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GLMX #165: “The Truth Works”

 

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When the last season of ABC’s popular show “Scandal” ended, viewers were left wondering who had leaked Olivia Pope’s affair with the president. When the third season premiered this week, the famed “fixer” was at the center of her own scandal. As Pope comes up with a plan to face the American public regarding the revelations about her own life, the president suggests that they just tell the truth. After a pause, Olivia says, “the truth works.”

Perhaps, some of us can identify being in a situation such as the one Olivia finds herself in — having done something wrong, and now trying to figure out what to do about it. Of course, there is one part of us that does not want to tell the truth about our own wrongdoings. We fear that others may not like us any more. We fear that we will lose favor and support. However, if we remember that old saying, “honesty is the best policy,” we will realize the benefits of telling the truth even on ourselves.

The truth works because it sets us free. The Bible tells us that we are lost in our sins and that without the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can never get free from the bondage of sin. If we are unwilling to admit our wrongdoing, we can never gain forgiveness, healing, and redemption.

Sometimes, we tend to think that we are better than other people because their problems happen to be in the public eye. However, the truth is, we have our own set of sins that we must deal with. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Even Olivia Pope, whose job it is to fix other people’s problems, has problems of her own.

How we deal with our sins will determine not only our relationships with others, but will also determine our relationship with the most important person in the universe — God, the one who created us. In dealing with people, and in dealing with God, we find that the truth works.

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

GLMX #164: The Affordable Care Act, Life, Death, and an Insurance that is Free and Guaranteed

 

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Obamacare. Some people celebrate it. Some people hate it. Its official name is the Affordable Care Act. And, this week, it was once again the subject of much debate.

The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure essential health benefits are extended to all Americans. Its major provisions are scheduled to roll out in January 2014. A health insurance market place has already been created in which citizens “shop” for the health insurance plan that is right for them. There are four levels to choose from: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Those who don’t have insurance by January 1 will be charged $95 or 1% of their income.

No matter how much insurance one has, nothing can ensure that you will never get sick. Not even daily exercise and eating right can prevent you from falling ill. And, if you do get sick, the Affordable Care Act — at the platinum level — will only pay up to 90% of your hospital bill. Even though health insurance reform was passed with good intentions — to make sure everyone has access to affordable healthcare — it is not a perfect plan. Some politicians even feel it is an extraordinarily bad idea and are working to have it repealed so that it will not take effect on January 1, 2014.

I want to tell you about something that you can be insured against — death. No, I am not just talking about having the money to pay for funeral costs. I am talking about overcoming death all together. In fact, you can know what will happen after you die with far more certainty than you can know what will happen if and when you get sick.

It’s not insurance I’m talking about. It’s assurance. The word “assurance” means “confidence or certainty.” A word of assurance is a promise.

Jesus Christ gave us words of assurance in John 8:51. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” He also said in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

+ Plus, listen to CeCe Winans singing “Blessed Assurance”

GLMX #163: From the Navy Yard to Nairobi: Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

 

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If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you will know that the past two weeks have been filled with terrible, chaotic events.

In Colorado, what experts called a once-in-a-thousand-years flooding event caused by torrential rains swept away roads and bridges, isolated towns, killed people, destroyed 1,500 homes, and at one point, left 1,200 people unaccounted for.

Mexico also experienced terrible flooding, as both coasts of the country were hit simultaneously — in the east by Hurricane Ingrid, and in the west by Tropical Storm Manuel. The resort town of Acapulco was cut off by floodwaters; landslides blocked the main highway leading from the city; hotels had to ration out food and water; 40,000 tourists were trapped with no way to get home; and 55 people lost their lives in the disaster.

This week, Japan was also hit by a major typhoon which forced 400,000 people to evacuate their homes, left two people dead, and hundreds more injured.

And how can those of us in America, and particularly those in Washington D.C., forget how this past week began. Residents of the nation’s capital were just getting into the groove of their work-week when we heard the news that a gunman had opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard — which is supposed to be one of the most secure locations in the country — less than three miles from the White House and the Capitol. Sadly, that situation ended with 12 innocent people being killed and eight more wounded.

On Thursday, 13 people, including several children, were wounded in a drive-by shooting at a park in Chicago. Chicago continues to have the highest homicide rate of any city in the United States. This week alone, 5 people were killed and 23 people were injured.

And on Saturday, Muslim gunmen from an extremist group in Somalia opened fire at a popular mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Over a thousand people who were out shopping and enjoying their weekend fled the mall, but at last count, nearly 60 had been killed and over 170 were wounded.

Those are just the events that garnered major media coverage. There are countless other tragedies that happen every day that don’t receive the glare of the cameras and that don’t affect as many people, but are just as heartbreaking. For example, the five children who all died in a fire at a house in Ohio, or the fourteen-year-old Georgia girl who was kidnapped by robbers who decided to take her because her family didn’t have any money for them to steal.

When we look around at these calamities, these tragedies, that happen in the world, it is easy to see why people are worried, anxious, and afraid. It is easy to see why people are searching for peace and stability in the midst of these chaotic events. We ask, How can I be peaceful? How can I be joyful? How can I not fall into depression?

Well, Jesus Christ gave several promises to His disciples that speak to this very issue.

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

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”