Don’t Die in the Desert.

It’s quiet.

And still.

Just an hour ago it was rather loud and chaotic at times, but now that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have left, it’s not.

No, we weren’t fist-fighting, nor were we even raising our voices.  But, we were disputing each other’s claims.  They wanted me to believe that Jesus Christ was (and is) not God.  He is not the great redeemer, sustainer, originator, and Almighty.  They wanted me to reject the idea of ‘hell’ claiming that God would never send anyone there.  And, finally, it wasn’t even a cross that Jesus died on.  It was a “torture stake.”

Now, that’s a mouthful – and certainly a long afternoon worth of unraveling.  However, what I did share with them is the same message – that’s never changed  – that is applicable to ALL people.

All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23).

Who have sinned?

All.

There is none righteous.  No, not one.  (Romans 3:10).

No one?

Not one.

Now, prior to our engaging in the fifth chapter of their book, a chapter dealing with the price Jesus paid at Golgotha (translated: Skull Place), we shared an ironic sentiment.  I brought to their attention a phrase from the Dalai Lama:

People take different roads to fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on YOUR road doesn’t mean they’re lost.

We discussed the obvious contrast between the Dalai Lama’s teaching, and the teaching of Jesus Christ who explicitly states:

Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life.  Only a few find it.

Interestingly, this is just a verse prior to one of Jesus’s many warnings on false teachings (Matthew 7:15), calling the false prophets “ferocious wolves in clothing of sheep.”

While I’m inclined to go on about the Dalai Lama and the limiting factors of Buddhism/Taoism and the sorts, that wasn’t the purpose of my morning.  Both the Jehovah’s Witnesses and myself agreed that to cast your faith into theologies of such is like depositing your money into your sock drawer.  The best you’re ever going to get is the best you are ever able to deposit.  While, depositing your faith into the hands of the one true God installs an everlasting loving relationship with the one who is, who was, and who will always be: Jesus, The Christ and the King.  That’s an unbelievable return on your investment!

We got that part.  The problem is the deception of the detail.

Imagine, for a moment, you are kidnapped, bound, blindfolded, and thrown in the back of a van.  You drive for hours and hours – possibly even days.  Other than the grumbling of your stomach, you really have no sense of time.  The van stops.  The side door opens and you are pulled out onto the ground and now carried into a heli-coper.  Yes, a bit ellaborate, but hang on.  There’s a point to all this.  Still blindfolded, your only available sense is your hearing and that’s overwhelmed by the whirling of the heli-copter.

Eventually, you feel the copter land, the door opens and you’re shoved out.  In time you hear the aircraft leave and you’re able to unbind your hands.  Moments after you desperately pull the blindfold freeing your eyes.

Blinding!

It’s taking you several minutes to focus it’s so bright.

You’re thinking, “Where in the world am I?”

Eventually, you are able to freely move your body and amongst the bag that covered your head you find a small box.  Inside you find a letter and two compasses.  Immediatlely, you tear open the letter.  It reads:

If you head North for 30 miles, you’ll find refuge.  All other directions lead to death.  Some by force, others due to eventual exhaustion.

Now, take a minute to let that sink in.

You’re in a desert.
It’s bright – and it’s only getting brighter and hotter.
You have no resources but the clothes on your back, two compasses, and a letter.

The truth that has been given to you is quite simple: head North.

Ok.  No problem.  You can walk 30 miles in one day – even in the desert heat!  Bingo.

Full of confidence, you open up the compasses.  The first one gives direction to North immediately, as does the second one.  However, there’s a problem: they’re pointing in different directions.

Yikes!  So, you begin to look at the compasses closer.  One is made in Switzerland.  One Germany.  One was made in 1945, the other 1911.  One is green.  The other red.  All these differences and yet they are unified in one similarity: they both point North, or at least their North.

Now, consider the teaching of the Dalai Lama who suggests:

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

How is being unified with all other religions going to help you out here?  For as it is clearly depicted, there’s only one direction you can go to survive.

Or, how about the Watchtower’s desensitizing of sin by claiming there is no “wrath of God,” but instead, the unrighteous will simply disappear and not inherit the keys to an everlasting “Paradise Earth” (a term that never actually exists in the Bible).

Avoiding the consequences of poor decision making doesn’t change the outcome associated with poor decision making.

The truth is that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light.  Light is synonymous with Life.  Need proof?  Read Genesis 1 and tell me which came first: the sun or light?  Jesus is the light, and He’s the only light you need for life.

John 14:6 clarifies the one simple truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Now, in the desert of life, there is only one compass that points to refuge, Jesus.  Jesus is found in His Word, the Bible.  The REAL Bible.  Not the bible written by a ticked-off former Presbyterian who became fascinated with teaching that rejected the notion of hellfire.  Not the bible written in 1950 and edited more than 5 times since.  Not the bible that added the word “Jehovah” over 200 times so that it could later criticize “other bibles” for not including the term.

Here’s a simple litmus test that everyone can take:

Trace the origin of your religion.  If it begins with man, then it can only be as big as man.  And, considering man’s shortcomings, that ain’t that big!

Don’t have a religion?  Well, the test begins and ends with YOU.  Yes, YOU are your God.  You do as YOU please,  accountable to YOUR desires, and at the end of the day, it is YOU that you serve.

A Christian finds the origin of his or her religion in a God who surpasses his or her own logic, science, and sense of time.  That’s a big God!  That’s a God worthy of praise!

Don’t die in the desert.  Find refuge in the well of salvation (Isaiah 12:3).

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