What do you think the husband was thinking when the doors were closed?

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If you are ever in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, let me recommend visiting the Billy Graham Museum.  For me, it was a pleasure and just fascinating  to marvel at the impact that this very humble man, empowered by a single life ambition (to tell of the amazing grace of God) had on millions and millions of people.

Speaking of impact, while I was there I heard the following true story that still leaves me deeply stirred.

A husband and wife were taking a trip to Charlotte.  He wanted to make it special for her. So, he told her that whatever she wanted to do, they would do.

Being a Christian (he was not), she exclaimed that she would like to go to the Billy Graham museum.  “Are you sure?  Would you like to do something else?” he asked her with a hope she would change her mind.

“Nope. That is what I’d like to do”, she said.

“okay”, he agreed.

In the final room of the museum, there is a powerful message from various crusades from Billy Graham, which are shown with an invitation given for all to  receive the free gift of salvation  through Jesus’ death on the cross.

After the invitation was given, a door automatically opened up where some lighted crosses could be seen, along with a heavenly kind of image.  The wife  walked through the door, but when the doors closed, her husband was not behind her.

Her husband had stayed in the room while the invitation was being given and was unaware his wife had left the room without him.  By the time, he got up, the lights had gone out, and the door was closed.  There were no handles on the door and the man realized he had been left behind.

The wife, alarmed that her husband was not with her, got some staff help to open the door to the room her husband was in.  When the door was opened, they found the husband with his head bowed down and weeping.

The dramatic impact of realizing that what had happened in the room moments ago, where he was separated from his wife, could really be true, but for all eternity shocked him and brought him to the place where he believed the truth that now is the day of salvation and that there are no second chances.  He understood the eternal danger of delaying making a decision today to accept Jesus’ death on a cross as a payment for his sins. He knew he needed right then to get right with God (and he did).

I love that story.  I hope you recognize the same truth that the husband did. How utterly horrible it will be for anyone who comes to that awful awareness that he is standing outside of Heaven when the gates are closed.

What about you?  If something tragic were to happen to you today, would you be entering through the gates of Heaven knowing that you have given your life to Jesus Christ by simply believing in what He did for you on a cross, or would you be on the outside, fighting through all your fears and meaningless efforts to justify your own goodness?

My prayer is that today, if you haven’t already, you would recognize that “God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life”.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourself. For it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.”

 

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Giving your best, but “are you playing for Him?”

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I’ve written a lot of posts over the years – over a thousand.  But I’m really excited about this one.  There’s a sweetness in my heart as I think about writing this post. (I was holding back the tears before it was all done).

This message is about vision and perspective. It’s about re-looking at the way you live your life and your motivation.

Readers of my blog know that my posts often deal with being intentional about striving for excellence in all seven areas of responsibilities. I believe that if a person does, they will generally be happier and more successful than those who don’t .  My Balance Sheet

In a similar way, I believe any person who is faithful, honest, hard-working, and exercises self-control will tend to have a more orderly life with generally less problems than someone who tends not to be faithful or trustworthy, and is selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and is not self-controlled.  Mind you, everyone has their difficulties, but a person who tries to be kind and think of others first will tend to not bring more troubles upon themselves than a person who only concerns himself with his own needs (and wants).  Wouldn’t you agree?

So, with that said, I believe that anyone will benefit from striving for excellence in all these seven areas of responsibilities.  I believe when you are at your best, you will bring others happiness, as well as yourself. But, hear me out as I go on.  But, even when we are at our very best, in and of ourselves, we are never good enough to come to God on our own merits.  We are just too mired in the stain of our selfish and sinful ways to come into the presence of a holy God.

Thankfully, God solved the problem by amazingly giving us His best.  He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ to live a perfect life on earth, then go to a place of judgement (a cross) to die in our place.  Through His sacrificial death, He has reconciled all who will receive this free gift of His kindness.

Now, as an expression of gratefulness to God for all He has done for us and empowered by His Spirit, we can do good works.  So, just to really make this clear,  as believers in our Savior, Jesus Christ, we now desire to do good things,  not to earn His favor, which we can never do, but as an expression of our gratitude for what He has already done for us.

In a similar way to doing good works, I want to encourage you with this rallying cry to strive for excellence in all seven areas of responsibility, but not so that you can boast about how good of a person you are, but as a gift back to God for His transforming work in your life.

As passionately as I can and out of a humble heart filled with gratitude, I want to come to Him and present my life to Him in hopes I have represented Him well. Like the little drummer boy, I want to be motivated to come to Him and honor Him by “playing my best for Him”.

Let me encourage you  (even dare you)  to find a quiet place this day, and with this post in mind, consider how you are doing in the seven areas of your responsibilities and how you can be better. After all, don’t you want to be your best, so that can present your best to Him?


As a further help to accepting responsibility for all the areas of your responsibilities (and building close relationships as you do), check out this new App I’ve created:

You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     Foundations Life Management app for IPhone devices

https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

or go to the Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en

 

 

Are you ready for THEE INTERVIEW ?

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Yes, I’m talking about the really big interview.  I’m not referring to your next potential job, but rather that moment when you stand before God.   Wow!  Now, that’s a sobering thought, huh !

I don’t know if you’ve given that much thought, especially because none of us know when that interview will happen.  So, how will you get ready for that experience?

Well, one scenario might look like this:

A person  would stand before Him and have with them a box.  As God looks at them with both loving and piercing eyes, He would say, “why should I let you in to my Heaven?”

For some, that would be the clue to kneel down to a box they brought along.  Soon they would be pulling out a certificate showing that they were a member of the National Honor Society in High School. They might also show the badges they earned in Boy Scouts.  For some, they would reach in their box and pull out their letters of appreciation from a nursing home they visited a few times.  Oh, and then there is a card showing how much blood they donated at the local blood center.  For some, they might decide to strengthen their cause by pulling out their Income Tax forms to show that they had made occasional donations to some cancer foundations and sporadically to a church.

Finally, when all the documents are removed from the box and a few trophies as well, they would stand before this holy God confident that they are a good person.

But, then in a firm voice, Almighty God might say to this person, “thank you for presenting all your evidence to show you are a good person, but I now have a few questions to ask you as I cross examine you and your defense that I should let you live in Heaven with me.”  He might then ask:

  • Do you understand that Heaven is a place of perfection—-how do you compare with that standard?
  • Have ever sought to live independently from Me?
  • Have you ever taken my name in vain, and used it as a cuss word, or in some unflattering, demeaning kind of way? Huh!
  • Have you ever thought yourself better than others and looked down on the less fortunate, the under-resourced, the poor, or the lowly? Huh!
  • Have you ever lusted after a member of the opposite sex? or even the same sex?
  • Have you physically hurt another person with either your fists, or your words?
  • Have you kept bitterness against someone else in your heart, and were unwilling to forgive someone else?  Huh!
  • Have you ever been ungrateful for all I have provided for you, so that you coveted what others have?

I could then see God looking at the person in that scenario with both sadness and directness saying, “all your life you lived independently from Me and had no interest in getting closer to Me, or reading my Words (as found in the Bible), why then, now  would you want to live eternally with Me ?

The person in this scenario, sadly to say will have failed the interview.  It doesn’t get any more terrible than this.

However, there is another scenario that has much more of a positive ending.

This person also stands before God with a box filled with his life’s best moments, and biggest accomplishments. Again, God asks, “why should I let you into My Heaven?”

The person in this scenario looks down at his box, then looks at the splendor, and the holiness of God and immediately understands that he’s got nothing to say for himself.  He’s got nothing to present to this holy God that would make him favorable before God.  Rather than pleading his case before God, the person in this second scenario drops to his knees and cries out in utter humility for forgiveness and mercy.  This person begins to rise to his feet and says to God, “My Father, I don’t deserve to stand before you on my own, however, I have looked to Jesus Christ, your Son to be my Savior.  I understand that He died on a cross so that my sins would be forgiven by You and because I know He was resurrected from the dead, I know you have accepted what He did as payment in full for my sins (and for all who place their faith in Jesus).  So, because of my belief in what Jesus did on the Cross that is why you should let me into Your Heaven–because your Bible says that I am a part of your family”.

Let me end this post today by saying it is the person in this second scenario who will have passed their interview and who will hear the comforting words of a Living and Loving God saying, “Welcome to My Paradise”!

What made the difference?  It was this.  It was recognizing that even on my best days, I am still a sinner, undeserving to stand before Him. But, it is also recognizing that He is a merciful and gracious God who loves mankind (that is why He sent His Son to be the Savior of it).  But, He is not a God who will force Himself on anyone. People have a choice.

Dear post reader,  although I probably don’t know you, I’m pleading with you to take this post to heart.  This interview, you have to pass–your eternity depends on it.

And if you are still hesitant to make an “all in” decision and  believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, then let me encourage you to really consider what Easter represents in all its fullness.  If you do, I can’t even imagine coming to any other conclusions then believing in the whole Cross-Resurrection story of Jesus Christ as true–it happened.   And if it happened, then there is nothing more important than how you act in YOUR INTERVIEW.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life – John 3:16

 

Can I fill up a bath for you?

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Picture if you will, this experience:  you’ve been working out in the garden for hours on a hot, sunny day. You are sweaty. You are dirty.  Your back is hurting.  Then, a loved one comes up to you and says to come in and enjoy a bath that they filled up for you. water-running-relaxing-bath-20544387

You take off your dirty shoes and clothes and you carefully get in the tub and then you lie down in it—ahhhh!.  The warm water is so soothing and you can almost feel the dirt falling off your body. Your back muscles also seem to be relaxing.

So, where am I going with this—-it’s this:   like in the above illustration of a person sweaty, dirty, and in pain from all their garden work, I believe many of us  are also emotionally dirty and in pain from our living in this world.  We carry the weight of worry, loneliness,  fear,  fatigue, and hopelessness.  Its time to take an emotional and spiritual bath.

I would like to encourage you to read the following verses from the Bible (in the NLT) and bathe yourself in thinking and receiving them.  If you do, even as I look forward to doing, I believe they will bring cleansing, relief, and enjoyment to your soul.

John 3:16-17 —  16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 8:31-39 – 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”*)37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,* neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8-11 – 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

1 John 3:1 – 1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him

1 John 4:10 – 10  This is real love-not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son  as a sacrifice to take away our sin.

 

I hope you have really taken the time to bathe in these verses.  They reveal an awesome truth that you are loved!

Lastly,  before you leave the tub, let me encourage you to relax and enjoy this refreshing song by Heather Headley,

 

 

 

You are loved! –its as simple as that

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In my continual camping out in chapters 4-10 in Deuteronomy, a thought today just seemed to jump off the pages of my Bible. It was this: God loved the Israelites!

In meditating on Deut. 7:7-8a for instance, it says, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you …”

This same affection of love that God had for the Israelites could also be applied to us today. God loves you!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16

Now hear my heart in this. Many of us are very familiar with John 3:16 and have heard that God loves us. Since June of 1982, I too have heard this mentioned many times.

But, sometimes the commonplace or familiar can actually be just superficial. Today, it has hit me in a fresh, powerful kind of way that Almighty God loves me! Wo!

Talk about a perspective check. As I thought about those words, “God loves me”, I felt like I was getting giddy. Is there anything that really can bring me down if I am thinking on the fact that I am loved by God? No way.

Where is room for me to be worried, fearful, anxious, etc. if Almighty God loves me? He will have my back. He will take care of me. Why? Because He loves me.

Its as simplle as that.

Today, maybe there is someone out there, besides me who just needs to hear that simple message, you are loved by God! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!