Farewell Patricia

“OVER AND OUT”

My dear friend, Patricia, found out she had inoperable cancer about three weeks ago. She put it on Facebook so that her friends and family knew. Her hubby asked people to come for short visits as they had put her on hospice.

A friend and I went a few days later. She was upbeat and wanted to share some things about her life with us. There were no tears from either side, hers or ours. Instead, there was a peaceful acceptance as we prayed together for the last time.

People came that first week and then she had difficulty talking as her lungs continued to fill with fluid. She posted short notes on Facebook and then a few days later turned off her phone. She continued to post on Fb and then about ten days ago came her final post. Her last words to us were “Over and Out.”

I can’t tell you how that post comforted me. She knew she was passing into the arms of Jesus and was ready to go. It took about ten days until she finally took her last breath. The woman lived a life of love and in the end she went fearlessly into the next life. Farewell, Patricia. I will miss you but you will always be a shining example to me.

Photo by Gerd Altman. Courtesy of Pixabay.

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.

Reductive

Have you ever used the word reductive? Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines it as, “of, relating to, causing or involving reduction.” When you use it in a non-scientific sentence, you are talking about reducing something or someone. I have been thinking about that term in relationship to Jesus.

You see, Jesus claimed to be many things. The most astounding claim He made was that He was in fact, God’s Son, and one with the Father in essence. His words, not mine, “I and My Father are one.” John 10:30 The one cardinal doctrine in mainline Christianity is that Jesus, God’s Son, is in fact, also God.

Any other characterization of Jesus is reductive. Some claim He was a prophet. Some believe He was the finest man who ever lived. Several offshoots of Christianity believe Jesus was an angel. Some Eastern religions believe He was an Avatar, a special being who came to earth to enlighten mankind. None of these definitions are inherently bad, they are just reductive. They reduce Jesus to something less than He claimed to be.

When deciding who Jesus is, we must take His claims seriously. He is either who He claimed to be or He is a liar. There is really no other choice. If you have decided that Jesus is something less than He claimed to be, then please, read the Gospels and make an informed decision. Is He the Son of God, i.e. one in essence with the Father, or not? Any other opinion about who He really was is reductive.

Image by Jeff Jacobs. Courtesy of Pixabay

The Last Call

Have you ever taken a train trip before? When you are in the station, you wait for your train to be called so that you can board. After it has been announced a few times, then you hear, “Last call for Train #35 going to Torino.” That last call means that if you are in the station, you have a very short time to get on board before the train leaves. There will be no other notice that the train is leaving. You will hear the air brakes release and then the wheels begin to roll. If you are not on board, it leaves without you.

I look around at our world today and I believe we are hearing “The Last Call.” Everywhere I look there is violence, war, pestilence, plagues (including Covid), and disintegration of societies. I do not see our world moving in a positive direction. I cannot imagine that man, after all he has done to mess up this world, is going to make it a better place. Those that believe that man is capable of creating “an ideal society” are sorely disillusioned. Believe me, if man could have done it, it would have happened a long time ago.

Jesus talked about a time like this on the earth. He said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” Luke 21: 10-11.

Surely, anyone who is listening and looking around can hear the announcement: “We are nearing the end of the age as we know it. It is time to answer the call. Jesus is coming soon for his people. Turn to Him before it is too late.”

Have you heard the call? Are you just waiting for another and then another announcement, unaware that soon there will be no more and it will be too late to get on board? I hope not because surely what comes next is not going to be pleasant and no one wants to be around for the final act.

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say ‘peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 2-3

Please, I beg you, answer the call before it is too late!

Where the Bodies Are Buried

Have you ever started a new job and the person taking you around said, “Let me show you where all the bodies are buried.”? You know that what they mean is, “Here’s where the dead files are” or “Here is where the office secrets are kept.” In the case of the lab where I worked in my early twenties, there really was a place where the bodies were (down the hall and to the right).

When you travel to various cities, they also have places where the bodies are buried. Some have beautiful cemeteries and others have famous catacombs such as Rome and Paris. Those places can be quite eerie to walk through but that is literally where the bodies are buried.

When it comes to matters of religion, many religions can point to where the body of their leader is buried. Other sects that began in the distant past can only imagine where the body of their founder may be.

But for Christians, we cannot show you a place where the body of Jesus is buried. You see, He is not laying in any grave on this earth. He died and three days later he arose from the dead. This is a documented historical fact. When the women came to take care of his body after he had died, an angel said, “He is not here, He is risen.”

We can, however, show you where the bodies of certain saints are buried and where we believe others have been interred, but The Body…No. So the next time someone says to you, “Let me show you where the bodies are buried,” remember Jesus, the One Person who cannot be found in a grave and take hope.

Image by Pete Linforth. Courtesy of Pixabay.

No Substitutes

Have you ever made a recipe and it said, “No substitutes?” Then you know that you have to have the real “thing” or ingredient to make the dish come out right. It’s that way with life, there really are “no substitutes” for having Jesus in your life.

Recently, I have been going through a difficult experience. If it wasn’t for the Lord, I don’t think I would have made it through. What about you? Are you going through a difficult experience? What are you relying on to make it through…drugs, alcohol, or something else to help you cope? If so, why not give Jesus a try? Just call out to Him and He will be there to help you!

He is The Good Shepherd – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.John 10:11

What more can you ask for? God Incarnate became a man who came to earth to lay down his life for all of us. He will always be there to provide for you, to lead and guide you, to heal and help you and to see you safely home.

In whatever situation you are going through, there is Someone who is waiting to walk through it with you; to help you in a way that no other person can. He will be with you every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

HE is there beside you, waiting to be asked into your difficult situation so that HE can be your provision. Why not give HIM a try? There really are no other substitutes for HIM and the help HE can give you!

Image by Jeff Jacobs. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Christmas Gift

The first Christmas I spent with my Dad and second Mom, she greeted me with “Christmas Gift.” It was a tradition in her family that this was the first greeting you gave a person on Christmas morning. I didn’t know what to think of it at first, but after spending a few moments thinking about the greeting; yes, I got it.

Jesus is and was the Christmas Gift. He is the one we celebrate today. What a Gift He is to the world and what wonderful gifts He brought with Him. Gifts like Peace, Love, Joy, Forgiveness, Eternal Life, Healing, Restoration and Renewal. 

And just like two thousand years ago, we need Him as much or more than the people of His generation. Our world is just as lost and broken as it was then. Thinking about how He came as a baby in a manger touches my heart. Even then, He came in a way that anyone could relate to. He broke societal barriers then and He is still breaking them today.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or where you have come from: He is your Gift. All you have to do is reach out for Him. He is there waiting for you to ask Him into your heart and make you a new person. 

He is truly the “Christmas Gift.”

“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.” John 3: 16

Image by Cheryl Holt. Courtesy of Pixabay

Angels Announced His Birth

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“For unto us a child is born,

unto us a son is given,

and the government shall be upon his shoulder;

and his name shall be called Wonderful,

Counselor,

The Mighty God,

The Everlasting Father,

The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,

and to establish it with justice and with righteousness

from henceforth even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

 

Lord Jesus, as we reflect on Your First Advent, we await Your Second Advent when You shall truly bring peace to the earth and the restoration of all things. Amen

 

BLESSINGS OF THE SEASON TO ALL!!!

 

Image by Thomas B. Courtesy of Pixabay.

He is Risen!

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“And Behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became as dead men. 

But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen.”  Matthew 28:  2-6