A Word to the Church

Wouldn’t you like to think the good news Ð that God loves you and has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you Ð would be joyfully received by all people? It isn’t. It wasn’t received two thousand years ago in Corinth, and it isn’t received today by millions of people in America .

Paul writes, “I told the people that, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I went on to tell them, ÔIf you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ I also assured them that anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. But not all received this message.”

Why is it that not all people believe Christ is the answer for their lives? This is a question that all believers should ponder. Paul gives us some answers, and that is what this sermon is all about. It’s a word for the Church to consider seriously. Take a look at four reasons why millions of people turn their backs on Christ, by either treating Him indifferently or rejecting His promises.

1. THE MESSAGE, KNOWN AS THE GOSPEL, DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

Millions would say it is an offense to human intelligence to believe that Jesus could save us through His suffering death, and resurrection. Paul writes, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . Greeks look for wisdom, . . . the gospel is foolishness to Gentiles.” (I Corinthians 1:20f)

In spite of the moral chaos in our day, we still believe that given enough time, we will solve our problems through all of our learning. Our prisons are full. The number of addicts increase annually and present a terrible problem to the social welfare departments of our nations. Homes end in divorce and children live in single-parent homes without the blessing of having both parents around. And yet the human intellect keeps on studying the problem believing the human being is basically good. If you can give a person enough education or enough psychotherapy, all will be well. Humans have the capacity to right the wrongs in their lives. They simply have to be educated to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get on with it.

How sad. Confidence in the human intellect is a major reason why millions of people have nothing to do with the Gospel.

2. WE NEED FACTS TO BELIEVE. PROVE TO US THAT THE GOSPEL IS TRUE.

While the Greeks wanted the Gospel to be intellectually understandable, the Jews wanted to be shown that the Gospel was true. They lived with the Old Testament teaching that anyone who is hung on a tree is under the curse of God. Jesus hung dying on a tree. This is hardly evidence to believe that He was God’s appointed Messiah. These people anticipated an earthly ruler who would come and set Israel free. He would drive out the Romans, and Israel would reign supreme. This was not the kingdom Jesus had come to establish.

These people would say, “Give me one bit of evidence that Jesus is the Christ, and I will be open to the Gospel.” You can point them to the millions of lives that have been changed and who have gone on in life to bring blessings to humanity, yet they will not believe these changes have anything to do with Jesus Christ. They continue in their unbelief by asking, “Why do all these bad things happen to good people?”

The conversation continues, “So much of Christianity deals with life after death, and the opinion that those who have received Christ as their Savior will spend eternity with Him. Prove to me that there is a life after death, and don’t give me this Ôfaith bit.'” While they accept many other blessings in faith, this type of trust does not apply to a person’s spiritual life.

3. THEY HAVE NEVER MET CHRIST.

Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth, ÔJesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Many people know about Jesus. Intellectually they give assent to the teachings about Jesus, but have yet to meet Him. They have not experienced what it is to have their sins forgiven and enjoy the peace that passes all understanding. There is seldom a week that goes by that someone will tell me of their personal relationship with the Lord. “I thought I was a Christian. I had a good understanding of the basics of the Christian faith, but it was not until recently that I met Jesus as a living Lord.” Accepting a doctrine and meeting the Savior are two different matters.

These people, who have never met Him but have a good intellectual understanding of the Christian faith, are often found in the congregations. They are not the hard core unbelievers who couldn’t care less if the Christian faith ceased to be. They are faithful and might be very active in the activities of the church. They would defend the church. They are only a short distance from meeting the Savior, and given time, we can be confident that the Word planted in their souls at a young age will bring forth fruit. This is why it is so important for our churches to have strong Sunday schools and confirmation classes.

4. THEY ARE OFFENDED AT THE BEHAVIOR, ATTITUDE, AND SPIRIT OF THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS, YET PRESENT THEIR LIFESTYLE AS INCONSISTENT WITH THEIR CONFESSION.

Now we know that, even though we are Christians, we are not perfect. We are saints and sinners at the same time. We also know this can be an escape for those who simply do not want to deal seriously with God and their relationship with Him. Nevertheless, we cannot take the accusation of the unbeliever lightly. What offends them? Let’s look at some of their statements that might speak to all of us:

“When my husband lay sick for many months and finally died, my unbelieving friends showed more concern than my Christian neighbors. Never once did they offer to help me in those difficult days and long nights. If they believed that Joe was dying and he didn’t believe in their Savior, why did they not come and share the Good News with him?”

“I never was cursed at more and treated so unkindly in a business transaction than I was by an officer of your church who presents himself as one of God’s children. It is difficult for me to understand how one can get so out of control when he talks about the power of God in his life. I know we can all get upset when dollars are involved, but I expected more understanding from this person because of his faith. If this is Christianity, I can get along without it.”

This is a very sad accusation. Do Jesus’ words apply when He says, “It would be better that a millstone be tied around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than to be a stumbling block to one of these little ones?”

A child says to her parents, “Do you have to go away again tonight? I have been with the babysitter so much today. I want you, mommy and daddy, to be with me now.”

The parents reply, “We would rather stay home with you, but our friends are having this party tonight, and it is very important that we be with them. We’ll make it up to you.”

Might those words ring in the child’s ears even after she is an adult? Could she then ask the question, “Who was more important that night? Was it I or their friends?” Now the little girl has her own children, and she learns what God has to say about parenting a child. Where was her parents’ Christianity when they were busy climbing the social ladder at the expense of their children’s feelings?

Well, Paul has a word for the Church: “To the weak I became weak to win the weak for Christ. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I might share its blessings.” In these words God is telling us to live with a sensitive ear. Without compromising your Christian convictions, learn what it is to be adaptable and be all things to all people that they might see Christ in you. When that unbelieving person visits with you, he or she might not agree with your Christian belief, but they will know that you are different, for the Spirit of Christ dwells in you.

Here is a word to the Church: Let the Gospel be an offense to the wise and learned. They will one day discover that human knowledge is not adequate for the difficulties of life. Let those who want proof trust their own insights until they discover that, only by trusting the Savior can they find real peace. But never let those who claim Christ as their Savior be an offense to those who yet have to meet Him.

Ideas Have Consequences

A sixty-year-old lady visited with me as we sat in a doctor’s office. “Aren’t you Pastor Larsen?” she asked. When I said yes, she told me that her daughter attended our church when she was a student at the University of Northern Iowa.

With these preliminaries out of the way, she asked, “What has happened to our world?”

I replied, “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” she said, “I believe we are falling apart morally and spiritually.” And then she became quite specific. “My granddaughter lives with a man. They have a beautiful little girl, but they are not married and have no intentions of being married, at least in the near future. That’s not right according to the Bible.”

“I agree,” was my answer. Then she told me of another relative whose 8-year-old boy does not attend Sunday school simply because it is boring. This family does not want to force the child to attend Sunday school for fear that, as an adult, he will have bad memories of the church. “Isn’t that wrong?” she asked. “When they had the child baptized, the parents promised to bring him to church and Sunday school. Now the promises mean little or nothing.” Again, I agreed.

Then there was silence and she said quietly, “I read in our national paper that a committee has been appointed to study whether or not we should ordain practicing homosexuals. The Bible speaks clearly on this issue. Such a lifestyle is contrary to God’s Word and should not be acceptable to the Church. What are they thinking about? God’s Word does not

change.”

“Yes, I share your feelings,” was my answer.

“Well,” she asked, “what is causing this change in our thinking and living?”

“You are one of many who are asking questions about the Church, and what is happening to our world,” I replied. “It is sad to admit, but we are living in what is called, ÔThe Post-Christian Age.’ When we were kids, there was a respect for the teachings of Christianity. Many people then did not accept Christ as Savior and Lord, and the numbers who seldom attended a worship service were large. However, the teachings of scripture could be voiced in public gatherings and a general response was, ÔWell, this is not for me, but I respect what they say and admit it would be a better world if all of us did follow Christ!

“Then voices from certain groups began to protest the teachings of the ethics of the Christian faith. Their point was clear, ÔSome of our citizens do not believe in God. Others come from different religions where the doctrines are different from the Christian teachings. The Christians’ morals and spiritual teachings cannot become the absolutes for those whose religions teach differently. Others, who are not related to religious groups, do not have to be confronted with Biblical teachings. In a post-Christian society, each person has a right to determine for himself or herself what he or she wants to believe.’

“For us, who are Christians, it is a sad day, but in spite of the limitations placed on where we can share the faith, we must be faithful to God’s Word and take the consequences, whatever they might be.”

When the nurse called my friend into the doctor’s examining room, I wondered what her blood pressure reading would be. She certainly was upset at the spiritual life of our society, as well she should be.

With this conversation fresh in my mind, I sat reading Charles Colson’s book, How Now Shall We Live? Talking about life in the Post-Christian age, Colson writes, “Across the country a generation of college graduates has marched off the platform with degrees in their hands and a post-Christian ideology in their heads. These graduates will work in executive newspapers, magazines, and television studios. They plant ideas in people’s minds until, in the words of Richard Weaver, Ôideas have consequences.'”

A few days later, I heard a distinguished journalist make a statement that sent a cold chill up and down my spine. The group was talking about terrorism when the journalist said, “Our nation can handle terrorism. In the terrorists’ attack on September 11, three thousand people died. We kill that many people on highways every month. After all, we have 285 million people in our nation.”

In fairness to the panelist, he said the terrorists’ acts on September 11 were a crushing blow to families and friends of the victims. Their loved ones had been killed or injured. The journalist showed some feelings himself. I do not want to present him as a cold-hearted person, but he did plant a seed in my mind that is bad. Each one of these 3,000 people who died on that day was precious and important to God, and not one can be considered unimportant. We cannot live with terrorism though the numbers may be small in comparison to our population. People are important!

Who says so?

God says so!

He tells us that we are created in His image. We are the crowning work of His creation. He tells us that we have gone contrary to His will, and our sins have separated us from Him. Yet, He did not discard us, but instead sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to die for our sins so that we might be forgiven and restored into fellowship with Him. Once we are in a living relationship with Him, God calls us to be His ambassadors and He makes His appeal to this world through us to tell the good news of the Gospel to this world. With this understanding of the human being, we cannot subscribe to the thinking that we can afford to live with terrorism, even though it does kill some people.

Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd who had a hundred sheep in the flock. One of them walked away. What did the shepherd do? He left the ninety-nine and went to find the one who was lost. The point of the parable is to teach us that it is God’s will that not one should perish. When the journalist says that we can live with the thought of losing some people in a terrorist attack, he is painting a seed that is contrary to what our Lord taught, and one that has been the foundation of the Christian faith from which comes the emphasis of western civilizations on the importance of people.

As a nation, we have always placed great importance on each human life. Our goals, though not always attained, have been to provide education, health care, justice, and an opportunity for all citizens, and the opportunity to develop whatever talents we have. What happens to these goals and values in a post-Christian age where life can be cheapened?

Ideas have consequences. That being true, whose ideas should be planted in our minds and souls Ð God’s, who says each person is important, or man’s who believes we can live with terrorism even if we have to lose a few people?

May Christ give His Church the power to proclaim the importance of each individual for whom He died and we cannot afford to live with any philosophy or act that cheapens life.

Seek the Lord

My furnace stopped the other day, so I called the service man. As he was leaving, I wished him a Merry Christmas. “I will,” he said. “I accepted Christ as my Savior this summer, and my life has changed. I have belonged to the church all of my life, but never had much of a relationship with God. But now it is different. Each morning I spend about fifteen minutes with God in my quiet time. What a way to start the day! I don’t want to give you the wrong impression; I am no saint. Sometimes I forget myself and begin cussing, but I’m asking the Lord to take that sin away from me.”

It was a delightful conversation. You could see the man was really very happy. There was a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face that came from a soul at peace with God.

I followed my friend to the door and assured him that if he continued to walk with God each day, He would direct his path and strengthen his faith. Now, were those simply idle words? Is there any basis for that promise? Yes, there is. Hear these words from the Prophet Isaiah, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

These verses are filled with important thoughts. Let me share a couple of them with you.

The Bible says, “Seek the Lord.” As we interpret these words on the basis of the Biblical message, we know God first seeks us. When the furnace technician I made reference to earlier began seeking the Lord, his Heavenly Father had already begun the search. Those early years in church had planted a seed through which God was working. Finally, God caught this man’s attention. He was now seeking God, which led to his spiritual awakening. God is not playing hide-and-seek with us. He is simply trying to get our attention. When He does capture our attention, something great happens: the person becomes a new creature.

One might also ask, “Where do you seek God?” The primary answer to this question is, in God’s Word. As we read the Bible, our Heavenly Father speaks to our heart. That’s why those minutes with God every day are so important. It is during those minutes that the furnace man will get strength and direction from the Lord. But our Heavenly Fathers also speaks to us through hearing the Word preached in church, on the radio, or television. Our fellowship with other Christians is another way that God’s voice speaks to us clearly. That is why it is important to worship and be in a small group with other believers Ð so that you can help others and be helped by them.

Our text tells us to call on the Lord while He is near. The Bible tells us that if we continue to ignore God’s calling, the heart can be hardened. We read, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” It is evident there are those people who have laughed and made fun of God for so long, He has withdrawn from them. So the Word from God to us is, “Seek Him.”

I have with me in the recording studio, one of my seven grandchildren. As grandparents, we love them all and are proud of their many accomplishments. Tim, our grandson, is a sophomore student at the University of Iowa. He is blessed with many talents: he is a gifted pianist and a four-point student in the College of Business at the university. We are going to dialogue around the theme: Seeking the Lord.

Tim, let’s begin our discussion by telling the radio audience a bit about you.

Tim: I am a sophomore student at the University of Iowa. I am trying to get a grasp on which direction I want to go in my life in terms of choosing my career and other decisions that will affect the rest of my life. I have a lot of different hobbies. I enjoy sports, music, and spending time with friends and family. But I think the most important thing at this point in my life is trying to find out which direction I need to take.

Rev. Larsen: Thank you, Tim. Now we have another question for you: how do you make these decisions?

Obviously, there needs to be a sound basis for every decision you make. I know that basis needs to be God. I try to evaluate every decision I make based upon what will be most important when I am lying on my deathbed. Obviously, the most important thing to anyone when he or she is on their deathbed is knowing where they will spend eternity. The Bible is very clear on the subject of eternity.

There are infinitely many paths to hell, and only one path to heaven. Obviously, then, the most important aspect of my life is the fact that I have a saving faith in Christ. Aside from that, the Bible makes it clear that we are called not just to be saved from our sins, but also to make a positive influence on the world. I think that is the other thing that is important when you are lying on your deathbed, is to be able to say that you made a positive impact on the world.

Now with those two things as the basis for every decision that you make, you need a guide. You need a source of guidance and wisdom for your day-to-day life. That is where a daily walk with Christ really comes in. A daily walk where you not only know the truths about Christ, what the Bible says about God, and what God has done, but where you spend time, daily, with God reading His word, in prayer, and worship. Much like the person who fixed the furnace said. His life was different because he was beginning every morning with God, and he was seeking wisdom and guidance from Him.

Thank you, Tim. You are a young man who just turned 20 years of age. You are at a university that has 25,000-plus students. Obviously there are many in the university who have no time for the Christian faith; that is just a part of life. Tim, you implied this in your sentence very forcefully that you have to listen to what God is saying to you in the Word. When you went to Iowa City as a complete stranger, you sought out a church. Can you tell us a bit about the church you attend, and what you hear there that helps you in making these decisions?

What I like most about this church, and it is what I believe is the most important quality a church can have, is that it is a church with a high view of what the Bible says about God, who God is, and what God has done. That can’t be compromised. It has to be the basis for every decision we make, it has to be the basis for our lives, and how we view eternity. I think that is what I’ve really learned at this church in Iowa City.

The university population as a whole, professors and students, don’t really have much time for what the Bible teaches about God. So it is easy to get lost in thinking the Bible is not true, or the Bible is irrelevant now because it was written so long ago, or any other excuse or explanation they may come up with. This church has been a stronghold in a very dark place. It is the one place in Iowa City where I can go and be told there is truth, and we can know truth for sure about God, because it is written in the Bible, and the Bible is true. I am so thankful this church has held to the Bible and has drawn its wisdom from it.

I am really interested in this church, because I think it is very important for us to bring the message across to the radio listening audience, the importance of a church that claims the Word of God. In this church, is there a lot of entertaining done to get the students there? How many students would you estimate are at all the services in the worship center on a Sunday morning? And are there people there who impress you because they are celebrities in their own right, and there they sit with their Bibles?

As for whether or not there is a lot of entertaining done to get students, absolutely not. The sole objective they have is to be a light in a dark place. They believe that is best done by proclaiming the Word of God every Sunday in a deep way that perhaps people have not thought of before. They are not trying to play any games with people; they are not trying to soften or water down the message to keep people there or keep them interested. They are simply speaking the truth in love. There are probably around 400 college students on an average Sunday morning. Four hundred people who realize the Bible is true and is our basis for life. They come and learn more about the Bible and seek God’s wisdom in all areas of their life.

As for celebrities, I see Steve Alford, the Iowa basketball coach, there every Sunday, engaged in listening to the sermon. Obviously, he is another person trying to seek what God wants from his life, who God is, and what God has done for him. That’s probably what I am most impressed with about this church Ð that they are not in the business of trying to entertain people. They simply expound on the Word and teach truths completely relevant for today.

That is a very important testimony for some of us. We are talking to a 20-year-old person who is in church every Sunday, with probably 400 other students from the university. Sitting right next to him may be a member of the faculty. We certainly want to say this is a great academic institution; Tim feels privileged to be there. Tim, tell us a bit about your own relationship with the Lord Jesus.

My relationship with God is different from what you may hear from many people. Many people tell about some kind of exciting conversion experience where their back was against the wall, they didn’t know where to turn, and found God in the midst of that.

This has not been my situation at all. I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. This does not mean I was born a Christian. It just means that, at a young age, God sought me out, found me, and I came to faith in Him. I can’t really point to any times or specific experiences in my life where I have been growing much faster than at any other time. I have just found that my growth in my relationship with God has been very steady since a young age, because I’ve had a lot of positive influences in my life: a strong, Christian family, a church that was proclaiming the Gospel in the Word of God every Sunday, a strong youth program in Cedar Falls as I got older, and another strong church when I moved to Iowa City. Through it all I have had strong Christian friends. I have had so many positive influences I have been able to grow steadily throughout the whole time I have been a Christian.

What effect does the Church have on your whole life, and, as you look out into the future, how do you see yourself as a witness for Jesus Christ in the days that are to come? I understand you may go to law school, (Tim’s father is a lawyer in our community and a strong member of the church, committed to Jesus Christ), or you may go on to a school that could give you a good MBA (Masters of Business Administration), you are not quite sure yet. But tell me a bit about what you see in the future as far as being a witness for Christ and His Church.

A lot of people ask me the question, “Do you plan to go into the ministry someday?” I know their intention is to ask, Do you plan to be a Rev. in a church or work in some ministry as we know it? However, I feel anybody who is a Christian in any job, anywhere, is in the ministry. I don’t think you have to be a Rev. at work in a church to be in the ministry in a broad sense. From what I’ve been told about Martin Luther and some of the reformers, this was one of their major points of emphasis. There is no difference between what we may view as a sacred vocation and a secular vocation. Anyone who is a Christian, who has a relationship with God, can serve God wherever he is. It could be in the courtroom, in the business world, or preaching the Gospel in a church. I don’t feel that I have to choose one particular vocation to be a minister for God. I believe I will be in the ministry no matter where I go. That is my guiding principal, and the whole point is that no matter where I choose, I can serve God in it. I think you need a Christian lawyer or a Christian businessman who is making a positive influence upon society for God in that way just as much as you need strong, Christian Rev.s. I believe that you can be in a Christian ministry no matter where you go.

Many times we older people give you advice. If you were addressing the church today, both clergy and laity, what would you urge them to be faithful with? Where should their priorities be? What do you find at the heart of the church?

It seems to me, without being too critical, that a lot of churches have such a short-term focus. Let’s make people happy and give them a pleasant, enjoyable, memorable, or emotional experience right now so that they’ll continue to come back, and so that we can continue to have them in our church. It is such a superficial focus, though, to think you can water down what is true to make people happy. The reason I call it short-term is that you are not doing anybody any eternal good in that. They are not hearing, in many churches, that without Christ there is no way to heaven, or that unless you are serving God, you’re not doing anything of any eternal significance. Those are a couple of truths people are not hearing. These truths are not being preached or taught or proclaimed, because people don’t want to be offended. I think churches really need to stay focused on what is important eternally. What this means is teaching, preaching, and proclaiming that people are saved only through faith in Christ. And people are living a life of purpose only if they are striving to serve God, no matter which direction they go.

Thank you very much, Tim, for this time together. May the Lord continue to bless you, and may you seek Him out. He will give you direction in all that takes place in your life.

Let’s Check Him Out

At the time Jesus was born, historians like Josephus tell us there was an expectation of a messianic announcement. People believed that God was going to bring a person into this world who would deliver humans from their bondage. William Barclay writes, “There is not the slightest need to think that the story of the coming of the Magi to the cradle of Christ is only a lovely legend. When Christ came into the world, the world was in eagerness of expectation. People were waiting for God. The desire for God was in their hearts. They had discovered they could not build the golden age without God. It was to a waiting world that Jesus came, and when He came, the ends of the earth were gathered at His cradle.”

Might there be a bit of this same expectation among some, no matter how small the group may be in our world? Since September 11, we have seen that nuclear power in the hands of political tyrants can blow up much of the civilized world. Germ warfare can kill masses of people. An international economy can be thrown into chaos.

While we labor day and night to prevent such atrocities, can we help but ask, do humans have the ability to keep this from happening? God, in His Word, is delivering some powerful messages and promises to us living in such a fragile world. Would it not be sane for us to check out these messages? That’s what the Magi were doing.

These men were astronomers. They came asking the question, “Where is this one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod, the King of Judah, heard about “the King of the Jews,” he was disturbed. He was the King of Judah and he had no intention of letting someone sit on the throne. He called the chief priests and asked the question, “Where is this King of the Jews supposed to be born?” The theologians told the king that, according to the prophets, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. With this information, Herod called the Magi and said, “The King of the Jews is to be born in Bethlehem. You go and find Him, and when you have worshiped the child, come and give me a report that I might also go and worship the child.”

Herod had no intentions of worshiping Jesus. Herod only wanted more details that he could have him killed. But the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned to their home by another route. When Herod realized he had been tricked, his anger moved him to issue an edict that all boys in and around Bethlehem two years or younger were to be killed.

There’s the picture. The Magi sought a baby whose mission was not yet completed. Today we are challenged to seek Christ whose objective work in saving human beings is finished. This babe grew up and lived until He was 33 years old. At that time, he was crucified for the sins of the world, and on the third day rose from the grave. He is our crucified Savior and Risen Lord. Jesus paid the price for the world’s sins and has been raised to give us victory over sin, death, and the devil.

However, the subjective part of the Christ’s work is not completed. This part of the redemptive act is to bring the message of salvation to all people that they might receive Christ as their Redeemer. This part of God’s plan of saving the world is to be done through Christ’s Church as believers bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in word and deed. This is what Christ’s Church is about today. It is what this sermon is about. We are using this means of seeking someone who might be longing for a Savior Ð one to forgive, to lead, to strengthen, and to bring peace to a life that is apart.

Are you guilty of something that is destroying your life? It is so heavy on your soul that you don’t want to talk with anyone about it. If you seek out what Jesus has to say about this, turn to I John 1:10 where you will read, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then turn to John 8 and read the story of a woman who had fallen into sin and witness how Jesus forgave her and she became a new person. We don’t have to live with guilt if we will only turn to Christ. I hope you’re not too proud to receive this gift of forgiveness.

Are you heartbroken because a loved one has been taken from you in death? You join those who say, “Without that person who has meant so much to me, I don’t want to live.” Listen to what Jesus told a sister who was mourning the death of a dear brother, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he dies, yet he will live.” He will not bring our loved one back, but He gives us the promise that anyone who dies trusting in Christ as his/her Savior will live forever. He also assures us that, in Christ, we too can have eternal life. Doesn’t that take away the sting of death? It doesn’t dry up the tears, but it gives the promise of eternal life. How sad to think that all God has to offer us is a few years on this earth.

And to those of you who are Christians but are bored to death with life, how about talking to God about your life? If you will seek Him out in His Word, God will say, “You can be an ambassador for Christ, God will make His appeal to this world through you.” (II Corinthians 5:20) If you will become involved in sharing Christ with others, life will not be boring. Let him answer some of your questions: Where does God want me? What are my talents, and how can they be used for God? Where does my strength come from to be one of His witnesses?

Check Christ out! We buy some gadget with the understanding that if it does not work for me, I can bring it back. Doesn’t God deserve the same checking out? We check out the doctor, the lawyer, the plumber, and a host of other people who serve us. Why not check out the Lord Jesus?

I can assure you that those who have checked Him out and live with Him in a personal relationship will say with St. Paul, “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come.” The Magi returned to their home praising God that they had met the king of Kings. So have millions of other people who have discovered He is the Lord and Savior of the world.