History – does it repeat?

Someone once said “History repeats itself.” Since then, many people have modified the quote into a variety of forms; George Bernard Shaw stated “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”

We all know intuitively that while knowing history may be beneficial, it does not repeat itself. Some of you would probably still disagree; therefore, I’ve put together some proof for you:

1)      Man and earth were only created one time*

2)      Noah only saved the animals once (only one flood – a promise from God in Genesis 9:11)

3)      Jesus was only born once, crucified once, resurrected once; He is only returning one time to gather Christians worldwide

Ok, maybe still some skeptics . . .

4)      There was only one American Revolution

5)      Technology doesn’t regress to historical levels

6)      You can’t go back in time and repeat a day of your life

Despite how hard we claim that knowing history is beneficial so that we don’t repeat it, we just can’t repeat it, no matter what we do. It’s not going to happen. Therefore, we don’t need to study history! (Can you tell I’m not a history buff?)

That said, we MUST study history! Why? Not so we don’t repeat it, but so that we can learn from it.

For example:

1)      Jesus died for us

2)      He told us He is coming back for us

3)      Our lives before Christ were corrupt and we must change for the better

If we didn’t know what happened in the past, we couldn’t predict the future. While history will not repeat, it does forecast what may and will happen in the future. Jesus came (historically) to tell us about a day in the future that God will create a new Heaven and new earth* (ok, so some things repeat themselves – sort of).

This new Heaven and earth is a place where God “will dwell with [men] and they shall be His people… God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be nor more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-5 NKJV).

Unfortunately, some people will never learn from history and they will continue their wicked ways. They shall “have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). Do you know anyone that needs to learn from history and the knowledge of the future?

* Genesis 1 describes the first creation of Heaven, earth, and man.

1 Corinthians 15:40-49 describes the future resurrected body (man).

Revelation 21:1-2 describes the new Heaven and new earth replacing the first.

Dead End ahead! . . . watch where you are going!

As a frequent traveler, I am exposed to many different unique landscapes and buildings. However, today it was a street sign that caught my eye.

forever_dead_endAnd of course, my mind started thinking, hmmm, that’s a good blog!

Many people feel they are on a very successful road. They feel life is going pretty good. But what they don’t know is that it’s a dead end. Their “Forever Road” is about to have an abrupt stop. and it will be too late to turn back.

Do you have a destination? If so, is it one that you set, or one that you’ve allowed others to choose for you? Does your destination involve God’s Will for your life?

Whatever road you are on, today may be a good day to stop and consider where it is leading. Why? Because today is forever in the since that if you don’t change now, the likelihood of you changing later is slim.

The way to “life” must be purposely followed. It’s not like you can get to Heaven by “accident.”

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13-14

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life….  – Deuteronomy 30:15-19

 

Either or

A lady walked into a cell phone store and demanded a new phone because hers wouldn’t work right. A rather sarcastic employee said “For your new phone, do you want to be angry about dropped calls, or complain about the poor battery life.”* It seems that with everything that is made today there must be a trade-off of one performance item for another. Which do you select? What is more important to you?

Of course, for those with more money, you can buy the “best of the best” and trade your money for performance. But still as soon as you buy something (especially technology), it’s already outdated and a better product is on its way to the shelf from the manufacturer.

Thankfully, God isn’t that way. You don’t need to “buy” your salvation. And you don’t have to trade your life on earth for God’s love. There is nothing you can do physically, no amount of money you can pay, no work of grace that you can perform that will get you into Heaven. And what you get from God isn’t outdated. It will never be replaced for anything better. God has already provided the best present through Jesus Christ that is ever possible, an eternity with Him in Heaven.

On the other hand, there is one thing that you MUST do. You must accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior. By accepting Him into your life, you have admitted that you are not holy enough to get into Heaven by your own deeds (Romans 6:23, 10:9). You have stated that you believe that He is the one true Son of God (John 20:31), and that His sacrifice on the cross was payment for your sin (Isaiah 53:5). You are also stating that you trust Him with your life. After all, He gave it to you, He planned it, He designed it. It is His life that is in you (Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4). By accepting Him, you are simply agreeing to His plan.

And another cool thing…. No dropped calls to Heaven, and you don’t need a battery to call upon Him. That technology can’t be improved by man!

*Cell phone story adapted from Dilbert Desk Calendar, June 28, 2014.

Man it’s hot outside!

Today I received a weather alert stating Heat Index near 97F tomorrow in Greenville, SC. What? I just moved from Alabama, and their Index doesn’t normally go that high till July! What is going on with the weather here?

Last year we had rain, rain, and then more rain. This year, heat, heat, and more heat (plus rain)! Geez! What did I get myself into moving here?

Despite my griping, I do love Greenville. And despite the heat, it’s really not that hot! I mean after all, I do use the steam room at the gym (110-120 degrees F at 100% humidity). I have also been enjoying the sauna (160-180 F at about 20-25% humidity). While many people may not enjoy the extreme heat produced by those, it is relaxing and a stress relief for others. And believe it or not, there used to be a sauna competition that required competitors to sit in saunas up to 230F (in 2010 the competition stopped after a fatality, of course).

However, these heats still don’t compare to what the future holds for unbelievers. We are told in Revelation (20:12-15) that the lake of fire (and brimstone) is the final resting place for anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life. This general description of the lake of fire is traditionally associated with eternal pain, and sometimes as a punishment for wickedness. I once heard someone describe it as having one’s body dropped into a vat of boiling oil! OUCH!

I’m not sure about you, but that’s enough to scare me senseless. So why did God create such a place? Is He evil? Does this support some atheist’s theory that God is not a loving God after all? No! In fact, many atheists love to use items like this to twist our mind and cause us to doubt our faithful creator. However, Jesus told us in Matthew 25:41 that the lake of fire was designed for “the devil and his angels.” And if we stay with John in Revelation, we can verify that the lake of fire was designed for evil: Babylon (chapters 17-19), the beast and false prophet (19:20), and the dragon [satan/devil](20:10), as well as Death and Hades (20:14). God created a place for this evil to be separated from Heaven. And although some critics claim that a death in the lake of fire will be sudden, the Bible clearly tells us that where the Beast, false prophet, and Satan are, they will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (20:10). And, as a reminder, those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will also be cast into this same lake of fire (20:15).

Sorry to preach such sadness. Some Pastors stray from teaching on the negative side and consequences of sin and unbelief. However, the Bible clearly teaches us this for a purpose.

Would you allow a loved one or a dear friend to spend eternity being tormented? Or will you “risk your friendship” with them to tell them about Jesus, and how to spend eternity in Heaven?

Rewards Points

In today’s society of connectivity, everybody is connected to everyone else (it seems) through Facebook, twitter, instagram, LinkedIn and a variety of other social media technologies. Companies are even trying to profit from the connected culture more than ever through expanded Rewards Points, “bonus cards,” travel miles, and other loyalty programs. Some companies have even originated with a goal to simplify all the many loyalty programs into one simplified, one stop shopping reward market.

For some people, this whirlwind of technology, social media, and rewards points programs control their life and destiny. They spend countless hours on-line chatting with “friends,” playing games, and stacking up rewards that in the end would probably be cheaper to buy working a few hours part time (vs spending hours online).

Anyway, I’m not intending to bash any of these. I’m just thankful that at the end of the day, I’m not competing for the most friends on Facebook. I’m not in a contest to get the most free stuff at the grocery store. And I’m not vying for the most chips in an on-line poker game. At the end of the day, it is not about any of these.

Life is about the here and now AND the future. What does your life consist of today? And where will you spend eternity?

Here’s a fact: I’m not good enough for Heaven! The Bible is very clear that I can’t do anything physically or morally to get into Heaven.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. – Romans 3:28 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

If there was something that we could do to get to Heaven, then God would “owe” us Salvation. But instead, God doesn’t owe us anything. Instead, we owe it all to Him.

“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (ESV)

It is because of His love for us that we can have eternal life. No social connections, no rewards points, nothing can earn His love. God has already given it to us: a free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ.

DIY

In this continuing culture of do-it-yourself (DIY), it seems that one can find a video about pretty much anything on Youtube. And from there, the sky is the limit for a motivated person.

From knitting to automotive work, painting to kayaking, the videos seem endless, and are uploaded at the rate of 100 hours of video/minute. That’s a lot of video footage!

I wondered, just how many people use Youtube? According to their website, more than 1 billion individual users/month. That’s over 32 million hits/day. Wow! And according to Nielsen statistics for young adults, Youtube is used more than any single cable TV network!

What is it about being on-demand and searchable that we like about the internet? We can read articles, watch old TV shows, be a student, research anything….

It’s a whole do-it-yourself, when you want to (24/7), from where you want to (home/car/restaurant), and how you want to (computer/tablet/phone) world!

But despite all this technology, regardless of the unending amount of knowledge that is available on-line, there is still only one way to Heaven.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –  Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

It is only because of what God did, and not what we do that we can have eternal life. God sent His Son, Jesus, to do what no man can do.

Help, I’m drowning! Wait, . . . nevermind!

In 1989 I almost drowned (no kidding!). [The following is a true story from my life.]

During Senior skip day, Kimberly and I had met with fellow Thompson Highschool classmates at Oak Mountain State Park for a day of fun and swimming in the lake. We all had fun splashing and playing about in the water, until we decided to swim out to the edge of the buoys, the marked limit for swimming.

As a non-swimmer, I knew this was very risky, but I was going to be brave and show off in front of my highschool sweetheart and girlfriend (Kimberly). Swimming out was simple, I pushed off from a standing position, and just maintained momentum until I reached the edge (and then pretty much held on for dear life to the rope and floats in the middle of the lake).

And then came the moment, when everybody decided it was time to come back in. Most everybody took off, except me. As I attempted to “push-off” from the rope buoys, you can imagine what happened next – they just floated further into the lake, and I went down, splashing with very little grace.

Thankfully, Kimberly either saw me or heard me, I don’t remember which. They say that moments like that happen in slow motion, but all I remember is that I couldn’t swim; and splashing around didn’t help any.

I do remember what happened next: Kimberly went under the water and pushed me up from underneath so I could catch my breath.

What happened next was a miracle as an angel (in the form of a man) helped me get to shore. After I recovered my breath and realized my life was no longer in danger, I looked for the man who saved my life. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere! He was an angel sent by God to save me. He disappeared just as quickly as he had appeared. He did not exist, at least in our “reality.”

I look back on that day and realize that it truly was a miracle. And a miracle that I can thank God for, but also my wonderful wife, who thought quickly enough and reacted swiftly to give me another breath of life.

That day I was drowning – covered up in water, and without breath. Today, I feel blessed to be drowning in love. Love from a beautiful wife and a playful child that cannot be compared to. A love so deep and long that it cannot be measured. A love that one day, years ago, saved my life.

But I am also loved by a Holy God that has also saved my life. Not only from death by drowning, but from death by burning. You see, He Saved me from eternal death and hell, because of what His Son did for me, and for you. Jesus gave His life so that WE can have life and have it more abundantly.

I came that [you] may have life, and may have it abundantly.John 10:10 (ASV)

Do you have abundant life?

Updating your address

When moving, it can sometimes be hectic to get your address changed. One might think that it is so simple, since the US Postal Service provides a card that will forward your mail (up to a year).

However, with on-line shopping, credit cards, bank statements, etc, the amount of times one must update your address is really overwhelming.

I recently updated my address at an on-line bank, but they continue to show my former address. Even after repeated attempts, I still cannot get the system to recognize that I have moved. I no longer live there!

Sometimes, life can be that way. When we become Christians, our old life has ended, and our new life is just beginning. The hope and joy we receive when we understand God’s love is unbelievable, almost. We are at a point in our life that we think it can’t get any better.

Well, for life on earth, I think that is a very true statement. When we realize what God has done for us, nothing can compete. The only thing that can beat it is when we finally get to Heaven and have every tear wiped from our eyes.

Unfortunately, while still here on earth, our old life, our old friends, maybe even our old habits will continue to crop up. Like my former address, the old things in our past (those former items) try to interfere with our new life.

Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. – Philippians 3:13 (ASV)

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing  -Isaiah 43:18 (ASV)

Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ASV)

Metamorphis – complete?

blogAs I complete the move of my blog from one webhost to another, I have also decided to upgrade the “feel” of my blog. Please visit my direct website HERE, and give me your feedback – do you like it?

I discovered quite a bit of lessons learned through this ordeal. And because it was so painful, and took so long, I don’t know if I ever want to do it again. Isn’t that the same reason we just sometimes don’t want to “change” anything?

It is widely known that people don’t like change. Despite how much somebody hates the way something is done, they generally refuse to change it. “That’s the way it’s always been.” In fact, most people won’t change companies after having the same one for years, because they would rather complain about their current job, than to go through the heartache and pressure of finding a new company to work for.

So why the discussion on change? Well, that’s what Christ calls us to do. He wants us to CHANGE! From the time we open our heart to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us, we are called to change WHO we are. We are called to leave behind our past life and become new:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2 NKJV

Once we accept Christ in our lives, we are saved. But that is not the end of our responsibility. A lot of people go around preaching Salvation, which is great; we need to tell people about Christ. And THEN, after we tell them, we are to make disciples, and ensure they begin following Christ in everything, not continuing their old ways:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,  – Acts 3:19 NKJV

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,  – Matthew 28:19-20a NKJV

This blog will never be “saved.” But that’s ok, it’s only really some 0’s and 1’s in a computer somewhere, translated into English. But hopefully someday, it will reach out and help someone to realize that Salvation is only the first step to a total transformation of mind, body, and soul. In the meantime, I’ll rely on you to help me tell others. Let’s help this world change (for the better)!

I’m back!

Welcome back to FollowinGod.com! Although the transformation continues, I am back on-line, and here is a timely topic:

Why is it called “Good Friday?” In Germany, it’s called Sorrowful Friday.

Some rumors abound that Good Friday evolved from “God’s Friday.” Other people insist that sometime years ago “Holy” was translated as “good” therefore Good Friday, not Holy Friday.

Despite the reasons, Good Friday is every Christian’s celebration of the most important weekend in all of history (and His Story). It celebrates that we believe Jesus died, and rose again – conquering death, and according to the Scriptures

. . . Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3b-4 NIV)

Jesus willingly gave His life, suffering persecution, anguish, grueling beatings, and an agonizing death that He didn’t deserve, all for you and me, and not for any other reason. Yet, while all of His love for us was demonstrated during this unbearable event, it is followed by a more glorious rising to life on Easter morning when Jesus proved victory over sin and death, pointing to a future resurrection that we, who are united with Him in faith, will experience.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. (Romans 6:5 NIV)

So, regardless what the world calls Good Friday, we can celebrate the culmination of God’s plan to save us through Jesus during this wonderful weekend.

 

On Sunday morning, most of us will celebrate Easter with our children with baskets filled with candy and other goodies, but let’s not forget to make sure that we spend time telling our future generations what Easter is really about.