Good vs. Saved

“Good people don’t go to heaven, saved people do.” Skip Heitzig

Billions of people on earth are busy doing good works in order to get to heaven. They are doing things such as fasting, following religious traditions, giving alms, feeding the poor, going to church, etcetera. They are trying their hardest to be good enough so that when they die, they can go to heaven.

The problem with this approach is how do you know when you have done enough to get in? Do you think that God puts all of our good works on one side of the Celestial Scale and our bad deeds on the other side and then if the good ones outweigh the bad, we are admitted into heaven?

The problem with this kind of thinking is that our good works are not quantifiable. How much do we have to give in order to have really done a good work? Does showing up for church or at the local temple qualify as a good work? Do we get credit for being nice to our family or those who love us? Who’s keeping score and when do we know when we have done enough?

I spoke to a person a while back and we were talking about good works. He certainly had given more to the needy than most people and I’m sure he hoped that would count for something when he stands before the Lord. He was raised in church but somehow had forgotten about Jesus. So, I asked him, “If we can get to heaven by doing good works, why did Jesus have to come to earth to die for our sins?” He didn’t have an answer to that.

The answer to that question, is by way of inference, that of course we can’t get to heaven by our own good works. That is exactly why Jesus had to come to earth because none of us is good enough or can do enough good works to get into heaven. Someone had to pay the price for our sins in order to secure our way into heaven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3: 16-17

Are you trying as hard as you can to be good enough for God? Are you doing good work after good work in order to be accepted by Him? Why don’t you take a step back and take a good hard look at Jesus. Can you see that He is the only One that can get you where you want to be when you die? Let me know if this is a new thought for you.

The Eyes of Faith

Have you ever been praying for someone and you only see them as they are? Maybe they are making a bunch of mistakes. Perhaps they are sabotaging themselves at every turn. Their behavior has made you think of them and react towards them in a certain way. We seem to be locked into seeing them in a negative light and we treat them accordingly.

Perhaps we need to take some time and think about how the Lord would like their lives to be. What would that look like? If we can come up with a positive picture of them in our minds, then perhaps we can pray for them that way. We would be seeing them with the Eyes of Faith. Faith that when God intervenes in their lives, their lives will look much different.

The amazing thing about this is that when we can do that, we begin to treat them differently. We begin to treat them with more respect and we are not so negative towards them. We speak to them about the possibilities in their lives and try to help them see a different future for themselves.

When they can see themselves in a different light, it helps to dispel their negative self-image and sometimes they can believe in themselves again. People who are caught in a negative cycle of behavior have lost hope for themselves and their actions may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Is there someone you need to begin to look at with the Eyes of Faith? I know there is in my sphere. Remember the Scriptures say, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1 Let’s hope for the best and see those caught in a negative spiral with the Eyes of Faith. It just may help change their world.

Image by Daniel Hannah. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Flip the Script

The other evening, I couldn’t sleep. I began to pray for a member of our family that keeps making mistakes over and over. As I prayed for him, I talked with the Lord about the things he kept doing. Eventually, about 1:00 A.M., I fell asleep. The next morning, when I woke up I was discouraged and didn’t know why. I thought about it and realized that I had been focusing on the mistakes this person kept making. I could see I needed to flip the script.

I then remembered Ruby, a friend of mine, who would say, “Don’t pray the problem!” I looked back at the evening before and that’s pretty much all I had been doing. So what should I do instead? I prayed about it. The first thing I needed to do was to get my eyes off the person and his problems and place them on the Lord.

I spent that day focusing on the greatness of God and his ability to answer my prayers. After all, He created the universe. He keeps the stars fixed in the heavens and the planets spinning in alignment. Surely, He has the ability to help solve the problems that concern me. Psalm 113: 4-6 says, “The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” Clearly, our God has the power to answer our prayers.

That evening after thinking about the greatness of God, I felt the Lord nudging me to be thankful for the things He had done for me. He reminded me of the time when I could have accidentally killed my brother. He was not even injured after the incident. My entire life would have been ruined had I hurt my brother, but God in His mercy, prevented that from happening. He also reminded me of the times He protected me during the years when I was not living for Him. Psalm 118: 1-2 says: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Surely, I could see how God had been merciful to me and that He would be merciful to my relative.

The last thing I was reminded of is to be careful where I put my faith and focus. The Lord instructs us in His word to believe that He can and will answer our prayers. The disciples had been trying to cast out a demon and they were unable to. Jesus showed up on the scene and cast it out. The disciples wanted to know why they had failed. In Matthew 17: 20 Jesus answered, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Again, even though this problem seemed impossible to solve, the Lord was reminding me that nothing is impossible for Him.

So the next time you become discouraged in prayer, flip the script and remember Ruby and her advice, “Don’t pray the problem!” Place your focus on the Lord, His greatness, His mercy, be thankful and have a little faith in Him. He can do anything!

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.

Intentional

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were watching a historical movie about WWII. The movie was going great and then Bam! Someone threw in a vulgar expletive. A while later, in an especially relevant part of the movie, the beginning of a sex scene between two men was flashed on the screen. When the movie ended, I asked my husband, “Why do they have to put that stuff in? After all, it is not relevant to the story.

I then remember listening to David Heavener about a month ago. He is an actor, writer and director who has been in Hollywood for over twenty years. He talked about how the writers are intentional about what they put into the scripts. There is nothing that they put in that is not purposeful to their aims. If they want to promote an agenda, you will find it in the script somewhere.

So then, I began thinking about many of the problems we are facing in our society today…how many of them are intentional?

The Border Crisis…Intentional.

High Gasoline Prices…Intentional.

Sexualization of our Children in Schools…Intentional.

Criminals Released on our Streets…Intentional.

Chaos in our Cities…Intentional

The list continues. One thing I don’t think is intentional is the high inflation that our government’s policies have caused. Let us not be naive as we wonder why so many things are happening in our society. The causes and subsequent effects of so many of the policies are intentional. You have to ask yourself why and behind the smoke and mirrors, you will find the answers.

Image by Intographics. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Apophis

A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading “The Wormwood Prophecy” by Dr. Thomas Horn. In the book, he talks about the asteroid Apophis that is heading towards earth and will make a very near flyby on April 13, 2029. NASAs website says that it will be so close to the earth that it will “put some of our orbiting satellites in peril” and even be visible in the daytime sky.

Dr. Horn began investigating this asteroid in 2019 and his book is filled with interesting quotes from several scientists that believe that Apophis could possibly strike the earth with a potential risk to life on our planet. The asteroid is 370 meters across and weighs an estimated twenty million metric tons. It is traveling at 28,000 miles per hour and Dr. Horn states that it has “a mind-bending mass and potential inertia velocity encounter that most people cannot begin to fathom.”

Some scientists (including some that work at NASA) are of the mind that NASA is not telling the entire truth about this asteroid. Some are also concerned that their calculations are not accurate as they are not using the correct numerical quotient for pi. Unless the asteroid gets knocked out of its trajectory as it passes through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Apophis most certainly could constitute a significant risk to life on the earth.

Why am I sharing this information with you? I believe that it is important to be aware of and to do your own research. Dr. Horn believes that Apophis could possibly be the biblical asteroid Wormwood that strikes the earth and destroys one-third of the living creatures in the sea (Revelation 8:8). You can look up information about it on the NASA website and find what other scientists are saying about it on the internet. If you don’t want to do your own research then I would certainly recommend the book which has been thoroughly researched and annotated.

Just a cursory glance at the news informs us that we are living in interesting times. Many, myself included, believe we are living at the end of the age. We all have decisions to make about our lives and how we are living them. I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know what possibly may be coming upon the earth in 2029.

The Foolish Things

Last weekend I was looking through Facebook and noticed a man I had gone to school with had posted a sermon he was giving that Sunday. I listened to it for a while and I was amazed at what the Lord had done in his life. He was one of those kids who was a cut-up in school. You could always count on him to do or say something funny. If only the people who had gone to school with him could see him now.

Then, I thought about myself. There was definitely a time in my late teens when I went down a wrong road. I’m sure that anyone looking at me then would not believe that I would be a committed Christian now. I am amazed at what the Lord has done with my life also.

Why would God do this for those of us who are so unworthy of His love and forgiveness? Because that is the way He works. Scripture says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise,” 1 Cor. 1:27 I mean really, what kind of a God would choose people who totally do not deserve the restoration He gives? Because simply, that is the way He gets the glory for what He does. The Scripture goes on to say, “and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Cor. 27-29

I know so many of you do not feel worthy of coming to God. You feel you have gone too far, sinned too much and made a complete wreck of your life. You wonder why would God want you? Because God works in ways that are just opposite of how the world works. He DOES see the value in you and knows that He can take you just the way you are and change your life in a way that no one would believe. And like the Scripture says, He will get the glory for what He does.

For those of you who are struggling right now, come to Him. He is waiting to take your life and make it into something beautiful. Just call out to Him and you will be amazed at what He will do with your life. How do I know? Because I see what He has done in mine.

Photo by Tanya Patxot. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Zoonosis

Recently, I have been asked by a couple of people what plague or disease I thought was coming next. People are understandably concerned after having dealt with Covid over the past two years. The women I have spoken to thought possibly Ebola would be the next pandemic we would experience. After watching outbreaks of Ebola over the last several years, I wouldn’t think so. Ebola does seem to be controlled with proper sanitation, hospital stays and isolation. One must have close contact with a person with Ebola to get it.

Covid, Ebola, Monkey Pox, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu are all examples of zoonosis. Zoonosis is “a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals,” Oxford Dictionary. The worst epidemics in history have been caused by a vector (flea or mosquito) transmitting the disease from a host to a human. One only has to think of the Bubonic Plague that killed millions during the Middle Ages as an example of zoonosis.

I do think that what people are most concerned about are the viruses that exist in labs today. Is gain of function research being done on them? Are some of them being genetically engineered to cause them to be transmitted in an aerosol form? Are some of them being developed as bioweapons by governments of the world? According to the UN, “Historical biological weapons programmes have included efforts to produce: aflatoxin; anthrax; botulinum toxin; foot and mouth disease; glanders; plague; Q fever; rice blast; ricin; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; smallpox; and tularemia, among others.”

I do think if we knew what was going on in labs in other countries that we would be quite concerned as my friends are. Other countries do not have the constraints our labs do and the laws governing them are different. There is always a chance of an accidental leak or in the case of war, deployment of a bioweapon could be unleashed.

Scripture does tell us that in the last days we will experience plagues and Revelation does mention that many will be killed by the wild beasts of the earth. The word used is “therion” which in the Greek is the diminutive of “theria,” a word used to denote a wild animal or beast. Sharon Gilbert believes that this word might have to do with the bacteria or viruses that come from the beasts of the earth.

No matter what is coming down the pike in the future, we know we cannot depend on man, science or our government to save us. Surely they will try to use whatever is available to them as far as medicine or vaccines to help the population but modern medicine can only go so far, especially if some virus has been genetically altered in a lab. If nothing else, Covid has taught the world that man is indeed susceptible to zoonotic viruses and that it will take a while for pharmacological help to reach the general population.

What’s next? I have no idea. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I believe we each only get today (that’s why it is called “the present”). We are not guaranteed another one. Rather than live in fear we can trust our lives to the Lord and leave our future in His hands. I rely on the words of Psalms 23 and 91 in order to find peace in an insecure world. We are, after all, finite and we need Someone greater than us to provide the protection we need from seen or unseen forces.

Image by Kalhn, Courtesy of Pixabay.

Uncontrolled

Such great thoughts on the importance of Fathers!

Quo Vadis Blog

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Nuke LaLooch (played by Tim Robbins) in Ron Shelton’s screenplay for “Bull Durham”

Snowy Owl at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge Lee Kensinger Snowy owl at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota by Lee Kensinger.

Kim Crocker, a volunteer at the Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge near us, reported a tale that reminded me of the rule of fang and claw, talon, and blood. After an absence last year of any overwintering snowy owl at the refuge, this year we have two visitors, neither of them yet fully mature, but hardy enough to make the trek from the tundra. Snowy owls can live nine years in the wild and up to twenty-eight in captivity. Fully grown, they have a wingspan of close to five feet: beautiful, formidable hunters, and relentless predators.[i]

Mr. Crocker told me the ranger observed a Cooper’s hawk make a quick kill, probably a vole or field…

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Skandalon

In my last post, I talked about mass shooters and how hate affects their hearts. Once hate has infected their hearts, they can more easily be prone to commit violence. But there is another aspect to the contagion of mass shootings, a spiritual aspect that very few people mention. That is the aspect of demonic influence.

Most people believe in the existence of angels. They view them as guardians who are here to protect humans. I too believe in the existence of angels and that there are many whose purpose is to help protect humans on earth. But there is another aspect to the angelic realm. That of demons, i.e. those angels that rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven millennia ago. Their purpose is more sinister; they desire to help destroy humanity.

Scripture tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 You see, the devil and his minions are just looking for an opportunity to do us harm. There is a word in the Greek New Testament, skandalon, from where we get the word scandal. It means “a trap, or snare, a stumbling block or a person or thing by which one is entrapped or drawn into error or sin.” BLB Lexicon.

The devil and his demons set traps for us to fall into; traps that can destroy our lives and the lives of many of the people around us. One of the best examples in Scripture is of King David. He was walking on his roof at night, looked out and saw Bathsheba taking a bath. Although she was a married woman, he decided then and there that he must have her. He had her brought to him, slept with her and eventually had her husband killed. The trap was set for him, the skandalon, and he suffered the consequences for the rest of his natural life.

There is a spiritual war going on and it is a war for the souls of men. One doesn’t need to be a mass shooter in order to be influenced to commit evil. Any one of us can fall into a trap set before us if we are not walking circumspectly. Can you think of a time in your life when you were tempted to make a really bad decision? One that would not only hurt you but possibly your children for years to come? I know I can and it is only the grace of God that allowed me to turn away from the trap that was in my path.

We are living in perilous times and it would do us well to be on the lookout for the skandalon that have been set for us. Sometimes the traps are camouflaged and we must look carefully for them and other times they are right in front of us. We must ask God for His protection as we go about our daily lives so we do not fall into the skandalon that are waiting to do us harm.

photo courtesy of Pixabay

A Matter of the Heart

Like most Americans, I was shocked and grieved at the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The politicians (at long last) seem serious about helping solve the problem of gun violence in our schools. They are considering stricter gun and red flag laws, longer wait times for purchasing a gun and deeper background checks. All of these sound good but they are strictly defensive solutions to the problem.

You see, the real problem in all of these shootings is a heart problem. The shooter’s heart is filled with hate and self-loathing and he is going to take as many people with him in his desire to end his own life. Every other component in these situations is external to the shooter except for his own heart problem and mental instability. I would bet that every shooter suffers from some form of mental illness but with many of these shooters the problem lies deeper within them. It is about their heart.

Scripture states that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 If all a person thinks about is their hatred of others then that person becomes by definition a hate-filled person. Sooner or later, that hatred will surface. It will surface in ways that may seem non-violent, i.e. hateful words or it may surface in ways that will hurt others physically. Every weekend we watch as this hatred takes the lives of innocent people in our cities. We need to call it what it is: evil in its purest form.

Murder is evil and mass murder is evil unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Why are so many of our young men committing these crimes? It’s simple, their hearts are filled with hatred, a form of evil. As society works on stopping these crimes, we must work together to change the environment this hatred grows in.

Each of us has a level of influence in our society. Are we contributing to a hate-filled atmosphere? Do we view others who do look like us or do not agree with us politically as our enemy and do we hate them in our hearts? Do we listen to news shows that just stoke the hatred? If so, we need to stop. We can begin with ourselves and be determined to not contribute to the problem. We must truly learn to love our neighbors as ourselves if we want to change the atmosphere in this country. And it must not matter if our neighbor is not racially, ethnically or politically in line with us, we must learn to love others. If we do learn to love them that love will spread and the atmosphere in our cities will change.