Him to talk with you and He will. Jeremiah in 31:3 says He loves us with an everlasting love.

He is right here, now!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why do bad things happen to good people?

How many times have you either heard or thought that question?

It is not an unusual question. In many ways the prophets ask the same questions, David did in the Psalms, Job in his writings and in Jeremiah 12, Jeremiah is really rather frustrated with the good getting jerked around and the wicked prospering.

It all comes down to really who we are and who we are is rooted in what we believe. Jesus said, in this world you will have tribulation, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Bad things are going to happen. For someone without Christ, there is no hope, only the possibility of picking ourselves up by the bootstraps and doing the best we can.

Because we have given our lives over the Christ, they are in his hands. At the very least Romans 5: 3-5 applies

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

God’s plan for us is to be blessed. We may at times walk through fires and floods, through the valley of the shadow of death. As The Lord speaks through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 29 verse 11, his plans are for our good and not for our destruction, for a hope and a future.

It is all a matter of trust. Do we trust that God loves us? Do we trust that He knows us? Do we trust that He will always accomplish His purposes through us? If we do then, as David, Moses, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and all of the saints of old have learned, even when bad things happen God can still be trusted and he will prove His faithfulness to us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How secure is our salvation? Part 3

Ok, so I kind of left a bombshell with you when I gave you the scripture from Hebrews 6: 4-6

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

The questions often arise, “Can I lose my salvation?” If so, how easy is it? Then there is an even more basic question how do I know I am really saved?

The above scripture shows us that it is entirely possible to lose your salvation, but our salvation is based upon relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. The people, the writer of Hebrews is speaking about, have known the things of God and chose, as Satan did, to rebel against God, dismissing His grace for them, choosing their own desires above God. It is the epitome of foolishness.

All of us sin, we all show signs of rebellion toward God at times, however God’s grace is always able to work on hearts and through His kindness He leads us to repentance. When our hearts become so hard that we do not respond to His love and grace toward us, we no longer care about our relationship with God and throw our salvation aside.

Remember, hell was not created for mankind but for the rebellious angels and Lucifer (Satan) their leader (Matthew 25:41). God’s plan has always been for the redemption of man. He is always drawing us to Himself.

Salvation is not given out only to the perfect. None of us are perfect but it is given out to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord (Romans 3:23 – 25; 10: 9,10). God has drawn us to himself and we must choose to walk away in rebellion to lose our salvation.

Our sin does not keep us out of heaven. If we have to be sinless to make it into heaven none of us are making it. It is only by grace through faith that we get in, not by our own works. This is not an excuse to keep on sinning. Our growing relationship with the Lord should cause us to move away from sin and to press into a deepening relationship with our Father.

If you are going to worry about anything, be concerned about your relationship growing daily with Him. Keep an active prayer life, read God’s love letter (the Bible), and keep in fellowship with other like-minded believers.

If you are married or have ever had any kind of loving relationship in your life, think about how easy it is to neglect that relationship. If you are not careful you can lose that relationship. The main difference between our earthly family relationships and God is that family or friends can get hurt and not see the neglect as something they can help resolve. God is always drawing us back and we have to make and intentional effort to break relationship with Him.

Hopefully this answers your questions and gives you a sense of security in your relationship with the Lord. Keep growing in Him! It will change your world

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How secure is our salvation? Part 2

Moving on!

Yesterday I gave you a list of scriptures to read that are simply some basics regarding salvation. I understand that there are many more. Volumes have been written about the concept of salvation but blogs are meant to be quick thoughts so I will attempt to keep it quick.

What is our salvation based upon - the answer – Relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 2:8 - 10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

It is not our work, our goodness, our righteousness, and our holiness that saves us. It is simply the fact the God loves us (John 3:16, 17) and has extended grace to us. Grace is simply favor that we have with God just because He loves us. God wants relationship with us. He created man to have relationship with Him. Our relationship was broken when Adam sinned. Part of the authority mankind was given when God created him was the authority to have free, open, loving, communion with God. Jesus death on the cross and blood sacrifice that obliterates our sins gave us the ability to grasp that authority once again.

Isn’t it our decision to come to Christ and isn’t that then a work? Yes and No!

John 6:44 indicates to us that the Father has already drawn us to himself.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

God has already drawn us to himself. He is the one that does all the work. When we come to Christ we are merely doing what God has created us to do. He has made us to be drawn to Him. Every gift, personality, the way we were made has all been by God to follow him and fulfill our purpose as human beings. If there is a work on our part in coming to Christ, it is simply agreeing with the way He created us.

Did he select or create only certain people to be saved? Did he select and create certain people to go to hell? Can we lose our salvation?

All of this tomorrow.

Here is a scripture for you to think about for tomorrow!

Hebrews 6: 4 - 6

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How secure is our salvation?

After the blogs about heaven and hell, I had a number of responses people concerned about their own salvation.

What is our salvation based upon?

Is it our works? What we do and how good we are?

Is it a one-time deal and we never have to worry about it again?

Do we have anything to do with it or does God simply choose who will be saved?

One I was young, I was raised in denomination that believed that once you made a commitment to Christ you never needed to be concerned about sin or walking away from God because your salvation was eternally secure. Later, we changed churches and denominations and I was told every time you committed sin you had the strong possibility of losing your salvation.

Here are a few basic scriptures that will help you to understand salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 - 10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Romans 10: 9,10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

And of course the most important verse of all…

John 3:16,17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

OK that is enough for today. Normally I do all the work by researching and writing, it is your turn now! Reread the above scriptures and tomorrow we will discuss the answers to the questions I posed in the beginning and how these apply.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Keys to a happy marriage part 2

Here is part 2 of a very basic approach to having a happy marriage. It may seem simplistic but I have found these simply steps are the ones that most people find is at the root of the marriage trouble. If you can follow all six steps you will see an amazing difference in your marriage.

52% of Christian marriages end in divorce, slightly higher than the unchurched. The solution is to simply have a happy marriage. After 50 years you should still get a smile on your face when you think of your spouse. I know, you’re thinking you’ve got to be kidding. After nearly 22 years, I still get a smile when I think about Paige. We have had some rough roads but “God is faithful!” In this edition, part 2 of “Don’t be a statistic” allow me to share a few words of advice about having and maintaining a happy marriage.

In the first blog I mentioned the first three keys to a happy marriage; 1) Pray together, 2) Enable your spouse to be the best they can be, and 3) Be each others best friend. I want to give you three more keys to a happy marriage

4) Fight Fair! I would have liked to not include this but, we are human. If you have any two people in a room you probably will have three opinions present. Until we are all dead to our own flesh, we will always be selfish, misunderstood, stressed, prideful, or just simply poor communicators, so we will argue. The Bible says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} Ephesians 6:12. Often, we set our focus to fighting and disrespecting our spouse rather than solving the problem. Words said quickly, never can be taken back and establish long lasting wounds. The enemy has done a great job destroying marriages. Fight fair by realizing why you are arguing; you have a disagreement and you need to find a solution. Our flesh wants to win, our spirit cries out for a solution. We are called to love and respect each other. There will be disagreements, work toward solutions.

5) Forgive. Because we have failed with the first four points, we often carry around baggage from past relationships and present ones. Jesus said “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you,” Matthew 6:14 Jesus doesn’t say only if you’re right forgive or you don’t have to if you were hurt unjustly. Forgiveness is not just an action, it is a choice; sometimes it is moment by moment, sometimes daily. We need to keep forgiving until we feel we have forgiven. We are also told not to let the sun go down on our anger, the implication being, everyday we should strive to start new fresh and free. Unforgiveness is a spiritual slavery that holds those in it’s clutches unwitting accomplices to their own misery. Freedom comes by choosing forgiveness. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive. If Jesus could forgive those who hated him, how much more should we be willing to forgive those who love us?

6) Priorities – In Luke 10 Jesus is visiting friends and explains to Martha that Mary has chosen the best thing by sitting at His feet. Priority 1 - must be being with Him. If we are with Him we know what He is doing, we aren’t concerned about what others are doing. When we are with Him, He can whisper and we hear His voice. Priority 2 - our spouses; between Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 Paul explains the holiness and priority that a marriage must have and that our spouses, next to the Holy Spirit, can be our greatest asset and next to Satan, can become our greatest detriment. Peter writes that even our prayers are hindered if our relationship is not right. Priority 3 - Psalm 127:3 says that children are a gift from God. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us that our children are our first disciples; thus a major priority. Priority 4 - what you do for God. If we secure our relationship with the Lord, our spouse, and our children then the enemy has no room to attack, our foundation is secure and what we do for the Lord can proceed uninhibited.

If you are able to follow these 6 points, your marriage will get better. If you are not married you can apply most of these principles to all of your relationships. If you are planning on getting married they will help you find the right spouse. Either way, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Marriage is to be a team project, The Lord, you and your spouse. With that team you will not become a statistic but a joy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Keys to a happy marriage part 1

I dealt with the basics of the faith in the last few blogs. I thought I would deal with the basics of having a great marriage. Today and in the next blog I will give you 6 quick steps to having a happy marriage and not becoming one of the horrible statistics of divorce.

Don’t be a statistic!

52% of Christian marriages end in divorce, slightly higher than the unchurched. If you quickly leave the church your chances of divorce decrease by 1%. Although I don’t think that is the solution to the divorce problem. The solution is to simply have a happy marriage. After 50 years you should still get a smile on your face when you think of your spouse. I know, your thinking you’ve got to be kidding. After nearly 28 years, I still get a smile when I think about Paige. We have had some rough roads but “God is faithful!” Allow me to share a few words of advice about having and maintaining a happy marriage.

1) Pray together! George Barna of the Barna Research group found that couples that pray together have a greater than 90% chance of staying together for life. Some of our driest times as a couple have been when due to busyness or tiredness Paige and I have neglected to pray together. We have found in addition to the spiritual blessing from praying together some practical blessing come as well. Sometimes I am not the greatest communicator in the world, after all I am male. When we pray together I hear Paige’s heart and she hears mine and we are able to keep up on what is really important in our lives. We also know that with all the things happening in the world there is at least one person praying for us. It is also very hard to stay upset with someone you are praying for (not that Paige or I would know anything about that).

2) Make your goal to enable your spouse to be the best that they can be. In “The Message” Ephesians 5 says this “Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her.” This is Christ example to the church of how a husband should treat his wife. It is both a blessing to you and your spouse if everyday your focus is, “How can I bless my spouse today to help them be who God has called them to be?” Hurtful words wounding actions all get set aside if that’s your goal. Find out what your spouses gifts and goals are and help make them happen.

3) Be each others best friend! Ephesians 5 also says the husband and wife are one. What this has meant to me is that nothing should be in between the two. I have seen many marriage disasters due to friends, children, or parents coming between and dividing what should be one. You parents will pass away, your children will grow up and move away, and any friend that is more important to you than your spouse is trouble. We are to prefer one another and that should be especially true of our spouses. If you want respect give respect, if you want to feel safe in your marriage then make your marriage a safe place for your spouse. If you do steps 1 and 2 step three will be easy.

Having a happy marriage isn’t about stuff, beauty or perfection it’s about love and these three steps say “I love you” louder than words. There are a few more steps I would recommend but those are for another time. I give you my personal guarantee if you do these three steps your marriage will be on the road to that smile every time you think of your spouse even after 50 years.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christianity 101 Hell

There a lot of misconceptions about eternity and especially about hell. The misconceptions are based not on the Bible, but instead on folklore, legend and people's hope for what hell is like. I know this is not a comfortable topic but it is a necessary one.

Once again:

A few things we need to understand about eternity

1 We have only one life in which to determine our destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
2 We will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46;John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15
3 Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36).

So if we are going to spend eternity in either heaven or hell, what are they like?

Islam – Hell is described like Christian hell, a place of eternal torment all non-Muslims go there and some Muslims. Everyone stays in the grave until the final judgment then everyone judged by his or her works, not grace. As a Christian and people of the book we would go to hell until judgment then go to paradise, if predestined to do so.

Hinduism/Buddhism – Karma (you deeds in this life) determine whether you reincarnate (as a bug, rock, cow, another human etc..) or escape to enlightenment.

Mormons – hell is temporary at the resurrection they are all given the opportunity to accept heavenly Father. After that only Satan and those who still reject heavenly Father will be in hell.

Jehovah’s Witness – No hell wicked annihilated, other people except for the 144,000, remain in grave until resurrected after Armageddon then given choice to go to heaven.

What does the Bible say?


1 Hell was not designed for people but was established originally for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

2 Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ (Matthew 13:41,40; Revelations 20:11-15; 21:8)

3 Hell is conscious torment.
• Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
• Mark 9:48 “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” Not it says where “their” worm – imposing that worms are eating at individuals
• Luke 16 parable of Richman and Lazarus verse 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’
• Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”
• No where does it say or suggests that you will see or be with other people

4 Hell is eternal and irreversible.
• Revelation 14:11 “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night”
• Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire”
• Revelation 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”

Probably the worst torture is the absence of “feeling” the presence of God the aloneness that every person will feel along with the knowledge and remorse for eternity of rejecting God. There will be no hope, no joy, no love, no grace, no mercy, nothing of the fruit of the Spirit. The torment continues beyond that with the heat, flames, smell of the sulfur and the worms.

Hell is not a place where you will want anyone to spend time. God sends no one to hell. We choose to go there by our rejection of the gift he gave for our salvation, his Son Jesus Christ. It is not goodness that gets us entrance into heaven nor is it our evil nature that keeps us out but instead it is relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ that makes the difference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christianity 101 Heaven

Once we understand salvation we need to grasp heaven and hell. Each of us will spend eternity in one of these two places based on our relationship with Jesus.

A few things we need to understand about eternity

1 We have only one life in which to determine our destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
2 We will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46;John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15
3 Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36).

So if we are going to spend eternity in either heaven or hell, what are they like?

Islam - Heaven is paradise only those whom Allah has chosen will go there, every man has virgins waiting on him not much there for women.

Hindu/Buddhist - Heaven ultimate enlightenment absence of all desire and place of eternal nothingness

Mormon – heaven, three heavens One for Mormons , true believers, Two others lower depending upon your good works on this earth.

Jehovah’s Witness - Heaven is pretty much like we describe it but only 144,000 go there the rest will remain on earth in a renewed Garden of Eden

What does the Bible say?


1 - It is a physical place – Jesus came from there (John 6:42) and lives there (John 14:2,3), God dwells there (Matthew 6:9), angels are there (Hebrews 12:22)

2 - It is a place where our inheritance is waiting. Reserved specifically for each of us. (1 Peter 1:4)

3 - We will be free of the corruption of this earth and will be made righteous and pure. (Matthew 6:20; Romans 7:24; Matthew 13:43

4 - We will be with our loved ones who have died in Christ before us. (1 Thessalonians 4:14 – 18)

5 - We will be given rewards (Matthew 6:19 -25; 25:20-21)

6 - It is a place where those things that may have been disregarded on earth will be acknowledged and rewarded (Galatians 6:9)

7 - It is a beautiful city (or large dwelling of people) with many dwelling places for each of us. (Revelation 22:1,2; John 14:2

8 - Heaven has light, water, trees, and fruit (Revelation 22:1,2)

9 - We will be able to walk in and out of the city, the city is only part of heaven. Revelation 21:24,25; 22:14

10 - There are animals there. (Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 6:2-8;19:11)

11 - We will eat and drink there. (Matthew 8:11; Luke 22:29,30; Revelation 19:9)

I believe based on these scriptures and others that heaven is very much like the uncorrupted earth. God took the design of heaven and created earth and the place we are going is like what we have never seen before and earth like place more beautiful than words could ever describe. It is a place of love, joy, peace in there fullest so much that if revealed to us living we could not stand it. Heaven is a place where we will have the full knowledge of all of our questions; a place where we will know God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and completely feel their love, joy and acceptance of us.

Next time: what is hell like?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christianity 101 Salvation

This is a primer regarding salvation. There are many things that we believe based on tradition and many things we believe based on a structured belief system. Often both of these will point us to the truth. What I am sharing with you today is based on what the Bible has to say about salvation.

Once again this blog is not an exhaustive study just simply a beginning. I encourage you to take it from here.

Salvation – we are in need of a savior no man is righteous on his own to be in the presence of God, God is holy.

Other religions say:

- saved by good works, (sins are paid for by good works), if you have already been chosen by Allah to be saved.
- Shahadah, prayer 17 cycles of prayer 5X/day, 2.5% goes to poor.
- Ramadan fast sun up to sun down (no food, drink, or sex).
- Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lives. Jihad (holy struggle)

Hinduism Buddhism – no salvation only reincarnation or enlightenment based on goodness and elimination of desires.

Mormons – all the works you can do, keep commandments, baptism, missionary efforts, plus grace through faith.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – maintain the rules listed by the Watch Tower society some of which are not fellowshipping with non-Jehovah’s witnesses, not celebrating certain holidays or birthdays, not wearing crosses and a host of other a sundry rules.

What does the Bible say?

1) The question is, “If I were to stand before God today what reason would I give for entrance into heaven?”

Is it your good deeds? Right living? Going to church? Having someone religious in the family?

2) All of us are sinners

Isaiah 59:2 But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

3) Sin can’t be in God’s presence so God did what was necessary for us all

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

4) We can’t save ourselves no matter how good we are it is all about grace and faith.

Romans 3:24,25 - and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Titus 3:5-7 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”

5) It is only through Jesus – no other god – no other man

John 1:12 But to all who have received him (Jesus) – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children

John 3:16 - 18 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

1 John 5:11,12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life

Salvation – we can’t earn it, we all need it, God made the way for it, it is only by grace through faith and only through Jesus.

So God made a way, offered a free gift. He prepared a place for us. So does God send people to heaven or hell?

Romans 8:29, 30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Add this to For God so loved the world. You can see that God made a choice. He chose to give us free will. Is there any one that God does not know, is there any one whom God does not love? Then He paid the way through Jesus blood for every man woman and child to choose heaven or hell. He is always drawing them to himself but we can reject that drawing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christianity 101 Trinity part 2

“Why is it so important that we understand the Trinity or triune God?”

1) Trinity makes the entire plan of redemption possible.
Redemption is initiated by the Father (Galatians 4:4), accomplished through the Son (1 Peter 3:18), and is applied by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). The doctrine of the Trinity is important because there is no salvation apart from the Triune God. And the more we reflect upon God’s Triune nature, the more we can learn to love and appreciate God for Who and What he truly has revealed himself to be.

2) Shows us the fullness of who God is…

God is our Father and creator. God the Son came in the flesh in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus being all God and all man showed us the way that God responds to people and situations and the sacrifice God was willing to make for us. Through Jesus sacrifice and resurrection he had paved the way for our redemption and the open door for the God the Holy Spirit to move in and through not just Kings and prophets but all mankind, drawing them through the redemption of Jesus to the Father

The resurrection speaks of the unity of God through the Trinity

Who raised Jesus from the dead?

- God The Father raised Jesus from the dead
Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”

- Jesus raised Himself from the dead (John 2:19-21; John 10:17-18)
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20) The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

- The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11)
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Jesus is God – John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.”
John 14:9-11 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Holy Spirit is God – Acts 5:3,4 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Below is a very brief chart that shows that each of the persons in the Trinity share the same attributes that only God shares. But remember, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have wills, and speak, etc. Therefore, we say there are three persons.

Called God Phil. 1:2 John 1:1,14; Acts 5:3-4
Creator Isaiah 64:8 John 1:3; Job 33:4, 26:13
Omnipresent Matt 19:26 Matt. 28:18 Psalm 139:7-10
Omniscient Romans 11:33 Matt 9:4 1 Cor. 2:10-11
Omnipotent 1 Peter 1:5 Matt 28:18 Romans 15:19
A Will Luke 22:42 Luke 22:42 1 Cor. 12:11
Speaks Matt. 3:17; Luke 5:20; 7:48 Acts 13:2
Holiness Rev 15:4 Acts 3:14 John 14:26; 16: 7-14

To the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness there is no trinity. Jesus is God’s son but not equal with Him (But John 10:30 and John 8:58, Jesus states he is one with God and is the “I AM”) and the Holy Spirit is a force not equal with God.

Muslims - God does not have a son.

Hindus, Buddhist and new age we are all god.

Why is this so important?

If Jesus is not God then God did not make the ultimate sacrifice for us and the Holy Spirit can not be trusted because He is not truly God.

The Bible makes it important but inferring either directly or indirectly to the Trinity. Those that deny the Trinity limit the value of Christ death and resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives

Everyone has a job. The function of each person of the God head shows us God’s intimate and powerful involvement in our lives that he is both transcendent (above all things) and immanent (intimately involved in our lives). To deny the Godhood of any of the persons of the trinity is to deny God’s word, his character, and the love and power of any one person of the Trinity.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Christianity 101 - Trinity part 1

One of the great mysteries in the scripture is the Trinity. Countless volumes have been written and in the few lines I have for this blog and the next one I want to give you, hopefully a little more clarity about the Trinity, God in three persons.

"We believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." These were present on the earth at one time during the baptism of Jesus. Luke 3:22.

22) and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Following are a couple more verses that hint at the Trinity.

Luke 1:35 In the conception of Jesus we see the Godhead (trinity).
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Matt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (name not names oneness of the name and person of God)

2 Cor. 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."

It is important to understand that while they are three persons they are still one!

The Bible says there is only one God: "I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God," (Isaiah 45:5). Yet, the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each called God.

Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

The Bible says this additionally about God’s oneness

Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. (Jesus in Revelation 1:17)

Isaiah 44:8 “Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Isaiah 43:10,11 - Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. (Jesus)

Matthew 3:13 – 17; 2 Corinthians 13:14

It is tough to grasp this concept but think of it this way; when "theologians" use the word "person," they are not saying that God is three individual beings walking around who are actually one being. That would be a contradiction. Instead, we define a person as having self awareness, identity, can speak, love, grieve, etc. Each has their own specific function but they are never independent or in opposition. These are attributes of personhood and we see all of these attributes, and more, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I know that this can be a fairly "heady" subject but it is important to understand. Please stay with me as we complete the basics of this idea.

In the next blog, we will answer the question, "Why is the concept of the Trinity so important?" I will also give you many scriptures to back up the concept.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Christianity 101 - Jesus part 3

What other religions say about Jesus will be part of the argument that you will hear through them or others who really haven't read the Bible. It is also important that we understand what major claim Jesus made about himself.

What do other religions say about Jesus?

Mormons believe he was created not eternally existent. He is the spirit child of the heavenly Father and heavenly mother. Brother of Satan
JW believe Jesus is God’s son but inferior to him, He was not raised bodily from the dead.
Muslims believe He was a prophet and the next to the last to Mohammed. He did not die on a cross and was not God’s son
Buddhist, Hindus see him as a great teacher in some circles even a transcendent Buddha

Did Jesus say He was God?

What he said…..

Jesus said He is “I am” John 8:56 - 58

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

God's name in the Hebrew is YHWH transliterated "I Am"

The Pharisees knew He was saying that he was John 10:30-33

30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Additional Scriptures

John 12: 44 - 46
John 14: 6 – 9

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7) If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?

John 8: 12 – 14

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You are bearing witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true." Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going."

CS Lewis in summarizing St. Augustine said this…

(P): Jesus claimed to be God.
(Q): One of the following must be true.

1. Lunatic: Jesus was not God, but believed that he was.
2. Liar: Jesus did not believe he was God, but spoke as if he did.
3. Lord: Jesus is God.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christianity 101 - Jesus part 2

Here are some of the points that help us understand who Jesus is.

1) Jesus rose from the grave, bodily, and was seen by many people - John 20:24 – 29 (Thomas); Luke 24:36 – 43 (Many others)

What is the proof for a bodily resurrection?

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
He also ate bread and fish Luke 24:42,43
He physically broke the bread to feed men - Luke 24:30
All of these witness and then Saul a persecutor of the faith, became a convert seeing the risen Christ alive.

Why is it so important?

- Jehovah’s witnesses, Muslims and other deny that Jesus either/or died or did not bodily raise from the dead.
- If Jesus did not raise from the dead then nothing He said can be trusted. He said He would raise from the dead.

2) Jesus only mediator between God and man 1 Tim 2:5,6

5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

Why did Jesus come?

3) Jesus is the physical representation of the invisible God
Col 1:15 – 20; Hebrews 1:1-13

He showed us that everything about God’s character can be expressed in human terms that we could see God and man in Jesus and know his real tangible love for us.

This way because of God’s completion in Jesus and complete revelation of who He is through Him we see that we need nothing but him to be made complete Col 2:10

This way we can trust him for our eternity, because we see him and know him

4) Jesus came to give us a pattern of life to live.

He had a relatively normal life growing up Luke 2:52
He was tempted in everyway Hebrews 4:15 but he did not sin
He showed us how to live life to the fullest but also that we can have the power to follow in His example John10:10

5) Jesus came pay the penalty for our sin
- Isaiah tells us 59:2 that our sins have cut us off from God
- 1 Tim 2:5,6 we are told that Jesus has bridged the gap between our sin and God’s presence
- He had to come in the flesh because sin requires death as a penalty and
Jesus willingly paid the price. 1 Peter 3:18
- Because He willingly paid the price we are given eternal life as a gift Romans 6:23
- Because he came we have the Holy Spirit available to empower all of us to become who God has called us to be. John 16: 7,8

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Christianity 101 - Jesus

This is part 1 of three parts explaining who Jesus is. It is important that we know who Jesus is, the attack on our faith is often based on our understanding or lack of understanding of who Jesus is!

We believe in the virgin birth and the immaculate conception by the Holy Ghost of Jesus Christ through Mary His mother. Matt 1:18-25.

We believe in Jesus Christ's atoning death I Cor 15:3,4, II Cor. 5:21, Is. 53:4-9. His bodily resurrection, Matt. 28:6, Luke 24:39, I Cor. 15:4 as well as the bodily resurrection of the believers and His ascension to the right hand of the Father, Rom. 8:34 and Acts 7:55.

Prophesies of Jesus - some of them

- Birth – Micah 5:2 (700 years before)
- Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14 (700 years before)
- Betrayal by a friend - Psalm 41:9 (1000 years before)
- Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Zachariah 11:12-13 (500 years before)
- Jesus miracles – Isaiah 35:4 – 6 (700 years before)
- Crucifixion – Psalm 22:16, (1000 years before)
- Silent at his trial Isaiah 53:7 (700 years before)
- Given gall and vinegar - Psalm 69:21 (1000 years before)
- Others cast lots for His clothing - Psalm 22:18
- His bones not broken - Psalm 34:20
- Dying with thieves – Isaiah 53:9
- Buried in a rich man’s grave – Isaiah 53:9
The possibility of just 8 of these prophecies being fulfilled by one man is 10 to the 17th power or 1: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (Peter Stoner; Science Speaks)

Jesus is divine

- the second person of the trinity – John 1:1, Col 1:1 – 19; Phil 2:5 -11

- Like God the Father, He does not change – Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

- Jesus and the Father are one

- Salvation is only through Him – John 17:3 (Jesus own words) “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Romans 10:9 - 13 ”that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Christianity 101 - Bible part 2

Here is the final part of Christianity 101 - Bible. Once again this is by no means exhaustive however it will give you some thing to think about. If you missed part one, please check one blog post back!

Archeological evidence

There is far more manuscript and archeological evidence than what I could tell you in this short time. In fact to prepare for this I read through dozens of books on the subject and didn’t even really scratch the surface

- 1967 an ancient manuscript was found in Deir Alla, Jordan it as a clay column dated from around 760 BC. It talked about Balaam son of Beor the prophet sent to curse Israel.

- Jericho has been found and the structure had collapsed walls and part of the wall was spared where there was a house up against it. The evidence shows that the destruction took place at the end of the 15th century BC, that it was at harvest time and that many of the items were still there all proving the correct biblical time, that the harvest had been brought in and that the Israelites did not plunder the city all recording in scripture

- Peter’s house in Capernaum has been found. At least they believe it to be his house it is a house with symbols and the name of Jesus clearly written in several place in the walls. They believe it is Peter house because his name is inscribed in several places and there is a 5th century diary verifying this place as the house of Peter.

If you don’t know the Bible what anyone tells you, you will believe and if someone misquotes, vilifies it or in any other way denies it, you can be easily persuaded to believe them.

Many groups like the Hittites, Amorites, even King David were all thought to be myths from the Bible until there were archeological discoveries that verified their existence.

America and the Bible

If we do not believe the Bible to be God’s true Word, His Love letter to us then we will believe anything

35% of us do not read the Bible period
47% of Protestants and 69% of Roman Catholics said that other than in church they never read the Bible


50% of all Americans believe the Bible says “God helps those who help themselves” Not in scripture in fact it is in my weakness Paul said that God makes me strong!

50% of the remainder weren’t sure if it was the Bible or not! Only 25% of all people polled knew that that phrase was non-Biblical.

56% of all Americans could not name the 4 Gospels

44% of all Americans believe that Jesus was imperfect and made mistakes.

Islam, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses all believe the Bible to have been corrupted and that it has no real value.

The Bible says this about itself and this is why the devil, cults and other religions all want to cause people either to not read it or to think of it as corrupt.

Hebrews 4:12

12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Psalm 119: 105

Your Word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.