A New Person

“When someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand new person”  2 Cor. 5:17

The darkened theatre was hushed as the magician placed his beautiful assistant in the coffin-like box, balanced on top of two sturdy frames. Seemingly delighted with the prospect, her white teeth gleamed as she obliged, stepping into the box, disappearing beneath the closing lid.  

It was clear to the audience that the box was balanced on the frames, nothing beneath, no cloth to hide an escape route, just a long box on wooden frames which he now nailed shut to add even more drama and suspense.  

To this point, I was mildly interested in what came next, how he would make believe that she disappeared and would walk out from stage-left or some such thing. But when his other assistant rolled out a cart, piled high with razor-sharp swords, I began to squirm. Sure enough, he brandished one of the swords, touching its sharpened edge and then quickly spun around, shoving it into the box up to its hilt, I joined the audience in an unbelieving gasp! It was not possible.

Before we could regain our composure, the magician quickly and methodically walked around the box, shoving every sword deeply into the box, where his innocent assistant lay! Even though I knew this was a magic show and came with a great deal of skepticism, I have to admit to absolute shock mixed with fear and unbelief as I watched.

Of course she was not dead or even injured as we all saw in a few moments when he opened the lid with much difficulty (so it seemed) to reveal the undamaged young assistant. Judging by what we saw on the outside, that young woman should have been fatally wounded. However, what we thought we saw was not what really happened. It was an illusion, unlike our new life in Christ.

On the outside, we may seem the same as we were before Christ was invited into our lives, but inside we are totally changed—new people—filled with His Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:13-21  “Whatever we do, it is certainly not for our own profit but because Christ’s love controls us now. Since we believe that Christ died for all of us, we should also believe that we have died to the old life we used to live. He died for all so that all who live—having received eternal life from him—might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them. So stop evaluating Christians by what the world thinks about them or by what they seem to be like on the outside. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, merely as a human being like myself. How differently I feel now! When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!”

All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him. For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!

1 Peter 1:21-25  “Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone. Now you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly, with all your hearts.

1 Peter 4:7-8  “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore be earnest, thoughtful men of prayer. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults.”

For you have a new life. It was not passed on to you from your parents, for the life they gave you will fade away. This new one will last forever, for it comes from Christ, God’s ever-living Message to men. Yes, our natural lives will fade as grass does when it becomes all brown and dry. All our greatness is like a flower that droops and falls; but the Word of the Lord will last forever. And his message is the Good News that was preached to you.”

John 1:12-13  “But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God.”

By one decision, our lives are changed eternally—for the better—for the best! It is no illusion.

 

Advertisements

John Mahoney – 1940-2018

John Mahoney

John Mahoney: 1940-2018. I took this photo on location (Cholame, California) during filming of Almost Salinas (2000). John was easy to talk with and very friendly. Each morning as he left the Paso Robles Inn, he walked past our office with LA paper in hand, headed for Joe’s Restaurant for breakfast. He said he liked eating there because people did not bother him while he read and ate breakfast. I had some photos for him one morning and went to Joe’s to ask if he would stop by and meet our staff. He agreed and was very humorous and friendly. This smile epitomized the man we knew for a few weeks.

Book Review-Stones of Remembrance

Hats off to author, Daniel G. Amen, MD for steering me past my preconceived notion that 12 Steps to something will not bring an excellent result. Prior to reading this wonderful book I would quickly discard as useless any idea that a certain number of steps would bring success to the reader. I’ve read several that fell dramatically short of such a claim. But, “Stones of Remembrance” has broken the mold and opened my eyes.

Amen has divided the book into three distinct parts, each with Bible verses to remember. If you are like me, you probably stiffen a little at the thought of memorizing verses as a requirement to improve your life and memory. Fear not, Amen has included memorization steps that open doors to brain power, encouragement and success. Memorizing Bible verses will not only exercise your brain but will uplift your soul.

“Stones of Remembrance” is a quick read (117 pages) the first time through but it will become an important spiritual weapon in your arsenal.

I was given a copy of this book to review by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 

 

Faith Is…

IMG_0452

 

Faith Is

…Abel’s offering

…confident assurance

…Abraham’s journey

…bloody door posts

…giant walls of water

…falling walls of Jericho

…Rahab’s scarlet cord

…believing in the unseen

…Gideon’s fleece

…David’s sling & stone

…Elijah’s great bonfire

…Queen Esther in the inner court

…three men in a blazing furnace

…a tiny mustard seed

…a woman’s touch on His hem

…Stephen’s last prayer

…believing you’ve received

…rising to walk

…washing mud from your eyes

…loving your enemies

…the gift of the Holy Spirit

…praying for those who hate you

…forgiveness of sins

…incomprehensible peace

David Nelson

How Do I Know I’m Saved

 

Perhaps you have already trusted Jesus Christ as your own Savior, yet . . . you’re not sure if what you did took hold in your life. God loves you and wants you to fully experience the peace and life that only He can give, including knowing without a doubt that you belong to Him. So, let’s start from the very beginning and review the steps you took when you turned your life over to God.

Being at peace with God is not automatic because human beings by nature are separated from God. The Bible says, “everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence” (Romans 3:23). Romans 6:23 adds: “sin pays its wage — death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” Humanity has tried to bridge this separation in many ways — through good deeds or religious acts, for example — but none of these things are enough to close the gap between God and humans.

God’s love is the only way to bridge the gap of separation between God and humanity. When Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, He paid the penalty for our sins. In the Bible, Jesus Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). It also says, “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

If we have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ and accepted His death on the cross as payment for our personal sins, we now belong to Him. The Bible says this about those who received Jesus and believed in Him: “He gave them the right to become God’s children” (John 1:12).

Sinning doesn’t mean we lose our relationship wit God. If it did, then every little slip-up would put us in jeopardy and Christ’s death, which covers all our sins, would be useless. Nor does waking up one morning “not feeling saved” mean that we’re in spiritual danger. While feelings are a part of life, they are not an indicator of truth. Compare our relationship with God to a marriage. Any married couple will have to admit that sometimes they just don’t feel in love. Their feelings, however, don’t mean that they are no longer married.

Again, good deeds and religious acts don’t give you salvation. However, wanting to serve God and to change your actions are indicators that you belong to Him (see Galatians 5:22-24). The Bible strongly states that true believers have a clear desire to live in a way that honors the Lord: “If, then, we say that we have fellowship with Him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions” (1 John 1:6). Jesus Christ gives us this promise, “ I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me” (John 10:28). If you know in your heart that you have committed your life to Christ but you doubt your salvation, look to God’s Word for assurance:

God accepts everyone who calls on His name (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13).

God will never push us away (John 6:37).

God’s love endures forever (Psalm 136).

We cannot be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

© Starting Point Study Bible

Everlasting Life. Guaranteed!

“He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” ~Jesus

Two men were discussing what happens after death here on earth and one of them said that since they were both Christians, it was certain that they would not really die but pass from this life into the next, living forever with God. The second man, however expressed doubts about that, saying he sure hoped it was true.

        Are you a Christian? Have you expressed faith in Jesus Christ? If so, the Bible promises that you will spend eternity with God. The following are Bible verses that give all Christians assurance of eternal life with God.

        John 11:25-26  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

        John 10:10-11  “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

        1 Peter 1:3-5  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

        John 10:27-30  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

For those who express doubts about eternal life with God, such as the second man above, notice in these verses, that Jesus is very specific about who will experience eternal life with Him, “My sheep!” If you believe that Jesus is the Savior then you are a member of His flock and your eternal destination is secured, not by what you’ve done but by your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:13)

        John 6:35-40  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. . . For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

        John 6:47  “I assure you, anyone who believes in Me already has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life. . .I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven.”

        Romans 8:38  “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

        John 3:16  “ God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.

        It is by faith that we are saved and our sins forgiven. It is by that same faith that we believe in eternal life with our Heavenly Father…without exception. Sometimes, after taking Christ as Savior, we begin to doubt our salvation, usually because of what we’ve done or a traumatic personal experience. But consider this before you sink into the abyss of doubt and depression, would God send Jesus as the virgin-born Savior, to such a horrible death on the cross followed by the majestic resurrection from the dead, ultimately to take the seat of honor at His right hand and then cross out our names from the Lambs Book of Life because of poor performance? Don’t be fooled. Don’t listen to your fears. Don’t allow Satan’s demonic forces to fill your heart with uncertainty and self-loathing. We cannot be taken from God’s hand. EVER!

 

Weekly Bible Study-Is He To Blame?

Weekly Bible Study

Is He To Blame?

June 13, 2017

“God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure” Psalm 18:30

It was here at last; graduation night. Carla and Jeb were best friends and had competed for best grades since high school. They pushed each other relentlessly, demanding more and getting it in the end. Carla graduated with honors carrying a 3.9 GPA. Jeb also graduated with honors and a GPA of 3.85.

“I told you I was smarter,” she laughed as they hugged tightly.

“I held back on that last test because I am a gentleman,” he kidded, spinning her around in a wide circle.

“Humph,” she snorted, “If you were a gentleman, you wouldn’t lie like that.” They both doubled over in laughter.

“Hey, you two, let’s go, Heather is giving a party and you are the guests of honor. Get it? Honor!”

“Yeah we get it. Ok, lets have some fun tonight.”

“Can I drive your new Audi?” Jeb asked Carla.

“Sure you can but after tonight don’t ever ask again. I worked hard for this car and it’s all mine.” She pinched Jeb and winked, tossing him the keys.

The ringing phone brought Cynthia Johnson abruptly out of her sleep. Her heart leaped. She had the horrible foreboding feeling. Something is wrong. “Hello, is this Mrs. Cynthia Johnson?”

“Yes,” she shakily replied, the tears filling her eyes. “What is it. What’s wrong?”

“I am with the State Police and we are at your front door, ma’am, could you come talk with us?”

Cynthia leaped out of bed and slipped into her robe, taking the stairs two at a time. She opened the door. Two state troopers were standing there, a man and a woman. Both looked very serious.

“I am trooper Wilson,” said the woman. “And this is trooper Gentry. Can we come in and talk with you?”

In a moment they were sitting in the living room, the female trooper sitting next to Cynthia.

“Do you have a daughter named Carla?” She asked.

Now she knew. Something has happened. Now the tears began to flow.

“Does she drive a new gray Audi?”

“Oh no. What is it? What’s wrong. Is Carla ok?”

Trooper Wilson held Cynthia’s hands and said, “Mrs. Johnson, I’m afraid your daughter was killed in a car crash out on Hayward Drive, early this morning.”

The flood gates flew open as tears flowed relentlessly and Cynthia sobbed hysterically. “Oh no. Oh no. Oh God, it can’t be. There must be a mistake.” Trooper Wilson understood and pulled Cynthia into her shoulder, holding her firmly, letting her pour out her unspeakable grief. There is no real consolation for such times but a shoulder to cry on helps.

Two Months Later

Cynthia agreed to spend the weekend with her best friend, Claire at the beach. Claire’s family had a small cottage there. It was secluded which allowed for contemplation and prayer if the guests were so inclined. Cynthia was not so inclined. She was angry at God.

“Ok, Cynthia, let it all out. Rant and rave to your heart’s content and then we can talk.”

For the next twenty or so minutes, Cynthia did just that, she ranted and raved at God’s unfairness, the Universe’s horrible Karmic twist of fate and Jeb’s stupid, thoughtless, careless driving. She found a long list of people and things to blame for her daughter’s death. Finally, exhausted and wrung out, Cynthia could find nothing good to say about anyone involved, including the car manufacturer who she had sued for negligence. Her conclusion? Rather than joyful, life is horribly disappointing and no longer worth living.

Pouring more tea, Claire said, “What do you mean by not worth living, Cynthia?”

Looking through tear-filled, swollen eyes, Cynthia reach for her friend’s hand and said, “No, dear friend, I don’t mean I want to take my life. I simply mean I am so, so tired of trying to find peace in this horrible mess. And, if I’m honest, I want an answer from God, if he really exists. People tell me to look to God and I have most every day since this happened. However He has not answered me. How could He have allowed this tragedy? Carla was a good girl and so young. Truthfully I hate God.”

No one spoke now. All they could hear were the gulls occasionally squawking and the perpetual ocean waves breaking on shore. They sat silently for several minutes. Then Claire spoke.

“Cynthia, how can you blame God for this tragedy when you don’t even believe he exists? Even though you can’t face the truth yet, a part of you knows the car crash and horrible outcome are consequences of poor judgment on Jeb’s part, not really God’s fault.

“Considering how devastating the death of Jeb and Carla is, try to imagine how God must have felt when His Son, Jesus was beaten and then killed on the cross.”

Cynthia and Claire talked late into the night, alternating between English tea and rocky road ice cream as they bared their souls and cried profusely.