The “Bourne Again” Supremacy

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It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices [the blood of goats and calves], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices [the blood of Christ] than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  (Hebrews 9:23–26, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The blood of goats and calves, were only temporary coverings of sin that had to be repeated time and time again.  They had no power to permanently remove the sin.  It took a better sacrifice.  It took the supreme (superior to all others) sacrifice.  The blood of God’s only Son. The “once for all” sacrifice “to do away with sin,” not just cover it. It must be offensive to God, for man to assert that there are other paths to salvation apart from His Son.  If there were, His Son’s sacrifice would not be supreme.  In fact, it would not have even been necessary.  But there is only one path.

My Advice – Don’t settle for solution other than the supreme solution — The “Bourne” Again Supremacy.

To Those Not Waiting

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He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  (Hebrews 9:26–28, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Never a popular subject, but in these uncertain days it’s the “elephant in the room.”  The recent events has placed it squarely before us.  We all have that appointment “to die once.”  But one appointment we need not face is the second death.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.   (Revelation 20:11–15, NIV 1984).

Second death, another unpopular subject.  And if we avoid this subject now, it will be unavoidable in the end (“after that to face judgment“).   The old adage, born once – die twice, born twice – die once, is true.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.”  (Revelation 20:6, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Are you one of “those who are waiting for Him?”  You are if you’ve been born twice (born again).  If not, what’s waiting for you is the second death.  This need not be.  Check out my “The Born Again Experience” musings to find out how.

If Only There Were Someone

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“He [God] is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.  If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”  (Job 9:32–35, NIV 1984).

My Musings – These words of Job’s could not have been more prophetic.

  • If only there were someone to arbitrate between us – Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding [arbitrating] for us.” (Romans 8:33–34, NIV 1984).
  • Someone to remove God’s rod from meThen the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff [rod] and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27–31, NIV 1984).
  • Then I would speak up without fear of Him – “For we do not have a high priest [arbitrator] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16, NIV 1984).

An arbitrator is someone to stands in between (intercedes) two parties to settle a dispute.  Who better to do so than Jesus, who knows the mind of the Father, while also being able to sympathize with us? “To lay his hand upon us both“?  In the end, the only way to settle the dispute was to take the penalty upon Himself, allowing us to receive mercy and find grace.

My Advice – Jesus is the only legitimate arbitrator between sinful man and a righteous God.  Accept the settlement.

 

No Little Things

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Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  (1 Corinthians 5:6, NIV 1984).

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  (James 2:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – There are two principles being conveyed in these two passages.  There are no little sins, and little sins lead to growing sins.   “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think, there are no little things.”  — Bruce Barton.

The oxygen tanks on Apollo 13 exploded because the heater thermostatic switches were overlooked when the rest of the system was upgraded to a higher voltage, causing them to overheat and ignite in the oxygen rich environment.   The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch because the O-ring seals used in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch.  Little things, big consequences.

  • Just One Point – It only took the one sin in the Garden that led to the fall of all mankind.
  • A Little Yeast – It only took one glance at Bathsheba bathing that led to the larger sins of adultery and murder.

We often think it’s such a little thing and violate the principle of James 2:10.  Or, just this once and violate the principle of 1 Corinthians 5:6.  Jesus sent His Son to die on the cross for the little sins as much the big sins.  There was no sin so small He did not have to die for and no sin so great that He would not die for.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit  to dwell within us to and provide the conviction necessary to make sure the yeast of sin does not work through the whole batch of dough.

My Advice – There are no little things.

 

Begin With The End In Mind

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  (Matthew 7:21–23, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The second habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is begin with the end in mind.  The gist is, if you do not know your destination, how in the world are you going to get there.  This applies on various scales.  No one would begin to build a house without first visualizing what it should be like.  Its dimensions, number of rooms, construction materials, where to best locate it, etc.  Once these are determined (planned out), the actual building begins. Unfortunately, few visualize the totality of their lives that way. We may have a one and five-year plan, a plan to provide for retirement, a plan for life in retirement, and a plan for what we want to pass on in our estate. But these individual components do not add up to the totality of our lives.

“I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long.” – George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Think for a few minutes about your funeral, the people that might attend, for instance.  What is it that you would like them to say about you.  “He sure had his five year plan well thought out.”  “Nobody planned for or lived their retirement like she did.”  “He sure left his children well off.”  As good as these things might be, are they really our legacy?  Not really.  What we really want, if we think hard about it, is to be remembered for the kind of person we were.  The life we lived. The lives we touched. The differences we made.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  Clarence (the angel), “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But as we plan for and live our lives, do we begin with this end in mind?  For many, maybe most, probably not.  We begin with making a living in mind rather than beginning with making a life in mind.  At your funeral, will people be talking about the places you visited (Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum), the things you built (airfields, skyscrapers a hundred stories high, bridges a mile long), or how many other lives we touched, the awful hole we will leave?

My Advice – But even these are not the totality of our lives.  For, “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  (Hebrews 9:27–28, NIV 1984).  There will be many who will have lots of kind and heartfelt things said about them at their funerals for the fine things they did in this life, only to hear Christ say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

You see, it’s not what we did, it’s who we know.  What we did, our good works, can never atone for the sin in our lives.  But who we know can, because of what He did.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5, NIV 1984).

So, if you really want to begin with the end in mind, don’t just think about what other people will say about you at your funeral.  Think about what He will say to you when you stand before Him.  It can be, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”  (Matthew 25:34, NIV 1984).  But only if you have been born again.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”

 

 

The Great Divide

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Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:6, NIV 1984).

My Musings – On September 11, 2001, terrorists targeted three of America’s symbolic sites:  the World Trade Center (symbol of America’s economic power), the Pentagon (symbol of America’s military might) and either the White House or U.S. Capitol (symbol of America’s form of government).  Due to the heroic efforts of its passengers, the last plane never made it to its target.  The careful selection of these sites make it clear that the terrorists’ objective stretched beyond the physical targets and “collateral” deaths of the innocent victims. The primary target was perhaps the American psyche.

In the immediate aftermath, the effect was just the opposite.  The American psyche was rejuvenated and patriotic fervor was rekindled. The “collateral” benefits was a lessening in the divide between the haves and have nots (economic extremes), the hawks and doves (military extremes) and the Democrats and Republicans (political extremes), at least for a season.  But time has passed.  The American economy remains the strongest in the world.  It’s military might is still unequaled.  In terms of government, the great American experiment remains unrivaled.  But the divide between the haves and have nots, the hawks and doves and those on the left versus those on the right have widened.  What the terrorists failed to do, we are doing to ourselves.  The country has not fallen (yet), but the divide among its people is greater than perhaps ever before.

There was a fourth great symbol of America’s strength that was not targeted that day, at least not directly.  Perhaps this is because there is no single physical manifestation of it.  Perhaps it is because it was not perceived as a serious threat by the perpetrators.  The symbol?  America’s trust in God, specifically its Christian heritage.  There were brief signs of a revival following that attack, but the Church has grown colder and the divide between believers and non-believers is maybe wider than all of the others.  This is, I believe, the greatest danger to America, and may be the underlying cause of all the other divides.

My Advice – All of these divides, as great as they might be, are merely symptoms of the greatest divide of all – man’s separation from His creator.  But the solution to end the divide is the easiest of all, and it’s free.  It’s not by might or power.  It’s by surrender.  And it could solve the other divides one person at a time.  Are you one?  Be apart of the solution.  Surrender your life to Christ today.  My blog series “The Born Again Experience” will show you how, and it really is that simple.

The Road Less Traveled

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Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”  (Genesis 1:26, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Humans are distinguished from the rest of the God’s “creatures.”  We have self-awareness (conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires).  We have imagination (the ability to form ideas, images or concepts that are not observable by our senses).  We have a conscience (an inner prompting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior).  We have an independent will (the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with those choices and decisions).  We have principles (fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior). To name just a few.  This is, in part, what it means to be made in God’s image (not to mention the fact that we are more than just a physical creature).   The animal kingdom, for example, when confronted with a stimulus, can only respond to that stimulus (based on instinct, urges, conditioning, fight or flight, etc.).

Stimulus ——-> Response

Humans are different.  Because of things such as self-awareness, imagination, conscience, will, and principles, we have the freedom to choose how we respond to the stimulus.

Stimulus ——-> Freedom to Choose ——->Response

While we may be pre-disposed to certain “determined” responses due genetic determinism (your DNA or nature), psychic determinism (your upbringing, or nurture), and environmental determinism (something or someone in your environment that influences  you one way or another), in the final analysis we still have the freedom to choose.  Our choices cannot ultimately be blamed on these factors.  Our choices, our behavior (response), is a product conscious decisions that we make and that we are responsible for.

Despite all of this, from the very beginning, and all too often, our lives are characterized by so many wrong choices.

Stimulus – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,

Freedom to Choose

Response – she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

(Genesis 3:6, NIV 1984)

My Advice – Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some “magic” eraser that would let us start over with a clean slate?  The truth is, that there is.  There is a choice we can all make that will make up for all of our poor choices, as if we had never made them at all.  “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV 1984).  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12, NIV 1984).

Stimulus – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8, NIV 1984).

Freedom to Choose

Response – “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12–13, NIV 1984).

The Choice Is Yours.  Choose Wisely.

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Adapted from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”