How to Win a Passport to Heaven

Sometimes they’re called “Chreaster” Christians.  You know the ones who go only on Christmas and Easter.

Perhaps just to get an extra helping of religion.  Make sure they have a valid pass to get through the gates into Heaven.

I’m not critical because at times I’ve been a “Creaster” too.

We all want to make sure our passport is current.

Yet, the downside can be wondering if it really is.  I mean how do you know for sure?

Easter reminded me of Jesus’ last words on the cross.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Quite literally the last word on the subject, isn’t it?

See there’s nothing you can add to what Jesus did.  You can’t be good enough or attend enough church services to validate your visa.  The good news is you don’t need to.

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant it.  He finished all the requirements.  He paid the price for what separated you from God.  He left nothing undone and nothing else for you to do.

He issued you your visa, stamped your passport and says, “Welcome to my kingdom.”

You only need to ask.

So if you’re a “Creaster” Christian welcome.  See you at Christmas.

 

*John 19:30 (NIV)

Discover Forgiveness When You’ve Screwed Up Again

Wow, talk about needing a thick skin.

I wrote an article on “Quora” about an incident of struggling with lustful thoughts.

I was answering a question about how husbands stay faithful.  For most it isn’t lack of temptation but rather learning how not to give into it.

I wanted it to be encouraging and it seemed to be for many.  Yet, a few of the comments were, shall we say, less than supportive.

One woman wrote, “When you had those thoughts you waded into infidelity.  You need to tell your wife.”

Well, actually I’d already encouraged my wife to read the article.  Later we discussed this comment.  She said, “Yeah, having a lustful thought isn’t anywhere close to having an affair.”

I probably wouldn’t have the ability to write today if that had happened.

Yet that common religious viewpoint can leave people never feeling sure they’re really forgiven.

David wrote, “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.”

I love that.

When we trust in Jesus to forgive us he doesn’t just wipe a little of the mud off.  Rather he bathes us in his righteousness so we glow like the sun.

I continually need a huge helping of that.  Oh, and an understanding wife.

 

*Psalm 37:6 (NIV)

How to Try Out the Spiritual Adventure

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)

In college I lived the party life in a fraternity house.  I’d go to church occasionally to please my mom or meet girls.

The music was boring, the services long and the sermons remote.

Frankly, I couldn’t see the point.

During my senior year in college I came to a place where the partying just wasn’t enough anymore.  I struggled with depression and truly felt lonely even in the midst of the crowd.  I thought there simply had to be more to life than what I was experiencing.

A fraternity brother had gone through a spiritually transforming experience that I grew curious about.  I talked with him one evening about his spiritual journey and how he began.

No walk down a center isle in front of a crowd.  No membership classes.  No pledge forms.  He just tried it out to see if it worked.

Exactly what this verse says.  Take a taste.  Try it out.  See if God isn’t good.

I did and my life changed forever.  I can’t imagine, well actually I can imagine, what my life would have been like otherwise.

And no, I never once wanted to go back.

How to Find Confidence When Bombarded by Crises

Another text message another crisis last night.

I said to Jennifer, “I don’t know if it is our age, but it seems like it’s been non-stop lately.”

From her look, I could tell she didn’t appreciate the age part much.

Friends suddenly losing loved ones, other friends facing health crises, some personal challenges.  It’s been a run lately.

That’s why when I read a promise of Jesus I suddenly stopped and thought, “Yes, that’s it.”

Jesus said, “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End.”

Think about that.  He says, “I’ve completed all my plans since before creation.”

Then he promises, “I am first and last.  I created the beginning and I’ll create the end.”

So no matter what you face Jesus promises he is with you.

He knew you before you were born.  He’ll meet you when you leave this earth.  And he’s with you in the midst of this crazy thing called life bringing his power every day.

Do we question his plans sometimes?  Of course.  Often I’ve wondered, “God, could I vote on this?”

Yet, I’ve also seen God work difficult circumstances into amazing blessings.   And in the midst find comfort knowing he’s with me.

Oh and seriously, I’m not answering my phone right now.

*Revelation 21:6 (NIV)

How Do You Find Comfort When Blindsided with Losing a Loved One?

One more phone call from a dear loved one who suddenly, unexpectedly lost a dear loved one.  She feels crushed as we do for her.  Words fail and no actions can fix the hurt.

I’ve been there as I’m sure you have too.  The world stops and it seems impossible to go on.

Yet in time after enough tears it does.

It caused me, once again, to think about how short and fragile and beautiful and wonderful life is.  We hurt because we love yet love makes life magical.

Jennifer and I spent a marvelous day skiing yesterday on a perfect blue sky day.  Yes, the only kind I go up on now.  I’m a card carrying wuss and don’t care.

Last night as I read my Bible I came across a verse that gives the most important answer.

God promises, “I will gather you . . . . I will bring you home.”

In the end that’s really all that matters isn’t it?  That God promises to bring us home.

When you simply trust in him as his child you’ll be with those you love forever where there will be no more tears only love.

Oh, and I hope some blue sky skiing days too.

*Zephaniah 3:20 (NIV)

How Do You Find Peace When Blindsided by Death?

We were stunned last night to learn that a friend’s daughter suddenly died.  She was friends with my kids growing up, in the height of life and now’s gone.

Death slams us when a loved one is taken from us or we face it ourselves doesn’t it?  Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t truthful.

In those times I find helpful rereading God’s promises.

David prayed, “You will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

Over and over God promises that nothing in this life or even death can separate you from his love.

In that assurance you can rest that in Heaven all things will be made perfect once again.

I don’t understand it all and often when staring down death my faith grows shaky.

Yet then I remember all the miraculous ways God has cared for me.  And I think, “Would he desert me when I need him most?”

Then peace filters in again and it’s enough for now.

*Psalm 16: 10 (NIV)

How to Uncover the Miracle Life

I’m amazed at the miracle of my life.

I think back to the dead end road I walked in college.  Frustrated, alone, depressed, running chaotically to find elusive happiness.

Yet, out of that confusion to find my wife and be blessed with our children astounds me.  The prosperity we’ve been blessed with even after so many years of financial struggle amazes me.  And to think that after all these years the journey today is the best and keeps growing better.

The miracle began when I stopped running away from God and chose to walk to him.

The Psalmist wrote, “You have made known to me the path of life, you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”*

He offers you a clear path even when life seems confused.  Joy when it makes more sense to feel depressed.  His presence when you feel most alone.  And the comfort that all of this grows better not only now but forever.

*Psalm 16: 11 (NIV)

Quora Post: “Is There Life After Death?”

I’m at Quora today answering this question:

“A friend told me about his death.

He suffered a massive stroke then heard the emergency room personnel say, ‘He won’t make it'”. . . .

You can read more here.

If you enjoy it please upvote it and follow.

Thanks

 

When Death is Finally Defeated

When I stand by the graveside of a loved one I’m struck by the finality of it all. And honestly often I’m plagued by doubts. Maybe you are too.

Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven being like a net thrown from a boat gathering up fish. Then he concludes, “They sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age.”*

Unfortunately, that’s been used to scare people into a relationship with God. Yet, I don’t believe Jesus intended it that way.

Personally I see comfort in it.

When this life ends it really isn’t the end. We’re promised Heaven. There we’ll be with God and our loved ones.

He offers this to everyone. I think when we get to Heaven we’ll be surprised by some who are there. Heck, maybe some will be surprised by us.

In the end, though, there are some who completely reject God and choose to live apart from him so God finally gives them what they wanted.

Yet, also realize this doesn’t depend on us swimming into the net. But simply accepting the love God offers.

 

*Matthew 13:48-49 (NIV)

Finding Hope When Face to Face with Death

I would guess most of us, when faced with the death of a loved one, have doubts assail us. I’m sure there are some with immovable faith. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those.

And grappling with death brings out the worst of my questions.

So in those times it helps me to re-read promises and stories from scripture.

Jesus told a parable that I find comforting. “The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore.”*

I find this comforting because God takes the initiative to gather up his followers. It’s not because they navigated perfectly into the net but because God in his love draws them in.

Also, he offers his kingdom to everyone. No predetermination. No entrance exam. Everyone is welcome.

In a sense, all I can do is relax and choose to be a part of it. I can’t gain more of it or lose any it.

I enter in simply by accepting it. Really, how could it be any other way?

And when I remember those things it helps calm the storm clouds of doubt.

 

*Matthew 13:47-48 (NIV)