Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Before You Die

He was the co-author of the travel guide, “100 Things to Do Before You Die”. But it now appears he may not see the fulfillment of the dream he encouraged others to live.

Dave Freeman, age 47, died on August 17th after falling and hitting his head in his Venice, California home. The graduate from the University of Southern California had moved to the West coast to be near family. (Before that, he had actually watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center from his nearby apartment on September 11, 2001.)

In his book he wrote, “This life is a short journey. How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?” Freeman's relatives said he visited about half the places on his list before he died.

While the unexpected and sudden death of anyone in the prime of life is sad, there is something far more troubling and noteworthy. In reality, there is only one thing that must be done before we die, or “pack those bags for the very last time.” as Freeman put it. Simply stated, we must travel to one sacred place - the foot of the cross where Jesus Christ died to provide our forgiveness of sin. Coming to God’s Son by faith will instantaneously redirect our eternal journey from the worst possible destination – hell, to the ‘coolest’ place imaginable – heaven!

Then along with salvation comes the opportunity and responsibility to live a life that is not focused on entertainment and on meeting our own whims, desires or dreams. Instead we are rerouted to a life of sacrifice for others and redirected to worthwhile service for God.

The Bible agrees fully with Freeman that “This life is a short journey.” The writer James states it this way. “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) But unlike the deceased author’s title suggests, the Scriptures relate how life’s priority is not to be achieving as much fun and adventure as humanly possible. And those who lend themselves to this end will generally miss the greatest thrill of all. They will never know that serving God brings more joy and satisfaction than any temporary excitement the world can ever offer.

When considering the duration and fragile nature of life, there is really just one thing everyone must deal with before they die. And a failure to spiritually prepare for the journey through this life, and that which follows, leaves one to face all alone the most sobering question of all. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Great Fish Story

Every once in a while, a fish story needs no embellishing.

David Hayes and his 3-year old granddaughter, Alyssa, were fishing in a pond behind his North Carolina home. Alyssa, who was using a two-and-a-half foot, pink Barbie toy fishing rod she had received from her father at Christmas, went inside the house for a “potty stop” while her grandfather held the pole. According to Hayes, she was gone only seconds when a mammoth fish grabbed the bait and took off for a half-hour fight. Alyssa returned and, after a good bit of girlish squealing and the fish thrashing about, Hayes landed a 32-inch, 21 lb., 1 oz. channel catfish. It turned out to be a state record certified by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

This story is personally interesting since I fish whenever I can and sometimes present a unique program in meetings called It’s Catching!. The presentation features hundreds of classic and antique lures well sprinkled with amazing fish stories as illustrations of Bible lessons and fishing for men. Alyssa’s Barbie rod catfish story will be included in the future.

Over the years, stories emerge of amazing catches on the simplest of gear. Fresh water fishermen can spend thousands of dollars on tackle, boats, bait, clothing and even sonar and never land a fish like Alyssa’s.

Missionary friends sent me a Chilean fishing rig, which is a simple round piece of wood. It is turned on a lathe and doubles as both a spinning and bait-casting device. It catches fish from a boat or the river bank. A friend I met in meetings turned one out on his own lathe in a few minutes.

When I was ministering in Honduras, I asked a pastor to secure a Honduran fishing rig for my program. He walked over to a table, picked up an empty plastic water bottle and handed it to me. He explained how Hondurans can’t afford expensive equipment, so they drink the water, tie fishing line around the empty bottle and wind on enough line to fish with hook and bait at the end. They snap the bottle forward, and the line peels off just like a spinning reel. Then they shift the bottle sideways and wind the line back on for the next cast. With equipment that cost just pennies, Hondurans are catching fish.

When Christ said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19), He must have known most of us would be timid, unsophisticated and modestly equipped, so He took full charge of the responsibility—“I will make you…”

He has given us a simple Gospel— the death and resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15), and simple modern helps to share that Gospel are ample and available.

Consider the lowly Gospel tract. A minister told me he was saved through picking up a discarded tract in the street at the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Another man came to Christ by finding a tract in the New York City Port Authority bus terminal.

Even a simple word can change a life. A member of my former church told me how a woman met him at the door when he was delivering milk and simply said, “Young man, you’ve an eternal soul to save.” It was enough to make him seek the Lord and come to salvation.

Invitations to a special outreach are also effective. A whole family came to Christ in one of my meetings because a church member gave the mother an invitation at work. Years ago, Norman Townsend, then known as New England’s own evangelist, held up a penny post card and said he was saved because an anonymous person sent that invitation to attend a rally where he heard about Christ.

Fishing for men is simple, and each catch is worth more than all the world’s wealth. Jesus said the worth of a soul was greater than any material gain (Luke 9:25).

If a toy fishing pole can land a record catfish, any believer can easily fish in the ocean of men with a personal word, a piece of Gospel literature, a phone call or a visit. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” Christ promised in Luke 5:10, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

Find your place and keep on fishing!

Dave Virkler

Eternal Olympic Gold

After two weeks of intense competitions, the 2008 Beijing Olympics are over. The closing extravaganza reviewed the Olympics with stunning choreography, pyrotechnics, parading teams sporting glistening medals, and a rush of memories for all the participants.

Prominent winners now return home to joyous local celebrations—and some to fabulous commercial contracts. Most will proudly display their medals for relatives, friends and news media and then preserve them for family talking points for generations to come.

Occasionally, an athlete will dedicate a cherished medal to a supporting family member or a precious athlete’s memory. Mostly, these cherished awards will be personal boosts, elevating individual athleticism and induction of the winners into the select circle of Olympic champions.

Christians will also receive awards at the judgment seat of Christ, but their personal satisfaction in gaining them is only a by-product of their ultimate purpose—to glorify the Giver and lay up treasures in Heaven. According to the New Testament, competitors strive for mastery in the arena of faith, but the goal of spiritual victory is deeply contrasted with mortal recognition.

Usually this contest is couched in foot racing terms as in Paul’s word in Philippians 3:13-14. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Running is also featured in Hebrews 12:1-2. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul again reflects the popular sport of his time as an illustration of the godly race. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

It’s all there: striving for the gold, proper physical training and follow-up discipline. Competitive excellence does accrue to our personal accounts. Indeed, Christ commanded us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

Crowns are attainable for winning souls, resisting temptation, faithfully serving as pastor and finishing life’s race. These heavenly treasures have a superior enduring purpose in addition to our personal enjoyment. Revelation 4:9-11 reveals a future function of our rewards. “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’” The word “whenever” indicates a repeated action. Here is continuous praise arising from previous victories to reflect the purpose for our creation.

British Queen Victoria was once quoted as saying, “I hope Jesus comes in my lifetime so I can cast my throne at His feet.” Her sentiment echoes the theme of the old hymn: “Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea…”

Each Christian runs his own spiritual Olympic race every day. The old gospel song by Esther Kerr Rusthof says it all:

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus;
Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race, Till we see Christ.

Dave Virkler

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Michael Phelps' Forward Vision

Having overcome a difficult childhood of an absent father, ADHD and cruel juvenile taunts, Michael Phelps stands at an unprecedented athletic summit. Winning more gold medals in a single Olympics than any other competitor, Phelps is the darling of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, an instant hero and a potential multi-millionaire.

His apparent innocent humility is eclipsed only by his vision for what lies ahead. When asked how he felt about his stunning achievements, Phelps declared that he wasn’t focusing on the past but was thinking ahead to better enhancing the sport of swimming and looking to the Olympic Games four years hence in London.

Phelps’ futuristic thinking is a reflection – unconscious perhaps – of the great Apostle Paul’s visionary formula of Philippians 3:12-14:

“I don’t mean to say I am perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.” (The Living Bible – emphasis mine)

Paul was a master missionary, a church planter and author of Scripture. These laurels would satisfy most men’s loftiest ambitions, but he knew that life’s spiritual race was not finished until either death or the Rapture, and only when surging toward life’s finish line did he speak in the past tense. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8). While he lived, Paul was always looking for the “regions beyond” (II Corinthians 10:16).

An Old Testament counterpart is Ecclesiastes 7:10. “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.’”

Years ago a mountain climber perished while striving for the summit. On his tombstone was inscribed, “He died climbing.” I once heard a man wisely say, “When it comes time to die, be sure the only thing left to do is die.” Accordingly, my life’s verse is Acts 13:36, which reads in part, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers…”

The old hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” has some apt phraseology: “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessing all mine with ten thousand besides.”

Michael Phelp’s amazing future-focused thinking is surely commendable. How much more effective it is in believers who press toward an eternal finish line and an enduring crown.

Dave Virkler

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Invisibility a Possibility?

It has been the theme of books and movies and something nearly everyone has wished they could be at one time or another. It is the ability to become physically invisible. But now scientists claim this long-time fantasy may soon become a reality!

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, plan to publish their findings this week. Amazingly, they state that they have been able to actually cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects.

Previously, the process was limited to working on only very thin two-dimensional objects.Again, the ability to make things invisible has staggering implications both for good and also potentially for evil. And it is hoped that those who make this dream a reality will use the technology for positive and beneficial purposes.

But the Bible speaks of this subject in the physical and spiritual realms. In Hebrews 4, the writer speaks to the unique ability of Scripture to penetrate into the deepest depths of the human mind and soul. Verse 13 reveals how nothing can ever become invisible to an all-knowing and all-seeing God. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Despite this great truth, men have always attempted to hide from God when knowing they have not pleased Him. It happened at the outset when earth’s first human inhabitants tried to hide themselves physically after their great act of disobedience.Then at the other end of the human history, Scripture reveals that there will be those who will attempt, in vain, to hide themselves from the righteous judgement that is due them. “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Rev 6:15-17)

Sin is real as is God’s wrath upon it. (Romans 1:18) But the same holy Creator whose nature demands justice for sin, also provides justification for sinners! Paul described it repeatedly in passages like Galatians 2:16. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

The scientific community continues to amaze the world with striking discoveries using their God-given gifts and intelligence. But they will never invent anything to deal with human sin. It is God, and He alone, who has the exclusive trademark in that field – namely the shed blood and substitutionary sacrifice of the Savior.

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18)

Those who discover this redemption need never fear or hide from God, who through faith in His Son becomes their loving and forgiving heavenly Father.

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anthrax and the End Times

The government considers the anthrax scare case of 2001 closed. Following the wrenching 9/11 attacks, anonymous letters laced with anthrax were mailed to Washington politicians and others and were lethally handled by ordinary citizens. U.S. Army researcher Bruce Ivins was a troubled man with connections to Princeton, which was the envelopes’ mailing point. As the government’s investigation neared its end, a crush of evidence pointed to Ivins. To apparently avoid a trial, conviction and punishment, Ivins took his own life, depriving prosecutors of additional information. His suicide seems to substantiate the government’s claim that he was the one who sent the letters and that he acted alone.

Ivins’ motives for sending the letters appeared to be multiple and, in his own mind, reasonable. He had a hatred for those on the opposing moral side of social issues, and he also thought that the letters would enhance anti-anthrax research, which was his specialty. While under psychiatrists’ care, doctors noted an increasing mental instability in Ivins, and he had threatened to inflict violence on other researchers.

This biological case of fearful plague possibilities is typical of prophetic woes forecast by Jesus Christ, Paul and John. Christ’s end-time scenario regarding this is found in Matthew 24:7. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places." That these may be man-made is clear from Paul’s warning in Galatians 5:19-21. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." These are not natural disasters or mere epidemics caused by unsanitary contagion. These are people acts arising from human sinning. "Sorcery," or witchcraft as the older texts have it, is "pharmakeia" in the original Greek, which is clearly chemical or magical deeds by human perpetrators.

Interestingly, Ivins was a churchgoer, and well wishers even declared that they’d see him in Heaven. We hope there was a last-minute repentance, but the Galatians text indicates that "sorcerers" (debauched pharmacists) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In fact, end-time sorcery is a sin unrepented of according to Revelation 9:21. "And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries ("pharmakeia") or their sexual immorality or their thefts." There is no evidence that Ivins showed remorse. In the polonium-210 killing of former Russian KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in England in 2006, no one came forth with remorse. Drug growers, smugglers and dealers and most users invariably face prosecution with hardened hearts. Only the Holy Spirit operating through Christian witness can soften hard hearts.

In a world of declining morality with lethal chemical, biological and nuclear agents threatening all of us, we must have our spiritual security in Christ. Pandemics and epidemics may take untold millions into eternity as end-time prophecies foretell, and we must pray that government is diligent in preventing these. But in case of failure, the believer’s fall-back is 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, which promises, "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."

Dave Virkler

Monday, August 11, 2008

John Edwards and King David

Former presidential candidate John Edwards has confessed to marital infidelity. His repeated promise for a moral administration and multiple exhortations regarding national honor are doubly galling in view of his confessed extra-marital affair. This degrades respect for political officials in office now and those aspiring to govern. No believer showing the love of God ought ever to "rejoice in iniquity" (I Cor. 13:6), nor should any gloat if he be in a different political camp. This is clearly a scar on our political landscape, and we are all hurt and disappointed.
Our hurt must not avoid careful biblical analysis, however. This mess has shades of King David’s horrendous sin outlined in 2 Samuel 11 & 12. Bible students usually know this one by heart, but for those unaware of the story it is simply this.

While King David’s men were away across the Jordan River besieging Rabbat (modern Amman), he went to his palace roof at evening. Since the king’s palace was the highest residence in Jerusalem, he could easily spy on other dwellings. Looking down into a beautiful woman’s back yard, he lusted after her, had her brought to his palace and committed adultery. The resulting pregnancy was problematic since Bathsheba’s soldier husband was away with the troops at Rabbat.

So David sent word to his general, Joab, to send Uriah the Hittite home for a battle report and then off to have sex with his wife. It didn’t work since honorable Uriah, who evidently was a pagan convert to Israel, wouldn’t fill his natural desires even though David tried alcohol to loosen his morality. David’s final solution was to send him back and have him killed in a suicide battle. That didn’t work either, for God’s prophet Nathan confronted the wicked king and, as is usually the case, everything was revealed. If The National Enquirer doesn’t blow the cover, then God ultimately will.

While David repented, as found in Psalm 51, and was forgiven, the consequences of his actions remained. The child died, David had Uriah’s blood on his hands, and his surviving military men must have been demoralized. The King was also guaranteed endless family strife and violence (2 Sam. 12:11). His son, Amnon, raped his half-sister Tamar, whose brother, Absalom, then murdered Amnon (2 Samuel 13). Absalom inspired a coup and, as David fled, committed sex crimes in public view. At length, Absalom was killed as he hung by his hair in a tree, done in by Joab, who was privy to the original cover-up involving Bathsheba, and the King became a sobbing wreck. (Read all about it in 2 Sam. 15-18.)

What are the lessons in all this? John Edwards probably knew story of David and Bathsheba but didn’t take it seriously. Or, perhaps he, too, was so overcome with the deceitfulness of sin that he thought he could get away with a cover-up.

Satan does prowl about as a devouring lion as 1 Peter 5:8 warns. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Hebrews 3:13 solemnly says, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

Personal guilt, family shame, political hurt, national scandal and probably future legal action rest on the conscience of John Edwards. As someone said years ago, "A person can live it up for five minutes and not live it down for fifty years!"

This burden is too much for anyone to bear, and, while consequences can never be removed in this life, personal forgiveness is available through the cleansing blood of Christ. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Edwards would do well to emulate the confessed sinner of Luke 18:13, "saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’." He can be similarly justified, which means to be made in God’s sight as though he had never sinned.

In a tender postscript to David’s story, God never brought the matter up again against him. David did, but God didn’t. Thank God for his forgiveness offered to John Edwards and to all of us for whatever sins we’ve committed. Once we are forgiven, God says, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Heb. 10:17).

Dave Virkler

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

McCain Promotes Independent Image

In a new commercial, Senator John McCain, is seeking to distance himself from the current Commander-in-Chief. The ad is in response to accusations on the other side of the aisle that a McCain White House would be a simple and precise rerun of the past 8 years. This has caused the Senator to further push his ‘maverick’ image to convince voters that he is an independent thinker and best equipped to effect the real change needed to fix a broken congress and a struggling economy.

Without question, politics is one tricky business. Those seeking office must somehow relate their adherence to their party’s base and platform. But they must equally appear to have the unique ability to follow their own heart and ‘do their own thing’ when circumstances dictate it and their conscience demands it.

In the spiritual realm there is a parallel and contrast to modern political campaign strategies. There are some that come to Christ in faith by agreeing fully with the basic tenets of salvation. They admit their own sin and guilt. They know Christ is God in the flesh. They believe in their hearts that He died in their place and rose again from the grave. And they fully trust in His ability to keep them secure and prepare for them a heavenly home. (Acts 2:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Peter 1:3-5)

But oddly, many of these same believers stubbornly retain a rigid independence in their daily lifestyles despite God’s many commands and warnings to the contrary. In summary, they also ‘do their own thing’ throughout their earthly journey. They give little, or no, time to the God who created them, loved them, died in their place, and who covets a true commitment and a deep personal relationship with them. Luke reveals in his letter that a choice between the two is mandatory and that there is no neutral or middle ground in spiritual matters. He states, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)

Then in Colossians 3:12-17 Paul lists several aspects of how those rightly related to God in Christ should live. Beginning in verse 12 of the chapter he writes, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Obviously this is all far beyond the reach of any Christian who willingly lives independently of God’s influence and control.

As politicians continue to straddle the party line fence while attempting to appear independent thinkers, Christians that truly understand and care about God’s will realize the futility of this difficult type of blend. Instead they know that the right and best way to direct one’s daily affairs, even if that should include the governing of a mighty nation, is a full dependence on God and the application of the principles outlined in Proverbs chapter 3 and highlighted by verses 5-6.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, August 4, 2008

Aliens Visit Earth?

We are not alone in the universe – at least according to one NASA astronaut.

In 1971 Edgar Mitchell became one of a very small and prestigious club. He and 11 others have been the only humans to physically set foot on the moon. Mitchell’s trip was part of the Apollo 14, a journey that has altered his beliefs on the existence of aliens from outer space.

Speaking on Kerrang Radio out of Britain, Mitchell recently stated that he is convinced the UFO phenomenon is real. The former astronaut grew up in Roswell, NM, the site where some feel the government covered up a crash of an alien ship in 1945. He maintains that this secrecy has been going on for some time and that some officials know that planet earth has been visited repeatedly by other forms of life. In addition to Mitchell’s views, it seems that several of our astronaut ‘moon men’ have developed certain spiritual and philosophical leanings due to their space travel and by gazing upon their own planet from that unique and privileged perspective.

Seeing the earth from space should especially create a sense of wonder and the Bible speaks in Romans chapter one about the majesty of the heavens. In verse 20 we read, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

As far as our not being alone in the universe, that is true on several distinct levels.

First, Paul speaks about the negative side as he instructed Christians for spiritual battle. In his letter to the church at Ephesus he wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesian 6:11-12) The unseen spirit world is real but the forces of darkness are not ‘unidentified' to those who know and study God’s word.

On the other end of the spectrum, believers know instinctively from the heart that they are part of an exclusive club. The are never alone regardless of where their physical body may be. Jesus made this abundantly clear when he said, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans ; I will come to you.". (John 14:16-18)

Edgar Mitchell may, or may not, be right about the existence, or even the cover up, of UFO’s. On that issue, the jury is still out. For Christians, however, it is not about life on other planets, but new life in Jesus Christ. They are living proof that we need not be alone in the world, but can possess both salvation and the constant help and companionship of the Creator Himself.

Bill Breckenridge