God, Heaven

I’m going to heaven, how about you?

Are you positive you’re going to heaven? I am. But are you positive you’re going to heaven?

You might ask me how do I know for sure that I’m going to heaven?

I’ll tell you. It’s simple.

It has nothing to do with my beliefs. It has nothing to do with my religion. It has nothing to do with church. It has nothing to do with my faith. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been faithful to my wife for 28 years.

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Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

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We have forgotten God

Dr. James Merritt

Dr. James Merritt once quipped, “If we’ve learned anything from history it’s that we haven’t learned anything from history.”

Idols

It used to be that only some off-the-wall religions and pagans worshipped idols. But look at us now. We make idols out of almost anything that satisfies our worldly lusts. Shiny cars, football players and teams, movie stars, singers and music groups, clothes, our cell phones, (yes we do) money, shopping, crystals, astrology, success, personal image, . . .an idol is anything in our lives that we consider more important than God.

Sexual Immorality

We have completely forgotten what God said about marriage, dating back to Genesis

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24…Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that God created marriage as an institution for the purpose of man and woman to fulfill God’s purposes for man–procreation.

That means at the end of the day homosexual couples are and will always live outside God’s law and His purpose for man. Gay couples can not procreate, that will always render them shy of God’s original and eternal purpose. But God’s love is for all people and those living in sin will always have the freedom to repent and follow God’s law.

But homosexuality is only the tip of the sexuality immorality iceberg in our society. All you have to do is look) around to get a dose of every kind of immorality. Examples of immorality prevalent in our society: incest, adultery, prostitution (all pornography is merely glorified prostitution), fornication–having sex outside marriage, rape…abuse of women or children, lust after sex, cars, alcohol, drugs, riches, food, covetousness, lewdness. . .and the list goes on.

We have forgotten what God thinks about all this sexual immorality. Much of this disobedience has become commonplace and accepted as normal to many in our society today. Some turn away and claim just not to care or be moved by the behavior or beliefs of another. They claim it’s none of their business what others do.

“If it feels good” they rationalize, “do it” with no regard for who gets hurt.

Iniquity

And we’ve forgotten all about iniquity and how our heavenly Father feels when He sees it in us.

But sin is sin and ours has to be dealt with. We know from John 3:16 that Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt for all of us we owed: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But when we’re saved by the blood of Jesus, the rest of our lives we have to make choices every day about how we’re going to live. We will choose to make choices that glorify God or choices that glorify us. Choices that glorify Holy God come with rewards and a heaven full of grace and blessings or those choices that live for us. Those choices lead to disappointments, costly outcomes, unnecessary suffering and regret–never fulfillment.

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He never invited her to church

butterfield

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radical unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.https://www.youtube.com/embed/hkJZSeUGzWw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

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The thing about corn

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The main thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

If you’re anything like me lots of times we get distracted by things we consider real important. For instance every Saturday in the Fall you’ll find me parked in front of the TV from noon till well into the night watching college football ( the SEC and of course Alabama). For several hours I slip into an activity that becomes the main thing in my life.

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The majestic, simple Gospel

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Where will you go when you die?

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Astronomers discover 7 new planets. What’s the big deal?

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God Bless Atheists This Christmas

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Is that the truth?

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Eternity. What a concept!

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Dear Mom, I missed you yesterday

Mom,

Yesterday in church Pastor Gearl recognized all the moms in the audience. His message was about how important a good mom is to her family and to others. I wish you could have been there with me.

I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Jesus called you home.  I sure do miss you. I can’t count the times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I loved to call you and share some way God blessed me, or tell you about something exciting or fun I did that day. 

My conversations over the years with you and Dad created some of my most precious memories. Though we spent most of our lives living a thousand miles apart, I loved being able to pick up the phone and connect with you just to chat.

You gave me something few of my friends here share. For almost 60 years you gave me consistency. You stayed married to each other, despite some extremely difficult times. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, or not doing, I could always pick up the phone and dial 712-246-2655. You were always there. I often brag about my hometown and my wonderful growing up years in my loving family to my friends. Most of them marvel at the wonderful childhood I enjoyed in our small Iowa hometown. Many of my friends have never known the consistence and security you and Dad gave me.

I know we didn’t have a perfect life, either. I know I gave you more than my share of grief and heartaches. For all those, I am genuinely sorry.

I have to confess, Mom: the day you died, I was absolutely jubilant. Not because you died, but because I knew where you were. Your suffering from the cancer that took you from us was over. Not only was I jubilant because I knew where you were. I was jubilant because I knew that someday we would be reunited and basking in the love of Jesus in God’s Kingdom forever. We’ll never be apart again. We’ll never know pain or suffering or sorrow or dismay or any other health problems. And you’d never have to fuss at me again to pick up my clothes.

What a glorious day that will be!

Until then, Mom, please know that I love you and miss you still. I am grateful for everything you were to me, everything you gave me, everything you taught me, and everything you did for me.

I will always love you,

Your loving son, Steve

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Do you believe in angels?

After my “Our family’s close call” post Tuesday, I received this comment from a dear and sweet friend,

“just seconds made the difference and the angels were definitely watching over them!!!   praise The Lord!!”

Oh, YES! I agree!

Another fantastic follower commented,

“I think we are all going to stand before Him someday and see all the close calls and near misses and be simply amazed!”

Amen and Amen!

Over the years I’ve listened to a number of amazing accounts of ministering angels fromangels personal friends. Probably the most memorable came from our pastor. A woman approached him after a Sunday morning service and revealed her astonishing encounter.

The women as financially strapped and needed a certain amount of money to resolve a financial matter or face negative consequences. The woman told our pastor that during our prayer time, she was praying and asking God to answer her prayer and meet her need. In the middle of her prayer, she felt a tap on the shoulder. She turned around and a woman behind her handed her an envelop and said, “I believe this is for you.” The woman turned around and opened the envelop. She opened the envelop and counted out the exact amount she needed to resolve her financial crisis.  The woman turned to thank the woman behind her but she wasn’t there.

Not only was she not there, but the pew was full. There was no room on the pew for another person to have been sitting.

The Bible speaks more than 90 times about the existence and ministry work of angels. To me, then, it’s difficult for me to deny they exist. Especially when I’ve had personal experience of their ministry and heard first hand accounts of angels working in the lives of people.

I believe understanding angels and understanding God’s grace are both aspects of God’s character and His love for us that we will one day see first hand and understand completely.

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Because He lives . . .

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My Mom never breaks the law

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It’s Just Time

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Going To Heaven; Living Like Hell

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Grave Visiting

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the joy set before Him

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How Could It Be?

Heaven

The Good-O-Meter — How Good Is Good Enough To Get To Heaven