Sunday, February 16, 2014

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Being Ready for Your Last Day

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Last Sunday my wife and I returned from a trip to Nashville.  We were there in the recording studio while a country music song I co-wrote was being recorded.  When we arrived back home and went through the mail we discovered that a friend of mine had passed away.

A young man of 56 years, always in good health, exercising regularly and keeping his weight in good shape all the time, suddenly and unexpectedly was gone.  In the middle of the sadness and shock, a thought came to mind:  I wondered if he was "ready."

Are you ready for that day?

When that day will come for me I want to be ready in a variety of ways.

I want to be sure that I've put things in order for my wife so that she'll be taken care of when I'm gone.  I want to be sure that my children and grandchildren know that I loved them.  I want to be sure that there are no loose ends relationally. I want to be sure that to the extent humanly possible, the wrongs I've done in this life have been righted, apologies given, relationships restored.  I want to be sure that the paper trail of my life says, "This was a life well lived."

Most importantly I want to be sure that I'm right with the Lord in terms of eternity.

We are eternal beings.  When our bodies die, our spirits live on.  That is what the Bible teaches.  God has a preferred destination for each of our spirits, and it is heaven.  Know that if you are reading this today, heaven is God's preferred destination for you when this life is over.

But how to be ready?  How to get there?

That path is clearly laid out in the Bible in John 3:16,  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

God gave his Son Jesus Christ, so that Christ could pay for all the "I'm not ready" parts of our life, that is to say, so he could pay for our sins so we don't have to.

If you have never said "yes" to God's offer of forgiveness, let me encourage you to do so today.  The precise words aren't the issue, but the meaning behind them is.  Here's a sample prayer which if said with genuine sincerity (meaning you have to mean it), makes you ready to meet the Lord and will start you on a path in this life of walking with him now.

If you want to be sure you are headed for heaven when you die, sincerely pray this prayer:

"Lord, I confess to you today that I'm a sinner and that I have sinned.  I don't deserve heaven, but am grateful that you have made a way for my sins to be forgiven so I can go to be with you there in heaven when I die.  I ask that you forgive me through Christ.  What I mean Lord is what you have laid out in the Bible, that if I repent of my sins and put my faith in Christ's death and resurrection and payment for my sins, that I will be forgiven and will go to heaven when I die.  Please do forgive me through Christ.  I put my faith in him and ask that you fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can begin to walk with you now by faith until the day I see you face to face.  I pray this in the name of Jesus who is now my Lord.  Amen"

Friend, I can tell you on the authority of the Bible, that if you pray that prayer and mean what it says, you are on your way to heaven.  You are "ready."

Don't wait until it is too late.  Put your spiritual house in order while you can.  You will never regret doing so.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

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Looking out the car window and wondering about life

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I remember as a little boy growing up in Iowa, riding along in the back seat of the car looking out across the farm fields at the night sky, and wondering "what was out there;" out there in the heavens. I wondered where life would lead and I wondered about God and a lot of things.

I probably wondered too, why I got car sick! Dad would be smoking up front as he drove and in those days no one had a thought that smoking was a bad thing for one's health, let alone that second-hand smoke might be a problem for kids. I couldn't wait for some of those rides to end so I could get out into the fresh air. It wasn't that I was thinking about the smoke; it was just that it seemed stuffy in the car. A stuffy boy wants some fresh air.

As my mind wandered from little boy thoughts about horses and baseball and dreams of life to come, it would drift back to those bigger questions about life. What I've discovered since those boyhood years, is that I am not alone. We all have those thoughts and wonder about God and life and life after death.

Even if you aren't what we would normally call a "believer" in God, what I do know about you is that you have had those thoughts. Ecclesiastes says that "God has put eternity into man's mind, and yet so he cannot figure out what he has done from beginning to end." You have thought about eternity, about God, I know you have. And you have wondered, maybe even angrily, about "god" or "a god," but you have wondered.

What I want to share with you is that you don't have to wonder any more. There is a God. He is real. He created you and he really, really does love matter what you have done in your past and no matter what kinds of thoughts you have had about him.

How do I know? Well there was this guy named Jesus who claimed to have know the Father, the Father we call God. And how do we know that we can trust what Jesus said? Because he was raised from the dead to show, among other things, that he was God's Son. That Jesus was raised from the dead isn't just a fairytale. We have proof. Really? Proof?

Ya, we do. Witnesses, many of them. Witnesses who saw him, talked with him, ate with him, touched him and were changed by him. Witnesses who saw him over a period of time, not just as some ghostly figure floating around a room once. Witnesses who went to their deaths because of their claim that he was alive.

Did you know that over 500 people all at once saw Jesus alive after the Resurrection? Did you know that he cooked fish for his disciples after the Resurrection? I've seen the spot where it likely happened. I've stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee on the spot where the Apostle John says that Peter ate that fish meal the Lord had prepared.

I could go on, but if you are new to all this, it may be that you have heard that such things are a myth. Nope. They were recorded as fact by people who said they were eyewitnesses. Did you know there is no contemporaneous record (a record written at that time) that says, "Nope, those disciples are crazy. This stuff never happened!" There is no record like that. If someone today were to say that Elvis is still alive and living in Memphis, there would be a whole bunch of evidence presented that that isn't true.

Ditto for the resurrection of Christ. The Disciples and others claimed that he was resurrected, but there was no one presenting evidence that it hadn't happened. Just a small point, but something for you to consider.

God is real. He loves you. He does have a plan not only for your life but for your eternity. He is reaching out to you; reach back. You can start with John 3:16 that says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

God is for you. He wants you to have eternal life and joy with him. Christ is the way that that happens. Confess your sins. God is waiting to forgive. Put your trust in Christ and Christ alone as your Savior and only hope for heaven. God will come into your life and change you and your future in ways you never could have dreamed.

Then find a good church to go to...there really are some. Do it today. You'll be glad you did.