Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He Loved Me That Much! that time you were without Christ, being aliens ... and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  [Yet] before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you... (Ephesians 2:12, Jeremiah 1:5)

I'm still hanging on to and asking God to impress upon me even more deeply the very real truth that when I chose to follow the Lord thirteen years ago, the very act of the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit came to be within me. A difficult thing to comprehend but Jesus and His disciples preached on it's true!

He loved me that much...that He called me and chose to give me His Spirit. He loved me so much that despite my sin and flaws and insecurities and impetuousness, He wanted to call me His child. He sought me even though I wanted no part of Him. He wanted me even though I, in great error, said I believed in God and knew who Jesus was and that was good enough for me. What more did I need? He loved me that much that He wouldn't give up. He was relentless.

When was the last time you knew someone was relentless for your affection? Someone who wouldn't take no for an answer? Wouldn't that be the greatest compliment? But this is the Creator of the universe we're talking about here. The One who wanted my attention and my love, who wants to lavish me with blessings, (real) hope and change, and comfort. To turn that down is inconceivable. This is the Almighty Father we're talking about. The One who holds our eternal security in His hand and offers His free gift of salvation to anyone who is willing to be serious about a relationship with Him. 

When He sets His eyes on someone it's a compliment. No, it's greater than that. It's the most incredible honor and privilege. It's from God, our Father. Yet His love must be balanced with His judgment. He WILL discipline if He sees His child straying, losing touch, sinning. He cannot just let it slide. Our lives become lives of God’s workmanship and a little discipline, sometimes a lot, needs to take place for this to continue.

However, He sees what I can be, what He created me to be, even with all my flaws, because He sees me through Jesus and what He did for me by dying on the cross. He loves me that much. He doesn’t look at us as we look at ourselves. Jeremiah told us that before He formed me in my mother’s womb He knew me and sanctified me. He knew that thirteen years ago I would make a change in my life for Him, that He would fill me with His Spirit and begin a work of purification, sanctification, to make me holy. Arrogance? No. It’s God’s promise to me. What matters is not what anyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. And if He sees me as holy, well, who am I to argue? I know I’m not perfect. I know people think I have my flaws, but God does not see me, or anyone who desires relationship with the Lord, in that imperfect state. It’s all too great to comprehend. 

When Jesus died on the cross, His blood covered me, and it will for all those who choose to follow hard after Him. That’s why He doesn’t see my imperfection. He sees it through Jesus, our Mediator. How can I explain this? It’s one of those things you just know in your spirit because you have His Spirit within you. We are covered in His love, His blood, if we have faith in Jesus. 

He loves me so much that He chose to live in me, His Spirit in me. That's part of His provision. That's why He sticks closer than a brother, why He will never leave me nor forsake long as I continue to trust, believe, obey and love Him. As long as...

It's not a game. You cannot assume that giving your life to Him at one moment in time will forever secure your eternal salvation without some sort of effort on your part to know Him more or seek Him more. You cannot go to church on Sunday and then forget Him the rest of the week. He has chosen us. Remember, it's a privilege. If you have experienced this meeting with the Lord, don't let it slip through your fingers. Also, don't do it just to get someone off your case! Do it with the right heart attitude because God knows who is sincere and who is not. 

If you have not had encounter with this God who loves you and longs to put His Spirit within in you for additional wisdom and guidance, ask Him to reveal Himself. If you are serious, He will. He chooses to live in us, to empower us with His Holy Spirit that we might understand scripture in a way we did not before so that we WILL know Him even deeper than we think we do. He desires to live in us, to be near us and to comfort. 

That nearness is the Holy Spirit, our Helper, the Spirit of truth: ...He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  ... I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit...will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:16, 17, 20, 26)

He loved me that much. He longs to abide in us. This is God/Jesus, the One whose name is greater than all others. Jesus who loves you. Jesus, whose Spirit can live in you and allow you to grow in greater understanding if you only ask, receive, trust, believe in Him and allow His Spirit to indwell you. That indwelling is a promise and the proof that you are His child. And as His child, we are no longer separated from Him in any way, shape or form. That’s the ultimate promise He gives. He loves you that much that He desires you, too.

Romans 8:38 - For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spirit of God

1John 4:13 - By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

How amazing! I really didn’t give this any thought until I realized today was not the 17th but the 18th of April. It was thirteen years ago today that I received Christ and received the infilling of His Holy Spirit, who lives inside me right now. Only 13 years. 

So...a sermon of sermons on Sunday with Pastor Rory Grooters exhibiting a side we can only hope to see from this day forward. I'm so thankful to have been there to see this emerge!

His exuberant message is one I've heard before and known, but sometimes we need a good dose of remembrance and perhaps hear it in a new way. It is my desire that anyone who might read these blogs, would know these things too. There is a song that's going through my mind. I awoke singing it in my spirit this morning. It wasn’t until I gave it some thought that it was one we sang on Sunday. It is written based on the words of Psalm 84:1-2:

My heart and flesh cry out
To You the living God.
Your Spirit's water to my soul.
I've tasted and I've seen,
Come once again to me...

I know church is not about feelings. But this Sunday was special. It was like someone made Pastor’s coffee too strong, like something special occurred, like God had overseen a mini-revival in the pulpit! It was like water to our souls because you could hear God trying so desperately to remind some and open the eyes of understanding to others and instill in all of us what He longs for us to know deep within the recesses of our hearts and spirits. A message that is for all people. A message that should be the desire of all who truly want to or continue to seek after Him. A message of a promise.

As with all promises of God, there are conditions, however. You don’t always get what we want, the song goes. The same is true with God. He gives after we give of ourselves, as we choose to know and be in relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the condition. And it’s just not knowing who He is, but having a deep, spiritual understanding of Him, receiving of Him into our lives. That’s the condition. And sorry if that condition doesn’t set well. It’s the truth.

We are going to be hearing messages over the next several weeks about the Holy Spirit. Anything and everything about Him. And yes, He is a Him! God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit...three in One. I’m so glad that doesn’t give me stomach aches to try to understand. I just understand by faith. And so can everyone.

We can talk about God; that’s a pretty generally accepted name. We can talk about Jesus, although that name brings about a more uncomfortable atmosphere for some. Then there’s the Holy Spirit. Because of certain reasons discussion about Him barely exists. Most people just don’t really understand who He is, what He can do and where He exists spiritually.

Pastor told us that the Holy Spirit interacts with ALL people whether they know it or not and whether a person is saved or not. He is the connection between us and others and with God. It is He who draws us into a relationship with Jesus so that we know Him rather than just about Him. He’s at work right now trying to reach unbelievers. The Holy Spirit is power. In the Old Testament He was known as the Spirit of God, or as Pastor Rory very emphatically stated: the Spirit OF God, or the Spirit OF Jehovah, "of" being a very important word. Jehovah at work in creation and in our lives, bringing life to the earth and bringing life to us...both physically and spiritually.

It was the Spirit of Jehovah/God who spoke and the world was created...and it was good. It was the same Spirit of Jehovah that breathed life into Adam. It was the same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, that Jesus breathed upon His disciples to fill them with the power they would need in their lives. It is the same breath breathed into us when we say yes to the Lord and allow Him into our lives. When we do that, His Spirit is supernaturally breathed into us. I know this happens; it happened thirteen years ago. I felt it even though I didn't understand at the time what the sensation was I'd felt. A change began to take place in my life...the Spirit of God, Spirit of Jehovah, Holy Spirit began a work. It became the very born again experience I had balked at for years. 

Pastor brought up the story of Nicodemus, a religious leader, who questioned Jesus about the issue of being born again. Jesus told him it had to be and he should not be surprised about this. But Nicodemus, only understanding religious laws, couldn’t understand the spiritual aspect of this. A second birth concept wasn’t clicking. Jesus explained that we are first born physically. But there is a spiritual birth that must take place; the second birth, the most important birth. The one that happened to me.

With that decision I made, God put His Holy Spirit within me. It’s a radical concept, Pastor Rory explained. How can the Holy Spirit live in us? He does. But the condition is: we must make a serious decision for Christ. We must choose to be born again and allow His Spirit access. We must allow Jesus to breathe life into us through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

I’ve said this before: the Old Testament was about religious practices, laws, knowing only about God, who was seen as some distant being. But then came the New Testament and Jesus who, through our receiving Him gave us direct access to God, not just access through a religious leader, who brought us into relationship with God the Father, a knowing of Him, not just about Him, and an infilling of His Holy Spirit which gave us a new birth.

As Pastor Rory emphatically proclaimed: this new spiritual birth doesn’t make us better than anyone else; it just makes us better off. We are not perfect, but are being perfected. We CAN receive Christ and be in a close relationship with God the Father. But it’s our choice.

And why the Holy Spirit? Why do we need to be filled with His Spirit? It’s the thing that brings about the change. God is not next to us, not somewhere out in space, but IN us. The actual Spirit of God is in us which makes us His children. He lives in us. IN us. He helps us to understand scripture so it comes alive.

Like physical babies are born with the DNA of mother and father, no matter where they are they will always be their children, through blood. A spiritual birth is similar: when we receive Jesus, are filled with His Holy Spirit, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are called His adopted children; we are in Christ...and He in us. A radical concept. We are related through the power of the Holy Spirit now IN us.

We do not possess this power, however (condition), without first receiving Christ and allowing that Spirit to enter in. That happens at the time we have truly given our hearts to the Lord. It’s not about our working for God’s acceptance; it’s about Jesus’ work for us on the cross and our receiving Him. It’s not about the outward things but the inward things, inward changes, inward attitudes, inward thoughts. It’s about having direct access to God through the power of the Holy Spirit through our receiving Christ. 

Pastor described how his office door at church is usually closed. When any of his family comes to say hi or talk with him, they have direct access. They do not need to knock because they are his children. If anyone else wants to see him they must knock. It’s the same with God. Once we are His children we have direct access, any time of day or night, no knocking necessary, just to say hi or need to talk...He’s available. Condition: we must have gone through the process of receiving Christ and His Holy Spirit to become His family. 

We need to understand this, appreciate it, know it deeply, take in in. Nothing can separate us. Born again of the Spirit, the Spirit of Jehovah, who eternally connects us daily to God. He is at work in us, wherever we are, at any time for strength, wisdom. But it comes only with a relationship with Christ. 

John 14:26 - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 

Friday, April 13, 2012


John 20:31 - but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

I finished a great true story of bravery, determination and life. The book is called Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It's about Louis Lamperini--Louie--a 1936 Olympic distance miler and a World War II Air Force veteran. The distance miler alone should have been an indication of how he would live his life!!

Louie was an incorrigible child, master of thievery in his neighborhood in California. His brother steered him out of what might have been a disastrous life of crime by emphasizing his strong ability to run--fast. It became his passion. He ran in the 1936 Olympics and although he didn’t win, he was headed in the right direction...until World War II broke out.

He was drafted into the Air Force and assigned to a mission with a group of men. The plane in which he was a bombardier was shot down over the Pacific Ocean, three men survived the crash and were afloat for 47 days in two, then one raft. Two survived...and were taken captive by the Japanese and carted off to several prison camps where they were tortured, brutally tortured, for two years.

Still Louie survived. There was a determination in this man, like the determination he had as an incorrigible child and distance miler. He was determined to survive.

I was going to write mainly about an occurrence that changed his life, but chose not to go that route. Instead, this is what I saw happen:

Louie had spunk. As an incorrigible child and as a distance miler he had that determination. As I was reading I saw it from a different perspective, but couldn’t attest to any of it early on: God had given him strength beyond the normal human strength, and determination. His hand seemed to be on Louie even in the midst of all the dreadful things that happened to him during the war. Bravery, wisdom, perseverance. Only minor injuries and the ability to help others in the face of disaster...a born leader.

There were many things that happened during their time in the raft: he escaped a mass of tangled cords when the aircraft crashed; he didn’t know how he had gotten free...he was underwater and nearly unconscious, but he escaped. He had taken a physiology class on how to keep the brain active...they put it into action so they would not go insane. He had the ability to stay focused on survival, not doom. He had always been a daredevil, adding to the strength. Hope displaced fear and each little success kept them going.

They prayed a lot in the rafts; one of the other survivors relied on his faith in God. This and another clue is what intrigued me so: they seemed to have been met with Divine intervention three times after they prayed. Their raft was riddled with bullets a few times but they personally were never hit, nor eaten by sharks when they slipped under the rafts for protection. A bomb that was dropped near them did not explode. Who can explain surviving these incidences?

Then came the POW camp ordeal. Louie was singled out by the main prison guard because of his Olympic status. He was daily beaten, punched, kicked, prodded, whipped about the face by this guard’s belt. He and the other prisoners lost half their body weight, we're riddled with disease and were given dirty water and seaweed for meals. No protein, apart from bugs they might catch. Sometimes the water was contaminated with lavatory waste.

The war was over and they went home. Louie picked up his life, such as it was. He maintained a seemingly normal life. He married a wonderful woman. Then an incident completely changed him. It caused reminders of the war to surface and he nose dived into despair, alcohol, cigarettes. He experienced nightmares every night of the torture he endured at the hand of the prison guard. His wife threatened to leave him because he was no longer easy to live with, her life possibly in danger.

But God... Here I’m thinking, where is this book going to take us? I know he had to escape to tell the story. I saw a picture in the back of the book of an aging Louie carrying a torch. There had to be a happy ending.

There came an encounter with a Billy Graham crusade! This was back in the 50’s when Billy was young and energetic. He was in the town where Louie lived and his wife pleaded with him to go. He went, twice. The first time only brought resistance. The second time she asked him to go, he continued his resistance with the same determination and steadfastness that kept him alive in Japan. But Louie was about to storm out of the tent, something, or Someone, grabbed him, stopped him and turned him right toward the altar, where Louie gave his life to Christ.

If it were not for that occurrence, Louie’s story would have been one of total anguish, defeat, depression. I felt all along as I read that something had to happen of consequence. The ending was good because out of the very depths of despair and darkness that Louie had entered into, he turned to the light of Christ. His life turned around; he learned forgiveness, a very important thing that enabled him to live the rest of his life victorious...and able to tell his story...and a life filled with doing for the Lord, sharing his story with church groups, wherever he could.

When this Billy Graham part of the book was revealed, it wrapped the whole book into a nice tight bow, bringing the book together perfectly. God was behind Louie from his incorrigible boyhood where he learned skills that would transform him as a young man and allow him to survive torturous years. God was with him in the raft and in the prisoner of war camp. Although for a time Louie was strong in his own power, God needed to weaken him to finish the plan He had for Louie’s life. sometimes this is what it takes for our eyes to be truly opened. When things are going well in life, we feel we don't need God's help. When the roof caves in, we plead with Him for help. Every day we should be asking for His guidance and strength.

All for God’s glory. The power of God at work...when we don’t recognize it, when we don’t recognize him. When we go through torturous times ourselves and perhaps come to our lowest point, He is there to step in and ask, “Are you ready now to receive Me to receive life?”

John 10:10 - The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oh, Those Three O's

Psalm 147:5 - Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! (Psalm 147:5, Revelation 19:6)

As I was in prayer this morning I was crying out for God's intervention in the hearts and lives of those in this world who would only know there is a God but not take Him seriously. 

The tears erupted as I thought: the world without God is very large, that wide road to destruction. But the world with God is small in comparison, the narrow road to victory. And the thought then came: And yet, the world, the people, who have a closeness and relationship with God, is huge. It knows no bounds. There is so much out there for us to have, to know, to rely on. Much bigger than what the world can give. Victory is always greater than defeat. In Christ there is victory beyond measure. And we have God's peace in the midst of everything. In the world defeat is greater. Fear is imminent.

These words came after I had been thinking/praying about the words omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent…all that God is. 

Omnipresent- He is in all places at all times. Ubiquitous (I love that word). Wall-to-wall, Webster's Dictionary states. Universal...Creator of the universe.
Omniscient - He is completely aware of all things that are happening, in the world, in people, in all people's lives, hearts, minds, and is still aware of what has happened in the past lives of those departed.
Omnipotent - He is all power and strength. Almighty.

This is why He is God. This is why we need Him as that omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent Presence in our lives. It can only take an act of God for people to intervene so that these absolute truths can be understood. He calls us, He chooses us. If He does, we should grab hold of that and make use of it. It is something so great, so amazing, so important and something we should be so grateful for. What an honor when He calls. We can be the salt and light, we can toss the seeds, others might water, but ultimately it is the Almighty, all powerful, ever present God who will finish what we cannot. He will get the ultimate glory. We are just to be about His work.

His Spirit is everywhere, His eyes are searching to and fro across the earth looking for those who will believe in Him, follow Him, worship Him. There are little pockets of true believers here and there in this world while the others wander aimlessly without His phenomenal guidance, wisdom, discernment, presence. I wonder how often the world wanders into these pockets and miss what God was showing them?

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be hidden from Him. He has created light and dark physically and He knows light and dark in men's souls. That is why He desires to shine His light into our lives to reveal the darkness, to wash it away, to open the eyes of our understanding and hearts to learn the truth of Who He is, what He can do, what power we can have through Him.

We are created in His image. We just fail to really understand this sometimes. When we come to Christ He gives us His power. I think about when Jesus had risen and came to visit the disciples. He breathed on them and gave them His Holy Spirit, His power, to carry on without Him. The Holy Spirit was to give them all they needed because He could no longer be with them physically. It was then, I have heard, that they became born again. Think back on when God was creating...and He created Adam. The Bible says He breathed on Him and Adam came to life. Life number one, the physical one, was breathed in by God; life number two, the spiritual one, was breathed in by Jesus. Do you see?

When we are born again, we are given the same power of His Holy Spirit as He has. We are told we CAN heal the sick, raise the dead, know the truth. We are told we ARE healed by His stripes even if our physical bodies show otherwise. It is a spiritual healing, and sometimes it can be physical. With God all things are possible. With God, with Jesus, we are in His likeness and being transformed day by day. Praise God.

The One who created this world created us. We are made in His own image and His holiness transcends our old person as we give our lives to Him. We become new...the old is gone and we continue to grow as we live on. Growth, change never stops at our initial conversion.

I want to be on the side of the One who will protect me in this world. I want to be a part of the Person whose life was taken for me, whose blood was shed for my sins. I want to be on the side of truth and wisdom and understanding. I want to know that His omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience is with me. I heard on a CD I was listening to in my car yesterday that when things in our lives become extremely unbearable, if we seek God, He will use extreme measures to rescue us. I want to be in step with an extreme God. It comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.

Psalm 139:7-10 - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simon Carries the Cross

Luke 23:26 - Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

A group of us from our Sunday School class did something a bit different. We took a field trip!
We all gathered at the Holy Hill Basilica in Hubertus, Wisconsin. They have displayed there on a very winding, hilly route in the woods the Stations of the Cross. Easter brings many people out to Holy Hill to climb the tower of the church to view miles of Wisconsin scenery, perhaps have lunch, attend a service and walk the stations to reflect on what Jesus did this time of year for each of us.

We gathered as a group of about 20, children to seniors, to do our own reflecting together. At each station someone did a short devotional of their own about what their particular station meant to them and what emotions were felt--and there were some moments. A man tearfully stated he knew what it meant that by His stripes we ARE healed because he had been healed of a disease and added that in Christ we are also spiritually, forever, healed. One woman held back tears as told how she could understand, as a mother, what Mary must have gone through. And a teenage boy was struck with emotion by the reality of what Jesus did for each of us, a sure sign of tremendous parental and spiritual upbringing. A few others from outside our group stood alongside to occasionally listen.

I chose Simon helping Jesus carry the cross. Let me share:

What a symbolic gesture it was for Simon to carry Jesus’ cross. Jesus told us even before His death we were to carry our cross. Who would have understood that before His death?? And then He carried it out...He carried His cross. He lost, or better yet for us, gave His life that we might have life. Jesus told us "whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25 NKJV)

His journey on earth had led Him to the streets of Jerusalem to the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, where He was being led to Golgotha to be crucified. We understand He did not resent being crucified for our sins; despite all He had done on this earth, He was to be best glorified in this His death...and later resurrection.

But there was this man. Simon from Cyrene, from a northern African region, either Ethiopia or Libya. He happened to be among the throng watching as Christ passed by carrying the crossbeam that would soon hold Him. Maybe he stood out because of the color of his skin; maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time...but was he? God knew what Simon was about to do. He knew what needed to transpire.

Simon was a Jewish convert. He was there to celebrate the Passover, a long trip for him to be sure. And he was caught in the midst of this crowd, perhaps lost. Again, God knew what was about to happen.

Christ fell a second time. The impatient Roman soldiers compelled Simon to carry the cross for Jesus. It was something that HAD to happen. And think about it if Jesus didn’t have the strength to carry His own cross the whole way, who says we can? But because of what Simon did, that gesture shows us now what we are to do and what we are capable of when Jesus has become our strength. He helps us.

It is said Simon may have been reluctant. Who would want this task? Besides the cross being covered in blood, it was heavy and a symbol of guilt; only criminals carried a cross. Yet Jesus was not a criminal, and neither was Simon.

I’ve also heard that Simon was a believer. Perhaps that came about after being part of this whole scenario, after sharing in Jesus’ suffering, after having felt compassion for Jesus. Perhaps Simon later asked questions: Who is this Man who seems to have people strongly for or against Him? I don't understand it. Maybe he even already knew but was unaffected until this moment. We'll never know. But maybe in time he became a believer.

The act itself might have given Simon a compassion for what Jesus was going through. Might our compassion be stirred and would it grow if we devoted more time to carrying our own cross?
When we come to Jesus, receive Him unto ourselves to be our Lord and Savior, we give of ourselves for our Lord. Life is no longer about us. We must deny ourselves, a difficult thing sometimes, and carry our cross daily.

Jesus' love for us brought all this about. We are to emulate Christ…and Simon…carry our cross, even if at first reluctantly like Simon, deny ourselves, love on others that they might know the saving grace and eternal love of Jesus Christ. With His strength and His grace and mercy He helps along the journey. Come, let us carry our cross.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:38)

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Just Don't Know...Unless

Revelation 2:11 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."' 

He who has an ear, the Spirit of the Lord was pleading. The plea was for those who could hear to be an overcomer. In this instance an overcomer is a conqueror, one who carries off the victory, is victorious. In what? In life’s struggles, over sin and in death. And the only way this is possible is through Jesus Christ. He is the One who removes the possibility of a second death. We die once, physically; but there is a second death that comes later to some, a spiritual eternal spiritual death. Completely cut off from God. 

Another sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach came within the past few days. There is such a lie going around in this world and it is perpetuated constantly. And, as confirmation, Pastor Nathan Heller said the very same thing yesterday morning at church in Arizona. Why am I so surprised!

This lie has to do with the fact that some do not want to believe in a real hell. Some do not want to come face to face with the truth that we are all sinners. Some do not want to believe that because they think they are good, or think their mothers were saints, or that they do good things and are basically good people because they give generously, support good causes, or go to church, etc., we couldn't possibly go any place but heaven. We’re better than the next person. Not!

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that tells us these things. The father of a friend recently died and "He's in a better place. He's in God's hands." I admit, I didn't know this man, I don't know what his spiritual condition was. And I’m not trying to belittle the words spoken and believed above. It’s the lie that is perpetuated because sometimes the Church, whatever the denomination, is not demanding we know the truth. Why? Because it's offensive. No one wants to hear that. And yet our very lives are at stake when we are not confronted with this. 

How I wish I knew what the spiritual condition of my own mother and grandparents were when they died. I did not know the Lord then. Just like those who believe (the lie) that God always has the best interest of their loved ones, I probably erroneously think (because we just don't know) that because God knew I would one day come to Jesus for my salvation and He would know how my heart would feel today about the spiritual condition of these people, how He knew I would have talked to them about Jesus, He might have made a way for them to know Jesus personally, if only on their deathbed. But I can’t say for a fact this has happened. It could have happened, just like it could happen to anyone. Someone just might have reached their lost souls without my knowing. It’s a straw I grasp at, but I just don't know. I also know that I cannot dwell on this; what’s done is done. Hard truth.

But there is a truth and it is, not all people do go to heaven. We cannot compare ourselves or anyone else to murderers, rapists, thieves or the like. Our “small” sin of a white lie is as great as any of the greater sins in the eyes of God. If there is not that connection, that relationship with Jesus Christ where one can honestly say, He called me and I responded, it just hasn't or won't happen.

No one is righteous on their own. Romans 3:10 tells us this. No person is without sin. Jesus’ mother was not sin free; she needed her own Son to be her Savior. Not Martin Luther King or the one. Their salvation and eternal life only comes in that spiritual relationship with Jesus. I’m not saying these people did not/do not have this relationship. Only God knows the heart. So it is not for us to judge.

We just don't know...unless we have given our lives to Christ as it is pointed out in scriptures...that born again of the Spirit experience. Nicodemus asked about it. He was a religious leader and needed to know because he was unsure. Check it out: John 3:1-17. Nestled in these scriptures is one of the most often quoted:  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). But it grieves my spirit when people who believe in God, know who Jesus is but do not profess Him in their lives, say that anyone is in a better place now that their life is over. I know it's a comfort to believe that. But faced with the truth of God's Word, they might be sorely saddened. And it saddens me.

When we come to our last days do we know for a fact that we will go to heaven? Will we be worried? I've sadly heard of others who have said they aren't sure. Aren't sure they've done enough good things, weren't good enough in some ways, weren't always honest, didn't always go to church enough. It’s again not about our works or religion. All of these doubts or fears can be remedied only with a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Jesus changes our perspective and our lives. He becomes a reality instead of just a thought. He is alive today. His blood covers all sin. But we can't just say we know who He is and leave it at that. We have to know Him personally. We have to be, as Jesus Himself said, born again. Why would that be in the Bible if it weren't a truth to be learned, I ask you?

John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."