Computer babble

open standing on bar stools laptops

Computers have come a long way–but there are still plenty of problems.

My husband Ben made a website for me.  He’s got skills I don’t have in my daydreams.  He can do that crazy coding stuff where strange combinations of symbols make the computer do things.  I don’t really get it.  One time I thought about it, and I realized it changes not only the pixels, but the stuff that makes the pages move around.  It’s too complex for me.  Anyway, Ben made a website for me.

It’s amazing to me that Ben typed stuff in the computer and now there are buttons I can press that actually work, and I can not only upload blogs and photos, but also change the font, link to sources, and preview the website–did I mention I don’t understand how this works?

But there is something I do understand.  My computer doesn’t like his computer.

Yes, my computer doesn’t like his computer.

If his computer speaks repsoifad092 language, mine must speak wzasdou817 language.  Things that work on the program when it’s on his computer don’t work when they’re on my computer.

And so we’re sorta at an impasse with me posting things for the website until we get it figured out.  I’m going to send him this post via email, because that part of talking to his computer works, and then his repsoifad092 can publish it on the website editor that my wzasdou817 doesn’t understand.

I’m so delighted that God is not in the business of speaking different means of salvation to us.  Can you imagine how confusing it would be if salvation were a code, and we had to decipher it personally, and it meant something different for everyone?

But God’s Word isn’t like that.  John 3:16 means the same thing for everyone, whether you were born in 1969 or 1999, whether you like cream in your coffee or not, whether you wear brown shoes or black, and whether everybody knows your sins or you’ve kept them pretty hidden.

John 3:16 is the salvation language for everyone.  And that’s that.

I love how perfectly simple the Gospel is.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT)

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Slow Cooker vs. Ingredients. And the winner is . .

Ingredients.

I forgot about the ingredients.

Lest you jump to judgments on me, to be fair, I have a stupendous slow cooker.  I mean, it cooks amazing food.  Corn chowder, potato soup, Velveeta cheese dip, BBQ chicken sandwiches . . extraordinary meals.  But . . these came from cookbooks.  Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, to be exact.

Somehow, someway, I thought I could use leftover ingredients and achieve an okay result.

Hamburger, kidney beans, canned carrots–I am not making this up–and tomato bisque soup.  This is really a time I can say don’t try this at home.

I came home to taste not a delicious commercial-worthy meal, but a–to be frank–distasteful, off-color hodgepodge.  What would I do?  Make a skillet of stir fry to serve with it, (naturally?).  Somehow, someway, this would make the greasy, slightly-gross meal better.

If I hadn’t oversalted the stir fry, it would at least have made the meal better–>eat that part of the meal.  Poor Ben sat down with me and ate salty stir-fry with weird ‘Hamburger Hurter’ in it.

The lesson?

Ingredients.

I forgot about the ingredients.

They matter.  The so-called mighty slow cooker is just a vessel.  It can’t make fabulous meals.  Without the recipe, guessing and tossing together random ingredients . . just doesn’t work.  Even if there was an obscure chance it did, would you risk supper on it?  Probably not.

What about eternal life?  Would you risk your opportunity for eternal life on the chance that you can create a hodgepodge of good works to get you there?

That your brilliance or cleverness or wittiness or abilities, tossed together, will be enough to get you to Heaven’s shore?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 62:6, NIV)

Why?  Why would you do it?  Why would you risk it all on the cooking vessel instead of the recipe?  No matter how smart you are, how strong, how creative, or how benevolent . . you are the vessel, not the recipe.

Our lives really are like slow cookers, and what is produced by them isn’t revealed until the final act: The timer dings and we are in the Presence of a Perfect, Good, and Holy God to show Him what we’ve done with ourselves.

The recipe for success?  The five-star taste to life that you’ve been craving and never able to master by whim or genius, will or self-‘good’ness?

God’s Word–and there is no substitute for this one.  You either follow Him . . or you don’t.  But don’t worry: there is plenty of room for the creativity of your personality to come through in the melody of perfection He desires for your life.  And He’ll show you just how to add that ‘irrepeatable’-in-anyone-else, magnifico blend of spices He has just for you:

If you will trust in Him.

. . If you don’t, you will end up with something far worse than a yucky dinner.  You’ll end up with a yucky life, and a yucky outlook on eternity.

Trust in God’s recipe.  Trust in the grace of Jesus Christ to be the Masterpiece in your life–not your own works.

Otherwise, you’re stirring together catastrophe.

Now, today, start stirring together the eternal “taste of joy” that highlights the work of Jesus Christ in you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

How do I know Jesus Christ is the right way?

The answer is found in Scripture.

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12, NIV)

Take Another Look

Yesterday on my way home from work, what I thought I saw warranted a call to 911.

A man was lying in a the ditch on the side of the road, motionless.  Even though it was freezing cold outside, he didn’t have on a coat, and one leg of his pants was pulled up to the knee.  Clearly he’d been laying there for some time.  Another man was standing over him, and there was a large truck.  I wasn’t looking at the truck, but filled in the details: there was a garbage bin beside the man who lay motionless . . as the garbage disposal worker had stopped to pick up the can, he had seen the man lying motionless on the side of the road.

I pulled into a near gas station.  I was in a bit of a quandary–should I call 911?  There was already a man helping the man in the ditch.  But I had seen a TV special where droves of people walked by a man pretending to be homeless and unconscious on the sidewalk.  Few cared enough even to dial 911.

I have always wanted to be a hero, and I called 911.  The dispatcher asked me for the exact location.  When I realized that I’d need to pinpoint exactly where he was, I pulled back around–which took considerable time in the traffic.  On my way back, I recognized the man who had been lying down, but now he was standing up and talking to the other man.  And the truck wasn’t a garbage truck at all–it was a City Utilities truck.

I reported that he was up to the 911 operator.  I was trying to make sense of the new information.  Probably he was homeless, and had passed out, but he was all right now.  But, as I turned around once more, this time on the right side of the street to pull over and talk to them, I was thinking something else.  They were talking more like friends.

As soon as I got up close, I realized (with a sinking feeling) how wrong I had really been.  The two men were doing something around a flooded ditch–I don’t know what, but one had a cup and seemed to be trying to drain it.  The other, I realized, had been on the ground doing something–maybe reaching into the drainpipe–and not hurt at all.

I’d called 911 for no reason.  I got out of the car to ask if they were okay to confirm it with the operator, and the dispatch was cancelled.  The 911 operator told me she would rather to be safe than sorry.

I was embarrassed–I had jumped to such wrong conclusions.  How had that happened?

I was reminded of something very real: sometimes we think we know what is going on, but what we really need is to take another look.  Whether I made the wrong move over not by calling, I cost emergency operators some of their time.   I took a few facts I had, and imagined a story around them in my mind–so quickly that the story became nearly fact itself . . until I took another look.

The operator didn’t seem to blame me for messing up.  But what if, after I’d known the truth, I’d lied to try to fit reality into my fiction?  What if I’d hung up the phone and made matters worse by not correcting my mistake?  Or what if I’d made the report and driven on, as I’d originally planned to do, without taking another look?

Immediately after I hung up with 911, I realized the metaphor God was giving me through this story: take another look.

If you’ve glanced in the direction of what you assume Christianity is and think you’ve got this faith all figured out, now is the time to take a second look.

You might have looked at people you thought were Christians, talked to people who you thought were representing Christianity accurately, or just drawn conclusions from jokes on your favorite sitcom.  But what you need to realize is, until you read Christianity for yourself, you will never know if the first impression you got, or the long-held belief you’ve had are really true.

Christianity is found in the pages of the Old and New Testament.  And only when you ‘pull back around’ and look with a willing heart at this Book can you possibly expect to know what is true Christianity.

You can’t call Christians hypocrites, make judgment statements about Jesus, or dismiss faith as ridiculous if you don’t even know what Christianity truly looks like.  All you can do is make your best guess based on what you thought you saw.  And that’s a shaky ground to stand on when it comes to eternal destination.

If you drew false conclusions, whether you had the best of intentions or the most nefarious of motives, the great news is Christ loves you and wants to start all over with you today, right now.  Pick up His Word and read it for yourself.  See how much He loves you.  And most of all, delight in the extraordinary mercy, unwarranted privilege, and unspeakable joy of God giving you the opportunity to take another look.

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:13-18, NIV)

Footnote

On devotional blogs, books, and why if this is what you’ve based Christianity on, you MUST take another look:

No matter how many devotional books or blogs you’ve read, you still haven’t seen Christianity clearly until you go to the Source.

Christian authors of course try to get the picture right, but we are all struggling with personal sin, mistakes in our thinking we don’t even know we have, and erroneous conclusions.

Christian authors go to God’s Word to be clarified and to get closer and closer to the Truth, but we never fully arrive until we are out of these bodies. (See Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3:12.)

So if you’re basing what you know about Christianity on how many Sunday school workbooks you’ve gone through or how many devotional texts you get on your phone–it’s time to take another look.

This is an IMPORTANT point to me, because for years I fell into this category.  As wonderful as the wisdom was, not even the finest of Christian literature brought me to Jesus Christ in the way that His Word alone did.)

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Precision

Plane Creative CommonsOn my flight (I believe it was to Florida in route to Paraguay), I journaled about an unusual experience I had when looking out the window.  I don’t usually look out the window on flights, and even on this flight I didn’t keep my eyes pasted to the window, but still I saw tiny planes flying by–FIVE of them, I thought I counted, at different times–and that prompted a thought:

How important precision is.

If any one of those flights (including ours) had not checked in with the control tower, we could have had a catastrophic collision.  If any one of those flights did not follow the directions from air traffic control, all our lives would have been in jeopardy.

No one thinks it’s intolerant of air traffic control to expect the pilots to check in with them, or to have to obey their commands.  We might not think of it as commands, but really, it is.  The pilot can’t take off unless he has permission from air traffic control to do so.  The pilot can’t go willy-nilly on his own path through the sky, unless he expects to be fired (with possible lawsuits from passengers to follow!).

Yet, when we get to talking about God (although people try to tame the topic down by calling it religion instead of talking about God), people often throw out ideas like:

  • Most (if not all) roads get you to Heaven.
  • It’s merely opinion.
  • What’s right for you may not be right for me.
  • We’re all on a journey.  This is the path I’m taking.

But let’s go back to my airplane experience.  Suppose, mid route to Miami, I notice the pilot is steering our plane only a few hundred yards from another plane!  I rush to the cockpit and shout, “What are you doing?”

The pilot casually responds, “I’m taking a different route.  After all, most paths will get us to Miami.”

“What are you talking about?” I cry.  “We’re going to crash into that other plane!”

“Oh, well, that’s merely opinion,” the pilot says casually.

“That’s not opinion!” I scream.  “WE’RE GOING TO DIE!”

“What’s right for you may not be right for me,” the pilot says, sitting back, stretching his legs.

“I’m telling you, we’re headed right for that plane!”

“We’re all on a journey,” the pilot answers.  “This is the path I’m taking.”

That kind of attitude would never fly with any airline.  We all naturally know that the pilot should obey air traffic control, and that the route he takes shouldn’t be up to him, but up to experts who are in towers with computer monitors, tracking all the planes in the area, viewing every plane’s routes, and able to direct the pilot to the safest passageway.

If we feel this way about something temporary, like a plane trip, shouldn’t we feel this way all that much more about something eternal, like the destiny of our souls?

In a plane, the worst that can happen is for the pilot to wreck and all the passengers to be killed.

But in eternity, the worst that can happen is for our soul to spend eternity is the wrong place.  How will we manage if we are wrong?

Which decision should be assigned more intolerance for error: the course for a plane or the course for our soul?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jesus, quoted in John 14:6b, HCSB)

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Photograph by Preston Rhea, photograph here.

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

Published in: on August 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Seeking?

I was thinking about looking for my phone.  More accurately, I was trying to find an excuse to procrastinate looking for my phone.  (If you’d read other blogs of mine, you may remember I have a penchant for losing phones–and other stuff.)

I decided that, since Ben wasn’t off work yet, I’d wait to find my phone.  When we were still living so far away from each other, I liked to save chores for when I could talk to him on the phone.

So I thought something like, I’ll wait to look for my phone until I can talk to Ben tonight.

I am happy to report that I realized the error of my plan.

How, exactly, would I talk to Ben on my phone while I was looking for my phone?  It wasn’t going to happen.

You can’t look for something and use it at the same time.  Nobody reads a book while they’re trying to find the book.  Nobody wears their shoes while they’re trying to remember where they put them.  And, sadly, you can’t show the IRS the missing receipt while you are looking for it.

You know, the same is true for worldviews.  You can’t be seeking an answer to the meaning of life and have it at the same time.

Our society tends to idolize the journey towards ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality’ more than the end result.

Sometimes people get caught up in the seeking or the journey more than the needed finding and the destination.

If you are genuinely seeking, genuinely on a journey, then you recognize that is not your end goal.  All of us should go through a seeking to decide what worldview we will believe and hinge our lives and souls on, but if that’s where we end our lives, we have accomplished nothing . . and find ourselves in the perilous position of entering eternity knowing nothing.

One time, on a plane, I shared my faith with a man on a plane next to me.  He never openly disagreed with what I was saying about Christ being the salvation of the world.  But he said things like, I’m on a journey in this life, with what seemed to be total contentment.

But true seeking should bring disturbance.  I wasn’t at peace when I was looking for my phone.  I realized I was in a vulnerable place.  If someone broke into my home, I’d have no way to dial 911.  If my car engine died on the highway, I’d have no way to call a friend to come pick me up.

–Seeking is essential, but it is not quintessential.–

Seeking shouldn’t be satisfying.  If it is, then you aren’t really seeking.  Instead, you’ve really set your worldview, and your worldview is noncommittal.

If that’s where you are, then you need to realize that the blessings in Scripture for those who seek will not apply to you.  You aren’t really seeking; you’re really avoiding committing.  There’s a big difference, but it’s a distinction pop culture doesn’t often make.

The world applauds people for not settling on a worldview, for not being sure what they believe, for exploring.  But as believers, we should be both excited and distressed for seekers.  Excited, because God will reveal Himself to those who are really seeking Him.  Distressed, because an unsettled person is at risk for any worldview and is not yet safe in the arms of Christ.

A lot of us treat our eternal destiny like I did my phone when I was ‘looking’ for it.  I was trying to find excuses not to look, because it’s work to look for a phone.  I’d have to get up from the couch and scour the house, car, and any place away from home where I thought I could have left my phone.

In the same way, seeking a worldview is work.  Anyone who talks about seeking and seems calm and content and unflustered doesn’t really understand the process.  Seeking is frightening.  There’s eternity at stake here!

Would anyone want to be wrong about their worldview?  Would an atheist want to wake up in eternity and find out that the God of the Bible exists?  Would a Christian want to wake up in eternity and find out that the Koran was actually correct?  Would a Hindu want to wake up in eternity and find out there was actually only one way to God?  What about a Satanist–would he fare well if he found out that Judaism is the true religion?

If you feel like a hobbit trekking across Middle-Earth because you’re on a journey to find if God really exists, you need to realize the stakes.

If Frodo and Sam failed to find Mordor, the whole of Middle-Earth would be destroyed.

If you fail to find the true God, the whole of your soul will be destroyed.

As much damage as Sauron could wreak out on Middle-Earth in a few short months, sin can wreak out far more damage on your soul for the rest of everlasting to everlasting.

If you think there’s even a chance God exists, you need to get very serious about finding Him.  Being an agnostic isn’t cool, it’s dangerous.

As an agnostic, you are admitting you think God might exist, but you are not yet sure of which God.  That’s a terrifying place to be!  Suppose the God of the Bible is the right God.  What will you do if you find yourself in Hell?

Seekers do need to seek.  But seekers need to take the search for what it is: the quest for where you will spend all of eternity.

. . One last note about seeking.  Do you remember how I said that I couldn’t use my phone until I found it?  Until you find what you believe, you cannot use it.  So what do you use to get through life?  That is, what worldview helps you decide what is right and wrong?

Any worldview you want in that moment, because you don’t have a framework for morality.

Not only is your eternity vulnerable, but your life on earth is very vulnerable, too.  You could make decisions that have grievous impact on you later once you decide upon a worldview.  Only when you settle on a worldview will you have a reason for anything you do, or choose not to do, in this life.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (God, quoted in Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

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From Ben’s Pen:

There is merit to the journey itself, the process of seeking.  There are things you learn along the way that you wouldn’t know if you skipped straight to the end.  But the end is still the goal.  Without a destination, you’re not on a journey, you’re just wandering, lost and aimless.

The other day when Teej came to pick me up after work, she decided to leave the car and meet me halfway.  But we ended up missing each other along the way.  I found the empty car and she found my office building.  So I went looking for her.  It was fun, kind of like a game of hide-and-seek.  But what if I hadn’t found her?  What if I said, “The seeking is the important thing, not the finding”?  What if I had deliberately turned away from wherever she may have been in order to keep seeking her?  We both would have had a very sad and lonely weekend.

Seeking is important, and for a time there may even be enjoyment in the process.  But if you don’t find your goal, delight will quickly turn to hardship.  If you say you are “content to search”, then deep down, you don’t really want to find.  And if you don’t want to find, then you’re not really searching, are you?  And if you’re not really searching, then you’re not really “content to search” after all.

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (God, quoted in Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

Spell check

Working with little children, one tool we use for writing is called a “word book”.  If they need a word spelled, they at times can raise their hand, and I’ll come by and write the word (they have to find the correct first letter and turn to that page in their word book).

One little girl raised her hand to ask how to spell “Oklahoma”.  I noticed she was on the A page, and turned to the O.  She immediately corrected me.  The following dialogue is an approximation of our very unfruitful conversation.  🙂

“I thought Oklahoma was spelled with an A,” she said.

“No, honey,” I said.  “It’s spelled with an O.”

“I saw Oklahoma on a sign when we were visiting,” she said.  “It’s spelled with an A.”

“No, honey,” I said.  “It’s spelled with an O.”

“I saw a sign where it was spelled with an A,” she insisted, because she was sure she was right, not trying to be stubborn.

“Even if you did see it on a sign,” I said, “the sign was wrong.  It’s spelled with an O.”

I’ve never had that kind of persistent argument writing a word in a word book before!  Most children just trust me, although there is a little surprise for words like awesome, hour, one, and knock.  I’m used to a chuckle as children discover the oddness of spelling some very common English words.

I’ve never been accused of intolerance for teaching children how to spell words correctly.  I’ve never even heard of a lawsuit that the spell check programs on computers are bias towards certain spellings over others!

Why?  Because we instinctively know, there is a correct way to spell a word.  I can’t spell Oklahoma any way I feel like it.  Somebody might understand what I’m saying if I spell the word incorrectly (elementary teachers become masters at reading poorly spelled words), but that doesn’t make the spelling right.  It means someone has kindly overlooked communication mistakes to try to understand the message.

God is very much this way with us.  He is very kind to invite us to come into a relationship with Him however we are.  A drunkard doesn’t have to wait to have graduated AA, and a junkie doesn’t have to have kicked his cocaine habit.  We don’t have to fix our issues with rage, lust, idolatry, gossiping, selfishness or any other sin that controls us.  We can come before God in the very moment we’re in, however He finds us, and He will receive us because He does so through the merit of His Son, not by our right standing with Him.

That part seems more easy for our culture to understand.  The next part is what has often been lost in our society.

Even though God allows us to communicate to Him despite our sin, and He receives us into relationship with Him by the surrogate of His Son, He doesn’t let us stay in our sins without movement.

I don’t want my second grade students to enter third grade spelling was as wus and went as wint and get as git and should as shud.  I don’t desire this for them, because I want them to be successful in school and in their careers.  If fifteen or so years from now they fill out a job application with common words misspelled, I know that a lot of places will be disinclined to hire them.  I also know they’ll be more likely to be hired at lower paying jobs where language skills aren’t needed.  I don’t want them to be limited by their inability to use the correct English language.

In something like the same way, God doesn’t desire for us to be wounded by sin for the rest of our lives.  He wants us to live correct (holy) lives.  His requirements and expectations might sound uncomfortable for us.  But we need to trust Him that He means them for our flourishing, not for destroying us.  We have all the evidence we need to believe in His good heart, not just through the beauty in the created world before we unleashed sin into it, but most of all through His Son, who He gave to us as the most unfathomable gift of extravagant love of all.

Some times I have children correct misspelled words that they need to start getting right.  If I don’t have them ever go back and fix their mistakes, many of them will naturally resist spelling correctly.  It’s much easier to go with their comfortable spellings.  I at times have children react with tears, frustration, unkind comments, or angrily-erased-and-torn paper when I expect them to go back and fix the basic words.

Because I am merciful, and I have an idea of where they are in their spelling, I don’t have them fix every word.  If we’re writing about porcupines and I’m working with a struggling student, I don’t have him go back and fix porcupines and quills and predators.  But I might have him fix words like because and should.

God doesn’t work with us on everything at once–and we need to remember this when we see something that personally annoys us about a brother or sister in Christ!

God does, however, consistently and persistently work on us.  He is not content to let us be anything less than perfect, because He is a good Father.  He continues to work on us in this life to get us ready for our lives in Heaven.  We call this sanctification sometimes.  It’s making us more holy (correct) like He is.

God is intolerant of sin.  As His children, He does expect us to learn the correct (holy) way to live.  He doesn’t leave us ignorant or in comfortable pockets of sin.  Resisting God’s work may bring very unpleasant results, as He is more willing to let us experience misery than to let us indulge in sin.

However, God is always gracious in how He deals with us and He never treats His children as we deserve.  I think it’s helpful to know and remember that, unlike earthly fathers, the only reason God will ever punish us as our Father is for the purpose of holiness (correctness).  He doesn’t punish us for personal satisfaction.

I am often reminded of what God desires for us when I look at the little children I teach.  Most often, their hearts are eager to learn.  Even when something doesn’t make sense to them–like why we spell ‘enuf’ as enough–they usually trust me.  And you know what?  At seven years of age, that makes things a whole lot simpler.  I can’t always explain to a seven year old how different languages impacted English, but I can help them learn to spell correctly, if they will simply remember what I write in their book.

Which of you is a wise and well-instructed man? Let him prove it by a right life with conduct guided by a wisely teachable spirit. (James 3:13, Weymouth NT)

Clip on koala bears: not a substitute for garage door openers

Disclaimer: You might, perhaps, quite possibly, in actuals, find a few of a lot of made-up details regarding a certain koala bear and events surrounding his unfortunate evening last night.

Last night, after dropping Ben off at the place where he’s staying in Elizabethtown, I drove back to Mechanicsburg as usual, where I’m staying.  It’s about a 45 minute drive.  Sharing a car certainly seemed more romantic before we actually had to do it.  😉

I tiredly pulled in about 11:00-ish after another of what is becoming a quasi-routine experience with an angry driver on the highway.  (Note: Pennsylvanians need to have driver etiquette classes as part of their driver’s exam.  Those who do not pass should have their horn sound replaced with flute music and be required to wear a smiley face mask and wear mittens while driving.)

For the past month, I did not realize (no, I did not) that Ben has a garage door opener on his car to his parent’s garage.  Although I am staying at his parents’ house, and although I saw him use it many times, apparently in never registered.  After a couple times of trying to open or close the garage door with the keypad while he was opening or closing it from his car (with a fond-and-witty expression on his face), I at last realized and remembered that there is a garage door opener in his car that works for his parents’ house.

Last night, ready to go inside, I decided not to go the old get-out-of-the-car-and-type-the-code-in-the-keypad route.  Instead, I decided to use the garage door opener.

Now here is where there’s a bit of a sidebar story, but I think it might be worth the bit of the squirrel! moment it takes.

–I have a habit of fidgeting with things.  One such thing is the koala bear clip-on that used to be on the visor of the passenger side of the car.  It used to be there until I warned Ben that his memorabilia from Australia was going to be destroyed if I kept playing with the clip-on feature.  Rather than understandingly let me ruin his souvenir, he rudely removed it and clipped it onto the driver’s visor.–

And this brings us back to the feature story.  Ergo, instead of pressing the garage door opener, as I thought, I found myself pressing a koala bear and expecting the door to open.  I quickly (both because the door was failing to open and because the garage door opener felt awfully plush) glanced up to see Mr. I-Love-Australia-so-much-I-wear-it-backwards-on-my-t-shirt Bear not thinking kindly thoughts down on me.

Realizing my mistake, I found the garage door opener, pressed the button, and, viola!, the door opened.

(There is the slight matter of the lawsuit, but we reached agreement that if I planted a Eucalyptus tree in the backseat of Ben’s car the matter would be resolved.  Note to Ben: I hope you like the new skylight in your car. . I love you, honey.)

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As silly as the story is, do you know what it reminded me of?

Like a koala bear clip-on can’t open a garage door, trusting in just anything won’t get you to Heaven.

It’s a ridiculous thought that a koala bear clip-on could replace a garage door opener.  And it’s an even more ridiculous thought that your eternal destiny can be decided by any belief system you want.  I’d way rather risk my opportunity to get in a house on whether a souvenir works as a garage door opener . . than risk my opportunity to get into Heaven on whether my faith in ‘whatever I want’ works to save me.

It is your soul and my soul on the line.  The stakes are eternal.  I encourage you and me both to think about the belief we’re trusting in.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 7:13-14, NLT)

Jesus emphasized, “I can guarantee this truth: I am the gate for the sheep. (John 10:7, GW)

If you want to make the call . .

Jesus is the only one who knows the Father’s number.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 11:27, ESV)

On tools and truth

Using a hammer to try to get a screw out of a wall isn’t going to go well.  Neither is using a saw to try to ratchet up a car, or a pair of pliers to cut wood, or a car jack to hold wires.  Even a useful tool is completely useless and likely very dangerous in the wrong situation.

We know from everyday experience that wrong tools don’t help anybody out.  Every day, we choose the right tools for the right job–or pay the consequences.

So why is it that, when it comes to our eternal destiny, many of us hold the view that all ways repair our condition before God equally?  How could it be that all varieties of morality, all types of lifestyles, and all sorts of decisions could somehow all lead to the same right relationship before God?  That would be like checking the air in a tire with a can opener . . or using a pizza cutter to file your nails.  Think about this carefully.  Life experiences will tell you that not all tools can be used to make all repairs.  In fact, isn’t it true that, the more important a job is, the more specific you are about the tool?

A silly–but valid–example comes to mind.  I like to use an eyelash curler as a beautifying measure.  😉  One trip I was on, I forgot to pack my eyelash curler.  Would you be surprised to find out that, as much as I like to use my eyelash curler, I did not substitute it with a pair of scissors or a curling iron on the trip?  😀  Not surprising?  Why not?  Because it is my eyes!  I’m careful about my eyes.  I value my eyes.  I’m not experimenting on substitute eye lash curlers–only the right tool will do when what is at stake is my eyes!

Guys, you may not have gotten my eyelash curler example as much, but I bet you wouldn’t be caught washing your brand new car with an SOS sponge!

Whoever you are, wherever you are, you’re probably like me in that you value the right tools very much–and get frustrated when you don’t have them.

But here is a remarkably strange fact about us all.  Although we are very selective in the tools we use for everyday matters, wec an be totally tolerate of all kinds of views about where we’ll wind up for eternity.  That is, if you’re like me, you have probably spent more years of your life worrying about the right earthly tools to help you in daily living than you’ve been worried about the right heavenly tool to repair your relationship with God.

If the Bible’s claims are true, then we are all broken and in disrepair.  None of us are in a state to have fellowship with God.  All of us are cut off from His Presence forever.

There is no one righteous, not even one.

There is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away;

all alike have become useless.

There is no one who does what is good,

not even one.

Their throat is an open grave;

they deceive with their tongues.

Vipers’ venom is under their lips.

Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.

Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and wretchedness are in their paths,

and the path of peace they have not known.

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

 (Romans 4:10b-18, NASB)

For thousands of years, people have sensed this disrepair and tried to find the right tool to fix it.  We have tried all kinds of religions that rely on our abilities and ego and understanding.  But none of them have worked.

But still, a predominant worldview is that any tool will work to get to eternal life.  That our relationship with God can be repaired as easily by Jehovah’s Witness doctrine as by Islam’s, by Buddhism as much as by Christianity, by the New Age movement as by agnosticism’s.  That it doesn’t really matter what you try to do to repair your relationship with God or gods or Mother Nature or whoever, as long as you try something.

Regardless of what religious view you take, you should recognize that this simply cannot be so.  If you cannot repair a dripping pipe with a pair of nail clippers, why would you expect to be able to repair your soul with any religion of your choice?  If there really is a God, isn’t it certain that your relationship with Him can’t be repaired in whatever manner you choose, but rather in the manner He decides?

The Christian God makes a serious claim: the only way to be made right with Him is through Jesus Christ.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the way to Heaven, because only Jesus can repair a right relationship with God.

Before dismissing the claim, I would urge you to check out the explanation for it in God’s Word.  After all, this is not about a deflated tire or a leaky sink.  This is about your eternal destiny.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Jesus, quoted in John 14:6, NASB)

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” (Jesus, quoted in John 10:7b, NLT)

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (Jesus, quoted in John 10:9a, NIV)

“No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person.” (Peter, Acts 4:12, GW)

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity–the man Christ Jesus.” (Paul, 1 Timothy 2:5, NLT)

With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. (Hebrews 9:12-15, NLT)

I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (Jesus, quoted in Revelation 1:18, NLT)

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15, NIV)