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GLMX #162: Prepare to Meet Your Maker

 

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Two weeks ago, we learned that Ariel Castro, the Ohio man who kidnapped and raped three women, and held them captive in his home for a decade, committed suicide in prison. After admitting to all of the charges brought against him in court, he was sentenced to life in prison and then 1,000 years for his crimes.

Castro likely committed suicide thinking that death would allow him to escape the judgment for his crimes. However, his death only drew him closer to his final judgment before the Judge of the universe. Ariel Castro went to meet his Maker a few weeks ago.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Castro will not have another chance to live his life or undo his deeds. He has gone to answer for what he did. The Bible says in First Peter 4:5 that everyone “shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.”

No matter our status in this life, no matter how good and moral we are, no matter how much success we have, we will each go to meet our Maker when we die. Each of us has an appointment with the Creator of the universe. Revelation 20:12-13 describes this great meeting. The apostle John writes, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books…And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

The only thing that will matter once you have gone to meet God is whether or not your name is written in the “book of life” mentioned in these verses. Those who do not have their name written in the book of life will face eternal punishment in Hell as described in verse 15 of this very same passage: “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

+ Plus, listen to Shine Bright Baby singing “Never Too Far”

GLMX #161: Life, Salvation, and the NFL

 

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The football season is in full swing now that Summer is almost over and Fall approaches. Many men and women look forward to seeing their favorite teams play each Sunday leading up to that special day in February. There are many minor goals along the way, but one ultimate goal — the Super Bowl. While eleven men battle it out for their team, thousands of spectators are content to watch, cheer them on, and at times, boo them for not playing up to expectations. Even with the news about the impact of concussions and why football is a dangerous game, hundreds play, dozens coach, and millions watch the battle of football.

Football is probably the most exciting sport to watch. Not only because it is an aggressive sport, but in some ways, it captures the essence of what it means to fight for something in life. The ultimate goal of each game is to win, just as the goal we strive for in life is to be successful.

We will face opponents who try to stop us from reaching our goal. In that case, we must tackle them in order to keep them from hindering us. We may at times be striving towards a goal, and for some reason, get distracted and lose our focus. Every now and then, while we are going towards our goal to make some touchdowns in life, to make some first downs in life, to win the game on our way to the Super Bowl, we may get hit. And every now and then, it is good to get hit. Nothing will knock away the cobwebs from our minds, our souls, and our spirits, and help us to realize what is truly important in life like being hit by some tragedy, some crisis, or some difficulty. And then, at times, we have turnovers, allowing someone else or something else to gain an advantage over us. Unfortunately, dear friends, we fumble the ball, or we throw an interception. Sometimes, rarely in football, but more often in life, we go the wrong way. Or, we may have to settle for a field goal every now and then to help us stay in the game, to keep it tight, when we really want to score a touchdown. We also have to get in the huddle from time to time to gain advice, information, and encouragement from trustworthy friends and associates. When we fight hard enough and stay in the game of life long enough, we will eventually make a touchdown reaching a goal that we have set on the way to the bigger goal of winning the game and the game of life.

Many things go into a football game — practice, preparation, planning, and, yes, even prayer — it all must be done. Sometimes, players get injured and they have to fight through it. Sometimes, we get injured and we have to fight through it. Sometimes, games get intense and players and coaches have to keep their cool. We have to do the same. But at all times, football has proven to be a battle for a prize, albeit a finite, earthly prize.

Jesus Christ also fought a battle for us, a more important battle — a battle for our souls. On His way to victory, He huddled with His disciples often, taught them, and prepared them to carry on after He was gone. Jesus had to tackle the devil and the temptations the devil tried to use to get Him off His game. He had to overcome being intercepted by people, particularly religious people, who did not believe in Him and who wanted to see Him dead. He had long stretches of ministry, miracles, healing, and service to others. He scored, if you will, a touchdown when He accepted the responsibility in the Garden of Gethsemane for the world and He chose to willingly take the cross up to Calvary and die a painful death for you and for me. Jesus Christ is truly a world champion — the Lord of Glory, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, yours and mine. He won the Super Bowl for us….

+ Plus, listen to Trip Lee singing “War”

GLMX #160: The Golden Path

 

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Two weeks ago, we learned of the tragic story of a young man by the name of Moritz Erhardt. He was a 21-year-old German bank intern working in the London offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He was found dead in his home after working for 72 hours without sleep in the company’s investment banking division.

In the wake of his death, Reuters published a very interesting article about the kind of culture that drives young interns to go to extremes in order to secure their future in the money-making centers of the world. Belinda Goldsmith, who wrote the article, says: “Attracted to the glass towers of finance in London, New York and Singapore by the prospect of securing a full-time job and hefty wage, future ‘masters of the universe’ often face 20-hour days in some of the most adrenaline-soaked offices on earth. Weekends at work and meals in the office are par for the course with anecdotal reports of the ‘magic roundabout’ where interns get a taxi home after dawn and leave it waiting while they have a quick shower and then return to work.” One former intern who now has a job at a major U.S. bank said, “People push themselves because they want an offer with the bank and the chance of a great career and great money. This is a golden path.”

This “golden path” — this drive for money — is dangerous physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is not only bank and investment interns who pursue money this madly. But, people from every career path knock themselves out to be financially and materially successful. Their heart is set on the next big sale, the next big paycheck, and the next big thing they can buy.

The Bible warns us against allowing ourselves to be obsessed with money and material possessions. First Timothy 6:10 says, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Jesus Christ said in Matthew 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” In other words, it does no good for a man to pursue money and material possessions on this earth, but neglect the matters of his eternal soul. As someone once put it so well, “He who provides for this life, but takes no care for eternity is wise for a moment, but a fool forever.”

+ Plus, listen to Joy Williams singing “Beautiful Redemption”

GLMX #159: A Good Day to Die Hard?

 

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In the action movie, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack McClane, an undercover CIA officer is arrested as a result of an assassination in Russia. When his father, John McClane, a detective and New York City police office hears about it, he decides to go to Russia to help his son get out of his predicament and also to repair the estranged relationship between himself and Jack. Once father and son unite in Russia, they are targeted by two evil men and their cohorts who try to kill them both on multiple occasions. Together, they have to dodge gunbattles, kidnappings, and a car chase. In the end, John and his son do reconcile, and defeat the enemies that are after them.

The movie is a reminder of the great lengths parents will go to in order to help their children get and stay on the right path with their lives. It is also a reminder of how God loves us and wants to reconcile with us — all of humanity –and how he went to great lengths to bring that about. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God was under no obligation to do as he did when he sent Jesus Christ to earth. The reason why life on Earth is not perfect is because of sin. All of us are sinners who deserve eternal punishment in Hell. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The reason why we have death in our world is because of sin. There’s no good day to die, and when you die it will be hard. As the Bible says in Proverbs 13:15, “The way of the transgressor (wrong-doer) is hard.” Death is not something to be happy about unless you have been saved through Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death — physical death in the grave, and spiritual death in Hell.

However, because God loves us so much, and because God does not want us to suffer for an eternity separated from him, he sent his perfect, sinless son Jesus Christ to earth to suffer a cruel death on the cross — willingly taking our punishment on himself. He died, and three days later, he rose from the dead.

The day Jesus died was a good day for mankind. His death meant that the day we die does not have to be a bad day. If we give our life to Jesus Christ now, he will usher us into Heaven and into the presence of the Heavenly Father.

GLMX #158: The Way to the Real ‘Elysium’

 

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The new science fiction movie, Elysium, depicts a futuristic dystopian society where Earth is overpopulated by the diseased and impoverished masses, while the wealthy and well-to-do live on an expansive space colony known as Elysium. The government of Elysium prevents those who live on Earth from immigrating and becoming citizens of Elysium. Those who try to do so are killed by the government of Elysium.

The word “elysium” is a reference to the Greek idea of Paradise. The Greek philosophers and writers believed that Elysium, or the mythical Elysian Fields, was a beautiful, peaceful eternal destination reserved for the righteous and those favored by the gods. It was a place of peace — a lush, green paradise where those who had lived well could enjoy the afterlife.

In the film Elysium, Max is an ex-convict trying to survive in a dilapidated, run-down Los Angeles. He is friends with a woman who has a daughter named Matilda. Matilda is dying from Leukemia. At the factory where Max works, he is exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and is informed that he has only five days to live. Knowing that he can be cured in one of the advanced medical treatment centers on Elysium, he determines to find a way to get to the space colony to find healing for himself and Matilda. He connects with a smuggler named Spider, and they both begin to plot a way for all of those on Earth to become citizens of Elysium.

Max’s desperate attempt to gain healing on Elysium is reminiscent of man’s search for escape from the desperate, down-trodden conditions of Earth. Like the Earth depicted in the film, our world is broken, filled with masses of people who are sick, physically and spiritually. We are people who long for Heaven.

Like the Elysium depicted in the film, Heaven is the perfect place where all of our wounds can heal, our sins can be washed away, our pain can dissipate, and our tears will be wiped away forever. The Bible says in Isaiah 33:24 that the “inhabitant (of Heaven) shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven of their sins.”

Unlike the rulers of Elysium, however, God is not trying to prevent us from getting to Heaven. He wants us to be there. He wants us to be there so desperately that he made a great sacrifice to make the door to Heaven wide-open for each and every one of us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (in Heaven).” Heaven is not just for the wealthy, the well-to-do, or for those who have lived a “good” life. Heaven is for everybody who believes in Jesus Christ.

This invitation to Heaven was given by Jesus Christ. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

In the end of the Elysium film, Max dies after he has activated the program that will make all of those on Earth citizens of Elysium. As he fades from life, Matilda is cured of Leukemia and the advanced medical treatments centers are flown out to Earth to heal the sick and injured.

In the same way, it is by Jesus’ death and resurrection that we become citizens of Heaven. If we want to escape this earth and the eternal punishment for our sins that awaits us beyond our death, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and allow him to come and live inside of us. Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

+ Plus, listen to Jeremy Camp singing “Better is One Day in Your Courts”