Tag Archive | Love

What Is Hell? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Buddy is keeping a close eye on me while enjoying the oriental rug I laid down on my bedroom floor. The beautiful rug made the room much more homey and comfortable looking, livening up a lifeless space.

When most people think of Hell, likely what comes to mind is the Dr. Faustus version or the old Hammer Films of shooting flames and pointy-tailed demons, pitchforks, red skin and goatees.

What Hell actually is, is eternal separation from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the triune God. Which is a total absence of the presence of love, as God embodies true love and is the source of all life for eternity.

There are many attributes listed in the Bible of Who God is, but the two passages below are very succinct in their description.

The most famous passage is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 written by the Apostle Paul, often quoted during wedding ceremonies in the USA:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.”

The second passage from Galatians 5:22-23, also by Apostle Paul, describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit and how, as God works in a believer’s life, helps him or her to grow in these qualities throughout their lifetime:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

What is Hell? A complete absence of these qualities.

An eternal existence with only the exact opposite of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlled behavior in one’s life.

“Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”–Jesus to Nicodemus, Pharisee, John 3:3

Please consider Jesus this Christmas season. God came to earth, taking on human flesh, to satisfy the righteous requirements of His Law and to die for our sins, suffering the punishment we deserve for falling short of God’s standards to enter His holy presence.

“…knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 2:4

The Triune God loves you and wants you to spend eternity in His loving presence, “to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Apostle Paul, Jude 1:24

With love from Dawn and Buddy.

The #1 Error NonChristians Make, Genesis 3:9

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My first sight of Buddy was at pet fair in Enumclaw, Washington. He sat in a cage stacked on top of other cages housing Silkies that his foster mother was exhibiting at the show. I took one look at Buddy and thought, “Well, I don’t know you now but I’ll learn to love you.”

The number one mistake nonChristians make is believing that Christianity is just another religion. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in if it teaches wisdom and how to be a good person.

Christianity is not just another of many religions teaching right living and how to treat others or a self-improvement program. It is about reuniting in a love relationship with the living God Who created us.

Five thousand years ago, Adam and Eve had a perfect love relationship with God. He would walk about in the garden of Eden and fellowship with them. Their lives, gorgeous environment, nutritious food and animals as friends were freely given to them to enjoy. When they rejected God’s authority by believing Satan’s lies that God didn’t really loved them, didn’t have their best interests at heart and was holding out on them, their relationship with God fell apart.

By rejecting God’s authority, the Holy Spirit left the human race.

So we all become incomplete beings at birth, souls and bodies but no Spirit of God indwelling us.

In Genesis 3:9, you can almost hear the anguish in God’s voice as He walks the garden, looking for His companions, “Where are you?” He cries out.

But Adam and Eve are hiding from God. “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid…so I hid myself,” Adam answers in verse 10.

Humankind has been fleeing from God’s presence ever since, making up their own rules of how to get back into relationship with Him. Most people sense that something is wrong, that they are incomplete, but, just like Adam and Eve, they don’t want to approach the God of the Bible because they know that they fall short of His expectations, His standards. Humanity’s solution is religion, a system of reaching up to God.

Christianity is about God reaching down to us, the second part of the Trinity becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Not us reaching up to Him. When Jesus came to earth to live among us, He didn’t sit on a throne in the temple of Jerusalem (aka Herod’s temple), announce His deity and demand that people approach Him with fear and trepidation, present gifts and bow down to Him. No. He sought out people and showed that He loved them by healing them, encouraging them, feeding them, comforting them and even resurrecting their loved ones from the dead. Jesus likely walked over three thousand miles during his three years of public ministry, seeking and saving His lost sheep, inviting people to follow Him and enter into fellowship with the Triune God.

Jesus explained why He came to earth: “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11) Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) No one has ascended into Heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man…For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:13, 16-17)”

My pastor, Ben Davis of Hope Fellowship, frequently quotes this verse from the last book of the Bible, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”–Revelation 3:20

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He is knocking at the door of your heart, waiting for You to invite Him into your life. Why not ask Him now? Tell Him you’re sorry for your sins, for falling short of His holy expectations, and want Him to guide Your life and open up your eyes and heart to understand how much He loves you.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”–Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 5:7

And enter into the greatest love relationship you will ever experience with the true and living Triune God who created you, loves you and wants you to know that you are special. You are not an accident of the universe: You were planned (Psalm 139), your life has a purpose, and He wants to be your Lord, Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) and best friend.

“If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”–Jesus, Luke 11:13

Love from Dawn and my best little Buddy

 

True Freedom, 2 Corinthians 3:17

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When Buddy and I visit my storage unit, I let him run around without holding onto the leash because the doors are closed. He’s free to wander about anywhere he wants, within defined limits. Because, if he gets out past the doors, he could potentially get run over by a moving truck or out onto a major highway and be killed.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”–Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:17

Today in the USA we’re celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin King Luther, Jr. His original name at his brith on January 15th, 2919, was Michael King. His name was changed to later Martin Luther King Jr. Why the change?

His father, a Senior pastor, was sent by his congregation on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. In Germany he visited the church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the castle church, challenging the teachings of the Catholic Church which had become corrupted. The pounding of this nail into the door started the Protestant Revolution and transformed world history. During this same tour his father visited Berlin a year after Hitler rose to power and was profoundly affected by the hatred toward the Jewish people.

I’m not sure of the details regarding the name change of his son, but apparently MLK made it clear in his final sermon on April 3rd, 1968, that if he could travel back in history, he “would’ve watched Martin Luther nail his 95 Thesis to the door at the church of Wittenberg”, making it clear that he considered this a pivotal event in history. He also declared that “I just want to do God’s will.”

Mr. Luther understood that following God was critical to living a full life. And like Buddy, we are free to live life fully as long as we stay within God’s defined limits. To stay in love, and not poison ourselves with hatred and bitterness. To not murder the reputation of another through lies and slander, not plot against and harm the innocent, to show respect and kindness instead of animosity and cruelty. “Speaking the truth in love (Apostle Paul, Ephesians 4:15)” and not with anger and arrogance.

To be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day and have a clear conscience, knowing that you did your best that day to love others, instead of hating and slandering.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”–Apostle John, 1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, that you have love for one another.”–Jesus, John 13:34

Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy will live on in every Christian who chooses God’s will, instead of selfishness and hate.

***

In his last sermon, MLK also admitted that he preferred to live but did not fear death. He knew he would go to heaven because He believed in Jesus Christ. Why not follow in his footsteps and give your life to Jesus tonight and become a new Creation? Start now from scratch, following a new path.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”–Proverbs 4:18

God hates evil and sin and must punish it to be just. By admitting you’re a sinner and accepting that Jesus, God in the Flesh (Immanuel–Matthew 1:23), died for your sins, you can be declared not guilty before God and declared righteous in His sight–A child of God destined to live in eternity with Him, no longer separated from Him by unpunished sin. Why not admit you need Jesus Christ today and become born-again by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? With the guidance of the Holy Sprit, godly Christian fellowship and the Bible, you can discover a new life.

**Please note I use the NASB version of the Bible for my Biblical references. Information about Martin Luther King Jr was from an article published online by tHe Washington Post on 1/15/19 by Deneen L. Brown.

Are You A Fake Christian? Part 1, 1 John 4:20-21

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Most of us dog owners love to dress up our dogs. Sometimes it’s gratuitous, like Buddy’s Hawaiian shirt, or at times, like the above, it’s necessary to keep him warm or dry in inclement weather conditions. Buddy tolerates the coats and neck scarves but hates to wear anything on his head.

It’s sad when people claim to be Christians but really aren’t. They give God a bad name. It’s even sadder when the person believes they know Christ but don’t. They are presenting a false image to the public, wearing fake clothing.

Now I cannot look into a person’s heart and know if they are saved or not–only God truly knows who His sheep are and will reveal them on Judgment Day, when He separates His sheep from the goats (Matthew 13:25-30). But it deeply grieves me when someone claims to know Christ but puts down and criticizes their brothers and sisters, particularly publicly to nonbelievers and doubters.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.'”–1 John 4:20-21

Many times recently I’ve heard people who claim to know Christ say they don’t like to go to church or hang around other Christians because they aren’t sophisticated enough, or educated enough, or just enough of something or other. They don’t meet this particular person’s standards.

“Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 12:16

Apparently, it escapes their notice that they don’t have a right to judge their brothers and sisters because NO ONE measures up to God’s standards. As Christians, we are only acceptable to God because Christ died for our sins and attributes His righteousness to us. Otherwise, this holy God could not tolerate the presence of unholy people. That means all of us.

Not only that, but everything we have and are as persons is a gift from God: our talent, our IQ, our physical abilities, our level of beauty, is from God. We cannot brag about being smarter than others, because God is the one who gave us our intelligence. We cannot brag about being more handsome or beautiful than someone else, because our bodies were designed by God. Probably most people would like to be smarter or have more talent or skill, but everyone was designed to please God and serve His purpose. If anyone has a right to brag or put someone down, it’s God: our perfectly holy, omniscient and omnipotent God could easily squash any of us in a few words, but He doesn’t. He encourages, uplifts, heals, exhorts and strengthens us instead.

Rather than shun us, He chose to love and find a way to fellowship with unholy and far less intelligent and talented and creative people than He is.

Who invented color? Or thought up the concepts of rocks, grass, trees, and dirt? Or birds and fish and feathers and scales and skin? Who designed dinosaurs and worms and bacteria? Who flung the stars and planets across the galaxy and spun gold in the depths of the earth? Who invented air and water (the most miraculous of substances) and wove DNA?

There really is no more humbling philosophy than Christianity, because no one earns their way to Heaven by being good enough or smart enough or wise enough (Gnosticism). We all enter the same way, regardless of race, age, sex, health, beauty, talent or experience: By humbling our pride, acknowledging that we are sinners and require God’s forgiveness and guidance to understand right from wrong. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”–Jesus, John 13:34-35

“There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes…”–Proverbs 6:16-17a

Listed #1 as the thing that God hates (strong word) is haughtiness. Thinking you’re better than someone else, instead of being humble and serving others.

Even Jesus washed the dirty feet of His disciples. The great God stooped down and washed the feet of his quarreling, imperfect followers (John 13:4-16).

Do you love your fellow believers in Christ? If not, please ask yourself why.

We love you. Dawn and Buddy

PS. No apologies for creating blog titles designed to get your attention!

 

Can You Understand Who God is? John 14:7-10

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For some reason this year Buddy has decided to watch me when I vacuum or wash the floors. I don’t know what he finds so endlessly fascinating about observing me clean the house, but I enjoy his company. However, sometimes he gets in the way and I keep asking him to: “Buddy, please move.” He doesn’t move out of the way. So I say more emphatically, because I don’t want to hit him with the vacuum cleaner or sponge, “Buddy, move!” And he doesn’t move, so I gently nudge him out of the way.

It suddenly occurred to me this week that maybe Buddy doesn’t understand what I’m saying. He might just hear, “Buddy…yada yada yada yada,” and is thinking to himself, “You’re calling me. I’m here.” He might just think I’m asking him to be near me, not that I want him to move out of the way.

People often say, and I believe quite wrongly, that the Old Testament God is a very angry and unkind God, different from the New Testament God. But the New and Old Testament Gods are the same Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit):

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.)–Genesis 1:26-27

“Us” refers to the triune nature of God.

So how does that relate to the Buddy story?

When you look at the natural world, it’s broken. There’s earthquakes, floods and famines. Nature is cruel and arbitrary. Animals hunt down and kill each other. Cats torment and play with mice. Good people suffer terribly and die young while evil people live long and do great harm to others. It would seem that God is cruel. When we look into outer space or at grand mountain peaks, we can understand that God is magnificent or very powerful, but how can we understand that He loves us and wants a love relationship with us? That God is love? (1 John 4:8)

Jesus didn’t mince words. He wasn’t always lovey-dovey. His first sermon was to call people to “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He warned about Hell. But also He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, drove demons out of people who were tormented by evil, provided wine at a wedding (His first miracle) to save a family from embarrassment when they were running out of the beverage, fed thousands and healed the lame. He also eased people’s conscience’s by forgiving their sins (Mark 2:1-12).

Yet, even the apostles often didn’t get who Jesus was after all the miracles and the great patience He continually showed to them, even when they acted petty and boastful. And their needs were always met during the three plus years they spent following Him.

Jesus said to His disciples after the Lord’s supper, shortly before His Crucifixion:

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”–John 14:7-10

It was so difficult to comprehend that the Father loves people so much that He sent His Son to dwell amongst us, that even after His resurrection, some still weren’t getting it:

“When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some were doubtful.”–Matthew 28:17

Jesus walked amongst us to demonstrate that He loves us and wants to fellowship with us. Imagine, this Almighty God Who created the vast universe and our planet, knows every thought and action we’ve ever had or will have, notes every sparrow that falls and even knows how many hairs are on our heads (Matthew 10:29-30) wants to be in relationship with us and show His love to us on a personal level. He showed how valuable we are to Him by taking on human flesh and dwelling with us.

This great and awesome God took on human flesh! This all powerful, omniscient God.

So that we could understand what He’s been saying for thousands of years to humankind: I love you. And I love you individually.

***

If you’d like to be in relationship with this loving God, please say this prayer: “Lord, I want to get to know You. You are holy and perfect and I am not. So please forgive me of my sins and enter into my life. Show me how much You love me. Please help me get my life straightened out. And help me learn to love and follow You in the “paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3) as my loving, all-powerful Shepherd.”

Congratulations on joining the biggest family ever: believers throughout history and throughout the earth. Please find a Bible-believing church to fellowship with Christian believers. Also, get a Bible and begin to read it, starting with the book of Matthew, so that you can begin to understand Who this God is Who loves you.

 

 

We’re of Infinite Value, Matthew 1:23

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I like to dress Buddy up in little sweaters and for Christmas, a Santa outfit. He wasn’t too happy this Christmas morning, as you can see.

What is amazing is that the 2nd part of the eternal and omnipotent God, Jesus Christ, came down and put on human flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). The Almighty God who created all things, the Heavens and the earth (Colossians 1:15-16), who existed outside of time and space and the material world, humbled Himself to take on human form, lived in a human womb for 9 months to subsequently enter in our world. By doing this, He could personally interact with us and demonstrate to us who God is (John 14:8-10).

“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with Child and shall bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us.'”–Matthew 1:23

But there is another aspect of this incarnation that is truly wonderful. By taking on human flesh, God declared that human beings were of infinite value.

Catholic philosopher Dr. Robert P. George theorizes that modern culture is promoting the ancient Greek heresy of Gnosticism (neo-Gnosticism), the idea that only the spirit is sacred and the flesh is not, that the mind is inferior to the body and is a breakable unity; that the human personality/mind is distinct from the physical body it inhabits. “That the mental, the spiritual, is what ultimately matters.” That it was the philosopher René Descartes who introduced this distinction into our modern civilization. Whereas Christianity teaches that we are whole beings, spirit and flesh. We cannot separate the two.

God declared that the flesh is of infinite value by taking on human form Himself. He didn’t come down as a spirit being only or die on the Cross as a spirit being only or rise as a spirit being only. He was born of a virgin female, lived and worked and preached as a human male, died on the Cross in the flesh and rose bodily in the flesh.

The human form is important to God, the culmination of His Creation (Genesis 1:27). We are made in HIS IMAGE. He declared His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

You are of infinite value. You are NOT an accident of the universe, a random result of natural selection.

God designed you and foreknew you (Psalm 139:13). All of you. Your mind and your physical body.

So valuable that God Himself died for you on the Cross for your sin, taking the punishment you deserved. And when you accept His death for your sin, He gives you eternal life by regenerating your spirit, making it alive.

The miracle of Christmas is not just that God came down to dwell amongst us, but that He loves and values us so much.

And one day, if you are born-again by the Spirit of God, you will be resurrected in a perfected body.

A fleshly body, a healthy body, a beautiful body.

God loves you.

Love and Merry Christmas from Dawn and Buddy.

***

PS. They nearly doubled my workload in my day job. I was exhausted for at time but hope to be rejuvenated during the holiday season to get back to a weekly posting.

God Is Love, 1 John 4:16

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One reason I love this photo is because I love Buddy. He is great company, particularly when I’m alone in the house at night. And because I love him, I don’t think about the bad boy things he has done: I see him as perfect and totally lovable.

The Apostle John, who laid his head against Christ’s breast when Jesus walked the earth, declared that “God is love,”–1 John 4:16

When most people think of Heaven, they think of angels on clouds and green meadows full of flowers and meeting their loved ones again, looking young and healthy. They usually don’t think of it as a place where God dwells.

Since God is love and dwells in Heaven, guess what Hell could be defined as? Not as a place of fire and brimstone, but a place where God does not dwell, a place totally absent of love.

Please think about that. Hell is a place with no mercy, no kindness, no laughter, no joy, no peace, no faithfulness, no goodness, no patience, no freedom…(Galatians 5:22) I’m sure you can think of many others.

I think most people, if mentally healthy, would prefer to go to Heaven and not Hell, but they have a misunderstanding about how to get there. This will shock most people: IT’S NOT BY BEING GOOD! or , like pictured in an Egyptian papyrus painting, I have, “IT’S NOT BY HAVING YOUR GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGHING YOUR BAD.”

To address the latter firstly: If you think it’s by having your good deeds outweighing the bad, how do you define your good and your bad deeds? God is perfect. His definition of “bad” is far broader than ours is. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how bad I really am, because I become more familiar with what God’s standards really are. When someone asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life”, Jesus responded, “No one is good except God alone.”–Luke 18:18

This seems to me a really iffy program to place my hope on to obtain eternal life in Heaven. How do you really know when your good deeds outweigh your bad? How many points does gossip get versus donating a toy to Toys for Tots? That method would keep me awake at night.

Most people don’t understand the gospel (which means “good news”). It’s not good news to tell me that I need to work really hard to be good and hope that maybe I did well enough to pass muster on Judgment Day. God cannot tolerate evil, i.e. sin. He demands perfection. In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus declared, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48  I blew that one a long time ago.

That’s why Jesus had to die. Only He was good enough, being God in the flesh, to live a perfect life and take our punishment for God’s wrath against sin. We don’t do anything to earn Heaven except humble ourselves and admit we’re sinners and need Jesus’ blood to cover our sin for us. And because He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God and His sacrifice acceptable, ask Him to empower us by giving us the Holy Spirit to live His life through us.

Then God sees us as perfect and totally lovable, just like I love my Buddy.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

And that’s good news, not working for my eternal life but accepting that Jesus already did it for me.

Sadly, admitting they’re not perfect is just too difficult for most people.

PS. If someone says this is wrong, it’s not by faith in Christ but good works, then ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

***

If you agree with me, “Hey, I’d like to go to Heaven and live with this loving God for eternity, and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve missed the mark,” please pray:

Dear Father, I’m sorry I’ve screwed up and fallen far short of your standards. I know I’m far from perfect but I believe you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins. That He lived the perfect life I couldn’t live. Please forgive me and grant me Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Amen.