Sunday, July 26, 2009

From the Heart

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Sin. Quite a churchy word ain't it? One can barely attend a service these days without hearing it dropped in some context. In fact, being the second of the spiritual laws, one should presumably never attend a service where it's not at least hinted at. The death of humanity. The curse upon us all. But what exactly is it? What exactly is sin? Sin is anything contrary to God's nature, or, put another way, anything that fails to bring Glory to God. Just as our actions can't ever save us, our actions don't really condemn us either. Our blatantly wicked heart does that.

For that is where sin really resides, inside us all. Godless actions themselves, although they are commonly referred to as "sins", are actually just the outward manifestations of the evil within. Sin is the beast lurking in the heart of every human being that has walked this earth save one. It is the glue that would have us attach ourselves to anything but God. Anything. This can range from blatant immorality to more mundane activities that don't focus on God. Even good and beautiful things can be corrupted. If a mother loves her child more than her creator, that is sin. If a man loves his country more than his God, that is sin. Perhaps the deadliest forms of sins are the things that humanity would consider worthy passions. The attribute that makes these types of sins so deadly is how pure they may appear on the outside. Motherly/Fatherly love, loyalty, apologetics, charitable works, (etc) all of the examples you can think of can be a beautiful form of worship to the Creator, but if they fail to be done for His glory, they end up being greater evils than lust, murder, stealing, and lying. At least with the latter sins there should be a piercing sense of guilt and shame that can reveal to the perpetrator the evil inside themself. A heart that worships something deemed honorable is harder to turn. Indeed some of the blackest, hardest, and hopelessly lost of all hearts haven't missed a Sunday Church Service or Bible Study in as long as anyone can remember. Lucifer was one of (if not the) greatest and most beautiful of God's angels. The greater the potential for glorifying God, the greater the demon it produces when it goes astray.

The general idea behind these thoughts is that the Lord is so glorious, so beautiful, magnificent, and fulfilling that it is a blatant fallacy not to worship Him with every moment and aspect of our lives. The creator of this Universe, the orchestrator of all time, the author and perfecter of saving faith, the almighty Three-in-One, the giver of eternal life (etc. ad infinitium) such an impressive resume demands praise; endless, perfect, self-abandoning praise. But who can do that? Absolutely no one. Most people spend their lives completely absorbed with themselves, and even those who praise God once in awhile have their praise rejected. God desires (and is worthy to have) only the purest of lips belonging to the holiest of hearts sing His praises, and people who care about anything more than God are blaspheming God by even insinuating His existence much less praising Him. If you praise God loudly in church, but care about something more than Him, then how much more prolifically your life sings the praises of your real desire.

The answer? Reliance upon the death of Jesus Christ to give us the holiness of heart necessary to pray to and effectively praise God and the interceding of the Holy Spirit before God on our behalf. It is the Spirit that allows us to speak to the Father openly and creates in us an all consuming desire for His will. "What is God's will?" you ask. That He be exulted and glorified above all that He has created. That He would be our sole purpose, anchor, desire, and love for the rest of our lives. He is certainly deserving of such. Indeed, we can sing His praises for the rest of all eternity and never begin to glorify Him as much as He deserves. Thankfully, He's going to give us the opportunity to try.

"All glory to the One in Existence. Bring upon Your name, Your grace, Your everything!
All glory to the One in Existence. Bring upon Your name, Your grace, Your everything!
Tombstones serve as mirrors and the graves are infinite.
Take a look through the lens and through your eyes.
End the partitioning." - The Devil Wears Prada

Friday, July 17, 2009

Of Faith and Works

Ok, so I was going to title this post "The Futility of Human Effort Verses The Futility of Deficient Faith," but that would have been an obnoxious mouthful, not that I in any way have a qualm against obnoxious mouthfuls. Indeed I find them quite entertaining and incredibly humorous. However, as I'm writing a blog post and not a dissertation, I'll stick with the easier to swallow title. Faith verses works. Belief verses actions. Grace verses human effort. However you want to phrase it, the tension between the two has been a prevalent one throughout church history and even today. The purpose for the debate is easy to see. Even if I were to pull two passages from the bible (giving no context):

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24)

It would appear that even the bible contradicts itself on these two points. However, as I am a strict inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God guy, I'm about to give some clarifying context. When Paul was talking to the Ephesians in the first verse, he was going against a widespread belief (even in our world today) that our actions can save us. That we can somehow, by our good or religious deeds, build a bridge to God. Manifestations of this include (but are not limited to): walking old ladies across the street, giving money to charity, going to church every week, not swearing, abstaining from premarital sex, sobriety, becoming a pastor, etc. etc. etc. Do these things all the time, Paul argues, and you will still wind up seperated from God for eternity in the next life. Deeds do not take away the sin for which God is judging us, and one sin against an infinite God is an infinite trespass. Sin equals death, therefore it takes the death of an infinitely pure person (Jesus Christ) to atone for just one (and thankfully all) sin(s). And anyway, God sees our "good-works" without Him as us glorifying ourselves, and that He will not have. Paul's point then: Futile are actions as a way to make atonement with God.

James, on the other hand, is asking his readers to honestly check the sincerity of their salvation. If someone truly places their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to free themselves from sin, gain salvation, and turn their body into a new temple of the Holy Spirit, how can they not have a logical outflow of good deeds in their lives? James was telling his readers that if they believe Jesus is God, or even proclaim Him as their savior, but they do not see any works in their lives to back up what they say, they are no more saved than demons. Demons also believe in God and proclaim Christ as Messiah, but they shudder at and despise the fact. James' point then: Non-existent is the faith where good works are non-existent. This is a dire warning to anyone who calls themselves Christian. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of pretending your saved because of your belief if it has had no impact on your life. Without works, your faith is dead.

Finding the balance between works and faith is key in my day-to-day walk with Christ. Stray to far towards faith, and I end up producing little fruit and doing nothing with the gifts that God has given me. My friends go unwitnessed to, and my walk becomes all about me. Stray to far towards works, and I lose sight of God's grace in my selfish ambition to wrack up as many "spiritual points" as I can (attending church, leading a bible study, discipling some guy well, spending # hours reading my bible, being an all around "nice guy", etc.) and then using these points to make myself believe God owes me something or other, which only leads me into frustration because He rarely plays by my rules. Also, works based salvation causes me to be prideful. I start measuring my own works against others and scaling my walk with God based on how frequent these actions are occurring, forgetting that it's by God's grace alone that I am saved.

To bring it back to you, the reader. How do you measure your daily walk with God? Whether or not you got your quiet time in today? How much you give to the Lord financially? How many Sunday church services you've attended in a row? Whether or not you've shared your faith? Do you ever find yourself feeling like you (or another) are more or less spiritual based on these actions? Then you are living in a works based mindset and need to remind yourself that it's not about you, and it never was. What Christ began in you He will carry to completion. It's not on you to be more or less spiritual. On the flipside, do you ever do any of these activities at all? If the answer is "no", then I have a serious warning to give you that you have probably not recieved the grace of God. It will change your life.

In conclusion, actions are completely unnecessary for salvation, but they prove the presence of the faith required for salvation.

"Complexity haunts me, for I am two men
Entrenched in a battle that I'll never win.
My discipline fails me. My knowledge it fools me,
But You are my shelter, all the strength that I need." - dc Talk

Monday, July 13, 2009

Within a Yard of Hell

In light of my Law Posts, I thought I would use this post to explain a little something we Christians are known to do. You've probably experienced this once or twice (or more) in your lifetime, and if you haven't, you are definitely due. "What is the 'this'," you ask. Pointing out how vague that last sentence was. The "this" is evangelism: the full frontal assault on your worldview that we Christians seem to enjoy doing so much. Why can't we just hang out in church like we're suppose to and leave the rest of the world alone? Why must we challenge what you believe in such an arrogant fashion? I mean, come on, "the one, absolute, universal truth about reality"? Who do we think that we are? At least there are some respectable Christians who know where their opinions matter and keep their dogmas to themselves, like "so-and-so", he never confronts anyone about his Jesus.

Guess what? I'm going to make the bold statement that it is a very unlikely that "so-and-so" is really a Christian at all, either that or he hates you. Let me explain. How can "so-and-so" have fully grasped the helpless and hopeless situation he was pulled from by the all-consuming love of God and not be changed by it? If he truly believed that he was saved from the depths of hell by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ his risen Lord and Savior, how could you as his friend have heard nothing about it from him? You who are on the very same path that he "believes" he was rescued from. Why would he stay silent instead of telling you what should be the absolute most important thing in his life? If he truly believes it, that is.

Imagine an associate of yours is walking across the road and was about to be run over by a truck, how much would you have to hate that person to not push him out of the oncoming trajectory of that many tons of steel? Or at least say something to him like, "Hey, look out for that rolling metallic object"? In the same way, a true Christian looks out at the world through God's eyes. Souls. Billions of souls that need to hear the message that could save them from something far worse than any death this world has to offer, and yet so many Christians keep silent. Why? Fear of man? If you truly believe that God is everything He said that He is, (the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the source of all knowledge, power, goodness, strength, beauty, and wisdom, the creator of this universe) how can you still fear man? Man can do NOTHING to you. My guess is that if you claim to be a Christian but have never shared your faith, you have a very limited view of who my God really is and what He can accomplish in and through you, or, you are really just another face in a world headed for destruction. I'd say a lost soul Satan has cleverly disguised to look like a Christian.

It doesn't matter how much you know about the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, or all the various rituals based off that. What you need to know is that God came to His creation in the form of a man, and He died as a propitiation for your sins (He took the punishment you deserved) in order to glorify Himself by showing you infinite grace in light of your infinite trespass. How can you fully believe this and do/say/signal nothing to the people beside you? How can you give no effort to save even those closest to you?

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)

In light of what I (and more importantly Jesus) have said, as Christians, we are called to be full time missionaries. I'm not talking exclusively about the overseas kind although that very well could be where you end up if you truly believed that God was your all-in-all and gave your life to him. I'm talking about your day to day lives. You should be telling your friends/neighbors/co-workers/everyone about the hope that you have in Christ. Not in a judgmental or condescending way, mind you, but in a loving and compassionate way, realizing that if you did not have Christ in your life you would be in the exact same spot they are, on a path to eternal separation from God. Stating as the martyr John Bradford once famously did, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

That's why we go to the ends of the earth. That's why we assault people with our worldview. That's why an average of 171,000 Christians are martyred worldwide every year (I didn't make this up, check it out yourself). Because we have been given a direct order from our Lord, one that should have been a logical outflow in the first place. That is why we plant our feet firmly at the gates of hell, spread our arms wide in the face of the oncoming masses, and hope that God gives us the strength to save those that He allows to stray into our fragile arms. Being a Christian is not safe, but in the same sense it's more fulfilling and secure than anything I had ever dreamed it would be when I gave Him every aspect of my life so many years ago. If you haven't, try it. Just try it, I'm begging you.

"Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." - C.T. Studd

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's About Time

Death is a point in all our lives that we are rushing towards at unbelievable velocity. Our lives are but a vapor in the grand scheme of things, and it will soon arrive: The moment of truth, the point of no return, the true final frontier. The second in your life where you will honestly look back and ask yourself if what you really did mattered at all. What was your goal? What was your highest priority? Did you spend your time on yourself or others? Did you matter at all?

Of all the gifts that we as the human race have been granted, our most precious by far is time. With time you have the opportunity to pursue every other goal. With time you can make a difference. With time you can search out who you are. With time you can make the choices that will change not only your own life but others around you as well and believe it or not, we are constantly hurtling through this resource at the speed of light, and it's not an infinite supply. As hard as it may be for you to put this thought in your head (I have trouble wrapping my mind around it sometimes as well), you will one day run out of time, and you will die. God will decide that you've had enough heartbeats, and you will breathe your last. Either on a deathbed from old age, tomorrow as you step off the street corner and into the path of an oncoming steamroller, or a myriad of other ways, the question is not an if, it's a when. Are you prepared for that day? Are you preparing for it in any way? Have you even thought about it at all?

What does your life revolve around right now? Do you focus on yourself all the time, or others? A better question, is what you're living for right now worth dying for? Would you lay down your life for the purpose of your life? If we cannot say that we would die for what we are living for, chances are we're living our lives to seek out our own selfish agendas. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I find that in my neutral state of mind, I tend to stray towards seeking personal comfort and security. Now, there's nothing wrong with either of those two states per say, but should pursuing them be the sole purpose of my life? Imagine all my friends and relatives standing around at my funeral if I pursued these objectives. What would they say about me if I left that kind of legacy? Or what if I pursued power? Wealth? Material possessions? Fame? Intellect? These are all temporary things, and what good are they in the end?

"Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He can take with him nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hands." (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

The "religious" aspect of where I'm taking this should be obvious by now. You are going to die, and when you do, you will have to give an account to my God on how you used the gift of time He gave you. No amount of intellectual "logic" games you play inside your head will ultimately get you away from the truth. You will meet your Maker, and He will judge you on your life. If you died tomorrow, which is entirely possible, what would He say to you, especially in light of the sin post I wrote earlier? "Well done, good and faithful servant"? "Away from me you evil doer, I never knew you"? "Why did you not even attempt to seek the truth in your lifetime"? "Why did you ignore Me when I spoke to your heart"? "Why did you turn a deaf ear to My servants when they tried to warn you?" "Why did you not even care?"

It's your life, and everybody else is going to try to tell you how to live it. Here's my input, do the research on spiritual matters yourself. Read the book of Matthew found in the New Testament, and see what you actually think. Examine both sides unbiasedly, I believe you'll find that many Christian doctrines are a lot stronger than secularists would have you believe. When you do finally discover an answer, let it impact your life. Let it change you, and live your life in light of what you find. If Christianity is really baseless, then you have nothing to fear in reading a bit of Scripture. And yes, I am going to close this post with a quote by John Piper.

"I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Readers Digest, which tells about a couple who "took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells." At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life - and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: "Look, Lord. See my shells." That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don't buy it. Don't waste your life."

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Concerning Myself

So I was feeling like crap the other day. I was depressed and didn't feel like I was spiritually growing at all (the very reason, I thought, that I had come to this project in the first place). It had been like that for a couple days leading up to this particular day, and I was starting to question why I had even come on this project. I worked all day and disliked my job. I read my Bible and got nothing out of it. I even attended a project wide meeting with a famous Crusade speaker (Rick James), and I sat there listening to him bored almost to tears, critically picking apart his sermon while he gave it, and literally rolling my eyes at the obvious points he made. I felt lonely. I felt under-appreciated. I was annoyed at people. I was generally uninterested in my surroundings. I was in a constant state of daydreaming about the future; completely caring less about what was happening in my present. I knew on a subconscious level that the problem was an inward one, but I didn't really know what that problem was or particularly cared either. Probably because, on some sick level of my conscious, I enjoyed being like this. However, as I was reminiscing about the past, I remembered back to the last time I felt approximately this way. Sometime in the last winter I had gone through a very similar slump and was only rescued by a certain realization God gave me about my state of mind. Suddenly the reason for my current ennui became very apparent to me. Read this paragraph again and take a wild guess why I felt the way I did...

That's right, it was all about me. Everything I did, said, thought, participated in, even my spiritual walk, had become all about me. What had begun by the Spirit I was now trying to accomplish on my own, in other words, I was being an idiot (Galatians 3:3). What can I get out of this situation? What can I learn from this passage? Why am I not having a good time? Why do people not bow down the moment I walk by to kiss the tops of my shoes? What even went into the thought process involved in the creation of that last sentence? All about me.

Sure, it probably started innocently. What is this lesson trying to teach me? How should I live my life? How big of a church will God give me if I become a pastor? How does the group I'm currently hanging out with perceive me? Do they think I'm as funny or intelligent as I think I'm being right now? And you can quickly see the escalation. Soon my thoughts about myself were completely surrounding me. Pride crept in, and in no time I was so absorbed with myself that I lost sight of the reason for my existence and couldn't help but be depressed. I had given up the solid ground of God's word and the truths He has revealed to me through it, and I had started relying on my own "feelings" to conduct how I approached any given situation I was in. Logically then, my self-worth swung back and forth on a crazy pendulum from making much of myself and little of others (and thereby convincing me that I had little to gain in any given situation and was wasting time) to questioning if I had any worth at all, and my depression followed.

With this God given realization in hand, I began to fight back against my prideful indulgences. I even had to refine the little questions slightly in my head. What is this lesson trying to teach me about God, and how does God want me to live my life in light of the truth it presents about Him? How is God using me to impact those I come in contact with right now? Am I reflecting God's grace to those around me? These questions keep my mind and my heart from running away to sacrifice more God given time to the alter of myself that I create when my self-absorption envelopes me. (Which is more often than I like to admit, though rarely do I slide this far...)

Most importantly though, when I stop making much of me and start focusing my glory elsewhere, I seem to inevitably end up aiming it at God. Whether I'm serving another, listening to a sermon uncritically with an open mind, reading my bible, or just spending time thinking, I end up making much of God, and that gives me a joy and a satisfaction that can't be found anywhere else. For, if the purpose of my existence is to glorify God, how can I find satisfaction or meaning solely in myself? This world is about Him, history is about Him, my own life is about Him, so when I start surrendering my thoughts to myself, I'm surrendering to something less than eternally fulfilling which can only leave me ultimately unsatisfied and depressed.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

"The problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar." - Anonymous

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vintage: Going in Blind

("Going in Blind" was written by me almost a year ago now as a Facebook note, hence the title "Vintage". I guess this means I'm getting lazy, and if you are familiar with this particular note, I'm sorry. However, I really like it (humble, ain't I?) and am reusing it here with the first paragraph modified a bit to make the thought more universal...)

Today's society enjoys scorning the idea of faith. They believe that if they can corner a Christian to admit that they are relying on faith, than the believer's ideas are nullified and illogical. Probably because in the secular world, there is a major misconception about not only the Christian understanding of faith, but the whole notion of faith itself.

By society's definition, "faith" means believing in something while lacking substantial evidence to do so. They tend to think that faith has nothing to do with truth or reality. Some would even argue that this is precisely the reason Christianity is called a "faith" in the first place - because it doesn't correspond to reality. To them, faith is something we are either brainwashed to believe (most likely when we are young) or something that we come to believe out of shear primal necessity, always in the absence of any evidence to do so (the hologram of a safety net, if you will. It's not really there, but it's mentally comforting anyway.) This has a profound impact on the discussions about God a Christian experiences with non-believers, as the questioner no longer asks for evidence/rationalities of God's existence, but rather focuses on the believers themselves and tries to find explanations as to what would cause them to believe in such absurdities in the first place.

Put in easier terms, faith is construed as the ability to believe in something that you have no idea about (a shot in the dark, a blind leap). By that measure, a strong faith would be believing in something you suspect isn't true, and the strongest faith of all is believing in something that you KNOW isn't true. By this assumption, faith disappears in the presence of knowledge and hard facts. So once the other side has me admitting faith, they could mentally draw me as an unknowledgeable crazy person clinging to my beliefs for psychological benefits in the absence of reality, and there was really (from their point of view) no more arguing left to be done. The belief in the absurdity of faith is actually more common than you might think (if you happen to be under the delusion that it's uncommon...). Apologist Michael Ramsden gave one example of how it works its way into discussion:

"When people say to me, 'Michael, I am so happy that you're a Christian, and I wish I could believe what you believe, but I can't.' What they usually mean is this, 'Michael, I am so happy that you are happy. There seems to be a joy and completeness in your life that I find attractive. But the reason you are happy is because you are a Christian. In other words, you believe in things that are not true or real.' (Now what do you call people who believe in things that are not there? The answer is: lunatics.) So rephrased one last time, 'Michael, you are actually completely insane. But the main thing is that your delusional mind keeps you happy. And I am happy that you are happy. As a matter of fact, I'm so desperate to be as happy as you, that I too would embrace insanity just to join you, but I can't do it. I've thought about it, but I just can't.'"

Sadly, this view about faith as believing what cannot be justified is held not only by secularists, but also by many Christians themselves (Yes, in a theoretical sense these "believers" consider themselves insane, and their "beliefs" unjustifiable). They downplay the human ability to know God on a personal level, question the validity of the Bible as the inspired word of God, and rely on the "feelings" they get during a worship service or other such activities as substantial evidence for their "faith" in Him. In turn, they do not engage with others about the value of Christ in their lives because they do not think that their belief is logically arguable in the first place (among other reasons...), and most importantly, while relying on shallow "feelings" they experience instead of truly seeking God, they never get to know Him very well themselves.

But faith is not a blind leap into the dark, nor is it the act of wishing something were true that we know deep down is probably not. When I say I have faith in God, I am not saying that I have placed blind hope in his existence. I KNOW he exists. Saying I have faith in God is to be measured on the same grounds as me saying I have faith in the Canadian Prime Minister (I would use the President of the United States here, but that might give off the wrong impression these days). It is making the proclamation that I believe in the Minister's moral character and his good judgment as an individual; not that I am personally hoping he exists. In the exact same sense, having faith in God means that I trust Him completely, and that I expect Him to make His decisions with my eternal best interest at heart. That is what faith is.

Furthermore, when it comes right down to it, everyone places faith in something or someone. Atheists place faith in themselves and their own ability to determine that God doesn't exist, agnostics place faith in their knowledge that God is unknowable (a contradiction unto itself I might add, if nothing can be known about God how can we know he's unknowable?), Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims... Everybody on this planet has a faith of some kind that they have placed somewhere, even the ones who want to pretend that they don't care about meta-narratives (overarching or transcendent views of reality) because denial of all meta-narratives is itself a meta-narrative. Therefore to point out where somebody begins to rely on faith is to point out the obvious and the necessary. If I am correct in my assertion that faith is a universal human trait, the question then becomes, where have you placed yours?

"Our careless feet leaving trails; never minding the fragile dirt we all end in." - Demon Hunter

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Law #4: Recieving the Gift

(This is a continuation from Law #3, and the final spiritual law.)

The title of this post accurately describes what must be done to earn salvation. Nothing. We must accept what has already been done for us. Accept that it is by God's grace alone that you have been saved, and not by anything you can do (Ephesians 2:8). Everyone to whom these four laws have been presented in the fashion I just presented them has this opportunity. Simply place your trust in the fact that Jesus took your sins with Him to the cross and cleansed you from all unrighteousness. It's that simple, and yet it's so difficult. We as prideful humans have such a hard time accepting the gift. It feels so unfair, and we want to have to work for it a little bit so it feels less like we're cheating God (or, as is more likely, we're too prideful to admit our dependence), hence the rise of religion. But Romans 4:4-5 says, "Now to everyone who works, their wages are not credited to them as a gift but as an obligation. However, to anyone who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, their faith is credited as righteous."

When we allow our sins to be placed onto Jesus, we gain a blank slate, and all our sins are poured out on Him and subsequently cleansed. God looks on us as He would one who is righteous and pure. We thus gain several things: 1.) We are now back in fellowship with YHWH, and He can hear our prayers. 2.) The Holy Spirit (a topic I'll also cover later) indwells us and empowers us. 3.) We begin an eternal journey that will draw us ever closer to our Creator throughout this life and culminate with us spending eternity with Him. 4.) We gain forgiveness for every sin we ever committed and will commit.

What must you do to place your trust in Christ then? Simply say something in your heart along these lines...

Jesus, I know that I'm a sinful and desperate person. I'm sick Lord, and I'm separated from You. I ask You now to come into my heart, Lord. Indwell me, stay with me, guide me until my life is through, and on that day, please take me home with You, Lord. I surrender my life now to You, use me as You will. Amen

Now the emphasis here is not on the words themselves but their meaning. Their is nothing magical about this particular set of sentences. You could say them a hundred times every day for the rest of your life, but if you don't mean it, it wouldn't make any difference. If, however, you say it once, and you really mean it (even just a summarized version of it), Jesus promises that on the day of judgment you will stand among the redeemed. Will you be changed because of a decision of this magnitude? Duh. Will you have to give up some of your hopes and dreams in order to pursue the heavenly goals of God? Probably. Will it be worth it? Completely. Imagine the line below is the timeline of your life. It is an infinite existence as your soul cannot die. The red section at the beginning would represent your time here on earth, and the rest of the infinite line would represent your afterlife. (The choice you make in the red affects the never ending white line.)


Anything you have to give up in this life for the sake of Christ is not even comparable to the promised future glory.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with Me." (Revelation 3:20)

"Everybody eventually surrenders there lives to something or someone. If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. You were designed to surrender to God - and if you fail to, you will create other things to give your life to. You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice." - Rick Warren