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Life

Don’t Forget You are Going to Die

Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us that no matter how much we know or study, eternally it does not matter if we aren’t investing that knowledge in good, holy, pleasing, acceptable, worthy things, and eternal things. He writes,

You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die.

So, when we learn doctrines and other great, deep truths of God’s word, may we apply them to our lives with the Lord and others in a way that brings God the most glory, others the most edification, and us the most satisfaction. Many times we can learn and learn and learn and have a head-full of book knowledge, yet not a speck of ministerial or personal experience with the particular doctrine. Let us drink of the deep rivers of God’s truth and live in a way that shows Jesus is our Treasure and not the knowledge he gives.

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Life

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound!

Here is a stirring video with a mix of different renditions of “Amaing Grace.” The end of the video uses David Crowder’s music “Coming Toward” from his Illuminate album.

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Life

Three-part series on God’s sovereignty

For the next three weeks, I’ll post an article about God’s sovereignty. This first article is a discussion of God’s control over death, disaster, and disease. I hope you find the series encouraging, challenging, and eye-opening. Look for the last two installments later on in the month.

You can find it under the “Articles” tab or you can click here to read it now.

peace,
james

Categories
Life

Martin Luther King Day

Today is more than just a day off of school if you are still a student. It’s more than just vacation day if you are a government worker. Most people don’t realize what Martin Luther King was all about. For the most part, I have a finite understand of his legacy in the United States. One thing I do know is that what he did, what he said, what he stood for, and how he initiated change has forever impacted this country.

Stop and think for a minute: King was killed April 4, 1968. That will be 40 years ago this April. Forty years. My parents were eight years-old. That is not very long ago. When I was born in 1984, his death had only been 16 years removed. That is incredible. This great “affluent” nation that is so “developed” and “sophisticated”, was lynching blacks and burning down churches just a couple decades before I was born.

If you think this country is free from racism even today, I would challenge you to open your eyes and look around. Maybe not in Lincoln. Maybe not in Hastings or Holdrege or Norfolk or Grand Island. But what about Omaha? What about Kansas City? What about St. Louis and Chicago and L.A. and New York and Memphis? My contention would be that we are still so racist that we don’t realize it. And if you are a follower of Christ today, as I am, my desire would be that we pray hard and trust the Lord to remove all those sinful negative attitudes toward people of a different color–or nationality or gender for that matter as well. It’s natural to have those attitudes–natural–but not spiritual. And when we have Jesus as King, we are no longer only natural.

I hope today would not just be a day off for you. I hope that it would be a day of praise to God for the way this country has turned around from racism, but that it would also be a day of pleading God for him to still work more change in us. Below is a excerpt from Martin Luther King that he wrote in April of 1963, five years before he died. I pray it convicts, teaches, encourages, and humbles you. I know it did that for me.

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dart of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

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Life

Near-Death Experiences and Hebrews 9:27

From a study on Hebrews 9:27.

There are great controversies in Christianity today about whether or not “near-death experiences” can happen. A near-death experience, from my understanding, is an experience a person has when they seem to have no breath in them and see to “another world” or into spiritual realities, possibly heaven or hell. Many people have said that these experiences turn them toward God or cause them to think about how they are living. These are very popular in the world today. According to Gallup, as of 1991, 5% of Americans had experienced a near-death experience. This number has almost certainly gone up in the last 16 years. The next two verses (Heb. 9:27-28), I feel, squelch any argument for these experiences. Now, I do not doubt the actual experience of any one person. Those visions and dreams can happen, but are they biblical? Are they a divine gift from God? Are they a tool of Satan to deceive people? The Scriptures should be our final source of truth.

The word “once” in Hebrews 9:27 is the Greek word hepax, which means “once, one time.” The author says very plainly right here: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once.” We only get one chance at life. Once breath runs out of us, we are dead, “and after that comes judgment.” This one verse would seem to shed light on these “experiences.” It would interpret those experiences as what they are: “near-death.” Not death. When a person’s heart stops, it doesn’t mean they have died. There are many examples in Scriptures about a person appearing “dead” but not really being dead (Matt. 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; Acts 9:40, 20:10).

A person cannot see the afterlife of heaven or hell and then go back. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a prime example. In Luke 16, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to tell his family to change their ways of living, “lest they also come into this place of torment.” This seems like one of the “warnings” we hear from someone who just had a near-death experience. The rich man continued, “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham replied, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” We see from Luke 16 that after the rich man died, he was in a place of judgment. Revelation 20:14 talks about the lake of fire-which is hell. This is called the “second death.” If someone were to die once, and then die finally, and then be thrown into hell, that would be three deaths! The arithmetic does not add up according to Scripture. Therefore, on the issue of “near-death experiences,” we must say that they may be dreams, visions, or hallucinations, but we cannot say that a real death has occurred in which a person has seen the gates of heaven or the fires of hell. Furthermore, in John 3:3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This verse tells us that unless you are a child of God and have a new life in Christ, you cannot even see the kingdom. So, it makes no sense that people who have had these experiences can say, “I saw the pearly gates” or “I was in heaven, talking with loved ones and Jesus.” It simply does not mesh with the word of God.