2019 – Changed Lives Archives – Mar/Apr
Are Mormons Really Christian?
Testimony of Micah Wilder
This man, Micah Wilder, may not be famous in our eyes, but he is certainly famous in God’s eyes. He states at the very beginning of his presentation at a church he visited in California, that God has transformed him “from a very religious man to a trophy of His [God’s] grace.” What does this mean, exactly? Was growing up in a strong and faithful Mormon home not part of what we define as Christian? What’s the difference between these two religions?
Micah’s family was steeped in the Mormon religion; his mother was a professor at Brigham Young University, (a Mormon institution). At age 19, Micah answered the call to be a Mormon missionary. It was a two-year commitment that young people in the Mormon church are expected to complete. He described himself as zealous for his faith, believing he had to earn his way to God’s love and approval.
After his missionary training, Micah’s first assignment was in the city of Orlando, Florida, a very evangelically and biblically based area. Micah naively believed he would have great success there, leading many to his faith. He did not realize what he was in for.
After riding around on his bike for a few months in his white shirt, black pants and tie, he came across a Baptist minister. Micah attempted to convert this man to the Mormon faith, and that’s when his real challenge began. You see, Micah was taught there was no salvation outside the Mormon church and the only way one could make themselves right with God was through works and religious acts.
Micah stated his case for his version of the Gospel. The minister then responded to him with the true Christian Gospel. He explained that it is only through the shed blood of Jesus that anyone can be made right with God. Titus 3:5 says, “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy . . .” (NIV). Micah tearfully said, “This was the love of God that I did not know, but it was the love of God that I always wanted. But my God loved me only as far as I proved myself to Him. But like it says in Romans five, ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Romans 5:8; NIV). That was the Good News!”
For the first time, Micah heard that salvation was a free gift according to Ephesians 2:89, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” (NIV). But because Micah was a “religious” man, he was compelled to reject this Gospel! He argued with the minister and contended for his Mormon doctrines.
The minister said one last thing to Micah before he departed: “I challenge you to go home and to read the Bible as a child. And I promise you that if you will do that, God will change your life and He will open your eyes and show you for the first time in your life what the true Gospel of Jesus Christ really is.”
The Maze of Mormonism exposes: *The fortune-telling past of Joseph Smith, Jr., Mormonism’s founder. * The ego flattering Mormon doctrine of Exaltation to Godhood. * The racist Mormon doctrine concerning the Negro – including the first in-depth treatment from a Biblical Christian basis of the Mormon “revelation” concerning the blacks! * The occultic practices in the secret temple ceremonies of the Mormon temple. * The anti-Christian boasts of the Mormon Church to be the “restoration” of Christianity among the apostate Protestant and Catholic churches. The Maze of Mormonism is a complete and concise guide to any Christian, lay or clergy, unraveling the confused maze of Mormon Doctrine and practice with the measuring rod of the Bible and the truth which is in Christ alone. The Maze of Mormonism will give you a firm grasp on the truth of Christianity and the means to communicate your life in Christ to the Mormons you meet.
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Micah left feeling frustrated and angry, but over a period of about 18 months, he stepped up to the minister’s challenge. And as he read the Word, God consumed him with His amazing love; a love his religion could never offer him. God slowly transformed Micah as he learned the truth about what Jesus Christ had done for him. Then three weeks before the end of his missionary assignment, Micah became a born-again believer!
If you get a chance, please watch Micah’s testimony. You can click the link under “References” below. You’ll be so drawn in by his heart-felt story. And you’ll see that God’s word just pours out of Him–no teleprompters here! This is a young man who knows the Scriptures and knows the author who wrote them.
So when you see one of these Mormon missionaries and you think it’s impossible to speak to them about Jesus, just realize that you can plant a seed of truth in their life. And God can water that seed and bring it to bear fruit. Because “. . . with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26; NIV).
To understand more about the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, order and read our featured book, today.
Everybody Runs Out of Time
Remember Mickey Rooney? There’s no doubt that you’ve seen him in one film or another. He appeared in over three hundred films during his nine-decade acting career. In fact, he was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era. You might say he lived life to the fullest, and yet he lived through his share of turmoil, too. For one thing, he was married eight times! That’s enough to drive anyone mad. But near the end of his life he gained some important wisdom. Would you like to guess what that was? Read on . . .
Mickey Rooney grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and made his first film debut at the age of six. He continued with vaudeville and various plays. At age fifteen he starred in a film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was said that that particular performance was simply magical. He starred in several other hit movies and shows such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Sugar Babies (1979), The Black Stallion (1980), and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, (1997-1999).
In addition to his large repertoire of films, stage plays, and Broadway shows, Rooney was also well known as a comedian, producer, and radio personality. People believed in him; they said he could do anything. And the proof was certainly in the pudding.
One thing that didn’t come easily for Mickey was sound judgment and wisdom. It was bad enough that he went through so many wives in his lifetime, even starting families with some of them. But his failures seeped into his finances as well, as he gambled away most of his wealth.
It’s a shame that wisdom is only found in our “golden years”. We fall down so much in life and find ourselves struggling to figure out how to get back up and go on. And through that process, wisdom comes . . . hopefully. So what about Mickey? What saved him in the end?
It was in the mid 1970s that Mickey describes a spiritual encounter he had. He was sitting in a coffee shop when he was greeted by a busboy with “blond curls, a white-rose complexion, and shining teeth,” he explained in a 2011 interview. He said the busboy approached him and whispered in his ear, “Mr. Rooney, Jesus Christ loves you very much.” Then the mysterious busboy vanished. Mickey tried to find him but was told that no one with that description worked there. Mickey came to believe he was visited by an angel.
“I know men who would write a check for a million dollars if they could find peace,” writes Reverend Graham. “Millions are searching for it. But we Christians have found it! It is ours now and forever. We have found the secret of life! Billy Graham shares God’s gentle, reassuring promise of spiritual calm—of authentic personal peace—amidst a personal life wracked with too much stress, too many burdens, too great a heartache.
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Because of that experience, Rooney found the Truth of Jesus Christ. His son was already a born-again, minister of the Gospel who most likely facilitated Rooney’s spiritual growth. Since then he boldly proclaimed his faith in the Savior. He wisely stated that “everybody runs out of time” and therefore had the following advice to give in his last interview by “Albin” for Treasure Train. The interview was done in 1993 before his passing.
“I’ve given my life to God . . . and I try and do the right thing, but inevitably, and unfortunately, I do the wrong thing. I suffer from being human . . . If you go with God and with Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and leave the troubles and everything to God, everything will work out for you . . . You should take your children to church and teach them about Jesus Christ and about God, who makes the sunshine and the moon glow and gives us so many blessings.”
In spite of Mickey Rooney’s monumental success, he struggled all of his life. And In the end he found the love of God and all his failures were washed away. Watching this short interview, you can see it in his eyes; you can see the joy. And now he is in a place where fame and fortune do not matter anymore. He is at peace; he is at rest. He’s found his way to the promise-land. You can too, if you would only be willing to receive the wonderful gift of eternal life that Jesus Christ has to offer you.
Beautiful Bethany Hamilton was born in 1990 in Hawaii and grew up surrounded by the beauty of the islands. It’s no wonder then, that at a very young age, she fell in love with surfing, becoming seriously competitive by the time she was eight years old. Then at age thirteen, tragedy struck. It was the Devil’s way of trying to tear apart her life. Just when she was winning awards and placing first for her country, a horrible accident rendered her disabled . . . well for a time.
One morning while surfing along Tunnels Beach in Kauai with family and friends, she stopped to lay on her surf board for a bit to lounge in the water. Without warning, a 14-foot tiger shark approached her and did the unthinkable: it rose up and bit off her arm!
Her friends helped her back to shore and her friend’s dad wrapped a make-shift tourniquet around the stump of her arm. She was then rushed to the hospital where it was determined that she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock. Doctors immediately performed surgery. Following a successful procedure to close her wounds, she spent three weeks in recovery before being released to go home.
How does one go on from something like that? How does one find the hope or the courage to continue with life? Bethany had lost her entire left arm! Just living life from day to day would prove difficult enough. And then there was her love for surfing. Surely her dreams in that respect would be shattered. Most people would have given up, but not Bethany.
Despite the trauma she suffered, Bethany persevered and returned to her sport. Just one month after the attack, she went back to her surfboard, trying to figure out how she could learn to surf with one arm.
She started with a custom-made board with features that made it easier for her to paddle. And she learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her arm. After three months of fine tuning her skills she started competing in major events again. In time she graduated to a standard surfboard. But she kept her shark-bitten board that she eventually donated to the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.
Is it a coincidence that Bethany is a born-again Christian? No, it is not. Bethany was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where she learned how to live by real faith in God. And those early teachings shaped her attitudes and convictions, and held her together when her whole world collapsed around her.
You see for those who believe, winning is a way of life, and victory is not dependent on positive circumstances. As believers, we can rise up in victory even when bad things happen. As believers, we walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we stand our ground based on what God has said, regardless of how the Devil might try to interfere or change our perspective.
SOUL SURFER (DVD) is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through her sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast, including AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid.
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The following are quotes by Bethany Hamilton. These words come directly from her website; a site that promotes health, wellness, and unstoppable faith in Jesus Christ. Bethany writes: “God’s word is my constant source of truth. It’s where I place my trust and where I discover the life He’s called me to. God has so many beautiful gifts for us. His word is one of them. I encourage you today to find some time to meditate and dwell on God, His word, and His promises for you.”
Bethany also talks about resting in God’s presence: “My overcoming strategy for today is: His Presence is My Weapon. Rest is more than a nice feeling. Rest can help you thrive in all that you have going on. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Are you resting in Him, today?
Rev. Dr. Tim LaHaye became most famous in 1995 when he joined with Jerry B. Jenkins to coauthor the best selling series, Left Behind. Twelve books were written; over 65 million copies were sold. And thousands of people came to know Jesus Christ through this fictionalized, apocalyptic series. So who was Tim LaHaye, and how did Left Behind come about?
Tim’s story began in Detroit, Michigan; he was born in 1926. Not much is known about his family life except that Tim lost his father to a heart attack when he was just nine years old. He must have been very close to his dad for it is said that Tim was unconsolable over his father’s death.
Then a ray of light shone through into Tim’s young life. He learned about Jesus. He learned that for those who accept Jesus as Savior, there is hope. They will enter heaven when they die, and will be with other loved ones who have also accepted Christ as Savior. Tim also discovered his dad had made a profession of faith in Jesus before he passed away! What a comfort that was to him.
LaHaye spent his early years pursuing his education. He received several degrees from Christian institutions including a Bachelor of Arts, a Doctor of Ministry, and a Doctor of Literature. From there, he entered the ministry, pastoring three different churches, one of which was Shadow Mountain Community Church where he served for almost 25 years.
In addition to ministry, LaHaye was interested in politics, conservative values–he helped found the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell–as well as marriage and family, and of course end-time prophecy and all things eschatology. And he wrote more than 85 fiction and non-fiction books during his lifetime, but was best known for his part in the Left Behind series.
LaHaye said the idea for the series came to him one day while he was sitting on an airplane and saw a married pilot flirting with a flight attendant. He wondered what would happen if the Rapture happened at that moment. Would that pilot be resurrected into the presence of Jesus, or would he be left behind?
The first book in the series opens with a similar scene: it starts with the Rapture and follows the outcome of the people who remain on Earth to face what is called the Tribulation. The Tribulation can be described as the worst period in human history that lasts for seven years. It is a time when all the Christians will have been removed and the world will be ruled by the Anti-Christ. This apocalyptic time culminates in the complete destruction of the world.
The Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling Christian novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, dealing with the End Times: the pretribulation, premillennial, Christian eschatological interpretation of the Biblical apocalypse. The primary conflict of the series is the members of the Tribulation Force, an underground network of converts, against an NWO-esque organization, Global Community, and its leader Nicolae Carpathia—the Antichrist.
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While this series is “fictionalized”; i.e.: story characters were added and developed, at the same time, the main tenets of the story are not fiction. The Rapture and the Tribulation period, for example, are taken straight from the Bible. These events are prophesied in Scripture and are expected to come to pass in the same way all of biblical prophecy has been fulfilled to this date.
We all have a tendency in life to go along our merry way. We all are guilty of running after our own interests and forgetting that “the hour is late”. Yes, Jesus is coming back soon. Are we ready? Are we doing what we can to spread the word to others? Are we watching and praying, or have we let ourselves be mesmerized by our personal ambitions?
The Bible says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (I Peter 5:8; ESV). This is no time to be unsure of your salvation. One day, we will all stand before God. On that day some may say, “Lord, Lord . . .” but to some the Lord will reply, “. . . I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” (Matthew 7:23; KJV).
One thing is for certain: if you truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, then when the trumpet sounds and He calls us home, you will not be left behind!
Rabbi Jonathan Bernis
So how does a Jewish Rabbi become a born-again Christian? For one thing, Jews are taught from an early age that Christ is the God of the Gentiles or the Christians. Jesus is not an option for Jews! So why would a Jew convert to Christianity? The answer is: the “power of Christ”. Yes, in fact many Jews have made this same transition. We bring you one such story today: the Christian faith of Rabbi Jonathan Bernis.
Jonathan Aaron Bernis was born December 1, 1959 to Jewish parents in Rochester, New York. According to his website article, Answering The Call, he describes his upbringing as traditionally Jewish. He says his family members were “holiday Jews”, attending their synagogue for High Holidays, and special events. He also went to classes offered by his temple and says he always believed in God, but only committed himself to the minimum requirements of his religion.
Jonathan first heard about Jesus through his wrestling coach. Though he was interested in what he heard, he soon became swept up in college life, drugs, and partying. His life was headed in a completely different direction.
One of the girls in Jonathan’s circle of friends got strung out on drugs during that time and her life spiraled out of control. He was very sad about it and had to walk away from their friendship.
Then the miraculous happened. The girl was suddenly delivered from it all and became totally transformed. How? It was Jesus!
Subsequently, this girl went after Jonathan like a hound dog. She was a constant witness of what Christ had done for her. Anyone who knew her could not deny the power of God in her life, including Jonathan. So when she invited him to a Bible study, he went.
He felt terribly out of place though, and couldn’t wait to leave. But before he did, he was shown two important Scripture verses that really spoke to his heart:
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God . . .” and Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death . . .”
Jonathan knew he was guilty as charged but he still wasn’t ready for a commitment. He said he prayed with the teacher, went home, and tried to forget the whole thing. But God wasn’t going to let go of him that easily.
Inexplicably, he developed a strong desire to read the Bible and that’s when he discovered for himself that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah; the One prophesied to come, long ago. Jonathan’s life began to change. Through the power of God, he was born-again, got cleaned up and on the right track until finally, he answered God’s call on his life.
Raised in a traditional Jewish family, international television host Jonathan Bernis was taught from a young age that “Jews don’t–and can’t!–believe in Jesus.” Yet in his study of the Bible, including the Torah, he found overwhelming evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really was the Jewish Messiah.
With warmth and transparency, Bernis talks about discovering Jesus in history, too, and how it was that the Jewish Yeshua became the Gentile Jesus. By presenting historic evidence that Jesus is Messiah and refuting common Jewish objections, Bernis gives Christians the knowledge and tools they need to share their Lord with their Jewish friends in a loving, effective way.
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Four years later, he founded Congregation Shema Yisrael in Rochester, New York, where he served as Senior Messianic Rabbi from 1984 to 1993. He also became involved in foreign missions, especially Communist Russia beginning in 1990. His five-person team delivered 200 Bibles there and returned several times after that. His trips included literature distribution but expanded into festival outreaches featuring Messianic singing and dancing. The people were so hungry for the presence of God and showed up to the meetings in droves. Many were turned away because of lack of space. Jonathan was distraught over not being able to fill the need, so much so that he gave up his congregation and moved to St. Petersburg so he could minister to the people on a weekly basis.
Jonathan Bernis’s ministry has since moved back to the United States where he has established the headquarters for Jewish Voice Ministries International. It has grown considerably in outreach and has experienced a four-fold increase in its support base, according to the article on his website. His vision is clear: to reach every Jewish community worldwide while the doors remain open for proclaiming the Good News of the Messiah.
Yes, God wants to reach all the people groups of the world. And He has a special place in His heart for the Jewish people. He has loved them since the beginning of time and it is His desire that none should perish but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! We greatly appreciate Rabbi Jonathan Bernis who has answered that call.
The Passion Part I
Jim Caviezel stands six foot, two inches tall. But even taller is his spiritual stance and his commitment to Christ. Jim is a family man from Washington state. He and his wife have been married 18 years and have two adopted children from China.
We know Mr. Caviezel because of his role in The Passion Of The Christ; Caviezel played the role of Jesus. The movie itself was in the works for a long time. Mel Gibson, director of the film, had this project on his heart for 15 years. When Jim was first contacted, they showed him a script of a surfing movie. But before long the truth came out. That is, that Mel wanted to direct a movie about Jesus.
So Jim was offered the part. The next day, however, Mel called him at home and tried to talk him out of the role. It was because of the religious stigma. He warned Caviezel he may not be able to work in Hollywood again. Actually, Mel was worried about the same thing.
Jim explains that it’s just like the devil to snatch away our plans to serve Christ. Jim felt the fear, but he said to himself, “I realized my talent came from God and not from man.” He then replied to Mel, “Look man, we’re all called to carry our own cross. If you don’t pick up and carry your cross you will be crushed by the weight of it.”
Gibson’s calling to direct this movie could not be denied. And Mr. Caviezal was definitely the right man for the lead role, not just because his initials are J.C. and he was 33 years old at the time!
So Caviezal took the part, read the script, and noticed the story’s major focus was the suffering of Christ. Jim relates to the way athletes suffer, for example, when competing for a gold medal. When the winner is finally named, his tears are not a reflection of the monetary rewards he is about to receive. He is crying because of the great price required of him to get there. Tremendous sacrifices were made by he and his team. Pleasures and comforts were replaced by hardships, pain and agony. The cost is great, but the rewards are priceless.
Caviezel said, “If I’m going to do this movie, I don’t want to do the passion of mediocrity or something that is a little pagan: that He [Jesus] wasn’t handed over by His own; [that] only the Romans were solely responsible. But if you look at it day after day . . . we are all a part of handing Christ over when we contribute to sin. Especially when we betray Him and we are Christians.”
As for working on the film Jim said, “. . . Doing this movie was truly birthed in pain. Right from the get-go, I had my shoulder separated.” Then during the scourging scene, Jim was accidentally hit with the whip causing a fourteen inch gash on his back. The difficulties were compounding. Phone calls were coming in from major publications saying Mel Gibson was anti-Semitic. Jim was wondering why it seemed the devil was trying to destroy this project. But Caviezel reminds us that the Christian life is not all peaches and cream. He said, “If you want to be a Christian, you’re in for it.”
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST focuses on the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life.
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Caviezel was interviewed by the Pastor from Catholic Inside USA. The question many might have is how he felt during certain scenes? What was going through his mind in this amazing role? Jim said he had to become Jesus to play the part. That was essential. He said, “I don’t want people to see me; I want them to see Jesus.”
When asked what Jim was thinking about during the flogging, he said, “I was thinking about all my sins . . . and that I am not worthy to play this role. . . I was in a deep, deep zone. And through out the whole film I was always meditating and I was always praying . . . and staying in character, and this was important because I knew that the only way people would see Jesus is through the daily prayer and the fasting.”
Next week, learn more about some of the shocking things that happened to Caviezal during the making of this movie. Stay tuned. You will not want to miss it.
The Passion Part II
Last week we shared how Jim Caviezel was called to play the lead role of Jesus in The Passion Of The Christ. Now we’re going to go a bit deeper as Jim shares his thoughts about the movie, his personal relationship with Jesus, and the state of Christianity today.
Years ago, Jim was interested in becoming a Navy SEAL but God had a different destiny for him. He said, “I wanted to give my life for something and there’s nothing better than to give my life for Jesus Christ.
Now–playing the part of Jesus–Caviezel finds himself in a tough place. First, he dislocates his shoulder right when they start shooting. Then he’s accidently whipped during the scourging scene. What next?
As the movie neared to the end, Jim developed Pneumonia. He said he had dropped to 168 pounds, he was sick and throwing up, and had both lungs filled with fluid. In fact his body was actually blue without any make-up.
When they dropped the cross into the ground it shook, and because Jim was elevated, the wind would move the cross and his shoulder would continually come out of socket. The pneumonia had set into his lungs so he could hardly breathe; it was very difficult. Jim says, “Our Lord was letting me feel a little bit of what He went through. He asked, ‘How far do you want to go with this? How much do you want the world to see of me?’ And I said, ‘Every bit of it’.”
Jim explains, “. . . I was so sick . . . I honestly could barely feel it [shoulder pain] anyway because I was so gone, but something was [also] wrong with my heart.” He was checked out by a doctor who warned Gibson that Caviezel could die. Mel said to Jim, “What do you think?” Jim answered, “This is between me and God . . . I’m ready to go home [to God] . . . I know that if I die making this movie, many people will be saved.”
On the last day of the shoot, Jim was walking up the mountain side for the last scene. That’s when he heard an evil presence tell him, “You’re a dead man.” But Jim was OK with that; he knew he was heaven-bound. At the top of the mountain the clouds were low and the thunder and lightning sounded like a powerful Howitzer. All of a sudden lightening struck, the earth moved and Caviezel became illuminated; the whole 250 member cast saw it. What do you suppose people were thinking?
Jim said there were believers, non-believers, and a lot of indifferent fence-riders among the cast. He adds, “People who think they’re fence riding think that that’s not a choice, but it is a choice . . . but when I was hit, everybody fell on their face.” When the filming was completed, Jim had to have heart surgery.
Caviezel comments on the state of the world: “Modern day Christians will say, ‘Jesus did that [suffering] for me; I don’t have to.’ But why did Peter have to then do it? Why did John . . . why did all the rest of the Apostles have to? What about all the martyrs of the 20th century? . . . Where is our Lord with them? Does He hate them?
“There are many things we see on the horizon right now where you’re going to have to make a choice . . .” Jim describes his recent trip to Croatia. He was reminded of the 26 Catholic priests–during Stalin’s time–who were challenged to deny Christ. Twenty-five of the priests were shot for their faith, and one of them was burned alive while sitting in his wheel chair. They made a choice.
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Jim continues, “Is this hard to hear? Is The Passion hard to watch? Your death is imminent . . .We need Christians to go look death in the face . . . and encourage people to understand that eternity awaits them. We’re all going to die the first death; hopefully not the second. God never sends a man to hell. People choose this place.
“We can not continue as Christians to sit here and say, ‘Well I’ll only be a Christian if it’s about prosperity . . . the problem I see right now is that many Christians have immersed themselves in Paganism. They want to be cool . . . not holy. Well here’s what will happen. We’ll all come to task one day and you’ll either get a chance to lay it down for Jesus or you’ll get to deny Him, but it will come in our generation this way.”
Society is in trouble. Caviezel adds: “The basic question before a democratic society is this: how ought we to live together? . . . can society exclude moral truth and moral reasoning? . . . Set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation my brothers and sisters. You weren’t made to fit it. You were born to stand out!”
Jesus Christ died on an old rugged cross for our salvation. But we do not worship that cross; we worship Christ, who is alive. Yet among all the emblems of the world, the cross is admired with awe and wonder.
The history of the cross goes back long before Christ came. It was the Romans who used it on a massive scale to execute people. The victim was fastened to the cross by cords, or his hands were nailed, and he was left to die. Even with the heat of the sun, the pull of the body and the torture the victim had endured prior to his crucifixion, it sometimes took a week to die on a cross. It was one of the most terrible, painful ways to die.
Christians started to use the cross as a symbol of Christianity. And every time the Gospel is proclaimed, those who hear the message and receive Christ as Savior come to faith by way of the cross.
Think of the cross for a moment, and of Christ’s suffering. Those nails through His hands and feet were driven by you and me. We all had a part in the death of Christ because of our sins.
In that terrible time of the agony, a shadow came between God the Father and God the Son. You see, God is a holy and righteous and pure. He cannot even look upon evil or sin. And in that instant, He could not look upon His Son.
Christ had never known sin, never told a lie, and never had an evil thought, but all of the filth and dirt from your life and mine descended on Him. None of us will ever understand the mystery of that moment. It was God’s great love for each of us that allowed His Son to take that suffering.
You and I have sinned against God. We have broken His laws. God told Adam that if he broke God’s law, he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). He sinned anyway. We have all deliberately rebelled against God. But God would not be just and righteous and holy, if He came along and patted us on the back and said, “You’re forgiven.” We either had to die for our own sins, or somebody who was qualified, had to die for us. That Person was Jesus Christ, and He volunteered to die in our place.
God had given Jesus an assignment, and in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do,” (John 17:4). We wonder why He didn’t feed everybody and heal everybody. He could have done it. He healed some people and fed some who were hungry, and He did that out of compassion. But His real work was the cross; there He was dealing with eternity.
As always, Billy Graham makes the message of salvation fresh, and new, in a plain-speaking and personal manner that few other evangelists have mastered quite as well. He remains absolutely faithful to the text of the Bible, as sure of sin and damnation as they are biblically portrayed as he is of repentance, salvation, and heaven. Moreover, he is as convinced of prophecy—that Jesus’ coming was foretold and that his Second Coming is certain—as ever.
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Your body will go to the grave one day, but your soul–the part of you that lives forever–will live on. Where will you spend eternity? Heaven or hell? That will be decided by what you do about the cross, because from the cross, Christ is asking you to repent of your sin and receive Him as your Lord and Savior. Let your life be a changed one, through Christ!
Do you know Christ? Do you know the forgiveness of the cross and the power of Christ’s resurrection? Are you forgiven? Have you received new life? I am asking you to make your commitment to Christ today. God will help you, if you are willing.
To learn more, please visit our page: “How to become a Christian”. Here’s the link: https://kathyveer.com/become-a-christian/
Condensed and Edited from: http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word/6281
With one Grammy award and six Dove awards under her belt, Laura Story has made her mark in this world as a contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter. Since 2002, she has released seven solo albums. She’s written several hit singles like Mighty To Save, and Indescribable. Her most successful album was the project called Blessings, released in 2011, which reached number one on the Christian Albums Billboard Charts. The single title track also hit number one and remained there for four weeks.
Miss Laura has been blessed indeed. In addition to her success as a recording artist, she has also served as associate praise and worship leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, Georgia for the last fourteen years. And she is married to her sweetheart; they have three children. So what could be more perfect? We could conclude that it’s been easy for her to write songs about God’s love and grace because Laura has been so blessed. The truth is, it has not been easy at all.
One year after she married her husband, Marvin (in 2005) he became gravely ill. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was hospitalized. In an article on Information Cradle, Story said, “There was a time he was on a breathing machine and we weren’t sure he was going to make it. I spent my whole life singing, ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,’ but until Jesus took me through something where my only option was to trust Him, I didn’t really know that sweetness.”
Laura endured many trials. In the midst of a successful career that brought plenty of pressures in itself, she remained at her husband’s side as he went through surgery, radiation, setbacks, and arduous physical therapy. But through it all, Laura discovered how to “let go and let God.” She writes the following on her website:
“We never get to a point where we can do life apart from complete and total daily dependence on Jesus,” Story admits. “The irony is the less control we have, the more peace we have and the more, I would even say, success and joy we find. It’s a contrary picture to what the world tells us, but it’s gaining through letting go.”
The following video is Laura Story’s amazing song called blessings. Lyrics are shown in the presentation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc
Laura Story has certainly learned the true meaning of surrender. And it’s the kind of walk that each of us is called to. Her book, When God Doesn’t Fix It, is a reflection of her experience. Amazon describes it this way:
“The devastating news she received was that no cure existed to restore her husband’s short-term memory, eyesight, and other complications. The fairy-tale life Laura had dreamed of was no longer possible. And yet in struggling with God about how to live with broken dreams, Laura has found joy and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.”
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT GOOD THINGS CAN COME OUT OF OUR BROKEN DREAMS? Worship leader and recording artist Laura Story’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their lives would never be the same. In this book, Laura helps us understand we aren’t the only ones whose lives have taken unexpected turns. She examines the brokenness of some of the heroes of our faith, and shows how despite their flaws and flawed stories, God was able to use them in extraordinary ways. And it was not because of their faith, but because of the faithfulness of their God. God may not fix everything. In fact, although your situation might not ever change or get better, with Jesus you can.
(Click Image to Purchase)
Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman said, “Our family has been ministered to by her vulnerability and willingness to walk in the valley and still say ‘God, I Trust You.’”
Lisa Harper said, “Laura is one of my heroes when it comes to trusting God. She’s joyful, genuine, and faithful even though her story includes messy chapters. -This book will be on my nightstand for a long time!”
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand,” (Isaiah 64:8; ASV).
God made each of us and He has the perfect plan for our lives. And while we may find ourselves going down many roads of life, there’s really only one article we must never forget to take with us on our journey: trust in God.
Matthew 16: 26, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but
lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”