It’s About Time…Isn’t It?

img_4350

Big Al

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

 

On April 18, 1955, a man who understood Time better than anyone, with perhaps the most dazzling intellect ever, could not stop Time’s steady advance and got swallowed up by it.  That man was Albert Einstein, the father of Quantum Physics.

Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 12.44.08 PM.png

Einstein’s office on the day he died

 

Einstein figured out the space-time continuum that led to the Atomic Age, won the Nobel Prize, and laid the cornerstone for modern science.  Despite his renown, Albert literally (and theoretically) proved that Time waits for no man, something we’re forced to admit every New Year’s Eve.

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 12.39.28 pm

Big Ben

 

I guess it’s necessary to recognize Time each January, but I’ve never understood making resolutions.  Lose weight.  Stop smoking. Start exercising.  Why?  If we’re honest, and take the 100-year viewpoint, resolutions to help us live longer, look better, or improve ourselves are all futile attempts to beat Time and its ravages.  We need to conquer Death, not delay it, but that’s impossible, right?

IMG_2794.jpgThe Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

 

Well, there’s another man with an even more dazzling intellect than Einstein, who was the first to actually swallow up Time and Death.  In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul called Jesus “the invisible God”and “the firstborn from the dead,”

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross….”

The mirror proves we’re all losing the race with Time.  Resolutions are only a stop-gap measure.  You can lose weight, but Time will still swallow you up too.  Isn’t it wiser to make the most of your time by investigating the claims of the only man who conquered Death?  Maybe resolve to read just one of the four Gospels this year.

IMG_2308.JPGBeth Shean Amphitheater

 

In 2016, I went to Israel on a 2-week writing assignment that required a hundred decisions–flights, expenses, tour guides, hotels, passports, and restaurants. It took weeks of planning. That was a trip I “hoped” to take, but you have a definite April 18thtrip that Time silently screams in your ear every New Year’s Eve.  How ironic to ignore that warning and just hope your permanent departure ends with a reservation.  If Jesus is alive, perhaps your resolution should be to make peace with Him and give Jesus “first place in everything.”  

After all, it’s about Time…isn’t it?

Here’s more about April 18, 1955:  The Day Einstein Died

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Be Like Scrooge!

 

IMG_4885Alistair Sims as Ebenezer (1951)

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”

Like Charlie Brown, the true meaning of Christmas evades some folks every twenty-fifth of December.  Fortunately, another Charlie peeled back some of the mystery with his classic 1843 tale, A Christmas Carol.  Although most rely on the film versions, instead of reading Charles Dickens’ masterpiece–a measly 29,000 words that can be read in just two-hours–A Christmas Carolcan be reduced even more to only one word…repent.

Repent is a religious word that means to change your mind, or your direction (I repented of going home and went back to work).  For Scrooge, he decides to change his stingy and selfish life, and to embrace Christmas, something his nephew Fred sums up nicely:

“I have always thought of Christmas as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 6.48.47 PM.pngCharles John Huffam Dickens

 

Note these literary nuggets, “shut-up hearts”and “fellow-passengers to the grave.”  Dickens turned a phrase as easily as a doorknob, or a Marley encrusted doorknocker, and understood human nature like no other author.  His scalpel-like words can even reveal our own Scrooged-up hearts (“Mankind was my business”).

If your heart is “shut-up” at this festive time, and don’t “get” Christmas, consider Phillips Brooks’ famous carol’s line,“Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.” Meek is another religious word that has the idea of a wild horse that is now broken, gentle, and easily led.

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 6.52.11 PM.png

O Little Town of Bethlehem author

 

Brooks was influenced by the Apostle John who said, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:10-13).”

The real meaning of Christmas is revealed when the One Who created everything literally enters your heart because you receive Him, just like a Christmas present.  You have to be born of God through His Spirit.  Jesus made that clear when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God(John 3:3).”

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 6.55.34 PM.png

Linus van Pelt

 

Christmas only makes sense if the Author of Christmas, “now in flesh appearing,”comes inside of you because like Scrooge, you repented and with meekness let Him lead you in a new direction.  That was Jesus’ very first sermon, repent and believe (Mark 1:15).  And as Linus said, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  So, be like Scrooge…repent.

The best version of A Christmas Carol was in 1984: A Christmas Carol

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Wreck-ognize Truth

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 10.54.55 AM

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).”

 

I love bumper stickers.  My favorite is, “God, make me the man my dog thinks I am.”  As funny as that one is, there’s another one that we’ve all seen that is a joke too, but in a farcical sense.  It’s the religious symbols that spell out COEXIST.

It’s a joke because these religions contradict each other with their own exclusive claims, but only one is corroborated by a resurrected Man; all the others are founded by dead men, who base their way to God on doing good works to appease Him for their sins (Galatians 2:21).  Truth cannot coexist with lies.  Jesus absolutely refutes them all.

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 11.07.34 AM“Some times all the truth can add up to one big lie.”  –Dylan

 

And they completely deny that Jesus is God and the only way to Heaven, as He said, so the bumper sticker is not being intellectually honest.  Only Jesus rose from the dead to prove His statement to be “the truth.”  Christianity is based on Jesus being God and the only way to Heaven, which is either arrogant or true.  Two plus two equals four, every…single…time. Truth is always absolute, and it usually has evidence and witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

The Apostles saw Jesus live, die, and come back from the dead, and Peter said the same exclusive thing when arrested for this very truth, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 11.04.56 AM.png“And a few old fishermen….”

 

These eyewitnesses, who died for this truth and could have evaded execution had they said they made it up, claimed Jesus was the only way to Heaven.  Some may die for what they think is true, but no one would die for a lie.  “No other name”eliminates every other religion, no matter how sincere.

Just because Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed are sincere doesn’t make their religion true.  Sincerity can be dead wrong if it’s not true.  Sincerely driving to Florida by heading west is the wrong way.  Jesus is absolutely exclusive by making this claim to be “the way,”but He is also inclusive by offering salvation to everyone.

Why does His brash claim bother us?  Because we want everyone to be saved from death and hope all religions lead to God.  If so, then mathematics is arrogant because two plus two equals four, and so is geography because Florida is due south, and Jesus is a bald-faced liar if He’s not “the life.”  Jesus made every religion false when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 10.58.51 AM.pngSometimes one lie can be fatal

 

So you can head west to Florida, and sincerely hit your brakes twice (and say it was four) to not rear-end the car in front of you (with the COEXIST bumper sticker), but if your brake line is cut…sincerity won’t save you.  The truth is you’ll wreck your car.  And the most loving thing you can do is to tell the truth, as Jesus said and did because He is the truth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Thus it is Written … Kill Jesus”

IMG_5790

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).”

 

According to the Old Testament, the Jewish Messiah must die.

It’s crazy to think that this is in the Bible, but the ancient prophets were clear that Messiah must be killed…centuries before Jesus was even born!

There are at least four specific references in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be killed.  Psalm 22 was written around 967 BC, Isaiah 53 about 740 BC, Zechariah 12:10 around 520 BC, and Daniel 9:26 in 164 BC.

For the Jews, this is a serious conundrum.  Their hope, the Messiah, must be cut off and die. So how then can He be a triumphant King like David and save Israel?

I was discussing this problem and Jesus as the answer with a Jewish man.  His difficulty with a Jewish carpenter’s claim to be God was that all men are sinners, and therefore a man from Nazareth could not possibly be God.  Pretty simple logic…at first glance.

“So the Almighty made everything, but can’t reveal Himself to us in any form He chooses…even as a man?” I asked.  He nodded, “All men are sinners.  Therefore, men cannot be God.”

 

IMG_2712

Bethlehem and the site of Jesus’ birth 

“But according to your Scriptures Messiah must die.  God’s power isn’t limited by what we think He should do,” I offered.  “He could appear as a talking kumquat if He wanted to, but if relating to us as humans is paramount, it seems logical He’d become a man and thus make this prophesied death possible.  After all, if He wanted to save ants, He’d have become an ant.”

His objection was sound–all sinners die because of sin (Ezekiel 18:20). This spiritual disease infects us all (Romans 6:23), and since God is holy and eternal then He cannot die, as humans must, right?  So how then can Messiah (God) die as it is written centuries beforehand?

 

IMG_2836

Jerusalem and the rock area where the crucifixion took place

It’s possible because He can choose to die…not because “of” sin like our curse requires, but “for” sin to rescue us.  The Old Testament is clear that the Messiah must die, and that can happen only if he’s human, and therefore He must remain sinless until He dies, just as it is written (Luke 24:46).  So why does this matter?  Because these four predictions came centuries before Jesus was born!

 

IMG_2770

One of two possible spots for the resurrection in Jerusalem

He even told His disciples before He gave up His life…and that He’d rise again. This predicted “before event” gives us confidence in the truth of the “after event.”  Jesus proved He is the God-Man, God-in-the-flesh, by being raised from the dead.  Therefore, He has power over sin and death…your death, and your sin.

Death is coming for us all. Jesus reversed the curse and made death a welcomed event.  If you’ll genuinely surrender and trust Him, your grave will be as empty as His.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“How did you know…?”

Screenshot 2018-08-21 19.22.29.png 

The King of Cool in The Great Escape

 

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”

 

 I love movies, especially if it’s based on a true story.  A favorite is the Oscar winning “Papillon”with Steve McQueen as Henri Charriere, a convicted murderer who wrote about his imprisonment in French Guiana’s penal colonies.  Papillon (butterfly in French and Henri’s nickname from his tattoo) spent 14 years there and escaped eight times.

Screenshot 2018-08-21 19.31.11.png

The real Papillon

My favorite scene is when Papillon escapes and tries to get a boat from a leper colony.  The leper leader is reluctant to help an outsider and tests Steve, who cannot bear to look at his disfigured face.

“Why don’t you have the courtesy to look at me when you speak?” he asks.

Papillon raises his eyes to see a horrific face sucking on a cigar.

“Do you like cigars?”

“When I can get ‘em,” Papillon says.

“Try this one.”

The leper offers his gooey cigar and Steve puffs on it, and then hands it back.

“How did you know I have dry leprosy, and it isn’t contagious?”

McQueen replies, “I didn’t.”

Screenshot 2018-08-21 19.26.16

On set for Papillon

This scene is the quintessential example of genuine faith.  Steve acts on his belief.  It isn’t head knowledge or something he just says he believes. He does it.  Papillon steps out in faith and tugs on a gooey cigar that had just been on those rotting lips.  He took a chance and acted on his belief that freedom was worth the risk of leprosy.  Real faith, a real saving-eternal faith, is like that.  It involves action.  If your faith in Jesus is genuine, then you’ll act on it publicly (like getting baptized).

But if you’re not 100% sure about Heaven, you don’t have to take a chance like Papillon.  The Bible says you can be absolutely certain, and that’s precisely why it was written:

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).

Do you think God would make something as critical as your salvation hard to understand when it cost Him His only son?  He wants you to get it, figuratively and literally.  If you’re not 100% sure, try reading the New Testament.

Screenshot 2018-08-21 19.29.19.pngMel’s Jesus (Jim Caviezel)

Ironically, McQueen led a wild life with fast cars, motorcycles, and heavy partying, but six months before he died Steve got it…and accepted Christ!  He wanted to know for sure, and when he understood the Bible’s message of salvation, a free gift, the King of Cool knelt before the King of Kings.  How cool is that?  And the good news is you can know too, and as an added bonus…meet Steve McQueen.

Here’s a cool 12-minute doc on McQueen’s original version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_BORJtfo48

They’re also remaking it and will be released soon.  Here’s the trailer:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqj7XOv9mC8

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Earn it!”

Screenshot 2018-07-16 11.49.55.pngSgt. Fritz Niland, 101st Airborne 

 

“…if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly(Galatians 2:21).”

 

Chances are you’ve never heard of Frederick “Fritz” Niland, but you’ve seen the movie that his life inspired, “Saving Private Ryan.”  Sgt. Niland was sent home after the reported deaths of his three brothers (Edward shot down over Burma, Robert killed on D-Day, and Preston killed June 7thnear Utah Beach).

In the film, Captain Miller searches for Private Ryan to send him home and like Mrs. Niland, spare Ryan’s mother from losing all four sons.  After finding Ryan, and losing all of his men, a wounded Miller, seconds from eternity says, “Earn this.”  Then he draws Ryan closer and whispers,“Earn it!”

Screenshot 2018-07-16 11.55.06.png

Rest In Peace

This scene then morphs Ryan into an old man at Normandy Cemetery.  A tearful Ryan, aware of their sacrifice for him asks his wife, “Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.” She reassures him, and then he stands back, and salutes Miller’s grave as the camera focuses on his white cross.

That cross and Miller’s last words always struck me as ironic because we cannot “earn” the salvation the cross represents by “being a good man.”  The whole point of the cross demonstrates how helpless we are as violators of God’s Law (Isaiah 59:2).  We can’t earn a right standing by our leper-like efforts to bridge the holy gap (Isaiah 64:6).

Yet, most of us think we are good, or at least good enough.  The Bible teaches just the opposite; we fall short. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Romans 3:23).”  It’s not being good, it’s being perfect.  “You are to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”  Any honest person knows they’re not good enough compared to His absolute perfection.  Sound like an unfair standard?

Consider two questions.  If you can get to Heaven by being good,“If righteousness comes through (keeping)the Law,” then why did Jesus die?  If your “good life” is enough, then Jesus died for nothing.

Secondly, even if you’re a “good man” like Ryan, have you ever broken one of the Ten Commandments?  The Bible is clear that one sin makes you guilty of every sin.  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10).”  God doesn’t weigh good and bad deeds.  His standard is perfection, and nobody’s perfect. Having to be perfect is not good news, but it makes sense if you want to be with a sinless God in a sinless Heaven.

The good news is you can become as righteous as God Himself and meet His standard of perfection through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  “He made Him (Jesus)who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”  God sees you “in Him”through the Jesus filter.

His sacrifice (Miller) saved you (Ryan), and like Ryan, you did nothing to earn it. That’s grace, unearned favor.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

 Over 700 Years Before Gettysburg

lincolncolor.jpg

The Greatest President 

 

“I am God, and there is no other;I am God, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning,from ancient times, what is still to come (Isaiah 46:9-10).

 

On November 19, 1863, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address explained the entire Civil War’s significance with just 272 words.  A miraculous feat, but Lincoln’s perfect speech pales beside Isaiah’s 405 words in chapter 53 (below). Why?  Because Isaiah wrote them 700 years before Jesus’ crucifixion!

IMG_0207

The receiving end of Pickett’s Charge at the 150th Anniversary

 

IMG_0218

Generals A.P. Hill and Marse Robert at the 150th Anniversary

 

IMG_0235

Moments after Pickett’s Charge reenactment at the 150th Anniversary

Here’s Isaiah’s 53rd chapter:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For he grew up before him like a young plant,and like a root out of dry ground;he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejectedby men,a man of sorrowsand acquainted withgrief;and as one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefsand carried our sorrows;yet we esteemed him stricken,smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned—every one—to his own way;and the Lord has laid on himthe iniquity of us all.

 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,yet he opened not his mouth;like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,so he opened not his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away;and as for his generation, who consideredthat he was cut off out of the land of the living,stricken for the transgression of my people?

 And they made his grave with the wickedand with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,and there was no deceit in his mouth.  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;he has put him to grief;when his soul makesan offering for guilt,he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall seeand be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,make many to be accounted righteous,and he shall bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,because he poured out his soul to deathand was numbered with the transgressors;yet he bore the sin of many,and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Imagine if Gettysburg was predicted with this detail in 1163.  Impossible, unless “I am God and there is no other,” saw Gettysburg (and the crucifixion) 700 years beforehand!  Which if He did, it also means He knew you’d read this today, and your response to Isaiah 53:1 with his first nine words.

Here’s those magical words of Lincoln and why they matter:  The Gettysburg Address

And some controversy too:  269 or 272?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized