Thursday, February 24, 2011


I’ve been thinking a lot today about heroes. Not the Superman, Batman kind of hero but the real life hero. A real person that you look up to, try to model yourself after, and think “If I could do it like they did it that would be awesome.” I’ve been thinking about this because one of mine was put in the hospital early this morning. My grandfather is hands down one of my “heroes in the faith.”

(I actually have several men in my life that I am able to look up to. I know that I’m lucky to be able to make that statement, but it’s true.)

I have many fond memories of my grandfather. Memories that take me back to my childhood and make me smile. I remember going camping and waking up in the morning to the smell of him cooking bacon on the grill. I remember that he loved to slice block cheese into thin slices, and always had a Tupperware container with some in the refrigerator. I could go on and on.

The thing that makes him one of my heroes in the faith is not these childhood memories, but other memories. My grandfather has taught Sunday School at various churches as long as I can remember. He is the one who sat down with me at the age of 15 and helped me prepare the first lesson I taught to a room full of adults at our church. (I taught on the “Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. I think the lesson lasted a total of 5 minutes. It’s amazing how fast you can talk when you are that scared.)

My grandfather was the one that would go down to the altar with his Bible under his arm to explain to someone how to be saved, or how to find their way back to God. When he taught people listened and God moved.

The thing about a hero is that they cause us to look at ourselves. They challenge us to do better, try harder, and do more than we thought possible. I don’t know if I would be writing this blog right now if it wasn’t for him.

Then I begin to wonder, am I a hero to anyone. Does anybody look up to me the way I looked up to him? If someone is looking up to me, am I doing everything in my power to lead them in the right direction? God has blessed me to work in several ministries. I teach a class. I’m the youth leader in my church. I write blogs, and publish my lessons on the internet. These things are so important, people are watching my life. I must do right.

More important than all those ministries, God has given me the ministry of being a father and husband. I have the job of leading my wife and two children in the right direction. If I don’t teach my children right, who will? It’s my job as their father to be their hero. Wow, this is so much to digest, to think about.

So, how about you? Each of us has someone looking up to us. Maybe a child, grandchild, someone we teach or mentor. Are you being a hero? Can others look up to you? I hope someday, it can be said about me “he was my hero.” How about you?

My prayer today is “God lead me in the right path, because someone is following me”.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"For Such A Time As This"

I recently started a series of lesson at church out of the book of Esther. Normally when I teach through a book I just go verse by verse. With Esther I wanted to do things a little different. I’m still going verse by verse, but I wanted to teach each chapter with a theme. No doubt there is one statement made that sets the tone for the entire book. That statement is made by Mordecai as he asks Esther “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

With this in mind I began teaching on “Such A Time As This”. I have given each chapter a theme, or a thought. This will make more sense as I blog, or you listen to the lesson archive. In this blog I really just want to give you an introduction into the book. (I don’t know why but the introduction to a book has always been one of my favorite parts of a study. I like to know what’s going on in history at the time the book is wrote. It just makes the book more meaningful I guess.)

No one knows for sure who wrote the book of Esther. Mordecai is the most likely candidate for the writer. The book of Esther is a remarkable book in many regards. It is remarkable in that the name of God is never mentioned in the book. There are no divine titles that even refer to God. The king is mentioned 192 times, but God is never mentioned.

This book is remarkable in that prayer is not mentioned. The book of Esther is not mentioned or referenced one time in the New Testament. Lastly it is a remarkable book in that it is named after a woman. There is only one other book in the Bible named after a woman, and that is Ruth.

The record of Esther is the record of a group of people who are not in the will of God. The Jewish nation has been in Babylonian captivity. After 70 years the captivity was over. Cyrus, the Persian king, was moved by God to make a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild Zion. It was God’s will the people return, but only 60,000 actually did return. That meant several million Jews remained.

When the Jews were first carried away into Babylon they were asked to sing the songs of Zion. With broken hearts they hung their harps on the willow trees and cried bitterly saying they could not sing the songs of Zion in a strange land. Now, many years later, Zion lies in ruins but they are unwilling to go back and rebuild it.

May I say in passing that it is sad when God’s people refuse, or don’t care to move forward with God. So many times God opens up doors, makes opportunities for us to do something meaningful. Yet, many times, the average church and the average Christian would rather just stay where they are. Complacency will kill a church.

So, when we pick up in chapter one, we see Persian ruling the majority of the known world, the people of God out of the will of God, and a drunken feast. This seems like a pretty grim setting, but standing somewhere in the shadows is God. Although He is never mentioned we see Him moving on behalf of His people.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hell is eternal, just like Heaven is!

In my last blog I began to write about the horrible place we know as hell. The story recorded in Luke 16 of “The rich man and Lazarus” is one of the best in the Bible on this topic.

If a person who rejected Christ while on earth were to die and be blotted out forever, cease to be, that would be a terrible punishment. If a lost person died and they missed out of the wonders of Heaven, that would be a terrible punishment. If a sinner were to die and suffer for a little while in Hell, until he could not endure the punishment any further, then mercifully just cease to be, that would be terrible. In fact ten minutes in hell would be a horrible punishment.

The problem is that none of these things are true. The bible teaches that hell is a place of eternal punishment. The rich man in these verses is burning in hell as I speak. He has had no relief for over 2,000 years now.

When the rich man died, he immediately went to hell. As long as his body is in the grave he will remain in hell. There will come a time however, when the rich man will be called out of hell, reunited with this body, judged and then cast into the lake of fire.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And 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, according to their works. 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

At this time, the rich man, with millions of others in hell know that one day they will face God in judgment. Their ashes will form together; they will come out of hell, bow their knees before Jesus, confess that He is Lord, and then enter the suffering of the lake of fire.

Judgment of the lost

Just as the saved will stand before God and give an account for the deeds done in their body, so will the lost.

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28-29

Torment is forever

As I have said, if every sinner could suffer for just a short period, maybe a couple hundred years, in hell then that would be terrible. Just to stand before God in judgment will be a terrible punishment. But the bible is careful to teach us that the punishment of hell is eternal, and that it continues on in the lake of fire.

“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”  Mark 3:29
“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”   Revelation 14:10-11

Jesus warns that hell is a place “where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An unpopular subject

Hell is a horrible place. We don’t like to think about it, talk about it, and we certainly don’t want to think about our families going there.

The only place to learn about Hell is in the Bible. Human experience does not go beyond the grave. Everything we know about life after death is learned from the pages of the Bible. No man has ever journeyed to hell and returned. Everything that lies after death can only be learned in the pages of the scriptures. Heaven, hell, rewards, punishment, happiness and sorrow beyond the grave can only be learned by reading the Bible. It is the only authority on such matters.

One of the greatest stories we have given to us in the Bible concerning Hell, is found in Luke 16. It is the story of the “rich man and Lazarus.” When Jesus spoke these words, He spoke words of history, not fiction. No where does the Bible say that these verses are a parable. These verses do not have the marks of a parable. Abraham is mentioned by name along with Lazarus. There are no fictional characters. No doubt the rich man would have been given a name as well, but God in his mercy did not mention his name, maybe to protect the family.

Because the thought of hell is so terrible many have tried to explain it away, or explain away its suffering. There are many fables concerning hell.

From the Garden of Eden until today the devil has been busy leading men to rebel against God. The best way that he does this is to convince man that there will be no punishment for sin committed.

When the serpent spoke to Eve in the garden he asked her why she did not eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve replied and told him that God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” To which the devil answered, “Ye shall not surely die.”

The devil would like nothing more than for you to believe that God will not punish sin. If he can get you to believe that there is no hell, that hell is the grave, in hell you will be burnt up without much pain or that you will have another chance to be saved once you get to hell, then he has accomplished his goal. In fact the great lie that the devil tells people today is that God is “too loving” to send anyone to hell.

Let me quickly list some of the most popular myths about Hell

Hell is not a real place – Looking at the story in Luke 16 this rich man certainly believed Hell was a real place. For over 2,000 years this man has been suffering in Hell. He certainly did not want his brothers to come to this terrible place of torment.

Limbo or Purgatory – Some believe that a person will have another change to repent after death. The problem is that this is not supported by one verse of scripture. This man died and immediately opened his eyes in Hell. His soul did not sleep. He immediately went to Hell.

We are just spirits in Hell – This man was more that a spirit. He was suffering in a body. He had a mind. He remembered his brothers. He remembered that he had not repented and wanted his brothers to repent.

Let me also point out that in hell this rich man was the same man, with the same desires as he was when he was upon this earth. There is no indication in these scriptures that this man desired, or wanted to do right any more than he did while alive. He cared for his brothers and did not want them to come to hell, but he did not care for God any more than he did while alive. His nature did not change.

There is no real fire in Hell - We have seen that hell is a real place, where real people dwell in real bodies. The next question will be if there is real fire in hell. We can see the answer to this question in this chapter. The rich man cried “I am tormented in this flame.”
In the book of Revelation we are told that there is a literal lake that burns with fire. If we believe the word of God, then we must believe that hell is a place that burns with literal fire.

I’m sure that most of you have heard at least one of these myths concerning Hell. Keep in mind that these are just myths and are not supported by the Bible. I wish these things were true. I don’t want anyone to have to suffer in this horrible place. The fact is that the majority of the world will one day open their eyes in Hell. Are you ready to face God? If today was your last day on this earth, where would you be tomorrow?

In my next blog I will talk about the fact that the punishment of hell is an eternal punishment.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Satan's influence in our present world

In my past few posts I have been spending a lot of time speaking about Satan. I have discussed the time of Satan’s creation, his willful defiance resulting in his fall. I have mentioned the fact that there are some 40 different names given to Satan in the pages of the bible, each telling us a little something about his personality. In this last blog post on the topic of Satan I would like to point out his influence in our present world.

In Luke 4:5-7 we read an interesting story. It is the story of the Lord being taken by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. During this temptation Satan appears to Jesus and takes him up onto a very high mountain. On top of this mountain the bible says that Satan showed all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus and told Him that if He would fall down and worship him that he would give Jesus all these kingdoms. What I find so interesting is that Jesus never tried to correct Satan.

I would have expected Jesus to say something like “Those are my kingdoms not yours.” Jesus corrected Satan on several different occasions during this time of temptation. Why not on this occasion? The reason that Jesus did not correct him was because he was speaking truth. This may shock you, but when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, man lost his dominance in the world, and Satan gained it. Consider the following verses:

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”   John 12:31

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”   John 14:30

In the book of Ephesians, Satan is referred to as the “prince and the power of the air.” In the Revelation we are told that Satan has a throne among mankind. Satan rules and reigns in the world in which we live. Today the world sleeps in the lap of Satan. Very few even realize this is happening. The world rulers of our day do not take the powers of darkness seriously, nor does the common man.

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”   James 4:4

This presence is real today.

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world.”   1 John 4:3

The world in which we live is a beautiful place. We have great cities with great buildings, works of art, theaters for entertainment, and museums of history. The world is a wonderful place. Do you realize that all of those things are under the control of Satan? When Satan goes down this world will go down with him.

This brings up a good question. How do we feel about this world in which we live? Are you in love with this world? Our country is filled with people who love this world. This world will go up in smoke one day; I wouldn’t fall too in love with it.

Today Satan has a trap for each of us. At this very hour Satan has something that he would love to destroy your life with. Satan has no mercy. If he gets you in a corner, he will destroy you.

One day soon God will do away with Satan. The bible tells us that he is doomed to spend eternity in the lake of fire. At this moment however he is our greatest enemy. The problem is that most of the world does not believe the enemy even exists.

We must be aware! Know that he is real. Know what his tactics are. Place your faith in Christ, and His word. God’s word will guide us in the right direction.