All In or Not

I’ve been thinking lately about people who call themselves Christians. But they don’t read their Bible. They don’t attend church. Do they pray? Do they give a portion of their earnings to God? I’m not judging. I’m wondering.

I want everyone to know Christ in his fullness.  I want everyone to experience heaven.  To truly experience the gift of eternal life to its fullest. God invites us to spend eternity with him.  He wants to forgive our sins.  And it’s essential to have our sins forgiven — in order to see God.  But there is so much more to it than that.  Having our sins forgiven is just scratching the surface.  We need to build a close relationship with God.  We need to walk and talk with him. 

He loves us unconditionally. Nothing we can say or do will stop him from loving us. Can’t we return the favor?


Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8


 Suppose I commit a crime against a stranger and ask them to forgive me, but then never talk to them again.  Never learn anything more about them. And I learn that they are planning the party of the century. But it’s by invitation only.  Why would I expect an invitation from them? I’ve done them wrong. Oh. I’ve confessed, but I haven’t made an effort to show them I’ve made a change in my life. I haven’t spoken to them since the day I apologized. I’ve rarely thought of them, mostly in moments of guilt. So, why would they invite me to their party?  Why would I be allowed to go?

Why would I expect to be received as a welcome guest into their home when I haven’t taken the time to get to know them?  When I haven’t walked the path of suffering or gladness with them. When I haven’t made an attempt to study their lifestyle. Why would I think that I’m worthy to be chosen as a guest of honor in their home when I’ve never invited them into my home?

It’s the same idea for going to heaven. It is by invitation. And there’s a price. Everyone is invited. But have you paid the price? Have you given your life as a sacrificial gift to serving God? Or are you a member by name only? Have you done the work? Put in the time? Do you know what makes God tick? Do you know what he loves? What he hates? Can you feel his presence in your life? Have you seen him work in your life? Can you show proof of your allegiance to him?

If not, what are you waiting for?

Paul was one who persecuted Christians until he had a life-changing experience that led him straight to God. He knew that God had called him from a life of hunting Christians to becoming one of them. So he went all in. He gave his relationship with Christ everything he had. He wanted to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Paul was willing to suffer with Christ, sharing in his death, so that one way or another he would experience the resurrection from the dead.

Can you say that? Are you willing to experience the mighty power of Christ, as well as suffer for him? It’s all or nothing. Walking the road to Calvary cost Jesus his life. If you choose to walk with him, nothing else matters.

Oh. You may not die a literal death for serving Christ. But you may. Paul did. But have you died to the things of life that seem so important, but are worthless in eternity?

Soul Surgery

The patient had complained of unusual symptoms. Heartache. Unfulfillment. Despair. A nagging ache of hopelessness. Unsure where to turn. He was self medicating, but it wasn’t helping. He was searching for help in all the wrong places. All hope seemed lost.

He heard of the master surgeon. He scheduled an appointment. Curiosity brought me here. He said. I’ve heard it’s a radical surgery, but I want to know more. Tell me about the procedure and recovery time. I’m a busy man, and I don’t have time to be laid up. But I’m desperate for healing.

The patient asked about the cost of the surgery. The wise surgeon looked at him and opened wide his arms. Someone else has already paid the price. For you, this surgery is free.

The surgeon noted on the patient’s chart that there was no prep for the surgery. We see best results to this type of surgery when you come as you are. You are welcome in your current state. There was a large note at the top of the chart:

Come as you are. Do not try to change your current routines before surgery. All adjustments to your care will be made during rehabilitation.

The soul is lying on the operating table. The surgeon opens up the soul. There is a hunt for goodness. Kindness. Love. Peace. Joy. Patience. Truth. Honor. But all that can be found is darkness mixed with hatred and anger. Lust and fear. Dishonesty. Greed. Grudges. Gluttony. Adultery. Addictions. The cords of selfishness are wrapped so tightly around the soul that any good intentions are strangled.

It started slowly at first. Seemingly unnoticeable. A white lie led to a bigger lie. Until now, truth is hard to find. Where once peace and love ruled the heart, now grudges and discord run rampant. 

The surgeon tries desperately to find some noble deed that’s worth saving. But the search is fruitless. Life support can’t support a soulless life. The madness must end. If truth be told, truth hasn’t been told in so long that it’s unrecognizable.

As the soul was laid bare on that table, the surgeon saw that this particular surgery would be long and complicated. It was as if time stood still. But for this surgeon, a minute was as a day. And a day was as a minute. For all intents and purposes, this soul would need a miracle. 

During the procedure, he removes every wrong act and thought from the patient. He wipes out all record of wrongdoing. He cleans up the arteries and increases blood flow. Any tumors or growths are cut away. As the surgeon closes up the incision, he covers up the wound with his own red blood. He will not remember what he has seen in that soul he has made clean.


Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13


The surgeon was later asked if it was possible to find any life in this lifeless soul. Was there any reason to hold out hope for a new beginning? Could this soul be saved if fed a proper diet? If specific life saving disciplines were established, could this soul be fruitful and multiply? Was a miracle possible? Oh. He said. Miracles are my specialty.

Recovery would require discipline. Soul therapy would need to be scheduled on a regular basis. This soul’s eternity was at stake. Healing would take a lifetime.

In the follow up appointment, the patient asked about rehabilitation. What is involved? How long will it take? How many sessions? Can you recommend a good therapist? Where will the therapy sessions be held? Does my insurance cover this part of recovery?

The master surgeon sat down and explained that the rehabilitation would be long and arduous. It would be difficult. At times, painful. But, oh the joy when hurdles have been crossed. When victories have been won. When old lifestyle habits have been conquered. When new disciplines have been set in place.

There is no time limit to the rehabilitation, he continued. It will last a lifetime. You, the patient, play a large role in your own success. But you can’t do it alone. You will need help. You will need others who have survived and are still on the road of recovery to help and guide you. But choose wisely where you seek advice. There will be those who have been through the surgery, but didn’t fulfill the rehabilitation requirements. They will try to lead you astray. They will say that the surgery was a mistake. Don’t listen to them. Then there are others who have never had the surgery. They will be as slippery as snakes with their advice. Run from them with every ounce of strength you can find. Stay close to those who continue to seek rehabilitation. Spend time with them.

You will need to schedule daily appointments with me, the surgeon advised. Please make sure to do this, as it is of utmost importance to your survival. Continue to read the prescription that I wrote for you. It will tell you all about me, but it was written with you in mind. Call me anytime you think of me. I am always available. Do not hesitate to call me at any time of the day or night. I cannot stress enough how important this step is in your healing. Many who have come through the surgery with flying colors fall short in this area. It weakens them and opens them up to unnecessary heartache and trials. Please. Please. Please. Remember that this is most important for your recovery and survival.

This surgeon has seen a lot of souls in his day.  His daily schedule is always full, but he’s willing to perform any surgery at any time. Day or night. He is always on call. He reserves time each day for last minute appointments. He is always available for emergency surgeries. He orchestrates each surgery, but he has a band of helpers. A host of heaven’s armies are at his disposal.  Heavenly angels perform at his bidding.

The surgeon inspects each soul as if it’s his favorite. He opens up the soul and does a thorough inspection. He has seen some souls hardened by abuse and despair. Crusty and misshapen by bad attitudes, grudges, lies, distorted truths, shame and regret. Can those souls be saved? Only the surgeon knows. He is the giver of life. And he is the taker of life. He alone decides the final resting place of the soul. It is a great responsibility. Only fit for a sovereign God.

Be Prepared

She said it so casually. I don’t believe in an afterlife. And neither does my husband. And she laughed as she said it. She thinks that there is nothing for her after her last breath.

Her husband doesn’t think the topic is a laughing matter. The way she described the scene in their home led me to believe her husband is petrified of what’s to come. The thing that he doesn’t believe in terrifies him. If he believes in nothing, what’s to be afraid of.

She was brave enough to admit that she could be wrong.

Oh. We have much to talk about. This young woman and I.

I think of the man dying of an incurable disease. I think of another man who just breathed his last breath. One is already in eternity. The other is close behind.  I wonder what they believed and who they believed in.


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? Romans 10:14-15


I recall a scene a few years ago. I was asked if I was going to the dinner. I was surprised by the question, because I hadn’t received an invitation. And these were close friends. Why would I be excluded? But I was. I didn’t even know a dinner had been planned. The one who shared the news seemed uncomfortable with my explanation that I hadn’t been included in the invite.

How could I go to the dinner if I didn’t know it was taking place? How would I know I was being excluded if I didn’t know of the invitation? How would I know of the invitation unless I received it?

I think of this young woman. My coworker. Perhaps she’s never been told the truth of an afterlife. Perhaps she’s never been included in an honest discussion of God’s plan for her life. Perhaps she’s never been invited to hear of God’s love for her.

How will she know if no one tells her. Perhaps I’ve come into her life for such a time as this. Perhaps I will be the messenger to share the good news with her. Perhaps her heart will soften, and she will be open to hearing the message of truth and redemption. Perhaps she will be interested in the saving grace of our Lord and Savior.

But what if she isn’t interested in hearing the truth? What if she shuns the love of God? What if she decides that Biblical teaching is not truth to her? That is her right. God has given her a free will to decide how to live her life. She can choose to live life without God. She can choose to believe there is no afterlife. But what she doesn’t yet understand is that she will stand before Him some day and give an account of her life. She will live in eternity. Somewhere. There is an afterlife.

So when the opportunity arises, I must be prepared to share the message of hope with her. I must always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have. If no one tells her, she will never know. How can I overlook the opportunity to share the free gift of eternal life with her?

When the Mighty Fall

Oh. Jeffrey Epstein. How powerful do you feel now? Are you walking on streets of gold? Are you living in a mansion? Is your eternal life better than your life on earth?

Did your life end the way you had always thought it would? Did you think you would die under questionable circumstances alone in a jail cell? Were you alone? Or would you have preferred to be surrounded by beautiful women in a party atmosphere on your private island? Or in your seven-story New York townhome?

Oh. You made the news. Jeffrey. You’ve lived a questionable life. Very questionable. Was your death intentional? If so, why weren’t you unwilling to face your accusers? Were they telling the truth, and the hammer was about to come down on you once and for all? Or was it someone else’s last ditch effort to silence you? Or to pay you back? Most likely, we’ll never know.

But there is One who knows everything about you. Oh. You will never again have to stand in front of a judge to be tried for your alleged offenses. But you have now stood before the Judge and Creator of the universe. How did that go for you? You couldn’t pay your way out of your eternal destiny, now could you? I honestly don’t know where you are right now. Jeffrey. Are you living the life you’ve always wanted? Or are you in the darkest pits of hell? Are you with your Creator, God Almighty? Or are you with the enemy of your soul, satan himself? Are you basking in glory? Or are you writhing in agony and torment?


You may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:32


Let’s imagine, Jeffrey, that with your last breath you cried out to God to forgive you. Let’s imagine that you are walking the streets of gold. Let’s imagine that when you stood before God to be judged there was a red streak of Jesus’ blood across your record of sins. And that your sins have been made white as snow. They’ve been erased. Let’s imagine that you’ve been forgiven and are now a child of God. You are in heaven. It’s possible that happened.

But then. Let’s imagine another scenario. A darker scenario. Let’s imagine that instead of crying out to God with your last breath, you uttered his name in blasphemy. Let’s imagine that you drew your final breath in hate and bitterness. Let’s imagine that your name was not in the Book of Life and that you were cast into the depths of hell. There’s no turning back from that torture.

Were you laughing at those who were gunning for you and your every dollar? Thumbing your nose at the many who have accused you of indecent and inappropriate behavior. Waving your money to buy you a mansion in your eternal home. But it doesn’t work that way. Jeffrey. You can’t buy or work your way into heaven.

The public may never know the truth. And maybe that’s for the best. Perhaps we don’t need to know how you acquired your wealth. I’ve read that the acquisition of your riches was not necessarily honorable. What was it that caused you to think you were above the law? You chose to run in social circles that many would envy. Politicians. Billionaires. Royalty. Beautiful women. Private island retreat. Private jet. But how did you accumulate what you owned? Why did you crave that lifestyle? Why unwilling young women?

Were you surprised when the cops came to your house and rammed the massive wood door? Oh. You weren’t there. You were already in jail. Did you wonder if they had finally uncovered your deepest darkest secrets? Did you wonder if you had finally been found out? Did you breathe a deep sigh of relief that now the game was over? Or did you breathe short struggling anxious breaths knowing that the true fight had just begun?

Jeffrey. You’re now in eternity. You’ve breathed your last breath. Fought your last fight. Earned or stolen your last dollar. You’ve been judged and have received your final reward or punishment. God only knows what the truth is. He’s the only one who knows the truth. But you are an example to many who are living life on the fringes. Knowing what’s right but doing what’s wrong. Looking out for yourself and pushing others to bow to your wishes. That’s no longer an option for you.

May those of us who still live and breathe choose to follow the Lord God Almighty. May we choose to bow to Him before we’ve taken that last breath. When there is still time to choose heaven. Because our sins will always find us out. We will be held accountable. Just as you have. Jeffrey.

The Goodbye Kiss

It’s all over the news this week. Mainly the Christian news. The guy who wrote a popular book 20 plus years ago has renounced the book he wrote. He no longer believes what he wrote.

What was his book? I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The book is described as an inspiring call to sincere love, real purity, and purposeful singleness. Sounds like a good thing.

Now after all these years, he’s recanted his beliefs. He says what he wrote was all wrong. He’s kissed his marriage goodbye. And he’s given his faith the kiss off. 

What changed his mind? Where did he go wrong? How did it come to this?

Oh. He was only 21 when he wrote the book. Fairly naive. Vastly inexperienced. But I’m sure he had great intentions. You know how it is. 22 years later. Real life happens. You gain life experience in work, love and faith. You question why and how and when. At times you wonder if you’ve got it all wrong or if you’re going in the right direction. But do you just throw it all away? For no good reason?

There’s a lot at stake here for the man. He’s getting a divorce. His family is falling apart. He’s left his wife. He says that significant changes have taken place in both of them over the years. That’s sure to happen to any of us. But what was it that caused him to think his marriage wasn’t worth saving? Oh. I don’t need to know the details. The fact that divorce is in the works tells me all I need to know. And it’s very sad.

He no longer believes the words he wrote. He believes he was misleading people to think that their marriage would be perfect if they followed the teaching in his book. And since it wasn’t all based on Scripture, then it must be wrong. I don’t know. I never read his book. But he’s thrown it all away. Now he’s promoting alternate lifestyles that are definitely not Scriptural.

He’s walked away from his relationship with God. And someone who has a relationship with God squarely knows what the consequences are to just walk away. And he says he doesn’t view this negatively. Does he really know what’s at stake here for him? Does he know that those who walk away from God will walk themselves right into hell? He’s got to know that. And he’s ok with it? Wow. He must really trust those people who have been advising him. He was listening to them more than he was listening to God. When did the Word of God stop being real to him? What caused him to close his spirit to the Holy Spirit?


The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9


And that’s the problem. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian is capable of doing what Josh Harris has done. Any of us are capable of being tricked and lied to by the enemy of our souls. Satan himself. He will make the dull look shiny. He will make the bad sound good. He will spin lies to appear as truth. He will make hell look attractive. He wants our souls.

Josh Harris isn’t the first to renounce his faith. And the sad news. He won’t be the last.

But what was it that caused him to lose his faith? That’s my question. What was it that made him decide after all these years that a relationship with Jesus Christ wasn’t worth it?

I’ve never met Josh Harris. I doubt I ever will. I’ve just read about him. His website mentions that he had conversations with people who reshaped his thinking. Who, I wonder, was he listening to? Was he seeking advice from godly people who held him accountable? Or was he listening to those who said things he wanted to hear? Who was Satan using to twist words of truth and introduce lies and confusion? It doesn’t always take much to be convinced that truth is a lie. Especially if life isn’t perfect. Because doubt and disillusionment can set in. Even for those who appear solid in their faith.

Look at King Solomon. At the beginning of his reign over Israel, God said he would give Solomon anything he asked for. So he asked God for wisdom. And he used his wisdom to give advice to other kings and queens. They would travel long distances to hear his words. And because of this, he married foreign princesses. He eventually married hundreds of women. Women who did not worship the one true God. They introduced him to their gods. and their ways. He moved from worshiping the only true God to worshiping lesser gods. False gods. His many wives turned his heart away from serving God. How did it come to this?

If we call ourselves Christians, we are in a battle for our souls. Satan is doing everything he can to trick us out of our relationship with God and into a life built on lies and deception. We have to put on the armor of God every day in order to fight the enemy. We must be prepared to fight. We must stay alert to the stop the fiery arrows of the devil. This battle is very real and very dangerous. If you believe there isn’t a fight, then you’ve already lost. Our eternity is at risk.

A Life Cut Short

She stopped by the office on Monday to bring lunch to her husband.  She ran into the building with his salad, paying no attention to the burning car in the parking lot.  She didn’t even notice the fire trucks.  She had one thing on her mind.  Her busy husband needed his lunch.

Less than two days later, she was surrounded by another fire.  This time the fire was at her home.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Home alone.  Sleeping alone.  She wasn’t even aware of the fire.  Smoke inhalation was the cause of death.  She died in her bed.  Asleep and alone.

She was busy with family and work and charity events.  She was always smiling and friendly with everyone.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She made time for her daughters and grandchildren.  She was loved by many.  Best friends to her inner circle.

Her life was cut short.  She was in the prime of her life.  But what is the prime of life when you don’t know how long your life will be?  Shouldn’t every day be the prime of life?  Especially when we don’t know our last day?

I didn’t know her.  I knew of her.  Oh.  I had met her a few times.  I had seen the joy of life radiating from her.  I had seen her happiness bubbling as she showed off her grandson.  I knew of her love for her husband.  But I didn’t know her.


Each of us will give a personal account to God.  Romans 14:12


I wonder if she knew her Creator.  I wonder if she had a personal relationship with God.  Because now she has come face to face with him.  Oh.  She was involved in volunteer work.  She was kind.  She was good.  But was she ready, without notice, to meet her final reward.  Was it a reward or was it a punishment?  Where is her soul spending eternity?

The thing is.  Life is not certain for anyone.  No one knows when their last day will come.    Maybe there will be a warning.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  Medical treatments.  Prolonged illness.  Or death could come as a thief in the night.  Maybe there will be time to accept Christ as Savior and experience forgiveness. But maybe not.  One never knows.

The one thing we do know is that all will die.  Each of us will breathe our last breath at the appointed time.  Unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime and takes his faithful to heaven, we will all die.  Will we be ready to stand face to face with God?  Will we hear the words we want to hear?  Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.  Let’s celebrate.

Some will hear those words.  Many won’t.  Many will be cast to the depths of hell.  Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will not face an eternity in heaven.   Oh.  There are those who don’t believe in hell.  There are some who believe if God is a loving God, why would he send good people to hell.

The thing is.  God loves everyone and wants everyone to meet him in heaven.  He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.  With him or without him.  That choice determines where we spend eternity.  We choose.

I saw it happen just three days ago.  I was driving along a busy road, running errands at lunch time.  The squirrel was running fast and ran into the street.  I noticed it and had plenty of time to slow down.  The driver in the other lane didn’t.  Next thing I knew, the squirrel was not moving.  Oh.  It was in such a hurry to get somewhere, but time stood still for that little one.  Perhaps, he was rushing to store up for the winter months that are upon us.  No need.

Oh.  I know the squirrel doesn’t have a soul.  I know that squirrel will never have to answer for its actions.  I know that squirrel will never stand before his maker.  But I do know that his life was cut far short.

It can happen to anyone at any time.  Ready or not.  Time is running out for each of us.  The countdown has begun, and we never know when our time will come.  Are you ready?

 

Reason for Hope

I am by nature a pessimist.  Oh.  The glass is half empty.  Always.  There’s no pretty way around it.  I see the half of the glass that’s already been drunk.  It’s empty.  Gone.  That cold drink of water that I had craved.  Oh.  How it satisfied.  My thirst was quenched.  For a moment.  But it’s now gone.  Never to return.  It’s only a memory.  The rest of the water in the glass is inconsequential.  Doesn’t matter.  What mattered is what I no longer have.

Is that how it feels to live without hope?  Thinking the best of life is over.  Thinking that there are no more mountains to climb.  No more foes to conquer.  Thinking that you are the foe to be conquered.  Oh.  You may be standing now.  But not for long.  If there is no hope.

I don’t know what it’s like to live without hope.  That may sound strange for a pessimist.  But I’ve always had the thought that my best life was still to come.  Oh.  I know the day will come when that will no longer be the case.  But for today.  A girl can dream.  And I still dream.

So you may ask.  What is my hope?

Hope is the dream of something new

An old friendship renewed

Morning sun peeping through the windows

The win of a ballgame

A new love or a stronger love

The first glance at crooked teeth made straight

The first step once thought impossible

Fresh picked corn on the cob

A sight for sore eyes

Strength to pick up loose ends

The breath of forgiveness

A kiss on the lips

A warm chocolate chip cookie

A drop of rain on parched soil

The scent of wild honeysuckle on an evening drive through the country

The sighting of a rainbow in the clouds

Freedom to wave the American flag


If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15


But there is more.

My hope is in a Creator who knew me before I was born.

My hope is in the baby born to a virgin and laid in a manger.

My hope is in a boy of twelve wise beyond his years.

My hope is in the Light of the World  who leads me out of darkness.

My hope is in a Provider who meets all my needs.

My hope is in a Redeemer who died on the cross for me.

My hope is in a Savior who forgave my sins.

My hope is in Jesus Christ who will return to this earth someday to usher all believers into heaven.

My hope is in a Heavenly Father who is preparing an eternal home for me in heaven.

If I lose everything, I still have my God.

So yes.  I do have hope.

 

Interview of a Lifetime

Interviews are painful.  I get nervous. Sweaty palms. Dry throat.  Beating heart.  I wear my best clothes. Wanting to impress. Hoping I’m not overdressed or underdressed.

I prepare for each interview.  I study the company’s website, trying to familiarize myself with their business.  I review my resume so I can respond to their questions about my work history.  I read and re-read the job description, so I can be prepared to discuss how my experience and qualifications would match the position they’re looking to fill.  I even study interview questions and prepare my answers ahead of time.  I think of questions to ask a potential employer.  Oh.  I want to be prepared.

Days before the interview, I’ll drive by the office.  I don’t want to be surprised to learn on the interview day about unexpected construction delays or street closures.  I want to be prepared.  I want to be familiar with my surroundings.

Multiple interviews in one day. Multiple people in the interview.  Taking turns asking questions.  Feeling me out.  Would I be a good fit?  Do I pass the test?  Am I the right person for the job?

They see my qualifications. They read my resume. Would I fit in their organization?

It seems that I get tripped up by at least one question in every interview.  I walk away feeling like a failure.  Wanting to kick myself.  Thinking that’s the only question the interviewer will focus on.  Because it’s for sure the only one I can remember.

Sometimes I get called for a second or third interview.  I’ve even had to complete fake assignments while at the interview.  They’re testing me.  Can I really perform the job?  Am I telling the truth?  Do my actions match my words?


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


I’m in training right now for the interview of a lifetime.  Oh.  It’s not really an interview.  It’s a judgment.  One day I’ll stand in front of God my Maker.  My Heavenly Father.  My Creator.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Every day is a test.  Really.  It’s moment by moment.  I’ve made the decision to be a follower of Christ.  So the question is this.  Do I live like a follower of Christ?  Do my actions, my words, my thoughts reflect the attitude of Christ?

When my heart beats for the last time and I stand before God, will I pass the final test?  What will my judgment be?  Oh.  I’m not good enough.  But I try.  I do my best.  I mean well.  I study the Bible.  I pray.  I try to be kind.  and patient.  I try to show God’s love to others.  I tithe.  I give offerings to needy causes.  But am I doing all that God requires of me?

Some days, all I can think of is that one sin.  Why did I say those words to her?  Why did I have such a bad attitude?  Why did I eat like a glutton?  Why can’t I just be perfect?

There is one I will stand in front of one day.  He has seen all I have done. He has heard every word I’ve spoken.  He’s known my unspoken thoughts.  He reads my intentions.  He won’t have to ask any questions about my performance.  He will already know.  He will be my judge.

Will he offer eternal life or cast me to the depths of hell?

Have I repented of my sins?  Have I prepared for the big day?  Oh.  I know I need to be prepared.  The results are for eternity.

Go for the Gold

Winter Olympics.  Hockey.  Figure skating.  Skiing.  Ice dancing.  Speed skating.  Short track speed skating.  Luge.  Bobsled.  Curling.  Cross country skiing.  Ski jump.  Snowboarding.  Just some of the sports we’ll watch.  There will be gold medals handed out.  New idols will be crowned.  New heroes in the making.

The athletes. They each train in their sport. Working to master the art of athleticism. They each have chosen one sport to excel in. To best the best. To be crowned.  To be awarded the gold medal.

They work hard. Practice religiously. They sacrifice. More than most would even dare.  They stretch themselves.  Going beyond comfort.  Just to be the best.  They may only get one shot at the gold.  They need to make the most of it.

Mistakes will be made.  Mishaps.  Nerves will get the best of some athletes.  Some expected to win will not.  New champions will be crowned.  They will stand tall, right hand over the heart.  Listening.  Listening to their national anthem.  The flag is lowered.  In honor of their win.  In honor of their hard work.  In honor of their sacrifice.  In honor of their gold medal.  All nations will applaud.

They get nervous. They make mistakes. Their muscles stiffen. They suffer injuries. All for the sport.  All for the dream of wearing the gold around their neck.

Some will be cocky.  They just know they’ll earn a spot on the team.  They just know they’ll win the gold.  They may not work as hard as they should, because their self confidence has already crowned them winner.  They could be brought down quickly.  They may miss the goal.  They may fall down the mountain.  There could be someone better.  A new champion in the mix.  Waiting for their moment to shine.

Some are humble.  They do the work.  They’ve put in the hours.  They’ve listened to their coach.  They own the sport.  But they don’t announce it to the world.  They let their work speak for itself.  If it’s their time to shine, they will.  If their skills need more sharpening, they will do the work.  The struggle to grow stronger and perform better is real.  They think they could do more.


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


We’re all in training. We’re training for a spiritual prize. The top prize.  Heaven.  Heaven is the gold medal we’re training for.  Everyone should want it.  Second place is disastrous.

There is a workout plan that’s available for everyone.  Those who choose to accept it and follow it will receive that top prize.  There won’t be only one gold medal given.  Anyone who is anyone can receive it.

No.  It’s not a participation medal.  The medal must be won.  Fair and square.  Hard work.  Conditioning.  Sacrifice.  Suffering.  Hardships.  Setbacks.  Successes.  Growth.  Rewards.  All are part of the plan.  Given in different measures to each athlete working for the prize.

We’re racing toward eternity.  People.  Whether we know it or not.  Whether we like it or not.  Everyone will come face to face with eternity when they cross the finish line.  At our last breath, we will come face to face with God Himself.  He will judge each and every one of us.

I want that top prize.  I want the gold medal.  I want to spend eternity in heaven.  I hope you do, too.

If you haven’t made the decision to join the race for eternity, this link will tell you how you can join.

So Close to Eternity

Today on Father’s Day, I think of two men.  Two men who never knew each other.    Different values.  Different lifestyles.  Different beliefs.  Different worlds.  They both were fathers.  That appears to be their only common ground.  I don’t know why the first man even comes to mind.  But he does.

I remember when Saddam Hussein was killed.  Some witnesses videotaped his death.  His hanging.  I saw parts of the video on the news.  It was graphic.  It was disturbing.  It was unsettling.  He died.  People wanted confirmation that he was gone.  There it was.  Ugly and haunting.

He seemed so calm in the last moments of his life.  He wasn’t fighting his captors.  He was as a lamb being led to the slaughter.  Quiet.  Reserved.  Defeated.

I wonder if he had been drugged.  I wonder what he was thinking.  When they opened his cell door for the last time, did he know he was going to his death?  Did he know that in just a few short minutes he would be in eternity?  A never-ending place where he would reap the rewards or punishment for his life on earth.  Did he know?  Was he ready to meet his Maker?

If he knew, what was he thinking?  Did he try to make peace with God?  Did he ask forgiveness for the atrocities he had committed?  Did he shake his fist at God and curse him?  Did he believe in God? What were his final thoughts?

It isn’t mine to know.  It isn’t mine to judge.

The Lord knows the thoughts of man.  Psalm 94:11

I remember another man’s death.  I wasn’t with my dad when he breathed his last breath, but my sisters were there.  He had been on hospice for 3 months.  During those final months and days, my dad exhibited peace and contentment.  He knew he was dying.  He knew he was going to heaven.

Some days he would want to hold your hand and tell you that he loved you over and over.  Other days, tears would roll down his face.  At times, he would look up to the corner of the room with a far-off look.  He was seeing a place he had only read and heard about.  Heaven.  He would sometimes see people.  Others who had gone before him.  He would call them by name.

He had said he was waiting for my  mom.  He never wanted her to be alone.  He waited for her.  In those final three months of his life, he portrayed a sacrificial love for the woman he had pledged his life to 60 years earlier.  He kept his vow.  Till death us do part.

His heart was weak.  His body was frail.  His voice was soft.

His love was strong.  His faith was sure.  His eternity was secure.

During his final days, he would reach with outstretched hand to heaven.  Trying to touch it.  Wanting to enter those pearly gates.  As the end drew near, he would lie there with his eyes closed.  No longer speaking.  Not in this world.  Not in the next.  Hovering between two worlds with a smile on his face.  He was seeing heaven.

He had made peace with his life.  He had waited for his beloved to go before him.  He was ready to meet his Maker.

His last words.  So close.  So close.