Is Pope Francis I the last pope? Are we in the End Times?

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the new Pontiff, Pope Francis I. A Prophecy of the Popes written in the 110s, according to the Catholic Church, claims that this will be the last Pope. The prophecy, written by St. Malacy, calls the man Petrus Romanus and claims he will reign during the end of the world.

But, while there are other signs, does this one mesh with Bibilcal End Time prophecy? No, it isn’t a Biblical prophecy, however they might try to make Francis I into Petrus Romanus.

There are many signs being fulfilled that show we are int he end times, though.

I want to explain that, and how to use current events in telling about Jesus.

First, the Bible makes it clear a prophecy can’t be from God unless it is 100% accurate. People say this Papal prophecy has been, but a lot is because of coats of arms and such that don’t relate to anything but names. However, even if it was right doesn’t mean it was from God.

Let me give an example. I wrote sports for my school paper years ago. Once before the NFL season I correctly predicted the teams to be in and the winner of the Super Bowl that year.

It was an educated guess. It only came from studying the teams, a bright young quarterback who it didn’t take hindsight to know was a rising superstar, and the fact the other conference featered a rising team and a defending champ with a quarterback with injury concerns.

God doesn’t want us to live by fear, but He also wants us to have faith in His Word alone. Yes, some people have End Times scenarios, and some may have a few things right based on studying the Bible. Some of the better ones include David Reagan, Thomas Ice, and others listed in the featured End times writers here, including one, Wilfred Hahn, who is a global economist and strategist focused mostly on the budding one world economy.

his studies might help us undertand the “fiscal cliff” and what might happen in a global economic meltdown. But, he and the others might likely be wrong about a few things, though they have more accuracy, based on their studies, than St. Malacy’s prophecy.

Either way, we must never trust ANYTHING outside the Bible for what we believe. It is completely trustworthy, unlike a certain high school student who picked one year’s Super Bowl right before the season but has totally whiffed on other sports pecitions.

So, you ask, how can I use this to spread the Gospel?

1. People will worry and you can give them hope.

Tell them what is important is that Jesus will return for His church (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, etc.), and they need to be ready. They can do that by trusting Him to forgiven for their sin and make them new inside. Send them to forgiveness.godlife.com, hope.godlife.com, Jesus2020.mobi, or one of our other websites.

In doing this, you just have to ask if they’ve ever thought about the end of the world. This leads to my second point.

2. Use signs that God *did* give us.

Jesus said there would be intense earthquakes in many different places, famines, many wars and threats of them, scary signs in the sky (like the man space rocks and massive solar flares, disease, and many other things. (Matthew 24, Luke 21, etc.) Wickedness, lawlessness, and so on would increase (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, etc.) Jerusalem would be a cup of trembling to all who touch it (Zech. 12:2). There would be a one world ecumenical religious system where man tries to reach up to God, even though we can’t because of sin. People must accept that God reached down to them and died for their sins and rose from the dead, and trust Him to forgive them by faith alone as they call on Him to do so.

These things, when people mention them, can be met with a reply, “That is a sign in the Bible that the end is near. Jesus told us to be ready. The first step is to make sure you know your sins are forgiven so He can take you home. If you are met with a hard question, you can ask me or go to www.gotquestions.org.

Or direct them there themselves, but witnessing is much better when they see you care, and one way they will see that is when you make an effort like that to find out.

People may ask about things like climate change – you can say that while that specifically is debated by some, the Book of Revelation does say people will be burned with scorching heat. Again, directing the talk to God.

So, you may ask, how to share the Gospel? You can give your own testimony with it, nd it will help, in how you trusted Christ as Saviour. But, you can also give them the Romans Road (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, 10:10, 10:13). Or, ABC – Admit you’re a sinner, Believe Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died for your sin and rose again, taking your punishment for your sin, Choose to Call on Jesus to save them fromt he punishment for their sins and make them new inside.

Finally, remember that when Jesus said the end is near, that could be years away. This prophecy, like my Super Bowl prediction, may or may not be true. What is important is to be telling others about Jesus and doing what we were created to do. Pray for Him to guide us. Speak out in love and share how these people can have the love, joy, peace, comfort, and so much more in this world.

Jesus told us we would have life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) He wants us to live every day with the certainty that come what may, he will be there to guide us in this life, as well as taking us to heaven to be with Him forever someday.

There will be many false Christ’s – another sign. However, Jesus Christ will come down just as He was seen going up in Acts 1. Till the time when he comes for His church, we must be about the business of telling others about Him. And, current events give us many chances.

Solutions to Drought, 2012 Election Questions

It may seem odd to discuss, in the same blog, our very severe drought and the election campaign with Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. However, the answers are the same – relyign on God.

Are you tired of dishonest politicians and campaign ads? Here is a refreshing truth. We, as a nation, have had successes, but we have also failed many times from our earliest history. Daniel prayed for forgiveness for things done wrong by his forefathers, though. Like them, the untied States has problems only God can solve, not we ourselves, and sin that only He can forgive.

The solution to America’s problem is not a party, but it’s in God. Only He can cure our violent society – not just problems with one movie and the senseless massacre in Aurora, Colorado, but an epidemic of violence – and economy, just as only He can cure our drought.

I’m not talking about doing what’s right on the many hot button issues of the day. That would be us trying to solve it. But, we can’t. Because, while our nation began as a great and noble experiment in freedom, we were a sinful people with sinful habits from the start. Our forefathers were not perfect, because all of us have sinned.(Rom. 3:23)

Not all droughts, storms, etc. are God’s judgment. Just like Job’s friends learned, disasters are not always the result of sin. Sometimes they are allowed to happen for some other reason that we can’t understand. We don’t know God’s plan, nor why some people don’t live as long as others. It’s just part of life, and has been since sin entered into the world. God made this world perfect, and death and destruction only came in because mankind brought sin into the world.(Romans 5:12)

However, sometimes bad things happen because God lifts His hand of protection just enough. This is so we can realize what happens when we ignore His role in the world, when we refuse to be thankful for His goodness. The wages of sin, what we earn, is death. Thankfully, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.(Rom. 6:23)

And, God has given us great gifts. This despite our sinfulness as a nation; just as it was while we, as individuals, were yet sinners that Christ died for us.(Rom. 5:8)

I won’t list the entire range of sins we committed as a nation. However, I will say that despite the horrors of slavery, and our wicked treatment of the natives, God blessed us with the First and Second Great Awakening. Despite our utter contempt for worker safety in an era of greed, God blessed us and let us become an industrial power. Despite our not caring about His people, the Jews, and our general racial hatred, He let us win World War Two. There were times, too, when some followers of God were too legalist in other areas, only caring about the outside rather than the heart. But, God still blessed us.

Why? We relied on Him for help. We accepted that we couldn’t do it all ourselves. He saw we were trusting Him and kept giving us chances to also rely on Him to cure our other ills.

You may say, “We had a great Civil Rights movement, we have begun treating others with dignity, and so on.” This is true. But, many God-honoring people took part in making sure such things happened. God was pleased that we finally started obeying His command to do unto others as we would have done unto us.(Matt. 7:12, Luke 6:31) Some of those people who helped things improve were not followers of Him, it’s true, but that is because God can use anyone for His purposes. However, we are saved by grace through faith – it’s not of ourselves, and it’s not of works, lest anyone boast. Salvation is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Just as throughout history, people turned away from His ways. People were already turning away from the truth of His Word in larger numbers decades ago, and He had backed off soem while continuing to work in individuals’ hearts because of His mercy and the freedom He allows us. Let God be true, and every man a liar, God will always be right. He is perfect love, goodness, justice, compassion, and so on, and only He is.

I know we each have our own main issues this election campaign. But, the key is not to point fingers. A person will never be able to fix things. The key is to get ourselves right with God so we can pray and call on Him to do the work, not on man.

Remember, Daniel was not in Jerusalem when his forefathers were sinning so badly. And yet, in Daniel 9, he prayed asking forgiveness for them. The only way this nation will see its problems solved is for people to repent and turn from wickedness, including the evils of pride which kept us from focusing on what was right and caused us – at times – to think too highly of ourselves. We must be humble and draw near to God, so He will draw near to us.(James 4:6-8) Yes, we’re a great country, but God is greater.

Okay, you may be saying, you can see what this has to do with the election. We need to trust God to turn our country around. But, how does this help us with who to vote for, and what does this have to do with the drought?

Let me answer those questions separately.

1. We must remember that God loves making all things new, and that includes our hearts. If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold, all things are made new.(2 Cor. 5:17)

So, the key here is that we must first ask god to make the man who wins the 2012 election a dedicated follower of His. We must pray without ceasing for God to cause that person to focus not on issues but on national repentance, so that the hearts of this nation can change and God’s ways be followed again. And, we must ask God to work in hearts, including ours, to vote for the person God has who will do that. Pray for that person’s salvation and for that person to do God’s will, not only the President but Congress and the judiciary.

2. We must humble ourselves and turn in our hearts from our wicked ways so God can hear our prayers and heal the land because of His love. Romans 10:13 shows that on a personal level; all who call on Jesus Christ to save them will be saved. While this verse applies to individuals, application can be made in this – God’s mercy and love can be asked for to spread across this land. After all, His mercies endure forever.

Look at how Jesus continuously forgave sinners. Look at how the apostle Paul called himself the chief of sinners. We must not make the mistake of praying, “Lord, we’re America, we deserve salvation, we deserve a great President.’ No, we are a nation of sinners who have only seen Great Awakenings, great victories, and great success by the mercies of God because we trusted Him for those mercies. People will sometimes say that the Founders knew God would help them, and those who trusted in Him did so with all their heart. But, they didn’t trust Him because they felt they deserved it. They trusted that because of His mercy He would do it.

This isn’t something that takes just a little prayer. We must be dedicated to constant prayer, calling on the true God because of His endless mercy to forgive us for those things we have done to turn away from Him through our history. In the name of His Son,t he Lord Jesus Christ, we must turn from sin and turn to Him like Daniel prayed – and Daniel was a very Godly man. Yet, Daniel didn’t say, “I don’t need to seek forgiveness,” he prayed “Lord, forgive us.”

If you’re not sure if something is a sin, or don’t believe it is, just lay it on the altar and ask God for wisdom, say, “I know this is a hot button issue, but I ask You and trust You to turn my hear and all hearts to your will.” James 1:5 promises He will give cheerfully and never complain if a person asks Him for wisdom.

Then, pray for the people in every branch to make Godly decisions. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit, while the Church Age is still here, to convict hearts and to bring them back to Him, to turn people from sint he way He did in the Great Awakenings. Because, back then it wasn’t the legislature that stopped these sins, it was God’s Spirit coming down and changing things and people giving their lives to HIm.

And, we must do it with an attitude of faith

You see, while God is not welcome in many places, God Himself has always gone where He is not welcome if He is called. Look at how unwelcome He was with the Pharisees, yet He went to the temple quite often, He kept giving people chances to repent. We must have faith in prayer that God can and will turn the hearts of the people of the United States back to Him, including those who aren’t welcoming Him. We must pray for a true Holy Spirit revival.

Because, as long as we are still here, believers have access to the throne of grace, and God promises to be a very present help in time of need in the tremendous spiritual warfare in this world today.

God Loves Everyone the Same, No Matter How They’re Created

Psalm 139 is a wonderful song of praise to God. Verse 14 says, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The Psalmist notes that he is imperfect, but that God’s thoughts toward him are wonderful (v. 17), because he will guide anyone through anything, from the usual difficulties – such as when Paul learned God’s strength was made perfect in His weakness – to those not so usual.

Each of us is a miracle, created by God for a specific purpose. He doesn’t want there to be imperfections; He created this world perfect, but then sin entered intot he world through mankind’s free will. So, now, there are people who experience all sorts of difficulties in their lives because of the curse of sin which caused this world to become broken down. It’s not any one person’s sin that causes it – it’s the imperfection which came when this perfect world had imperfection brought into it.

So, because of that imperfection, there are people like me born with low vision (in my case, from Dandy-Walker Syndrome) or hearing (in my case, bad enough to need a hearing aid.) There are those with other things physical or mental. And, there are even those whose creation is really unique – those born with a mix of anatomical traits considered both male and female, or which are atypical for each. Such people are known as intersex.

Intersex has nothing to do with sexual orientation, by the way; that has no relevance to this. In fact, it has nothing to do with homosexuality or the transgender movement. These are among numerous major fallacies. about it. The Bible says nothing specific about the issue, except that obvioulsy we must show the same love Jesus showed everyone. Numerous websites devoted to the issue merely seek to raise awareness of the issue and of difficulties encountered in society which are related to it.

We can’t always figure out why God chose what He did for us. I have a few ideas, based on what I’ve accomplished, of why He gave me low vision, low hearing, a bit of cerebral palsy (enough my feet point out a touch & I couldn’t do little things like open cans or jars as early as some kids), and possible even a touch of mild Asperger’s Syndrome. But the important thing is that He is the God of all comfort who provides a peace which passes understanding when we trust Him to. I’ve been able to do things I never would have, and help people I wouldn’t have, without these – some of which nobody else would have. Even though my body isn’t perfect, like anyone else, I’m a miracle.

God’s most amazing miracles surely include those connected with His birth, death, and resurrection. He came to die for each of us, to take the punishment for our sins, mine as well as others. Then, He rose from the dead, having the victory over everything.

For Him to do this, of course, He had to do as John 1:14 says He did – He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” He was fully God and fully man. While here, He showed great care for the hurting people of this world. While the Pharisees, the religious crowd, cared only for the usual and tried to impress others, Jesus cared for those who were unusual in some way. He performed many healings, not only of physical things but also of broken hearts.

Some of those hearts were broken by the treatment which the Pharisees gave, I’m sure. But, these people recognized that Jesus was special. He was different. He and god the Father are one. (John 10:30) God had ordained the Law in the commandments to teach the people that they couldn’t follow even those laws all the time, because of the nature of their hearts. So, they had to trust Him by faith in order to be saved. Salvation has always had a faith component. However, the Pharisees, as people often do, turned it into a totally works-based system and condemned those who went against it.

They even thought they had answers for why God created people such as the blind man in John chapter 9. They asked a strange question of Jesus – whether the man or his parents had sinned that he was born blind. Jesus told them that neither one had; the man was born blind that the works of God might be made manifest in him. Then, Jesus healed the blind man. The Pharisees were so upset that they threw him out of the synagogue; this man then wound up becoming a follower of Jesus.

We don’t know much about this man as a follower, but his testimony must have been amazing. He had the same testimony as anyone can who has experienced something other than the usual from their physical body. That testimony is that Jesus can and will overcome anything if they trust Him, and help them through anything.

This doesn’t mean that Jesus will heal everyone of physical problems while living. For some, healing won’t come until He calls them home to His perfect Heaven, at which time I will have perfect sight and hearing, those confined to whellchairs will be able to run, and so on. I know of one young man, in fact, who must wear braves on his legs. When he reaches Heaven, the first thing he plans to do is leap 100 feet in the air.

It does, however, mean that Jesus will give anyone the ability to get through anything with His help. It also means that – while not everything is good in this world – all those things we face will work together for good to them that love God. (Romans 8:28) God has a way of taking anything and using it for good. Even the bad things which people do because they have not learned of His love. God lives in each believer through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 113-14, 4;30; John 14-16, etc.) So, it is up to each believer to let Him guide them in the truth, being control by His Spirit. Thankfully, He will always love and cleanse us from sin when we turn to Him by faith. (1 John 1:9-2:1)

What He can’t take are peoples’ sins. No sin can enter Heaven. Heaven is a perfect place which God established so there would be no suffering, no tears, no pain, no parting, no sorrow. No bad stuff can enter there. So, He had to find a way for people like me and you and everyone to get there. Because, while our imperfections aren’t because of our own sin, we do all sin and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) that means each of us comes short of God’s perfect Heaven.

God gave us each a wonderful gift, though. The wages of sin – what we earn because of our sin – is death, separation from God forever in a place called Hell. But, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

That is the awesome gift which we must remember to celebrate, whether or not we celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25 or not. That gift of life forever in that perfect Heaven is free; all a person has to do is to receive it.

People have been mistreated throughout history because of differences. That mistreatment comes through actions of various sorts; words play a part, too, but focusing only on surface things like names can make one as bad as the Pharisees, who refused to do as God commands and look at the heart. The important thing is that God loves each of us because of who we are on the inside, not because of what name we go by.

The way to have that personal relationship with God – so you can get His help here and also go to His perfect Heaven someday – is to simply “believe on the Lord Jesus Christm, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) That whosoever means anyone – any person can put their name in there because God is talking about them.

We may each have different physical characteristics. But, we each have one thing in common – a need for God’s love and forgiveness. Our differences are not because of sin – they are because God created each of us in a unique way so that we can glorify Him in who we are and what we do. However, we all do hve sin – myself included. We fall short of God’s perfect glory.

God doesn’t demand works like the Pharisees, though. That would be unfair anyway because some people could work more than others; some can’t do any. God made sure it was all by grace through faith in Him. It is not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians. 2:8-9)

Because it is by faith alone in Christ alone, each of us is only a single, sincere prayer of repentence to Jesus away from eternal life. The words don’t matter – but it can go something like this. “Dear Lord Jesus, I know I’m a sinner. I can’t reach your perfect Heaven myself. But, I know you died for my sins and rose from the dead. You took my punishment so I could get to heaven and also have life with you now, so you can guide me and help me on earth. Lrod Jesus, today I choose to turn from my sins and trust you to save me. I call on your name, asking you to save me from my sins and come into my heart to live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

That’s all there is to it. We don’t know what God has planned – I heard about a condition from an online friend and I considered a number of ways to do it. Suddenly, this blog came out of my thoughts and prayers. I know that whatever happens, though, the Christian life is a great adventure in trusting the Lord to see you through everything. He has always been faithful to me, and He wants everyone to not only call on Him but also to let Him guide them in showing His love to others and telling of His great gift to them.

Homeless for the Holidays – How To Love The Poor

Though few like to admit it, a catastrophic illness or other major setback can leave anyone on the brink of homelessness. And, features like this shows that many homeless are families with nowhere to turn.

What is the key to helping such people?

Many try to blame or credit the policies of one party of another, but Jesus said “The poor you will always have with you.” This doesn’t mean that they will be poor on purpose. This just means that in this fallen, sinful world, circumstances will not be rosy for everyone. Jesus was exhorting us to care for the poor and love them as His disciples loved Him.

When we look at Matthew 26:7-12, in fact, we see in the context that a woman had come with a box of ointment, and poured it onto the Lord. (Note that this was *not* the same woman who wiped His feet with her tears. This woman was in a totally different situation and poured the box on His head to boot.)

She was criticized and it was mentioned that the box, full of a very special and expensive ointment, could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus then remarked that the poor would always be with us. Further, He said that she had done this in preparation for His burial, as He was soon to be crucified for our sins, taking our punishment, dying, and then rising from the dead. She had done this to show her love for the Savior.

When Jesus says that we will have the poor with us always, but we will not have Him always, He is not saying to sell everything and give to the poor, though that is one option if a person feels led to do so. He is also not saying that things of value are what the poor are seeking. That is looking only at the outside, at the box this woman had.

God wants us to look upon the heart, though – that is where He always looks. And, it is on the heart of this woman that Jesus wants us to look. Because, in seeing how she loved Him, we can see how we ought to love and help those who are homeless – or just really poor.

It is most important to give them hope. Yes, soup kitchens are wonderful, and most churches that follow Christ and seek to make a difference in their community will provide some kind of help for the poor. It may not be a soup kitchen, it may be something else. The key is, it will be something that will not only minister to the peoples’ physical needs, but to their spiritual.

A number of Proverbs and other Biblical sayings mirror the concept of this famous saying – “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Jesus certainly gave people fish and other great things – He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, and many other great miracles. Peoples’ physical needs were met. That was wonderful. It was satisfying for a while. But,t he 5,000 who were fed the loaves and fish wound up hungry again. Lazarus, who was called out of the tomb, died again. And so on.

Jesus called people to receive His spiritual blessings, though. He wanted people to recognize that they had needs which went beyond the physical. He wanted people to do as the woman at the well in John 4, when He told her He had water springing up into everlasting life, a well which would never run dry. This woman responded, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw.” (John 4:15) While she was still focused a little on her physical needs, she was starting to realize that there was also a deep longing in her.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with the poor or the homeless?

These are not just people who have no money or homes. The poor and the homeless are people with a deep longing for something better. If we ignore or scold them, we are making them feel worse. If we only give them nourishment or a gift, they will be satisfied for a while, but they will feel empty again, just like the woman at the well had to come to draw water each day. By providing hope for them, however, we can truly shower that love upon them that Jesus wants us to shower upon them. The riches which will matter the most go beyond the mere cost of an alabaster box of ointment.

Some will complain that there are people who use the system and are poor on purpose. There are a few of them, but that doesn’t mean all are like that. But, let’s look at them for a moment. They are that way for the same reason he woman at the well in John 4 kept going after different men; she’d had five husbands and the man she was with now was not her husband. Jesus didn’t condemn her, though – he went to her to provide her with something better.

Those who misuse the system are like the Samaritan woman with her men when she hadn’t experienced the unconditional love and goodness that comes from a personal relationship with jesus Christ. There is a God-sized hole in each of our hearts that only Jesus can fill. He showed her the way to let Him – who is the way, the truth, and the life – work in her heart so she could follow Him and be an example of Jesus to others in what she did and how she behaved. In the same way, those who misuse the system need to be shown, in a loving way, how serving the Lord is so much more fulfilling, because they can earn for themselves treasures in heaven. They need to be shown it’s worth it, and encouraged to become more productive.

However, the main thing we must be concerned with is those who are not poor by choice. Because, as noted in the beginning, there are many like that. They have likely tried, some given up hope. We don’t know which someone is, so we should presume that the poor person is trying. By showing them the love that Jesus has for them, we are giving them hope, which as noted, is the main thing.

For each group, of course, the adage applies that we should not only give them a fish, but where applicable teach them to fish. However, merely teaching them to fish, so to speak, isn’t enough to truly restore hope to them.

All of us have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We are all poor in our lack of a relationship with Christ until the moment when we call out to Him, “Lord, save me.” Just as the many poor, diseased, and so on called on Jesus in His earthly ministry, each of us must realize we need His perfect gift of salvation.

Rich and poor alike, then, must recognize that God has a plan for their lives, a plan which first of all includes them letting him make them new on the inside, cleansing their sins through His finished work on the cross. Then, they will not be building treasures on earth, where moth and rust can corrupt, and thieves can steal; they will be building treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust cannot corrupt and thieves can’t steal. Where our treasure is, there is where our heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

That plan is not just to get them to Heaven, though – He wants to help each of us believers right here on earth to get throughh everything and to feel His love and closeness all the time when we remain close to Him.

Part of that personal relationship is being able to take all our cares and concerns to Him. He wants to help us through this world becasue that is how we can show others what He has done for us so they can have that peace and comfort. The old say is that we’re just beggars teling other beggars where to find bread.

By showing them how to follow Jesus, then, we are helping the poor, the homeless, and so on to realize they don’t have to despair about their situation. They don’t have to keep waiting for a handout and thinking this is all there is. They don’t have to fret thinking that if they don’t find something they’re a failure. Because, you know what? If they are only going for something in this life, they are going for something that will get old, wear out, and so on; something that will not last forever the way Heavenly treasures will.

That makes them just the same as the rich. If they are only focusing on a small shack, they are in the same position as the rich person only focusing on a million dollar home. They are focusing on an investment which will not last. Whether we have $1 or $1 billion when we die, we will all answer to God. And, what He will ask is this – Were your sins washed away by the blood of Calvary’s cross? Did you call on Jesus to save you with something like this – “Lord Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and don’t deserve Your perfect heaven. But, I know You died for my sins and rose from the dead. Lord Jesus, I accept You as my Savior, I turn from my sins and call on You to come into my heart and save me. I believe you took all the punishment for my sins and and I trust in You alone to get me to heaven when I die. I Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The words aren’t what saves you, of course, it’s Jesus who saves when you call on him.

But what you might be asking is, how will this help the poor and homeless now? Well, remember that Jesus didn’t just tell people to follow Him, He gave them things, too. But, that giving needs to be with an attitude of, “Just as I am giving you this physical thing, be it food, clothing, or whatever, Jesus has something spiritual that is special for you.” People will be much more likely to listen if we give a thing with our message.

Or, at the very least, if we give a kind ear, so that person can tell about the spouse who took all they had, or the cancer, or the house fire, or the lost job. Then, they will see that someone cares about them and who they are inside.

Then, we can show them Matthew 6:33 and the verses before it. How that if they seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, all these things will be added unto them; the things Jesus is talking about in the previous verses are necessities, like food, clothing, and shelter. They may mean a job for someone. They might mean a friend. Whatever that need is, Jesus can meet it, but he wants them to realize His love and Lordshp It is Jesus who provides us all with every need, it is ultimately His love that lets us have whatever we have.

And, that is true of rich and poor alike. Some people are in a position to do moer for Him. But, the peson who is in the center of His will – whether that will is for them to be rich or poor – is in the safest place they can be. Because, he wants us all to tell others of His great love and the great hope which is in Christ Jesus; a hope that is there for everyone, which we celebrate this time of year.

Real meaning of the Lord’s Prayer (also called the Our Father prayer)

Some may have heard a famous recording by Red Skelton about the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s very powerful to hear each word or phrase covered. I don’t have quite the skill he did with that, but I wanted to briefly touch on a very important prayer, found in Mathew 6:9-13 and again in Luke 12. There is a subtle difference which is logical when you see the context, because they come at different times. For a full Harmony of the Gospels this is an excellent one.

The Lord’s Prayer - also called the “Our Father” by some – in Matthew 6:9-13 comes very early in His ministry. It is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Right before the Lord’s Prayer, He tells the people never to pray in vain repetitions. Why? Just repeating something over and over has no effect because it it leads to making one thing he or she will be heard “for their much speaking.” Instead, Jesus wants us to pray in the way He does His Word has power to help, heal, comfort, etc.

Later in His ministry, Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them to pray. He recites part of it, but leaves out the part of about “Thine is the Kingdom…”. Why? The discples have already heard that part. Jesus is just reminding them, “Remember when I taught you this? It has special meaning.” He reminded them of just enough so they would understand and remember, from His other teaching, what was important. And, what they didn’t understand would be revealed in time, just as with His sacrifice.

What was that deeper meaning which they were to understand when praying? Let’s go through the Lord’s Prayer, also called the “Our Father,” and see.

“Our…” Any of us. He hears the prayers of all who call on Him by faith alone in Christ alone. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13)

“Father…” The true mark of a leader. Not the selfishness of sinful man. God is perfect, a Father who will always love, cherish, comfort, and guide His children in His perfect plan. And, He always has the best interests of each of His children at heart. “For all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)

“Which art…” God is real, and no amount of pain, hatred, or ignoring can make Him go away. He is the great I AM, who always was and always will be.

“In heaven…” That perfect place, where there is no pain, no suffering, and no tears. Where a loving God calls out to sinful man to come to Him and be rescued from a world of sin, and let Him guide them. “To as many as received Him, gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12)

“Hallowed be Thy name.” For His is a name above all names, full of majesty and wonder, inspiring awe for His great power and might. Each of us is as helpless as an ant would be next to the strongest human. And yet, He is so loving that we may “go boldly before the throne of grace for help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

“Thy kingdom come.” Jesus – God the Son – and God the Father are one (John 10:30), and He is the Creator and sustainer of all; for by Him were all things made and by Him all things consist. (John 1:1, 14; Col. 1:16-17; etc.) And He will one day rule the earth, and it will be perfect, just as it was meant to be before sin entered into the world. (Gen. 1-2, Revelation 20-22, etc.) And those who truly believe wait for Him to come make this world new.

“Thy will…” And because God is the creator, He may do as He pleases. His will is perfect, for he knows the past, present, and future.

“Be done…” And we ask that His will be done, no matter what our will might be, because He knows what is best for us. People have become sick and avoided deadly accidents. People have been stuck somewhere and been able to help a stranger because of it. It is up to us seek His will in each situation.

“On earth…” This sin-stained world which hosts so much evil. “For by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that death passed unto all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) Yet God can still work in this world, and will, once we let go of our own desires and seek Him as the writer of that great hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” commands. “Did we in our own strength abide, the battle would be losing. Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He. Lord Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts) His name, from age to age the same!”

“As it is in heaven…” For God rules in Heaven. Yet from that throne of grace, He came down and became flesh (John 1:14, Col. 2:9, etc.), born to die as the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. He then rose victoriously from the grave, having defeated death, and going to prepare a place for us in Heaven, that where He is, there we who have received Him as Savior might be also.

“Give us” Provide for we who so need You, for You oh Lord know we are but dust…

“this day” For we are not promised tomorrow, but we know that whatever we need You will provide it in Your perfect time, when You know it is best.

“Our daily bread” Anything we need for that day, be it food, money, shelter, or whatever else we are lacking. He promises us wisdom whenever we need, peace that passes understanding, He is the God of all comfort, and so many more good things, as He helps us through the problems of this wicked world. It is not our wants, but that which we must have and which, if we do not receive, we know God has something better ins tore. For Solomon in all His glory was not clothed like one of the fabulous lilies of the field.

“And forgive us our debts” Oh, for we are but sinful people, so filled burdens. For as hard as we try, we cannot do as You command, we cannot be perfect as the Father in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) So we call on you to rescue us from that debt we cannot pay, washing our sins away with Your perfect blood, which was shed once for all for such a wretch as me.

“Aas we forgive our debtors.” Oh, we have so many who have wronged us, too, but the terrible pain of hell was meant only for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) So we ask, Lord, that you would soften their hearts, and forgive them, so they may become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who can then grow in your love and become more and more like you.

“And lead us not into temptation” Oh, but while we who believe in you want so badly to be freed from the power of sin, we cannot do it on our own. So please, protect us from the terrible temptations of this world, and instead do as you promise in your world and provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) so we can withstand in that evil day. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“But deliver us from evil:” Not only the evil that we might do through lying, backbiting, bitterness, malice, and so on, but also the evil that might be done to us. Because, Lord, this is a sinful place, filled with those who fall short of your perfect glory like I. And we long for the day when we are not only saved from the penalty of sin – which we were at the cross. Not only saved from the power of sin – which we must seek each day. But when, in Heaven we stand complete in you, and are saved from the very presence of sin!

“For thine is the kingdom” For there, in Your perfect Kingdom, the redeemed will stand in You complete, as the hymnist writes, and truly “Jesus died, my soul to save, my lips shall still repeat.”

“And the power” For You, oh, Lord, have the power to save, to guide, to protect, to heal, to work modern day miracles if it be your will. Your power is limitless, your works wondrous, your ways perfectly righteous, your death all sufficient, and your resurrection power enough to defeat sin and death and the grave! Halleluah!”

“And the glory.’ Because God is perfect glory. He is the one who created the light, and who then was the Light which came into this dark world. He came to save sinners from this lost and dying world, so we who fell so short of His perfection could rule and reign with Him, but nobody can share His perfect, matchless glory. And here, it’s best just to include this awesome video of message by S.M. Lockridge, “That’s My King!”

“For ever” And He will be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever, in a perfect place where we will have no more sin, no more pain, no more bad stuff. Where we can celebrate and where nobody has seen, heard, or even imagined how awesome it will be. Because we as people can’t even imagine a heaven where there is is so much beauty, goodness, and diversity, with so many different personalities all with the testimony that they were saved by the grace of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

“Amen.” So be it. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus, and work the work you want in my life, so you may be glorified.

When I see S.M. Lockridge’s powerful message, I know neither I, nor some of the commentaries at www.blueletterbible.org (where I found the Harmony), can do justice to God’s amazing love. However, that is, in essence, what the Lord’s Prayer really is saying.

It closes with a reminder from Jesus. His Word is powerful – and praying it like you believe it can help bring peace because it is the Word of God. And, His Word will never return voice. (Isaiah 55:11) But, His Kingdom will endure forever. And, He wants us to know one thing above all other. Yes, the Lord’s prayer is very good – it is the model that Jesus tells us to pray. However, those verses mentioned above, and many others in Scripture, point to one fact. Jesus came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. He calls all to repentance.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Not only I, but every person alive, have sinned. The waves of sin is death – that’s what we e4arn for our sin. But, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

As you can see, part of that Lord prayer is asking for forgiveness. It involves accepting that we have a debt – a debt we cannot pay. So we are asking God to forgive it. It is the heavy, infinite debt of sin, which causes us to miss the mark of perfection which Jesus notes just before this part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Thankfully, we know that Jesus Christ can and will forgive us of our sins when we call on Him. But we can’t just pray a single prayer over and over. Remember, it is not by vain repetitions. It must come from the heart, as the Lord’s prayer must, which we saw above. It is a call fromt eh heart that is as simple as ABC. Admit you’re a sinner. Believe Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died for your sins and rose from the dead, and Choose to call on Jesus to forgive you and to come into your heart and make you new on the inside. It is a turning from your sin by faith, and letting Jesus work in your heart to make you new.

Then, you will have received the judgment as a sinner. You will have accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross was the only thing need – that He took your punishment.

Then, once you have received Him by faith, God will work with you as a Son. He is Father to the fatherless, and will guide you through everything.

Then, in Heaven, He will judge you as a servant. You will have that place in heaven secured through what Christ did for you on the cross; but the blessings and rewards will be through what you did for Him.

So, I hope now you have more appreciation for the Lord’s Prayer, that it is not just repeating something. But, most importantly, I pray you have Him s your Savior. Because you don’t have to be in a church; you can call on Him anytime. We are not promised tomorrow, though – He says in His Word Today is the day of salvation. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But, He will provide for you your “daily bread” that which you need most. And, what we all need most is His salvation.

Is nuclear power safe where disasters happen like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami? Or anywhere?

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan has raised fears. This is not only because – until the last decade and the awful Indian Ocean one – the word “tsunami” was rarely mentioned. Nuclear power has also come under scrutiny, with worries now even about rain water.

Some claim that a major North American quake is imminent, while others are more worried about the present – after all, people have been saying one was imminent for years now.

In one way, nothing can be considered totally safe. While people don’t slip on banana peels like in the cartoons every day, enough accidents happen in our work places, transportation, and other things that we can say with certainty that anything can happen. However, what most people are concerned with is the probability of nuclear accidents – and they claim that the probably is too great.

A closer look reveals, however, that there are quite a few nuclear plants that have never had an accident. Is it a good idea to build a plant right on a fault line? No. However, with so many earthquakes happening in different places, places where there have not been quakes for a long time and where scientists rarely expect them – exactly as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24 – without an understanding of the future, without knowing what will take place, one is left with only doubt and worry.

Do we have to live this way, though? Of course not. There is an alternative.

Jesus didn’t just predict earthquakes in diverse places. He predicted wars and rumors of wars, many false Messiahs, and other things. He predicted they would increase in severity, as they have – just like birth pangs. Jesus also promised that He would protect His people.

This protection is not protection from things of this world, of course. He says in John 16:33, “In this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” We might be protected from evil in this world, of course; but this is a sinful, fallen world that was created to be perfect, only to have people corrupt it through their free choice.

“Choices,” you might say, “like using nuclear power?” Maybe, maybe not. That is for each of us to decide on our own. However, the fact that Japan did not immediately suffer a Chernobyl-style disaster after several major system failures shows that it can be pretty safe unless the most *severe* of natural disasters occurs.

More to the point is the fact that human choices have thrown this world into chaos. Whether or not you consider nuclear power to be one, you have to admit things are pretty bad int his world. Thankfully, there is a way to have peace.

God’s Word calls it the “peace that passes understanding,” and says that we shouldn’t worry (be “full of care”) about things but that with everything by prayer and supplication we should make our requests known to God. (Philippians 4:6-7) Even in the midst of this incredible turmoil, people can have peace. How?

See, we’ve all made bad choices. No, we haven’t all done things that have led to many people suffering, but we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God. See, we’ve all said, thought, or done things that cause us to fall short of God’s mark of perfection. We’d love to have a perfect world, but sadly, we have all gone astray and turned each one to his own way. And, the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

In other words, God did send a Messiah, someone to save the world. He came Himself, in form of a man. He had a job to do at His first coming, though; that was to take the punishment for all of our sins. He did this when He died on the cross and rose from the dead the third day.

It doesn’t help just to know those facts, though. You have to make it personal. See, you, like me and everyone else, wants justice, right? Someday, there will be justice for everyone. That justice will come when God looks on us and sees one of two things.

Each one of us has sinned, and that causes us to fall short of the glory of God. So, that means we must be born again, because the way we were born the first time, we were born sinners. Each person msut call on Jesus Chrsit to come and save them by changing them on the inside.

That way, God can see a person who has been changed. It is a person for whom Christ died, the just for the unjust. When He sees that, he knows the debt for that person has been paid.

When Jesus comes into a person’s heart, He gives peace. Sometimes they will fail, of course. I know I was probably overly worried about the Gulf oil spill last year, but I still knew Jesus could take care of it, and He did. The ecosystem is damaged, but not nearly as badly as it could have been. Had I kept my eyes on Jesus totally, I would have had perfect understanding. However, nobody can do that all the time, because we are sinner. We still have that sin nature.

Jesus saves us from the punishment for sin, though, and then He saves us from the power of sin, so that when we are tempted, we can turn to Him for help.

Thankfully, one day, Jesus will save us from the very presence of sin.

Is nuclear power safe? Probably. The chances of the accident that happened occurring again are faine. However, there will be a major earthquake at the end of the Tribulation period that makes the Japan one seem small by comparison. However, at that point, everything will be shaken, and a nuclear disaster will be the least of mankind’s worries.

Don’t think it can’t happen – this last earthquake moved a whole island several feet! And, it also moved the planet’s axis slightly!

Do, however, realize you can be safe in the arms of Jesus just by calling on Him by faith to save you from your sins and by repenting, letting Him change you on the inside. For if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Don’t put it off. Yes, we could be safe from another one for a long while. But, we also know that anything can happen. The Bible says today is the day of salvation. And, the way to avoid worrying is by knowing your futgure is secure in Jesus, through believing that His death and resurrection for you personally, and calling on Him to save you from your sins.

How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and the best resolutions?

Many people celebrate the New Year, and see it as a time of starting over. While anytime can bring a new beginning, the new year seems best for such resolutions because there is a logical change over to a new number.

Lots of people try to shake bad habits or start good habits during the new year. A person might wish to stop smoking or stop doing something else bad, or they may wish to pray more or draw closer to God. Or, just be kinder to one’s fellow man (though a vague resolution like that can be a bit of a copout unless one lays out some specific ways to do this.)

The Bible gives us 9 great things to cultivate – called “fruits of the Spirit” – in Galatians 5:22-23. By growing these in specific ways, instead of just saying, “I’ll be nicer,” we can have a brighter new year, follow God more closely if we know Him, or come to know Him as a loving, personal Savior and guide in life if we don’t yet know Him.

New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep because we are humans. It’s our nature to wander away from what we should do. “All we like sheep are gone astray, we have turned each one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity (sin) of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That means we fall short of God’s standard of perfection.

Thankfully, when one simply trusts in Jesus by faith to save them – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31) – God makes them new on the inside. (2 Cor. 5:17) He begins a good work, and promises to complete it. (Philippians 1:6) However, while He keeps trying to work in us to make us more Christlike, our sin nature keeps holding us back unless we focus totally on Him. Even the great apostle Paul, near the end of Romans 7, complains that what he doesn’t want to do, he does, and what he wants to do, he doesn’t.

Thankfully, he finishes that chapter by stating that Jesus can save him from that “wretched state,” and that – to those in Christ Jesus – there is “now therefore no condemnation.” (Romans 8:1) When a person trusts in Jesus to forgive them of their sin, by faith, they can be sure that God will keep them from falling.” (Jude 24) In every situation, when we are faced with temptation to sin, He provides a way of escape so we don’t have to. (1 Cor. 10:13) he is strong enough to keep us saved (John 10:28-29) because He lives in believers through His Holy Spirit. We are sealed with it. (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30)

See, since we are sinners, we don’t have the strength to keep these things on our own. That’s why so many people fail at their resolutions. They are like small children who try to dress themselves, even though a parent is right there wanting to help. The child insists on doing it him/herself, and snaps are done wrong, heads try to go through sleeves,a nd it’s so mixed up you’d think their socks will wind up on their ears. Yes, small children need to try on their own since it’s a skill they’ll need – this isn’t a perfect illustration. But, it does show how we act when we have a loving God who wants to lovingly guide us Himself. This is why we must pray, too, though He knows our needs – He wants us to realize we can’t do it on our own and that we need His help.

This, then, is how to keep those New Year’s Resolutions – give them over to God. Let Him be the one to keep you from falling, instead of trying it on your own. And if you do fail once, simply go to Him and receive His great forgiveness. For if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrightousness. (1 John 1:9)

So, what are those really good fruits that God wants us to grow in us? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

The word “but” at the start shows there is something before that which is different – usually the opposite. In this case, God inspired Paul to write about things which our human flesh likes to do. Our carnal nature means that we don’t always like to do what’s right. We follow our lusts and tear others down, hate, act stubborn or selfish, and so on.

You may say, “Wait, unsaved people can be kind, gentle, etc..” Yes, but not to the extent and often not in the proper manner that the Holy Spirit builds these fruits in us. Let’s look at each of these very briefly and see how we can have a great New Year trusting in God to grow these fruits in us, instead of trying to do it on our own.

Love

The world is decent here. Still, there is such confusion about what love is. Some use it when they mean lust. But, the physical never lasts. Others use it to mean that they care about someone as long as they do something for them. For the most part, an unsaved family can be a very close-knit and loving one, of course. They might be able to come close to the unconditional love God provides, because it’s built into us.

However, only through God can we truly love as Christ did. I’m reminded of an illustration of a father that I read in an e-mail. His son was allergic to bee stings – a bee sting could even kill him. So, he saw a bee buzzing around his son, grabbed it in his hand, and took the stinger himself, so it wouldn’t be a threat. Now, if you expand that, the same loving father might do this for his son’s friend, or maybe even a total stranger. Some have given their lives to save strangers they didn’t know. But, God’s love is much deeper.

God’s love means that He takes the sting of death for His enemies, those who hate him and want nothing to do with Him – He still tasted death for them. Because, all of us were once this way. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) So, that means that for the Spirit to help us love others more, we need to love our enemies. We need to care about others and be willing to pray for them. We certainly need to help others and reach out to those who are hurting even if it means we’ll get teased for it. We need to protect the bullied of our society and show them how to let the Lord help them through things.

Joy

The world has joy, but too often it is at the expense of others. Now, if someone is able to laugh at themselves – and we all need to be better at that (the next fruit gives us that) but the problem with the world’s joy is that it’s full of raunchiness and filthy language and other bad things at times. A couple boys I know were introduced via YouTbue to some classic comedians of the 1940s-1960s era by their father. They said these comedians were the funniest they’d ever heard.

Joy isn’t just laughter, though. It’s being happy even when times are bad. That’s because the Spirit helps us take our mind off of our own worries and focus on God. Many verses in the Bible show people who felt joy in knowing God would be with them even in the worst of times. The world can’t do this, and even Christians have trouble with this when they focus on themselves. Always remember, Paul wrote Philippians – a book which talks a lot about feeling joy – from a Roman prison. If he could do that, God can give us joy, too.

Peace

When we cast all our cares on Jesus, He can give us a “peace that passeth understanding.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Instead of being full of worry, God can give us peace. Even in the worst of times, we can know for sure we are going to Heaven (1 John 5:13, John 3:16, etc.), know for sure God loves us, and so on. We cultivate this fruit through faith.

Longsuffering

This word for patience hits the nil on the head when it comes to a description. Sometimes, patience means we must put up with a lot. Anyone who has ever had small children knows what this is like. Thankfully, they do eventually grow up, and if we do a good job of leading by example and explaining that example to them, they will follow.

God gives us a much greater ability, though. He can put verses or hymns in our mind when we most need them. He can give us words to say that can calm the storms of life. He wants to help us in this crazy world. The Bible warns that at the end of times, “The love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12 – 2 Timothy 3:1-3 show how these others declining, like we see today, show that the Lord is close to returning.) One reason this is true is that there is so much less patience than there used to be. Another is that we don’t take time to think of others in our busy schedules. These two are tied together. When we take time to think of others, we realize others matter and that we need to be more patient.

It’s hard for us on our own. But, God can work wonders in us if we trust Him.

Gentleness

As noted in the comment on joy about, there is so much more coarseness and vulgarity today. Gentleness isn’t just a gentle touch, it’s an attitude, one that says we’re not going to be really harsh or overly critical or anything else beyond what is needed. At times the world has always been too rough. But Godly people, following the Spirit, have always known how to approach others with the right amount of tenderness. And, that’s different for different people. For instance, Jude 22-23, where God’s Word tells us to tell others of His love in different ways, some needing compassion because of what they’ve been through, others, needing stern warnings.

How do we know which is which? Again, we need the Lord to show us. At times, the world tries to have everything gentle, but that is doing it the world’s way, to draw praise from people, not God’s way. God’s way is like Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11) He was gentle and showed He cared, but He still came out and said her sin was sin, and told her “Go, and sin no more.” If you’re like me, you can see Him saying this in a more tender manner than He spoke to the Pharisees, but he still said it.

Goodness

This is fairly easy, and brings a lot of the others into it. It requires that we know what is good, which is hard for us to do without God. Without Him, we just try to make others see us. Jesus said that we should do good to others without trying for praise ourselves; instead, we must let our lights so shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Faith

Once we trust Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He helps us to have faith by giving us things to pray for or go through that help us to see our reliance on Him. The more we do, the more He’ll call us to do. People like George Muller, the great English man of faith who helped many orphans in the 19th century, was a great testimony to what one person can do when they put all their faith in God. He is the kind of person we should all strive to be this New Year.

Meekness

The world is wrong when they say it means weakness. Meekness means gently loving and having power but choosing not to use it. So, it’s got parts of gentleness, goodness, and a few others. When we are meek, we let God handle the situation instead of trying on our own strength.

Temprance

This word, meaning self-control, probably encompasses the vast majority of all New Years resolutions. It stretches from not flying off the handle at everyone to not devouring boxes of candy, and everywhere in between. It means not losing it at that person who cuts you off while driving, knowing they may have a sick relative they are rushing to see. It means so many things the world just can’t do very well, though some do better than others.

We need the Holy Spirit for this. Like Paul, we’re going to have trouble, but instead of just saying, when we do, “Oh, well, I broke my resolution, now I can go back to how I was,” we must confess and forsake that sin and ask the Lord to change us and help us not to sin.

He will do this for His children, but the first prayer He hears and says “yes” to is that of a repentant sinner coming to Him for salvation. Yes, He may answer yes to another prayer from that person, but only because someone else happened to pray the same thing, or He did it on His own to draw that person to Him.

He is always trying to draw us toward Him. He wants us to realize the things I’ve said above. He wants each of us to see as I saw years ago, that I was a sinner in need of a Saviour. That Christ died for my sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and rose again the third day. Just call on Him by faith to save you. (Romans 10:9,10,13; Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.) It’s as easy as ABC – Admit, Believe, Choose.

Once you have done that, God’s Word promises to develop the fruits of the Spirit, but He also warns us not to quench the Spirit. It is so much easier when we follow the Lord. Just always remember, we don’t do it because we have to. We follow Him because we get to. He promises to give us life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) Part of that abundant life is helping us to grow to be more Christlike by growing those fruits of the Spirit.

Because, so much of what we seek – like the things I mentioned the world seeking above – don’t last. Whenever we try to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the pride of life (1 John 2:16), we wind up feeling emptier later. That’s another reason why people can’t always keep their resolutions – they need something to fill themselves with instead.

This year, let us resolve to fill those empty places with the fruits of the Spirit.

The real reason for the season

Remember the reason for the season

The world has so changed Christmas. They have it as just a day of celebration. Sure, some might know generally what it means. But, they don’t realize the true meaning. And, it’s not just what the song say, “The giving of love every day.” Although that is a start.

Ttrue love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter what you do, God loves you. A person who has not received Christ’s forgiveness has chosen to go his or her own way. Isaiah 53: 6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

This is the time of year when we should celebrate the fact that God gave that love to us. He did so by giving Jesus to us. And, Jesus being God the Son, it also means that God came for us. He gave of Himself.

See, it’s all about giving, but not the way the world thinks. The world tries to get you to spend money to buy things for others. But, we give things because it’s symbolic of what God gave us. We don’t have to give gifts at Christmas. We could give gifts anytime. If you give gifts, that’s fine. Romans 14 teaches that we shouldn’t judge someone because they choose to celebrate a certain day, as long as they are honoring God. But don’t let that draw you into the world’s view of Christmas. Remember to keep Jesus first.

Second, quite a few families – especially with children – remember the meaning by singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. That’s great; especially if you make a cake since you can eat it. Seriously, though, it’s great to remember Jesus’ birthday. But, while we’re on the subject of giving, birthdays are another time when we give gifts, right?

So, what are you giving Jesus?

We can give Him our time, our commitment, our love, our devotion. We can give Him praise and glory through how we treat others and tell others about Him. We can give Him so much. So, my second reminder to you is, as you remember the true meaning of Christmas – that Jesus came to die for our sins and rise from the dead – don’t just say “Happy birthday” and forget about Him. Give Him a gift that keeps on giving.

Finally, to tie these 2 thoughts together, remember how great that gift is that God gave.

People can give great things. I have a great uncle who remembers the Great Depression. His dad, my great grandfather, was going to lose the family’s home, which he’d built about 7 years earlier. He tells the story of how Pop went to see a great aunt who was quite rich for that time. She gave them the money to save their house, and then some left over. My great uncle says they felt like they were rich.

That was a great gift their Aunt Kate gave. Except for organ/bone marrow donations, it’s probably among the greatest gifts a person can give. Still, it is nothing when compared to the fact Jesus came to become sin for us. (2 Cor. 5: 21) He came to save us from the penalty of hell, which each of us deserves because of our sin. However, those of us who have trusted in Him to save us are not under that penalty anymore. We are passed from death unto life. (John 5:24, 1 John 3:14)

Think about that. Even someone who donates an organ, or bone marrow, can only give someone a normal healthy life span at best. (And that isn’t always a guarantee.) But, God’s gift to us makes sure that all who receive it have everlasting life in God’s perfect heaven, and relationship with Him on earth.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16)

Think of the certainty that gives. That last part – Jesus Himself guarantees that that believer will have everlasting life. But, later we read that those who do not believe (that is, heart knowledge, not just head knowledge) will not see life.

Thus, we must make it our goal to tell others. And, to show Christ’s love to others through our actions as well as our words.

“The giving of love every day,” as the song says? Only because Christ’s followers are to be known by their love. We must show Christ, and tell others about Him, in this lost and dying world.

God blamed for dropped catch. What is God’s role in winning and losing games?

In the midst of a forgettable season, the Buffalo Bills almost beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their receiver, Steve Johnson, dropped an almost sure touchdown pass and blamed God for it. It was apparently done via Twitter. This brings to mind an interesting discussion I had with a youth – he plays football and 1-2 other sports, if I recall – a year or so ago. It’s a discussion that touches on this receiver’s comment and a number of other things.

Because Americans have so many things, there is a temptation to expect that we will always be successful. In fact, the old “Protestant work ethic” tended to cause some to think that if one has material success, one is being blessed by God. And, that failure means that God’s blessings have been removed.

However, this is an absolute lie. God does not promise us material blessings. In fact, He says numerous times that these should not be our focus. Our focus should be on building treasures in Heaven, where – unlike material things – moth and rust can’t eat away at it, and it can’t be stolen. (Matthew 19:21) Material things are of this world, and not of God. We are told, “love not the world nor the things in the world.” Worldly things will pass away, but God’s love and the important things will be forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Sure, we need things like food, clothing, yes, even money. But, Jesus says of necessities, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33) He gives us all we need when we need it.

This brings us to my discussion with this youth. I’d brought up how players sometimes credit God when they win a title.

We then discussed how God might will someone to fail to teach them something. It might be humility, perhaps, as “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) However, it’s not always because the person is sinning. He might allow a loss to teach compassion, so a person can learn how others feel who maybe can’t achieve as much. It might be because someone else needed the win more, or for a myriad of other reasons that we can’t comprehend, as mere mortals.

However, having never played a team sport except for Beeper Baseball, I was curious about whether a team would really want to hear a player wax philosophical like that after a loss. He replied – and I agreed – that one’s teammates, having just played their hearts out, would probably not want to hear it.

His comment makes sense. It wouldn’t be good for morale, for one thing – a team is supposed to function as a unit, with everyone trying their hardest for the team. It wouldn’t be meant to imply that the player “gave up,” but it could be taken that way, especially in the heat of the moment. Not only that, but it might bring about a negative attitude when the next game comes. Perhaps the team won’t feel as confident about success, or won’t try as hard, feeling it’s “just not meant to be” from the start.

Far better is for a player to show his or her Christianity by being sportsmanlike in a loss. Crediting the other team and gracefully accepting others’ mistakes – especially admitting their own failures, make one a leader, someone about whom their teammates will say, “I know he’s got my back, and he’s willing to accept responsibility.”

Yes, theologically we can say with certainty that God doesn’t always mean for us to win a game. That pebble that causes a ball to take a bad hop was allowed by God to be there for a reason, as they have been for years. However, to “blame” God for it is to make two big errors.

One error is expecting that victory was somehow deserved. Yes, athletes, in the heat of battle, do expect this. Athletics is a field that requires great effort to avoid becoming incredibly prideful. On one level, a team player should feel they should win. The Apostle Paul, who uses comparisons with athletics himself, says that we should be like those who strive for mastery, but that we do it to obtain an incorruptible crown. (1 Cor. 9:25-27)

However, to think that victory is always foreordained is to ignore the bigger picture. God’s ways are higher than our ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth. (Isaiah 55:9) This means that things from a championship all the way down to a catch are never certain. Trying one’s hardest the entire game – as Johnson did – is all that one can do. To expect that one “has to win” is to risk becoming not only prideful, but bitter in one’s attitude. Instead of focusing on those things we don’t have, we need to always have an attitude of thankfulness for what we do have.

In fact, in the long run, by keeping that attitude of thankfulness, and not focusing on the negative “we should have won” thoughts, an athlete will perform *better*. Why? Instead of playing the blame game, instead of thinking about the past, they will look forward to the next game. Paul was inspired by God to write about how he put behind things which were past, and reached toward things which wre in front of him. (Philippians 3:13)

What is that second error? It goes back to humility. One can easily say, “Well, God didn’t mean for it to happen.” But, unless one learns from the mistake, that player is never going to get any better. It goes back to coachability – coaches want players who are willing to learn, and so does God. This is why He emphasizes numerous times in the Bible about being humble. Even if there was a time where it was right for a player to say, “God didn’t mean for this to happen” in a postgame press conference, by not taking any blame himself, such a player is showing false pride.

Now, if that player wants to say something like, “God taught me a lesson,” and adds something like, “I let my teammates down, and I let God down, because my teammates are relying on me, and God put me in the position where I could do something great,” that would be excellent. It would be humble, and it would be glorifying God. Such a comment by an athlete would own up to the responsibility God gives, to use his or her physical talent to the best of their ability.

There is never a reason to blame God, however. Blaming God is as old as the Garden of Eden, and it means we fail to live up to our responsibility. It magnifies us when we should be glorifying God and accepting if we mess up at something.

We wont’ be ble to use the excuse that we follow the “health and wealth” preachers, either. We have God’s Word, the Bible, and in it, He doesn’t promise us material things. He promises us riches that we can build in Heaven instead. There are many reasons why we might fail at something – be it a business, a catch, or whatever.

And, not all of them have to do with us failing God. In fact, many times, it has nothing to do with our sinful nature. It merely has to do with God having something which is better in the long run for us.

You see, we’ve all sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God doesn’t reward us with material riches. Instead, he gives we who are so underserving eternal life in His perfect heaven. He does so freely. He doesn’t require us to do anything but come to Him and confess that we are sinners in need of the Savior, and then call on Him to save us through His finished work on the cross.

We don’t deserve God’s perfect heaven because of our sin. We deserve ternal punishment for our sin, but God has graciously allowed us to be saved. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Christ took our punishment for us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8) And, whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Once we are saved, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. However, in the grand scheme of things, what happens here on earth isn’t as important as how we get through it. Because, we have the most important promise – Jesus will be with us always, even until the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20) In this world we will have tribulation, but we can be of good cheer, because Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33)

Why Should I Be Thankful?

It is remarkable that we have the chance to communicate with people everywhere, thanks to modern technology. Our phones can now do anything, it seems, and people in the remotest places can access the Internet.

However, with all the problems we can have, it is easy to wonder what we can be thankful for. There is so much doom and gloom around us. So many things tear us down. The economy might be awful where you live. There is suffering everywhere.

And yet, we can still give thanks.

Sometimes it is for something little. A cousin, at age 5 or so, once asked – as we went around the table – if she could be thankful for something silly first. When told she could, she said, “I’m thankful our house has more bathrooms than Grandma and Grandpa’s.” When you’ve got to go, even that can be something good.

Of course, even if you have to use an outhouse, you can still be thankful you can physically go. There is an old saying – “I was sad because I had no shoes, till I saw a man with no feet.”

And, thus her silly saying is the lead-in to something so positive. God can use little things to start great things. From the mouths of babes sometimes come gems.

That is something to be thankful for, that there are those little moments, those fun times, to remember. This world is too filled with hatred and selfishness. But, the Bible tells us to focus on what is good. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

There is still loveliness, goodness, etc.. There is also beauty. It might not look like it outside if your November is as dull and dreary as some get in North America. However, there is still beauty. Just look at the good, and don’t think about the bad. The snow can still be pretty when you go to shovel it. You can still bask in the knowledge that God has produced such intricate detail in each snowflake.

In other words, stop and smell the roses. Think of the thornbushes as having roses on them. Because in ever bad thing, God can make good come out of it. Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

That car stopping you in traffic might be preventing you from going ahead to where you could be in a serious accident. Or, a serious accident in one place might keep you from getting killed in another place.

Back to the better things, though. Some people can recall so many happy times. However, even if you don’t have good memories, or you are feeling loss that leaves giant hole in your heart, God can give you something positive to build on.

Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief [that is, the devil] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” He wants that for you.

We all have God-sized holes in our hearts that only Jesus Christ can fill. Why?

The devil is truly a thief, as Jesus – God in flesh (John 1:1, 14, 10:30, Col. 2:9) – notes in that verse. See, the devil was an angel of light (Ezekiel 28:13, 2 Cor. 11:14), but was untested.

He was good, just like the world. But, the devil rebelled, and tried to be like God through selfishness. (Ezek. 28:13-19, Isaiah 14:12-14). He forces people to do things, instead of lovingly giving them choice like God does.

See, evil, is just an absence of good. And, all that goodness left the devil. Just like if a light goes out, it has no more light. There is no physical “dark” that takes its place.

So, God made this world perfect. But, the devil tempted Adam and Eve to sin. He stole from them by tempting them to disobey God. When they willfully disobeyed God, they were no longer perfect. Sin came into the world, and death by sin. Death spread everywhere. (Romans 5:12) All creation groans because of that sin. (Romans 8:22) All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23)

God loves each of us, though. So, He made a way that we could be forgiven for our sin. We inherited that sin nature. We can’t communicate with God, can’t be reconciled to Him, by our own good works. If we could keep the whole law and yet offend once, we’d still be guilty. (James 2:10) Many try of their own good works, but as we can see, that’s not possible. It must be by grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

So, God reconciled Himself to us. It was while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8); we don’t have to do anything to earn it ourselves. We can’t, in fact. It’s a free gift. (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.) When He died, he was punished in our place for our sin. (1 Peter 2:24, 2 Cor. 5:21, etc.) We were saved by the shedding of His perfect blood – and we are reconciled by His life, as He rose from the dead! (romans 5:10, each gospel account, etc.)

That is something to be thankful for, but we can’t be thankful for it unless we have it, can we? If you have a big gift in your house for your birthday, even if you know wht it is, if you don’t open it you can’t use it, right? You haven’t claimed it.

If you have nothing else, you can be thankful for salvation. If you have never claimed that gift, you can do it right now. You are only a single, sincere prayer of repentance to Jesus Christ away from eternal life. Repentance just means agreeing with God that your sins keep you from heaven, and you deserve eternal punishment for them. But, you know Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died for your sins and rose from the dead. And, you choose to call out to Him by faith to save you, and receive Him as your savior.

The fact God has done this, that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13) is something to be thankful for, and to go out and tell others about. It’s wonderful that someday, God will take believers away from this mess of a world to His perfect Heaven, where there’s no pain, no suffering, no tears. Nobody can do anything bad in heaven, because there is no sin.

But, we are here on earth to save sinners from that lost and dying world. God must do the saving, but we must do our part. We do it by praying that God will work in hearts as they are told the Good News. And, then, we go out and tell people they are loved, that there is a redeemer for their sins. They can fill those holes in their hearts with Jesus Christ, instead of with the sin of this world.

It’s something we get to do. God Himself lets us be part of His plan. What a privilege! So, let’s do it. And they will know the true Christians by their love. (John 13:34-35)

It may require humbling yourself to someone you’ve wronged, but you can tell everyone. What a great Thanksgiving message. Even just by passing this message on to others.

How to deal with bullies like Jesus did: Hate the sin, love the sinner

Did you ever consider that Jesus was bullied? Oh, yes, the Pharisees and Saducees – religious leaders of His day – couldn’t stand Him. This was really tough because he was, is, and always will be God. (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; etc.)

Jesus told Peter he could call down 10,000 angels to destroy the world when he was taken away to be crucified. But, He didn’t. Why not? Well, obvioulsy, He came to die for our sins, be buried, and rise again the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, etc.) His death was a punishment for our sins – He took that for each one of us. (1 Cor. 5:21)But, there’s another, special reason.

that reason is that He loves us. The recent incident at Rutgers, along with the deaths of various high school students, show there is a terrible problem.

Excellent resources for dealing with bullying, both in stopping the bullies and heling victims, have been found, such as this handy list of ways to cope. There is one other thing to consider before things get that bad, for those who are victims of bullying.

Students bully others for different reasons, as is noted in the last link above. However, one thing that everyone needs is to hear and see unconditional love.

First, for victims, you are loved no matter what by God. However, unless you trust Him forgive you for your sins, as mentioned above, you can’t have a relationship with Him. That is because yall of us have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin – what we earn because of our sin – is death, separation from God’s perfect love forever in a horrible place of suffereing. But, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) That gift is received by faith alone, in Christ alone and what He did for us on the cross. (Romans 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-9)

One you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, invite Him into your heart, and you will be made a new creature on the inside. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus Christ will come to live in you and work in your heart to make you mroe like Him.

Then, He will help you through everything. He promises “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) the Gospel of John is a great place to start out reading and learning more about Him.

In the meantime, He can also help you to have peace when others are mean. He has been through everything similar to what we face today. he didn’t have video games, but he had games, for instance.

You can have peace, then, that He will see you through. He can see anyone through anyone. He will also give you courage to say “I love you in Christ” to those who dislike you.

That is important, because you will then have the Lord in you, and He can help you help them to change, bit by bit, simply by showing Christ’s love for them. And, by using the power of prayer to change things.

Bullies must realize that there is unconditional love for them out there. They dont’ have to put others down to be special to God, becuase He is grieved any time someone feels hated. The bullies must break the bad habits early by learning to gather things like the Fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, etc..

See, wanting power and control over someone is wrong. it’s what the devil does. And, when we try to control others for selfish purposes, we are letting the devil control us.

Instead, we need to realize the freedom being in Christ gives us. God’s Word, the Bible, promises “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

This, by the way, is also excellent advice from someone in a relationship (marriage, boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever) where they are being bullied. God has given you the power to end that controlling nature of the devil. When the Bible speaks of Jesus “leading captivity captive,” it isn’t just talking about letting captives free who are prisoners for crimes. Many times, we imprison ourselves or allow others to imprison us. But, Jesus holds the key to escape.

The key to escape is *not* by leaving this world, though it will be when God calls us home someday. The key to escape is a spiritual one. it involves being free from being bullied or from being a bully. instead, God let’s us learn to form relationships based on mutual love adn trust.

The first key is to draw close to others, ask the Lord to help you and your family become closer to each other express your feelings more through words. If you can’t with them, find friends who are willing to listne. But first, if you are a bully, you must trust the Lord to help you do this.

It might be hard, if people have let you down so much. But, all it takes is one little smiden of faith. And, that starts by realizing that God is not a man, that He should lie. God is the one who made this world and everything, including you. He loves you.

However, thousands of years ago, sin was brought into the world through disobedience. People followed the devil and his ways of controlling, and lusting after the flesh.

God will one day punish all sin, and it will be thrown in a lake of fire to burn forever. perhaps you would like to see others there, becuase people have been mean to you. But, remember, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We’re not perfect. If we don’t form that perfect, unconditional loving relationship with God, we will die in our sins and go to that horrible place where sin will be punished.

God loved each of us, though – He doesn’t want you to go there. he is pleading with all who red to turn to Him before it is too late.All it takes is a single, sincere prayer of repentence int he Lord Jesus. Just talk to God, and: Admit you’re a sinner, that you fall short of His perfect love. Believe that Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died for your sins and rose fromt he dead; He took your punishment becuase you can’t get to Heaven on your own. And, Choose to repent and receive Him as your Savior, inviting Him into your heart to save you from your sins and forgive you, and to make you new ont he inside.

And, please, go out and share that Godly love with others, showing them a change. Becuase, when people see changed lives, they will believe there is a difference. That will be having a positive impact,a nd taking control by letting God use you in positive way. You will be spreading true, unconditinoal love around.

And, this world needs so much mroe love. Not just shallow, physical love, but deep, intimate, personal love. he can help you have that, if you only trust Him.

Living together before marriage: Does it help? Should a couple live together before marriage?

Especially with today’s much more mobile society, where people don’t have as much time to know each toher, many couples consider living together before marriage – which some studies say doesn’t increase the divorce rate much. However, others say it does..

Instead of looking at studies which go back and forth, can be read any way one wants, and can be flawed, it’s better to look at the truth. After all, if I have a rule that says I get the last cookie for some reason, and you have a rule that says you get the last cookie for a different reason, we can’t both get the last cookie. God’s Word, however, has spelled out rules that we can live by, however, for our benefit, so there is peace. That’s far better than all the drama and bickering of today’s world.

There are people, of course, who take the extreme that it’s just a euphemism for fornication. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. The Bible clearly says intercourse is to be only between a husband and a wife in marriage. They should treasure and enjoy sex only with each other.

There are people who have strong enough will power to avoid it. Such people will always make sure one leaves the bathroom before the other enters. They will avoid seeing each other in the buff or anything else that will tempt them to have sex with each other, and so on. They will do whatever they need to avoid the temptation to have sex before marriage, including, of course, having separate bedrooms. I know people look back longingly to “Leave it to Beaver” and other shows where a married couple had separate beds, but I believe this hurt the notion of family. A married couple should be shown enjoying each other, though it doesn’t need to be the intimacy level of “The Cosby Show.” And, even it wonderfully taught the idea “One man, one woman, one life,” especially with something like that the final line in one special episode. But, that’s another topic, and I can understand others’ views on married couples on TV, too.

Or, is it another topic? A couple that is living together before marriage, even if they do all of the above, and pretend to be like Ward and June Cleaver except not married, is still going against other rules, rules which God established to help us.

There are good reasons not to do it, not counting what the Bible says, but here are 4 good Biblical reasons why the Bible says it’s wrong, even if living arrangements aren’t specifically mentioned:

1. We should *never* tempt a weaker brother to sin. (1 Corinthians 8 ) Paul writes speaking of eating meat sacrificed to idols, but let’s put this in a omdern context. Person gets saved from a life of alcoholism. She can’t go into a restaurant with a bar in it without being tempted to go back into her former lifestyle. Her friends may be able to go to such a place easily, but if they drag her in there, they are sinning. Why, she is a weaker sister. (This is a true story of a woman I know who taught Sunday School 44 years after being saved, and never went into a restaurant with a bar, for the reason given.)

If a weaker couple, who can’t avoid giving in to their hormones, sees a stronger couple living together before marriage, they may try it. Unwatned pregnancies can result, or STDs, or just very broken hearts, because they were tempted to do what they saw that stronger couple do. When that stronger couple should have avoided living together to show a good example.

1.5 Yes, kids, adults must also show a good example, too. This reason is especially important because we are being watched by our children all the time. While this could have been listed as a separate reason, it is here because children are looking at our lives.

Children need to see consistency. Anytime they see people moving in and out, it creates more chaos, which leads to problems, as noted in <a href=”“>this blog, also linked above.

2. Living together tempts God. Jesus says that it is writtent hat we shouldn’t tempt the Lord to let us go off into our sinful lifestyle. And, as much as a strong couple tries, just one slip can lead to that sin of fornication. Look at King David with he just saw Bathsheba bathing one night. Instead of turning away, he just let his desires get the best of him.

3. We should abstain from all appearances of evil. Instead of being like the world’s system, which says to do our own thing, we should strive for individuality within the rules. Because, we are all unique, and have special traits, but these traits should be used to help others, not for our own selfish reasons. They should be used to help us accept each other in the things which aren’t important (like leaving the toilet seat up) while striving to follow those absolute truths which God created for our benefit.

This uniqueness leads to my final point:

4. We must put our faith in God, not in ourselves.

Let’s face it – feelings change all the time. A couple should put their whole trust in God, including for the right mate. Living together to see if it works means you trust your changeable feelings. Trusting only in your own thoughts and feelings is also false pride. We can feel we love someone one minute and not the next.

Indeed, we can feel we love someone’s looks one minute, and in 50 years, they’re all wrinkled up like prunes, they have serious medical issues, and we may have to go so far as to stay home and provide around the clock care.

When you look at your crush, you need to ask yourself, is this really someone you can see being with your whole life, even if they’re old, fat, and ugly? If you’re caringfor them around the clock?

Couples who stay together despite these obstacles do so becuase they are such close friends they’ve discussed all their ins and outs. They have no secrets. They know they’re the only one for each other; they wouldn’t accept *any* other, no matter how lovely.

They let their love for each other grow once they marry if they missed one of those little things – if one squeezes the toothpaste tube from the center all the time, for instance.

that’s where faith in God comes in. The above would actually make pretty much sense int he secular world, too, but think about it. God has a plan for your life. A plan which may or may not include a perfect mate. But, He has provided that perfect one for you becuase he loves you more than you can imagine. He wants you to experience that joy that comes from someone who truly completes you. That’s why Eve was taken from Adam’s side. A true mate should complete us. Until that time, we should trust God to do that for us. And, even afterward, God must be at the head of a marriage for it to work perfectly.

If we trust in ourselves, though, we can easily find ourselves witht he wrong partner. Yes, it’s more difficult in a more mobile society, if we go by man’s reasoning. But, not if we go by God’s. Because, god knows everything, and knows all about you. He knows what each of us needs; He just wants us to be humble enough to accept we can’t do it on our own.

Of course, the biggest thing that humbling ourselves must be with is our own sin. See, we all sin, and come short of the glory of God. His perfect love is mingled with His perfect justic, which says He must punish sin. The wages of sin is death – eternal separation from God forever in a place called Hell. but, the gift of God is eternal life through jesus Christ our Lord.

It’s a free gift. It’s one He wants you to have. And, you only have to receive it by faith. For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

How do you do that? Simply believe ont he Lord Jesus Christ – heart knowledge – and thou shalt be saved. that means to put your whole turst that Christ died for your sins, taking your punishment, according tot he Scriptures, that He was buried,a dn that He rose again the third day, according tot he Scriptures.

He did that for you. He paid the whole price to not only get you to His perfect Heaven, but also to let you have a great life with Him on earth. He will live inside you once you receive Him as your Savior and turn from your sins, inviting Him into your heart. he lives in you through the Holy Spirit, guiding you lovingly in the right way. Including, possibly, to that one true love. And, He will provide everything you need to now that mate without having to live together to do it. Just seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

The problem of early puberty, and the importance of a good self image – focused on the inside

Many people have concerns about the images children – especially girls – see, and the things they think about. Especially because a recent study showed that girls are hitting puberty at an incredibly early age, something which will have many far-reaching social consequences.

Thankfully, such children don’t have to go through life worrying. While it’s normal, and okay, to be concerned, we can be certain that if we cast our cares on Jesus, He will help us through.

This problem can seem especially daunting, of course. Children don’t develop extremely complex comprehension of things quickly. One could say that God, in His love and wisdom, allowed children to enjoy the fun of childhood longer, so their minds could develop before their bodies underwent a change. Even if the more extreme findings from the early 1800s aren’t typical, there has certainly been a decrease in the age of puberty over the last few decades.

Mankind consistently messes up the perfection of God’s system through sin, and this is no exception. Whether its chemicals, the many images Hollywood and Madison Avenue throw at our children, or a combination, mankind has warped things to the point that it’s hard enough for young adult women, let alone girls, to understand the simple truth.

What is that simple truth?

God knows you’re beautiful. He made you, and He loves you, just the way you are. You are a champion in His sight.

Different societies have different images of beauty. But, all focus on the outside. The Bible tells us that “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) When children hit puberty, they begin to look more and more on the outward appearance of things. They won’t just think of a boy or girl as a nice playmate, or a good friend. They’ll start to think of how cute they are. Their hormones will take control. When they haven’t mastered the art of resisting those many impulses that cause them to act before thinking, problems surface.

They not only start to think about others in a different light, they begin to think of themselves that way. They may play grownup or teenager when little, but the ability to comprehend all that is involved in real life is limited. It’s like a three-year-old who pretends to cook dinner. They may throw something into a play oven, then get it out, without any comprehension of cooking time, recipes, or anything else that goes into making a meal. Let alone the mess that can result when they fix breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day, only to leave Mom with much more work when she comes downstairs.

We can see, then, that the problem of girls hitting puberty as younger ages is a big one – not only for the girls, as there will be those who reach it at the age they were meant to, but also for boys. And, this hasn’t even mentioend the parents!

So, what is the solution? The solution is the focus on the fabulous princess that God wants every girl to be – and the wonderful prince He wants every boy to be. Fabulous and wonderful not for what is on the outside, but for what is on the inside.

See, everyone has an internal monologue, which tells them things about themselves and the world. It can send positive or negative messages. The Psalmist may have hidden God’s Word in his heart, that he might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11), but God’s Word also has plenty of verses we can teach young people to hide in their hearts so they can learn to enjoy life and be free from the temptation to look like some Hollywood supermodel – someone who has likely been photo cropped, anyway, so doesn’t even look like that.

Consider verses such as Philippians 4:8 (things to think on that will help them: true, honest, just, lovely, etc.), Galatians 5:22-23 (Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, etc.), Romans 8:1 (“There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” – which deals with sin being taken away, but which can help those who try to condemn themselves for not being good enough for something), all of Psalm 139 (such as being fearfully and wonderfuly made), and so on. So many thoughts can be part of girls’ and boys’ lives, thoughts which can build them up, as we are taught to edify one another.

How to Have that Perfect Relationship with God

That Holy Spirit guidance is there so that we may have life, and lfe more abundantly. (John 10:10) God wants us to have a good self image – but He wants us to have the right self image. An image based on the inside, which is the most important. It’s the part that is ultimately going to matter.

It’s true, of course, that we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. He can’t have that perfect relationship with us because of that sin, so we can’t go to his perfect Heaven when w4e die, and we keep turning from Him here – as noted, messing up His perfect plan.

Thankfully, as quoted in Romans 8:1, there is a way for you to have no condemnation in you. You don’t have to be condemned for that sin, separated from God’s perfect love forever in a horrible place of suffering.

He reconciled Himself to each of us while we were yet sinners; He died for us before we could do anything for Him. (Romans 5:8) Then, the third day, He rose fromt he dead. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, etc.) He defeated sin and death, because He – jesus Christ – is God in the flesh. He was able to take our sin away, and make a way for us to have that perfect relationship with God again.

We just have to receive that forgiveness. He sees each person – you – as a wonderful person, beloved of God. And, all you need to do is believe with your whole heart that He has saved you from your sin, and call on Him to forgive you. It is by grace you are saved through faith – and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

It’s as easy as AB: Admit you’re a sinner, Believe Jesus Christ – God in flesh – died for your sins, and rose fromt he dead, and Choose to repent – turn from those sins and invite Him into your heart to make you new on the inside.

Dealing With Problems Once You’re Saved

of course, teens, tweens, and everyone has temptations. Even Christians can fall for those negative thoughts if they’re not careful. That internal monologue needs to be closely guarded.

There are resources out there which can help. There’s a great book called “Before You meet Prince Charming” for girls, which can help them to see and learn to focus on that wonderful beauty they have – the ministry which promotes this, “Tomorrow’s Forefathers,” has a number of good resources. There are probably a number of local ministries, such as “Stealing Hollywood,” which help girls to understand these things.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that a positive self-image starts by realizing that you are someone special for your inward beauty. Kindness, gentleness, long suffering, and so on are fruits of the Spirit for a reason – they help to build in us the kind of people God wants us to be. People who care about the heart of others, and who want to make a difference in the world by putting God first in their lives.

Because when we start to see God as the ultimate goal, and Christ as the way, then we start to see how those things of the flesh really don’t matter in the long run. Oh, they’re wonderful tools to provide pleasure for a time, between a married couple.

But, that same married couple will grow old together, become wrinkled, feeble, and son on together, and lose the outward things of youth. However, if a person has placed his or her trust in Christ, their joy, kindness, peace, love, and so on will be forever. Because while those crushes of youth will fade, there is nothing which can separate us from the love – deep, unconditional love – of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Chip Implants: Is the RFID chip the Mark of the Beast? What each is and isn’t

The recent announcement that Wal-Mart would tag clothing with the RFID chip, and the chip’s use for other purposes, has raised concerns among privacy advocates, as well as questions about whether the RFID chip might be the Mark of the Beast, as discussed in Revelation 13. Perhaps not as many have heard of RFID specifically – indeed, my fingers seem to want to type RDIF. (Relax, Dude, it’s Friday?) However, the notion of chip implants for numerous purposes is in the news a lot.

The fact that God’s Word told of microchip technology – as well as webcams and other things – over 1900 years ago isn’t the only thing that makes many wonder about chip implants. Privacy advocates also warn that they could lead to an Orwellian society in which everything is monitored.

A look at both sides reveals this to be a fascinating new technology. It’s not all horrible, as it has great uses. Still, in the wrong hands, it will, someday, led to great troubles. As we’ll see, the Mark of the Beast is clearly not the same as the RFID chip as used in 2010. However, because it could be used for evil rather easily, it is definitely something that – like the above webcams and satellites – could be used for evil purposes. However, there is a way to escape such a fate.

What Is the Mark of the Beast?

First, a look at Revelation 13 shows what the Mark of the Beast will be:

16 And he [note: the false prophet] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast [the antichrist], or the number of his name.

This Mark is used for control and identification. The world ruler in this period will have great power. However, he won’t be just any ruler – he will eventually proclaim himself God (Dan. 9:27, 2 Thes. 2:4, Revelation 13, etc.) Indeed, that verse in Second Thessalonians says the ruler, known as the Antichrist, will exalt himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” He will force and demand worship. This is unlike God, as the Lord Jesus Christ lovingly lets us choose whether or not we wish to serve Him. He simply lets us know there can be severe consequences to our choices if they are poor ones.

In the beginning, though, this ruler will be just a great man – some will call him the greatest leader ever. He will unite many behind his global agenda. He will bring peace. In fact, he will likely be responsible – though maybe behind the scenes – for the rebuilding of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In the middle of a seven-year period, though, he will break a covenant with the Jewish people, and wage war against them. (Dan. 9:27)

His mark is one of control. Note that nobody may buy or sell without it. They will be forced to declare allegiance to the Antichrist and his government. Either he, or his realm, will suffer a deadly wound which will be healed.

Rev. 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon [the devil] which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

You can read all of Revelation 13 on your own, but notice that the one who sets up this image will also be the one implementing the Mark of the Beast. Through holograms, computer animation, or some other means, the image will speak.

We see, then, that the Mark of the Beast will be much more than just an ID tag. Oh, it will most likely contain that. It’s quite possible that it will contain all vital information. At the rate things are going, it could contain an internet connection!

People have worried many things were the Mark in the past – Bar codes, credit cards (VI is 6 in Latin, and the number of the Beast is 666), tattoos, and so on. The reason people believed things like credit cards were the Mark is because they twisted Bible prophecy to their own era. That’s normal – the Thessalonians did the same thing. Believers were confused because they thought they were supposed to all disappear in the twinkling of an eye, instead of dying one by one. Paul had to comfort them that those who trusted Christ as Savior and then died were in Heaven; (1 Thess. 4:13-18)

This doesn’t mean the mark won’t be like any of those. Each of those places us closer to the Mark. The Mark isn’t RFID in the way it is being used now. However, the RFID chip, like a credit card, is an ID that means people are more accustomed to these things.

it is a sign of the times. In other words, we probably know now how many of those things in Revelation chapter 13 occur.

We must read the Bible literally. Sometimes it’s hard, like before satellites, webcams, and the like, Rev. 11:9-10 (all the nations of the world looking on two dead bodies) was hard to understand. Like the Mark of the Beast, though, it will happen. Something will be put into people, to cause them to be monitored, to swear allegiance to the Antichrist, and so prevent them from buying or selling anything without it.

Still, privacy experts are worried. So, what is RFID, and what isn’t it?

The RFID Chip and Other Implants

Despite the typo I mentioned, RFID is not a typo for Relax, Dude, it’s Friday. It stands for Radio Frequency Identification. An RFID tag is used to monitor an item, animal, or person by using radio waves. It can be used to track and identify merchandise. However, it can also be used to monitor animals – such as finding lost pets – or humans. The FDA has approved one – called Verichip – for use in humans; and it has raised even more alarms.

It can be read from farther away than traditional bar codes. (A funny sounding term when one considers those haven’t been around for that many decades.) This leads to numerous concerns, such as identity theft. It also could be monitored if a tracking device such as a GPS system were placed inside of one.

There are, of course, benefits to RFID chips as well. At times, mankind has invented things and even put them into mass production without considering all the possible drawbacks or increasing safety first – people died on rare occasion from shocks caused the earliest lights, for instance.

While there are safety concerns, proponents of the chips, if they were honest, would likely acknowledge the potential problems, and promise to solve those, as was done with electricity. After all, microchip technology does allow things to be identified faster than ever, monitored for problems easier than ever, and so on.

However, problems with insulating electrical wires enough are technical in nature. It’s easy to fix a light switch when you have the technology. It’s impossible for people to fix human nature totally – sure, they can make things better, but imperfect people can’t lift other imperfect people above the level of imperfection. They can’t make people perfect.

Since people can’t become perfect on their own, there will always be people out there who can use microchip technology for their own, evil ends. Some of these can easily become leaders of entire nations. In other words, the RFID Chip as it is being used now is not yet the Mark of the Beast.

However, it’s easy to see how it can be. It’s easy to see how something that is meant only for identification can rob a person of liberty, and be used to control everything he or she consumes. It’s quite possible that the information on a chip can be programmed, so that a person’s identify can be changed or wiped out.

And, given human nature, it’s only a matter of time before someone does just that.

What’s better, though, is knowing how to avoid the pain and suffering. God has clearly wanred us that this Mark will be used as a sign of worship to the Beast, the devil. And, He has provided a way to avoid it.

Rev. 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

How to avoid that terrible fate?

q. Remember, this world is not our home. We will spend forever in one of two homes, Heaven or Hell. The verses above describe Hell. The Bible tells us many times what Heaven will be like. It is a place where nobody has seen, heard, or imagined the wonders. Just picture a world with no suffering, no pain, no death, where everyone is peaceful – including the animals!

Heaven will be filled with the most joyous things, and most amazing sights and sounds. It will be like a person, totally blind from birth, suddenly seeing perfectly. Our finite minds can’t grasp the wonders that await us.

The way to avoid the Mark now is to simply “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) We are in the Church Age, and have not yet seen the worst that mankind will do. That may be hard to believe, with the increase in violence, hatred, lawlessness, and so on. But, it will continue to get worse.

Right now, though, you can put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you for your sin. We don’t all commit every sin. There are some who have never stolen, for example, but who haave told lies. No sin can enter into the presence of God. So, God Himself, in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, came to this world to die on the cross, and to rise from the dead. He took your sins and mine on Himself (2 Peter 2:24), taking the punishment so we could go to Heaven.

And, the wonderful thing is, He will come live in you right now, and guide you through the many problems of life. He does that through the Holy Spirit, which is another way God manifests Himself.

All if takes to do ths is to receive Him by simple faith: believe that He died for you and rose from the dead, that He took the punishment for your sins, and repent of them. That means agreeing with God that you need Him to save you, and invite Him to do so; invite Him to come live in your heart to change you on the inside.

One day, He which letteth (the Holy Spirit) will be taken out of the way, and the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) will be revealed. (2 Thess. 2:7-8) If that time has come by the time you read this, you may still receive Him by faith, like above, but things will be a lot tougher. You may well be one of those who is beheaded in the end for the cause of Christ. However, you will be sure of going to heaven, and in the meantime, you can trust in God to guide you through things. It’s just that His Holy Spirit will not be able to indwell believers in the end, since He will have left the earth. Instead, He will be on believers to guide them, just as He was in the Old Testament.

Thankfully, we know that at that time, if you endure to the end, you will be saved.

Why is the sky blue? Is space empty? And other important reminders when going back to school

Why is the sky blue? It’s among the most asked questions children have – almost a generic one to show the curiosity of young people and the joy of learning that comes when youngsters are encourged.

Some may not think of light scattering through the atmosphere as the primary answer, of course. Some may first think of jokes, like Lucy’s in one Peanuts comic where she said crabbily, “Because it isn’t green.”

Others may think poetically about the sky, as it reaches up to infinity. Oh, sure, the atmosphere only goes so far, but even it goes much farther than we can imagine, or see, thinning until it is merely a few molecules per square mile.

And yet, the same sky – blue, thanks to the light scattering from the sun – reaches all the way down to the ground.

Isn’t it amazing? We don’t think about it, because we’re used to thinking of the “sky” as way up there. But, if we put on that same childlike faith that kids have, we realize that just sitting up on an adult’s shoulders feels like we’re “way up there.” And, we’re actually walking around in a sky that begins way down at our feet. Good thing, too, or the atmosphere wouldn’t allow us to breathe, if it started only a few dozen feet up.

Why is it down that far? Why are we allowed to breathe in that sky that starts not somewhere many feet up, but right down at the ground? becuase of an unseen force called gravity.

It’s important to remember why the sky is blue, of course. And, it’s also important to remember other great things as school starts back up.

1. Learning should be fun.

Not every part of learning – or anything – will be fun. Even a great athlete like LeBron James has parts of the sport he doens’t like – same with pretty much every NFL player by the end of training camp.

People dream of being like them in some way, though, because they do something that their fans think would be lots of fun.

In the same way, we should get through the boring stuff like those NFL drills, with an eye toward the big picture. We will gain so much knowledge, and hopefully the wisdom to use it.

After all, think about how cool it is to muse about the sky like I just did – and to consider that you’re in the sky right now, in some ways. Not high up, but you are in the atmosphere.

2. The sky and space are like life

That unseen force holding us down, which he need to rely on, is the same one holding that atmosphere we need so much. That force is gravity.

It doesn’t end there, though. There is an invisible force lovingly guiding each of us, too – one who wants what’s best for us, and who knows even better than we do. But, He’s not just an unseen force.

Shien a flashlight on a far wall. Where is the light? Int he flashlight? Ont he wall? Actually, it’s everywhere on a straight line between the flashlight and the wall – we just need a special instrument to see it. Just like that instrument we need to see God – faith.

Like the sky, God’s love is unfathomable, reaching out beyond what we can perceive, except that His love is many times greater than that. It is infinite, just as space is. Space, with a few atoms of hydrogen per square light year at times – but still, atoms of some element, just like the sky has. That’s right; particles and waves exist out in space, so space is not completely empty. The atoms and electrons spread to unimagined thinness and heights, and then the particles and electromagnetic waves still keep going. And, other particles and waves come at us from the deepest reaches of space.

They are drawn by an invisible force called gravity. Gravity, which we rely on by faith, unthinking, to hold us down, to keep us from flying into space. Just as we must rely on God to help us, and to save us.

Because you see, gravity does something else wonderful for us. It not only keeps that atmosphere on the ground, preventing it from fleeing away and stopping all breath. It keeps enough atmosphere down on the ground, so anyone can breathe in it.

In the same way, God, in His love, doesn’t expect us to reach out to His unfathomable heights. He reaches down to us. In fact, He came down to us, in the person of Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for our sins, and rise fromt he dead, so we could get to Heaven, and also so we could enjoy life more abudnantly here.

3. God wants you to breathe freely

God doesn’t force you to come to Him. Just like He doesn’t force people to breath ehte atmosphere. A person could live their whole lives breathing something in a spacesuit. The question is, why? It would take so much effort, and there wouldn’t be the joy of living and breathing freely. Plus, the body would die anyway, so all that work would be for nothing.

God has something better for you, though. He has verses like Philippians 4:8, Galatians 5:22-23, the Commandments, and so on, that help us to make this world a better place. They’re not rules that we’re forced to follow; they’re rules He set up to lovingly guide us, and make the world better for us – and for others.

He lovingly reached down and tdid that, because we couldn’t reach up to Him. But, we have a problem. We dont’ always keep His commandments.

He made a way to reconcile Himself to us, though. He came to this world, int eh person of Jesus Christ. he lived a perfect life. He could do that becuase He was God in flesh. God the Father God the Son, and God the Spirit are all God – just as ice, water, and water vapor are all H2O. He was perfect, because He had to be to take our punishment – He didn’t have to be punished for His own sin. He died on the cross for you, me, everyone, and rose fromt he dead. He’d defeated death and sin.

Now, each person must simply receive Him by simple faith. Call on Him to forgive you, for all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom. 10:13) He has allowed you, by grace alone, to not only get to Heaven and have eternal life, but to have it here on Earth, also.

4. God can change things with you putting your whole trust in Him

Things can be very tough at school. You may wonder if you’ll ever rise up above al lthe gossip, mean talk, and superficial lifestyles people have. Well, on our own, we can’t, but God promises in his Word, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13)

So, trust Him to help you show His love through your actions, and your words, and you will make a difference. People will see something different in you, and will ask why – then, you can tell them how to have Jesus in their hearts (through the Holy Spirit) as well. But, you need Him as your Savior first, before you can help anyone else to do so.

He loves you, and wants you to live for Him, though. Not becuase you have to, but because He wants you to admit you’re a sinner and seek forgiveness for your sins, a change in your heart, so you can show others His great love.

Because, there’s a world of hurting people out there, many at school. People who are waiting to be told all about Christ’s love.