At The Top!

Take a look at this:

Lone Pine State Park, Kalispell, MT

Pictured left is (almost) the top of the city of Kalispell, Montana.  It’s taken from Lonepine State Park and it was just days after arriving to this beautiful Northwestern city with my brother in 2008.

It’s rather typical – at least for young men like us – to assess a new environment and immediately want to get to the top.  Think about it.  You’re on a hike.  The trail bends slightly to expose an overlook to the deep ravine and what do you do?  You approach the edge.  It’s natural to want to be on the top.  To reach the highest point.  To say, “I did it!”

As a child, I recall visiting New York City several times.  Each time with a desire to climb a new skyscraper.  I remember standing on the sidewalk outside of the Empire State Building and looking up!  The building is so tall you can’t see the top from the ground!  And, of course, what follows?

“Let’s go to the top!”

It’s an internal desire of mankind’s to want to reach a little further.  Consider this short list of man’s epic climbs:

In May of 1953, two climbers reach the top of Mt. Everest (the world’s tallest mountain peak),

In July of 1969, an American astronaut becomes the first to climb out onto the surface of the moon, and

In May of 1872, the first American woman climbs the political ladder and runs for the office of the US President!  (Most people tend to forget the achievement of Victoria Woodhull).

Granite Peak, Montana

Granite Peak, Montana

In Montana, the “top” is considered to be Granite Peak, measuring over 12,800 feet in elevation!  This unique mountain was the last to ever be conquered due to its unpredictable weather patterns and technical climbing.

For the vertically inclined, much of the above information may be helpful in accomplishing some new (and adventurous) goals.  And, while this may be the beginning of establishing some new “tops” in our lives, the important question is: where is Jesus in all of it?

 

Is He at the top?

 

Consider, for just a minute, how you began your day.  What was the first thing you noticed?  Your alarm clock?  Your child crawling in bed with you?  Your dog or cat?  The sound of an automatic coffee maker?

Chances are, as we are approaching the Summer season, no matter what your first activity was,  you woke up with the sunlight.

God begins His love-letter to us (the Bible) in Genesis with the following:

“Let there be light”, and there was light.  And God saw the light and called it good, and God divided the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day and the darkness Night.  So the evening and the morning were the first day.

(Genesis 1:3-5)

Three take-home truths about this passage in Genesis include:

1)  God created Heaven, Earth, Light and Time.

2)  The Earth had no form, prior – and, still, at this point in time.

3)  God simply SPOKE everything into existence.

Notice how there’s no mention of the sun, or the stars, or the moon.  Just light.  In fact, it’s not till the fourth day that God created the sun, stars, and moon!  So, LIGHT predates the sun!

Now, consider John’s record of the Gospel.  Turn to John 8:12.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

(John 8:12)

What-truly-is the source of life?  The SUN or the SON?

Birth of the sun: Day 4.

Now, let’s take a break from science, and talk diction (yes, words).

Protoevangelism.  Do you fancy a guess to it’s definition?

PROTO means “first,” or “the earliest form of,” and,

EVANGELISM means “delivering the Gospel (the good news).”

So, it literally means, “the first occurrence of the Gospel.”

Many Christians tend to consider the absolute first occurrence of the Gospel to be as early as Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and your shall bruise His heel.”

(Genesis 3:15)

There is certainly much to say about this passage, but for now we’re just going to focus on the promise within.  This is God speaking to the serpent (Satan), who just lied and deceived Adam and Eve.  God is referring to the coming of The Messiah.  However, many Jewish scholars find “protoevangelism” even earlier!

Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.

(Genesis 1:3)

In Aramaic, the word for light is ‘nahora.’  Nahora is considered to be one of the secret names of The Messiah by these early Rabbis.

Are they incorrect in applying the name Nahora (light) to Jesus?

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men.

(John 1:4)

Arise, shine; For your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.

(Isaiah 60:1)

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.”

(Isaiah 60:19)

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.

(Revelation 21:23)

Remember, in Genesis, God divided the darkness from the light and called it the first day.  And, ever since we’ve had the same thing happen.  Each day is signified by the arrival of the sun’s light.  Therefore, everyday begins with “the Light.”  It’s part of God’s natural order!

How do your days begin?

Do you thank God for the LIGHT (LIFE) of your day?

Notice how God, in His creation of things, created light and not darkness.  There is no darkness, only the absence of light.  Death is not the opposite of life.  It is simply the absence of it which is why when Jesus tells us HE is the life (John 11:25), He is also reiterating that there is no life outside of Him.

To be absent Jesus, is to be absent life.

The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

(Job 33:4)

The word for “life” found in Job is also the same Hebrew word found in Genesis 2:7:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

“Khah-e,” is the Hebrew word for “life.”  And, interestingly, it is plural.

Yes, God gave us two lives:  1) Spiritual and 2) Physical.

When Adam sinned, he died spiritually.  This is clarified in Ephesians 2:1,

And you [He made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Therefore, the light of day should be a reminder that Jesus is here!  He is sharing His light (life) with you!  Be thankful!

Just as a new day begins with sun light, new life begins with Son Light!

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Now Go Tell At Least Three People

In my early twenties, I decided I’d try one of those “pyramid-deals.”  You know, one of those “this isn’t a get rich quick scheme, this is the real deal.”  Or, this one’s better, “I started as a stay-at-home mom in my part-time, today I make (insert lavish dollar amount) and I’m still a stay at home mom…working part-time!”

I recall the motivational orientation.  (Flashback begins)

Que the 90’s upbeat dance music (let me add “cheesy,” too).

Now, put yourself in a hotel banquet room, with about 100 others.  Clapping.

The lights dim.  Except for the make-shift stage.

Some guy in a Miami-vice suit jumps up front with one of those stupid wireless microphones attached to his ear.

His overly enthusiastic smile is enough to make you want to chew your own face off!  (Kinda makes you wonder how you ever got there, better yet, how ANYONE ever got there).

THIS CAN BE YOUR LIFE!

Anyway, after a 30 minute rags-to-riches testimonial, and an unparalleled changing of this man’s life, juxtaposed with picures of the Carribean, the big cruise ship, and the new Porche (you know, it’s always the same picture of the Carribean, isn’t it?), you begin to think, “I want that life.”

“I can do this.”

“I just need three friends.”

“Yeah, piece of cake.  I’ll be the next motivational speaker!”

Three months later, where are you?  Or, let me personalize it, where am I? I’m on the phone trying to get the auto-pay option discontinued.  I have boxes of materials stuffed away and a long list of friends needing apologies.

The truth is, none of that should have any real lasting appeal.  Be thankful that’s not your life.  Did you know that the overwhelming majority of lottery winners end up right back in debt within years?  (See this article, if interested).  It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s why it’s been said that if all the world’s wealth was divided up evenly amongst the population, within a few years, we’d all be back in the same spots.

Personalize it for a minute.  Do you receive a “refund” during the tax season?  Meaning, instead of paying into the tax coffers, do you receive a hypothetical “bonus check?”  I worked with this young woman once who told me she got an $8,000 tax refund one year!  The irony was, just earlier she was complaining about not having enough money to fix her car.  I told her that $8,000 divided up over 12 months is over $600 a month!  The truth is, if she had been a better planner, she would have set up a cushion for an unexpected expense.

I guess one of the positive impacts of the “pyramid-dream” (let’s forgo calling it a “pyramid-scheme,” shall we?), is the emphasis it puts on PLANNING.  Yes, to get the future you dream of, you need to PLAN.

What’s your plan?

No, not financially.  Because, as you are already aware, money doesn’t buy you happiness.  However, as a good friend of mine recently counter-argued, “no, it may not buy you happiness, but it can buy to access to happiness.”  Really?  Is money required for access?  As if happiness is a theme park and only those who can cover the cost of admission get to partake?

Hardly.

Just earlier this morning I was at the school yard watching my son run to the entrance door.  As usual, I drove up to the playground, walked him across the street, and lifted him over the fence.  Then, over the next minute, as he runs toward the door, we engage in a battle of who can shout “I love you” loudest.

“I love you, Dad!”

“I love you, Vince!”

And, this goes on until he reaches the door.

Today, he got to the door, and as he usually does, he got the last “Love You” before heading into the building.  However, anticipating his “Love You,” I shouted before he did.  He laughed and walked in, but then behind the door, through the window, I see him wave “I Love You” in sign-language!

He won!

This was happiness!

Purely, happy.

And, there was no financial figure involved.

As, I climbed back into the truck and turned toward home, I prayed.  I told God that I was happy and thankful for the happiness that was overwhelming every fiber of my body.  I told him that I am honored to be the dad of the beautiful children He gave me, and that I am amazed at how much He loves me!  You see, God loves me so much that He sent His beautiful son to endure a death I couldn’t so I can receive a life I don’t deserve.  His son was beaten, bruised, and bloodied for the sins that I committed.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

-2 Corinthians 5:21

I can’t imagine sending my own child to anywhere NEAR the persecution of the cross, let alone for the sins that another committed.  Yuk!

Yet, He did.

Because, He loves.

It’s because He loves, I write.

I speak.

And, I live.

It’s not because of he who is in the world, but because of He who is in me.

God has a plan, too.  And, like the “pyramid-dreams,” you should tell at least three people!  Jesus calls it “the great commission.”

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:18-20

Some Christians would be better calling it ‘The Great Omission,” however, as they can hardly muster up the energy to proclaim their King.

Again, what’s your plan?  Are you part of the Commission, or the Omission?

Let’s draw a metaphorical hypothetical and find out.

You awake in the middle of the night to a roaring fire across the street.  The lot next to your neighbor’s house lit up and in just the time you jumped to the window the flames have already begun crossing the fence.  Within minutes your neighbor’s house is going to be caught up in this fire!

Your mind races through your friendly neighbor, his hospitable and loving wife, and their beautiful children.

Do you:

1)  Run out immediately, kick down the door Chuck Norris style, run up the stairs and save them?  Or,

2)  Let someone else worry about it?

Think about it for a minute.

Jesus called us to be disciples.  To lead.  To be the light of the world.

Where are we leading people?  Into the light!  Into safety.

See, Hell is an all-consuming fire (and don’t even begin to dismiss that argument claiming God isn’t hateful and wouldn’t send anyone to Hell!  Because He’s not hateful.  And, He doesn’t send anyone to Hell.  They choose it).  If we don’t warn others of the encroaching FIRE, they’re likely to BURN.  Seriously.  And, it really IS that simple.  People have a tendency to complicate religion, but really, Jesus made things quite simple.  There’s life and there’s death.  No middle.

You don’t have to be a trained fire-fighter to warn people of fire.  And, if this doesn’t offer total reassurance, you don’t even have to fight the fire (although, if your profession actually is a firefighter, please continue to do the awesome work you do!)!

As Jesus warns in Matthew 25, be as the homeowner on the lookout for the thief.  That is, be prepared!  Get your soul protected with the armor of God, and let Him extinguish the flame.  Just be on the lookout for others, and show them the light!

You are the light of the world.

-Matthew 5:14

Why This Christian is a Libertarian.

My stepson and I went shopping the other day.  I appreciate time with him because, in a way, I’m inclined to re-live my teenage years.  He’s 16, and things are becoming drastically new to him.  Well, admittedly, I am one of those NEW things having just married his mom 7 months ago.

Anyway, as we were walking back to my truck he asked,

So, are you still voting for Ron Paul?

I was impressed that he was motivated to discuss anything relatively political!  Here’s a kid who for the first 15 years of his life was told NOT to become involved, even in the slightest, in anything political (see: Jehovah’s Witnesses and their perspectives on “world governments”), asking about Ron Paul!  Wow — high five!!

I looked at him and with hesitation only long enough to absorb the awesome moment, said, “ABSOLUTELY!”

Later, it dawned on me that I haven’t been very forthcoming about my political intentions, which is quite odd since just 6 years ago I hosted one of South Eastern North Carolina’s most dynamic political talk shows!  Perhaps-no, definitely-it’s due to my newfound fascination with Jesus, His might, His preeminence, and His desire for my life.

So, there you have it, in a nutshell.  I’ve returned to my rather-naive political aspirations and, instead, adopted a zeal for Christ’s teachings.  After all, more times than not, Jesus tells me to:

Be still and know that I am God

–Psalm 46:10, or:

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

–Matthew 6:34.

Yet, there’s still a portion of me that peeks every so often upon the front page of a newspaper.  Or, perhaps I’ll click over to drudgereport.com, or via StumbleUpon I’ll come across an impressive–and political–blog entry, enticing debate.  And, to satisfy this remnant of rampant revolutionary ramblings, I’ve decided to create a quick-list for the politically mused.  It’s title is a dead giveaway.

Why This Christian is a Libertarian.

First of all, in today’s partisan-led political platform, there’s actually very little tolerance for anything outside of the mainstream core.  If, for example, you were to tell someone you held rather Conservative beliefs, but advocated the legalization of marijuana, chances are you’d receive a confused look and may even be outcasted.  Similar is my undying support for the nomination for Presidential candidate, Congressional Representative Dr. Ron Paul–despite the fact I’ve received criticism from my friends on both the left and the right for “throwing my vote away.”  (I’ll have to write about that another day!).

In 2008, I was part of a very active youthful campaign in the Carolina’s for Dr. Ron Paul’s Presidental campaign.  In 2007, on the air, I declared my support for him and hosted numerous social meetups, not limited to traveling several hundred miles!  Early in 2008, I had the opportunity to shake his hand, congradulating him on his steadfast Constitutional stance.

My friend, Matthew, Dr. Paul, and Myself in Charleston, SC

Yet, I was viewed as a “part-of-the-problem,” by other Conservatives.

In 2008, the GOP nominated the decorated veteran, John McCain to run against the inexperienced Barack Obama.  I believe, overall, members of the GOP felt the election of their candidate was going to be a walk in the park, banking on the gap in experience.  However, what they failed to consider was the drastically growing amount of young voters and even seasoned voters who were sharing a similar theory: “perhaps, the more experience someone has in Washington politics, the worse off they are?”

Nonetheless, my support for what was a “third-party” candidate was viewed, by many, as working against the only likely candidate who could beat Barack Obama.  Even after considering the liklihood of the possibility, I neglected to switch my vote, stood on principle and maintained a strong support for the Doctor.  In fact, not only did I stand strong in defense of my vote, but I challenged anyone to prove to me how Barack Obama and John McCain had any substantial difference.

Well, enough backstory.  Here’s a small listing behind the reasoning.

Libertarian Party = Freedom.

Reason #1:  Libertarians are the minority.  So are Christians.  Beg to differ?  Even Jesus forewarned of a narrow road and small gate for those who find life (Matthew 7:14).  Yeah, but why is that cool?  Because, I prefer a small amount of righteousness to a large amount of error any day!

Reason #2:  Libertarians value life.  Of course, this implies that all other parties don’t, and, perhaps…they don’t.  I mean, after all, it’s by your fruit you are known.  Let’s see: generally speaking, Republicans favor endless, and costly wars, and Democrats favor inexcusable, and inhumane abortions.  Woah–back the truck up!  Libertarians favor abortions, too.  No, they don’t.  Not the abortions permitted by Roe Vs. Wade (1973).  Libertarians, (ok, not all, but generally speaking) are opposed to unconstitutional and illegitimate governmental rulings.  The Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case was in excess of the Court’s own Constitutional authority.  According to the US Constitution, the power to make laws is vested in Congress and retained by the State legislatures, not the Supreme Court.  It’s really common sense:  why let seven unelected dudes determine the laws of your land?  The Libertarian Party is the only US political party with a platform of strong opposition to encroaching and overwhelming power given to the federal government at large.
Oh, and Jesus, He favors life too.  In fact, unlike ANY OTHER “politically-charged” opinion, being “Pro-Choice” is one motive that I can find ABSOLUTELY NO evidence of support for in the Scriptures.
So, the “Jesus was a Democrat/Republican” bumpersticker–yeah, not so much.  But the “Jesus Votes Pro-Life” sticker-now that has some validity!

Reason #3: Libertarians believe in self-control.  This one expands into a lot of things:  gun control, marijuana (drugs), health care, and so on.  So, I’ll be brief, and focus more on the Scripture.  While many like to view God’s Word as a list of “don’ts,” and often times they’ll recall (and misrepresent) the 10 Commandments, really, the basis for a Christian belief stems in the victory of Jesus.  Jesus came and fulfilled all the law.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

–Matthew 22:37-40

Now, what does this have to do with self control?  Well, God installed free will in each one of us.  He gave us the opportunity to turn from our sinful, default behavior and embrace the life He offers through the new covenant established by His son, Jesus the Christ.  However, that means you have the FREEDOM to choose NOT to.  Similarly, I have the FREEDOM to defend my home with a firearm, but I also have the FREEDOM not to.  The outcome is in YOUR hands.  Just like your salvation.  The opportunity is only there if you cast yourself into the hands of God (your SELF).

Reason #4: The Libertarian Creed: “Libertarians believe the answer to America’s political problems is the same commitment to freedom that earned America its greatness: a free-market economy and the abundance and prosperity it brings; a dedication to civil liberties and personal freedom that marks this country above all others; and a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade as prescribed by America’s founders.”

Christians can adopt a similar creed: “Followers of Christ believe the answer to every man’s problems is the same commitment to love that Jesus displayed on Skull Hill: an unconditional love and adoration that overflows the righteous and spills onto the unrighteous.  A love that begins with loving God above all things, and, therefore, loving others as oneself.  In doing so, foreign policies become personal policies.  Peace becomes natural and inclusive in all actions.  And, trade requires no regulation because it would, without a doubt, be fair.”

Be peaceful, my friends.

1,979 Years and 1 Day Ago…But, Who’s Counting?

The past seven days I’ve had a lot of “religiousosity” thrown at me.

First, I was being told that “not all who wander are lost.

Then, I was inspired to believe that there are “many paths” to God, or, better yet, God varies to each one of us.

Let me pause here and insert the following:

Yes, I know Christians, too, who hold their noses high in the air and reject, immediately, notions of an “inward enlightenment.”

Um, no. Prayer is dialogue WITH the living God, not TO.

Personally, while I disagree with teachings that suggest such, I make a whole-hearted intention to never raise my nose, bite my thumb (oh, yeah…I just went all Shakespeare on ya), or even reject such notions.  Instead, I find it far more beneficial to become inquisitive and just listen.  Maybe, this explains why I often find myself in the middle of “religious-debates.”

However, yesterday’s experience (Thursday) takes the cake…or the blue ribbon if you’re like me and don’t care much for dessert.

I was at work and found myself in the middle of a “religious-head-butting” of two co-workers.  On one side was the raised-as-a-Catholic-now-doesn’t-care-for-anything guy, and on the other side was the active and devot Jehovah’s Witness girl.

I entered and we nearly had all bases covered!

He was remarking on what was apparently the Pope’s most recent acknowledgement stating that this was the day (Thursday) that Jesus first instituted ‘The Church.”  Obviously, the Pope is referring to “The Lord’s Supper,”

Depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art have been undertaken by artistic masters for centuries, Leonardo da Vinci's late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy, being perhaps the best known example.

which, according to God’s Word, occurred at the end of the week beginning with Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  In the Catholic teaching, this provides the basis for the teachings on the Eucharist.  In short, this is the last meal Jesus shared with His apostles.  He presented a meal which signified His body which was to be broken for them, and His blood which was to be shed for them.  It was also during this time where He washed their feet showing that He came not to be served, but to serve.

To the Christian, in short, this prefaces the ultimate gift of salvation given to us, not by anything we’ve done, but unconditionally from our Lord.

My former-Catholic co-worker shared his recollection of the Pope’s story in a mocking-manner, and then my Jehovah’s Witness friend offered her version of the same story:

“Well, actually, tonight is the observation of ‘Memorial’ that we, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ regard as the time Jesus was tortured on the stake.”

For the first time, I’ll admit to being proud of a Jehovah’s Witness testimony of the Holy Scriptures.  Not, that I’m fond of her acceptance of an altered version of Jesus, my King, but I was proud of her willingness to step up against a staunch atheist.  Let’s consider for a moment, my own response:

______________

That’s right.  Nothing.  I just listened.  So, the point goes to the JW.

Now, I’m not particularly proud of that, but at the time I felt it was more important to just listen.  Perhaps, by being still, she will become more inclined to share her pattern of faith with me, and then maybe in dialogue she can become more familiar with the true living God?  Perhaps.

Then, again, perhaps I’m still gaining enough confidence to speak passionately about my Lord.

Nonetheless, what I found interesting was that despite the religious preference, both agreed that this weekend was a weekend of significance.  And, rightly so.

For, it is a fact that Christ was sent to Golgotha (Skull Place) and was crucified.  While, in the Roman courts, He was merely a man claiming to be God, and therefore, was sentenced to capital punishment, to the follower, He is the fulfillment of prophecy, the establishment of a new covenant, and our King.

Some prefer to criticize the Christian who acknowledges Jesus Christ as “King.”  One of my favorites comes from a writer over at asktheatheists.com who calls followers “foolish” for professing allegiance to a non-existant king.  Yet,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:18)

Clearly, God already prepared a statement for those individuals.  And, His “blog” was written first.

These same atheists have a hard time accepting the notion that the risen Lord was witnessed by over 500 people and challenge the Christian’s authenticity.  While the Christian is inclined to point to Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (“After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.” – 1 Corinthians 15:6), the non-believer quickly dismisses such a statement and points out the obvious:

You actually don’t have the eye-witness testimony of 500 people claiming to see the risen Lord.  What you have is the written testimony of ONE claiming that 500 also saw Him.

Admittedly, this is a good argument.  They’re right.  Paul is just one man, testifying to the account of 500 others.  What’s to stop me from claiming that I saw Elvis, and not only did I, but 500 of my facebook friends did too!?  However, they’re missing the obvious.

First of all, let’s not forget that the risen Lord not only presented Himself to believers, but to naysayers as well (a point conveniently forgotten).  But, aside from that, consider that Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth was written around 30 years AFTER Jesus’s resurrection, and he emphasized the validity of his statement by suggesting they go and ask them!  They’re alive still, go ask them!  Consider for a moment the likelihood of even 5 people agreeing on something, let alone, 30 years later!  I just got done sharing a story of dialogue between 3 who have strikingly different viewpoints on “Good Friday.”  Paul’s saying, not just me, or the twelve, or these other dudes, but by over 500 others, He has been presented!  

I’m brought to another argument, often the dialogue between a Jehovah’s Witness and a Christian, and that being the debate over Easter.  The JW will suggest Easter is of pagan origin, and therefore today’s ritual hijacks the intended (and true) story.  This is how they get your attention, because, for a moment, they’re right.  It’s true.  Easter is of pagan origin, and some over-sized rabbit dropping chocolate eggs in your front yard (kinda gross when you think about it) has nothing to do with the story of Christ and His gift of salvation.  However, this is just an act of deception, because from there they’ll begin to tell you that He didn’t die on a cross (which, is insulting), and finally, they’ll invite you to join them for their ‘observance of Memorial.’  This occasion will occur at night, and more than likely in the conference room of a well-known hotel in town.  At this occasion, they’ll ramble on about their belief pattern and eventually pass a cup and bread, but with a condition: you must be one of the 144,000 righteous to partake in the Lord’s cup and body.

Wait!  Only 144,000 are considered righteous?

I’ll admit to fantasizing about being in that setting, with my t-shirt, spiky hair, and tattoos, and standing as the cup and bread are passed to me proclaiming, “thank God I’m forgiven!  Thank you, Lord, for remembering me!”  After drinking the juice and chomping on the bread, I can only imagine the looks of horror I’d receive, for which, I would hope at that point I would have the opportunity to share with them how God’s kingdom is big enough for us all.  That it is, in fact, God’s desire that none shall perish!

I’d probably be inclined to bring up the indisputable testimony of the thief on the cross next to Jesus who simply (and humbly) asked that the Lord to remember him in His kingdom.  To which, Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

BAM!  Salvation!  Just like that!

He didn’t need an ample amount of time on the clock in service for Jesus.

He didn’t need to drink the cup, or eat the bread.

He didn’t even need to go to church.

BUT, he needed to SURRENDER IT ALL!  He casted ALL HIS TRUST upon the Lord, and the Lord saved him.

Have you?  Have you casted everything upon the cross of salvation?

What’s needed?  Just a willing heart.

Don’t know enough verses in the Bible?  That’s ok.  The thief didn’t recite one verse.  He simply asked.

Ask God this today:

Lord, I am a sinner.  I know I’ve done wrong, and therefore, I know I am not deserving of your mercy.  However, I know you died for me.  You took my place on the cross.  You stepped in and paid a price I couldn’t pay, and that was the payment for my sin.  It’s because of you that I can step into the presence of God, and I so appreciate you for doing so.  Lord, like the thief that hung next to you, I cast my trust and faith into your loving, pierced hands.  Lord, work in me so that you may be glorified all of my days and teach me how to live for you.  Remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Look, it’s not whether you know Biblical accuracy.  It’s not how well you can recite scripture.  It’s not whether you practice pagan traditions, or totally reject them.  It’s about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal King.  Your savior, and your redeemer.

And, the best part is, a life filled by the King, is life indeed!

May you find peace in the Lord, today!

Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

(Isaiah 12:3)

Is Heaven Big Enough?

Today is the second day of Spring — you wouldn’t know it if you only relied on the view from your windowsill in Northwest Montana!  But, snowfall aside, it is the third week of March!  I guess, Puxatony Phil was right, afterall!

Foys Lake, Kalispell, Montana

Spring Morning, Montana.

Springtime brings Easter, which, for Christians, means Resurrection Sunday.  For the rest of the world, it’s an opportunity to decorate eggs, maybe take some time off of school and/or work, and eat chocolate.  Perhaps, Church attendance is up a bit on Easter Sunday to accommodate all those twice-a-year Christians.

However, to the Believer, the meaning behind Easter is of the utmost importance.  For it was on Good Friday Jesus went to Golgotha, carrying the cross by himself (John 19:17), to be persecuted and therefore fulfill the promise of a New Covenant – a covenant that forgives us of our sins and allows eternal life along the side of our God, our Lord, and our Creator.  Three days later (Easter Sunday), Jesus arose from the dead, was witnessed by more than 500, and therefore proclaimed He is the risen Lord, the Lord of Lords, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Not to mention, He is totally awesome for defeating death!

Oh death, where is your sting!?

(1 Corinthians 15:55)

To the Jehovah’s Witness, it’s in the beginning of Spring that the observance of “Memorial” occurs.  Memorial takes place specifically on Nisan 14 (the old Jewish calendar), and according to the literature of The Watchtower, it was on this day Jesus instituted the observance of the night of Jewish Passover (also known as The Lord’s Supper).

I’ll be the first to admit, all the emphasis toward the accuracy of the history of an event (especially an event so important and critical to the Christian) is great!  However, the emphasis can be a weapon of deceit.  Allow me to illustrate:

The Kingdom Hall's Book.

Cover of The Watchtower's Study Aid.

In The Watchtower’s little yellow book, “What Does The Bible Really Teach,” on page 206 (in the Appendix) begins an article, “The Lord’s Evening Meal – An Observance That Honors God.”  Interestingly, they begin by declaring that CHRISTIANS are commanded to observe the Memorial of Christ’s death.  This statement would have one believe they are also “Christian.”

Interestingly, the term “Christian” only appears three times in the Bible (twice in Acts, and once in 1 Peter).  In fact, Christ, himself, never used the term — although, he did, in fact, seriously imply that we must follow Him.  And, let it be understood that the exact definition of the term, “Christian” is “a follower of Christ.”

So, without arguing the origin of the term and whether or not we should be in the business of labeling, it must be understood that Christ did instruct a following, emphasized a desire to follow, and that those who follow are considered to be His people.  The bottom line: Jesus Christ inspired the Christian walk.

I bring this up because it would then be important to get Christ right.  Utterly important.

If a Christian is a follower of Christ, and if you consider yourself a Christian, you must be able to identify Christ.

Jesus Christ is:

Not just a babe born in a manger.  He was around prior to the stable in Bethlehem.  He is the creator of all things.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

(Colossians 1:16)

This is why in Genesis we get the plural account of God:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

(Genesis 1:26)

Not to mention the specifics of Hebrew word for “God” is Elohiym— which is plural!

Jesus is also the reconciler (means to return to a former harmony) for us.  He said Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Time and time again Jesus Christ clarifies His divinity.  And throughout the Bible His preeminence is declared.  His majesty is defined.  His authority over all creation is clear.

Yet, in chapter 4 of The Watchtower’s book, they fail to declare Jesus Christ’s ultimate authority.  They add that He was created by God, and not God himself.  In the next chapter, they claim Christ was nailed to a stake, not a cross, and in their additional resource material they state that true Christians do not use the cross in worship.  I guess they neglect Paul’s boasting in the cross of Jesus (Galatians 6:14).

They reinterpret John 1:1, claiming that Jesus Christ is A god, and not God, himself.  This itself is evidence of their shortcoming logic.  For, if Jesus is a god, and not God himself, what kind of god is Jesus?

As we are told countless times, there are no other Gods:

Isaiah 44:6 … “besides me there is no God.”

Deuteronomy 4:35 …”Jehovah is the [true] God; there is no other besides him.”

Isaiah 43:11 “...besides me there is no savior.”  (Jehovah speaking)

John 17:3-5 “…the only true God…”

It appears there’s an error in theology.  But, this isn’t anything new.  After all, didn’t God call man’s wisdom foolishness, anyway?

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

(1 Corinthians 3:19)

So, step one, get Jesus right.  Proclaim the majesty of King Jesus, and worship Him!  Yes, worship — another ‘No No’ to The Watchtower.

The error in their theology is evident in verses like:

Matthew 2:2, Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:18, Matthew 14:33, Matthew 20:20, Matthew 28:17….and well over 40 others!

(By the way, all these verses indicate Jesus Christ being worshipped).

Step two, repent.  For prior to conversion you are an ENEMY to Jesus:

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.

(Colossians 1:21)

Step three, lift high your love for Christ, for He is risen!  Meaning, celebrate THIS Easter!  No, not with eggs and cards, but with the cup and the bread!

The Watchtower claims that only 144,000 individuals will inherit the kingdom of God, and only those who consider themselves to be “anointed” shall partake in the cup and the bread.

Ok.  Wait a minute.  So, Heaven is only big enough for God, His angels, Jesus…and 144,000 people?

On page 207 of their book, they recall a few key verses from the book of Hebrews.  I’ll post all of them to be used as reference:

Hebrews 9:14

“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Hebrews 10:16

“This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

Hebrews 10:17

[then He adds], “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

9:14 clarifies the purification of your sin by the bloodshed of Christ.  Interestingly, it says it’s possible through the Spirit.  This may be a little confusing to our non-Trinitarian believers.

10:16 is a bit interesting.  Many times with the Witnesses, you may find it helpful to read the previous and following verses.

(10:14) For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

(10:15) But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,

(10:16) This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the   LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

(10:17) [then He adds], “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

In short, we have the Holy Spirit actually speaking verse 16.  (Again, a bit confusing to the non-Trinitarian believers).  We have the declaration that the one sacrifice that occurred on Calvary that day (referring to Jesus’ sacrifice) is all that we need.  And by that sacrifice, all the sins and lawless deeds of those who believe are erased forever.

Basically, when Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED.”  He meant it.  There’s no need for additional work.  In fact, nothing you can do will ever pay the price anyway.

I did suggest reading the previous and following scriptures, didn’t I?  Let’s return to the first verse The Watchtower suggests reading, Hebrews 9:14.

how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

…AND, verse 15:

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death.  His death.  Then we get reference to “those who are called.”  The Watchtower regards “those called,” as the 144,000 for they are the only ones eligible to inherit the kingdom of heaven.  To support their theory, they suggest the following verses:

Genesis 22:18 [God speaking to Abraham] .. “in your seed all the nations shall be blessed”  (Jesus is in the lineage of Abraham)

Jeremiah 31:31-33 … God will establish a new covenant.  (yes, His name is Jesus Christ)

1 Peter 2:9 .. those who believe are a “chosen generation.”

Revelation 5:9-10 .. those who are able to witness Jesus obtaining the Scroll begin to sing and proclaim His authority.

and, finally, Revelation 14:1-3.  It’s worth providing these entire verses.

(1)Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred [and] forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

(2)And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.

(3)They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred [and] forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

Now, remember, The Watchtower’s theology would have us believe that only those who are called will be standing with The Lamb (Jesus) on Mount Zion (as indicated in verse 1).

Let’s go back to Hebrews 9:15.

In verse 15 we are told that only those who are called are able to inherit the kingdom of Heaven.  But, what does it mean to be “called?”

Turn to 1 Corinthians 1:1.

I’d like to suggest reading the first 9 verses, but for the sake of monitor space, I’ll print the first three:

(1)Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

(2)To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

(3)Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, clearly Paul was called.  And so was Sosthenes.  (By the way, how do you pronounce that guy’s name?)  The church at Corinth also has those called, and apparently being called isn’t limited for it says “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

So, who is eligible for God’s calling?

All people.  In every place.  All those would call on the name of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13 says it perfectly:

Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

Everyone is eligible!  Not just a self-elected few!
By the way,  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was written around 56 AD.  The population of Corinth was over 100,000 over 400 years prior to this letter.

How many people were called then?…And, this was over 2,000 years ago.  How many people have been called since?

Mathematically speaking, it’s a bit far reaching to think that there are any of the 144,000 living today!  It would seem as if God’s Heaven is already full!

But, let’s set mathematics and assumptions aside and consider those that God calls the 144,000.

In the 7th chapter of the book of Revelation we pick up in a time where four angels are sent to the four corners of the world.  They are sent to hold back the wind.  Another angel appears to command that the earth shall not be harmed until those who are servants of God are sealed.  As it turns out, these individuals happen to descend from the twelve tribes of Judah and the sum is 144,000.

By the way, this is all happening as the time called the Great Tribulation is ending.  How do I know?  Read further.  Verse 14 illustrates a revealing of all those who perished for God during the Great Tribulation.

So, we aren’t in Heaven.  We are still on earth.  The raging it at a standstill and God is calling the remainder of His people.  Read further.

Chapter 14 has the 144,000 on Mount Zion with the Lamb (Jesus).  Verse 4 illustrates, rather specifically, those who are a part of the 144,000.

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from [among] men, [being] firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

The 144,000 are people who:

  1. are virgins!
  2. follow the Lamb everywhere
  3. are firstfruits (in Biblical context, this means superior in excellence) among men, and
  4. they are without fault (perfect).

So, next time you are at Memorial and the cup and bread (signifying the bloodshed and body of Christ) are passed, those who partake in the offering better be:

  1. virgin
  2. following Christ everywhere
  3. better than everyone else
  4. and, perfect.

Boy, that’s quite a litmus test!

Now, a sceptic may challenge this stating, this would eliminate everyone!

No, it doesn’t.  God’s Word tells us there will be 144,000 during the time of the Great Tribulation that will live accordingly.  It won’t be me.  I’ll be in Heaven already.  For, I’ve already received God’s gift of Salvation made possible by His son, Jesus.

Now, as I view that list, I do remind myself to live as Christ-like as possible.  While, it’s impossible for me to be a virgin (I do have children), I can live a life in accordance to God’s will (as a husband, as a father, as a neighbor, and as an employee).  I can also choose to place Jesus in front of everything I do, therefore, be constantly following Him.  I am not perfect, nor do I consider myself to be better than anyone, BUT, God’s Word does assure me that on the day of my entrance into His presence, I will be viewed as flawless, and He will receive me with exceeding joy!  (Jude 24) How?  Because, Christ dwells within me.

Heaven is far bigger than 144,000.  In fact, there’s plenty of room!

Remember 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

He’s patient.  He wants you to join Him.  May I suggest remembering Him this Easter season….or better yet, “Resurrection Sunday.”  Hang up the legalities, for God continually tells us it’s not by our works that we’re saved, but by grace alone.

And, if you are in some service or worship setting that would have you believe there’s not enough room in Heaven for you.  Leave.

Leave immediately, and follow Jesus.

Jesus has a room waiting for you in His Father’s house.  He’s going to prepare it for you. (John 14:2).

KONY 2012

Three days ago I was completely unaware of who Joseph Kony is.  Completely in the dark.

This video changed all that for me.

The magnitude and viral popularity of this video reminded me of one released just a month ago; Jefferson Bethke’s rapid-fire popularity with his “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.

At first viewing, I felt inspired to act right away.  In fact, the campaign puts a lot of emphasis on doing something NOW.  So, I did.  I bought the “kit,” which I’m assuming includes a shirt, poster, and other guerrilla-marketing material.  Then, just two days ago, a friend of mine posted another blogger’s response to the entire campaign which, when read, caused my stomach to knot up.

What did I just give my money too?!

I was immediately brought back to being in high school and going to a concert with my friend Ben just because it was rock ‘n roll and it was $10.  Later, when I mentioned to another friend’s mom that we went to this show (insert name of rock show), she immediately perked up and shouted, “do you know what you just gave your money too!?”

It was an organization that supported young women financially with abortions.

Yeah, yikes!  I decided from that point on I’d begin to read the fine print.

Yet, when the 29 minute video concluded, I wanted to act immediately.  I was convinced Jospeh Kony must be known!  And stopped!

Then to get rather impressive information questioning the video’s credibility, I began to sink.  I began to ask if I was going to wear my cool red “Kony 2012” shirt.  So, I took a look at all the financials these opposing bloggers were indicating.

Stop At Nothing

First of all, the organization behind the Kony 2012 campaign is called Invisible Children, and obviously they claim their mission is to assist the Ugandan government in the arrest of Joseph Kony (a very, very bad guy).

Wait, let’s not G-rate this, or even be cute.  For over 25 years, Jospeh Kony has led the Lord’s Resistance Army in various parts of Africa and is responsible for 10s of 1,000s of child abductions, murders, rapes, and abuses.  He tops the lists for “world’s evil-doer” (Sorry, Dr. Evil).

It’s worth repeating.  He’s responsible for 10s…..of 1,000s…..of:

child murders,

rapes,

and abuses.

So, really, ANY awareness of this heinous crime is GOOD awareness, because to quote my favorite protagonist, “this aggression won’t stand, man!”  (“The Big Lebowski,” 1998).

The blogger of “The Daily What,” (the first criticism of the Kony Campaign I became aware of) claims that Charity Navigator, a non-profit company watch dog, only gives Invisible Children a 2/4 star rating (which, apparently is bad.  Bad enough to illicit blog-slamming).  However, after I visited the site, www.CharityNavigator.com, I found IC to have a 3/4 star rating.  The knots in my stomach began to loosen.

Now, don’t give up on me yet, I’m not taking the IC’s side.  Not yet, at least.  Because, it is quite obvious that their financial report certainly deserves to be questioned, if that’s what you’re compelled to do….drag non-profits out on to the floor that is.  But, why stop at IC?  Perhaps we should consider all the advocates of “pink-washing?”  You know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!  It’s become engrained in our American media-controlled minds that we need to wear pink through the month of October, that you’re likely to lose a few Facebook friends if you don’t!  I mean, gosh, what are you insensitive or something?  Don’t you want breast cancer to go away?

Yes, I do.  But, organizations like Komen for a Cure don’t!  That’s right, they don’t.  Because if breast cancer was cured, then the CEO would lose her $500,000 annual paycheck!  That means if we say good-bye to breast cancer, she says good-bye to her paycheck, and her bonuses!

If Komen for a Cure was so committed to finding a cure the “education” they push would include abstaining from sugar (cancer’s favorite food), and include the dangers and cancer-causing (yes, causing) aspects of mammogram procedures!  In fact, science has found that just absorbing Vitamin D3 dramatically reduces your risk of cancer–far greater than ANY pharmaceutical alternative, and yet you only find Komen endorsing products containing artificial sweeteners, MSG, and toxic chemicals!

But, wait – we’re talking about the Phony…err..Kony Campaign, not breast cancer you insensitive nit-wit.  Yes, you’re right.  And, perhaps it’s rather naive to expect any organization that operates like a company to be 100% transparent and 100% innocent.  Perhaps.

Here’s the bottom line: The IC has shed light on Joseph Kony – a man who just a couple weeks ago was NOT known by the world.

Now he is.  Maybe it’s one of those “the ends justifies the means,” things?  Because, let’s face it, while we all may not like the idea of people getting rich during a charity drive, what we do like is the intended goal of the charity drive.

So, will I wear my shirt?  Yes.  Because, I want people to know about Joseph Kony.  I want people to do research and write letters.  I want the US involved so these children don’t have to live and sleep in fear.  I will default to supporting a mission who’s “gas-in-the-tank” is composed of the support of it’s fanbase and not the complexities of a self-serving government.

As the video points out, today’s socially connected community (i.e. Facebook) is a larger community than the United States!  Imagine the potential!  The ability to send an important message is unparalleled with any other moment in time.  In a time where we tend to rely on our government to solve our problems (gas prices, energy concerns, health care, etc.), we are presented a message that is built by and supported by the people.  Not the government.  At the very least, that’s something worth supporting.

Update:  In case you’re interested in the opinion of the young Ugandan man (Jacob Acaye) featured in the video, read this.

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).