What I can take with me when I die!

They tell me that I cannot take anything with me when I die.  All of my possessions: my bank accounts, my stocks and bonds, my retirement funds,  my real estate, my cars, my toys, my furniture, my books, my art work … all of this stuff is left behind.  Once I am dead, I will lose control over every earthly possession that I call mine.  When I die my stuff becomes the property of others.  The people left behind get to do what they want, as they want, and when they want with my stuff.  It is plain for anyone to see “…that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.”

It is apparent that I have no control on my stuff.  It is also apparent that I have no control on my life.  I am exactly one heartbeat away from eternity.  I can do nothing that will absolutely control the length of my duration here on earth.  In the Bible God tells people that when He decides to:”…take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.”  One of the wisest men in the world said after years of study that there is “…a time to be born and a time to die…”

If I am buried in a cemetery plot with a headstone, who cares?  Who is going to visit?  The next  generation in my family line will not visit because they [1] will not have time and [2] I am not there so what is the point?  Headstones do not carry on conversations!  They are cold and impersonal.

They tell me that I cannot take anything with me when I die.  If this life is all there is then we are more miserable than any animal.  Jesus said “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”  It is true; there is nothing tangible that I can take with me. But I can add to the inheritance that Jesus has provided me. Those people that I have taken the time to introduce to the Lord Jesus; those people that I have mentored walked the road with; those who have decided to follow Jesus because of my walk and talk … they are the inheritance I am building.  “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” 

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ps%2049:10&version=NIV

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“See, I have told you beforehand.” Jesus

Judgment Day on May 21, 2011?

For months now there have been billboards on freeways and flyers circulating about the coming judgment of God on the world.  People are asking questions as to how can anyone teach that Christ’s return will happen on a particular day?  Some Christians have seen this phenomenon predicted more than once in their lives and so chalk it up to a nut-case.  Some Christians see the billboards and wonder because they do not know their Bible.  Some Christians read what appears to be a Godly pamphlet and wonder if they have missed something.  And Satan smiles with delight.

Last week I was out doing my daily walk, noticed an eight-page pamphlet on the sidewalk claiming “THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE!”  Picking it up I skimmed through it as I walked and found nothing obviously or blatantly wrong … as a matter of fact it sounded really evangelical.  I folded it up and stuck it in my pocket for further analysis.  What I discovered is a lie couched in some bible verses.  Here are some excerpts:

“…about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. Thus it was discovered that the Bible teaches that when the events of the past are coordinated with our modern calendar, we can learn dates of history … However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.”  It continues on by saying: “During these past several years God has been revealing a great many truths, which have been completely hidden in the Bible until this time when we are so near the end of the world.”

“Several years ago we had learned that the silence in Heaven for about half an hour referred to the 2,300 days that were the first part of the 23-year (exactly 8,400 days) Great Tribulation period. This period began on May 21, 1988. It was during this 2,300-day period that, both in the churches and throughout the world, very few, if any, were saved.”

“We had learned that May 21, 1988 was the last day of the church age and was also the first day of the 23-year period of Great Tribulation, during which Satan has been employed by God to officially rule all of the churches as well as the whole world. During the first 2,300 days of this 8,400-day period the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from all of the churches as well as the entire world. This produced silence in Heaven. However, beginning 2,300 days after May 21, 1988 (the end of the church age), the Holy Spirit was again poured out, producing what the Bible calls the “latter rain” (Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7) throughout the world (but not in any church), and God began a final great harvest of salvation, bringing great joy in Heaven. This salvation is not occurring in any church, but will continue outside of the churches to the end of the Great Tribulation, on May 21, 2011.[1]

Jesus, in His own words told the disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” [Act 1:7] Jesus, the Master Teacher did not make mistakes or have after thoughts about what He spoke about.  The tone of what He plainly said “It is not for you to know…” seems to imply that we can ask but we will not get an answer.  Jesus spoke these words as He was departing from the disciples.  They were asking questions that were running through their collective minds.  These were troubling times for them.  I agree with one commentator who said that this was a rebuke to them and a cautionary statement for the church down through the ages.  Beware of getting focused on the wrong things; intruding into things that I have expressly stated as forbidden knowledge.  The implication for the church is there are limits to our curiosity.  In other words: “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” [This is quoting Jesus from Mat 24:36]  Finding scriptural evidence to the contrary of what Jesus spoke plainly about is walking into Satan’s trap.

I am reminded of Gen 3:1 where we have the account of Eve’s walking into Satan’s trap. “Now the serpent was craftier than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  We seem to feel that we know more than God and that we should understand more than we are capable of understanding.  Eve looked at the tree and saw it was good looking fruit.  Instead of remembering exactly what God had told them about this particular tree, she missed the subtle shift that Satan included in his misquoting God.  God said: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” [Gen 2:16-17]  Satan, always the liar, quoted God as saying: ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’

Like Eve, we miss what is right because we fail to remember to go to the Source of all knowledge.  Instead we create perplexing questions that take our eyes off of Jesus.  By doing that we miss the very next thing that Jesus told His inquiring disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Act 1:8] You are asking about end times but that question is irrelevant to the business that I want you as my church to be about.  Being my witnesses is you work now and in the future until I change it.

Jesus warned clearly that the church would encounter people creating parties and factions.  Jesus warned that Satan appears as an angel of light so that he can deceive people with the greatest evil with a convincing show of what appears good.  Jesus warns that Satan will incite men who pretend that they have some special insight or divine inspiration that runs outside of the Word of God but it is a lie.  Jesus warns that Satan will take advantage when there is trouble that threatens our security; people will seek out anything that looks like salvation.

Mat 24:5 “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” Verse 24: “… false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Jesus warns us to be watchful by paying attention to all of His words!  “See, I have told you beforehand.” [Mat 24:25]

Making 2011 Travel Plans

We love to travel. We love especially to travel by car. It gives Kathe and I lots of 'windshield' time without any interruptions. We read to each other [the driver never gets to read while driving] and we listen to music or audio books. But best is the time that we get to just watch scenery and talk to each other. We are best friends you know … and we have been married 32 years!

Alaska Range

We are hoping to take some time to go see our two sons and wouldn't you know that they are at opposite ends of the US from us here in San Diego. One lives near Philadelphia and the other is up in Alaska.

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‘Who am I’ Moments

“…Who am I that I should go…” [Exodus 2:11]

Are you in the dark about the direction God seems to be leading you? Too often I have heard people tell me that they could not do His will because they did not know the specifics. It is at this point where a battle of wills takes place. We want God to reveal His plan first. But my experience is that God does not work that way. God wants me to decide in advance to trust Him. He wants me to decide that His will is best for my life. Sometime I hesitate simply because I do not want to risk it; I might look like a fool.  So He waits patiently for me to be willing to be made willing. The Israelites were in slavery, so God’ sent Moses, an unlikely wanted fugitive, to lead them to the Promised Land.

One reason God doesn’t give me the full picture [learned this from considering Job’s dilemma] is simply that I would be overwhelmed. I would say “The task appears impossible.” Or I would say “I do not have the skills or tools.”

God would say “Bingo. That’s the point! You are a very smart fellow! You cannot do this thing without Me.”

The danger with hesitation in obedience to God is that He may want us to be on a mission very much like Joseph. Here is a young man who did not know what God was doing during his time as a slave or during his long imprisonment. But when Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Egypt, he told them: “Do not fear … you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” [Genesis 50:19-20] Joseph’s brothers incited by jealousy sold him into slavery, but God used it to preserve the Jewish race.

So here you are at a cross-roads. Stop. Look. Listen. You will see and hear some “Who am I?” moments of your own where you’d reached the end of your rope and He came through for you.

Remember.

Now go.

Truth or Consequences?

I know a man who 45 years ago made the decision to build his career rather than listen to God calling him to work in His Kingdom.  He told me that the lure of “getting ahead” was more important than being obedient to the call that God put on his life to go into ministry.  “What if God wanted me do something that I hated or that would be outside of my ability to be successful accomplishing?”  He described this as a paralyzing fear.  He looks back on his life and sees missed divine opportunities on several occasions.

The more I got to know him, the more he revealed how he made a series of choices that took him down paths of rebellion.  The consequences were felt emotionally, mentally, financially and physically.  He related to me how this pig-headedness caused undue stress in not only his own life but those closest to him.  As he moved further away from God he sought to expel any remnants that God had been part of his life.

He told me that all of his best efforts to build the career that he desired failed.  “There is not one company I have worked for that is still in existence under original ownership or name” he claimed.  “During this frenzy of trying to build my career I was twice fired; three different companies I worked for changed owners and the new owners laid me off; four times the companies downsized due to economic conditions with a subsequent layoff.  During the 30 odd years of frustration, he told me that his stubbornness prevented him from turning from his rebellion.  He never did obtain the career he sought after.  He became in his mind a ‘victim’ with no sense of contentment or security.  He emphasized that those early choices to go his own way … to walk away from God’s plan for him … put him and his family into needless hardships.

“But you know what?  God does not give up on us!  As Jesus told Peter after he boasted about what he would do for Jesus, ‘after you have turned, strengthen your brothers.’”  This man is walking now where God is directing him.

Stopping to listen…

I must ask the Lord to open my ears to hear His words of love.  When God says: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness…” [Jeremiah 31:3] is that something that I believe [Trust in; rely on; adhere to]?  God speaks and desires the best for His children.  God’s heart wants me to follow the path that He has put in front of me so that I will always have access to water to be refreshed.  He wants me to stay on His chosen path because that is the one He has leveled so that I will not stumble.  I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father…” [v.9] This not talking about how difficult the path might become.  We think that just because the path become difficult that God has abandoned us.

The real difficulty is when I take a different path that appears to be less difficult.  But my path will eventually lead into the desert…where there is no water for refreshment and the path has not been cleared so there are places of quick-sand and shale that will cause me to stumble.

Because I am prone to wander, my Father calls cadence out to me from His Word.  He wants me to stay focused on Jesus who knows the path.  When I wander and then realize that I am no longer where I should be, I naturally expect that God will respond to me as an angry judge.  I am always amazed at His Father’s heart.  “…I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow…” [v.13]   Only when I stop and listen do I hear Him speak to m in loving-kindness.  This means that I have to stop my activity and ask my Father in heaven to open my ears to hear His words of love.  I must learn to listen before I can become interested in what God has to say.