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Don’t Torture Me Jesus!

by on May.06, 2018, under Hope

This has to be one of the oddest things ever said to Jesus.  After all, who really thinks the Son of God is going to torture someone?  Does someone think Jesus is going to water board them until they decide to follow him?  But a man really did ask this of Jesus. 

He had a hard life.  He was a social outcast, cried himself to sleep, and cut himself with stones.  He was battling so many demons that they called him Legion.  He met Jesus one day, and he is the one who asked Jesus not to torture him.  Jesus was calling on the demons to come out of Legion.  He was going to set him free.  And Legion’s answer was to ask Jesus not to torture him.

I wonder if someone had promised him things before.  Told him they would be his friend, promised to help, or assured him that they could help him change his life.  Only for Legion to find out they were empty promises.  He must have felt hopeless and helpless. 

But not Jesus.  He did what he promised.  He set the man free from his demons.  Changed his life forever.

Maybe you understand this story because you have lived parts of it yourself.  You may have battles and struggles in your life.  You may understand what it means to feel hopeless and helpless.  You may have even had people promise to help.  But all they offered was false hope.  Nothing changed and no one helped.

Jesus is not like that.  He does change lives.  He does not offer false hope.  He is not torturing you with empty promises.

The reason we Christians are so certain of this is because we have seen it.  He has changed our lives and we have seen him change lives in our communities of faith.

You can read about Legion in your Bible.  His story is in the book of Mark, chapter five.  Jesus helped then and he helps now. 

Hope for the hopeless and help for the helpless.

  steve


” ‘How weak-willed you are, declaraes the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute! (Ezekiel 16:30)

by on Apr.27, 2018, under Hope

Why do we act exactly the opposite of who we say we want to be?  It is a matter of will.  Decide who you want to be and act on it.


Stand against death

by on Apr.01, 2018, under Hope

The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is one of the largest in the world. The upper deck of the bridge spans almost 3 miles across the river. When the bridge was completed in 1968, it was the longest such bridge in the world.

But the bridge has become famous for something else: suicides. A 2006 study showed that there had been over 2000 suicides since the opening of the bridge. That’s an average of about one per week!

One man has tried to do something about it. Chen Si is a manager in a transport company. He spends his free time walking the bridge, watching for the despondent, and trying to prevent them from jumping to their death.

He’s been successful more than 300 times. Yet he says that it’s not his successes he remembers, but the people he couldn’t save. Some people are so determined to end their lives that, even after Chen stops them, they insist on jumping when he is not watching.

Suicide is not the answer. We were born to live, not to die. Jesus came to this earth to eliminate despair and replace it with hope. The book of Hebrews says:

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14–15)

What Chen does is what we should all do: rescue others from death. More than that, we need to turn them toward life, eternal life. We need to help them to see that through Jesus, they can live forever.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Go toward life and not death. Give your life to Jesus. Put your faith in Him, turn your back on sin, be buried with Him in baptism, and live a new life for God.

Would you be like Chen? Would you save people from death? Would you dare to do even more: turn them to eternal life? Tell others the good news. There is hope. There is life.

Turn them back from death and destruction. There is life in Jesus and only in Jesus.


He Built a Robot and then He Married Her (It?)

by on Mar.04, 2018, under Hope

Zheng Jiajia is an artificial intelligence expert from Japan.  He was evidently unable to find a suitable mate (or could not find love) so he built a humanoid robot.  And then married her, or it.  Or whatever.  He programmed his robot so speak some rudimentary sentences and has plans to upgrade her eventually so she can walk and do basic household chores.  And the robot has a name — Yingying.  Or would that be Yingying Jiajia?

Maybe you understand some of the feelings that drive this story.  Life does not always turn out like you envisioned.  Broken relationships, economic hardships, addictions, and no meaning for your existence.  It is enough to make you wish you could create the life you want. 

But you may also have enough life experience to realize some of the problems with this approach.  Is it really a relationship if there is no free will involved?  What happens if Yingying becomes obsolete?  What if she breaks down and he cannot fix her?  If things do not go like he envisioned, does anyone do robot marriage counseling?

Has Mr. Jiajia really found the love that he did not find in the real world?

And if you have lived very long, you have learned that is not really possible to construct a life that will be exactly what you want.  Real life gets in the way.  You may realize that what you thought you wanted was not in fact what you really needed. 

I think I know the answer.  Someone created me.  He knows exactly how I work and what I need.  He not only wants what is best for me, but can help me have that life.  He is God the Creator, and He loves me. 

All He asks is that I love Him back.  My choice.  Free will.

You can choose to have the life you were made to live.

 


Out of the fog

by on Feb.04, 2018, under Hope

It was a Christmas Day soccer match between Charlton and Chelsea. Soon after the match began, a thick fog rolled in, making it impossible to play. The match was cancelled, and all of the players returned to the locker rooms.

All except Sam Bartram. The goalkeeper for Charlton stayed at his post, watching vigilantly for any balls that might come his way. He was happy as could be, supposing that the lack of activity on his end of the field meant that his teammates were having their way with their opponents.

Bartram noticed that the game was unusually quiet, but he kept waiting for someone to show up to let him know how the match was going. Finally, someone did. A policeman showed up out of the fog and asked, “What are you doing here? The game was called off 15 minutes ago!”

Do you know what’s going on? Are you really informed about what life is all about? Or are you standing in the fog, hoping that the lack of catastrophes signifies that all is well?

Jesus once said:

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39)

He also said,

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

There’s one way to be certain that you are seeing everything that needs to be seen: walk in the light. Walk in the light of Jesus. Let him show you the way. You’ve stood in the fog long enough. Come let him show you the light.


Too Good to Be True

by on Jan.07, 2018, under Hope

Almost every day I get exciting news in my email inbox.  Thousands and thousands of dollars waiting for me to claim.  Easy weight loss that will make me look years younger.  Hundreds of women in Eastern Europe that evidently wish to marry me.  Fantastic deals on real estate.

But as one of my relatives used to say, “If it sounds too good to be true… it is.” 

No money waiting, pounds don’t just melt away, and true love is not just an email away.  They are scams, come-ons, phishing messages, and are designed to trick you into giving up your money for nothing.  Do a little research into the people that have tried to take advantage of this so-called good news.  All they found were false hope and bitter disappointment.

Some things really are too good to be true.

Except for those things that are not.

Hope, peace, joy, and purpose for your life here and then eternal life.

Those are promises God has made to you that sound too good to be true.  After all, who wouldn’t like to have peace in a world of conflict and strife.  Or hope in a world that can seem so hopeless.  How about joy in a dark world of pain and suffering.  Who wouldn’t like to have a reason to get up in the morning knowing that what they are about to do that day really will make a difference.  And wouldn’t you want to live forever?

But that sounds too good to be true.  So check it out.  Ask some of us who have taken advantage of the promises God has made about life.  We have found out they really are true.  Listen to our stories. 

You will not hear of broken promises and dreams that turned into nightmares.  Instead, you will hear of lives that really did find peace, joy, hope, and purpose.

You can find those same things. 

And we want to help show you how. 

Just ask.

Blessings,

steve


Baby Jesus Is Not Jesus Lite

by on Dec.03, 2017, under Hope

Baby Jesus is everywhere this time of year.  He is in Nativity scenes and live mangers.  He is a baby doll here and a live baby there.  He is the center of children plays and Christmas stories.  Away in a Manger and Joy to the World.  Christmas songs everyone knows that were written about baby Jesus.

Babies are cute, sweet, and cuddly.  Baby Jesus is no exception.  For many people, baby Jesus is Jesus lite.  You know, all the fun without all the difficult stuff.  Tastes good but no calories.  And that is the way many people want to see Jesus.  Christmas and baby Jesus is not near as intense as Easter with all that talk of dying and resurrection.

But do not be fooled by baby Jesus.  He is not the sanitized version of the Son of God.  Here is why…

Baby Jesus grew up.  He died.  And he was raised from the dead.  That is why he was born in the first place.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to save us from our sins.  He did that by dying on that cross. 

So baby Jesus is not just a cute story for Christmas.

He is the way, the truth, and the life.  And no one comes to the Father except by him. 

So look beyond the baby and see the Savior of the world. 

He wants to be your Savior too.  

Blessings, 

steve

 


Pulling Teeth and Jesus

by on Nov.05, 2017, under Hope

My tooth has had a hard life.  Maybe it was too much chewing on things that were really too hard to bite.  I may have weakened it somehow over the years.  But it was really giving me a hard time.  Hairline cracks, the occasional abscess, an ache, or a sharp pain when I bit down on something. 

It was not as if I never tried to fix it.  I mean, after all, I wanted it to be different and better.  So my Dentist would file it down and smooth it up.  I got a crown.  Had a root canal.  Sometimes it would feel better for weeks or even months.  Until I got back into the old habits of chewing things I shouldn’t.

I finally decided I could not live with it like that any longer.  My Dentist agreed and guided me through the process.  He pulled the tooth.  Just took it out.  Gave me a new start.  Now we are putting in a permanent bridge.  It will look the same and function just like a tooth should.  It is amazing.  No more pain.  No more medicine.  No more wondering when it was going to hurt again.

Maybe you have had a tooth like that. 

Or maybe you have had a life like that.  It is just not working.  It may show up in addictive behaviors, or unhealthy relationships, or negative attitudes.  You have tried different things to do better but nothing lasts. 

Maybe it is time to do something radical.  Let the old life die and be born brand new again.  Have a new and better life.  The life you were meant to live.

Jesus can do that for you.  There are stories on this very site of people who have had their old lives made new by Jesus.

He wants to help you.

Let him. 

Blessings,

steve


Knowing the People Makes the Difference

by on Oct.01, 2017, under Hope

Three weeks ago I was in Vienna, West Virginia, to speak at the 36th Street church of Christ. What I knew about the area was gleaned from song writer, musician, John Denver and that it was “almost heaven.”

That weekend was also when hurricane Irma raged from the Caribbean through Florida and turned northwest. Millions evacuated, people were injured and some died. Destruction was everywhere! Not “almost heaven.”

That morning in a church in West Virginia we all prayed for those affected by the gale force winds, overwhelming rain and storm surge that inundated coasts. I told them about my friend Tony Fernandez who lives in Matanzas, Cuba, where Irma had just passed by. During Bible Class, I told about Tony’s commitment to God, his congregation, and that I had not heard from him since the hurricane passed over. The prayers changed, because we “knew” the people who were affected. In fact, as we talked more, it became obvious that many of us knew more people who were in harm’s way that weekend. Then during worship, I received an email that Tony was safe and read his description of what he saw as he tried to help others.

Knowing the people makes the difference!!

Who do you know that needs your prayers and your help? What else can you do to help them because knowing the people makes the difference.


Fishing Guides and Following Jesus

by on Sep.03, 2017, under Hope

My family loves to fish so it was an exciting adventure when we chartered a boat with a guide to fish for ocean trout.  My son and I along with my three grandsons (ages 11, 9, and 7).  The guide explained about how to fish for trout and told us what to expect.  He was very careful with the equipment and started by making the cast for every rod.  He would then fish each one and explain what he was doing and why.  He would show us how to hook the fish.  When he hooked one, he would hand the rod to one of the boys and they would reel it in. 

After a while, the guide let my son start working the bait after the guide had made the cast.  Then eventually my son made the casts and worked the bait.  Then our guide worked with me and then the oldest grandson.  By the end of our charter, the guide was working with the seven-year-old, my oldest grandson and I were fishing by ourselves, and my son was teaching his oldest son how to cast and fish.

Our guide explained the process, demonstrated the process, helped us to learn the process, and even let my son begin doing the same with his son. 

It got me to thinking about helping someone learn to follow Jesus. 

So if you are thinking about following Jesus, here is how we can help you.

We can connect you with people who will tell you the Jesus story:  the most important things to know, the most important things to do.  But they will also be showing you how to live as a follower.  Making Jesus choices about life, serving others.  They will answer questions; they will be there as you start your faith journey.  They will speak truth into your life and pray with you.  They will teach, demonstrate, and work together to learn to live as a follower. 

So that one day you will find yourself teaching someone else. 

If you would like to start this journey, write me at steve@hopeforlife.org.

 



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