Acts 16 live class audio

Paul Acts 16In Acts 16, Paul was back out “on the road”, obeying what the Lord had told him would be his future and destiny, “to bear my [Jesus’] name before the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15). (You can listen to our live class on Acts 16 here.)

Paul and his companions, first Barnabus and then later Silas, had already experienced severe, violent persecution in our earlier chapters. But in Acts 16, at one point they seemed to have a new dilemma: struggling to find the direction God was leading.

They were back in the area they’d been in before, what is today modern Turkey, and they were visiting regions they had been in before. But then it says, “They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” (Acts 16:6) OK, they might have said, “Let’s just head off this direction”. But then it says, “They attempted to go into Bithynia. But the Spirit did not allow them.” (Acts 16:7)

I don’t know about you but I think at this point they might have gotten confused or perhaps even angry or discouraged. “Jesus, we’re out here in virtual “enemy territory” and then everywhere we turn, your Holy Spirit keeps telling us no! What’s up, Jesus?

Probably they didn’t exactly say that or react that way but maybe it was a temptation. But it all turns out to be an incredible lesson on following the leading of God and God’s direct revelations. It says next, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A certain man of Macedonia stood, begging him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:10)come to Macedonia

That was it! That was why they weren’t supposed to go to those other places! So immediately they got going that new direction, on toward Macedonia and the beginning of Christianity on the continent of Europe.

God wanted them to go to the major cities and centers, rather than getting off somewhere in the boonies, which is what Bithynia, along the coast of the Black Sea, was in those days. He wanted them to win leaders and people He could raise up to reach their own people in their area. And that’s what happened.

The rest of the chapter is a classic example of the Lord opening doors for Paul and his friends as they “pioneer” a new city, Philippi. The Lord raised up new friends and converts who became disciples as well as hosts and helpers there for the disciples.

And it’s an example for modern missionaries of how you can find people at different levels of belief.Paul by the river It turns out that Paul and Silas met up with some women who came together by a riverside to worship. It says one woman in particular was touched by their witness, Lydia. This woman believed in God, but Paul and his friends were able to share with her the whole council of God. It’s a similar situation to the ones later in Acts 19:2, they knew the baptism of John but that’s all they knew and had heard about. In our Christian witnessing, quite often we find ones who know some about God, they believe some. But then the Lord brings you along so you can share with them truths from the Word and from the life of faith that they’ve never before seen or heard about.

And it seems that in nearly every chapter Paul and his companions are suffering one kind or another of physical persecution. Later in Acts 16, after casting out the spirit of divination from a young woman, her handlers were furious because their source of income had been ruined. So they caused a riot that made it so that Paul and Silas ended up in prison or jail again.

Paul and jailorAnd a famous salvation verse is found in this chapter. Paul’s jailor came to him after an earthquake in the night had opened the prison doors, and the jailer asked Paul, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

So Paul said, “Well first you have to get circumcised and keep the laws of Moses. You have to be accepted into a local synagogue and complete 50 years of training in the Talmud.”

Do you think Paul said that? Maybe he gave him a long lecture on his sins and a list of do’s and don’ts to keep? Nope. Here’s what Paul said to the man, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your house.” (Acts 16:30)

Mark! It’s all too easy! Come on, anybody can do that! The bar is too low, Mark!

I didn’t write this, I just read it and believe it. And actually, maybe that’s the whole point. The bar is low, it is easy and anybody can do that.

But sadly so many don’t. Their pride, their intellect, their own understanding, their upbringing, their background and a 1000 other things keep people from simply doing what Paul said to that man right then: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.

So it’s another wonderful chapter and we had a really inspiring class as we discussed these and other aspects of all this. I hope, if you get a chance, you can listen to the live class audio on Acts 16 which can be heard here. God bless you and yours as you witness and win souls for Him, like the ones of the Early Church did.

“Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection” (Salvation part 4)

Cancel subscription2-flattenedAfter the recent post I did about salvation, I got a very touching letter from a fellow missionary who wrote and asked what my thoughts were about some of her kids who were brought up as Christians but are now vocally anti-God. Here’s part of what she wrote:

I will never doubt my salvation… but I have questions about some of our kids. Some of them turned away from their beliefs about 10 years ago. One of our sons keeps “preaching” that God does not exist. He’s very intellectual and each time faith or God is mentioned in our home, he’s totally “off” in his comments. I wonder sometimes if he ever was really saved. It’s my understanding that Faith is a free gift of God BUT IT HAS TO BE RECEIVED, NO? He does not force it on us. Our son said a few times that he does not need a God that saves and has no need of salvation. You can imagine that we pray for him a lot. Our kids prayed the salvation prayer when they were young and then they followed in our footsteps. But a few abandoned their faith as teenagers. What do you think? Thanks for taking time to answer.



This is a huge, deeply sensitive, somewhat complicated question that hits closer to home than I care to say in a public post like this. I said in another post that I felt there’s a Scriptural foundation to believe that King Saul was saved. He was a failure in life but I think he was saved. But another major character from the same time period was a horse of a different color.

King David’s son Absalom was undoubtedly brought up in a Godly home by at least a Godly father, we know that much. But Absalom as an adult led a nearly successful rebellion against his father that was as powerful as anything David ever faced. There’s nothing in Scripture to indicate in any way that Absalom had any fear of God or anything other than an evil, unregenerate heart. I would guess that Absalom didn’t go to heaven. But he was raised by his father David, who obviously loved him very much.

In the picture at the top of this article I posted the words to a famous song from The Doors, one of the top rock groups of the late 1960’s. Jim Morrison sings, “Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection. Send my credentials to the house of detention. I’ve got some friends down there.” It’s a barely cryptic prayer to renounce any place he may have in heaven and that he be enrolled in Hell, where he has friends, he says.

What would God do with someone like that? I don’t think there are very many like that. But there are some. A few may even come from Godly families. Perhaps the most famous Satanist of the last 100 years is Aleister Crowley. And yet Crowley grew up in a family who were Plymouth Brethren in England, one of  the most “on fire” and dedicated avant-garde groups of their day, comparable to the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s. Crowley has become the most recognized face of Satanism. And yet he was exposed to a tremendous amount of faith and truth from the Scriptures when he was young.

Absalom, Jim Morrison, Aleister Crowley. It seems, very sadly, that at least in some cases there are those who never really received and embraced the light, love and truth they were surrounded with when they were young.

Prodical sonI believe ones like this are not a large group. I believe a larger group are just “prodigal sons” (Luke 15:11-32) who’ve gone away from the Father’s house but sooner or later come back or will come back. I know several like that of my children’s generation. Sometimes it’s God’s gentleness, love and goodness that at length wins these ones back.The-devil-and-hopelessness

At other times, like with what happened to me, it takes the virtually literal flames of hell, the presence of Satan and the imminent judgement of God to shock and frighten some people to turn from their foolishness and rebellion. You can read about my experience with that here.

The goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). “Turn, oh you backslidden children, for I am married unto you, says the Lord. And I will take you one of a city and two of a family and will bring you to Zion”. (Jeremiah 3:14) “God has ways that His banished be not expelled from Him”. (II Samuel 14:14) “Whether shall I go from Your Spirit, or whether shall I flee from Your presence? …If I make my bed in hell, behold You are there” (Psalms 139:7 & 8).

But some will say, “Mark, they say they don’t believe in Jesus anymore!” Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. If they are His, He goes out to find the sheep that was lost. (Luke 15:6) It even says in one place, “If we believe not, yet He remains faithful;, He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:12). “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (I Peter 1:5). “He that has begun a good work in you shall perform it to the end” (Philippians 1:6) . He is “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) .

I know some children of missionaries who departed from the faith for a while, really got down to business with God, came back and are now going strong for the Lord on distant mission fields. I know people in their thirties who are all out for the Lord on difficult fields while their former missionary parents have let their lamps burn so dim in their home countries that you’d hardly know they’re still Christians.

There are just so many different varieties of experiences in all this. Some do come back. Sometimes at the end of their lives. Some are going to go on to heaven with very little reward at all. But they’ll be there. One of the most amazing things I ever read was by a woman from over 100 years ago, Rebecca Springer. It was originally titled “Intra Muros” and you can find it on Amazon under the title “Within Heaven’s Gates”. She had a prolonged experience in heaven while she was very sick. In one experience there, she saw a mother reunited with her son in heaven. But, during their life on earth, the son had killed his mother. Yet he was in heaven.

It gets to be where some of this is just beyond our understanding at this time. I believe there are ones like Absalom who were brought up by Godly parents but it seems likely he went to hell because of his rejection of all the truth, righteousness and faith he was shown. Others are going to be there in heaven in “everlasting shame and contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Others are “prodigal sons” (Luke 15:11-32) who eventually come back. Others, many others, “follow afar off” (Luke 22:54). They retain some faith they were brought up with but keep their light “under a bushel” (Matthew 5:15) for much of their lives. And some do show their light and retain their faith but not at all in the manner of the discipleship they were brought up with.

Hurt so much-flattenedIt’s a very heartbreaking subject for the parents of these people. I know some moms who are so mistreated and verbally insulted to this day by their adult children who were brought up on the mission field with their humble Christian parents. It is a major cross these parents bear to endure the insults, taunts and humiliation their children pour out on them, even 20 years after their children left their faith and chose “the course of this world“. (Ephesians 2:2)

What can we say? What can we do? We can keep the faith; hold on to our crowns and pray for our loved ones who’ve turned away from their faith. It’s really not easy. It’s not a happy, pleasant subject. We don’t really know how this will turn out for each of our children. We do know that we serve a mighty, tremendously loving, tremendously able God who cares more about our kids that we do and is able to rescue all who will be rescued and in some cases even those who seem to not want to be rescued.

But we can’t be utterly sure that simply because they were born into a Christian home, that they themselves will be Christians and saved. God has no grandchildren.

Every one of us must give an account of himself unto God”. (Romans 14:12)

Lose salvation? (Salvation part 3)

Will I be saved flattened2Do I really want to write an article about this? Wouldn’t be safer to stick with simpler, less controversial subjects like the second coming of Jesus, abortion rights and if there’s apartheid in the Middle East? Nah, lest go for the big one here; let’s talk about losing your salvation.

First, a story to illustrate a point. The 30th President of the United States was Calvin Coolidge, affectionately know as “Silent Cal” because he so often said so little. Coming out of church one Sunday the President was surrounded by reporters, looking for a story. “Mr. President, what did the preacher preach about?!” they asked. “Sin”, replied the President in his typical fashion. Not satisfied, the reporters pressed Coolidge, “Well, what did he say about it?” “He was against it,” replied the President.

How do I feel about losing your salvation? I’m against it. In fact, (gulp), I’ll even say that I don’t think you can lose your salvation. And with that, I’m certain that there will be those who let the dogs out at that statement.  Because this subject really fires people up.

I feel that if you are saved, you can’t lose your salvation. I’ve never found an example in the Bible where it clearly states that someone has lost his salvation. Let’s take a few examples. King Saul at one point was really a man of God and even got prophecies from Him. When he was “little in his own sight” (I Samuel 15:17), God highly exalted him. But he ended up becoming one of the biggest failures in the Bible. “The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” (I Samuel 16:14)

But did Saul go to hell? The night before Saul’s death on the battle field, he was so distraught that he turned to what must have been a witch or sorcerer in order to try to get back in contact with his old friend and mentor, Samuel. And the Bible says this even happened. But the news wasn’t good. Samuel told Saul, communicating to him from the spiritual world, “tomorrow shall you and your sons be with me”. (I Samuel 28:19) We certainly don’t think that Samuel was in hell. So if Saul was going to be with him the next day, then he would be with him in heaven, not hell. Con-tro-verse-ial!

But there’s more. This is not for delicate ears but we can look in the New Testament and I Corinthians 5. Paul needed to try to deal with a rather detestable subject that had come up with the Corinthians, “that a man should have his father’s wife” (I Corinthians 5:1). Evidently that had happened in the church there. Did Paul say the man had lost his salvation? No. He said they should “deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Corinthians 5:5) Again the call is salvation, even for such a sin as that.

John336Several verses in the book of John or in I John also point this direction of “once saved, always saved”. John 3:36 says, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life…” It doesn’t say they will have, they may have, they someday might have, it says they have, present tense. If you have eternal life, you can’t lose it, otherwise it wouldn’t be eternal. And in I John 5:13, it says, “These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Certainty-and-peaceNot hope, not think, not wonder about. Know. That’s a strong word, much stronger than “believe” is in English nowadays. When you know something, it’s finished, it’s done, it’s certain. And that brings to mind two blog posts I’ve written which might be similar to this, one about “Certainty” and the other which is in many ways about Salvation, “The Seed and The Egg”.

Yes, I know there are a number of verses some people hold on to in their belief that someone can lose there salvation. I just feel there are far more verses that say you can’t lose it, if you have it. You may end up in heaven without much of any reward, you may have squandered your life and the grace of God that was shown you on earth in this life. You may have quite a lot of tears that will need to be wiped away in heaven, you may even be in “everlasting shame and contempt” (Daniel 12:2) on the other side for all that you could have done and said here on earth that you never did. But I don’t believe someone will lose their salvation. They’ll be there in heaven, but like the old farmers in the South used to say, “with a long row to hoe.”

“But Mark…!” (Salvation part 2)

must work hard-flattenedBut, Mark! Salvation couldn’t be that easy! Mark, there are millions of people who go to church and aren’t saved! The churches make it so easy for them and tell them they are saved so they just stop any desire for progress in their lives! They live their lives in sin and think it doesn’t matter because of what the churches teach, “once saved, always saved!”

Whew! What do you say to folks who say this? Are they totally wrong on all counts? You know they aren’t. But the solution isn’t to teach that we have to keep struggling throughout our lives to somehow, at the end, to have earned and won salvation. That just isn’t the teaching of the New Testament.

It does go against some element in our nature that salvation could just be a free gift. It just seems like a part of the natural world that we should have to do something to earn God’s grace. But a study of God’s Word in the New Testament shows that this is actually how it is. “It is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8 & 9). This is a recurrent theme of the writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

“But Mark! If it’s free, then they won’t appreciate it. There will be no incentive to do good! What about all the admonitions to live a righteous life? What about the Ten Commandments? So many Christians are just spiritually fat and lazy because of what you are teaching!

rewards in heaven-flattenedHere’s a big factor in this. While salvation and eternal life are free gifts through the sacrifice of Jesus, our rewards and recompense in that eternal life to come are highly contingent on what we do with the salvation He’s given us. You talk about all those weak, lazy, often stunted Christians you may see in church?  I have friends who have told me that they think only 3% of the people that we go to church with are saved. And I go to a pretty strongly Bible-believing church.

I personally think that percentage of saved folks at that church is a lot higher than that. But what are those folks doing with their lives? Are theylaying up treasures in heaven”? (Matthew 6:19) Or just accumulating things in this world? Are they really growing in the Lord? Are they really feeding His sheep? Are they withholding or scattering abroad? “He that withholds, it tends to poverty, but he that scatters abroad it increases.” (Proverbs 11:24) How much time do they spend watching worldly, sickening, foolish, Satanic TV every single day? How much time do they spend witnessing and winning souls, or sharing Bible classes with those who need it? How much are they really supporting missionaries abroad who are winning souls?

Treasures-on-earthLet’s face it, millions of Christians are “living in sin” every day! They think that “living in sin” refers to something sexual. So they may have real pure sexual lives and still be “wasting their substance in riotous living” (luke 15:13) by following “the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2) and not really a path of discipleship in the Lord.

These are all things that will be part of their reward, or lack thereof in the hereafter. I’ll tell you of a somewhat unknown but extremely significant verse, slightly controversial. In Daniel 12:2, it talks about the resurrection of the saints at the coming of the Lord. Here’s what it says, “…some raised to everlasting life, and some raised to shame, and everlasting contempt.

I believe some folks are going to be saved and go to heaven. But like it says about “He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelatoin 21:4), some are going to have a lot of tears to wipe away when they see all they could have done in this world, but didn’t do, all the love they could have shown, all the witnessing they could have done to share their faith with others. But they didn’t. All the time they spent in frivolous worldly affairs to the neglect of God and His will and His sheep. Some are going to be in heaven but not much more than that. Very little if any reward.

So I personally believe that God “who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the acknowledging of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4)  is going to see and recognize faith in His son in many people. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13) . But sadly, for very many people, very many, they are like folks who never grow in their lives beyond the mental age of perhaps 5 years old. They never grow up spiritual beyond early childhood. They remain children and sometimes little children in their spiritual lives for their entire Christian life. Because they were saved but that’s about as far as they went. This of course is heartbreaking. Some seem to almost never know there is anything else. Their churches and pastors don’t challenge them to discipleship but are content to just let their members drift along in the lowlands of spirituality.

There’s just a vast work to be done to mentor, disciple, teach and admonish the immense numbers of people who say they are Christians, believe they are Christians but so often don’t really know for sure as they just don’t know the Word. Many just are content to stay where they are. Some of these would make progress if they were shown how.

What about salvation?

Prodical son pictureYou can hardly think about or talk about a bigger subject than salvation. If there is anything at the heart of the New Testament, it would be the subject of salvation. And yet it is another of the almost endless things that believers disagree on. And I’ve found, since being back here in the States for the last 4 years or so, that it’s a very divisive issue among Christians here.

When the Jesus Movement folks witnessed to me back in the ‘70’s, they could tell I already believed in God because I hitchhiked across Texas to find them and I had a Bible with me. I believed in God, but I didn’t know who Jesus was. So they simply asked me, “Are you going to heaven?” I said, “Well, if my good is more than my bad, I will. But if my bad is more than my good, I won’t.

I was really surprised when they didn’t agree and promptly started sharing the plan of salvation with me, something I’d never heard of before. my gift-flattenedThey showed me Ephesians 2:8 & 9. “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” They said that salvation was a gift of God, not something that you could work for.

And of course they showed me the most important verse in the Bible, that sums up the whole thing, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” And there were other verses, these folks really knew the Word.

They showed me “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:23). One verse that really impacted me was John 1:12.As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.

So they told me that I needed to receive Jesus and they showed me Revelation 3:20, another classic clincher, door of your heartBehold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” They strongly told me that Jesus was knocking at the door of my heart and wanted to come in, that I needed to receive Him. I did and it totally changed my life.

Does everyone have to have the exact same experience as me? Of course not. Many people are brought up in a Christian home and sometimes never remember a time when they didn’t believe in the Lord. But it’s one heck of a big subject as to whether or not some people are saved and if they are saved, if they can then loose their salvation. Some feel that there are millions of people who go to church and go through the motions but that they are not really saved. I’m sure that there are people who go to church who don’t really know what it’s about. I’ve met some who told me that this had happened to them. They said that, after 10 years or more of going to church, they actually got down to business with God and that’s when they got saved.

So thats salvation-flattenedI think a lot of people just don’t really know what it’s all about and they really waver about their salvation. Some large denominations have become so wishy-washy about their teachings that they hardly even teach or preach salvation anymore. So one thing that all of us who know the Lord and know the Word can do for folks like that is to just go through the plan of salvation with them.

It’s not an emotion, it’s not a ceremony. It’s belief. A great verse about salvation is Romans 10:9 & 10. It’s a little complicated but it says it well. “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness. And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Do they believe that God raised Jesus from the dead? Do they say that? Then according to that verse they are saved. Paul said to his jailors, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.” (Acts 16:31) So often with these things, the Bible time and time again boils it down to faith, belief. That’s the essence, the essential of Salvation. But many people don’t have the assurance of salvation because no one has ever really gotten down to business with them and showed them His plan from the Word. I think many people are saved through faith in Him. But they just don’t know it or are certain of it through the Word.

Whew, big subject. I think I may have to write some more on this. But this is a start.

The parable of the Seed and the Egg

The seed and the eggA verse that’s always been interesting to me is where it says, “The seed is the Word of God”. (Luke 8:11). And since we know that Jesus is the Word, made flesh, then we can see Jesus as “the Seed”. But what are the eggs? We are.

Jesus is The Seed. We are the eggs.

I was having an impromptu Bible class with some young Christians who’d just come to the faith many years ago when, out of nowhere, this class came to me to share with them. If Jesus is the Seed, we are the eggs. Every human being in this world comes into this world in a condition that could be compared to an unfertilized egg.

An unfertilized egg is either going to go one way or the other. Within its nature is the possibility to get fertilized. If it is fertilized, all that potential that’s within it is realized. And it goes on to be all that it ever could be, a completely “new creature” and it continues the process of life that it’s a part of.

egg in nestBut if an egg doesn’t get fertilized, what happens? Sooner or later the time is up for that egg. It is cast out. The life process ends. All that potential, all that possibility that’s within it doesn’t come to fruition because it never received the seed it needed to continue the life process.

Salvation for a Christian involves, in a sense, a fertilization.As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12) Immediately we begin to become “new creatures in Christ Jesus, old things past away and all things become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

Have you ever seen one of those documentaries that show the instant when a sperm enters an egg? Almost immediately, immediately things begin to change. The egg isn’t really an egg anymore and the sperm isn’t a sperm. They “become one”. No more sperms can get in. And a process starts that begins a totally new life from the combination of the seed and the egg.

That’s how salvation is. When we receive Jesus, we are born again. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) And while there’s that moment when life starts when the seed enters the egg, there’s also an ongoing process, after that, of growth from just a tiny embryo to the full and complete being, ready to be born.

Even though we may have received the Lord years ago, we’re still growing (or should be) in Him. “He that has begun a good work in us will complete it to the end”. (Philippians 1:6)

But if we’re just an unfertilized egg, we’re very incomplete. And, so often, we know it. We just feel that something is missing. Many “unfertilized egg” kind of people can wax philosophical and sound very intellectual. They can be very self-realized eggs. But they’re still incomplete, unfertilized. They may seem to really have a lot of answers. But still, at their deepest point, they sense their hopelessness and finiteness.

So many of those kinds are disdainful of the promises of God’s Word. They’re dismissive and mocking of the promise of eternal life through receiving the Seed, Jesus. It’s all too simple for them; it’s beneath them, it’s not intellectual enough.

But it’s there all the time. The enlightenment, the completion, the fulfillment, the release that they’ve been missing can be found. They can be “translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Colossians 1:13), into a new and endless universe of light and love, answers and restoration, the fulfillment of more than they’ve ever dreamed of.

But the egg has to be willing to no longer be an egg. If it receives the Seed, it won’t be an egg anymore. It will have accepted the Seed. But if it doesn’t, sooner or later is comes to its end and is cast out. Forever.

What is hell?

What is hell? It’s an egg that has been cast out, having never received the seed. Like the verse that says, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart.”(Psalm 95:7 & 8)

God somehow gave me experiences that were very much like what it must feel like for an egg to have been cast out of its place forever. Never having done what it was planned for. No longer within the cycle of life, with the potential to be something more than it was.

I was in eternity, but alone. I’d missed the boat and there was no way back. Ever. No hope, no truth, no life, no understanding. Just confusion and fear, no longer any opportunity to ever again make things right. An unfertilized egg, cast out forever.

Jesus in heart-flattenedThank God He somehow had mercy on me in the lowest hell and showed me the truths of the spiritual world enough that I could choose Him and, months later, His Son.

Don’t remain an unfertilized egg. Receive the Seed. Realize your potential by getting with the program our Creator has designed for our eternal happiness.

Right now, for us fertilized eggs, “Our lives are hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) But the day will come for each of us that we will pass out of this stage of our existence. We each will “die”. But it actually will be more like a birth at last into the eternal world of the spirit, where in some ways we live already. We are right now already “sit down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

At our death, we will not be cast out into infinite, eternal nothingness and incompleteness. We will find ourselves “complete in Him”  (Colossians 2:10) in the eternal world of the spirit, with “the Father of Spirits” (Hebrews 12:9), God Himself, and His dear Son, Who came and died for us, rose in victory from the dead, and has given us life through Him, the Seed, to do the same.

God Is Light

God is LightI was 21 years old in Houston, Texas.  It was a cold day in early February and I’d hitchhiked there to try to find some “Jesus People” I’d read about in the newspaper. The article said they believed in God and in Jesus and in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

I’d believed in God for several months but I just couldn’t figure out who Jesus was. I’d read all the way through the Bible and I could see that Jesus was really important but I just couldn’t figure it out. I’d gone to some churches but no one really talked to me and it just didn’t seem to have any reality to it, although I knew they taught and believed the Bible.

I found those young Christians and they asked me, “Are you going to heaven?” I told them, “Well, if my good is more than my bad, I’ll go to heaven. But if my bad is more than my good, I won’t.” They didn’t agree.

They showed me, “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 & 9). And they just kept showing me verses from the Bible. I’d never had anyone do that before and they knew them well. They showed me this one, “But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

Actually they were showing me a lot of Bible verses and I didn’t understand them all. But I could see they were really full of them and they had a strength and convictionRevelation 3-20 I sure didn’t have, even though most of them were younger than me. Another verse that I did understand was Revelation 3:20 which is where Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. [they told me that was the door to my heart] If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him…

Towards the evening, while they were having a Bible study, the conviction of the Lord just came upon me so strongly and I raised my hand and told them right then that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart. So I went out into the middle of the room and they prayed with me to receive Jesus.

Were there lightenings, thunders and a great earthquake when that happened? No. I’d already had quite a lot of experiences that had helped to prepare me for even being able to get to the place where I could receive the Lord. So it was sort of a quiet (new) birth for me right then. But I still didn’t really know who Jesus was. I stayed with these folks for a few days and maybe two days later I asked one of them, “But who is Jesus?” So they showed me the famous passage from John chapter 1 and that really, really changed my life.

John 1:1 says this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then the 14th verse says, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And they said, “That’s who Jesus is. He is the Word. He was with God in heaven and He came to earth, died for us, rose from the dead and will return some day.

The impact this had on me was virtually indescribably. I’d had no idea of this or at least it had never dawned on me at all before that. I guess you could say that I said in my heart right then, “There are two of Them! God isn’t up there by Himself. Jesus is there with God and was there before and will always be!

desperate prayer-flattenedImmediately I excused myself and went quickly to an empty room to pray. I prayed about as desperately as I ever have, pouring out my heart to, not only God, but to Jesus this time, for the first time. I don’t know how long I prayed but, back in those days, my life was in such shambles that I seemed to have to pray like that somewhat often.

At the end, when I sort of “came back down”, after I’d felt like I’d come before the throne of God and of Jesus, I found that I was surrounded by my friends there who’d been praying for me as I prayed. And then one of them shared a verse with me that has always stuck with me. “This then is the record which we have heard of God and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5)

God is light. No darkness. I had in my past known so much darkness in so many forms. But now I’d come to the light. There was so, so much that still needed to be washed and cleansed from my mind and even heart. But I had been brought to, and had found, the Light. It’s like the verse that sums up the salvation experience that millions have had, “Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated up into the Kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13 & 14)

Angel Story 1: Lucifer and the White Moths

Angel Story 1 main pic-flattenedThe first experience I had with an angel is one I probably won’t relate right here and now. It was the most traumatic and basically indescribable. Sadly but righteously, it was with Lucifer. He came to claim me, as was his right at that point in my life. I won’t relate it all here as it is not easy to describe or explain but I’ll try to do that sometime in a post or a video.

But that experience when I was 20 was I suppose the pinnacle experience of my life. The Bible talks about “some saved by fire” (Jude 23), that is certainly true with me. Or like Jesus said of Thomas, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed.” (John 20:29) A lot of things are not as much “by faith” for me because the Lord somehow let me see things so I sometimes feel like Thomas in the Bible. Some people in life-after-death experiences have an angel of God come and take them to heaven. It is such an incredibly wonderful experience that often they really don’t even want to come back to this world. In my case it was the opposite. But more about that at another time.

Fundamentally, categorically, absolutely that changed my life. At that moment when I struggled with every iota of soul and spirit I had within me just to not be taken from my body, I said in my mind, “If this is real, then there’s supposed to be the opposite of this. There is supposed to be a God of Love, a God of Truth and Light.” So I “prayed” at that moment to the God of the Bible to help me not die right then. I put “prayed” in quotation marks there because we so often think of prayer as a subdued religious ceremony, with our eyes closed and our hands folded. My prayer back then was from the deepest place of my existence, with every ounce of meaning I had in me.

I didn’t die and go with the devil to hell then. I couldn’t sleep for 3 days because I didn’t have the faith to sleep. I didn’t know what would happen to me if I went to sleep. But gradually, very gradually some sense of normalcy came back to my life. But it had changed, utterly. Paul, speaking of how God delivers people from Satan said “Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13)

For me, I wasn’t even there yet. I heard someone say one time about great sculptors, when they’re going to make a statue, the first just start off with a big chunk of rock. Whack! They knock off one big piece. Whack! There goes another chunk. For me, it took quite a few whacks before I was even ready to become a Christian. First and biggest was just getting me to understand that there is a real, true, spiritual world. Seeing Satan and being drawn out of your body by him for your eternal damnation will do a lot to destroy your unbelief.

But there were other angels. And I think I’m going to try to make some kind of rating system for all this. Angels are not always, not even usually, 10 feet tall with white robes and big wings. I’ve never seen one of those. And some things are supernatural but you don’t see the angels involved although you know they must be there.

Here’s one like that. This event with Lucifer took place in a tiny efficiency apartment near the University of Texas campus. It was so traumatic and all consuming that I remained in something of a condition or state for a few days where the spiritual world was closer to being my real world than this physically one we all usually consider “the real world”.

But a somewhat lesser or minor thing that happened at that time was that one evening, probably 2 days after these huge events, I was in my bathroom. And it filled up with maybe 100 tiny white moths or butterflies. They were very benign and non threatening and I remember at that time that they seemed like angels or that perhaps God had allowed this to happen in the physical to represent what had happened in the spiritual. It says of Jesus, “Then the devil departed from Him and angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:11) I didn’t know that verse as I didn’t know any verse in the Bible at that time. But I felt all those little white fluttering insects were symbolic of angels who’d come to be with me after I’d turned from my evil ways and had chosen the God of Abraham rather than the devil.

Bottom line for this first story: it was definitely an angel, just the wrong kind and the wrong one. He’d been allowed by God to come and claim my soul after I’d gone so far away from the truth and the light. As for the little white moths or butterflies, they weren’t angels. But God allowed them there right then to be a symbolic sign of the beginning of my altered spiritual condition.

The end of the world?

A Russian friend of mine has had many people asking him about “the end of the world”. He asked if I could write a small tract on this subject which he could give to others. Here’s what I sent him.

EndoftheWorldart-flattenedHave you heard people talking about the end of the world? Lots of people said it was supposed to happen on December 21, 2012. It had something to do with the calendar of some South American Indians, the Mayas. But then nothing happened. So there’s nothing to worry about, right?

Well, if you look at the world today, politically, economically or environmentally, there certainly seems to be a lot to be concerned about, even to seriously worry about. But, really, “the end of the world?”

If you have faith in the God of Abraham — the God of the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims — then you can know from the prophets that God doesn’t say there’s going to really be an “end of the world” in the way some people say or the way some movies portray it.

On the other hand, the Bible certainly predicts a future awesome ending of this age that will bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. And from the way the Bible describes those events, it could certainly almost seem like the end of the world. Because, as Jesus Himself and the prophet Daniel described that future time, it will be “a time of trouble such as was not since the beginning of the world.” Matthew 24:21, Daniel 12:1.

It will be a time of great, even horrific trouble. But it won’t be the end of the earth and mankind. That’s what the Bible prophets have predicted for the end of this age. And, strangely, the Koran has similar things to say about a future time like this.

To go into all the details right here is not possible. But of the many specific signs that are predicted to happen just before this mighty change, there are a couple of things that you could look out for. The New Testament says that in the last 3½ years before the return of Jesus to rule the earth, a demon possessed dictator will come to power who will attempt to rule the whole world. In the last 100 years we’ve seen some of the most powerful, deadly dictators in all history. These men have savagely ruled empires and been responsible for the deaths of 10’s of millions of people. But this dictator to come will be worse than them all and will ultimately demand that all the people of the world worship him. See II Thessalonians 2:3&4, Revelation 13:5-8

Another thing is clearly predicted. In the final days before the return of Jesus, this world dictator, that the Bible calls the AntiChrist, will bring in a new world political and economic order. Part of this will have to do with an economic system requiring some kind of implant or chip that links all people into a central system of control. The Bible predicts that “no man could buy or sell unless they have this mark in their hand or forehead.” See Revelations 13:16 & 17.

But this time of “great tribulation” that will last 3½ years will be followed by the return of Jesus to separate those who believe in Him from those who’ve followed the satanic AntiChrist. The Bible says that God will pour out for a brief time His wrath on the earth to cleanse it and to destroy the evil and decadence that has been so built up. But after that, Jesus and His followers will establish His kingdom on earth and rule over those who survived on earth into this heavenly time.

What about you? You might think like so many do, “Aw, everything’s going to be ok. That’s not going to happen in my lifetime.” Maybe so, maybe not. There are so many signs right now and things could easily move into these very final days almost at any time.

But the truly safest and wisest thing to do, no matter what happens, is to have a personal relationship with the One who God sent to save us from whatever happens in our lifetimes. That of course is Jesus of Nazareth who came to earth as a man, even though He was the Son of God who’d been with God from all eternity. His death and resurrection made it so that we can be restored to fellowship with God and with Jesus.

You may not understand it all but you can experience it by praying a short prayer right now. “Dear Jesus. I need your love and power within me. Please come into my heart, forgive me of my sins and give me the new life you promised you would give to those who call on You.”

If you prayed that, He promised He would answer. He said “If any man hear My voice and open the door (to your heart) I will come in to them.” Revelation 3:20. It’s the beginning of a new life, an eternal life. So whatever may come on this earth, you’ll be one of God’s children and He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5