This past week, actor Leonard Nimoy passed away. He is best known for his role as Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek television series as well as several movie spin-offs. He was beloved by multitudes of fans for portraying the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer of the starship Enterprise. As a Vulcan, Spock dedicated himself to living by perfect logic with no emotions or feelings affecting his decisions or actions. In many of the Star Trek shows and films, Spock is often in conflict with Captain James T. Kirk and other members of the Enterprise crew because of how he looks at situations in a purely logical way while others are influenced by their emotions and passions.
Considering that logical thinking is indeed a powerful way to determine the best course of action when critical decisions have to be made, I would like to apply this principle to a matter of critical importance to you and every other human on planet Earth. That matter is the issue of where you will spend eternity after you die.
If you would like to go to Heaven, here is a logical explanation of how you can get there. You might think that it is complicated and confusing, but I will show you that it is quite simple and logical. Continue Reading…
This past week, the world witnessed yet another horror at the hands of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State or ISIS. Twenty-one Christians from Egypt were kidnapped in Libya, taken to a beach, and then cruelly beheaded. Based on the message ISIS sent along with the beheadings, those 21 men were killed for nothing else except for the fact that they were Christians.
In the video, it has been noted that the last words of some of those killed were “Lord Jesus Christ.” The brother of one of these brave martyrs thanked ISIS for not editing out the men’s declaration of belief in Christ because he said this had strengthened his own faith. He added that the families of the martyrs are “congratulating one another” and not in despair: He said, “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs… Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith…”
It is normal for people to grow fearful and anxious over the thought or threat of death. So, how is it that 21 men, hundreds of miles from their homes and families, can go calmly to their deaths? What did they have inside of them that stabilized them during an hour of great darkness. They had a promise from God — a promise shared by all believers in Jesus Christ — that is found in Romans 8. It reads like this: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do you grasp what that means? Despite the knives at their necks, despite the inhumane slaughter that they faced, they were never separated from the love of God which they had experienced and known in and through Jesus Christ. They knew that they were loved by God and that they could face and conquer all things through Him. Psalm 116:45 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” These men knew that beyond death’s door lay a glorious paradise and the presence of the God who loved them. This is the hope of those martyrs and of every Christian martyr down through the centuries. Nothing — not even a cruel, violent death — could separate them from the love of God that they had experienced in and through Jesus Christ.
Valentine’s Day is perhaps the time of year when people most turn their thoughts to love. Stores fill with heart-shaped balloons, red roses, chocolate, and greeting cards expressing ideas of devotion and love. Husbands and wives, those engaged to be married, boyfriends and girlfriends take the time to show their feelings for each other in different ways.
But, yet, for all the love that seems to be in the air, many people find Valentine’s Day to be a day of sadness or regret. Many people are reminded of how their heart was broken by someone they thought really loved them. Others are reminded of broken relationships and broken marriages. February 14th is sometimes referred to as Singles Awareness Day (or S.A.D.) for all the people who wish and hope for love and romance but have not found it yet.
Despite the emphasis placed on love and relationships by entertainment and the media in our culture, the latter group of people whom I have just mentioned know that love is really like a rose — it is a beautiful flower that has dangerous thorns. C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.”
However, there is one demonstration of love that exceeds all others. The Bible tells us about this love when it says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is a brave and selfless thing for someone to take a gunshot or a knife stroke meant for someone else. You might never imagine that someone would do such a thing for you. And, indeed, with the selfishness that is common in human nature, you would be hard pressed to find someone willing to do such a thing. But there is someone who has already done that for you. Continue Reading…
Many years from now, when the world looks back on this time in history, “terrorism” and “extremists” will likely be identified as the watchwords of our day. Even though acts of terror have been carried out at different times in history, after 9/11, the Western world was awakened to a new brand of terror in the form of Islamic extremism. People who fall in this category are willing to end their own lives in an effort to destroy, dismantle, and bring an end to Western civilization, Christians, Jews, and even other Muslims who do not believe exactly as they do.
On the news, we regularly hear phrases such as “terrorist”, “war on terror”, and “suicide bomber.” Currently, the War on Terror is actively being fought in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria. Ongoing military operations against terrorists are also being carried out in Nigeria, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, the trans-Sahara region, China, and Chechnya.
Perhaps most shocking has been the series of beheadings carried out by a group which calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Just last week, they burned a man alive and put it on video for the world to see. They are slaughtering thousands in Iraq and Syria, expelling Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities from their homelands, and threatening to take over not only Baghdad and Damascus — the capitals of Iraq and Syria — but to launch attacks inside the United States and other Western nations. Unfortunately, it seems as though efforts to stop this group have been ineffective.
As we see these events taking place, you may be asking questions like: Why is this happening? Does anyone care? It is easy to become cynical and to lose hope in the face of such terror. Even the bold words of political leaders and their assurances of success in the war on terror in the long run have failed to give us hope.
But there is one source of hope that never fails. The Bible tells you in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” The person this verse is talking about is Jesus Christ. Political and military leaders fail to give us hope that we will prevail against terror. But we can find hope in Jesus Christ because He has overcome everything in the world — including torture and death. Continue Reading…
One of the most acclaimed films of 2014 was “Boyhood.” It is remarkable in that it was filmed over a span of 12 years using the same actors who came together a few days each year. The film is simply billed as “the life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.” It won Best Motion Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards and has been nominated for Best Motion Picture and five other awards at the Oscars.
One of the reasons why this film resonates with so many is because it is simply the depiction of the life of a boy, his family, and the people they come in contact with. Many people can relate to the experiences of the characters in the movie — growing up, attending school, graduating, making mistakes, marriage, divorce, moving from a place you have lived your whole life, etc. One reviewer noted that the fact that twelve years of a boy’s life has been condensed into less than three hours “has the remarkable — and no doubt intended — effect of making us realise just how short life is.”
Another effect the movie has is that it forces us to think about our lives in particular and about the meaning of life in general. Through the actions and words of the characters, we are reminded of how feeble we really are and how little control we really have over this thing called life. In one scene in the movie, the boy Mason says to his father, “So what’s the point?” His father replies, “Of what?” Mason says, “I don’t know, any of this. Everything.” His father says, “Everything? What’s the point? I mean, I sure don’t know. Neither does anybody else, okay? We’re all just winging it, you know.”
I don’t know about you, dear friend, but “just winging it” does not sound like a very optimistic view of life. Most of us will admit that what we want in life is some assurance about where we are and where we are going, some direction, some goals for the future, and some peace about what that future holds. In fact, if we knew that someone could tell us where we would be and what we would be doing with our lives five, ten, or fifteen years from now, we would be happy to get that information. If someone could tell us with certainty and proof what happens after death, we would eagerly sign up to know. We don’t want to live lives of uncertainty. We don’t want to just wing it. Continue Reading…