Monday, March 30, 2009

Going to Hell?

When it’s heard as mild profanity, few care. When the Bible speaks of Hell as a wretched place of torment, detractors mock it as outmoded superstition. But if a prominent political figure applies it to the economic waywardness of America, perhaps some will take serious note. That is exactly what happened on March 29 as reported by an Associated Press article.

European socialism has long been suggested as a pattern for America, perhaps to better align western nations for a global cooperation and one world government. But when former Communist regimes express dismay over America’s debauched economy, it is indeed time to pay heed.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolaneck, the current European Council president, chastised the United States, telling the European Parliament that President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout "will undermine the stability of the global financial market." According to Topolaneck, "the United States did not take the right path," and he criticized the widening budget deficit and protectionist trade measures by adding that "all of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the way to hell."

He’s not far off. Psalm 9:17 says, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God." That’s a sobering warning to America since we have an abundance of "wicked" people. The word means "morally wrong," or "an actively bad person." Investment brokers like Bernie Madoff, greedy executives who forced hundreds of thousands into unemployment by mismanagement and politicians who forced banks to make impossible loans to unworthy mortgagees are "wicked" by the Bible definition.

Forgetting God seems to be routine these days. Endless hours are spent in discussion and debate, but prayer or any mention of it is avoided like the plague. "In God We Trust" is printed and stamped on U.S. currency and coin, but it’s an empty slogan consciously observed by almost no one.

Shame on us. George Washington prayed in his tent throughout the Revolutionary War Abraham Lincoln fled to God because he had nowhere else to go. Franklin D. Roosevelt led our troops in prayer as they headed for the D-Day invasion. They would all be stunned by the prayerless attitude of our leaders as we face times that can bankrupt our nation and have made us financial slaves of at least 15 nations, among them China, Japan, Venezuela, Russia and Iraq.

James 5:15-18 contrasts wisdom from earth and heaven saying, "This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

While ignoring God’s wisdom is costly and can lead to Hell, accepting it is a free trip to success as James 1:5-8 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

The greatest wisdom for all of us is to heed God’s gracious invitation to receive Christ as Savior since in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). There is still time for nations and individuals to turn from Hell to Heaven, but time is running short.

Dave Virkler

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Titanic Treasures: Who Will Get What?

Nearly 100 years after the monster catastrophe, a federal judge will soon rule on the treasures and artifacts from the infamous Titanic – a word still today fully associated with major disaster. The great ‘unsinkable’ ship remains to this day some 2 ½ miles beneath the Atlantic. It went down in icy international waters on April 15, 1912, and continues to be the watery grave for 1,522 of the ill-fated passengers. And with the original owners long deceased, the vessel’s contents have been subject to competing legal claims ever since an international team found the sunken and decaying craft back in 1985.

Today the salvage company, RMS Titanic Inc., is seeking compensation for the ship’s remaining 5,900 items that they project as having a current value of 110 million dollars. But the company claims their total investment for locating, rescuing, and preserving the historic boat's contents exceeds that impressive figure. RMST has been conducting traveling displays of the prized artifacts and state that the items have been viewed by some 3 million people worldwide. But U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, a maritime jurist, stated, "I am concerned that the Titanic is not only a national treasure, but in its own way an international treasure, and it needs protection and it needs to be monitored." She is expected to rule within weeks that the salvaged items must remain together and accessible to the public.

Jesus spoke often and forcefully about money and earthly treasures. He warned clearly about the danger of allowing such material things, or even just the lust for them, to be a spiritual hindrance. And during His earthly ministry, He sometimes used parables to illustrate and drive home His points on the matter.

In Luke 12 the Lord told of a rich man who was not satisfied, despite being quite well off. His preoccupation with building up his own kingdom eventually collapsed when his life suddenly ended. His flawed philosophy and his miserable downfall are described beginning in verse 18. “So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:18-21)

Then in Mark 10 the Lord spoke about another man who as also well off materially speaking. He is known in most Bible circles as simply “The Rich Young Ruler”. He had sought out Jesus to supposedly inquire how he might gain eternal life. Ironically, he was already quite confident that his overall outward lifestyle would earn him God’s approval. But to his utter shock and dismay, the Lord looked into his heart and honed in on his major flaw – a total preoccupation with material wealth and possessions. The bad ending to their brief meeting is recorded in verses 21-22. “Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” It is beyond tragic when anyone allows the things of this temporal life to rob them of the glory of eternal life in heaven!

The all-knowing Creator God has warned repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, about the destructive dangers of making this world's so-called 'treasures' life’s top concern. And His great wisdom on the subject is nowhere summed up better than through His Son’s precise and profound words - words not requiring a high IQ or some theological degree to grasp.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but 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 6:19-21)

Bill Breckenridge

Please e-mail us with your thoughts or comments.

New 'God-less' Congregations

Greg Epstein is a chaplain at Harvard University. The only problem is that he does not believe in God – at all! His main goal rather is to build ‘God-free’ but ‘church-like' organizations across America that make man the center of everything. The monthly schedule would be similar to many churches, having group meetings to discuss shared beliefs, small groups, and extra activities like parenting classes. The chaplain sees real potential for growth as 15% of people in the United States now claim to possess no religion at all.

Epstein, who was ordained as a rabbi by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2005, defines his philosophy as a commitment to living ethical, personally fulfilling lives while serving the greater good. He plans to promote his idea with his new book, "Good Without God," which is to be published by HarperCollins later this year.

The reality of man rejecting God is as old as man himself. The Old Testament makes that clear at the outset, beginning in Genesis chapter three. Then the New Testament continues the same tragic thread and describes ‘humanism’ in detail long before it had any official secular title or definition.

Romans one vividly outlines man’s spiritual rebellion of God, and how he replaced the praise of the Creator God with the worship of anything and everything else under the sun. Verse 24 reads, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

What Greg Epstein may be unaware of, among other things, is that there is no legitimate good apart from God. All good originates with a righteous and loving Creator, even if done by those who willingly reject His existence or authority in their lives. The reason for all good is seen in Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” When bad men do good things, it is only because they have the imprint of a Holy God on their eternal souls and not because they are somehow fundamentally good. Romans 3:10 leaves little room for discussion on the matter. “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one.” End of discussion!

Epstein also does not see that he will never have a ‘godless church’ if that is indeed how he views his new groups. The definition of the ‘church’ refers to only those who have been called out of the world by a literal eternal God. These have come to God through their personal trust in the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who bond together while denying the reality of God can accurately called themselves anything they like – except a true church body, as a biblical church will in some way model itself after the basic pattern of Acts chapter two. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41-42)

The church is first and foremost a spiritual entity. And it will always revolve around the foundation as laid out by Peter’s great profession of faith in Matthew’s gospel chapter sixteen. Speaking directly to the Lord’s identity question in verse 15, Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16-18)

There is much that separates the one true church from any other organization. The church is a living organism and a spiritual mystery known, and truly understood, only to those who comprise its ranks. (Ephesians 5:32) The founders of the new “Good without God” groups will never make a church or be part of one until they reverse their beliefs and separate themselves from the those characterized in Psalm 14:1. “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God."

To miss this is to miss everything – with the exception of missing the unimaginable blessing of spending eternity in heaven with the head of the one true church – the Lord Jesus Christ!

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Economy Increasing Mental Stress

Mental stress spirals with economyAccording to a landmark Gallup-Healthways poll out this week Americans are becoming more and more stressed out, especially in light of the faltering economy. The daily survey of 355,3334 people determines an ‘Emotional health Index’. (EHI) The largest of all such surveys weighs negative factors against those that are positive.

The survey of 355,334 people is believed to be the largest, longest and most thorough poll showing how emotional well-being shifts due to economic factors. Higher scores are achieved when there are more positive emotions than fewer negative emotions. The study found that those living in Hawaii and Alaska to have the least overall mental stress, while people residing in Kentucky and West Virginia experienced the most.

Stress and strain are not uncommon to man. They are part of the human condition, originating via the first couple’s rebellion against their Creator. (Genesis 3:1-19) The Old Testament figure Job knew all too well about life’s overwhelming difficulties. He detailed his painful experiences in the Bible’s oldest book. In the fifth chapter and verse seven he states, “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Paul also wrote of the universal results of mankind’s fall in Romans 8:21-22. “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

Those who expect life to proceed with little or no stress will be always disappointed. Not only is that true, it sometimes appears that those who honor and live for God are stricken with even more hardships than their godless counterparts. This is a concept written about in some detail by David in Psalm 73. The King had been crying out to God over what he felt to be an unfair balance between the problems of God’s people against those who had no time for spiritual things. But eventually he saw the light – God’s light. Starting with the 16th verse he records, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me — until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.”

There are two basic ways for the Christian to approach the varied difficulties life may bring. There is the sad, and all too common, ‘woe is me’ route that leaves God’s purposes and provisions out of the equation. Then there is the response James offered up in chapter one of his New Testament letter. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Interestingly, the word ‘perfect’ comes from the same Greek word (teleios) as uttered from Jesus when on the cross. At the end of his unspeakable ordeal he cried out, “It is Finished”. His words signaled that the sins of the world were paid for in full. The term means fully complete. In other words, the believer who responds biblically to trials and troubles can become completely spiritually mature!

When life’s trials come, whether rarely and mildly or suddenly and constantly, the Christian faces a choice. He or she can live in total frustration and defeat or view it all as did Paul in Romans 8:18. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” But if Paul’s great perspective is not quite enough to help in the struggle, they need to seriously consider the other advice offered by James – perhaps the exact advice that eventually helped David revise his attitude on the subject.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:4-6)

Experiencing stresses and strains in a fallen world is universal. It is not a choice for those in or outside of family of God. But Christians do have a unique ability through God’s Holy Spirit to react in such a manner as to completely perfect their faith while continually glorifying their Lord!

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, March 23, 2009

Over the Falls

It happened again on March 11th. A man went over Niagara Falls unprotected and survived. He went over the Canadian side and survived after being fished out of the swirling waters of the lower Niagara River.

He’s the third to take the plunge unprotected and live and the second suicide attempt to do so. Some who plummet down the 176-foot cascade are accident victims, and a significant number go over as exhibitionists seeking fame and fortune, but many are bent on self-destruction. According to Mike Hudson of the Niagara Falls Reporter, over 20 people attempt their suicidal demise annually, with a total of 2,780 between 1856 and 1995. The most prevalent day is Monday at 4:00 PM with an alarming increase in September.

Motives include fear of reaching 40 since most men do it at age 39 and women at age 38. There is some thought of causation assigned to nearby casinos that leave gamblers in hopeless debt. Back in 2004, Kirk Jones, as one account has it, "was rapidly approaching middle age, without a job, a wife, or a home to call his own." He said, "I was a 40-year old man with no purpose." Kirk somehow plunged downward and got to shore below with only minor injuries.

The first person ever to go over and live was seven-year old Roger Woodward, whose boat ride on the Niagara River turned into grim history. Roger and his 17-year old sister, Deanne, were taken out into the upper reaches of the swirling Niagara River in a small outboard motorboat by family friend Jim Honeycut. He said he’d show them a thrilling view of the falls from closer than most ever see it.

Passing a point of no return, the small boat could no longer pull against the current, and Honeycut made sure the kids donned their life jackets. Caught in Niagara’s wash, the motor hit rocks, shearing the pin and overturned, flipping all three into the water. Deanne was swept close to shore. Twenty feet from the brink, she was caught by a brave man who leaned far out over the water. She screamed, "Pray for my brother. He’s going over the falls!" A man who was there told me how women screamed and some fainted and others prayed.

Somehow, Roger miraculously survived the plunge over the falls to struggle in the waters below. Maid of the Mist boat captain Clifford Keech saw the boy, and, on the third try, maneuvered close and drew him aboard. Roger was released from the hospital 48 hours later with only minor injuries. Honeycut’s mangled body was retrieved four days later at the Maid of the Mist boat dock.

Later, Roger went to Bible camp and made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. He said, "I guess the Lord saved me the first time so He could save me the second time." Summarizing his story years later, Roger said, "It wasn’t the hand of fate, it wasn’t the hand of luck, it wasn’t the spirit of [Indian princess] Lelawala, it was the spirit of the living God that saved my life that day and saved my sister and gave us hope that one day we would come to know Him."

Roger had it right. The reason we are kept physically alive is to grant us time to hear the Gospel story of God’s love in Christ, who died on the Cross to pay for our sins and rose the third day to give us eternal life. If you are reading this and have never trusted Christ, God has given you this additional time to ask Christ into your life as John 1:12-13 says: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Acts 4:12 declares, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," and 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

Dave Virkler

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

‘Monster Father’ on Trial

He imprisoned his own daughter in a dirty cramped basement dungeon for twenty-four long horrific years. He fathered seven children by her, three of which never saw the light of day until the gruesome diabolical lifestyle of Josef Fritz was revealed. One of the infants reportedly died due to lack of medical attention, something that could add murder to the list of pending charges. If convicted, the Austrian faces up to thirty-five years in prison – a seeming slap on the wrist in comparison to the magnitude of his crimes and the agony he inflicted.

It is simply impossible to imagine this form of evil and the pain felt by his helpless victims. But with that in mind, there are at least two overriding biblical themes that must be kept in mind.

First, regardless of the penalty inflicted by the human courts, there may well be a far more serious judgement to follow for a Josef Fritz. The Scriptures abound concerning the fate of those who die in their sins and apart from God’s great redemptive plan. Romans 1:18 reads, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” And in Luke 12:4-5 the Lord warns, "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

The Bible assures that God’s dealings with sinful unregenerate man will be fully just – something assumed by Abraham when he pleaded for the few innocent souls in Sodom. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

Secondly, while a ‘monster father’ may well face the eternal wrath of God, and deservedly so, the Bible also reveals that even the worst of the worst are not beyond the grace of God. The Apostle Paul himself is perhaps the ultimate illustration. Speaking of his own life and guilt in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 he declared, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.”

Then back in 1 Corinthians 6 he expands on the scope of God’s salvation. The offer includes the remarkable forgiveness of all sin and any sinner through personal faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 9 begins, “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” But verse eleven quickly turns the theological corner and reveals the extent of God’s stunning mercy. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

The word ‘washed’ means to be redeemed or set free by having a ransom price paid. ‘Sanctified’ means to be viewed by God as holy. And the term ‘justified’ means to be seen as though one had literally never even sinned at all. As a once popular Christian song put it, “Calvary covers it all.”

The basic bottom line is this: God will rightly judge those who remain in their sin and will fully forget the sins of those who trust Christ and remain in His eternal protective care.

"Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (Hebrews 10:17)

Bill Breckenridge

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Forgiving Her Husband’s Murderer?

In an exclusive interview with the Early Show, Cindy Winters, the wife of the Illinois pastor slain in his own church just over a week ago, has stated her feelings toward the man who robbed her of her beloved husband, her daughter's father, and even that of her own pastor.

The now single mom told co-anchor Julie Chen that she harbored no hard feelings toward the man who brutally shot her husband and removed what would have been many more years of fruitful ministry together and a healthy and happy marriage. The spiritually mature Winters told Chen, “We are not angry at all, and we really firmly believe that he can find hope and forgiveness and peace through this, by coming to know Jesus. And we hope that that happens for him. I hope that he comes to understand that God loves him in spite of his sins and that he can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

The vast majority just cannot fathom how someone in Cindy Winters shoes could even utter such words, much less really meaning them. But that is because the vast majority of the world is unfamiliar with the expectations and the spiritual power of Holy Spirit of God who resides in the new widow’s heart and life.

Cindy Winters knows that the Holy Spirit expects her to fully forgive, just as she has been fully forgiven:

“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.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Cindy Winters fully expects the Holy Spirit to be her divine comforter, even in life’s hardest trials:

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you." (John 14:27)

Cindy Winters expects the Holy Spirit of God to deal with, and be the ultimate and final judge of, all sin:

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19)

Cindy Winters expects to turn something bad into an opportunity to do good through the Spirit’s power:

“Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21)

And Cindy Winters expects the Spirit’s salvation to be the only solution to sin and eternal judgement:

“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:8)

No, the world just cannot fathom a Cindy Winters - or any others like her. That is because she is on intimate terms with her Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. And she is fully guided, comforted, and empowered by His indwelling Spirit. Those apart from Christ can never expect what this godly woman knows and expects. And that is because they know nothing of the miraculous abilities described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 5.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-
suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Do you personally know the Spirit of the living God? And if not, what do you expect when the next serious crisis suddenly invades your life?

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Sobering Thought

Catastrophic destruction of American cities is the theme of a recent prophecy by well-known Charismatic pastor David Wilkerson. He first attracted attention by his journey from an obscure Pennsylvania town to New York City to establish Teen Challenge in 1958. This commendable ministry to hopeless drug addicts was told in the best-selling book and then the movie "The Cross and The Switchblade" starring Pat Boone. Periodically Wilkerson has offered prophecies that have not come true. Years ago, he predicted that a certain economic downturn would occur and that the Roman Catholic Church was about to come down hard on the Charismatic movement, neither of which came to pass.

Now, Wilkerson envisions New York City, it’s outlying metropolitan areas and even other U.S. cities in flames as the direct judgment of God upon sinful America as Psalm 11 forecasts, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" While no specific date is declared, Wilkerson indicates imminent terrors. He wrote on his blog, "An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen. It is so frightening, we are all going to tremble, even the godliest among us." He urges everyone to stock a 30-day emergency supply of survival supplies to deal with the impending disaster. Wilkerson’s non-specificity is couched in vague terms. "I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off."

We hope Wilkerson is wrong, but biblical prophecy generally shows him to be eventually right. The inevitable judgments of God on a wayward American society should sober every believer to the need for spiritual revival and drive every unbeliever to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
Our morally downward-spiraling country and the world in general cannot avoid horrible catastrophic judgments. Psalm 9:17 says, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."

America’s consent to Obama administration policies such as increased government funding of abortions, homosexual marriage and free expression in the military, destruction of human embryos in stem cell research, possible loss of job protection for medical personnel who object to participating in abortions, the threat of removing tax exemption for preaching biblical truth against sin and general slippage of biblical norms does not go unnoticed by a holy God. Further, the unconscionable deficit bailouts leave us vulnerable to foreign domination since we’ve sold our economic soul.

Whether by fiery attack or financial collapse, America is likely rushing toward chaos. Wilkerson’s warning is well taken, not as a personal invention but as a reflection of God’s sobering word. After noting that ancient Israel acted as though God was deaf, dumb and blind, the Almighty said, "Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God" (Ps. 50:22-23).

The conclusion prescribes the remedy: focusing on God and behaving as He commands. Without these twin commitments, destruction is likely approaching.

Dave Virkler

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shocking Multi-Massacres

It is the worst mass murder in the state’s history. Twenty-eight-year-old Michael McLendon began his brief reign of terror by gunning down several members of his own family before traveling to another location and killing 3 more random victims, then shooting himself to death.

McLendon fired some 200 rounds total but was reported to have had more ammunition at his disposal had the rampage continued. As is often the case, the killer, who had once trained as a police officer, was described by his previous employer as a "reliable team leader" who was "well-liked.” The gruesome event took place just before another hideous scene outside Stuttgart, Germany, where a gunman returned to his former school and proceeded to kill 15 in that nation’s worst school shooting ever. The 17-year-old eventually tuned the weapon on himself to avoid capture by the police. The two events also just followed the horrendous murder of a pastor in his own pulpit last Sunday in Illinois.

It is safe to say that none of the 26 or so dead in these three separate incidents had any thought of entering eternity and facing their Creator on the days where they drew their last difficult breaths. Each one likely had a schedule for their day and plans for their night. They had lives to live but had no warning that their lives might quickly end – or did they?

The wisdom books of the Bible give ample warning on how to view each day as it comes. Solomon put it this way to his son. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) The New Testament counterpart reads this way. “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 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. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-16)

The tragic events in Alabama, Illinois, and Germany reveal some negative biblical truths:

- The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9)
- God’s adversary, the devil, continually seeks to destroy. (1 Peter 5:8)
- Death and judgement will come to all at some time. (Hebrews 9:27)
- It is frightening to die and be unprepared to face a holy God. (Hebrew 10:31)

But the events of the last week can also point to positive and corrective biblical solutions:
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life”
(1 John 5:11-13)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Illinois Pastor Killed

Another church slaying has taken place. A pastor has been brutally murdered while speaking in a Sunday morning service. This time it was in Illinois at the First Baptist Church in Maryville.

During an early morning service a man strolled down the aisle, spoke briefly to Pastor Fred Winters, and then opened fire with a 45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. Those attending the service did not respond initially, thinking the action to be part of a skit. But when it dawned on them what was really happening, two of the church’s men jumped the gunman and wrestled him to the floor while receiving knife wounds of their own in the skirmish.

There was a reason why so many thought the scene to be a planned part of the service. It had to do with the placement of the first shot fired. After realizing what was coming, Pastor Winters raised his Bible in self-defense. The first bullet struck the scared book, shattering it into hundreds of confetti-like pieces. Unfortunately the following shots found their mark and did their evil work just before the gun mysteriously jammed and prevented further damage.

One of the members at First Baptist said the following after the event. “He had just been teaching these last few weeks about how God had big plans for the church, that they had been growing so much, that they had drawn the communities' attention. But that meant that they were also drawing Satan's attention.” The father of two had been the pastor at the growing church for 22 years.

The lessons and spiritual applications from this latest attack are nearly endless – the most obvious one being ‘readiness’. 1 Peter 5:8 shares the core reason to be ready in sobering terms. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is never happy or satisfied with an effective church or with individual believers who take their faith seriously.

Then, 2 Timothy 4:2 speaks to the church, but specifically to its pastors. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." Verse 5 then adds, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Pastor Fred was doing exactly what he was called to do despite what occurred.

Also, Peter pens some sound advice to be applied even in the midst of the most fearful times. “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” For a Christian, it is the center of God’s will that is the safest spot on earth. (1 Peter 3:13-15)

Lastly, there are the words of Jesus himself - words meant to bring peace and purpose even in the midst of something as senseless and sinful as what just took place. "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5) The members of First Baptist, who understand the great truth of eternal life in Christ, today cling to the blessed reality that their brother is now in God’s glorious presence. (2 Corinthian 5:8) His fear was not in the man who sinned against him but rightfully in the God who saved Him!

Christians everywhere should pray diligently for the family of the slain Illinois pastor and for the grieving members of his beloved church family. They should likewise pray for those on the front lines of spiritual battle and called to lead their own local congregations. And all should beseech the Almighty for His supernatural help to apply the difficult, but doable, commands in Romans 12 and 1 Peter 1.

"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.” (1 Peter 1:6-8)

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, March 9, 2009

Religion: Going, Going, Gone?

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, has suggested that more and more Americans are less and less ‘religious’. The study found that growing numbers claim to have no religious tendencies or practices at all.

The survey included 54,461 adults and was conducted from February through November of last year. The findings, which are part of a series of studies on trends in American religion, found that Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region. Of the 15% who now claim to no religious bent whatsoever, Vermont reports the highest share at 34 percent of the state, although the overall number of like-minded Americans rose in every state.

The future of America will be closely tied to her people’s attitude toward the God of the Bible and toward the moral principles found in His word. Tragically, the current statistics reveal the sad truth of a nation in steady decline and in desperate need of spiritual revival more than economic repair. But the growing numbers who claim to have no religion at all have overlooked something basic in the New Testament book of Romans.

Beginning in Romans 1:18, the Apostle Paul reveals that God cannot, and will not, excuse sin and spiritual rebellion. Verses 19-21 show why none can honestly state that they do not have any belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Attempting to do so requires a conscious suppression of the obvious truth that is all around them and instinctively in them. Verses 21- 24 of the chapter get right to the heart of the matter for those who claim to have no religion. The 21st verse begins, “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”

Simply stated, everyone worships something or someone. And if it is not the Creator God of the Scriptures, another entity will always take His place. Man was created to worship and fellowship with his Maker and that can only take place through a saving knowledge of His Savior Son. The New Testament uses the term religion very sparingly, with two of the times being in James chapter one. James writes, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26-27)

The word ‘religion’ in this passage comes from a Greek word that refers to a pious ceremonial worship. It is generally connected to some organized church setting or particular denomination. And perhaps the growing numbers who claim no religious affiliation are those who no longer attend formal church services in any way. But having, or not having, ‘religion’ is not the issue. It is all about having or not having a relationship with Jesus Christ – a truth boldly presented in 1 John 5:11-12. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

If America is becoming less ‘religious', and therefore less moral and more vulnerable to decay, it is not because her people have no formal religion. It will be because they have no relationship with a Savior. And it will be partly because those who do know Christ have allowed their faith to degenerate to just a formal ‘religion’ and have not fully heeded the warning of Romans 12.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Bill Breckenridge

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Depression = Heart Trouble?

It’s official, or at least highly suggested. Depression can break your heart – in more ways than one!

Franois Lesperance of the University of Montreal will report his findings today at theAmerican Psychosomatic Society meeting in Chicago. His research has found that depression makes people more vulnerable to heart trouble. It is also being reported that depression can lead adults already having heart trouble to fare worse than other patients. Part of the problem is that depressed adults lack the energy for exercise and often do not eat healthy while feeling they have little hope.

It is known that some do legitimately suffer depression due to some chemical imbalance in the brain. But a larger and growing number seem to be drawn into some dark emotional existence due to external factors both in or maybe out of their immediate control. But regardless of the source or severity of the discouragement, the Bible is far from silent on the issue. And interestingly, Scripture does not draw any distinction between the source or reason for various forms of depression – but only provides God’s view of how to deal with it.

The medical study from the University of Montreal showed how the state of the emotional heart could negatively effect the condition of its physical counterpart. The Bible likewise mentions in Proverbs 3 how a spiritually healthy heart can affect the well-being of the physical organ. Verse 7-8 teaches, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” But most importantly the Creator God, who made both versions of man’s heart, is most interested in the condition of the spiritual form. And He has revealed the possibilities of dealing with, and defeating, the stress and strain that often initiates a cycle of deep or debilitating discouragement.

When writing of the blessings and benefits available to every true child of God, Paul listed in Galatians 5 several things he termed there as ‘fruit of the Spirit’. Interestingly, the first 4 traits have direct bearing on, and speak to the emotional state of, the spiritual human heart. They include love, joy, peace, and longsuffering or patience. These 4 categories point to the Biblical promise for any Christian to possess a healthy, balanced, and spiritually focused mind.

LOVE (2 Timothy 1:6-7) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

JOY (John 15:11) "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

PEACE (John 14:27-28) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

LONGSUFFERING (Romans 15:4) ”For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Life is sometimes hard – extremely hard. We all live in a fallen world where sin, pain, and suffering can often seem just overwhelming. But while the Christian is not at all immune to some of life’s typical troubles, he will have choices and options that those without Christ can never even grasp. Paul expresses the source of this truth in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 stating, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

The Holy Spirit of God has given the believer in Christ supernatural abilities. This has, in turn, made possible the reality seen in passages like Philipians 4:6 – even when discouragement, depression and the weight of the world presses in from all sides. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

And of course there is the best way to prevent slipping into anxiety or depression, and for getting out of both, is by fully following the 2 specific mandates revealed in Romans 12. Verse one requires making positive efforts to faithfully serve the Lord instead of focusing of all things negative. Then verse two speaks of saturating the mind with the cleansing and healing balm of Biblical truth instead of absorbing the godless ways of the world.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Both areas in the above passage can strengthen, repair, and protect a Christina’s inner heart while having potential for good effects on his physical one.

Bill Breckenridge

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

All Things, All Men, All Means

Seldom does a local evangelical church puzzle the Hollywood media establishment by contesting their secular dominance over theater offerings. Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia accomplished this stunning feat—three times!

Recently, I was honored to interview Alex Kendrick, director, co-writer, actor and even musician involved in three movies: "Flywheel", "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof."

Alex shared how ardent prayer launched the bold endeavor. The films have all been produced with stunningly low budgets. "Flywheel," the first film, cost only $20,000. In a unique approach, untrained actors, most of whom were local church members, have played every role with the exception of Kirk Cameron in "Fireproof." To ensure credibility, actors were chosen for the way they lived their Christian lives in real life. Alex himself had no previous acting experience, but starred in "Flywheel" and "Facing the Giants."

Kendrick estimates that about five million people viewed "Fireproof" in theaters, and 5,000 churches have shown the film. Tens of thousands of decisions for Christ or rededications to the Lord, often preserving a marriage, have resulted. Alex and his brother Stephen Kendrick wrote the book "Love Dare" that is the 40-day challenge for salvaging and restoring marriages that is featured in the movie. Churches are using this for small groups and classes.

I later heard Alex in an open question and answer session about "Fireproof". Queries about preparation, actors, financing and equipment brought surprising answers.

Untold hours of prayer birthed and focused each aspect and every scene. About 1,200 people volunteered their services in production. Kirk Cameron volunteered his time. The female lead quit her job with Disney to play the role, losing seniority if she would ever return, but Disney later rehired her later at better pay. The Albany Fire Department’s brand new fire engines were offered for filming even before the department used them. An actual house needing demolition was given for the jarring rescue scene. The building was actually set on fire and then used by the fire department in a training exercise. The kissing scene of marriage restoration was done with Cameron’s wife as a stand-in to avoid any appearance of evil. The profits from the films have built a park for Albany’s citizens.

And after two years of prayer and planning, a fourth film is being considered. Kendrick told me that the secular movie makers are bewildered by these low budget films attracting both saint and sinner into secular theaters to view stories of personal salvation, amazing rededication and even marriage restoration.

Most viewers don’t intend to cry, but one has to be a hardened critic not to shed a tear as godly emotion sweeps through the scenes. As I watched the films on DVD in the context of Kendrick’s insights, crucial verses came to mind.

Isaiah 54:2-3 says, "Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left…." Through the production of these films, the church has expanded its ministry far beyond Albany to the entire country and even the world.

A New Testament counterpart is I Corinthians 9:19–22. "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." They used the unusual means of cinema to reach all types of people.

The Apostle Paul saw his evangelistic opportunities as anything that was ethical, economical and effective as long as it did not violate his ultimate commitment to Christ. He made the shift from what we usually define as "spiritual" to what he felt was a worthy means of outreach. God’s work deals in divine superlatives: "all things … all men … all means."

I am inspired by the Sherwood Baptist Church, and I am honored to have shared a few stirring minutes with Alex Kendrick. He and his dedicated team have established a high water mark in Christian media.

"Media" is the plural of "medium," which is a means of getting a message from the source to the recipient. It is a Biblical concept that focuses on Christ who is the inspiration for every supportive means of sharing the Gospel. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…" (I Timothy 2:5 & 6).

Dave Virkler

Note: My interview with Alex Kendrick is available on our ministry website ( under Broadcasts and also on our ministry page at

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Three Strikes You're Out?

He was know as ‘Chemical Ali’ and was one of the more notorious characters under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

And now an Iraqi judge has issued the death sentence on Hassan al-Majid. He was convicted for ordering poison gas to be used on select groups of Iraqi people who were being persecuted by Hussein during his infamous rule. Interestingly, this will be the third sentence of death placed upon ‘Ali’ especially for his crimes against his nation's Shiites a decade ago.

Although justice through government is something approved by God according to Romans 13, humanly speaking it sometimes does not seem enough, especially when the crimes are particularly massive and gruesome. But man’s punishment is really just the beginning in light of what will follow.

The Bible is crystal clear on what to expect when the short life on earth is quickly replaced by the long life in eternity. In the case of Chemical Ali, the three death sentences will seem as nothing when contrasted to the words of Hebrews 9 and the reality of a potential sentence originating from the very One who created him. Verse 27 reads, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” And for those not on the proper spiritual footing with their Creator, Hebrews 10:30-31 adds a more sobering thought to the mix. “For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The Bible reveals that every man and woman ever born all fall short of God’s holy standard and are deserving of ultimate judgement. This includes even those with ‘sins’ that cannot be compared to those of a ‘Chemical Ali’ - by human standards. But when the above mentioned appointed judgement arrives, the just and righteous judge of all the earth will use just one simple criteria to determine guilt and eternal punishment as spelled out in no uncertain terms in 1 John 5.

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (John 5:10-13)

Bill Breckenridge

A Snowbound Global Warming Protest

It may just be the largest ever protest of global warming in the U.S. But it was also a protest held, ironically, in biting cold temperatures and several inches of snow!

On March 2, organizers of ‘PowerShift 09’ participated in the gathering in southeast Washington, D.C., just outside the coal burning power plant that supplies energy to heat and cool the Congressional building, the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, was an an invited guest to the event but was unable to attend due to the inclement weather.

The jury is still out on rising planetary temperatures and there are competent scientists on both side of the atmospheric fence. Questions remain as to whether or not the phenomenon is real and if anything can or should be done to address it. And while many show great concern about the direction of their physical world, very few seem to realize where the planet they call home is someday headed for from the perspective of the One who created it and maintains it.

In his second letter, the Apostle Peter wrote about the 2nd coming of Christ to earth and the impact that will have on the earth. In chapter 3 and verse 10 he declares, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.“ Obviously this global warming will be an awesome and catastrophic event. Not only should it overshadow the current discussion in contrast, but it should bring with it some probing and deeper questions of a far more serious nature.

For those not spiritually prepared to face a holy God, Christ’s return should be scary – and with good reason. The Scriptures speak forcefully about a literal hell. They warn of an eternal torment comprised of literal flames for God’s arch-enemies and for those who reject His free offer of salvation through His Son. (Luke 16:24-25, Revelation 14:10-11, 20:9-10)

Those outside of God’s family need to be far more concerned about the global warming forecast in the Bible. It is exponentially more important than the rising heat that causes them to run their air conditioner or any worry about melting ice caps or even air quality. The warming spoken of in Scripture has reference to what comes in the next life - the truly vital issue of this life! Mark put it this way. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

But for those to whom Christ’s return is a great event, complete with reward, and the fulfillment of a long-awaited ‘blessed hope’, that same passage that describes their planet’s demise in terms of their life-long purpose. In light of the end of all things material, Peter then poses a serious question meant to stir up serious reaction. In verse 11 of that third chapter he writes, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?"

Only those who have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord can view the eventual elimination of their earthly home with an understanding, confidence, and inexpressible joy that ranges far beyond those who live life purely on the physical plane.

Bill Breckenridge

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Monday, March 2, 2009

The Rest of the Story

An American news legend has passed on. Paul Harvey (born Paul Harvey Aurandt), whose famous "The Rest of the Story" and daily newscasts were heard by an estimated 23 million each week, finished his earthly life at age 90 on February 28, 2009, the last day of the year’s shortest month.

Harvey overcame the murder of his father when he was only three. Aided by his talented wife "Angel" and his news-savvy son Paul Jr., Harvey set the broadcast standard for concise, often unusual stories seamlessly blended with believable advertisements. He was the recipient of 30 major awards.

Right now, Harvey’s most significant asset is not what he did throughout his long career but where he is at this moment. While assigning genuinely redemptive salvation is exclusively God’s knowledge, some encouraging markers have been left us in Harvey’s own words.

In a 2003 interview, Larry King asked Harvey about his faith, and the famed newscaster referred to John 3:16 as his life’s spiritual mainspring. In fact, I recall a commentary several years ago where Harvey simply noted Billy Graham’s success by saying his message was basically John 3:16 and then quoting, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The foundational assurance of personal salvation is observed in the lead-up context of John 3:16. The Israelites were perishing from killer flying fiery serpents (Numbers 21). The serpents were entwined on a cross, which was erected for the healing look of faith. John 3:14-16 explains, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." From this, we learn that the venom of sin, spewed by the satanic snake in Eden, is purged by the blood of Christ shed on the cross.

Answering another of Larry King’s queries, Paul Harvey recalled his baptism. After hearing an inarticulate preacher explain its meaning, Harvey was baptized in an obscure church pond in Arizona. Harvey didn’t fully explain its meaning to King, but careful study of this historic ordinance reveals that being plunged under the water pictures one’s death with Christ, and emergence from the water portrays the resurrection life of Christ as reborn life in the believer.

Romans 6:4-10 says, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him."

Paul Harvey was neither preacher nor evangelist, but personally affirming the truth of John 3:16 and unashamedly recalling his expression of saving faith through Christian baptism are convincing markers left behind on his road to Heaven.

We may not fully know Harvey’s spiritual state, which is known only by God, but our personal redemption and assurance of Heaven is always just a sincere, sinner’s prayer away.

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). A great outline I heard years ago of this verse was that this guarantee of Heaven came about not by human descent, nor human design, nor human desire but by Divine decree.

If Christ is our Savior, Heaven is our home. Salvation is not by trying but by trusting.

Dave Virkler