Hey, Angel

We all have our own ideas of what we think heaven will be like.


Everyone mentions meeting relatives who died years ago, Bible characters, and
of course Jesus. We picture glad-handing a disciple or two, hugging Grandpa, and meeting children who died before birth.

But have you ever thought about the other creatures who will be present?

Several places in the Bible describe heavenly creatures that are as hard for the writer to explain as they are for us to fathom. Frankly, they don't sound all that warm and cuddly, but they're there and their purpose will only be understood when we are there too.

Have you ever thought about the fun of meeting angels who already know you?


After I'm finally finished hugging Jesus (if such a time comes), I look forward to meeting the angelic messengers who protected and ministered to me on earth. We know God gives his angels instructions to guard and care for his children, so imagine the stories they can tell!
  • The burly one who threw himself in front of the speeding 18-wheeler that night you were driving home from college. He barely missed you and your heart didn't stop pounding for the next 50 miles. You kinda wondered even back then...
  • The fast one who raced down the hill in time to stop your baby before he got to the street. The angel stood between baby and the street and you always wondered why the baby had suddenly stopped crawling, sat up, and laughed at the sky. Won't it be fun to meet the reason?
  • The gentle one who nudged the bank officer's hand into signing the loan, even with a frown on his face. "Don't know why I'm doing this..." he'd growled. Won't it be fun to find out the real reason he did it? He might enjoy finding out too.
  • The host of them who stood around you, holding you as you cried out that life wasn't worth it and you were ready to end it all. For some reason, you didn't. You've always been glad. Won't you be thrilled when you can thank them?
Angels are never to be worshiped. They are the first ones to correct that nonsense. But I can't wait to meet the ones who have been personally involved in caring for me during my journey on this earth. I want to thank them for being obedient to God and kind to me.
Which ones will you want to thank?


Lead On, Sisters!


"You go, Girl!"

Women rule!


Since the Garden of Eden, women have loved to take charge. We love to forge ahead into new ideas, new ways of doing things, new horizons.

It is true that "the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world." From Timothy's mother in the New Testament to the mother of Saddam Hussein, women have had a far greater impact on the world than probably even we understand.


But there is a new trend that does not speak well for women in leadership. As a counselor I am encountering this trend at an alarming rate.

We are familiar with the old pattern of a disgruntled husband and father leaving his family for another woman. It is sad, but familiar.
What is not so familiar, but becoming so, is when the mother leaves.

Over and over again I hear the same story: a middle-aged wife and mother suddenly decides she is not "fulfilled" and "wants her freedom." She leaves a stunned husband and sobbing children to go "live her life." In defiance, she sets her jaw and declares that she has given her best years to this family and deserves "a life."

When asked to define this "life," she is hard-put to do so.
She doesn't need to define it. It is the unspoken truth in the room. She has decided that monogamy is no longer fulfilling and she wants to "live on the edge." She is taking her life and the lives of those she promised to cherish and trading it all for a self-focused existence with no boundaries.

We shouldn't be surprised. The book of Romans has prepared us for this. The whole first chapter is a preview of a society that has decided God doesn't know what He's talking about.

Verse 26 says, "women exchanged their natural function for that which is unnatural." It is interesting that the downturn into sexual perversion begins with women. Quickly following that is the declaration that men will turn to homosexuality. I don't think the sequence given here is accidental.


Women love to lead, if given the chance. And society is now giving them the chance. Mom is pumped full of Satanic ideas by Hollywood and single female coworkers ranting on about their exotic lifestyles. She goes home to a pile of laundry and a whiny husband and decides: "Who needs this?"

Notice how verse 26 words the defection of mom from the home. It says she "exchanged her natural function for that which is unnatural." There is nothing more unnatural than for a mother to abandon her offspring. There is nothing natural about a woman trading a faithful husband for the opportunity to expose herself to STD's, abuse, and a deadened conscience.

Yet, in a culture that has decided women have the "right" to abort their unborn children, divorce a husband and take him for all he has, and demand government support for any illegitimate children conceived after she has prostituted herself...what can we expect?


We have already begun to reap the profits of women leading the way into perversion and the utter collapse of the family. And women still don't get it. They boast of their sexual freedom, their independence, and their complete self-absorption as though those were newly-discovered virtues.

So lead on, Sisters.
You're right.

You are Woman, hear you roar.


But if you'd like a peek at the future you are creating for yourself and that family you abandoned, read the rest of Romans 1.


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To Die For


I read a news story recently about a mother who was pushing her child in a stroller across a train track. As she hurried to beat the oncoming train, the stroller wheel got stuck. She fought frantically with the stroller as the engineer laid on the whistle.

At the last moment, she shoved the stroller free, but the train struck her, hurling her body several feet in the air. She died at the scene, but her baby was untouched.

That kind of love and loyalty stirs something in our hearts. Such an act of selfless devotion brings a dual rush of both admiration and cowardice. We think: S
o heroic of her, but would I do that? Could I?

I've been reading a book from
Voice of the Martyrs about heroes of the faith-- martyrs from Stephen (in the Book of Acts) to recent persecutions in places like Pakistan. The same thoughts crowd my mind: So heroic, but would I do that? Could I? If called upon to renounce Christ or be tortured, could I choose what those martyrs did?

And then it occurred to me that that is a question every one of God's children must answer. We are all required to die. Colossians 3:3 says, "You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Galatians 2:20 reminds us that we "are crucified with Christ so that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me."

One reason the thought of martyrdom is so overwhelming is that we haven't really died to ourselves. Scripture is clear that we cannot live for both ourselves and God at the same time. And most of us in comfortable, persecution-free countries opt for self, rather than God.

In places where trusting in Christ is synonymous with death, there is no such thing as easy-believism. To accept the free gift of God for them means certain death or persecution. No one has to explain to a former Muslim about dying to self. That's a given.

So whether or not you are ever faced with a firing squad, God requires voluntary martyrdom. Not because he is sadistic, but simply because He is to die for.



Insufficient?


The surly young prisoner scowled at the judge.

The judge scowled back. "Son, the charges have been dropped. You are free to go."

The boy paled and his handcuffs rattled. "Whaddya mean?"

The judge glared over the tops of his glasses. "I mean, this is your lucky day. The charges have been dropped. Can't say I approve of it, but my hands are tied. You can go. Bailiff, release him."

As the bailiff stepped forward with a key, the young man pierced the judge with angry eyes. "What is this, some kinda joke? Who would do that? I thought I was lookin' at the death penalty. Why...Who?"

The judge cleared his throat and shuffled some papers. "The father of the young man you killed has asked us for leniency. The DA has agreed. Nothing I can do. You're cleared."

The prisoner's mouth gaped as his hands were freed. He glanced wildly about the empty courtroom. "No way! This is a joke, right?"

"No joke. I wish it was. Now get oughtta here."

The prisoner hesitated, then looked slyly at the judge. "I don't believe it. Nobody would do that. I killed...I mean...he said he saw me kill his kid. He was all for seeing me fry. Why would he...?"

The judge's lips tightened. "Frankly, I don't know. You're guilty as sin and I was looking forward to handing you the maximum.

"But the guy's got connections. He paid all your court costs and cleared you of any crime. He says to tell you he believes in you and to go and make something of your life. Makes no sense to me, but if you don't get out of here in about five seconds, I'm gonna put you back behind bars for contempt."

The young man's fists tightened. He turned from the judge to the bailiff and stuck out his wrists. "No. I don't believe you. It's a trick. You all know I did it, might as well say so. No father would do that. You're lyin'. Besides, even if ya'll are telling the truth, what I did needs punishment. I got my pride. I'll do my time."

Wouldn't that be an idiotic thing to say?
If you were that kid, given a chance at freedom, would you take it?
Are you sure?

Aren't you doing the same thing?

That guilt you carry. That shame from your sin long confessed. The price has been paid, the sentence dropped; yet, you insist on living like the condemned.

When Jesus cried from the cross, "It is finished!" he meant it. Finished. Complete. Nothing could be added or taken away from perfection. The charges have been dropped.

When we confess our sin, God says he remembers it no more. Your record is wiped clean.

But like that young prisoner, we can't accept it. We wallow in self-recrimination, rehashing our mistake, dragging it back to the altar of God like a dog with a rotting carcass.

To insist on carrying a load of shame is as pointless as that young prisoner trying to pay a price no longer imposed. It was an insult to that bereaved father to imply that his sacrifice was not sufficient.

And it is an insult to your Heavenly Father to imply that His Son's sacrifice was insufficient to pay for your crime. Your record was wiped clean with that one statement: "It is finished." You cannot add or take away anything from the price He paid.

So are you trying to slip back into the handcuffs?


If you've admitted your guilt and accepted His sacrifice, then your Father has dropped the charges.

He believes in you. Leave your shame at the cross. Go and make something of your life.

/

Are You Driving Through It?


Butch looked at me with a sheepish grin. "I know it's not what God wants, but..." He shrugged as if that was the end of it. "...I know He'll forgive me. I mean, none of us is perfect, right?"


With that, he classified his ongoing sexual immorality as an "aw shucks" mistake and prepared to continue it.



Are you guilty of something similar?

Maybe this story will help clarify it.
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There was once a man who had a son. His wife died and he set about raising this beloved child with all the tender care of two parents.

He worked all day and then rushed home to cook supper and spend the evening helping with homework, tossing a frisbee, or just taking long walks to talk about life.


As the boy approached his eighth birthday, he set his heart on a new bike for Christmas. The father knew he could scarcely afford it, but found another job and worked extra hours to pay for it.

The shriek of delight from his son on Christmas morning more than made up for the long hours he had worked.


Together they took the bike out into the frosty morning and within a few minutes, the boy was peddling proudly around the block.


"Watch out for cars!" the father called and laughed as he watched his delighted son peddle furiously out of sight.


He had just pulled the Christmas turkey from the oven when he heard sirens shriek past his house. As any caring parent does, he froze. Was his son all right?


He dropped the dish towel and raced to the front door. An ambulance raced past, lights flashing. Behind it, a fire truck.

Something knotted in the father's stomach and before he knew what he was doing, he raced from the house.

His feet pounded against the frozen sidewalk and his breath came in white puffs.
"Please, God...don't let it be..."

At the end of the street, a crowd had gathered. Red and white lights strobed the neighborhood. Medics were loading a stretcher into an ambulance. Before he could get there, the doors closed and the sirens screamed as the vehicle raced away.


His feet pounded on, his eyes trained on a grueling sight near the curb. The onlookers had started back to their homes when he glimpsed what he dreaded to see. His heart lurched and his breath made a cloud around his face.

He squeezed his eyes shut, but when he opened them again, there was no mistake. On the pavement lay the twisted remains of his son's new bike. A pool of blood spread dark tentacles across the street.

"No!" his cry echoed down the now-silent street.
"Son!"

Pitying eyes met his and then turned away.

A hand touched his shoulder and he whirled to face a uniformed police officer. "I'm sorry, sir. Was that your son?"


"Was?"

"They say he swerved to miss that pup over there and..." The hand patted and then dropped.

The rest of the morning was a blur as he paid the obligatory visit to the morgue to identify the body. A body. That's all it was. The life was gone. The light was gone. The sun would never shine again.

Cold rain had started by the time he made it home. He sat in the drive and stared at what had once been a cozy house. It was now a vacant warehouse, dark and uninviting. How could he go in there? The warmth was gone. It wasn't home anymore without the boy.

He got out and walked coatless, blinking against the stinging rain until he stood at the scene again. There it was. The blood. So much blood. His son's life blood, spilled on the street like refuse.

A car rounded the corner and rolled right through it, leaving a red tire path halfway down the street.

He whirled to watch it leave, stunned as another car followed. Careless. Unknowing.


His breath caught and the tears froze on his cheeks. He staggered into the street and waved his arms at the receding taillights.
"Don't! Don't drive through my son's blood!" he cried. "Don't drive through my son's blood!"

Anger surged through him as another car rounded the corner. He leaped in front of it, shouting like a madman. "No! Stop! Don't drive through my son's blood!"


The car swerved and a voice shouted, "Idiot! Get out of the way!"


The father stumbled into the red pool and lay down. "My son, my son! I won't let them drive through your blood."
----------------------------------------------------------------

Are you driving through His Son's blood?

.

Step Right Up, Folks!


Would you buy anything from this guy?

If we saw him at the fair,most of us would lift a skeptical brow and keep walking.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, snakeoil salesmen are thriving.

I learned something recently that was both interesting and somewhat puzzling. In my home city (and I'm sure in may other cities) there exists a Theological Seminary with a Unitarian Universalist club on campus.

Does that strike you as odd?

If you were a Unitarian, why would you go to a Theological Seminary? Isn't that kindof like a blind man attending a speed-reading class? Or a dwarf trying out for the LA Lakers?

One Unitarian website boasts the inclusion of atheists, active homosexuals, Wiccans, and a host of other decidedly non-God-honoring groups in their "churches."

The presence of this school-sanctioned Unitarian club tells me all I need to know about the quality of this so-called seminary. If I didn't know better, I would swear that this particular school was what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote to Timothy: "they hold to a form of godliness, but deny the Source of power."
(2 Tim. 3:5)

He describes them again in Romans 1:21-22
(NLT): "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools."

Any seminary that would welcome a Universalist club and train its ministers is salt that has lost is savor. (Matt. 5:13) Jesus said something about it being "good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot." Not my words, they're His.

What in the world do they study?

Universalists don't hold to any belief system. They teach an "all paths lead to heaven" doctrine and worship Diversity--whoever that is. Can this deity--Diversity--save anyone? Heal anyone? Forgive sin? Or promise eternal life? Diversity did not leave heaven, walk the earth He created, or take my place on the cross.

Any seminary that proclaims that it "follows the teachings and life of Jesus Christ" should do just that. What about these words of His: "
I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me?" (John 14:6)

Those words don't sound very
inclusive. Neither do these: "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”(John 3:35-36)

I wonder what the Universalists do when they have to study that part of the Bible? Or maybe they don't study the Bible at this theological seminary. Imagine that--theology without God.

I'm not buying it, are you?


A New Twist on Sharing

Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold
them back.

If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? Pr. 24:11-12

__________________________________________________________

When we hear the word "help," our fingers usually tighten on our wallets and this month's list of bills looms large in our minds. The pleas for assistance echo on and on and it seems everybody wants some of what you've got.

Many times material possessions are not what is needed most. Notice the above scripture said nothing about giving money. It talked about taking action when you know you should. Stepping up, being a hero if only by carrying the mail in for the man across the street.

Maybe it is time that someone needs. Maybe it's a kind word. Maybe someone needs a friend at the moment and you could fill that need.


What you have to offer may not look like much to you, but it may be exactly what God wants to use to bless someone else.


The puppy needed a blanket. All the hen had was her feathers, but she could offer that. And they both received a blessing. He got a blanket; she got a cozy nest.


The world's need is overwhelming and it is easy to turn a deaf ear to the ongoing cries. Our hearts harden with the thoughts:
What can I do? What is my pitiful offering in the face of so much need? I'd rather stay shut in my house and take care of me and mine.

But what if, instead, we went looking for it? What if we met every day with the thought:
What need can I meet today for somebody who can never pay me back? How can I be the hands and feet of Jesus today?

You might find that what you intended as a blanket for someone else becomes a cozy nest for you.

.

Which Way Do You Roll?


"That surface is as flat as it can be," the engineer declared. "I study these things. I should know."

"I dunno. I think it might be slightly tilted to the left," answered the boy.

The scientist lifted a brow. "Son, I work with planes and angles all day long. I am an expert and I know what I'm talking about. The balance is precise. The table legs are exactly even and this room is square. I can guarantee that is a perfectly flat plane."

The boy pulled a marble out of his pocket and dropped it on the center of the table. It inched to the left. Then rolled again. It ambled across the table and then dropped onto the floor.

The boy looked up at the engineer. "See? It might look flat, but marbles don't lie."
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Some things look and sound great in debate, but they don't represent real life.

How many times have you listened to people wax eloquent about their spirituality? They can recite passages of Scripture, debate pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib with flare, and present an impressive prayer list. They state unequivocally that God is Number One on their list, their top priority. They are satisfied that God is equally impressed with their devotion.

But try dropping a marble on their table.


That marble is called Passion. Where is their passion? When given some free time, where do they go? What do they do? What do they instantly seek when given free rein?

When given the chance to do anything you like, would you prefer to cheer your favorite sports team, celebrity-watch, channel surf, bury your nose in the latest thriller, or shop 'til you drop? Do you instantly gravitate toward your hobbies, your social circle, or mind-numbing television? Or maybe you welcome the chance to make more money? Every hour should be billable.

None of those things is wrong in itself. But they are marbles on the table. They reveal the truth beneath the grandiose claims.
When you are given a block of unscheduled time, what passion rushes first to mind? What thought makes your heart lighten and your pulse quicken. What personal delight brings eager expectation?

When you read verses like Psalm 73:25 ("...nothing on earth I desire besides You") does your conscience smite you? Do you feel like a liar when you read that aloud?

Does your mind fold its arms and lift a brow at you? It quickly names a half-dozen things you desire besides God. You acknowledge Him, obey Him (mostly), thank, and appreciate Him. But He is not your heart's desire. There are a few earthly delights ahead of Him in line. You'd just prefer not to look at it that way.

Our words can be trained to reflect what our ego has decided is true. But our passions don't lie. They are marbles on our table. Honesty about our passion is not a condemnation, but a plumb-line to show us whether we are off the mark.

So where's your passion? If a marble was dropped on your heart, which way would it roll? Remember, marbles don't lie.



A Poem for God


Some people like to distance You with words
like "Thee" and "Thou."


Some prefer to question You
with What? and Why? and How?


Still others feel more
comfortable with a list of rights and wrongs.





But I just want to climb up in Your lap,




Stroke Your face,





And sing You love songs.

What Was it Like?


You can't believe your good fortune!

The richest man in the world, benefactor to thousands, wealthy beyond your comprehension, has invited you to his next dinner party!

You show up, nervous, invitation in hand, leaving behind a gaggle of wide-eyed friends awaiting reports.

You lift the heavy brass knocker and a maid opens the door.

She looks quizzically at you and you thrust the invitation toward her.

Her face relaxes and she steps back. "Come in. You're invited."

You swallow the wad of cotton in your throat and step over the threshold.

Tantalizing scents swirl around your face and gentle laughter ripples from somewhere just out of sight. Your eyes try to take it all in at once. Yep, there's the winding gold staircase you've heard rumors about. And the hallway that seems to go on forever. How many rooms were reported to be on the first floor?

You quiet your thudding heart and look around for the lord of the manor. Is he as amazing as his reputation says he is? On those rare occasions when he's been sighted, he is always impeccably dressed, unnervingly polite, and kind beyond anyone's comprehension. One story had him kneeling in the rain beside the road in his tuxedo helping a lone woman change a flat. Surely all the stories were exaggerations, but you're dying to find out for yourself.

It is nearly midnight when you tumble into bed.

The phone rings.

"We-e-ell?" your friend asks. "I've been waiting for you to call. What was it like?"

"It was incredible, all right," you answer. "I--"

"Are there really twenty-three bedrooms on the first floor? Is the food as great as they say? What about the music? I hear he imports musicians from all over the world! What about--"

You give a nervous laugh. "I don't know about that. I never heard them."

"What? No musicians? Well, what about the guy himself? Is he really like they say? Tell me about him!"

You swallow. "Well...I never...I mean...I didn't actually see him..."

"Whaddya mean? Weren't you there? I thought you went?"

"Oh, I did. I went."

"Well, tell me what it's like! Is the guy as great as everyone says? Did you talk to him? Did you get a gift like people say he gives out?"

You force a nervous cough. "I-um...well, see...I did go, but I just stayed inside the doorway. I, uh, I never went all the way in. It was too overwhelming and I, well, I saw a lot of good things right where I was."

A dead silence. "You're kidding, right? You get invited to the party of the century and you didn't go all the way in? You just stood in the doorway?"

Shame heats your face. "Yeah...sounds kinda dumb, now. I was just...I dunno, I thought that was good enough, just getting invited, you know? I mean, I was inside his house. I met his maid. I smelled the great food and heard a few strains of the orchestra. I just...well, I didn't know what was expected of me so I stayed where it was comfortable."

Would you have gone all the way in?
Are you sure?

Many people hear the call of God. They respond and accept His gift of salvation, delighted that they are now going to Heaven.

But they stay right there.


All their lives, they stay just inside the safety zone. Never growing in their faith. Never truly experiencing everything God has for them. They view salvation as their Get-Out-Of-Hell Free card to be cashed in upon death. They stick it in their back pockets and go on about their lives, completely missing the whole meaning of a relationship with God.

That choice is as ridiculous as spending the whole evening on the threshold of a wonderful event. The Lord of the Manor is as wonderful as the reports say, and he wants to know you. His gifts and presence are highly desirable and only a fool would not take every opportunity to spend as much time at the mansion as possible.

You may have an invitation, but it won't do you much good unless you trade it for all the benefits it represents.


Go ahead.
Walk on in and close the door behind you.
You won't want to leave anytime soon, anyway.