Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Words for Living" part 5 (published January 9, 2008 in "The Coummunity Voice.")

Many thanks go to the Community Voice and thoughtful readers who have given me the chance to express a few “Words for Living.”

The story is told of a newspaper editor who painted a truthful picture of a wedding. He described the bride as ugly beyond reason. The groom was depicted as a good-for-nothing that belonged in jail. The reason for this brutal commentary was the editor wanted to tell the truth, once before he left town the next day. Unfortunately, telling the truth once is about all anyone can get away with... maybe. At least listen once.

There is only one way to be “saved,” “go to heaven,” or whatever you want to call it. Paul put it this way, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23] Read that verse again. What do you see?

Notice the word “wage” is plural. In other words, “death” (spiritual not just physical) results in eternal separation from God. The old fashion word is “hell.” It is the ultimate and final payout. Fact is, before you get there, you go through pain and misery. They are a severe mercy, intended to get your attention and turn you around.

Another thing that you should see when you read Romans 6:23, is that “sin” is singular. How many guys have looked at a woman and thought “thoughts?” How many ladies have told or listened to a juicy story about someone? Anyone ever tweak the truth ? Remember its one sin not many sins that earns us our payment.

God does something that is unfair. Rather than punishing us, God offers a gift. This is not a “good-God bad-God” act. This is God taking the hit for us. This is God knowing that we cannot earn or deserve “eternal life” (salvation). He offers it to us as a gift through the unfair suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus did not do anything wrong. It is our sin that Jesus paid for on the cross. That’s what we celebrate on Easter.

After a morning of hunting in northern Minnesota, I made it back to the lodge for lunch. The police were organizing a search for an experienced hunter that had not returned the night before. He was one of my friends and I didn’t even realize he was lost. After lunch I trudge back out to help save him. Just before sundown he walked past me. He was so confused it took him awhile to recognize a friend. He insisted, like any sensible man, he was not lost. I walked with him, letting him lead, until after dark. At this point, he turned and asked, “Got anything to eat?” I suggested we head for the lodge, he agreed. They packed him in an ambulance when we got back. He was dehydrated, frost bitten but safe.

At some point, my friend had to recognize his need and accept help. How about you?

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