The end of evil

… Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

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Anne Murray released “A little good news” in September 1983. The song rose on the billboard charts and reached #1 and remained there for 20 weeks. The lyrics of the song are timeless because the pain and problems do not change in our world. Sadly, they only get worse and are reported more often than ever. The headlines were the same for previous generations and continue to darken the monologues on the nightly news. Evil is among us and evil is here to stay. For now but not forever.

A feel good story is refreshing to our souls like a spring rain and soothing as lap full of puppies. Yes, we all sure could use a little good news today Ann Murray.

There are countless philosophies that people hold concerning evil. I don’t occupy myself with philosophical speculations as to why a man shoots into a concert venue killing 58 people. Or why a man rents a Home Depot truck with the sole intent to kill. I don’t need to wonder why these things continue and get increasingly worse because I know why.

I am a simple-minded evangelical Christian. I believe and teach the Bible. I believe in absolutes and I believe in truth. In a world of speculation concerning evil there is an answer to the big one word question.Why? I need not speculate as a Christian because truth is absolute and unchangeable. I know the truth about evil because my God has revealed it to me in his book of truth.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:12 

This inflexible position is intolerable in our post-modern and post-Christian American culture. Christians are perceived as stupid, uneducated and arrogant pin heads. I accept this false diagnosis of me. The world did not accept Jesus and his diagnosis of evil and its cure. As I proclaim his message I can expect to treated with contempt as well.

Consider for a moment the following scenario.

Is an Oncologist a stupid, uneducated, ignorant liar when he accurately diagnoses cancer? Does a reasonable patient brush off the truth? Does he reject the doctor, the diagnosis and the treatment? No, because when the facts are absolutely true the patient will accept them and do all that is required so that the cancer does not kill them.

Life is full of facts, truth and absolutes. But when it comes to evil, its origins, and its consequences, the world rejects truth and enters into all kinds of religious philosophies and off the wall speculations. They reject the doctor, they reject the diagnosis and in so doing they reject the cure.

The bible diagnoses every man as having terminal spiritual cancer. There is evil present in us all that brings forth death for the soul and the flesh. The payment for sin is always death. That’s the bad news for all of us. We can reject the truthful diagnosis, we can reject the treatment, we can reject the gracious cure but if we do death will win and we have only ourselves to blame.

Breaking news! This is the moment where the headlines speak of rescue and heroism. A breath of fresh air in a landscape that reeks of death and disaster. When hope is seen in a hopeless world. We sure could use a little good news today, and there it is on the front page of the bible. Spiritual cancer was cured, life is given and death has no more sting! Yet the world turns off the good news and rejects the story of truth to their own demise. The story of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe.

I stand with a few who hold this unbending way of thinking and faith. I am a Christian therefore I stand with Jesus and he stands beside me, therefore I am on solid ground. He humbly proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” and affirmed the scriptures saying to his Father, “Your word is truth.” I say what he says, and I proclaim the good news today of what he has done to crush evil.

The good news story concerning evil and its ultimate destruction took place in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. On a cross, on account of sin, Jesus, the Righteous One, took our evil. He was made sin for us and imputed his righteousness unto all who believe in the good news, the gospel concerning him, his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God.

But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not ony that, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now  received the reconciliation.  Romans 5:8-11

There is no greater good news story in the headlines than this. Evil was overcome, evil must run its course but evil has an ultimate end. Evil will eventually be history and evil has no future storyline. That’s the good news for today!

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21;3-5

 

 

 

 

 

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The face of addiction

Overdose. What does that word conjure up in your mind? Put a face to the word overdose and who do you see?

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The face of our Jacob; a college freshman addicted to prescription pain medication

I know what it means for me because that is how my son and nephew died. Just ten months apart Justin overdosed on heroin and Jacob overdosed on prescription meds.

I have asked myself the question,”Where did I fail as a father?” I didn’t fail to love my son nor did I fail to educate him about the dangers of drug abuse. As parents we provided every opportunity possible for him to live a productive and wholesome life. He was involved in school musicals, choir, football and wrestling. He was a good student and he was active in church youth group. We lived our Christian faith in front of him as best as our frail flesh could. Jesus sat with us at the dinner table and we gave him thanks for his provision. Yet here I sit, my son is gone and I ask myself again, “Where did I fail as a father?” One concerned but totally ignorant older man asked me if I failed to educated him about the dangers of drugs at a young age. As if that would have prevented the March 26th 2014 overdose in the basement of our home. That is just stupid.

I wish… (I only think this and never would 😉 say it) I wish ignorant people would shut their big yappers. Nothing inflames me more than hearing people pontificate about an issue they are truly ignorant about. I have discovered these are generally older people who have created a false stereotype of drug addicts. (Yes, I just profiled and stereotyped some old people) They read a pamphlet or watch a documentary and have decided that there is a solution to the problem. So they go on a crusade  and campaign against drug use to stop the madness. They assume there was a failure in the home, or perhaps they missed out on the DARE program and demand more education, laws, and law enforcement from their senators. Surely money, education and activism will slow and stop this societal blight.

My son did not die of an overdose because he lacked education, or love, or nurturing. Will education, law enforcement, governmental regulations and programs stop overdoses? It may curb the problem but there will never be enough money, police, or rehab centers to end this deadly issue that seeps into all places of our society. Love can’t stop it, government can’t stop it, money, law enforcement, education and whatever other method devised by man may curb it but drug overdoses are here to stay. I am pretty sure the statistics are telling us that overdoses are on the rise despite all the money thrown at it to slow it down. So I just refuse to join that parade around the block.

Don’t get me wrong, I reach out where I can and I support education, legislation, law enforcement and rehab centers. But as a Christian who has lost a son to an overdose I do not deeply involve myself in battles that offer little change and no lasting hope. For me it’s like shadow boxing with the expectation of landing a knockout punch on a phantom opponent. I am in a fight however but my strategy is very different from most. I am offering hope over more than drug addition. I present real lasting hope for all people over every addiction known to man through the chain breaking power of Jesus Christ. He alone beat death. It was foretold to us, it came to pass and now he offers all people freedom from the chains and abundant life in his name. This is good news and available to everyone by faith in his name.

Let’s face it; we all are addicts, we are all slaves to something. The following is God’s diagnosis of our slavish condition. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)  We are terminal but God prescribed the cure; faith in his Son, which is a difficult pill to swallow for most.

Our addictions are just symptoms of the disease that is killing us. We are all born with a spiritual and terminal disease called unbelief that manifests its symptoms in many fleshly ways. Jesus offered the cure to the religious leaders of his day but they refused it. He said to them,  “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24)

We are all slaves to our passions and pleasures until the shackles are unlocked and the chains drop away never to bind us again. Paul explains, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves to sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17)

When Jesus sets us free we are truly free for the first time. Free from guilt, free from shame, free from hiding, free from sin and alive to God.

There are only two kinds of people in the world. Slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness; slaves to hedonism or slaves to Jesus. Every man will someday overdose, oh maybe not on drugs but we will all die because our preferred addictions. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)

But God has provided a cure…”but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Any other treatment plan for the disease has no power to deliver anybody from death.

I offer hope, this is my crusade if you will. It is my calling and it is my primary duty as a believer. Jesus is the bondage breaker, he defeated death and is seated at the right hand of God offering life and liberty by grace through faith in him. Believe on him, trust him, seek his face. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:25-26)