One Appointment We All Keep

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At the conclusion of his father’s funeral, Franklin Graham said, “Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again, but I will see you again. I’ll see you maybe soon, but not yet. To God be the glory.”

Watching the Billy Graham memorial service online today reminded me of my Mother’s service in (2012) and my Dad’s in (2014). In the past eight years I’ve had to say, “See you later” to both of them. Fortunately, both knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they went home to heaven’s glory. I will see them again, but I still miss them very much.

Then, all of this reminds me of my own human mortality, the fact that I have an appointment with death one day, just like you and every other person on the face of the earth, whether we are famous or not. This is one appointment none of us can change, reschedule or miss.

The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27).

At the same the Scriptures tell us, “Prepare to meet your God,” (Amos 4:12).

Are you prepared to meet your God? Are you ready for eternity?

You know, eternity is a very long time to be wrong about how you stand with God. We can’t afford to hope or guess our soul is o.k. with God. We need to make sure our salvation is settled through Jesus Christ because there are no second chances to get it right once we enter eternity.  My Mother and Dad were ready. I am ready and I truly hope you are too.

If you don’t have total assurance, you can. Please email us and let us pray with you today.

When Christ comes into our hearts, He takes away our fear of death and replaces it with His peace. But, if we don’t have total confidence we are saved by Christ, we should never put it off or consider it normal Christianity.

In closing, at my Mother’s eulogy, my Pastor cousin read a famous poem written by Linda Ellis called, “The Dash.”

A man once spoke at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone: the beginning to the end.

First, came his date of birth as he spoke of the ending date with tears.
Yet, what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time we spent alive on earth.
But, we seldom realize how precious that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live, love and spend our dash.

So, think about this poem while you can,
Because life is slipping away faster than the hourglass sand.

Are there things in your life that need to change?
Priorities, decisions or attitudes to rearrange?

Slow down to discover what’s true and real,
And, always consider the way others feel.

Be slow to anger and show appreciation more.
Love God and others like you’ve never loved before.

Be kind to others, willing to walk the second mile.
Knowing that this dash might end in just a little while.

So, I ask you when your eulogy is finally being read,
What things about your life will be said?

My friend, our earthly treasures will one day crumble all to ash.
Yet what remains is how you spent YOUR dash?

“How I Want to Be Remembered”

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Billy Graham’s Final Column: How He Wanted to be Remembered

Question: “Mr. Graham, how would you like to be remembered?”

Answer: “I hope I will be remembered as someone who was faithful—faithful to God, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithful to the calling God gave me not only as an evangelist, but as a husband, father and friend.”

“I’m sure I’ve failed in many ways, but I take comfort in Christ’s promise of forgiveness, and I take comfort also in God’s ability to take even our most imperfect efforts and use them for His glory.”

“By the time you read this, I will be in heaven, and as I write this I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the day when I will be in God’s presence forever.”

“I’m convinced that heaven is far more glorious than anything we can possibly imagine right now, and I look forward not only to its wonder and peace, but also to the joy of being reunited with those who have gone there before me, especially my dear wife, Ruth. The Bible says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).”

“But I won’t be in heaven because I’ve preached to large crowds or because I’ve tried to live a good life. I’ll be in heaven for one reason: Many years ago I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to make our forgiveness possible and rose again from the dead to give us eternal life.”

“My friend, do you know for sure you will go to heaven when you die? Do you have any lingering doubts you would like to settle? You can, right now, by committing your life to Jesus Christ today. Don’t put this decision off a minute longer. Come to the cross of Jesus Christ and you will know the deep peace and assurance only God can give you.”

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

Put your trust in Christ today.

 

Why? Because He Loves Us.

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“Love is why God created us in the first place. We didn’t birth ourselves. God did not make us because He needed to or because He was bored or because He was lonely or because He had run out of things to do. The only reason why we are even here is because He loves us, plain and simple.” —-John Ortberg

You all know the Disney story, we learned it as children.

It’s a classic story, Gepetto the kind woodworker carves a little boy out of a lifeless block of wood. He deeply wishes he would become real and come to life. Surprisingly, his wish is actually granted! And, Pinocchio is transformed into a living, breathing, flesh and blood little boy with a independent mind of his very own.

Unfortunately, Pinocchio’s boyish ideas eventually land him into all kinds of trouble. He falls into the wrong crowd. He runs away from home. And, suddenly this sweet, little boy becomes a prodigal son. Of course, this senseless act of rebellion literally breaks his father’s heart. Gepetto weeps at night thinking about his lost boy as he experiences the painful ache of separation between himself and the child he created.

In a like manner, knowing full well that mankind would make a similar decision to choose their own way and rebel against their loving Creator, God decided to create us anyway.  If we were God, there’s little chance we would do what He did. But, He knew our outcome before he knelt down, scooped up the dirt He also created and blew His living Spirit into us, shaping us and making us His final, crowning work of magnificence, even reflecting His very image. Astounding!

Yet, we know what happened. The heartbreak of humanity was the fall of mankind. However, in the midst of this terrible tragedy a miracle happened: though our feelings changed turned against our Creator—His love never wavered for us even at the very height of our treason against Him!

And, the reason why I personally believe the Bible is real and tells the truth is because of what happened next; naked and ashamed beyond words, our first father and mother stood before God guilty and condemned. To their utter and complete shock, their loving Creator gave them a promise that He would send a Redeemer, He would come to them one day, in His Son Jesus Christ, and straighten out the cataclysmic mess they caused because of their sin, not only for themselves, but you and I and all of creation. Nobody writes stories like this in Hollywood.

Why?

Because God loves us.

Guess what? He still does. You. Me. And, the rest of humanity.

Please never let the familiarity or the repetition of hearing that wonderful truth become old hat to you. Because it is only when we deeply know and appreciate His love that we are able to finally love God, our neighbor and ourselves in the most healthy, healing and holistic manner possible. And, His eternal love doesn’t just end when we die, that’s only the beginning of the very fullness of the joy of His love which we can only barely imagine on this side of heaven.

In this cold, insensitive and selfish world,  this is Good News indeed, the love we can experience through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

If God’s matchless, personal love for you does not move you like it once did, I pray you will go to the cross today, by prayer, and ask Jesus to help you re-experience the gift of His love for you.

God is not mad at you, He’s madly in love with you.

P.S. The revised version story of Pinocchio ends with the Fairy turning the puppet into a real boy and him and Gepetto being reunited and living happily ever after.

ABC News, Joy Behar slammed for ‘View’ attack on Mike Pence’s Christian faith

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ABC is facing mounting criticism after its panelists on “The View” mocked Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith. Detractors of “The View” are focusing on the fact that ABC News, which claims to be an “unbiased broadcast news operation, oversees such a nakedly partisan program.”

The women of “The View” took a shot at Pence’s Christian faith on Tuesday, mocking the former governor of Indiana for talking to Jesus and even calling it a “mental illness.”

Sunny Hostin said it’s “interesting” that former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman recently said that Pence talks to Jesus and believes Jesus tells him things. Joy Behar then said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… that’s called mental illness!”

ABC News paints itself as a fair news organization but its longtime slogan, “See the Whole Picture,” often doesn’t apply to “The View,” according to many critics.

“It has become jarring how fixated the show is on politics and how slanted the table is,” Mediaite columnist Joseph Wulfsohn told Fox News.

Wulfsohn said it’s ABC News’ prerogative if network executives decide that having four outspoken liberals and a single “token” conservative is “profitable” but the decision “does a great disservice” by marginalizing the view of roughly half the country.

The Hill media columnist Joe Concha thinks “it would be wise for ABC News to divorce itself” from “The View.”

“It’s a pure opinion and infotainment program and therefore should be under its entertainment division,” Concha told Fox News.

Fox News’ Todd Starnes slammed Behar in a scathing op-ed, saying it’s “understandable that a Christophobe like Behar be dumbfounded by such a concept.”

Starnes added that “if hearing the voice (of) God means (you are) mentally insane” then he is crazy himself.

“If ABC News wants to employ an anti-Christian bigot – that is their business,” he wrote.

Pence himself didn’t appreciate the comments and slammed ABC News Wednesday on C-SPAN.

Friends, I sincerely pray God will open the blinded eyes of The View’s Joy Behar so that she will understand how wonderful it is have God actually begin to make sense of this senseless world for us when we finally decide to put our faith and trust in our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

Because, apparently she doesn’t realize that trying to live life without God is just insane.

St. Valentine’s Day: The Real Story

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Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about, right? Well, maybe not. Did you know this day actually commemorates the day Valentine was executed by the Roman Empire for merely performing marriages? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Please read on.

The actual origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t really romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an Emperor called Claudias II (2nd Century A.D.) who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive Roman society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them in spite of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius II. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.” Legend has it that countless others were converted to Christianity as a result of Valentine’s imprisonment.

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a most cruel three-part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this inspirational Christian saint.

“Valentine has come to be known as the “patron saint of lovers.” Before you enter into a Christian marriage you need some sense of God in your life—some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.” Since marriage is so much more than a physical union, it’s a spiritual one, only God in Christ can help us love one another successfully, unselfishly, as God loves each of us. We have to have His help daily.

“If Valentine were here today, he would not be shocked at the moral permissiveness we have in our culture now, it was in his ancient Roman culture, as well. But, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer, your love is going to be tested. Ironically, he would say that real love is much more than chocolates and flowers. Real love doesn’t always receive, it has to give with no thought of receiving. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context,” Father O’Gara says. “Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine’s Day means to me.”