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GLMX #142: Here One Moment and Gone the Next

 

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This past week was certainly among the most turbulent weeks America and the world has ever experienced. It began on Monday, at the Boston Marathon, when a joyous event was turned into a scene of terror. Three people who had gathered with many others to cheer on the runners as they crossed the finish line were killed by two bombs that exploded on the sidewalk. One of those killed was a restaurant manager, another was a young Chinese college student, and the third was an eight-year-old boy who was there to cheer on his father. 183 other people were injured, many of whom had to have legs amputated because of the blast.

This past week, poisoned letters were also sent to President Obama and a U.S. Senator from Mississippi. Thankfully, these letters were intercepted before they reached their destinations.

On Tuesday, a massive earthquake struck the Iran-Pakistan border. The quake was so powerful that it was felt across the Middle East and Asia from Dubai to India. 34 people died from this earthquake.

On Wednesday evening of this past week, a fire broke out at a fertilizer company in a small town in central Texas. Volunteer firefighters rushed to the scene. While they were fighting the fire, a huge explosion occured. It was so powerful that it registered as a small earthquake. 14 people, including the firefighters, have since been confirmed dead, many people have not been accounted for, and dozens more are without homes or material belongings.

Finally, on Saturday, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck a region in southwestern China. At the latest report, over 200 people are dead from this quake and over 6,700 people have been injured.

Many people recognized that so much tragedy in such a short period of time seems unusual. Two CNN reporters even referred to the Boston Marathon bombing, the West, Texas explosion, and the poisoned letters sent to President Obama and a U.S. senator as being similar to biblical plagues that seemed to be hitting the country all at the same time.

The terrible loss of life that struck the world this past week is both astounding and heart breaking. All of the people who died from events that were beyond their control have one thing in common. None of them thought they were likely going to die that day. They were living their lives just like you and I are doing today. They just wanted to go to work, go to school, go to the store, and spend time with their family and friends. They wanted to enjoy a fun sporting event with other residents of their city. They wanted to spend a peaceful evening at home eating dinner or watching TV. Yet, all of them were here one moment and gone the next. In the space of a bomb blast, an earthquake, or an explosion, they each passed from life into eternity.

Such events should cause us to soberly remember that our lives are just as fragile. We are not special. We are no better than those people who died this past week. Hebrews 9:27 says that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” We, too, can be here one moment and gone the next. We can pass from life to eternity in a moment of time by some unexpected, tragic event that is totally beyond our control. Such events remind us that we need to be ready for what comes after death — our eternal destination.

GLMX #141: The One and Only Way to True Freedom

 

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Over the years, people have gained freedom through war, violence, protests, and as Winston Churchill said, “blood, toil, sweat, and tears.” The recent wars in several Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, the uprising in Egypt which often turned violent, and the current war raging in Syria proves that people love freedom so much that they will fight for it if they have to. They will fight not only with words, but with actions — and are often willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause of freedom.

Many ordinary men and women have gone down in history as great freedom fighters. George Washington led the Continental Army to victory against Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln led the country to victory during the Civil War, saved the union from collapse, and ended slavery in America, which freed millions of men and women who were in bondage. Mahatma Gandhi led India in the non-cooperation movement.

Nelson Mandela stood against racism and apartheid in South Africa and helped lead his country to a place where all men and women are treated equally. Winston Churchill was one of the great leaders of Great Britain during World War II against Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Harriet Tubman led the Underground Railroad that helped free many black slaves in the 1880s. Martin Luther King Jr., led the Civil Rights Movement and helped blacks gain their basic rights as free people in America.

Down through history, many others who saw the importance of freedom, and used their God-given skills and talents to not only free themselves but to set others free as well.

It is wonderful to have religious, political, and physical freedom and to enjoy the benefits that come with that, but there is another type of freedom that we all need as well. And that is a spiritual freedom — a freedom for our souls. This freedom was paid for by Jesus Christ with His own blood over two thousand years ago on the cross of Calvary. He willingly gave His life for all of mankind so that we all can experience true freedom from the oppression of sin and the oppressor named Satan. Jesus fought the battle for this freedom for us. We do not have to do anything for this freedom except BELIEVE in Jesus Christ. We do not have to fight for this freedom or sacrifice our own blood. Jesus Christ offers the freedom He purchased for us right now today.

+ Plus, listen to Newsboys singing “I Am Free”

GLMX #140: The White Flag of Peace

 

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Since the beginning of history, man has been in a constant state of war and strife. Men have formed alliances and signed peace treaties in an effort to bring about peace on earth. But, as one conflict is resolved, several more are raging in different places around the world. The history of mankind has been one of continuous hate, enmity, and hostility.

Even today, with organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union, our world is still without peace. On the night when Jesus Christ was born, a choir of angels appeared to shepherds who were taking care of their sheep outside of Bethlehem. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:14 that they sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” What did the angels mean when they said that peace had come to earth? Well, the peace they were talking about was not political peace. They did not mean that all wars would cease at that moment. In fact, the shepherds whom they gave these words to were citizens of a country that was under the occupational military force of a Roman government.

What the angels meant was that with Jesus Christ coming to earth to die on the cross for our sins, peace between man and God could be made. Charles Spurgeon said, “When the newborn King made his appearance, the swaddling band with which he was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man’s conscience and his God. It was then, that day, the trumpet blew — ‘Sheathe the sword, oh man, sheathe the sword, oh conscience, for God is now at peace with man, and man at peace with God.'”

You see, after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, man and God were not on good terms with each other. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 5:10 that we were once “enemies of God.” We were separated from Him because of our sin. When Jesus Christ came, He provided the way by which we can make peace with God in our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. Yes, even though world peace has not become a reality yet, we can have peace in our lives because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.

Jesus Christ is called the “prince of peace.” He told his disciples in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Would you like to have peace in your heart today? Would you like to make peace with God? If so, let me show you how.

+ Plus, listen to Laura Story singing “Perfect Peace”

GLMX #139: The Eternal Aftereffects of Easter

 

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The resurrection

The resurrection

The Easter holiday marks a wonderful time of year. It reminds us of the arrival of spring as the cold earth awakes from its wintry slumber. But it also reminds us of something far more important — the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a once-in-history event that had never happened before and has never happened since. When the angels rolled back the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb, and declared, “He is not here. He is risen as he said,” Hell groaned in agony, heaven shook with rejoicing, and the earth trembled in awe. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the singular event in history that stands above all others in scope or importance.

What are the aftereffects of that first Easter day?

+ Plus, listen to Hillsong singing “Stronger”

GLMX #138: The Ultimate Thrill Ride

 

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They are the most-attended sporting events in the United States. Tens of thousands of excited, passionate fans gather in the stands and the infield to watch race cars zoom around a racetrack at over 180 miles per hour mere feet, and sometimes mere inches, from one another. The high-energy, heart-racing event is watched by millions more on television. Almost nothing else on earth can compare to the breathtaking spectacle. Yes, a NASCAR race is the ultimate thrill ride.

But with such a thrill ride, comes the threat of danger. One month ago, a terrible crash at a race the day before the Daytona 500 underscored the risk that fans and drivers take when they go out to the racetrack. One of the women who suffered broken bones from the crash described it as a “scene from a horror movie.” Not only have drivers and fans been injured at these events, but the specter of death is always present as well. The careers of some of NASCAR’s most promising drivers — such as Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr., and perhaps the sport’s most notable figure, Dale Earnhardt — have been cut short by deadly crashes on the race track.

The danger of a thrilling NASCAR race also tells us something about life. Many people go through life searching for thrills in many different ways: a whirlwind romance, getting high on drugs, the perfect marriage, an expensive vacation, promiscuous sexual activity, or a concert or sporting event that they eagerly look forward to.

All of these things may sound and be exciting, but they each come with their own risks and, on top of that, they don’t last forever. Whirlwind romances often end just as fast as they began. Drug highs never last, frequently turn into addictions, and often damage a person’s body beyond repair. All marriages have their share of troubles and difficulties, and many seemingly “perfect” marriages end in divorce. As much as we may like them to, vacations don’t last forever, and one always has to return to an often mundane everyday life. Illicit sexual activity leads to broken hearts, broken relationships, and sometimes sexually transmitted diseases. And a concert or sporting event, no matter how exciting while it is going on, always comes to an end.

After going through such experiences, we are often left wondering if there is anything in life that can permanently satisfy and fulfill our heart’s desires and our deepest longings. I’m here to tell you that there is. But such satisfaction and fulfillment is not found in events or in things. It is found in a person whose name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said, “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

+ Plus, listen to Tobymac singing “Made to Love”

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