Tag Archives: death

Where is Hope

Where is hope if I do not believe in God? 

What good is it to live this life with all its hurts and struggles and frustrations if there is nothing beyond? People may remember me, but how long? Does that really even matter?

I’m not getting out of here alive, and neither are you. 

If there is nothing beyond this physical realm, then I should simply do whatever makes me feel good at the time that I may enjoy at least moments of happiness before I perish. 

If there is no hope, then there is no true reason to behave according to anyone’s preset standards. Morality is lost if this is all there is, for no one will remember me anyway, and there are no lasting consequences for my behavior beyond this short span we call life. 

Where there is no hope, there is no peace, and fear reigns. 

Where is hope if I believe in God?

To believe in God is to believe in someone and something grander than this physical world. If I believe in God then there are promises from that God which bring hope in this life and the life to come. 

To believe in God is to believe in the afterlife – heaven – an eternity of rest and joy in the presence of the Creator. It is to believe that this measly life is only a trifle compared to the glory that awaits us. 

This gives us hope in every circumstance. If life is crumbling all around and storms rage inside us there is hope because of the temporary nature of these experiences. If loved ones who know Jesus are near death there is hope that more grandeur awaits them. If I near death, my hope can provide peace instead of fear. 

This hope isn’t just for heaven. This hope is in the best of others around us. It is in the workings of God in this life. It is in the idea that I can be better tomorrow than I was yesterday. 

If there is hope, then there is a standard by which we live to achieve that hope. There is a moral code introduced by the One who Created us and gives us hope. 

When I have hope, I find that I want to do what the standard requires because the outcome of my hope is everlasting rather than temporary. 

Without God there is no hope. Hope comes through relationship with the Creator. 

Where is hope? Do you have it?


The Politics of Jesus: His Real Message

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I’m writing this on Election Week. All over the country people will be flocking to the polls to vote for the person they think will best run their country, state, and county. It is a grand privilege and right of every American to exercise the freedom to vote. I hope you did.

Thinking about elections, however, makes me think about Jesus.

What did He preach? Many people think that Jesus went around merely preaching that people should do good and doing good himself. When people think about Jesus they regard him as a nice man who taught many good philosophies on how to live life to the fullest. They think of all the miracles he did and are amazed at the power.

Many people think Jesus went around preaching that people should come to him. I mean, isn’t that what most churches are preaching these days? People should turn to Jesus. It’s almost like we think he was campaigning for three years. Vote for Jesus!

Look at the central event of his life – his crucifixion. Why was he crucified? Would people kill someone for doing good and being nice? Would people put someone on trial for obvious miracles? Would people kill a man preaching about philosophies of peace and unity and “love your enemy”?

No. Jesus wasn’t crucified for any of these things.

Perhaps Jesus was preaching a message of salvation to everyone that was different from the religions of the world? Maybe he was killed because of the religious implications of the messages he taught. No, this is not the case, either.

Jesus had one central sermon in his ministry, and it was the same message as his cousin, John.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus was crucified because he was preaching a kingdom that was different than any other kingdom of the day. Indeed, it is different than any kingdom that exists today.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like it because it presented a different role for them. In this kingdom they didn’t have the power to manipulate and control the lower people. In this kingdom the people truly had freedom. In this kingdom, religion wasn’t as important as they had made it out to be. Their presuppositions on how a person had to live in order to serve God were shattered.

The Roman leaders didn’t like this kingdom either. Sure, this was a peaceful movement, but the Caesar was the king of the known world. How dare they claim another king and claim allegiance to another kingdom. That was treason!

Over and over Jesus preached this message of the kingdom. Then, when he was crucified, Pilate had his title posted over his head on the cross: “King of the Jews”.

For centuries people have taught about this kingdom, but many get it wrong. Many people are waiting for the kingdom to be established when Jesus comes back and reigns on the earth for a thousand years. This is very similar to what the Jews were looking for in their messiah. However, Jesus tried to correct them over and over.

At one time someone asked Jesus where the kingdom will be, and Jesus taught that it wasn’t a physical kingdom. Rather, it was among and within the people who were the citizens. This was a kingdom with no borders.

Another time Jesus urged the people to watch for the kingdom because it would come before those who were there listening to Jesus would die. So, either the kingdom is here, or there are some really old people still living somewhere on the planet.

In Colossians 1, Paul reminds them that they have already been brought into the kingdom.

So, if you’ve been washed by the blood of the lamb, then you are no longer a citizen of the country you live in. Your primary residence is in the kingdom of heaven. But that residency starts now. You are called to live as that citizen with God as your King.

You are promised the kingdom as your inheritance. You are princes and princesses with Jesus of the kingdom. Jesus is your brother, and God is your Father.

As you plan and prepare for your time as a citizen of whatever country you live in, remember that it is a tertiary residency. Your primary allegiance is to the Father, your King. How you live here and now should reflect that.

May you live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and may your life reflect that citizenship. Blessings to you, the citizens of God’s kingdom.


Jesus Loves Heterosexuals…and Homosexuals Too!

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Society is obsessed with homosexuality. Christian churches are as obsessed or more so because of their aversion to this lifestyle and the need to eradicate it because of how it goes against the nature of humanity and the sacredness of creation. Christians are afraid that our world will go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, and they may be correct.

The bible is very clear that homosexual acts are wrong. It calls these acts “Unnatural” and condemns them in several places throughout the scriptures. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think committing homosexual acts is correct, but I’m pretty sure we’re missing something significant.

In our battle against the homosexual society in the world today we have forgotten that practicing homosexual acts isn’t the only sin in the bible. Equally as abhorring to God are heterosexual acts committed outside the marriage of one man to one woman. Adultery is condemned. Divorce is condemned because it leads to adultery and breaks a sacred covenant symbolic of God’s relationship with his church. Lust is condemned as much as acting on that lust is condemned.

In fact, these sins all seem to hold greater weight in the scripture than other sins like lying and even murder. The apostle, Paul, put it this way:

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”–but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Homosexual acts, heterosexual acts outside of marriage, adultery, lust – all of these are grouped under one descriptive category: sexual immorality.

Why should we focus on one act like homosexuality and neglect the severity of the others? We shouldn’t! Yet Christians all over are talking about homosexuality, but when was the last time you saw as much zeal for condemning adultery or shacking up or lust or sleeping around or divorce?

Let’s be consistent. God doesn’t just condemn homosexual acts, He condemns heterosexual acts outside of the marriage covenant as well. If we give others participating in heterosexual acts grace, then we need to give grace to those in homosexual relationships as well. We are not called to approve of any of these acts, but we are called to love everyone – even those committing these sins.

“The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” Your sins are just as worthy of that death as those sins you condemn in others. I remember that Jesus seemed more concerned that we get the plank out of our own eye than our ability to point out the faults in others.

Maybe, instead of focusing on condemning those we do not approve of, we should focus on loving them and loving the Father who created them like Jesus tells us to do. Loving someone doesn’t mean you approve of their actions, it just means that you recognize that Jesus loves you in spite of your actions, and you can love likewise.

So let’s be consistent. If you’re not talking about heterosexual sins, then you shouldn’t be talking about homosexual sins. If you aren’t focused on fixing your own sins, then you shouldn’t be worried about those sins others are committing.

The consistency Jesus asks us for is that of loving everyone equally: Jew, gentile, slave, free, man, woman, heterosexual, homosexual. If you ever want someone to hear about the love of Jesus you have to be showing Jesus to them through love first. Condemnation breeds rejection. “Love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).”


Fear is easy; Love is hard

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You may be reading this article before Valentines Day. You may be reading it on or after Valentines Day. In any case, this article is NOT about Valentines Day. But it is about love.

When we talk about what it means to be a Christian, the most basic answer is love. The two laws of Christianity are love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). When mentioning faith, hope, and love, the apostle, Paul, said that the greatest of these three is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The problem with love is that we aren’t very good at it, and therefore we aren’t very good at the one thing that should define us as Christians. Sure, we love people. We have deep feelings for those we love, but love is not actually those feelings. In fact, you can love without any feeling at all. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice.

The reason we aren’t very good at love is that we are raised in a culture that teaches us that the world really should revolve around us. Every thing should cater to our whim, so we invent microwaves and fast food restaurants because we deserve to have what we want when we want it. As children we are given things we want because others love us, but the constant showering of love creates a type of narcissism that places us at the center of our own universe. We aren’t very good at love because we are selfish.

We also aren’t very good at love because we are afraid. There is much hurt and betrayal in our culture, and we don’t want to fall victim to that hurt. Maybe you’ve been hurt in your past so you’ve built up walls of protection out of fear of being hurt again. Jason Gray sings a song with the lyrics “Fear is easy. Love is hard.” I tend to agree.

So, we are supposed to love, but we find that love is difficult. How can we overcome that? It begins with an understanding of what love is and isn’t. Love is a choice. It is not an emotion. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, doesn’t boast, not rude, not hot tempered, doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t gloat, looks for truth, is long suffering, is trusting, finds hope in all circumstances, and is not fleeting or fickle.

Oh, and I forgot one. Love isn’t selfish.

I’m selfish, and so until I die to the idea that my desires come first I cannot love anyone – not even my wife. When we are afraid it is because of our self focus. That is what causes us to retaliate and feel the need for anger and frustration. Love is none of those things because love has no needs for itself. Love is selfless.

Look at Jesus. He is the perfect example of love. What did he ever do that was self-seeking? Nothing. He took the role of a servant though he was ruler and creator of all. He died for you although you had done nothing for him. He offers you sinless perfection while all you can offer in return is broken sinfulness. His love for you is not dependent on you. His love for you comes from a choice, as your creator, to love you selflessly despite all you have done to reject him.

If we love like that we will be hurt. We will be cheated. We will be taken advantage of. But if we love like that non of it will matter because we will have died to self, so there’s nothing left for them to kill.

Fear is easy. Love is hard. But it is totally worth it. Love is how we will change the world. Love is how God intends to bring us peace and joy and hope and forgiveness and all the things we truly long for in ourselves.

Choose love.


Why Did Jesus Weep?

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Death is hard. I used to think that I dealt with death pretty well, but these last two weeks have been pretty taxing.

Last week I had the honor of ministering to a family who had lost a young man who was 33. He went to sleep and didn’t wake up. He left behind two young children. This past week I was honored again to be able to minister to another family who lost a son, brother, and husband who was 28. He was murdered while helping a lady with her car.

Death is hard.

Unfortunately death is an inevitability for each and every one of us. How will we deal with it? How do we prepare for what will eventually befall us? Are you ready?

So many people live this life with a focus on today or even yesterday. We are supposed to do that, but we must never forget that there will come a day when we will meet our Maker. We must be prepared because we aren’t even guaranteed to make it out of today alive. James, the brother of Jesus, talks about how fragile our lives are. He says they are a mist or vapor that appears only for a moment. Then he speaks to what I think is key. He says (my paraphrase) to take advantage of every moment while here on earth.

I’ll be honest with you. My hope and confidence is in the resurrection. I plan on living forever with the Almighty, my Abba. I have confidence in this because I’ve been united with His Son in His death and resurrection. Romans 6 talks about when we are united with Christ. Then it says if we have been united with Jesus’ death and resurrection we will also have eternal life today and even after we physically die.

Do you have confidence that you will be raised to live with Christ forever? Do you have your plan for the future? Is your plan based on what your Creator has said in His word?

Death comes quickly. Death is hard. And for many people death is sad. But for those who have been united with Christ in His death and resurrection death is not the end. For us death is actually a time of celebration for the journey of our loved one is complete as he or she is ushered into the presence of the One they longed to see face to face – the Creator.

Paul says to the church in Corinth that they didn’t not have to grieve like those who have no hope because of the resurrection of Jesus.

Yet death is still hard.

Jesus went to raise his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. He had waited longer in the place he was before going just because he knew that Lazarus was going to die and he was going to raise his friend to glorify God. Yet, when he got to the funeral on the fourth day after Lazarus’ death he still saw all the people weeping, grieving over the loss of their loved one and Jesus wept too. He knows how hard death is on us. He loves us in the midst of it, and he offers a way to overcome death.

Jesus has overcome death through his resurrection. He offers that opportunity to you as well. Would you give your life to him and allow him to wash away all that keeps you from having eternal life? Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.


a-Moral Dilemma

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I have been a part of churches all my life. I have worshipped all over this country with various denominations and even experienced worship times with various faiths. In the Christian realms, however, there is a trend that isn’t catching on…it’s running full steam ahead through our church cultures.

This trend is to claim belief in God but live any way we want to live. It is a claim of faith but coupled with a self-indulgent lifestyle devoid of church attendance.

As a minister I cannot sit idly by and not say anything about this disease. If this is what we expect Christianity to be then Satan has won! We cannot claim belief in God and ignore what His word says. If you believe that God doesn’t care about how you live, then you believe in a God that you created. It is NOT the God of the bible. It is a human-invented creation. It will NOT save you.

I continually have conversations with people who profess deep belief in God yet are not a part of His church in any way. I meet people who are “Christians” yet live with their significant others in a very NOT-marriage relationship. I know Christians all over who publicly, through Facebook and Twitter and other social network sites, profess to have no issue with and even support those living lifestyles that are blatantly against the moral standard that God has set in His word. God’s word, the bible, clearly speaks against each of these things.

Friends, if you are a Christian but don’t even attempt to conform to God’s expectations for your life, then you are not a Christian.

A Christian is a Christ-Follower. A Christian values the words of God and seeks to live them the way Jesus lived them. Christians aren’t proud drunkards. Christians aren’t openly living with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Christians don’t actively encourage others to continue in their ungodly lifestyles. Christians aren’t disconnected from the church.

Christians are sinners who are trying to sin less. Sin is something they want to be rid of, not brag about. Sin is a very real thing in the life of a sinner. Sin is the reason they need Jesus. Sin is the reason I need Jesus. I cannot be a Christian apart from the church any more than a finger can live severed from the rest of a body.

I am not perfect, and I am sure you aren’t either. I receive the forgiveness of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Holy Spirit guides my life, but if I’m continuing to openly, unashamedly live a sinful lifestyle then I’m not following after the Holy Spirit. I’m following after my flesh, and that is easily influenced by the evil one. It’s even easier for the evil one to be in control when I’m not strengthened by the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you’ve been living this kind of lifestyle then the good news is that Jesus offers new life today! Repent! Turn away from your sin and turn to God. Get involved in church. You won’t be perfect, but your heart turned toward Him is reflected by your actions. You’ll see change in your life, and others will too. And God honors that.

Jesus didn’t die so that we could continue to sin. He died so that He could show us the way out of this sin-led life, and He gave us his church to help us live the life He called us to through encouragement and fellowship. If you’d like to come back to Jesus in a real way, then I’d love to visit with you. You are invited and welcome to be a part of His family – it is not full of shame regarding the way you used to live – it is full of celebration that you left that life to live the life He intended for you to live all along.


Time is of the Essence

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Do you ever feel like you have enough time in the day? Are you a busy person? Are you a procrastinator? Does time seem to be moving faster and faster the older you get?

The other day my kids were watching a movie on Netflix. It was a kids show about some children who are spies (conveniently called “Spy Kids”). The dilemma in this show was that the bad guy was stealing time. He was making the clocks all around the world speed up.

The problem was that he was doing it for a good reason. He had lost his father and was trying to teach all people around the world to value the time they have with others. I think the bad guy had a good point.

We take for granted what becomes commonplace in our lives. Through the years we become accustomed to the idea that there will be tomorrow. We make decision based on plans for the future.

The other day I heard a sad story of a person who took the future for granted. This person had been studied with about Jesus and what He did to save us. This person believed the message and wanted to be baptized to give his life to The Lord, but in the end he decided to put it off until a later date.

Fast forward several years, and the person has still not dedicated his life to Christ. He out it off until a better time but that better time seemed to never come. When the decision was in the forefront of his mind he let other factors influence his decision to do what was right. Now he’s dead.

Death is finality. There is no more opportunity for the things you wished to do to come true. The decisions you neglected stay neglected. You are given one shot at living this life.

Hebrews says, “It is destined for man to die one and then to face judgment.” Reincarnation isn’t an option. There will be no time after death to undo the mistakes of your past. All of those mistakes need to be dealt with right now.

That’s why every time we read of someone being convicted of their need for Christ in the New Testament there was immediate response in baptism.

Time is of the essence. Time is fleeting. Now is the time to do what is right. Don’t put off till tomorrow what should be done today. All of these clichés are appropriate for you if you know you need to come to Christ but have been putting it off.

Have you been baptized? Have you been forgiven? Do you have the Spirit living in you? If not, then don’t wait until a better time to get that fixed. The time is now. God is calling.


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