Monday, August 29, 2011


James 1:1-8

            I remember one freezing cold Saturday in Ohio. It was the last weekend in October and snow was all over the place. We had just finished racing at the Regional Cross Country meet. For those of you who know about racing, you know that the runners wear very thin and very short shorts and tank tops. To say it was cold was an understatement. About an hour after the race, I was back in my warm coat and standing in the concession stand line. Right in front of me was one of my teammates. He ordered a can of coke and a candy bar. He took one drink of the coke and said, “Ughh! Why did I order this? The whole time I was in line I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to get something warm—a hot dog and some hot chocolate.’” He then gave me the ice cold coke and walked away.
            Have you ever had a debate in your brain about something? Maybe you’re going to a movie and there is more than one that you really want to see—the whole way to the movie you keep going back and forth on which one you want to see. Or maybe its sports. A few years ago Ohio State played for the National Championship against the University of Miami. Miami had a tough team, filled with speed. They had not lost a game in a few years. Ohio State played their last game the last weekend of November and they wouldn’t play again until the first week of January. This gave me six weeks of “OSU’s going to get beat.” “OSU has a chance.” “OSU’s defense will crush Miami.” “Miami is way to fast for our defense.” I was back and forth so much I was starting to get sea-sick.
            Maybe its clothes. Maybe its politics. Maybe its popularity, or your spiritual life. Anytime there are two sides waging war in your brain, you’re double-minded. Perhaps the best way to introduce the discussion on double-mindedness is to talk about single-mindedness. What comes to your mind when you think of single-mindedness? Focused, purpose-driven, goal oriented, not easily distracted, on target. Double-mindedness is the opposite of all of that.
            We just finished studying one of the hardest teachings in all of the Bible—The Sermon on the Mount. Now we’re going to start studying one of the hardest books of the Bible—James. James is one of the shortest books, but it is one of the most difficult to live out because, like the Sermon on the Mount, James asks us to do a lot of very difficult things. For this reason, many people choose not to read the book. I like to read James whenever I feel like I need a good kick in the pants.
            Incidentally, I decided I would memorize a chapter of the Bible for the Transforming your Mind Initiative. I chose 3 John because the whole book was a chapter long, and I figured I might as well say I memorized a whole book of the Bible if I’m going to memorize a chapter. That took me about a week. So I decided to memorize 2 John, which is also one chapter. That took me another week. Then I thought, “Why am I playing around memorizing books that I will rarely use in my daily life? Why not memorize something that will be more useful like James?” So I memorized James. James is five chapters and I had it memorized in five weeks. I had memorized seven chapters of three books in seven weeks.
            James 1:1-8 “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 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. 6 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. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”    
            There are a couple of things worth mentioning before we get too deep into the study. First, James is the brother of Jesus. Some say half brother because he was a son of Joseph and Mary, whereas Jesus was a son of Mary and God. I say brother because Joseph raised them both as if they were his own. The important thing to note is that James didn’t mention it. If it were me I would bring it up in every conversation. “Hey, you should listen to me, I am Jesus’ brother.” “Did the Buckeyes win today? By the way Jesus and I are brothers.” “Do you wanna go on a date with me? You better say ‘Yes’ because I’m Jesus’ brother.” Not James. He didn’t feel worthy to be called Jesus’ brother. In fact, he calls himself a slave to Jesus. By the way, how bad would that suck to have Jesus as your brother? “Adam, why can’t you be more perfect like Jesus?” “Who broke the plate? Was it you Adam, or Jesus, the perfect son of God?”  Secondly, it is believed that James did not believe Jesus was the Messiah until His resurrection. How did he miss that? Didn’t Mary ever explain to him the miracle of His conception and the whole virgin birth thing? And third, some translations. The word “double-minded” is translated from a word that literally means “two souls.” In other words, you have two souls, each fighting for control of you. Perhaps one soul is devoted to worldly things and the other to heavenly things. The word “unstable” literally means to stagger around like a drunk. So a double-minded man staggers around like a drunk.
            Tonight we will look at two men--one single-minded and the other double-minded. The first man is Joseph. Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons who formed the twelve tribes of Judah. His brothers became jealous of him and threw him into a well to die. One of them thought that it would be better to sell him and make some Benjamins rather than have him die. So he was sold to some Midianites, and then again to a man named Potiphar. Let’s pick up the story there…
When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.
 2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. 6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
   Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, 7 and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.
 8 But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. 9 No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”
 10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. 11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. 12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
 13 When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, 14 she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.”
 16 She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. 17 Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. 18 “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!”
Joseph Put in Prison
 19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. 20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
            Jospeh was a man of single-minded devotion to God. He would not allow anything to damage his integrity. We should note a few things in this story. It is believed that Potiphar was the head executioner for Pharoah’s government. It would be wise not to make that man mad. Secondly, we know that Potiphar’s wife must have been a very attractive young lady. How do we know that? If she wasn’t attractive, Joseph wouldn’t have been tempted by her. If he was n’t tempted by her, it wouldn’t have been that interesting of a story. The fact that she was attractive, he had plenty of opportunities to have the affair and still refused even though she tempted him every single day demonstrates his single-minded devotion to God.
Let’s introduce man number two: David. David was referred to as “a man after God’s own heart.” This would be someone you would expect to be single-minded in purpose and devotion to God. Let’s check out his story.
            In the spring of the year,[a] when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
 2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”
6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
 10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”
 11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”
 12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
David Arranges for Uriah’s Death
 14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
 18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”
 22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”
 25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”
 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.
            Here we have David, in the spring of the year when the kings go off to battle with their troops, up on his roof, not off in battles with his troops. Have you ever thought about how if he would have just been doing what he was supposed to have been doing this whole mess could have been avoided? Secondly, he sees a beautiful woman bathing. Now, did he know she was going to be there and that’s why he chose to take a stroll on his roof at that particular time, or was it by coincidence? We don’t know. We do know that he watched, and did not turn away. If David would have turned away, perhaps he would not have been drawn in and tempted to do something wrong.
            Here we have Israel’s greatest king not doing what he was supposed to be doing, committing adultery, perhaps raping another man’s wife, getting her pregnant, trying to cover it up, eventually killing the husband, marrying the woman, and pretending that nothing happened. Not exactly what I would call someone who was single-mindedly focused on God.
            So which of these two characters can you most closely identify with?
            It is not good to be double-minded. You want everyone you have a relationship with to be single-minded. You don’t want to come home from school and have your parents kissing and hugging you, and two minutes later screaming curse words at you. You don’t want to have a teacher tell you the test will be open book, and then on the day of the exam inform you that it is not. You wouldn’t want to stand before a judge who has a history of giving out completely different sentences for the same crime. You want people to be predictable and single-minded. You don’t want them having a war in their minds over how to make a decision.
            So what should you do? You should avoid being double-minded yourself and try to be single-minded. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever being indecisive, but if someone sees you, do they have to wonder what version of you are they going to encounter? The mean one or the nice one? The Christian or the partier? The honest one or the liar? You should have a stability of moods and a predictability about yourself. Secondly, you should decide before hand what your values are, so when you encounter trials you will be prepared for them. Joseph decided long before he met Potiphar’s wife that he would be a man of integrity and not commit adultery. David did not.
            If you want to be single-minded in your devotion to God, you need to decide now that you will be pure for your future husband or wife. Even if you have already given that part of yourself up, you can still decide to remain pure from this point forward. You need to decide that now, not when you’re making out with the hottest guy or girl in school, because at that point it is too late and other influences are now going to help make that decision for you. You need to decide now that you will not drink or do drugs, and how you will avoid it, rather than wait until you are at a party and the peer pressure is on. You need to decide now to be pro-life not when you are an un-wed pregnant teenager. You need to take a stand for what you believe in before the circumstances influence you to do something you wouldn’t normally do.
            Lastly, you need to decide where you are going to hang your fate of eternity. If you want to see double-mindedness look at someone who is trying to work their way into heaven. They do good deeds and are elated, and then have a sinful thought or desire and fall into a pit of despair. One sure way of being single-minded is resting your hope of salvation on the only one who can save you. Jesus Christ was the perfect lamb of God, who was sacrificed to pay a debt that He didn’t owe and we couldn’t pay. Knowing where you will go when you die sure clears up a lot of anxiety and pressures in your life.


Built On A Rock

Built on a Rock
Sermon on the Mount Series
Matthew 7:24-29

            A few years ago a friend of mine served on a jury in a civil trial. A civil trial means that there were no laws broken, but one party feels the other party was negligent in some way and caused them damages. In this particular trial a couple had just bought some property in a subdivision and built their dream home. They had saved for years to build this home and it cost them around $280,000. Unfortunately, within a few years the foundation of their home began to crack. The couple asked the contractor to fix the problem. The contractor looked at the home, looked over their papers, and blueprints, and felt they had done everything they could have to build that house properly. When a contractor comes in to build on a property they have to bring in so much topsoil and pack it down to a certain depth. Once that has been done they have to drill down and take soil samples to test the quality of the dirt. Once all of that has been done, then they can start pouring the concrete for the foundation.
            Twenty years before this particular house was built, the land was used to dump old wood, and tree stumps and then covered over with dirt. Does anybody know what happens to wood that has been buried for an extended period of time? It disintegrates. Does anybody know what happens to large amounts of wood that has been buried? It creates sinkholes. A sinkhole is when a large mass of something underground disintegrates and the dirt surrounding it falls in on itself causing everything above it to sink. This will make craters on the surface.
            Unfortunately, the contractor and the homeowner did not know this land was used to bury old wood. The jury found that the contractor had indeed done everything that was supposed to be done in order to build that house properly. When trying to decide who was responsible for the damages, they came to the conclusion that the person who owns the property is responsible for knowing what is below their house. It was a sad case because this family had just spent $280,000 on a house that needed $200,000 more to fix. The contractors had done nothing wrong. The homeowners had done nothing wrong. It was just a really expensive case of bad luck.
            But a foundation is everything. The foundation of a house must support the entire weight of the house. That is an immense amount of weight. If you live in a brick house, I want you to find a brick, weigh it, and then get out a flashlight and count how many bricks you have on your house. You do a little multiplication and you have just figured out the weight of only the bricks. Next factor in all of the wood, shingles, windows, doors, and all of your stuff that you keep in your house, like your washer and dryer, refrigerator, things like that. Oh! And if you park your car in your garage factor that in, too. If you ask any contractor what the most important part of a building job is, and they will tell you it is the laying of the foundation.
            There are other kinds of foundations. There is the make-up kind. You start with that and build from there though, right? So it is basically the same. What about math? How many of you all went to first grade and learned about the Pythagorean theorem? No, what happened was your first grade teacher began a foundation of math that the second grade teacher could build on. What about chores around your house? Caleb is 28 months old and he has chores. Does he mow the lawn? No. We have started him out with little tasks and then we build from there. Right now he helps unload the dishes and is a really good sweeper. The other day he saw the broom and said, “I want to swoop!” What about your spiritual lives? Again Caleb is two years old and his Sunday school teacher, Miss Candace, teaches him every week about God, the Bible, and loving others. He comes out of class with finger paintings, bookmarks, drawings, and other pieces of art. Not once have one of those pieces of art depicted transubstantiationism. Caleb hasn’t yet decided if he is pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib. He is having a foundation being built of who Jesus is, and that we should be nice to each other. That’s it.
            Well, today ends a nearly year long study into the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ longest sustained teaching that we have recorded. The sermon covered three chapters, 111 verses, and nearly 2,600 words. This is actually only what we have copied down. Jesus spoke much more during the sermon that could not be recorded despite people writing down as much as they could recall. In all actuality, the sermon probably lasted several hours if not most of the day. But here in this last passage Jesus is winding it down. He had already given His altar call, and now He is kind of giving a warning—the same type of warning any parent would give to their children—“You can take my advice or you can ignore it. See what happens.”
The last passage, Matt 7:24-29, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”
            You can be wise and build your spiritual house on a firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings, or you can ignore them. If you have a good house on a good foundation you can live there for your entire life, and even pass the house on to your children. But if it is not a good house built on a good foundation, the slightest storm will knock the house over. I can tell you stories of people who have built their spiritual house on the firm foundation of Jesus, and when disaster struck, it made them stronger. Unfortunately, I can also tell you stories about people who had a really shallow faith. They may have come to church, maybe even more than the CEO Christians, but they never really took ownership of their own faith. So when disaster struck, their faith was shaken to the core, and they had nowhere to turn.  Remember the story of the three little pigs? The first pig built his house out of straw. When his house was destroyed he was shaken and ran to the one who built his house out of sticks. When his house was destroyed, the first two ran to the one who built his house out of bricks. Do you want to be one who is constantly running to others for help, or do you want to be the one who others run to? Only one of those pigs took ownership and therefore responsibility of their future.
            Remember the story of the cracked foundation we started with? The jury decided that the person responsible for what was under their house was the owner. You are responsible for your spiritual foundation. Not me. Not Brian. Not Rebekah. Not Barbara. Not the other Bryan. It is up to you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Review of Love and War
Being a big fan of both John and Stasi Eldredge’s work, I was really excited to read their new book Love and War. I was not disappointed. The Eldredges were very open, honest, personal, and vulnerable with their anecdotal stories accompanying their points. This book was an easy read that both the husband and wife will enjoy.
            The Eldredges thesis throughout the book is that “we live in a love story, set in the midst of a war.” This book really does have it all. If you have ever read John’s book Wild at Heart you will know that every man wants a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to have. And if you have read Stasi’s book Captivating, you will know that every woman needs to know that she is desired and captivating. She wants a knight to rescue her, and to be a part of a greater adventure. This book shows us how marriage really is a culmination of both of those worlds. Love is like a fairy tale, except no one lives happily ever after. The reason why, is because this fairy tale is set in the midst of a war zone similar to the battle of Mordor. The authors establish conclusively that we are never more like God than when we are standing a united front with our husbands our wives. Consequently, we are never more powerful than when we are standing united. This infuriates the enemy, Satan, and he will stop at nothing to destroy it. Literally, all hell is set against you and your spouse being unified in anything. He wants you to argue, bicker, fight, murmur, and ultimately divorce. The Eldredge’s wrote with such clarity and conviction concerning the spiritual warfare we’re involved in that it really made me think I was reading Wild at Heart, Captivating, and a Frank Peretti novel all in one.
            The only area I disagreed from the authors about was who should read this book. They suggested giving it to newlyweds as a wedding gift. I would suggest giving it to the same couple on their second anniversary. A newlywed couple is still living in the fairy tale, and has yet to see the enemy. They believe that their marriage will be free from fighting, turmoil, arguing, and even a hint of divorce. The enemy is just a myth. A year or two down the road, the wisdom in this book will be better received—in my humble opinion.
            “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Never Knew You

I Never Knew You
Sermon on the Mount Series
Matthew 7:21-23

            If I asked you what the saddest passage in the Bible is, what would you say? The passage where Christ was arrested? Betrayed? Crucified? When JBAP was beheaded? When the apostles were persecuted? When Stephen was martyred? For me the saddest passage of scripture is Matthew 7:21-23. It just so happens to be the passage we will be studying tonight, the second to last passage in our Sermon on the Mount Series.
            I was flipping through the channels the other day and saw Randy Travis on the Christian station. It was the movie, “The Wager,” which inspired me to do the Sermon on the Mount series all those many months ago. In the movie, Randy Travis plays a movie actor whose life turns completely upside down very quickly after a series of unfortunate events. As he struggles with the decisions he is trying to make he keeps having this recurring voice played over and over in his head. The voice asks, “Can anyone live out the Sermon on the Mount in today’s world?”
            That’s the question I have been asking you over and over again. Can you live out Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount at Milton High School? King Middle? Hobbs? Home schoolers in your day to day encounters with society? In order to answer that question, you need to know what is in the Sermon on the Mount. So far we have discussed “The Beatitudes,” being salt and light, Christ fulfilling the law, murder beginning in the heart, adultery beginning in the heart, marriage being sacred and binding, oaths, going the second mile, loving your enemies, doing good to please God, how to pray, how to fast, storing up treasures in heaven, the lamp of the body, not serving both God and riches, not worrying, not judging, asking, seeking, and knocking, the narrow way, and inspecting fruit.
            Tonight we’ll talk about disappointment. Have you ever been really excited to go some place and then for whatever reason were not able to go? I can’t really remember a time in my life when that has happened to me, but for some reason I have always had this huge fear that I won’t be able to experience whatever it is. Even to this day, if we’re going to see Casting Crowns or some other concert or event I can’t relax until I am in the arena. I will even check my ticket about a hundred times just to make sure I didn’t forget it. It’s crazy, but for as long as I can remember I have always felt that way. Amusement parks, professional baseball games, NFL games, watching the Blue Angels, catching a flight at an airport. Is there anyone else like me or am I weird? Well I know I am weird.
            Matt 7:21-23 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
            This is the saddest and scariest portion of scripture because it means people who thought they were going to heaven will not. And where do you go if you don’t go to heaven? Hell. For some reason people think that Heaven is for good people and Hell is for bad people, and in-betweeners just kind of hang out. This passage is exceptionally sad because people who were doing “churchy,” “Christian” things and thought they were going to heaven ended up at a place Jesus described as a place where there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth. Pretty vivid word picture. In this passage it says they prophesied (which simply means preached), cast out demons, and performed many miracles, all in Jesus’ name. Put differently it very easily could say, “Lord, did we not preach, teach Sunday school, help in the nursery, sing in the choir, stay over night at the cold weather shelter, donate money to the Compassion child?” None of this matters. What we consider good deeds, God considers filthy rags. Our great and glorious gifts to God’s kingdom, (leading Bible studies, prayer groups, being a pastor, or youth pastor) just cannot stand up next to God’s holy standard. It’s like standing in line all day at an amusement park to ride one ride and when you finally get there you find you are too short to ride the ride. But you just banked your entire day to ride that one glorious ride. It’s absolutely impossible to meet God’s holy standard. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” If you want to go to heaven—if you do not want to be one of those to which Jesus said “depart from me I never knew you,” then there is only one thing that can secure your place there, and that is having your name written on the Book of Life.
            To have your name written on the Book of Life, you need to come face to face with your own sin problem and realize that you cannot make it to heaven on your own best efforts. It’s like standing on the Florida coastline and trying to jump to Cuba. You can’t do it. The best long jumper in the world—the world record holder—may only get about 10 ft further than you but still miss it by miles. The second thing you need to do is accept Christ as your savior. Scripture calls Him the sin bearing servant. He did what you could not (live a perfect life), bore your sins, and died a sacrificial death satisfying God’s wrath. The third thing you need to do is make your decision public. There are no secret believers. If you are a believer then it’s no secret. If it’s a secret then you’re no believer.