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POV

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the… (1 Samuel 16:7).”

Ah, to be 12 again and know everything

We’re all just 12-year-olds in grown-up clothes.  That perspective got me through a recent conference full of very important Hollywood folks.  We’re all just people, right?  

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk to strangers.  On a vacation once my family didn’t know where I was. My daughter said, “Just look for a crowd and Dad will be in the middle.”  I’m used to talking to strangers, but when they wield that much media influence, it puts me off my game a bit.  We see the clothes, famous faces, and name tags.

At the City Gates of Hollywood’s influence on your POV

Our human point of view can shift, be influenced, and we all disagree on something, but God is not sidetracked by appearances – He looks inside, at the heart.  And so, His POV is right, and always right.  We form opinions and views, but God has the heart facts.

And what is God’s point of view on us?  God’s POV on “our facts” is clearly revealed in the Bible.  He says we are made in His likeness and each person has great value as His reflection.  “God created Man in His own image, male and female…(Genesis 1:27).”

But He says we’re rebels, lawbreakers, running from Him and His immense love.  “All of us like sheep have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to his own way…(Isaiah 53:6).”  

My POV at 30,000 feet. Can you see it?

That’s because we’re all broken by this rebellious, independent, and selfish attitude, what the Bible calls sin.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).”  (Doubt it?  Who do you look for first in your school yearbook or family group photos?)

And yet, He loves us anyway, which is quite astounding.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…(Romans 5:8).”

He came to rescue us from spiritual death, caused by sin that makes us unholy.  “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10, Romans 6:23).”

Fast forward 16 minutes to hear Woodhouse’s brilliant explanation

He also says that if we don’t return, that one day He’ll punish everyone who defies Him and His Word.  “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished (Proverbs 11:21).”

Our punishment is just, and loving (because it protects those who love Him from harm).  “Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).”

He does not delight in our death or our rebellion.  “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live…(Ezekiel 33:11).”  It’s all very bad news, and thankfully really good news.  I guess it all depends on our point of view on how we see God’s POV.  After all, most 12-year-olds in adult clothes know best.

What in the world do you allow to influence you?

(If you can’t see it, look again at my flight photo above…at the top left is…a polar bear! Never saw it until weeks later!)

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The Exorcist…Reversed

“Test yourselves to see if you are in… (2 Corinthians 13:5).”

William Peter Blatty

Deliver the message.  That was my job at Knight-Ridder Newspapers for four years. As the Home Delivery Manager, I made sure you got your newspaper on time and readable (dry), 365 days a year.  Sounds easy, right?  Just trust my six District Managers, to trust 42 drivers and 350 kids to follow directions, in the dark, with 30,000 newspapers.           

Frankly, it was hard, and a lot like life…a daily test, challenges galore, and trusting others to deliver.  If that sounds familiar, and your life’s hard, then consider reading the directions –– the Bible.  I know, it sounds corny, but God’s Instruction Manual has one primary wow-message: Life makes the most sense if the Author is inside of your body.

Me and the CDT, on time and readable

You read that right, God…in…you.  The Apostle Paul said, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you –– unless indeed you fail the test.”  That’s what it means to be a Christian, Christ in you, literally.  Jesus wants to possess your body with His Spirit.  

I never knew that being a Christian meant Jesus inside of me until I read Ephesians 1:13-14.  Hear His message, believe it, and then be permanently sealed –– God’s Spirit living in my body.  The coolest thing (and there are lots of cool things) is that this Spirit possession makes you immortal!  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, that’s what Jesus said (John 14:16-20). He’s either lying, totally insane, or exactly who He said He was…God-in-the-flesh.

Part One of the Gospel of John

God’s message is simple: “Jesus can be embedded in you.”  You don’t have to be alone in life.  But believing in God (in His existence or facts about Him) doesn’t make you a Christian.  There’s only one question on His test about who goes to Heaven…have you asked Jesus to come inside of you?  “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).”  

It has nothing to do with you or your religion.  Nothing.  Being good or bad, an American or going to church, baptized, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or an atheist.  It’s just this…is the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth inside of your physical body now?  That’s all.  Spirit possession.  His entrance restores your broken relationship with the Father, obliterates your sin, and gives you a fresh start, a new spiritual birth (John 3:1-3). 

That’s amazing!  The Creator in you, helping you with life’s daily challenges, giving you a clear conscience because all of your sins are forgiven, and now your best friend (who has all power, even enough to de-fang death and raise the dead).  It’s a totally free gift for anyone who asks Him to come inside (Romans 6:23).  Just trust Him to deliver you.

The Gospel of John Part Two

And all God wants in return is you.  Change your mind about living alone, give up trying, and come home to Dad (Luke 15:11-32).  Don’t take my word for it.  Go read the New Testament in a modern version (like the New Living Translation).  Well, that’s it.  My job is done.  Message delivered, on time, and readable.  Now it’s up to you…in or out? 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20).”

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12 to 3

“Was it not necessary… (Luke 24:26)?”

My Mom – B.C.

Once a year, at noon, my Mom would make me come inside and sit quietly until 3PM, respectfully, because this was when Jesus was “dying on the cross.”  And not just dying, He was dying for me.  That was Good Friday in our house.  

School was out, so we usually played football in the street, that is, until she called me home.  I could read or watch television, as long as I was reverent.  To my Mother, it was necessary to honor Him.  This made a deep impression; I mattered to God, to an innocent man, as Pontius Pilate said of the Jew who claimed to be God, who was murdered for me.  

Mr “Two-Hand-Touch Football” 1970

My Mother’s parenting seems strange today since most folks ignore Good Friday.  If she were not blind, we’d have driven to church, but this was her best attempt at worship to remember Jesus.  Today is Good Friday, and I always feel weird about it.  Should I be sad, be like everyone else as if nothing has happened, or be happy He died for me?  What’s necessary now?  

Necessary is a funny word (writers are like this, drilling down on words and their meaning).  It means “essential, absolutely required.”  And this is what Jesus said after His death in chapter 24 of Luke’s resurrection account, “Was it not necessary?”

What does God have to do that is “essential” and “absolutely required?”  This is very deep stuff if you think hard about it.  What is demanded of God, by Himself, that is necessary?  Make sure Jupiter spins?  The sun sets on time all over the world?  Judge sin fairly?  What must be done, no matter what, by God’s self-imposition on Himself?

My Mom’s Graduation at 18 (before her blindness)

I submit that Jesus dying a horrible, painful, and bloody, flesh-ripped death was necessary for God because of one inescapable thing…God loved us.  And loved you personally, enough to become sin and be separated from His Father for the first time, take your judgment, one you deserved for your sin, all to get you back home, safe and sound. 

Sin has consequences…Death

He thought it necessary – essential, absolutely required, no other way to do it, the only way – because He loved you so very much, He’d even die just for you.  That means if you were the only person on the planet, He would have died for your sins.  Necessary?  Wow!  If I were God I’d have found another way, but apparently it was the only way possible.  His love for you made this the only way to save you.  Jesus said, “I am the way (John 14:6).”  Not a way, but the way.  The only way.  The necessary way to pay for sin.

Grateful, as the first one to share the gospel with me

The irony of this demand God put on Himself is what you choose to do with it.  You can ignore Him.  You don’t have to come home (repent) and acknowledge what He did for you with your reverence.  Stay outside and play football, as my friends did when my Mom called.  Necessary doesn’t apply to you.  Necessary only applies to Good Friday, when His love for you was His “necessary” because you mattered enough to die for.

The Necessary Explained

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But God

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).”

Standing on the water

“Men to the left, women to the right.  Men to the left, women to the right.”  

Indifference.  That was the blasé tone of the Nazi commands to the Jews at the Auschwitz train depot.  Hate implies some emotion exists, but indifference has no feeling at all.  

Not indifferent…August Landmesser (1936)

Indifference also typifies our view of God.  If we’re honest, we don’t care if He’s real.  You may contest that, but a true litmus test of what you love is your expenditure of time and money (Matthew 6:21).  If He’s real, the greatest Being ever, and loves you, then it’s stupefying that we ignore Him; but then again, a corpse is pretty hard to impress.  

The Bible says that’s because we’re dead, a spiritual corpse, a dead soul, which explains our lackadaisical God attitude.  Sin killed it and us.  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).”  A disinterest in seeking God confirms this truth, “no one seeks God (Romans 3:11).”  Deep down, we don’t trust Him to have our best interests at heart, so we dismiss Him.  But God, thankfully, cared, and loved us anyway. 

 

Man’s sin on full display

God puts a supreme value on trust, what the Bible calls Faith, the “conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”  He gave us a wake up-nudge when He became a man, and Jesus reaffirmed faith’s importance, asking us to believe that He and the Father were one and the same.  So why does a loving God put a premium on trust and faith?

My earthly Father at war with Germany

Trust is the core of a relationship.  It implies a dependency, and in this case that He knows better than we do, “a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  As a father, I want my child’s trust when I tell them to do something, or to avoid something dangerous, to believe that I instruct them out of love.  To question me is heartbreaking.  To ignore me is even worse, but if I love them then I must let them choose to obey me, and to trust me. 

So it is with our Heavenly Father who says sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).  Our indifference confirms it; we don’t believe Him.  But God, despite our hurtful attitude, not only said He loves us, He demonstrated it when He died for our sins.  He came after us, even though we didn’t care (Luke 19:10).  Jesus knew that, and He still came.  When God “butted in,” it meant His Son would die, for you, and yet most of us still ignore Him.

The walking dead at Auschwitz

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  And Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”  But God – two words to change your life’s direction, if you trust Him, “a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  

Or just stay indifferent, as His love allows you to choose to do.  “Men to the left.  Women to the right.”

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31,102

“If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me (John 5:46).”

My favorite movie of all-time, ever!

There’s nothing like writing a perfect movie line.  “ET phone home.” “Shaken, not stirred.”  “Adrian!”  “I’ll be back.”  “Feel lucky, punk?”  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  “I’m your huckleberry.”  For a writer, that’s the cherry on top of a good script, especially if it’s the very last line, like in Some Like It Hot:  “Well, nobody’s perfect.”       

I try to come up with one when I’m writing all the time – a great line that will live forever in Hollywood, and the shorter, the better.  Here’s a few favorites, in three words or less: 

The Blind Side:  A very wealthy Sandra Bullock shows their adopted son from the street his new bedroom.  He’s stunned, says he never had one before, so she asks, “What?  A room to yourself?”  Looking down at it, with pitiful puppy eyes, Michael says,  “A bed.”  

“The blind leading….”

Hoosiers:  Basketball coach Gene Hackman tells Buddy to play good defense in the game, and stick with their best player like chewing gum.  When Buddy comes back to the bench after a successful stint, he says to Hackman with a straight face, “It was Dentyne.” 

Casablanca:  A mysterious Rick answers Louis as to why he’s in Casablanca, but Rick doesn’t want to reveal his past, so he says he came for the waters.  Louis corrects him with, “We’re in the desert.”  Without missing a beat, Bogie says, “I was misinformed.”  

The real Milan “Hoosiers” Champions

The Undefeated:  John Wayne exposes two shady Federal horse agents as thieves, and when the big one goes for his gun, Wayne slugs him.  The smaller crook pleads, “I didn’t do anything.”  The Duke says, “You should have.”  Then punches him in the face. 

Jesus has a memorable line too.  Well, He had a lot of them, since He wrote the Bible, but there’s one three-word line in the 31,102 verses in the Bible that really nails His life’s mission.  Any guesses what it is?  There’s a hint in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 10.  

The Undefeated

Israel tried to keep the Law of Moses, to be made right with God, to deal with their sin by blood (Leviticus 17:11), but it was never intended as a permanent solution (that’s why they did it every year).  The Temple, the sacrifices, and their Feasts were reminders that they needed forgiveness, “Well, nobody’s perfect,” all symbols pointing to the Messiah.

These temporary sacrifices were finished, “once for all time,” when the Passover Lamb was not an animal, but a perfect God-man.  As John the Baptizer said when he saw Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.”  That’s His mission. 

Jerusalem’s Temple after Titus

All Jewish blood sacrifices for sin ended when Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.  According to the Law of Moses without shedding blood all sin remains, but the good news is that it’s not needed if you take Jesus’ sacrifice as your own.  Now, can you guess His famous three-word line?  Just give up and it’ll all make perfect sense (John 19:30).

http://www.land-of-the-bible.com/The_Temple_Mount

One of my articles on the IMOT site (above) and Hebrews explained (below)

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52 THINKS

“Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him (Isaiah 52:15).”

My new book, 52 Thinks!

Can you remember something significant from 2016?  After the last two years, normal memories seem to be buried pretty deep, let alone six years ago, but for me it’s easy…that was the year I got paid to go to Israel to write 104 articles for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, and stood in Jerusalem (I’d have done it for free)!  

The remains of the Temple in Jerusalem

They say that’s a memory that you never forget, the first time you see Jerusalem.  It was in January, like today, cold, windy, and snowing.  That’s also how long I’ve been writing my newspaper column, six years, and last month I combined some articles into a published book, a weekly devotional for the year for those still seeking Him called “52 Thinks About God.”

And so, it seemed appropriate to find a passage with “52” in it for today.  Yesterday I read Isaiah chapter 52, which was divinely appropriate for mentioning a book about seeking God–who promises us He can be easily found (Jeremiah 29:12-13).  This chapter in Isaiah is remarkable.  It’s a prophecy written around 700 B.C. about the future Messiah.  It describes Him as a King, who will be badly beaten up (verses 13-15):

“Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.  Just as many were astonished at you, My people (Israel), so His appearance was marred more than the sons of men.  Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.”

The back cover of 52 Thinks

This is not news to us Gentiles.  The Christ will be a Jewish King who is rejected and killed, and “sprinkle many nations” with His blood.  We know that story well, even if most don’t believe it.  Jesus of Nazareth was that King who died for our sins, and rose again from the dead, but to the Jews to whom Isaiah was writing, it was just plain crazy!

The retaining wall to the Temple

This Jewish King of all Kings will be beaten to a bloody pulp, sprinkle other nations, and leave the rulers of the world dumbfounded?  Sprinkling blood for sin was an easy concept to grasp from their sacrificial animal system in Jerusalem’s Temple, but sprinkled with God’s blood, from being beat up, from their promised Messiah-King?  So wait, Isaiah, are you saying this God-King would have human blood?  Be fully human?  This boggled Jewish minds, and still does today!  

How can the God of Abraham be human, King, and die a bloody death, for all nations, even the Gentiles?  Isn’t He all-powerful?  Who could sucker punch God-in-the-flesh?  Isaiah explains it all in his next chapter, Isaiah 53, but first he says in 52:7, “How lovely are the feet of those who bring good news.”  That is the good news of “52 Thinks.”  

Part 2 of Isaiah explained (chapters 52-53)

Our suffering King came to save us all, to sprinkle our sins with His precious blood, and He will come again as the King of Kings.  That’s very good news, worthy of 52 Thanks!

Two of the 104 IMOT articles:

http://www.land-of-the-bible.com/The_Western_Wall

http://www.land-of-the-bible.com/The_Temple_Mount

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The Christmas Psalm

“And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Psalm 130:8).”

A Psalm from the Dead Sea Scrolls

How does Psalm 130 relate to celebrating the story of a Jewish baby’s birth in Israel over 2,000 years ago?  Good question.  Let’s look at a few choice words to see God’s plot.

The Hebrew word here for “redeem” is padah, which means to ransom or release, what we would define as “an outsider intervening to free someone from a bad situation.”  We’ve all seen the movie, the rich parent gives up millions to get their kidnapped child back.  That’s Hollywood, but God’s Christmas storyline is much more real, and personal.  

From beyond Eternity, viewing Earth from God’s perspective, you are that child, being held captive by unseen chains, and God is dropping off a bagful of cash.  At this time of year, a favorite Christmas carol comes to mind when we talk about a “ransom.”

The Lindbergh ransom note

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears,” a desperate plea for God to come and rescue us, but from what?  “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.”  Our own sin and judgment.

This baby is God Himself, disguised in flesh and blood, who pierced Time and Space, for one purpose…our reclamation, an old Dickens-like word defined as “the process of claiming something back, or of reasserting a right,” like saving Ebenezer Scrooge’s soul.  

Jesus did just that…He came in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies to rescue Israel, to take back His own who were in exile, held captive by sin, powerless to stop a horrible outcome––a righteous judgment on our sin.  Thankfully, God loves not only Israel, but all of us too.  This is the Christmas story, a story of a helpless child being held captive and then rescued by another Child who dies for us.  Psalm 130 lays it all out.

Psalm 130

Read it for yourself, and then consider His Christmas gift to redeem your own soul.   

•  A desperate, nowhere to turn cry for help (verses 1-2).

•  Our chains of sin binding us, and preventing us from even standing up (verse 3).

•  But God is listening, more than ready to help, to forgive us (verse 4).

•  His Word, His faithful promises, are our only hope for rescue (verse 5).

•  We strain to see His arrival through our darkness (verse 6).

•  We hope in His great love and His overwhelming desire to save us (verse 7).

•  He will save us, He promised to come, and then He did come…to Bethlehem (verse 8).

The problem in this story is the ending­––the captive is unwilling to be saved.  That’s the part you play, be willing to be rescued, to repent (change your mind about running away from your Rescuer).  You have to give up, surrender, and believe in Jesus’ payment for your sins on the cross is enough, that His resurrection proved His bagful of cash was sufficient to bring you home to a heartbroken Father.  And that’s how Psalm 130 relates…for a Merry Christmas!.

The star of “Ransom” with the Ransom.

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Breadcrumbs in the Sky

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers (Psalm 8).”

Charles Darwin

Two college roommates disagreed on the origin of the universe.  Bob was a diehard Evolutionist, while Jerry was a devout Christian who believed in Creation.  Despite their different worldviews, they remained good friends and both respected true Science.  

They agreed that Evolution and Creation were theories, and not a fact since Science is based on two main pillars––Observation and Repetition.  Since no one was there to observe the birth of the Universe, and no one could repeat it, both were only theories.

After going round and round, they concluded that both theories required faith in the vast circumstantial evidence.  Beyond that, they were deadlocked.  They saw the evidences through their own bias.  The Evolutionist got behind in his classes because of a family emergency and had to go home often, and so Jerry tried to help him with his assignments.

Bob’s World Geography 403 class was especially challenging and being gone for several weeks meant he was flunking in his major’s most important class for graduation.  Only acing his final project, worth 75% of his final grade, could save him, so Jerry looked over his friend’s syllabus, and secretly got to work.  

Science & Faith

He made a huge globe out of papier-mâché to the exact scale with three dimensional topography, mountain ranges, oceans, and all the major rivers.  Jerry hand-painted the Earth, labeled the continents, identified each country, and all their capital cities.  As an Electrical Engineering major, he even wired it inside to light up these cities so that at night you could see it.  It was magnificent, and even more stunning in the dark! 

When Bob got back to the dorm, he saw the amazing work his friend had done for him over the last three weeks.  Jerry closed the blinds, and it streamed from within like a giant ballroom chandelier.  Bob was speechless, flabbergasted, but finally he had to know.

“Where did this come from?” he asked, seeing his name and class on the globe’s base.

“You won’t believe it, but while you were gone the paper, the wire, the glue, the electrical wires, and all the paint just appeared here in our room one day.  So I put it in a pile in the center of our room and shocked it with electricity every day, for 24 hours, for the last three weeks.  When I woke up this morning, there it was!  A miracle!  Something out of nothing, I can’t believe it, but I guess Darwin was right. ” 

His stunned friend didn’t say anything.  Bob looked mad.  Finally, he went to the window, opened the blinds and looked out at the storm clouds moving off, changing into a beautiful blue sky, and then Bob admitted, “Intelligent design implies….”

“Implies a Designer,” Jerry said smiling, and gave him the receipts for his materials.  “You owe the designer $74.87, and maybe even reconsider the work of His fingers?”

 

More Stephen Meyer

 

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Hasenpfeffer Hostage 

“You fool!  This very night your soul is demanded of you (Luke 12:20).”

Ralphie…also trapped!

Why is God so concerned with Death?  The Bible mentions Death 372 times, so you could say God cares about it a lot, even that He’s obsessed with it.  Since Halloween is only a week away it seemed like a good time to talk about our demise, like the dinner caught in our fence last week, it can be scary.

Our dinner was disguised as a rabbit, his front half outside of the fence with two feet on the ground.  His back legs were up in the air inside the fence, firmly stuck at his hips (which were rubbed raw and exposed from struggling to get free).  He was stuck all night.  

As I approached him the spiritual imagery was deafening; he was just like us.  Stuck, helpless, and dying.  He needed to be rescued.  The Bible says we are spiritually dead and need rescuing too (Ephesians 2:1-5).  We tend to ignore our plight, that is until a funeral arrives (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2), which like an alarm clock, wakes us up to our appointment.  

Rest In Peace?

So what is Death exactly?  The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.”  If you work at Sin, Inc. then your paycheck will be Death (Romans 6:23).  In the Bible, Sin and Death are linked together and you are fully employed as members of the human race.   

•  Death is physical and spiritual.  “The soul that sins shall surely die (Ezekiel 18:20).”

•  Universal.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).”

•  Divisive.  “Your sins have made a separation between you and your God (Isaiah 59:2).” 

•  Inescapable.  “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).”

•  Finished.  Jesus killed Death for all of us by rising from the dead, but we have to accept His help (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; John 1:12).  Your death sentence can be pardoned.

An empty tomb in Jerusalem

But without Jesus, like my rabbit, you’re stuck…separated.  I could have shot the rabbit (the fence was to protect our apple tree), but out of mercy I freed the thief.  Are you exhausted, rubbed raw with guilt, the fear of death, and judgment?  Jesus offers mercy, release from your offenses.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners (stuck rabbits), Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”  

So why is God so obsessed with our Death problem?  The answer is in another word in the Bible, mentioned 541 times. God is also obsessed with the word Love…for you, to the point of His own death to rescue you from it, if you want His help (John 3:16). 

For those without mercy…here’s the recipe:

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Not Sure

“These things I have written to you…that you may know…(1 John 5:13).”

Hanging out in L.A.

The first rule in writing a movie is to be clear.  If the audience can’t follow your story, then game over.  How much more important is clarity in communicating spiritual truth to a world flooded with disinformation.  So who can you trust?  

How about the very first Writer?

God has written a movie called “Being 100% Sure You’re Going to Heaven.”  It’s playing in a Bible near you, and He lays out the logline in 1 John, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”  That’s pretty clear, but most people are still not sure.  

Most hope they’re good enough to go to Heaven because they haven’t done anything really bad and guess they’re between the 40-75% range, but the Bible says that you can be 100% certain.  That’s why God wrote “these things.”  So how can you be 100% sure?

First, realize nobody’s perfect.  Since God is perfect (holy), we cannot be with Him in Heaven or our sin would wreck it pretty quick.  “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God (Isaiah 59:2).”  Pretty clear, broken and alienated. 

Broken, but screwed and plated…hockey is fun!

Second, good works don’t work.  Would you accept a million bucks from a leper? It would be contaminated, just like our very best effort would be with a holy God.  “All our most righteous deeds are like a filthy rag to God (Isaiah 64:6).”  

And there is no scale to weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds.  “Whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10).”  If a big, red balloon represents God’s Law, how many pins are needed to break it?  No matter how hard you try, you cannot make that balloon perfect again.  It’s not about being good; it’s about being perfect.

Good works vs Faith alone

Third, God’s holiness also means our sin must be punished.  A sin a day is over 25,000 in 70 years, and if He ignored it, then He’d be a crooked judge.  He solved this problem; loving us and punishing us, by taking it on Himself…only a perfect Person could pay our debt, so God became flesh.  “He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”  His gift makes you holy, but it’s on His terms, and “believing” can be a confusing term.

“Sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace” –Bob Dylan

True faith is action, the plot-point most miss in His story (especially the religious who think their good works matter).  Believing is not just acknowledging a fact.  Demons believe, but they’re not going to Heaven (James 2:19), so what’s the difference between your belief and their belief?  True, saving faith is repentance, surrendering pride and will.  

Titus 3:5

This action, to take His free gift by faith, is enough to pay for all your sin.  Doing good works to gain righteousness is pride, and an insult to His sacrifice (Galatians 2:16, 21).  Genuine faith is a humble, thankful surrender, and receiving Him makes you as righteous as God because now He sees you through the camera lens of Jesus.  But the Holy Spirit will only come into your heart “theater” if you’re showing His other film:  “Jesus Alone.”

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