Deny, Take Up, and Follow

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” – Jesus (Matt. 16:24)

The stern, unbending demand of Christ is still true today:

Deny Self; Disown, disdain one’s flesh.

Take up your cross; (Luke adds, “daily.”) We cannot escape suffering, but through Christ, we can endure it.

Follow Jesus; to be in the same way with, accompany Him.

Righteousness & Peace Have Kissed

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“Mercy (hesed) & truth have met together; Righteousness & peace have kissed.” – Psa. 85:10

Where did they meet? In Christ Jesus.

These four virtues, once lost with Adam, are now found in Jesus. All the attributes of God rest perfectly in Him. They lovingly kiss.

When did they kiss? When He poured out His life on Calvary.

We are all guilty. The Law requires justice (TRUTH/RIGHTEOUSNESS). But the Judge wants us to be free (MERCY/PEACE). So He punishes sin (in the person of His Son) and releases the sinner. It is the only way God can judge us and save us at the same time. It is the only way God can be both Just & the Justifier (Rom. 3:26).

Why? Because He loves you so.

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us & sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

Sound too good to be true, but it gets even better: it’s a free gift. All you have to do is accept it in FAITH Rom. 10:9). You can’t earn it. If you could, it would become “payment for services rendered” (Rom. 4:4).  It is HILARIOUSLY WRONG to think we have anything to do with our own salvation. God could never, ever (ever ever ever) be “in debted” to Man (Rom. 11:35).

Its called Good News for a reason!

The 51% Gospel

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I hear this all the time (even from believers): “If I do more good than bad, I will get into Heaven. If I do more bad than good, I’ll probably go to Hell.”

This is the 51% Gospel.

It’s the “cosmic scale” theory. There is a huge scale in front of God. All the good stuff  I do goes on one side and all the bad stuff I do goes on the other. I’ve just got to do enough to tip the scales over to the good side. JUST OVER HALF, THAT’S ALL I NEED!

OK, let’s set aside Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 3:10-18… and let’s set aside the fact that this idea has ABSOLUTLEY NO BIBLICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

The 51% Gospel opens a deluge of concerning questions:

  • How are sins “weighted?” I’m assuming murder “weighs more” than a little white lie. What if I’ve never lied (whoops, there’s one right there), but I did rob somebody: does that, like, cancel each other out or something?
  • How do I know the score? How can I ever know if I’ve done enough?! I mean, am I even close or should I plan on donating a kidney some time in the near future?
  • What about “bad stuff” I committed unknowingly; do they still get put in my account? I didn’t know those things were even bad!
  • What about “good stuff” I did that turned out bad or “bad stuff” I did that turned out good? Who decides which is which?
  • What if I did a “bad” thing so that a “good” thing would happen? (The popular scenario is murdering Hitler to erase the Holocaust.)
  • What if my “good thing” accidently caused someone else to do a “bad thing?” Do I get to defend myself and tell MY side of the story?
  • Is time and culture factored in somehow? OMG doesn’t still count as a “bad thing” anymore, does it? I mean, it’s 2018 for crying out loud. It’s just an expression nowadays. It’s not really taking the Lord’s name in vain. You know that, right?
  • ARE WE GRADED ON A CURVE? Look at my neighbor; I’ve done way more “good things” than they have! If I don’t make it, there’s no way they’re going to make it.
  • What it my scale reads 50% – is there a tie-breaker?
  • Do I get some kind of award if my scale is 100% on the good side? That’s pretty special, isn’t it? I should get a ribbon or something.
  • Here’s a last one: what about my thought-life? What if I did a lot of “good things” but inwardly was a closet-racist the whole time?

Man, I’m tired from just thinking about this, let alone living it.

If this were true, Jesus doesn’t even come into the picture. If this were true, the Cross means nothing because it doesn’t even matter. If this were true, the Resurrection is irrelevant, inconsequential, and pointless! If this were true, we don’t need the virgin birth or the Bible for that matter. We could have saved the earth trillions of trees. Mankind only needed five words: Do more good than bad.

Of course, this is not true. This is a lie.

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” The 51% “gospel” is not good news; It is terrifying news.

If you have traded the truth for this lie, please just THINK IT THROUGH! Salvation is by faith alone in Jesus alone. That’s it. Anything else is not good news.

David and Ahithophel

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I am reading this book right now (Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences, by J.J. Blunt) and it is totally blowing my mind! It is the most exciting extrabiblical text I have ever read. It really makes Scripture come alive and proves beyond a doubt, the veracity of the Bible.

Now, it was written in the late 1800’s, so it is… challenging, but totally worth it. (Personal tip if you do read it: start with the New Testament examples.)

I was just speaking about this particular example in our Wednesday night small group:

David and Ahithophel.

[Spoiler alert]: If you want to have this mystery unraveled slowly, watch the video at the bottom.

If not, read on…

Why did Ahithophel, who was once David’s trusted advisor and who’s advice was so revered it was “as an oracle from God” (2 Sam. 16:23) – turn on David during Absalom’s mutiny (2 Sam. 15:12)? It was because Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather! Of course he would want to avenge his granddaughter. Absalom would have known that and so he exploited Ahithophel.

Here’s how we know Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather: 2 Sam. 23:34 say that “Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite” and was one of David’s personal guard… along with Uriah (verse 39). Then in 2 Sam. 11:

Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” – 2 Sam. 11:2-3

So, Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam and Eliam is the son of Ahithophel. Eliam and Uriah would have known each other and been friends (seeing as they served as David’s personal bodyguard of only 37 men). It would make sense (if Eliam were older and Uriah were younger) that Uriah would marry his friend’s daughter. Absalom would have known all this personal history.

Here’s the point: the writer never makes these connections for you, he is just reporting true historical facts. The truth lies in the details of those facts – because all the facts ARE TRUE!

THIS IS REAL FAITH-BUILDING MATERIAL!

Please watch this video in its entirety to see just how cool this book is and how ALL of the pieces of God’s puzzle fit together perfectly.


Ref:

J. J. Blunt’s Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences. Grand Rapids: Xulon Press, 2005.

Click to access 1869_blunt_undesigned-coincidences-in-the-bible.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahitophel

One Minute Before You Die


I believe we believe that we have an unlimited amount of time. Tomorrow is going to come just like it did yesterday; Get up, go to work, come back home, go to bed, repeat. However, we are just fooling ourselves. Our time here on earth is so short. It’s just mist in the wind (James 4:14).

We will have a last day, a last hour, and a last second.
This is my last 10 minutes:
The clock begins.
10 minutes and counting…

What would I do? I’m sure I would squander a few of those invaluable minutes convincing myself that its not that bad and that I’m going to be alright. Then reality would set in like a heavy stone: this is it, man. It’s over.
7 minutes…

  • Where is my wife?
  • Where are my daughters?
  • Where is my family?

6 minutes…
If I am with them, I tell them (if not, call if possible?)… I tell them I love them. Over and over I tell them how much I love them and I wouldn’t change a single second. I’m so sorry for being such a big baby all the time. I ask them to please forgive me all my stupid petty trespasses. I forgive them all theirs.
4 minutes…
I release any grudges, hatred, resentment, or bitterness. Those should be like mist in the wind! I wouldn’t remember any of the bad. The good would jump to the front of the line. I hold them tight. Tighter still. I can’t get them close enough!
2 minutes…
I cry with them. I laugh with them. I breathe with them… deep breaths, let’s share that. Share my last breaths, tightly, tightly in the arms of my sweet beloveds. See you soon. Thank you Lord Jesus! Thank you for every thing. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you!
1 minute…
Imagine the hourglass of time. Just like the clock counting down, it is relentless. All those grains of sand. All those seconds tumbling through and then gone. There is one grain of sand that is the very last one. It sparkles and shines, it is so precious. 
Seconds…
There is one second that is the very last one. It is worth more than gold. You want it to be the longest second ever created. It bounces around the middle section of the hourglass… holding on for the very last millisecond, the last nanosecond, the last – DON’T FALL! – and then it is gone. Forever.
Time’s up.
For a believer, it is “far better” to depart and be with the Lord (Phil. 1:23). We look forward to it. We long for that day. Our time here on earth IS limited, but our time after is eternal. Jesus is waiting for us (2 Cor. 5:8). So, it will be a glorious day. However, for an unbeliever, it will be a dreadful, dreadful day; the beginning of eternal torment. Fear like you’ve never known.
No one wakes up thinking, this is going to be my last day. But one of those days is. God’s “appointed time” for all of us is winding down (Acts 17:26, Psa. 139:16).
If you don’t know Jesus, PLEASE accept & confess Him as Lord over your life (Acts 2:38-39). [IM me if you have questions.] Repent of your sins and live each day for the Him (Col. 1:10). Let go of the trivial stupid-ness that entangles all of us. Forgive quickly. Show mercy. Don’t withhold your heart. Tear down the walls mistakes have built. Remove strongholds & inroads the enemy has used to twist your thinking. Laugh! Enjoy God’s blessings & gifts!
Thank the Lord for every heartbeat, every breath… until it is your very last one.
Clichés are clichés because they are true: live each day like it’s your last.
If this blessed you, please Like & Share!

Please and Thank You

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How about we make year 2014, the year of Please and Thank You.

Please, God, mold me.
Please, Lord, help me get closer to You.
Please, Father, give me the Peace that passes all understanding!

Thank You, God, for all You’ve done for me.
Thank You, Lord, for the Cross and all that it stands for.
Thank You, Father, for loving me, for remembering me, and for saving me.

I think if we can make 2014 the year of Please and Thank You, we will all have a very blessed year!

God bless!