Suicide – To Die Or Not To Die

The choice is ours even though we had no choice in coming into this world. Yet what lies behind it all? If evolutionists are correct, then I guess ‘not much’! If there is no God, then again, ‘not much’ is the answer.

If there is no God, no absolute and final Authority, Creator, Source of morality… then what is our purpose, and if we don’t want to live… why not just die?
This article is written from a believer’s viewpoint of course. I can admit there have been times when faith was so weak, and questions flooding into my mind as to why all the stress and problems, that the feeling would flood over me to just be ‘done with it all’.
(Obviously the ‘temporary insanity’ passed.)

No one can force a person to live… but finding answers to life’s questions, and finding real purpose in life, can bring the desire no only to live, but live “abundantly”. For those with serious questions on Jesus, and the Authenticity and trustworthiness of the Bible, there are some good resources to research. Josh McDowell is an author which has written some good books on this. One such book is “Questions To Tough Questions”.
Now I don’t agree with his thoughts on how to be saved, but other than this, it’s a good book.

Besides, often people who are feeling ‘hopeless’ need to figure why these desperate feelings are coming. Troubles come to every one… it’s life. We can lessen problems by taking control of things we have control over. Good decisions will have positive results.
Finding faith in Jesus is the best, and most stable way to win over these feelings. Having a real relationship with Jesus at least gives you Someone who will always be with you through ‘thick and thin’. Do this by going to the source of the evidence for Jesus… The Gospels of MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN. Read, read, read… search for answers to life’s questions… The Gospels reveal at least a couple of things… Jesus came to the earth and shows us GOD (John 1). The disciples on the other hand, show us US! These disciples went through some pretty terrible times and a lot of life changes. The most critical time of their lives came when Jesus was betrayed, put on trial, beaten half to death, and then crucified.

Doubts and fears were like a huge black cloud over all of them. They believed in him, but never really, down deep, realized who HE was and IS. At least not until the resurrection. This my friend is the CRUX of Christianity. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then as Paul says in I Corinthians 15:17, “… your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” then in verse 19 “…we are to be pitied more than all men.” That’s putting it lightly!
If on the other hand, Jesus was raised from the dead… that makes all his claims TRUE! Thus one must work through this for themselves, and figure if there is enough evidence on the resurrection of Jesus to form a foundation of FAITH. From there, life begins to change. Purpose and direction and meaning of life come into focus. The longing for heaven becomes real, not just ‘pie in the sky’. Don’t take my word for it, do your own study….

Here are some points to consider:
1. Why would so many people in the first century follow a dead man to the point of giving their lives for an empty cause?
2. Where did the body of Jesus go? The Jewish leaders made sure there was a Roman guard (five or six men), who made sure that the tomb of Jesus was not disturbed.
3. Jesus was buried in the tradition of the time, where he was wrapped in linen strips of cloth (John 19:40). In John  20, we find these same linen strips had (according to the original language) just fallen, or caved in. He was not unwrapped… what would be the reason of this… If one is going to steal the body, just take it!
4. The stone was rolled away… but what about the guards?
5. All the leaders who hated Jesus had to do is PRODUCE THE BODY… Jesus is dead, and Christianity is dead with him.
6. The change in the disciples… who before were scared and hiding, and now were unafraid, and openly proclaiming the risen Lord (Acts).
7. The man who persecuted them… Saul of Tarsus… Read Acts 7-9. He was the champion of the Jews, and had letters to take Christians as prisoners in Damascus…
He HATED CHRISTIANS AND JESUS!!! Read also Galatians 1. Consider this statement….. “THE CHRISTIANS COULDN’T AND THE JEWS WOULDN’T.” The Christians were afraid of Saul, and wouldn’t approach him to try and convert him. The Jews (in general) wouldn’t want him converted, he was their champion. So the question remains, who did it? Who changed Saul? Who made him the Apostle Paul who wrote 14 books of the New Testament? Only one answer… JESUS!
8. Even Josephus spoke of Jesus and his miracles… (Josephus was not a Christian). You can ‘Google’ Josephus and read about him.
9. Jesus fulfilled every single prophecy of the Old Testament that referred to the coming of Messiah. The odds of this would be enormous.
All of this being said, one still has to deal with the problems, questions of life. However, with Jesus it all falls into place. Things we don’t understand (which are many), we trust that in time we will understand as we trust and pray to our Savior for answers. If we receive no answer, we wait. In any case, we wait… James says, that there are things in this life which are intended to strengthen our faith, and help us grow (James 1). God is not the one who tempts… Satan is. Sin is the result of our giving in to temptation.

Growth in grace for the Christian is a fact (Ephesians 2:4-10). Christians are not perfect… but they are forgiven. There’s more truth there than meets the eye. Grace is something that is missing in many pulpits and churches, simply because they are afraid of it. (Study my series on grace for in depth study of the subject.) For now, just know, that what turns a lot of people off are the COLD, RITUALISTIC, NON-RELATIONSHIP BASED religions which are being offered. It may be good enough for others to just go and once

Find your hope, life, purpose, salvation, joy… in the man, JESUS. He is the Son of God, and is alive forever more (Revelation 1). His sacrifice is enough to cover your sins… PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE! No sin… not one sin… is unforgivable (except blaspheming the Spirit… ie calling the work of the Spirit Satanic).

You don’t have to know it all to go to heaven. You just need to know JESUS.
What must a person do to be saved? Read for yourself… Repent and be immersed for the remission of sins in the name (possession) of Jesus and you will also receive God’s Spirit at the same time (Acts 2:37-39; John 3:1-10). Read the book of Acts! See how people… thousands of them… were saved. Do what they did.

Then grow… pray… study… and share the same with others…. Get involved in helping others.

Commit suicide? Never… Why? Because He created you for a reason. You may not know it now… but it will be clear in time. Sometimes it takes time… Read Genesis 37, 39-45. A lot of reading? Sure… but here you will see how God works in someone’s (Joseph’s) life. His song after it was all over was (in my mind), “Now I know… now I know. Many years have come and gone… and I didn’t understand it all… but now I know.” Bake a pie! Take it to someone who does not expect it. Tell them, “Just thinking about you.” Get involved… Take your eyes off yourself… Others are hurting too… Find a purpose in life.

(Read dad’s articles… there’s a lot of wisdom and help there as well.) Feel free to write me if you want to study, or have questions. (“Whoever finds this: I love you”).

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Dad’s ‘Just In Case’ Letter

   “We have faced life together – from the very start. It is staggering to reflect on the scores of months, hundreds of days and millions of minutes and seconds have passed into time.
   I remember the first night and I can recall little things (in Miami)… the ride out Brickell Ave. and out to the Pan Am seaport… stopping by the canal…  the fruit drink next to the Capri theater… our dreams and visions, desires and hopes.
   The surgery I’m getting now is so that our lives together may continue without a slow down or the threat of becoming disabled. I praise God that by his grace I can undergo this modern miracle. I believe the best is yet to be, for if something should happen and my death occur, we both would recognize it as God’s will – and that’s always best.
   We know so little about ourselves – our lives – our real inheritance and destiny. He knows! And that’s best!
   Yet to the contrary, I believe this operation is by God’s intervention and by His direction. He has lead us this far and He will lead us home. This is God’s way to give me a new lease on life and renewed purpose to ‘speak the word’ and serve others.
   After all, this has been our life. To lift and help those who have fallen, to encourage and cheer those who are blue and melancholy.
   Whatever I have done in Jesus, you were there to inspire me. Never have you ever given me one occasion to doubt your love for me. You have always been by my side. If I had to leave this life, I would miss you the most.
   Forgive my rambling, and all the other miscues and mistakes I have made, and allow the best of me to remain.
   You are my love. I feel very close to you at this time and my prayer is….
   Dear Father,
   We love you. You gave us life. You brought us together. You caused us to grow, to mature. You have saved us for yourself.
   Whatever life holds, you have given us “all things.” In Christ.
   I love you, my dearest,
   Always, Jack
   December 12, 1979
   (Dad was about to undergo open heart surgery and get a triple bi-pass. He was nervous of course, but then everyone would be. This was a ‘just in case’ type letter.)
   Special letters written in love, concern, instruction and correction were written centuries ago to Christians. Paul wrote 14, John wrote 4 and then a Gospel, Peter wrote 2 and James wrote 1, Jude wrote 1 as well.

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“The Empty Chair”

   An elderly man’s daughter once asked the local minister to come and have prayer with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair was sitting beside the bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.
   “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No” said the father. The minister then remarked, “I saw the empty chair, and I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yes, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
   Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this – not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. I had abandoned any attempts at prayer, until one day about four years ago, my best friend told me, “Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with your Heavenly Father.” He continued, “Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see God sitting on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you always.” Then just speak to Him the way you are speaking with me right now.”
   So I tried it, and I liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to a chair, she’d have a nervous breakdown, or send me off to the ‘Funny Farm’.
   The minister was deeply moved by this simple story and encouraged the old man to continue ‘on the journey’. Two nights later the daughter called the minister to tell him, “Daddy has just passed away”. “Did he die in peace?” he asked.
   “Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me, kissed me on the cheek. When I returned from the store an hour later, I found him. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside his bed.” “What do you make of that?” she asked.
   The minister wiped a tear from his eye and told her about what her dad had told him. Finally the minister said, “I wish we could all go like that.”
   There are many ‘reasons’ why we don’t pray as we should. Perhaps we are so busy with handling our own problems, we don’t think about it. Perhaps we just don’t think God will answer our prayers.
   Jesus and His Father were very close, and so as you read Luke, you find him often in prayer for various reasons…
   Luke 6:12 Jesus prays all night. Luke 9:16, Jesus gives thanks for the food (five loaves and two fish). Luke 18:1 Jesus teaches the value of prayer. Luke 21:36 Jesus combines prayer with being alert. Luke 22:19-20 Jesus gave thanks for the bread and similarly, the ‘cup’ at the last supper. Luke 22:39-46, Jesus prays in Gethsemane. Luke 23:34 and 46 Jesus prays on the cross.
   Praying is personal, helpful, and needed, private, and powerful… Why not have an “empty chair” of your own?


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The Birth Of A Smile

Teeth have always been a sore spot with me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have had problems with my teeth!  Head brace retainers, cavities, chipped teeth, crowns, root canals, e-rays, novocain and needles, numbness, drills and the smell of ‘smoke’, infected gums, antibiotics, teeth that cracked, broke off, and eventually were pulled. Every time in ‘the chair’ brought memories of ‘hot sweats’ and ‘white knuckles’.
   “Are you allergic to anything?” Dr. Phillips (my dentist) asked. “Yes… PAIN!!!” I asked him one time, “Why not just do what dad did at the age of 25 and yank ‘em all out’ and start over… instant smile!?” Then I could do what dad did to the kids when we all went for a visit… He used to get Alex in his lap and use his tongue to move his lower teeth out so he could see them.) (Of course we all laughed and told dad how gross it was!)
   Anyway, as Dr. Phillip said, “There is nothing like the teeth God gave you.” So I ‘pressed on’. Besides, dad always said, “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you, by gum.” With help of some more novocane, a bridge here and a tooth pulled there, a partial here and a bridge there… a smile was born.
    Did Jesus smile? Sure he did! Don’t know about his teeth, but I know he smiled! I guess I never thought of it when I was growing up, but I remember the study materials, and VBS books and they had pictures of Jesus smiling. I mean what kid is going to be attracted to someone who is frowning all the time? For that matter, what adult is going to be attracted to a Savior who doesn’t smile? Think of it… Jesus loved children (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14-15), and blessed them. Children wanted to be around Jesus!
   Jesus went to wedding feasts, and enjoyed going to dinner at other people’s homes. Was He somber and solemn all the time?! I doubt it, don’t you?
   Christianity is meant to be a life of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, “Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life is “… JOY …” (Galatians 5:22). This does not mean there are no hardships, no tears, no burdens, no temptations, no failures. It doesn’t mean we should go around with a painted smile on our face which the heart does not support. When Jesus died on the cross and was buried and rose again… it was the BIRTH OF OUR SMILE (John 20)! Whether you have all your teeth or not… you can SMILE!
   Jesus has destroyed the PRINCIPLE of sin in our life (Romans 6:1-4). Jesus has given Christians the POWER over sin (Romans 6:8-14). Jesus has
delivered Christians from the PUNISHMENT of sin (Romans 6:23). All sins, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE are forgiven in Christ Jesus (I John 1:7)! “Therefore, there is NOW (from now on), no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

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One Man Stood!

   He was nicknamed the “Tank Man”, and he stood alone in Tiananmen Square during a protest June 5, 1989. The suppression of the Chinese government had reached a peak. With a column of tanks coming, the “Tank Man” (assumed to be Wang Weilin), stood and blocked the tanks from moving forward.
   All through history there have individuals, who took no concern for themselves, but made a stand whether it be against injustice or slavery, or against a harsh suppressive government.
   (Junior) Senator Ted Cruz made a stand for something he believed was (and is) very important. Martin Luther king Jr… made a stand for what he believed was (and is) important! Both made a difference.
   Not everyone makes a stand like this, but all have the potential for doing so.
   Jesus came onto the scene, and made a stand against hypocritical traditionalism of his day. This was not his mission though. Why did He come? He came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Not everyone saw themselves as “lost”. Many saw Jesus as totally wrong. They crucified him for it.
   In Luke 19 Jesus was passing through the area of Jerico. There was a short guy named Zacchaeus there who was evidently a good tree climber. He was filthy rich, and was hated (not by the government though). He just wanted to see Jesus. I doubt he ever expected what was going to happen, but to him, it would have been enough just to see Him.
   For some reason Jesus stops at that very spot where Zacchaeus had climbed the tree and looks up and calls out to him. “… Come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.” Is Jesus trying to hob-nob with the influential tax collector? Is He forgetting, that people will judge Him, and hate Him if he does this? You recall, “All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone home to be the guest of a sinner!” Isn’t it odd, that people who live in glass houses are often the first to throw stones?
   Zacchaeus is overjoyed! He cannot believe what is happening. He probably fell half way down the tree trying to get down! What a thrill! “Jesus is coming to MY HOUSE!” The over-joyed “sinner” tells the Master “Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Is this what Jesus wanted? Did Jesus say, “Now if you don’t pay back and make everything right you can’t be my follower?” Is this what is needed to be saved? Of course not… it was a sign to Jesus that this man wanted to change. There is no way a person can ‘balance the books’ with Jesus.
   His concern is about the heart. Zacchaeus was a searcher. He got more than he hoped for from climbing that tree. “Salvation has come to this home” Jesus said.
   Today, we don’t have to ‘climb a tree’ to find Jesus… just open The Book. There you will find the story of one who MADE A STAND… NOT AGAINST A TANK, OR A HOUSE FULL OF POLITICIANS BUT AGAINST SATAN, AND WON!
   If you want to study about Jesus? Give me a call or send me an email!

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The Cup

This article is part 2 of 4 in the series Lord's Supper

We recently went on a trip to New York City, and like any other tourist, we visited as many sites as we could and walked what seemed to be miles and enjoyed the subway and buses. It was amazing to see the “Freedom Tower” and humbling to visit the 911 Memorial. We visited the shops of course and got souvenir hats, “I Love New York” t-shirts, and of course CUPS. I mean who can pass up having an authentic, China made, New York coffee cup?!
Now I am not one to collect cups, because a cup is a cup… and yet not all cups are the same. I have a cup which was dad’s and has “Jack” on it. I doubt it is a collector’s item, and would probably sell for 10 cents in a yard sale, but to me… I would not trade it for 10 ‘authentic’ New York City souvenir cups! That’s because it is a reminder of dad. He drank from it. The coffee doesn’t taste better because of the cup. It is just a cup, made like any other cup.
Jesus “… took a CUP and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” It was just a cup right? The contents tasted no better because of the cup. Where is the cup? If we could ever find it what would we do with it? Would it be special to us? Of course! Would we trade it for an ‘authentic’ New York City cup? Hardly! How much would it sell for? Why, it would be priceless! Why? It’s JUST A CUP!
Of course it is what Jesus held in his un-nailed hands. It’s the cup that He prayed over after the fruit of the vine was poured into it. It’s the cup that He drank from and passed to the disciples and told them, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins… I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you  in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29).
Is it the cup or the contents or what it all represents? Should we worship the cup or the Savior? Should we make a ‘law’ that only one cup can be used? Shall we argue on whether or not the juice was fermented?  If so, then we miss the blessing of the meaning.
The “cup” is used to ‘hold’ different things in the Scriptures…but in this case, it held suffering, shame, pain, and death…“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this CUP be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” This was the real CUP… So Paul instructs Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:26  “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” When we drink of the cup, we should examine ourselves and be so grateful that He drank of it FIRST! (I Corinthians 11:28). More than a CUP, more than GRAPE JUICE.

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The Bread

This article is part 1 of 4 in the series Lord's Supper

Many centuries ago, a story was told of a man who rented an apartment above the only bakery in town. He would rise early from bed, do the things that prepared him for that day and then go to the front window and just sit, enjoying the beauty and fragrance of fresh baking bread.
The owner of the building saw him sitting there one day, smiling and enjoying the added blessing the aroma the fresh bread offered. He felt that this added pleasure and benefit would justify him raising the rent. The renter objected and the whole affair was taken to court.
The Judge, a wise old man, listened and recorded his notes as each man presented his case. He ordered the owner of the apartment to bring 10 golden coins and both were remanded to return the following day. News spread rapidly and the next morning there was a goodly crowd in the gallery.
The Judge appeared in his robes and when seated ask for the golden coins. The defendant produced them and set them before the judge. He took the coins and little by little let them fall from one hand to the other. Then he rendered his judgment. The price should remain the same for the flat.
The owner objected and demanded an explanation. “How could the falling coins pay for him sitting in the window and smelling the sweet smell of baking bread?”
The Judge smiled and said, “The tinkle of falling coins pays for the smell of baking bread!!”
It’s funny how certain ‘smells’ can bring back memories. Maybe it’s the smell of homemade apple pie that reminds you of a time when you and your mother baked a pie together.
Not all smells bring back good memories. Sometimes they bring back bad memories of a time of abuse or pain or depression.
“It was just before the Passover Feast” and Unleavened bread was being sold in the open markets of Jerusalem. Unleavened bread is made of flour (which contains no rising agents),
crushed coriander seeds (also called “cilantro”), salt, fine cooking oil and water. The smell must have been wonderful. Memories must have come to the mind of the Master of times when his mother baked fresh bread. Now as he gathers with his disciples for this supper. The memories and the memorial all mix together. For every Jew, the memories were rich, the memorial Passover was priceless. Reminding them of a time when the God of Heaven and earth delivered their fore-fathers from the slavery of Egypt so many centuries before.
It was this bread that Jesus first blessed, then broke into pieces and handed to his disciples. Yet there was a ‘bitterness’ to this memorial supper, since someone at the table was going to betray Him. “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot…” Satan made his move, entering the heart of Judas, and Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly” (John 13:21-30).
The rest is history. Paul reminds us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US” (Romans 5:8). For Christians, it continues to be a precious reminder of the one who freed us from the slavery of sin.

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