Devotional Thought

Christianity Is…About Jesus

The game of basketball is one of our most popular sports. Backboards and rims dot driveways and parks all across America. Pick-up games thrive at the YMCA. Michael Jordan, a former professional basketball player, is the world’s best-known athlete.

Imagine for a moment that the game of basketball never existed. We would no longer see kids on driveways shooting baskets. Michael Jordan would not be a household name.

Remove James Naismith from his connection to basketball and everything about basketball evaporates.

Who is James Naismith? None other than the father of basketball. He was a physical education instructor who invented the game just over a hundred years ago. In the first game played, two peach baskets and a soccer ball were used.

Let’s talk for a moment about an even more influential movement . . . Christianity. Christianity has grown throughout the world in scope and popularity for 2000 years. Its influence extends to every continent on the earth. How much do you know about Christianity?

Did you know that Christianity is not just a set of rules and guidelines? Sometimes that is how it is perceived. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Christianity is about a person named Jesus Christ and his work.

Jesus is the reason for millions of hearts and lives being changed for the better. He willingly sacrificed his life on a cross and rose again from the dead for the benefit of the world. Jesus makes it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God. He opens the door to a life of eternal joy and peace.

Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

No Naismith, no basketball. No Jesus, no Christianity.

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Christianity Is…

Many people have problems with organized religion. Religion ties them up in knots. They view it as a subtle way to keep the ignorant in line through fear. They consider it an excuse for the foolish to procrastinate on earthly problems, while dreaming of a make-believe heaven.

It’s no wonder such a view is prevalent. The following true story illustrates the point.

A couple came to a pastor to get married. The future bride had no specific expectations of her new relationship. Wounded by a first marriage, trapped in a job monopolizing her life, she barely had time to sleep and not enough energy to trust anybody.

The pastor pointed the future bride to Jesus. Jesus took time to live for us and die on the cross for our sins. He’s always there to  hear those who trust in him. Trust in God moves us to trust and make time for the people in our life.

Some time later the bride’s mother came to the pastor for advice. She was worried sick about a problem in her life. She didn’t attend church regularly, so she didn’t have much knowledge about Jesus and God’s love. But she did say she was excited about going to visit Jerusalem with her church in a few months.

Suspicion. Pride. Escapism. That’s all that some people see in religion.

You don’t have to travel a thousand miles to gather real hope. You can see Jerusalem in the eyes of a woman who dares to trust her husband at Jesus’ prompting. You can feel an angel’s touch when a child grabs your hand and tells you what he’s learned in Sunday School. The world is created anew every time people learn that God has forgiven them because of Jesus.

No wonder some people hate religion. It often becomes just rules and opinions. But Jesus is living faith and action wrapped into one. False religion breeds pride and guilt. Jesus brings love and forgiveness, compassion and understanding.

Christianity isn’t just an empty religion. It’s about a living Savior and a grateful response to him.
 Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Why I Attend a “Strict” Church

Would we be satisfied with a 99.9% accuracy rate? That seems pretty good, but look what happens if 99.9% is good enough:

  • The IRS will lose 2 million documents.
  • Almost 15,000 defective personal computers will be shipped.
  • The Postal Service will deliver 18,322 pieces of mail to the wrong address.
  • Hospitals will perform 107 incorrect medical procedures.
  • Almost $800,000 will be spent on CD’s that have a faulty recording.

A faulty recording on a CD would be a hassle; not a big problem. But what if the IRS lost your tax return and penalized you for not filing?

What if a surgeon removed the wrong breast to try to stop your cancer? Would you be satisfied? No way! There’s too much at stake!

You want — and expect — 100% accuracy!

What kind of accuracy do you want from a church?

Well, what’s at stake? “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). What’s at stake? Heaven or hell!

Jesus says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned” (Matthew 18:6). What’s at stake? Our children’s faith in Jesus as their Savior.

God wants us to use his Word accurately 100% of the time.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18,19).

Any error in teaching the Bible jeopardizes our eternity.

Now you know why I am careful about the church I attend. I think you’ll want to be also.
Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Why I Am Sure I Will Go To Heaven

Tad was a tough, 66-year-old veteran of the Korean War. He was enjoying his retirement. He had never spent much time caring whether there was life after death.

The results of a routine checkup turned Tad’s world upside down. Cancer had invaded his body. He had less than six months to live.

Worse, Tad had no idea where he would spend eternity.

Tad now desperately wanted to know, “Is there life after death, and if so, what’s going to happen to me?”

The answer to Tad’s first question is yes. Our soul lives on even though our body dies. The real question is not “if” but “where.” The Bible narrows it down to one of two places: heaven or hell.

Some people think God will let them into heaven if they have done more good than bad. The problem with this is that we are still guilty of doing bad things.

To get into heaven we have to be perfect. That’s where Jesus comes in. He lives a perfect life, and God credits that to us when we trust in Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus also paid for our sins by his death. The Bible puts it this way, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

These truths changed Tad. Happiness and confidence replaced his fear of death. They can do the same for you.

Confidence in going to heaven comes from God, just like confidence in a doctor comes from all the success the doctor has had.

God has a 100% success record with all his promises.  That’s why you, too, can be sure you will go to heaven.

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Why I Support the Church

Dennis has a passion for trout fishing. Bill remembers their first conversation. Dennis was unloading his vehicle. “Nice Jeep!” Bill said.

“It’ll get me where I want to go!” Dennis replied, and then he held up his waders and fly rod. Since then, Bill and he have spent many happy hours together. They fish, talk fishing, and eat fish.

Dennis wants Bill to join a group called “Trout Unlimited.” It’s a volunteer organization dedicated to improving trout stream quality and educating the public.

Dennis is very involved in the organization. He’s the president of the local chapter. Every summer he donates literally hundreds of hours in organizing the fund-raising banquet and giving free trout fishing seminars.

Bill never asked Dennis why he does all that. The answer is obvious. Dennis loves the sport of trout fishing. It makes him happy.

If you can understand Dennis’ love for trout fishing, then you can understand Bill’s love for Jesus Christ. Bill loves him because of all he did for him. Jesus makes him happy! Bill knows Jesus took the blame for all his sins, so when he dies, he will go to heaven.

Bill’s love for Jesus moves him to support the church. He teaches Sunday School, ushers for worship services, and puts generous gifts into the offering plate.

Some say that all the church wants is money. That is not true. We aren’t in love with money. We’re in love with Christ. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Like Trout Unlimited, we too want to educate the public . . . however, concerning Christ and heaven.

By the way, Dennis accepted Bill’s invitation to come to a Bible study group. Dennis learned about his Savior and became a believer. Now, when the two of them go fishing, they have even more good things to talk about.

Pastor R.