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I think we’ve been lied to.


 

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible.

It’s all going to turn out all right.”

~ Billy Graham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a chance we’ve been lied to?  Do you think some, maybe with great intentions, have led us away from truth?  Do you think there could really be an ‘enemy’ with a plan to give us wrong definitions of things that seem good and worthy?  Do you think that we’d be able to see this lie as soon as it makes eye contact with us?  Or would we possibly be swayed into thinking it is honorable?

 

We’re in the middle of a politically charged election year.  Do you think that we’re going to hear fully the truth of anyone who’s running?  I’m not sure.  Each candidate, whatever office they’re running for, wants their best side to show…mistakes hidden.  We’re like that in a lot of ways as well.  We want people to know us for our strengths and not for our weaknesses.  In many ways we ‘advertise’ something we’re really not in order to please others or to feel good about ourselves.  We might not have evil objectives while doing this, but we act selfishly by nature.  We humans are fairly good at that at times.  There is goodness though that can shine through our darkness.

 

Sometimes organizations, governments and corporations tell us that they have the best ideas, products and plans for our lives.  They say we can depend on them to help us get through life.  And many times, that may be their aim…but is it really the truth?  The world would have us believe that its wisdom for our lives and for our families and for our businesses can provide security and success.  And again, maybe with the best intentions, people in the world lead us towards a lie.

 

“True love always protects, hopes, trusts and never gives up.”  Pieces of that last line have been used in greeting cards, love songs and by heroes in movies and books.  But it actually came from the pen of Paul as he described our living God.  If God is love, then it goes to show that God provides protection, provides complete hope, is completely trustworthy and is persistent to the end of His perfect plan.

 

Are there people who don’t believe in God that I can trust?  Sure there are.  Are there corporations that don’t know me personally but are trying to put out the best products to make my life better?  Absolutely.  Are there governments that truly want the best for their people, but don’t subscribe to a Creator God?  I certainly hope so.  Are there exceptions to what I’ve just said?  Yes, there are people and groups that are completely selfish and are only hungry for power and prestige.  They act with evil intent.  There are those that act to pull us away from truth, away from God, away from goodness and the felt need for forgiveness.  Plans such as these are evil.

 

There are governments that claim to protect us, and might do so here on this planet.  But they cannot provide eternal protection against Satan.  There are wise people and leaders we can trust.  But we cannot put our eternal soul in their trust because they are simply human and in need of the same forgiveness we need that only comes from a God we can trust.  There are family members and friends that we can put our hope in when they give us their word.  But God gives us a hope that is eternal…and Jesus provided a hope that conquers death itself.  There are people who will die for us, but there is already one who has died who didn’t need to.  Jesus was persistent unto death for our sake.  He took the pain.  He humbled himself, being Himself God, and was nailed to a piece of wood to die.  But that’s not the end of the story.  His resurrection over bodily death proved to us that He is someone who can protect our eternal soul.  He’s one to trust…He kept his word.  We can hope in His claim that one day we will be with Him forever…death doesn’t control Him…He hold the keys.  And we can persevere like He did because we know that this world isn’t really our home.

 

And here is the best part of all.  We as Christians have the opportunity every day to show people the truest and best one who can protect them, give them hope, something to trust in…simply a love that never gives up.  It’s like we’re warriors in a battle.  The world, as good as the world can get, cannot surpass God’s goodness.  And the evil one wants us to simply stop at the world’s goodness and call it a day.  See Satan doesn’t need us to be evil…he just needs us to deny God’s perfection and plan.  We can be really, really good people, and never truly show Jesus.  There’s the battle.  Everyday we’re able to show Jesus and His perfect love…we take the battle to the enemy.  And remember…the war is won.  As Billy Graham’s quote at the top of this article says, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”  Let’s share this with everyone we know.

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

 

Questions for Growth:

  • If God provides perfect protection, what does that look like?  And how do we share that protection with others?
  • If we can have perfect hope in God, what does that look like?  And how do we share that hope with others?
  • If God gives us something to trust in…why should we?  And how do we share with others that they can trust Him too?
  • What does persistent, never failing love look like?  What would that look like to our friends and family if we were to try and mimic that…to be like Jesus…to them?

 

Paths – Which one are you on?

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been slowly reading a book by Andy Stanley titled, “The Principle of the Path.”  It’s a great book with one simple message.  Andy is very easy to read as well and he’s full of funny stories.  I’ve passed this book on to many people because of its very simple message.  Oh, in case you were wondering, Andy is the son of Charles.

Over the last few years I had the opportunity to work a couple side jobs that gave me the chance to travel throughout the country.  I would jump on a plane and head to another airport, jump off the plane into a rental car, then begin travels to a church building to speak or a store to install a computer/printer and do some training.  I had a phone installed with GPS, so before taking off, I’d type in the address of my destination.  That way, when I took off in the rental car, the phone would already be telling me what turns to make and when to make them.

GPS worked well, but there were those times when I found myself in a vacant parking lot in a empty side of town calling the church or the store to get different directions.  GPS just didn’t get it right.  Mostly it was an old business address or a difference in zip code or just something random.  The principle of the path would say this though.  The road I was on did take me to where I was going…might have been the wrong destination…but that stretch of pavement took me somewhere.  Isn’t that true in life as well?

The road we’re on will always take us to a destination.  It might be what you’re expecting and it might not be, but the principle of the path always holds true…you will always get to where the road you’re presently on leads…for good or bad.  Unfortunately, many of us get to the destination before we realize we’ve been on the wrong road.  So what road are you on?

The Bible says this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  The point is, it’s like we’re in the middle of the maze…we think we have a plan…we know our situation…but God is looking from above and can see the direct path we need to take to get to where He wants or needs us to be.  If we don’t look up every once in awhile and say, “Left or right?”, then we will make a choice based only on our intelligence and wisdom…and even though we all think we’re smart…haha  you can finish this sentence.

Have you ever had something happen to you and you put your hands on your head and shout, “How did this happen?”  Well, more than likely it’s because of the left and right turns you’ve taken.  It’s a principle.  You’ll always go where the path leads.

Choose God’s ways.  If you say that you’re not yet familiar with His ways, then look them up.  A great place to start is the book of Proverbs.  Lots of basic life stuff in there.  All given from a guy who had all of God’s wisdom, but not much of God’s intelligence.    He’s writing while looking back on his life and realizing all unintended places he ended up while not following God.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Train Hard! Work Hard! Expect the Blessing!


Train Hard! Work Hard! Expect the Blessing!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Run to Win the Prize – Eternity, History, & Present

April 11, 2010

Ed Barnes

One Liners:

· I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I am doing.

· I don’t exercise at all. If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body.

· If you are going to try cross country skiing, start with a small country.

· I joined a health club last year, spent about $400. Haven’t lost a pound. Apparently you have to show up.

At one point in my life, I was a runner. I still consider myself a runner, even though my knees prevent me from it…I guess that’s because of the knowledge and wisdom I gathered from putting down the miles. There are some huge lessons in exercise. Let me give you a few of them below.

I remember my first year in Cross Country. Coach T gave us our “meet schedule” and then proceeded to tell us our training regimen. I thought this will be ok. No problem. When I arrived at the first practice, we stretched. I figured that running would be tough…but I quickly found that it’s fairly easy to work up a sweat when you stretch correctly, like an athlete would.


We then began running. We started slow. When we asked coach where we were headed, he would just say, “Follow me.” About a ½ mile into the first practice, we new recruits were feeling like death. There was so much pain. I had cramps in both shoulders, and my gut. My ankles hurt. My feet felt like they were on fire. My lungs felt like they were going to explode. And I swear I had already lost 5 lbs of sweat. It was at this point that coach said we were going 3 miles. We were speechless.

To say the least, “us” new guys made it. It might have taken us an hour, but we did it. That night I felt so good that I had ran three miles! However, the next morning, I realized the pain I felt while running had nothing on the pain you feel the day after your first running experience. My legs felt 10 lbs heavier…each. Sitting down hurt. Walking up stairs was nearly impossible. And then when we got to practice, coach said, “Ok, today we’re going 4 miles.”


Exercise hurts, but it’s how you get better. It’s how you get ready to compete! Without training, you’re not prepared for what competition brings. When you train, you prepare physically and mentally. Yes, there is mental prep too in physical training. You have to learn how to push through. You have to learn what pains are ok to feel and which ones you should listen to out of risk of injury. You have to learn how to have a game face. You have to learn how to go when you can’t go anymore (yes, it is possible).

I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is something you’ve probably heard about before. The term is “runner’s high.” There is such a thing. I remember the first time I felt this. It was a 10K (6.2 mile) race here in Canton. I had seriously trained for this one. It was the first annual event for the group organizing the race. I figured there’d be good competition there…people who I could learn from. I ended up being one of the top runners…and I’ll tell you why (not bragging here). About the halfway mark, my body gave me a blessing. Things worked perfectly. Yes, I was in pain. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I had a cramp in my side. But, as I began running through the Canton Center (Mellet Mall) parking lot, the “runner’s high” set in. The pain went away. My breathing leveled out. I really couldn’t feel my legs. It felt like I was running on air. The only way I can describe this is…it’s like turning on cruise control on a straight road with no traffic. I ran the second half faster than the first and ended up being 3rd in my age group. I medaled!


When I learned how to get to that point, I became a better runner. I learned, however, that to get to that point, I had to get through a lot of pain through training and pain through mental learning. It was not easy.


Christianity is that same way. Paul knew it. I’m assuming that as competitive as Paul sounds in his books, he loved “sport.” I’m even thinking he was a runner…or studied running or physical training. He understood that the competitor went through a lot while competing for a prize that would not last. Hours of time and sweat and tears would be spent for a single race…with no guarantee of a medal or crown. And if there was an award, it was one that would probably fade away or deteriorate with time.


Paul encourages us to train. Christianity is not something that you join up for and then God just makes you better. Christianity takes practice. It takes failure. It takes training. It’s painful. It’s tiring. It takes eternal patience. There are pains that you run through. There are pains that make you stop in your tracks. But there is also a point when everything comes together and you feel like you’re running on air…the light comes on…you have the “a-ha” moment…you have a victory…you pass on the blessing and someone accepts it. Those are the “WINS.” And in the end, you receive a prize that lasts forever. You cross the line and God is the first one to tell you “great race!”

Expect pain. Expect the blessing. If I never expected the “runner’s high” in a race, I would have never ran to get it. In those races when I didn’t expect the runner’s high, I didn’t do as well. When I expected it, I ran my heart out. Run your heart out for Christ. Expect the blessing. It’s a promise.


Say Paul’s words over and over, “…I will not be disqualified for the prize.” (v. 27)


Ed


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