Captured – Part 1

Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

Today I am continuing to try to teach you what I’ve learned from Father John Riccardo’s book Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel. I highly recommend this book. If you get a chance, please read it!

In the first part we learned about why God created us and that we have a purpose. We learned about His incredible love for us. We know that we are more beloved to God than anything else that He has created. That’s all great, isn’t it? Then how come life is such a mess? If he’s such a loving God then why do terrible things happen to good people? Why is there poverty and hunger? Why do children die of cancer? Why do people suffer?

In order to figure this out we need to go back to before the beginning. The Bible doesn’t tell us EVERYTHING that God created, it only tells one part of it: our story. It doesn’t tell us everything that was in existence before God decided to start making our universe. We are given a hint, though, that God wasn’t alone. “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, NACBRE) Obviously there was somebody else with him. We already know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there (John 1:1-5). As you read through the Bible you realize that God just assumes that you know he has his Angel Corps working, too. In fact, after Adam and Eve are kicked out of Eden, God posts two sentries at the gate to protect the tree of life. “He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the gard of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24, NABRE). You might wonder, like I did, why He didn’t come out and tell you about the angels at the beginning. After all, at least a couple of them have big parts in the Bible. Then I thought about all of the biographies I’ve read and they never tell you about stuff that isn’t very pertinent to the story. If I was writing a book about my life I wouldn’t have to tell you that I have grandparents because you would just assume that I did. God trusts that we don’t have to be given every little detail in order to understand what’s going on. As it becomes important we are given the information.

God created EVERYTHING, including angels. He gave them some pretty sweet powers and special jobs. There were the two angels that He sent to Sodom and Gomorrah and we can’t forget the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of the Son of the Most High. Did we need to know what the angels names were who went to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Apparently not because they aren’t ever mentioned. So we can see that angels are very special beings who serve God and are with him all the time, even if we don’t know exactly how many there are or what each of them do.

In fact, we don’t even realize that we are introduced to one of the fallen angels at the very beginning of the Bible. We know that we’ve just been shown how we were expelled from the Garden and that Death entered the world, but we aren’t told that it was all due to a bitter and envious ex-angel, Lucifer, until much later.

“How you have fallen from the heavens, O Morning Star, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who conquered nations! In your heart you said: ‘I will scal the heavens; Above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, on the heights of Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!'”

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NABRE)

A translation of ‘O Morning Star’ is ‘Lucifer.’

“You were a seal of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty.

In Eden, the garden of God, you lived; precious stones of every kind were your covering: Carnelain, topaz, and beryl, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, garnet, and emerald.

Their mounts and settings were wrought in gold, fashioned for you the day you were created.

With a cherub I placed you; I put you on the holy mountain of God, where you walked among fiery stones.

Blameless were you in your ways from the day you were created, Until evil was found in you.”

Ezekiel 28:12b-15 (NABRE)

Both Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us that Lucifer was part of God’s group of angels, but then out of his own free will, he became evil. God didn’t create him to be evil. Everything that God created was good. So how did Lucifer become evil?

“But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.”

Wisdom 2:24 (NABRE)

Okay, I think I’m starting to see the picture. To be sure, though, let’s take a look at the definition of envy. “A feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.” per What other words can be substituted for envy? Hatred, ill will, malice, prejudice, resentment, rivalry, coveting, maliciousness, spite…

Isaiah says that the Devil’s problem was he wanted to be more powerful than God. Then Ezekiel states that the Devil lived in Eden and was placed among the most precious things, and that he had been good until the day that he came down with a case of the Evil. Why? Due to Envy. What did the Devil envy? Here he is, hanging out in Eden, enjoying the beautiful weather and looking at everything God has created. There are plants, fish and creatures of every kind. Everything is great! But then…. God created humans. Humans weren’t created to serve as slaves for God (despite what some other ancient myths would have you believe), instead they were created to be equal with the angels. And God loved them so much!! Apparently He loved them even more than the angels because they seemed to have a special relationship. Knowing God and how things go in the grand scheme of things, Lucifer probably figured that the angels would have to serve these creatures who were not nearly as powerful or special as they were, and that these humans were destined to be as great, if not greater, than him! This is where the feeling of discontent regarding another’s advantages and success comes in. Why should a powerful being like him have to serve those gross humans?? So he came up with a plan and carried it out with great success, for the most part. Sure he was kicked out of the garden, but so were the humans and now they would also be subject to Death. Death is a power that we can’t control. No matter what you do, Death will eventually get you and everybody you love.

That’s why there is evil in the world. HATRED. RIVALRY. MALICE. RESENTMENT. The Devil HATES you. He doesn’t hate God. HE HATES YOU. He knows the kind of forgiving love that God has for all of us, so it’s the Devil’s job to make sure that you turn from that love. Not only does he want to separate you from the love of God, but he wants to degrade and enslave you. I guess in one way that also gives him more power than God; the power and control that he holds over drug addicts is often more powerful than any willpower or love of God. Think of any of the other sins: lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, prejudice. If you have fallen under the spell of one of these, then you know the power and control that the Devil holds over you. It’s not easy to shake off, but God loves us and has given us the Devil’s playbook so that we can learn the strategies that are employed against us and how we can twart them. But that will have to wait until next time…

Faith in Despair

“How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I carry sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

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Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God! Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death, Let my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed,’ let my foes rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your mercy, Grant my heart joy in your salvation, I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt bountifully with me!” ~ Psalm 13: 2-6 (NABRE)

How often do you feel this way? Every time we look at the news there is yet something else going wrong in this world. Evil seems to surround us. How could God have abaondoned us to this fate? The darkness creeps over you and there doesn’t seem to be any relief. And then you see it… it’s a tiny itty-bitty pin-prick of light. Do you see it? Can you make it out? It’s there. It’s the Light of the World! He is with you. Just hold on a little longer.

That’s what the psalmist is telling us today. Even though everything looks bleak and dark, guess what? He still has faith. How do we know that? He wouldn’t be talking to God if he didn’t. Why would you talk to somebody whom you felt wasn’t there for you? If you had truly given up all hope, this psalm wouldn’t even exist. The book of psalms would have stopped right after #12.

So how do you keep that hope kindled even among all of the bad? Especially when bad news sells way better than good news. Open up any news website and count how many negative headlines there are as compared to positive. Watch the news. How many negative stories do they report on versus positive stories? This is why I no longer watch the news or pay attention to a lot of the media. They aren’t out there for our well being. They aren’t journalists. They are gossip mongers who are just trying to make the most cash. TURN IT OFF. Turn off social media. Turn off the news. Take a break from the negative.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1: 1-5 (NABRE)

When I am feeling down and I think that the world has gone to the devil without any hope of redemption, I think of John 1: 1-5. I repeat to myself that, “the light shines in the darkness.” Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Perhaps it’s hidden under a bushel basket. Perhaps a shade obscures it, but it’s STILL THERE. There are a bazillion stars in the sky and you can’t see every single one, but they are still there. Just as the sky and the number of stars are infinite, so is God’s love for you and He will NEVER desert you. Hold tight to that truth and one day you’ll look up and see that light shining bright; you’ll feel the darkness beginning to dispel and you will feel the warmth. Hold tight to the Truth. He loves you and is always with you.

God Will Take Care of Him

“Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us,

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Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the righteous and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him in the end. For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With violence and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.” ~Wisdom 2:12-20 (NABRE)

Even though this passage comes from the book of Wisdom, the story is very familiar to us. You would think that this was one of the Pharisees writing an internal memo to the rest of the group. These were the guys who should have known this story because they were the men of God. Yet, they acted it out as if they had been memorizing their lines and rehearsing for their moment.

Let’s pretend, though, that we don’t know this story. We don’t know about Jesus and the crucifixion. With this in mind, go back and re-read that passage. Now what do you see? I see a rough street gang who is angry at the world and doesn’t care who comes down the street next because they need a target. Is it due to envy? Jealousy? An incorrect sense of injustice? They see somebody who represents what they want, but don’t have, so they are going to take out their rage on him. Why? It doesn’t make sense to me.

When I was in sixth or seventh grade we had a new girl attending our school. I had no idea who she was, but she was in a few of my classes so I knew of her. For the most part I was too involved with my friends and my interests to really pay attention to random new people. Until one day after gym class we were in the locker room waiting for the bell to ring and release us to our next class. My best friend and I were sitting there chatting about something when we heard a commotion. I looked up and saw that almost all of the other girls had surrounded this new girl and had her pinned up against the wall. I don’t remember what they were saying to her, but it wasn’t nice and they were kicking at her. I told them to knock it off and tried to wade my way into the group, but they started to kick me. I ran to the gym teacher’s office and told her what was going on. She came out and let those girls have it! For the next several weeks I was NOT a favorite among the other girls, but that didn’t bother me because I really didn’t have much use for them. Well, that new girl looked on me and my friend as her heroes and she attached herself to us. After a few months she ended up transferring to another school, but every once in a while her cousin (who was also in our class) would tell us that she still talked about how great my friend and I were.

I don’t understand the mindset that says, “That person is different than me so I need to go beat them up or hurt them in some way!” As long as they aren’t bothering me, hurting others or infringing on my rights, I don’t care what they do. Let them live their life! If I’m infringing on their right, then I would like to hear about it in a mature and non-violent fashion. What does violence solve? In our modern world all it does is cause more violence and the losers end up harboring hurt feelings which then typically flare into more violence. It’s a horrible circle that doesn’t ever seem to end.

We all know that in order for us to be saved, Jesus had to die on that cross. So in this one case, violence and jealousy actually led to a very good end for everybody (except Jesus). Look back at that passage and read the last few sentences where they are planning to do evil. How can they feel that even if they aren’t about to test the son of God, that they should be following through with that kind of behavior? How can they feel justified? It’s because the whole thing is about THEM and how THEY FEEL. The feelings of others don’t matter. They are self-centered and selfish. They don’t want to be judged, but yet they are judging somebody else. They are offended that he considers them to be impure and yet they don’t see that they are being the hypocrites because they ARE impure and debased! How could they have changed this? They could have improved their behavior and shown that they weren’t any of the things he thought they were! If you know that you aren’t being impure, then what does it matter what the other person thinks? Just because he calls himself a child of the Lord doesn’t mean that you have to test him to see if it’s true. Because guess what, if it is true? You’re in big trouble!

Who Will You Serve?

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

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But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our ancestors up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. He performed those great signs before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” ~Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b (NABRE)

Joshua 24:15 is a verse that we hear a lot all by itself. I’m sure that you’ve heard, or read, it many times before today. Have you ever really stopped to think about it? Why was Joshua making that statement? If you don’t know anything about the book of Joshua you might think that it’s a statement of faith made to somebody who was persecuting him. Or maybe it’s a conversation that he’s having with somebody about the state of somebody else’s household. Instead, we learn that Joshua is actually giving the Israelites the choice. After the passage above, Joshua goes on to warn the Israelites that it’s not going to be easy to serve the God that they are promising to serve. He lets them know that they are going to be judged and if they start worshipping other gods then they are going to be in BIG trouble with the LORD. The Israelites were adamant that they would still worship the Lord. Just like Ace of Base, they too, saw the signs (sorry, I couldn’t help myself…). They personally knew God’s love and mercy because he had brought them and their people up out of slavery and had fed them manna in the desert.

We know that the Israelites were not as good at serving the Lord as they had promised. How do we know that? Because God sent us manna once again, this time in the form of his only begotten son, who was crucified on the cross to pay for our sins. So, in essence, we too have been brought up out of slavery, freed from sin, through the sacrifice of the lamb of God. Some of us have even stood in front of our church families and promised to serve the Lord with our whole heart and soul. Then what happens?

What happens is a lot of us fail. As soon as we leave that church building on Sunday we go back to our daily lives of just trying to survive the day. What gods are you serving on a daily basis? Are you a slave to your job? Do you spend hours playing video games and ignoring everybody else around you? Do you spend hours obsessing over your social media accounts and tracking how many ‘likes’ you received for various posts? Status. Wealth. Influence. Greed. Opinion. All of these are gods that are worshipped by too many people on a daily basis.

Somebody might say that I’m being unfair. They HAVE to work six jobs to make ends meet. Okay, I understand that, but I’m not talking about you if you’re doing it to take care of people you love. However, if you’re doing it because you need the extra money to pay for the mortgage on your vacation home in the Hamptons… I would say that you are worshipping other gods (status, money, appearance, etc). You should be doing all things for God. You should not be doing all things to impress the Godfreys.

I’m not perfect, either. There are times that I find myself being swayed to do something for purely selfish and non-Christ-like reasons. The important thing is that you recognize when you are doing this so that you can stop, ask God for forgiveness and turn back to HIM. Put HIM first. Invite him into more of your day-to-day life and then you will slowly find yourself turning away from the other gods who entice us. In the morning when I’m driving to work is often when I have the best conversations with Jesus. He sits beside me and we just chat about things. Sometimes it’s serious and sometimes it’s a bit light-hearted. The important thing is that he’s there with me. And he’s always there with you, but are you paying attention?

So, who do you serve?

When the Going Gets Tough…

Elijah went a day’s journey into the wilderness, until he came to a solitary broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: “Enough, LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” He lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger touched him and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched

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him, and said, “Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. ~1 Kings 19:4-8 (NABRE)

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We don’t think that we can take any more so we plead for it all to just end. Just put us out of our misery! How often does that happen? I don’t think that it has every happened for me. Usually something comes up to either support me as I continue on, or it gets worse so that we look back and wish we were back at that previous spot. That’s life. Unfortunately for us, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Just like what happened for Elijah, though, the Lord supports us and sends us what we need to continue on our journey.

Elijah was a prophet of God, but did you notice that didn’t keep Elijah from danger? He was running because Jezebel sent him a note that said she was going to kill him. Right before this he had defeated the prophets of Baal by showing the people that the gods of Baal were false gods and the only true God was our Lord, and then he had killed the other prophets. He had done what the Lord told him to do, and this is what happened. So when he makes the request to die the Lord instead sends an angel to urge Elijah to eat. There is more for Elijah to do so he will need strength.

God has a reason for everything. It may not be pleasant, but there is a reason for our suffering. Maybe we are supposed to learn lessons that we can then pass on to other people who are suffering in the same way. Maybe we are to learn how to cure the suffering we are experiencing. Or, maybe, you are just supposed to grow stronger through this experience so that you can get through the next stage of suffering. Either way, there is a reason though we may not know what it is at the time. We may never know what the purpose of our suffering is until we get to see God face-to-face.

The thing to remember is that even through our suffering He is with us and watching over us. He doesn’t enjoy watching us suffer, but it has to be done. He had to watch Jesus suffer and die on the cross. If God was going to protect and keep somebody from suffering it would have definitely been His own son, right? And yet… because Jesus died on the cross we have received new life. Last week I mentioned the bread from heaven… Jesus is our bread of life. He is the bread come down so that we may have new life. God gave the Israelites manna when they were journeying through the desert. He, again, provided bread to Elijah when He knew that Elijah would need the strength.

God is providing you with bread, too, when you need it. Have you been almost at your wit’s end, and then out of no where the one thing you needed to keep going suddenly appears? Or you suddenly find the strength to keep going? Or perhaps a thought pops into your head that makes you go a different way, and you are preserved from further destruction? That is God. He loves you.

Please listen to Dan Schutte’s song You Are Near. It says it all.

Bread From Heaven

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Here in the wilderness the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread, and then you will know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp, and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.’ ~Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 (NABRE)

The Israelites had been held in slavery for generations. Then God sent Moses to liberate His people. God brought the plagues to Egypt and then they experienced the promise of Passover when their marked homes were passed over as the angel of death carried off all the first born in Egypt. If those events weren’t enough, they experienced the parting of the Red Sea as they were escaping Pharaoh’s army. Finally they were free! Can you imagine how that must have felt to know that you were no longer at the service of somebody else? You were your own person and nobody could tell you what to do.

Except, they were hungry. When they had been slaves they had at least had food. Now that they were free they had nothing. They decided they would rather still be slaves with food than free with empty stomachs. God heard their grumbling and sent manna from heaven. They didn’t know what the fine flakes were or what they were supposed to do with them, but Moses set them straight and told them it was a gift from God.

I don’t quite understand the mindset of the Israelites. They knew God had brought them out of Egypt and they saw what Moses was able to accomplish with God’s influence, so why didn’t they automatically ask God to bless them with sustenance? Later on we’ll see that when Moses leaves them alone for two minutes they act like toddlers and start causing all kinds of problems by beginning to worship the golden calf. How many miracles did God have to do in order to make them turn to Him?

Then I stop and think… how many times do I act like the Israelites? I have been very fortunate to not be a slave, but how many times have I let myself be a slave to something just to have God rescue me? Do I then continue to turn to him or do I run off, yelling “Thanks” over my shoulder, as I go off to prove that I can do it myself? When things are going bad do I turn to him and ask for help? Do I continue on and figure that I will come up with a solution?

God knows us and he knows that we’re going to mess up. And yet he continues to help us. He sent the Israelites bread from heaven, but today in a lot of churches we also receive bread from heaven at our weekly celebrations.

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”

Luke 22:19 (NABRE)

Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It was this “bread” from heaven that allows us to be welcomed back into God’s presence. Did God leave it at that, though? Did he give us Jesus to be our Savior and then leave us to our own vices in the hopes that it will stick? No. We have his Word in the version of the Bible. When we hunger for the Lord, and don’t know where else to turn, we can at least open the Bible and read the Word. All of his promises are there in print for us to read. We don’t have to rely upon guys like Moses to tell us what the Lord wants us to know.

When I’m having a bad day and I feel like I need to hear something from the Lord I can quench that hunger by opening up his Word. It may not be exactly what I thought I wanted to hear, but I always get something out of it. Even if all I get is the sense that He is with me always. Remember, God loves you.

He Answers All Our Needs

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All your works give you thanks, LORD and your faithful bless you.

They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your mighty works.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you; you give them their food in due season.

You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The LORD is just in all his ways, merciful in all his works.

The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. ~Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18 (NABRE)

Have you ever heard the saying that when God closes a door He opens a window? Another variation is that when He closes one door He opens another. Either way, He loves you and is giving you opportunities even when it seems like you were just denied what you wanted (or thought you wanted).

Think about times in your life when you thought you had been denied what you had been praying for with all of your might. Be objective. Did something else come along that was even better or was what you actually needed at that time? Hindsight is 20/20 and when we’re too close to the issue we can’t see the true blessings.

We ask God to answer our prayers, but if it doesn’t turn out like we thought then we get upset. We get upset if it doesn’t seem like He answered our prayers. In fact, Garth Brooks sang about unanswered prayers. This is a good reminder that just because you think you know what you need doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

But what does any of this have to do with today’s psalm? It has EVERYTHING to do with it. God is merciful in all his works. He satisfies the desire of every living thing. The Lord is near to all who call upon him. When you think that He’s not being merciful, He actually is. When you don’t think that He’s satisfying your every desire, He really is. When a child claims to be hungry and wants a candy bar, but their parent gives them fruit, the child doesn’t think that their parent is trying to satisfy their desire. God knows what is best for us. Let’s face it, almost all of us would choose a Snickers over an apple. Is that what’s best for us? No. Is that what we desire? Yes. If God were to give us a candy bar every time we desired it then we would end up suffering from health issues further down the road. He is not going to indulge us with our every whim. He will give us what we need.

So this week take a moment to thank the Lord for all of the windows he left open for you; for all the apples he placed on the trees within reach; and for all of the moments when he was near to us when we needed him the most. Remember, God loves you and wants you to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind that we choose. Choose to be happy and thank God for it.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

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God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome; There is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of Hades on earth, For righteousness is undying. For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it. ~ Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 (NABRE)

Death. To you and me that means we cease to live here on earth. Yet, at the beginning death was not part of our existence. God made Adam and then gave him a warning.

The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.

Genesis 2:16-17 (NABRE)

Did Adam know what “death” meant? Did he realize what the consequences really meant? If he had, do you think he would have eaten the apple?

What happens when we die? Some people believe that nothing happens. You just cease to exist. Others believe that you go to Heaven (or Hell, if you were bad enough). This is the big unknown in life. After all, all those who have experienced death aren’t here to tell us about it. There are some near death experiences where people say that they have been reunited with loved ones, that they end up in God’s presence and essentially are taken to a Christian version of heaven.

Heaven is being back in God’s presence. Hell is the absence of God. Think about it. God is love. God is light. When you are filled with love and light, you are filled with such joy! That is just a hint of what it will be like to be back in His presence. God loves us so much that he doesn’t want to be separated from us completely. This is why he has given us a “second chance.” When we die and leave our physical presence here on earth we then pass onto another plane of existence where we continue to live in a different state of being. It is the hope and promise of being back in His existence that gives us the fortitude to suffer through our lives.

What’s the harm of believing in God and His love for us? If I believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and that God is the only way, then I believe that I will one day pass onto the next realm where I will be reunited with loved ones and, most importantly, God. There is no death because through Jesus Christ death was arrested and we will live forever. In this way we are still the creatures that God created and we are imperishable. No matter what, if you believe, death no longer has any hold over you.

I would like to recommend a book to you that I feel is something that every Christian should have on their bookshelf. I read it every year, usually around the anniversary of my sister’s death, because it bolsters my hope and belief in the fact that I will see my loved ones again. The book is Imagine Heaven by John Burke.