Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Heartbeat from Eternity

No one likes to think about their own mortality, but today, I suppose I am.  I don't want to be morbid or anything like that, but I am glad I am "ready."  Do you know what I mean?

Today, on the way to the post office to drop off some packages, the traffic light changed, signaling that it was time for me to turn left.  In the split second between my foot leaving the brake pedal and
my toe landing on the accelerator, a large SUV ran a red light to turn across my path, inches away from my bumper.  The driver was going so fast, he must have taken the turn on two wheels.  All I could think was, "That was close!"

And then, there was yesterday, when I got news that a business connection I've made, a woman I was only just getting to know, had a massive heart attack and has been hospitalized in a medically-induced coma.  She was having dinner with her husband when it happened.  They were just two days away from leaving on a cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary.  I hope that she can pull through this, but the prognosis is not good right now.

That grim news made me think of a professor who passed away when I was in college.  He was a very active man, heading the Honors program and also leading the music department.  He ran every day and did lots of charity work.  He even liked to collect and refurbish old pianos that he donated to the university.  In fact, he was helping his son guide one of those pianos on a wheeled dolly when he collapsed suddenly from a fatal heart-attack.  Above all else, he was a kind, generous man, and as far as I knew him, a Christian. Even students who weren't enrolled in his classes felt his absence.

It seems to me that death, just like life, can happen when we've been "making other plans."  It usually comes more suddenly than the people around us would have expected it; in fact, it seems to even sneak up on its victims.  This is why it is necessary to think about it and make plans for our lives with death in mind.

We should use the talents that God gave us in the time allotted to us, instead of wasting our time sowing wild oats and worrying over things that aren't important.  We shouldn't just look at this messed-up life, either.  We should look beyond it, toward eternity.  It's important to die God's friend and not His sworn enemy, because there won't be more chances to change that, later.  This is what I mean by being "ready."

Are you ready to meet God, if you had to do that today?  If you're not, I would say it is time to think about it.  It's not being morbid, either.  It's a dangerous world out there, and circumstances can change in a minute.  We see it on the news every day, unfortunately.  Don't let eternity sneak up on you.

Because time may be short, here's the short and simple way to get your heart right with God:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10: 9, 10 NIV)
If you  need more explanations, I talked a little more about the why and the how of getting your heart right with God here and here, and there are plenty more if you explore my old posts.

I would love to hear from you, so if you have anything to add, you're welcome to leave me a comment. I read every one and share almost every one (I only delete the ones from spammers).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Healing for the Harried

Only a few hours after I wrote last Monday's blog post, word reached my ears that someone had blown up two bombs that hurt and killed a lot of people in Boston. After praying for those people for awhile, I remembered the blog post I had written, and I thought about changing the message somehow.

In the end, I decided to leave it as it is.  I still believe that each day is a gift from God, and it is not insensitive to remind readers of that.

The past week was full of episodes reminding me that bad people have made it their business to wreck that gift, turning what started out good into some kind of a nightmare. It seems to me that over the last week, a lot of people have been robbed of truth, humility, hope, peace, and love.  Sometimes this is because they robbed themselves by denying the way God intended them to live; sometimes this is because other people denied God and robbed them.  Either way, this week has been a parade of tragedies.

Worse than that, this week has been a parade of people trying to comfort themselves after tragedy, but mostly going about it the wrong way.  As many may have discovered by now, it is impossible to chase away the pain and hollowness tragedy brings with controlled substances or curse words or politically correct talk  or inspiring quotes about the resiliency of the human spirit (you have probably read the news headlines on these topics by now).  Catching the bombers wasn't quite enough to heal all the wounds those men have inflicted.  There are still many, many people who are forever changed by the tragedies that have filled this week. People are hurting; they feel hunted by trouble, and they need answers.

 What People Need Right Now

I find the answers that commentators on television have been offering have been empty, and I'm weary of their talk, as I know most people are, including the people talking.  At the heart of the matter, no one can offer any real words of comfort other than Jesus Christ.  What people need is the Restorer of all their fortunes--the Maker of the real truth, the real humility, the real hope, the real peace, and the real love that they are seeking.


To start with, there is no other truth that can truly set people free except the truth that Jesus has made a way out of this vicious cycle of rebellion, wrongdoing, pain, and punishment. All other religions have left the monumental task of saving themselves to individuals who are too small to do it.


Naturally following that first point, there is no other humility except that which accepts the power of God and the line between right and wrong that He has drawn. All the other gods and religions make people the inventors of right and wrong, raising them up like gods over others, and they call that humility.  But you know what? People know humility when they see it.


The victims of these demi-gods fear that all hope and a future is cut off from them, but there is still one hope in Christ that is founded on His justice and mercy, and is therefore beyond the reach of the victimizer--because He is above them, too. Christ's justice and mercy is something both the godly and the ungodly know--the godly because they are blessed by it and the ungodly because they are chastised by it.  Jesus has given everyone a chance to get justice, and He has offered everyone a way to escape the sentence that rebellion has brought. Hope is redemption and eternal life through Christ's death on the cross!  All other gods and religions would have us earn hope, but Christ gives it away freely to anyone who would have Him!
One of God's tender creatures, resting in my back yard.


A step beyond hope is peace and safety--a thing that the cruel are always denying others. Christ gives those who have trusted in Him that peace in the midst of troubles, and has promised a lasting peace (a rest, He calls it) in Heaven with Him at the end of everything.  A lot of other religions claim peace, but only at great cost--peace brought about by hurting and oppressing others or sacrificing ourselves. What a small and insecure peace that is, by comparison!


That brings me to my final point.  Love needs to be secure to be meaningful, and its very nature testifies that it is not meant to be something that is earned. Christ alone gives us that kind of eternal love that isn't fickle, even when the objects of that love are continually fickle.  The religions of the world preach plenty of love, but they don't love murderers and other evildoers, or anyone who disagrees with them or resists them.  They say that loving such people is weakness.  Christ preaches that it is strength; in fact, love is the first step toward healing and strengthening what was broken.

 In Conclusion

What people do not need is a political savior, or inspiring talk of the human spirit, or the empty promises of so many false and weak religions. They need stability, and they need to feel secure.  They need what Christ and His message has offered: They need an end of pain and despair, and the beginning of promises that last and bring comfort. They need healing right away.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV
I know there are cynics out there.  They will scoff at Christ and everything I've written and say that it's simply not that easy, or the way to these things can be achieved through many paths.  I guess I wasn't writing to convince those cynics.  I'd rather reach out to those readers who are desperately tired of all the alternatives; tired of feeling spiritually dried up and empty because of everything they are seeing. I'm writing for those who are ready to seek Christ and be healed.

For those who have reached this point, here is a simple (and perhaps not too eloquent) prayer to start readers on the journey of knowing Christ: "Dear God, I want to know You, and be comforted by You, because I can't take any more of this bad news on my own. I want to know Your ways, and I want to live the way You would have me live. From now on, I want Your truth, I want Your humility, I want Your hope, I want Your peace, and I want Your love in my life. I know that You have heard me, and because I have asked in the name of Your Son, Jesus, I know that You will grant my request. Amen."

For those who already know Christ, but who have been blindsided by tragedy this week, I hope reading this post has brought you back to the roots of your faith.  Remember the promises that you have in Christ--that He is the Lord of truth (John 14:6), the Demonstrator of true humility (Philippians 2:8), the Foundation of our hope (Romans 5: 1,2) the Securer of our peace (Ephesians 2: 13-16) and the first and perfect Example of love (John 15:13).  If you're struggling, this post should remind you to go back to Him and ask for the comfort you need. He is there, and He has offered no hollow words--Jesus has shown that He cares by all of the things He has already done. He will rescue you again if you Seek Him!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blessed to Be "Cursed"

Ah, it's tax day again in the United States, and a lot of people are feeling down about it today.  I will admit, I was not too happy to discover that, even though my small "side income" business made less than poverty wages last year, I still owed a big chunk of it to the government.

It doesn't seem fair, and I could complain, but today, I'm choosing to be positive.  After all, I could have made no money at all.  The fact that I had taxes to pay on income was a privilege, really, compared to much of the rest of the world, including many neighboring countries in the Northern and Western hemispheres. I got to pay taxes out of money I made, doing work I love.  I could complain, but I'm rich.  I am blessed.  There are many others in this world who can only dream of such things.

When my city shut off the water supply for maintenance this morning--during my shower--I thought about calling it insult added to injury, but I think I'd better laugh it off instead. No real harm was done, and the water was turned back on less than an hour later. It makes me think of my parents' experiences on a missions trip to Jamaica years ago.  They learned first-hand why people keep buckets of water in their showers there. The public water only runs for about one predawn hour every day, and when it's gone, your shower better be over!  Compared to that daily hardship, I am blessed.  Some people never even see running water in their lifetimes!

The fact of the matter is that life can be stressful, maddening, and distastefully ill-timed, but it is still good.  In fact, even at its worst, I realize that most of my readers, like me, have it better than their peers.  Before you or I start talking like today is cursed, we should remember how much we've been blessed--and be thankful.  We should remember what the Psalmist wrote:
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118: 24 ESV)
Let's do that.  Let's rejoice.  Let's give thanks to God for all of His many blessings.  Let's stop to remember them!  What's good about tax day?  To start with, everything...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Modeling Leadership Like Jesus

Years ago, I read a book about how to lead like Jesus. I don't remember all the points the book made, but one principle that stuck with me was the author's assertion that a good leader never asks followers to do something he wouldn't do.

When we apply that to the life of Jesus Christ here on Earth, it's striking.  Jesus commanded us to serve others, and He modeled that by washing His disciples' feet (John 13: 12-17).  Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and He modeled that by loving people like Judas, who ate with Him.  Jesus commanded us to pray, and He did that often, both publicly and privately (John 11: 38-44; Matthew 26: 36-41).  Jesus commanded us to leave behind even our homes and families, if necessary, to obey God (Matthew 8: 18-22), and He did that very thing to accomplish His Father's purposes at the cross. Speaking of crosses, Jesus commanded us to give our whole selves to God, to the death if necessary (Luke 9: 23, 24)--but He did that first.

So today, I'm asking if you are leading like Jesus did, in your own life.  Are you asking your spouse, children, friends, coworkers, or even strangers to do what you wouldn't do?  Have you asked them to go where you wouldn't go?  If so, have you thought about changing things?

I know we all fail and fall short of perfection, but that is no excuse for a failure to try.  Jesus modeled what was right while He walked among us to demonstrate that it is possible for a man (or woman) to do these things.  Furthermore, Jesus modeled leadership for us to prove that He is going ahead of us to strengthen us when we are weak and afraid, just as God led Moses in the desert with pillars of fire and cloud (Exodus 13: 21-22).

God is calling us to let Him lead us, even as we lead others. Let's follow in His footsteps.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two Kinds of Fools...

Today is April Fools Day, a day that is traditionally celebrated in the western world by playing pranks on other people.  I didn't have any pranks for you today, but I thought I'd pop over to share what the Bible says about fools. It seems there are two kinds of fools:
The fools who earn the wrath of God...
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good," ( Psalm 14:1 NIV).

 "For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm," (Proverbs 1: 32, 33 NIV)
The fools who fall upon the mercy of God...
"The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice," (Proverbs 12: 15 NIV).

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God," (1 Corinthians 1: 18 NIV).

"Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe," (1 Corinthians 1: 20, 21 NIV).

I do hope you are the latter and not the former today.  This is serious stuff--no prank at all. It's time to seek out this "foolishness of God" and find rest for your soul--it is a ridiculously simple answer to life's toughest question. God will not mock you, but He will not be mocked. Take it to heart!