What I wish I’d said to Ruthie…

ruthLast October I received a terrible call from my uncle.  He told me that my cousin, Ruth, had been murdered. I can’t even express the shock I felt.  Time is suspended in moments like that; one tick of the clock takes a year, and you feel like you’re almost watching a movie of yourself experiencing this. But the shock, in my case, was quickly followed by a nauseating wave of regret.

To give you some background, my parents got divorced when I was young, and my ties with my dad’s side of the family had been pretty much cut.  So I hadn’t had any relationship with Ruth, or my other cousins, for something like 30 years.  But about a year-and-a-half previous to the day I received that call, Ruth and I had gotten back in touch, mostly through Facebook.  We exchanged pictures of our kids, shared funny internet memes, and occasionally told each other about things going on in our lives.

However, to my deep regret, I do not believe I ever directly shared the gospel message with her.  It is not that I didn’t want to share with her, it’s just that I was waiting for the “right time.” I told myself that I didn’t want to scare her away or make her think I was a religious fanatic.  But as I held the phone to my ear that day, I realized I had used up all my chances.  The “right time” never came.  All the time had run out.

So, I now want to share with you, what I wish I had shared with Ruthie.  If I could go back in time–Oh!  How many times we wish that in our lives!  But, if I could go back in time, this is what I would have wanted to share with her.

There is a terrible, and deadly, misconception that nice people who believe in God go to Heaven.  However, if that were true, then why would Jesus have needed to come and die on a cross?  Weren’t there nice people who believed in God before Jesus died?  Of course there were.  That would mean there would be no need for Jesus to do such a thing… therefore this is obviously not true at all.

Another misconception is that God’s eternal justice works like a set of balancing scales.  Our bad deeds go on one side and our good deeds go on the other.  On the day we die, if our good outweighs our bad, we will go to Heaven.  This sounds reasonable until you think about it in a court of law.

Let’s say you ran a red light, and you’re standing before the judge.  Would you say to him, “Your Honor, since I started driving I’ve stopped at literally thousands of red lights!  I really don’t think I could have run more than 8 to 10 red lights in my entire life!  Doesn’t that tilt the scale in my favor?  I’ve obeyed the law much more often than I’ve broken it!”  Believe me, doing “good” more frequently than “bad” is just not going to work as a defense.  And the truth is that when you and I stand before God’s judgment seat, the Bible tells us, that just like in a court of law, He will judge us against the standard of His Holy Laws.

Have you ever measured yourself against God’s Ten Commandments?  It’s honestly not very pleasant. Ask yourself how many lies you think you’ve told in your life. Remember back to think of the times (even when you were young) when you might have taken something that didn’t belong to you.  Try to add up in your mind the number of times you’ve carelessly used the name “God” or “Jesus” as a curse? (Such as “G—d Damn!” or “Oh my G—d!” or “Je—s Ch—st!” All those are examples of blasphemy.)  And this is the one that gets every one of us… Jesus said that if you’ve ever even looked at someone with lust that you’ve committed adultery in your heart, (Matthew 5:27-28).  …And we’ve only looked at four of the TEN Commandments!

Measured against God’s perfect Law, we ALL come up short.  As lawbreakers we stand before God as liars, thieves, blasphemers, and adulterers-at-heart.  In fact, the Bible goes even farther to say that if you’ve ever felt hatred in your heart, God counts it on your record as murder! (“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” 1 John 3:15)  As hard as it is to grasp, God sees our hearts as they really are, “desperately wicked,” (Jeremiah 17:9).

This is why Jesus came and died on the cross.  Because people like us—breakers of God’s Holy Laws, deserving eternal Hell—had no way to save ourselves.  We could never do enough good works to make up for our sins.  We could never go to church enough, do acts of mercy enough, get baptized often enough, take communion enough… etc.  Never.  In fact, God says all the things we think of as our “righteous acts” amount to nothing but a pile of “filthy rags,” (Isaiah 64:6).

The only solution is that God Himself, the third person of the trinity, Jesus Christ, would suffer the punishment in our place. It is as if the Judge was about to bring the gavel down on our trial, but before doing so, He took off his robe and stepped around to our side, and paid our fine in His life’s blood.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — no one can be saved by doing good works, this is so that no one can boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Anyone who will repent (feel sorrow for, and turn away from sin) and place their trust (faith) entirely in the finished work of Jesus on that cross, will have all their sins forgiven EXCLUSIVELY THOUGH THE MERIT OF CHRIST and will be re-born spiritually as one of God’s children.  This video on YouTube explains it so much more thoroughly than I can.  It’s only ten minutes, please watch it.

My cousin’s death renewed in me an awareness that I had first received as a teenager when I watched my little brother die… an awareness that all human beings are headed toward death.  This life is almost an illusion compared to the eternal state that stretches out before us beyond our death.  And there is nothing more important than where you will spend eternity.

The Bible tells us that, “It is appointed unto all men that they die once and then face God’s judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27).  In other words, the Bible teaches that there is no second chance after death.  The moment you close your eyes in death, you will stand before God’s judgment seat.

Every breath you breathe is a gift from God: a gift of time to change your mind, a gift of time to repent.  My prayer is that you will turn to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith so that you can take receive the free gift of everlasting life that He offers you.


How to Write a “Christian” Bestseller

Counting down the top five ways to make sure your book is a “Christian” bestseller.

5.  Write about your trip to Heaven.
Note:  Bonus “cutie” points for having your blonde-haired rosy-cheeked little kid take the trip instead of you.  This is almost fool-proof.  Seriously.  Who is going to dare to stand side-by-side with a darling little boy and even insinuate that this might not be true??!

4. Write about your trip to Hell.
Note:  No bonus “cutie” points for sending your kid, instead of you, on this one.

3. Put the words “Purpose Driven” in the title.
Note: It doesn’t really matter what the book is about… these words are gold!

2. Give operating instructions on the vending-machine God, detailing the proper incantations in order to receive health, wealth and happiness.
Note: Bonus points for blaming “lack of faith” for any spells that don’t work.  The ensuing self-imposed guilt feelings will probably also reduce your risk of lawsuit.

1. Completely re-define the nature of God, and salvation, and Heaven and Hell; but do it in a work of fiction so that no one can say you are poisoning the minds of unsuspecting Christians with false doctrine.  
Note: For bonus cross-cultural and femaninst points, make sure you portray God as a black woman.

Follow these and you’ll quickly be on your way to a successful “Christian” writing career!

Sinkhole to Hell

2010 giant sinkhole in Guatemala City

You’ve got to see this giant sinkhole in Guatemala City caused by tropical storm Agatha! This 30 story deep hole swallowed nearly an entire city block in 2010. Can you imagine the horror??? One minute you’re drinking a cup of coffee, chatting with a friend… and the next split second the entire world drops out from under you! Nearly 120 people died in that tropical storm.

If death comes for you today will you enter the everlasting wrath of Almighty God for your many sins against Him? Or will you be miraculously transported to eternal paradise because you turned from your sins (repentance) and begged that the perfect blood of Jesus cover you (faith)? There is no in between place — neither the word nor the concept of purgatory can be found anywhere in the pages of the bible — you will be in Heaven or Hell.

I have several people that I love that I continually worry about. If death visits them tonight — sealing their choice forever — they will be in Hell. Each one thinks they have time… time to turn, time to change, time to turn over a new leaf. But the only time any of us have is this one moment–this one breath. Death looms ready to snatch you instantly, anywhere, at any age, and at any health level.

We’ve seen thousands of people go to work one morning, and be blown to bits by Muslims hijacking jets. A tsunami out of nowhere kills hundreds of thousands, a bridge collapses taking commuters to a watery grave, people go to see a movie and never come home again. Little children, and teachers, innocently going through another bland work day are instantly standing before God. Do you think that as they brushed their teeth that morning they had any idea that is where they would be standing that night?

Do you really think you have forever to turn to God in repentance? They didn’t.

Come to your senses! Forsake your sin! Throw it away! Destroy it! Hate it! Because your love of sin (particularly sexual sin) will drag you all the way to Hell –you must repent. Your sin, no matter how pleasurable, is not worth it. Listen to Jesus, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it far from you! For it would be better to go to Heaven missing a limb, than to have two good hands and be thrown into the fire of eternal torment where the worm doesn’t die and the flame is not quenched!” (Mark 9:43-44)

Wake up. Please. It is a horror to know where you are heading and not be able to make you understand! It’s like being forced to watch someone you love eat spoonful after spoonful of poison. You try desperately to warn them and they keep insisting “But it’s so good!” Or, “I know, I know… I’m planning on stopping.”

“Today” the bible says “is the day of salvation.” The reason it says that is that you don’t own tomorrow… you don’t even rent it. You only have this moment in time to turn from your love of your sin to the mercy and forgiveness offered in Jesus.

Salvation is a limited time offer.

Do you need to hear this?

A “New Year” thought from Charles Spurgeon:

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” –Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone–your summer and your harvest have past–and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you–will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you–the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection–what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.



Man Destroys Himself

Hey… I know it’s not near Halloween, but are you ready to see some actual HORROR?  I saw some tonight.  Quite by accident.  My husband was flipping through this picture line-up on CBN News showing the devastating effects of Methamphetamine.  The after pictures of these poor people who have destroyed themselves on this drug look like something out of a low budget haunted house.  Before, they appear sane, normal, and some even pretty.  After?  They are slack-jawed, covered with pus oozing sores, and suffering from paranoia and hallucinations.

Before and After Photos of Meth Users - Credit: Rehabs.com

The first thing I thought of, when I saw these pictures, was a book I read some years ago, which actually became one of my all time favorites.  It’s called The Oath.  The spine of the story is a small mining town that sells itself to the devil, so-to-speak.  It sounds like something you’ve heard a hundred times, but this telling had a disgusting twist: when time came for individuals to cash in with the devil, a wound would appear directly over their heart.  It would turn from burning red to black and soft, and begin to ooze a mucous-like, foul smelling, black fluid… right out of that person’s heart.  The funny thing is, that the more advanced the person’s condition was, the less they noticed it.  So that near the very end… just before the demon would devour them, they would be covered in this slick, black, filth — though completely oblivious to it — as it nearly gushed out of their chests.

That paints such an accurate picture of sin, doesn’t it?  Often the one in the throws of the deadly addiction, who is literally killing themselves, is almost completely blind to it.

It just so happens that with Meth addiction, the evidence of sin is painted all over the person’s face, but most other sins don’t leave this kind of visual evidence behind.  They build up inside the soul more like The Picture of Dorian Gray.

People enslaved to pornography, for example, often look just fine on the outside.  They can smile on command, no problem.  But their soul is rotting away inside as they give piece after piece of themselves away in a miserable quest for something they will never find.  It eludes them like a vapor. What they need so desperately evades them like an endless game of hide and seek.  Only late at night, when the pleasure of the sin is over for the moment, when the shame creeps in (if they are even still able to feel shame) — only in these quiet, alone, late night moments can they hear a small, muffled voice screaming, “I am creating my own Hell on earth!”

We both have a condition, you know.  We were both born with a terminal disease — sin.  The Bible tells us that the penalty for sin is death.  We were born spiritually dead, and however many years you live on this earth, you live them running, blindfolded, at break-neck speed toward the cliff of your own physical death.  Ten out of ten die, and you won’t be the exception to that.  The Bible tells us that it’s appointed by God that every human being will die once, and then face God’s Judgment.  And believe me, that is one court date you don’t want to arrive to unprepared… that would be Hell.  Literally.

My pastor says, “Sin always takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.”  Every person in those pictures above is a living testimony as to the truthfulness of that statement.  Don’t end up — spiritually — like one of them.  Go to NeedGod.com, and settle your spiritual destiny tonight.

Cartoon God?

Do you have a “cartoon-ish” image of God in your mind? Perhaps you think that if God is good he would prove it by never letting anything bad happen… or perhaps you think God IS good, but he does not have the power to stop evil. Or maybe you think that these kinds of things prove that God does not exist at all.

The far more frightening truth is that God does indeed exist, He is supremely powerful and burning with holiness. He could, should He wish, stop every bad thing from happening. And here’s where it gets really scary… He doesn’t. God is not a nice grandfather in the sky, looking down in gooey “Hello Kitty” style “love,” showering humanity with lolly pops and rainbows.

God is actually angry. I know this is not the popular image of God, but it is the Biblical image. God’s creation has rebelled against his Holy Laws, shook it’s collective fist at Him and spit in His face. He is filled with holy wrath against mankind.

“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up WRATH for yourself on the day of WRATH when Gods’s righteous JUDGMENT will be revealed.” ~ Romans 2:5

“But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve JUDGMENT.” ~ 2 Peter 3:10

And before you imagine that Jesus is not a part of this anger that is burning in the heart of God, read the description of His coming. When Christians look forward to Jesus coming again, it is not a sort of glowy Jesus that will float down among the clouds, smiling at everyone.

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting VENGEANCE on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal DESTRUCTION, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

You and I, and all the rest of humanity, have been born into a war zone. The following verse tells us that God has pronounced a curse on this entire planet as the beginning rumblings of His coming judgment.

“The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
THEREFORE a CURSE consumes the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;”~ Isaiah 24:5-6 

 So, if this is a genuine picture of the God of the universe, then why do people go around all moony-eyed crooning, “God is love love love… He’s just nothing but love!” Well, mostly because they have bought into a cultural cartoon of God that is far removed from the accurate Biblical picture. This “cartoon” of God has become so far reaching that many who call themselves followers of Jesus have thrown aside the idea of Hell completely–not because it’s not clearly spelled out in the Bible–but because it doesn’t fit with this false god they’ve created in the theater of their own minds.

But there is another reason Christians speak of the love of God. God’s kindness to vile humanity is proved in his graciously making a way for *some* to escape his coming wrath. He sent his son, Jesus, fully God and fully man, to suffer the wrath in place of anyone who will repent and place their trust in Him. That is His “love” expressed toward humanity.

“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” ~ 1 Peter 3:18a

 He stands poised to bring the hammer of his wrath crashing down, and He is fully justified in pouring it out on us, and yet, in undeserved kindness, he reaches out his other hand to rescue anyone who will humble himself before God, admit his own sin and turn from it, and beg God for the blood of Christ Jesus to cover their sins. All who would dare to spurn the offer of the precious blood of Jesus will suffer an even greater measure of God’s justice.

“How much WORSE punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” ~ Hebrews 10:29

 You do not have any idea how many more days God has marked out for your life before you stand before him in judgment. Every one of your sins will come out as evidence against you. Nothing has been hidden from God’s omniscient eyes–every lie you’ve ever told, every time you’ve stolen something, every act of sexual immorality (even those that only took place in your mind — because Jesus said that if you even LOOK at someone with lust you’ve committed adultery in your heart), every time you blasphemed God or Jesus’ name — every single sin of your WHOLE life will stand there as evidence against you.

You have no hope of escaping Hell — God’s eternal prison for lawbreakers… no hope except Jesus.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

 “And there is salvation in NO ONE else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12