FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Ancestry

Though in its sixth season, I’ve only recently noticed advertisements for the American genealogy documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?  The show premiered in 2010 and follows a celebrity as he or she traces his or her family tree to understand where he or she came from.  While dropped by NBC after three seasons, the show was picked up by TLC and has become quite popular – so much so that there is even an accompanying book bearing the same title.  The book honors the exploding craze of tracing one’s ancestry and is designed to help viewers of the show research their own roots.

Genetics researcher, C.C. Moore, believes that within a few years we will see a type of universal family tree.  DNA analyses have become quite popular and can be used to confirm what previously was only suspected by some.  Writer, Maud Newton, suggests that we are all trying to “figure out who we are by looking at these people who are long dead,” and we are “trying to find out about ourselves.”   Indeed it must be fascinating to discover one’s connections to history.  Whether linked to medieval royalty like actress Valerie Bertinelli or to Oregon Trail pioneers like celebrity Kelsey Grammer, revelations about one’s roots surely have tremendous emotional impact.

Admittedly, I have my own interest in family history, especially it seems as I age and family members are dying.  I’ve thought of so many questions that I wish that I had asked my grandparents and great grandparents, and I wish that I knew more about who they were and where and how they and their parents lived.

On the Mount on Olives, Jesus told the crowd before Him that He knew where He came from but also where He was going (John 8:14).   While tracing ancestry and learning about where we came from is fun and exciting and can actually yield valuable information, we must not fail to give thought to where we are going.

It is not uncommon for us, as Christians, to experience doubt about our salvation.  When we consider Jesus then consider ourselves including our many weaknesses, shortcomings and failures, “our heart condemns us” (1 John 3:20)  God does not want us robbed of peace because of doubts.  He does not want us guessing whether we will spend eternal life with Him.  He wants us sure of our salvation.   He wants us confident in Him and in our relationship with Him and so He assures us in His Word.  John wrote, “These things I write unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life”  and “that our joy may be made full” (1 John 1:3-4, 5:13; Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:1-3).

Assurance of salvation rests on four pillars, all found in Scripture:

1.  God cannot lie.  In His Word God promises to save all who believe upon His Son.  (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21)

2.  On the cross Jesus bore all our sin, endured God’s wrath, paid the price and canceled our sin debt.  (John 19:28-30)

3.  Scripture says, “We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.”  Assurance comes through the inward witness of God’s Holy Spirit, the Keeper and Helper that He sent us.  (1 John 4:12-13; 3:24)

4.  All who have been born again are changed and clear evidence is seen in the new life that is lived.   (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 2:3)

There are other signs beyond these Scriptures even.  True love for others.  Spiritual fruit.  Broken and contrite heart.  Righteous behavior.  When we are saved, our hearts and lives are changed.

We may be unsure and even wrong about our ancestry and where we came from, but we can know where we are going.  Assurance of salvation is a gift from God to each of His children; He wrote it in His Word that we may be absolutely sure! (John 20:31)

THIS WEEK ask yourself if you have the assurance of your salvation.  Do you KNOW where you are going?  If you do not have assurance, visit the SALVATION tab at the top of this page.  Pray to receive Christ as your personal Savior and to have the peace and assurance within that eternal life is yours.  Study the lessons of the following Scriptures:  Romans 10:13, 8:16; John 6:37, 19:30; Isaiah 1:18; 1John 3:24, 4:13, 2:3.  Welcome the assurance of His indwelling Holy Spirit.


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In a Flash

Summer, one of my favorite seasons, is almost here!  Already it is hot enough to be summer; today the temperature climbed into the upper 80s, but that’s a good thing because I like to stretch summer out as long as possible.  When the hot days come early and linger well past the official end date on the calendar, I consider ALL those days SUMMER.  But even when I do that – milk out a few extra days or weeks, summer is still just too short.  Always, it seems, I am left wondering, “What happened?  Where did it go?  I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to!”  For example, last year, we never made it to the ocean.  Not even once.

This summer will be different, or so I have promised myself.  I am making plans – plans that include time at the ocean, time walking on the beach, time sailing, time fishing, time watching the dolphins, time eating freshly caught seafood and time hot air ballooning!  Yes, summer seems to come and go in a flash, but I have a plan to milk everything out of it that I can.

Life comes and goes in a flash, too!  Never thought I would say that.  Remember being a child and waiting for your birthday?  Or Christmas?  Or recess?  Or the last day of school?  Time drug.  Time crawled.  Time slept.  My mother used to tell me to just wait, though.  She said, “When you get older, time will fly.”  “Just get to be 30 years old,” she said, “and you will see the years coming in multiples of five, possibly ten.”  She was right.  You go to bed one night and you’re 29, but you wake up 40.  You roll over for another snooze, and you wake up 50.  After 50?  Well, I won’t depress you “young’uns,” and those of you who are over 50?  Well, you already know.

The funny thing, though, is that we make plans for summer, and for Christmas, and birthdays and even for recess – who we will play with, what games we will play, which boys we want to walk past, which girls we will talk to…   But are you making plans for the most important time?  Where you will spend eternity!  Are you planning to go to Heaven?  If you answer, “Yes,” what exactly is your plan?  If it isn’t relying on Christ alone, you need another plan.  Works, good looks and being nice aren’t enough.  John 6:44 (NIV) teaches that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day,”  and John 14:6 (NIV) makes it clear that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him.

Even our best laid plans for the beach may go awry.  Life happens.  Things come up.  Plans have to change.  But we can have every confidence in God and the plan that He has laid for our salvation.  Instead of trusting our goodness and crossing our fingers and hoping we go to Heaven, we can trust Jesus and His goodness because He alone is God’s way of salvation.  When we place absolute faith and trust in Him, turn from our sinful way and follow Him, we know that we will live with Him in Heaven.  And not just for a summer.  Forever!

Now while some Christians would disagree, as I read and understand the Scriptures especially the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8, at death we immediately – in a flash – enter the presence of the Lord.  Paul led a life full of danger, and he knew that at any moment his life on earth could end. But he faced death with hope that we can share: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord”  He further declared, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

One last thought.  Summer is always best when shared – with family, friends, special loves.  I’m thinking Heaven will be extra special when shared, so don’t just plan on going alone.  Plan for others to meet you there.

THIS WEEK share the Gospel (click the tab above to visit our Salvation page) with others – friends, family members, absolute strangers!  Let’s plan for a heavenly crowd!


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Do You See What God Sees?

Years ago a colleague (Mary) said, “One day you look in the mirror and you ask yourself who in the world is that?  You feel so young in spirit and even in mind, but your neck, hands and that person in the mirror will tell you otherwise!”  I laughed, and Mary simply said, “You’ll see.”

It’s 23 years later, and Mary’s “prophecy” has come true!

I tried to blame it on the mirror.  You know, since research has proven that there are “skinny” mirrors (sometimes used in dressing rooms to make you appear slimmer in clothing and to boost sales), I figured there must be “old” mirrors though for the life of me I cannot imagine why someone would create one.  And who would buy one though obviously I had one?  But there they are…crows feet, scratching all around my eyes.  Take heart, they’re not alone; the gray hairs in my brows are keeping them company!

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you see that you were fearfully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139:14)

Do you see the apple of God’s eye? (Psalm 17:1)

Do you see God’s treasured possession? (Deuteronomy 7:6)

Do you see that you are made in the image of God? (Genesis 1:27)

Do you see what God sees?

Satan offers us trick mirrors.  He would have us see ourselves as less than our God created us to be.  In his mirrors we see all our shortcomings. We see our struggles and inferiorities.  We see shame and embarrassment.  We see the stain and guilt of sin.

But if our life is hidden with Christ in God – if we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, then whenever God looks at us, He sees Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God covering us.

Superstition says it’s bad luck to break a mirror, but I say smash whatever mirror Satan keeps holding before you and look into the mirror of God.  See what He sees – YOU – His child. (John 1:12)  A new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  A fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)  The righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  A temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)  One who is chosen, holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4), redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7), complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and dearly loved (Colossians 2:12).

Now that’s the mirror you need!

THIS WEEK, take a look in the mirror.  Do you see what God sees?


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Peace on Earth (Part 2)

NOTE:  We’re vacationing, so Monday’s post is early!

There’s a saying that’s been going around, “Every family has that one crazy relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”

Here’s another saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

What do these two sayings have to do with peace on earth? Well, in our last post we discussed that before there can be peace on earth we must individually have peace within, so without a lot of extra words, let me just jump to the point. Might you be the one robbing yourself of peace? “No way!” you think. Well, let me just offer you three more quotes.

“Nobody screws me up better than me.”

“Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself.”

“Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your two ears.”

Again, are you robbing yourself of peace?

There are events and seasons that seem to thrust us into deep self-evaluation and self-reflection, and Christmas is one of them. This can be a good thing – pausing to consider the love of family and friends, the blessing of health, the satisfaction of a prosperous and fun career, the joy of children… It can also be not so good – dwelling on the loss of loved ones, failing health, the stress of unemployment or job disappointment, the fear of miscarriage…

The latter (and similar) thoughts can quickly launch one into a depression that robs one of personal peace.

What are you telling yourself? What script do you keep running through your head? “I’m no good.” “I’m all alone.” “I can’t make it.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never – have children, get that job, leave this town, be able to afford a house, get married, be in love, go to college, be healthy again…”

It’s time to replace those thoughts. It does no good to simply try to just stop them; you have to replace them. Craft some new thinking based on Philippians 4:8 (NKJV): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What does this mean? What does it look like? Sound like? The Message translates the same text: “…filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from Me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Do that, and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7b NKJV)

THIS WEEK: Make note of the thoughts that rob you of peace. Write substitute thoughts then practice using them. (e.g. THOUGHT: I’m just no good – always have been, always will be! SUBSTITUTE THOUGHT: In Christ I am a new creature – old things, thoughts, ways and deeds are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17)