The Man Who Carried The Cross of Jesus (An Easter Story)

The Man Who Carried The Cross of Jesus (An Easter Story)

Simon rolled over as he heard the rooster crow.  It was still dark outside. He lay there recalling the dream from the night before.  It was the same recurring dream he’d had over the last year, since the previous time he had visited Jerusalem.  He had dreamt of the man they called Jesus, who had so captivated his attention.  This man who attracted such large crowds, and was somehow able to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf, had invaded his dreams.  And just as all the other dreams, he would hear the voice of Jesus saying,

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Through his dreams over the last year, those words from Jesus had become so familiar to him.  But he wondered, what did they mean?  Take up your cross?  Follow Jesus?  Give up your life?  Good News?  What good news?  Gaining the world?  Losing your soul?  

He lay there pondering… wondering… and then the rooster crowed again.  

He jumped up and hurriedly dressed.  He had a busy day ahead of him.  But as was his custom each morning, he opened his small scroll.  On it he had written key passages from the prophets that had always been an encouragement to him.  He skimmed down the parchment and read these words from the prophet Isaiah:

“He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”  (Isaiah 53:3-7)

Some had told Simon this passage referred to Israel’s coming Messiah but he struggled to understand why He would be oppressed.  If only Simon’s Messiah would come during his lifetime.  What a joy that would be.   

Simon reached for some bread as he left the small inn he frequented when visiting Jerusalem.  He needed to take care of some business while in Jerusalem that day.  Tomorrow he would visit the Temple for Passover before beginning his journey back to Cyrene the following week.  He was eager to return to his family, and be reunited with his wife and sons, Alexander and Rufus.  

The sun was shining through the clouds as Simon made his way into Jerusalem.  While there were always many people coming and going, he detected that something was different.  There was a huge commotion up ahead and he quickened his pace to draw closer to see what all the yelling was about.  He rounded a corner in the road and all of a sudden he came face to face with a threatening group of Roman soldiers.  They were stopped and screaming at a man who had fallen to the ground with a large wooden cross pinning him to the ground.  The man hardly looked human, and his clothes were soaked in blood as he struggled and moaned.  

As Simon took this all in, he heard the taunts and yells of many of the religious elite along the road.  He recognized some of them from his time in the Temple.  He wondered what would cause these men to express such anger and hatred towards the man who had stumbled and fallen beneath the weight of the large cross he was bearing.

As he was processing all of this, Simon was immediately jolted from his thoughts by one of the foreboding Roman soldiers, who grabbed Simon by the arm.  The soldier’s grip was powerful. Simon was tempted to confront the Roman, but he quickly thought better as he counted the number of Roman soldiers that surrounded him.

The soldier barked out his order:  “Hey! You! Get down there and pick up that cross.  Give a hand to Israel’s King and Messiah,” the soldier mockingly jeered.  The order was clear and threatening.  Simon had no choice.  It was either acquiesce or perhaps meet the same fate as this poor soul, who was clearly headed for his own demise soon.

Simon leaned down, pickup up the wooden cross, and began to heave it onto his broad shoulders.  Simon was no small man, but the weight of the burden was a challenge, even for him.  As he began to rise, he caught a quick glimpse of the disfigured and bloody man who was attempting to get back up to his feet.  He looked familiar.  Had Simon seen him before?  How could he have?  

Simon fell in behind the condemned man as the soldiers led the way up the hill. As Simon trudged along, all of a sudden the wounded, struggling man in front of him spoke out:

“Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children…”

The man continued speaking but Simon was no longer listening to his words.  Rather, he was trying to place where he had heard that voice before.  The face was familiar.  Now the voice was also.  Simon struggled under the load of the cross…

The cross!  That was it! 

Those recurring dreams all of a sudden burst into Simon’s mind. The voice and face in his dreams.  They were the same ones as the man struggling to walk in front of him.  Could it be that this was Jesus, the one whom Simon had heard over and over in his dreams, yet he had never met?

As they turned a corner, the bloodied man in front of Simon turned ever so slightly and Jesus’ eyes caught the eyes of Simon for a brief moment.  In that millisecond he knew that Jesus understood everything about him.  The battered and bloodied man knew Simon’s innermost thoughts, secrets, struggles and failures.  Simon shuddered.  He felt ashamed.  He felt needy.  It was as if God Himself had just peered into the very recesses of Simon’s heart and soul.  Yet, he also sensed a deep love from that glance from Jesus.  But how could that be? 

As Simon neared the hill that everyone knew as Golgotha, he realized that this was their destination.  He wondered how it was that the man who had performed such wonderful deeds and miracles for so many could now be facing this brutal fate?  What could Jesus have done that could have been worthy of death by crucifixion?  

All of a sudden the soldiers barked out some orders and Simon’s thoughts were interrupted.  They had arrived at their destination and he eagerly dropped the heavy load on the ground and carefully backed away from the soldiers.  As he did so, the words of Jesus all of a sudden resonated in his thoughts:  “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Simon fell back into the crowd of onlookers.  His clothes were stained with the blood of Jesus that covered the cross.  His body ached.  His mind was swirling.  He had literally taken up the cross of Jesus and followed him.  But is this what Jesus meant when He challenged so many with those words a year ago and in his dreams so many times?  As he continued to try to reconcile the events of the morning with the words of Jesus, Simon heard Jesus pleading from the cross, 

“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

By now it was midday, but for some unexplained reason, the sky was growing dark and black.  It was as if night had descended on the world.  Fear began to grip Simon, as did many others watching this gruesome execution.  Simon could stand it no more.  As the tears welled up in his eyes, Simon turned to go down the hill, and as he did, he heard Jesus cry out one final time, 

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

As Jesus’ lifeless body hung silent and still, it seemed as if the world was coming to an end.  The ground began to shake and rocks on the side of the hill began to split and tumble down.  People were running and screaming. Simon was terrified.  He began to run as well. 

Why was this happening?  Did the death of Jesus cause all this?  Simon ran back to his room at the inn where he had been staying. He was overwhelmed with emotion and his mind was swirling.

Simon entered his room and collapsed onto his bed, sobbing as if his own soul had been torn in two.  As he lay there for what seemed like an eternity, Simon was processing the events of the day. He recalled the soldier mocking Jesus, referring to the bloody man as “Israel’s King and Messiah.”  

Messiah? 

The words from his scroll that morning came to mind. 

“Despised. Rejected. Pierced. Crushed. Beaten. Whipped. The Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”

Over the next three days, Simon remained close to the inn where he was staying. He was overwhelmed with the crucifixion and the role he had played in it. Yet, as he remained transfixed with the event, the mystery was becoming more and more clear to Simon, almost supernaturally.

Jesus was the Messiah!  His coming as Israel’s Savior, and death as their Redeemer, was predicted 700 years earlier by Isaiah, the prophet.  Jesus had willingly taken up the cross that He knew would ultimately bring His own death. But it was necessary because of Simon’s sins. That’s why he had felt so ashamed, and also loved simultaneously, when Jesus peered into Simon’s eyes along the road to Golgotha, the hill where Jesus died. 

But how could a dead man be the Messiah?  Jesus seemed to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy perfectly, but if He was dead, what purpose did His death serve?  How could Jesus be Israel’s Savior?

Simon decided to revisit the place that had caused his entire life to come to an abrupt pause. Perhaps by returning to the place of death he could make sense of life. 

On his way to Golgotha, Simon’s route took him by a garden that he recognized as a place to bury the dead.  As he passed the entrance, he tossed a quick glance into the lush garden.  But what he saw next stopped him abruptly in his tracks.  Just 30 feet away, he saw a large round tombstone rolled away from the entrance to a tomb.  At the entrance, a man glowing in a radiant white was speaking to a woman who had fallen down at the man’s feet.  

Simon recognized the woman as one of the ladies who had been at Golgotha just three days earlier when Jesus was crucified.  She was shaking uncontrollably, but he wasn’t certain whether it was out of fear or joy, or perhaps both.  As Simon’s eyes moved from the woman up to the man with the glowing face, he nearly collapsed.  His heart stopped.  His eyes were affirming that the man he was peering at was Jesus.  But his mind could not process what he was seeing.  How could this be?  He had seen Jesus die.  But now here He was… ALIVE!

And then, in a millisecond, Jesus turned his gaze to Simon and their eyes met.  In that instant, Simon’s eyes, mind, and heart affirmed the truth of what he was seeing.  The same gaze that three days earlier had looked deep into Simon’s soul as Simon bore the bloody cross of Jesus, was once again looking into Simon’s heart.  Simon fell to the ground, in submission and adoration, and as he did he yelled out, “Jesus, my Lord and my Messiah!”

The dreams now made sense.  Simon understood that following Jesus might mean losing his life, but his soul would be eternally saved.  He knew that there was nothing more valuable than his soul… not his business, not the prestige he sought, not even his wife and children.  He would pick up his cross from that day forward and follow Jesus, no matter what it might cost him.  How could he do less when Jesus had given His all?

🔹Epilogue:

Years later, the Apostle Paul referenced a man named Rufus, and his mother, in Romans 16:13:

“Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.”

Tradition suggests that this Rufus was the same Rufus that Mark described as the son of Simon, the Cyrene, who carried the cross of Jesus, in Mark 15:21:  

“A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)”

So while much of this Easter story involves my own imagination, it’s entirely possible that the personal encounter between Simon and Jesus on the road to Golgotha may have in fact led Simon to “pick up his cross and follow Jesus.”  And if so, his example likely led his wife and children to follow Christ as well.

So what about you?  Will you this Easter make the greatest decision you will ever make, and choose to take up your cross and follow Jesus?

Weather Forecasts, National Threats & Signs of the Times

Weather Forecasts, National Threats & Signs of the Times

I was recently reading an email from a friend of mine who was warning about the threat of Islam in America.  It caught my attention because for many years I too warned folks about the threat of radical Islam.  In fact, following an attack by a deranged Muslim in Chattanooga a few years ago, I personally organized an event that featured a prominent international expert on Islam.  That event drew over 400 individuals, garnered plenty of media attention and as you can imagine, created a fair amount of controversy as well.

My friend’s email went on to warn that “the hand writing is on the wall” with regard to the Islamist incursion into America’s government.  While I don’t disagree with the assessment in general, the “hand writing on the wall” took my mind to a verse I read a few days ago.  Jesus was speaking with His disciples when He shared this truth: 

“…You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.” Luke 12:56

It’s likely many Americans are well versed in interpreting the dozens of warning signs that have been apparent for decades now in our nation.  We see the threat of radical Islam, the pending repercussions of an exploding debt, the impact of a crumbling moral decline, the results of a failing educational system, along with the too many other obvious threats to mention here.  And these threats are all real, without question.  

But these threats, are merely signs of a much greater storm that is brewing — an eternal one.  While the aforementioned threats pose great danger to the future of a nation, and they have no doubt awakened the passion and activism of many to expose and defeat them, I question whether there are some greater signs, of eternal consequence, that we are missing or perhaps ignoring? 

I don’t assume that everyone who might read these thoughts will embrace the Bible, but I would venture to guess that many do.  So if this is true, I’m also reminded of the verse that asserts, “What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?”  Perhaps an amplification of this verse (which I believe is true based on numerous other passages) could be “What does it profit a man if he gains a nation, but loses the souls of his fellow citizens?”

As real as the threat of radical Islam is to our nation, the truth is that each Muslim has a soul.  God loves every one of them.  And God’s Son Jesus died for each Muslim.  For that matter, He died for each of us.  So as we may warn about the ideology of radical Islam, and its questionable history, (of which I am quite familiar), there is a greater sign that I believe Jesus was referencing when He warned His disciples.  (By the way, I’m reminded of a radical Jew who went about persecuting and killing Christians, until Jesus transformed his life and he became one of the most widely read authors in the New Testament, who we know as the Apostle Paul.)

There is nothing bad about being informed about today’s highs and tonight’s lows when it comes to our weather.  But the greatest value of forecasts is when a tornado or hurricane is bearing down on your home.  At that point, having the most relevant info to protect against such a storm, is of great value. 

Likewise, there is a spiritual storm brewing.  The eternal implications vastly exceed the temporal impact of the myriad of issues, many of them good, that can distract us from one day to the next.  But the truth is that the battle that is raging is for “all the marbles” and those “marbles” are the souls of men and women, not merely the future of a nation.  

I do not share these thoughts to judge or convict anyone who might read this, as they are written to me as much as to anyone else.  These are thoughts I have been thinking through for some time.  

Someday each of us will stand before our Creator to answer for the use of our time, treasure and talent.  Personally I must confess I’ve misused all three of these over the years.  So I have wondered if attempts to save a nation, will be impressive to God, or will He ask me and you, a different set of questions?

What about your neighbor?  Did you love him/her?  Did you share My truths with him?  Did you reach out to that one that you disagree with, but I died for?  Did you show him the love My Son expressed towards Him?  Did you love your enemies (as I instructed you to)?  Did you forgive your enemies, as Stephen did when he was being stoned to death by his enemies?

Only you can weigh whether these questions are valid.  Only you can evaluate what you believe to be the pressing “signs of the times” to which Jesus alluded.  But as you consider these thoughts, and evaluate the signs, I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Luke 12 so as to gain the context within which Jesus warned His disciples about the “signs of the times.”  For me it was instructive to better understand just what Jesus was discussing.  

I look forward to any thoughts you might share as you consider my thoughts and this verse.  And may we all be like the sons of Issachar who we are told were men who “understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”  (I Chronicles 12:32) 

How My Bible Reading Went from Sporadic to My Most Important Daily Activity

How My Bible Reading Went from Sporadic to My Most Important Daily Activity

First, let me say that I’m a big sinner.  I struggle with sin.  My daily battles are not engaging with some jihadi terrorists half-way around the world.  But the battles I face are as real, and in some regards even more consequential.  Without a doubt, our troops are engaged in many physical life and death encounters, with some really bad guys.  But if you’re alive and breathing, you’ll acknowledge that you, like me, are engaged in very real spiritual battles every day… oftentimes many, many times each day.  And the consequences of these battles are eternal in nature.  Think about that for a minute.  

The struggles you face today, tomorrow and next week, and how you respond to them, will have eternal consequences!  As in forever!

When I thought about writing this article, I struggled to do so, lest anyone believe I am holding myself out as some kind of spiritual guru or example.  The truth is, I’m the exact opposite. If you could spend a day or two in my shoes, you’d see why I completely identify with the Apostle Paul when he exclaimed that he was “the chief of sinners.”  If you doubt me, just ask my wife. 

It’s because of the reality that I struggle with sin, that in 2016 I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in a year.  I have read the Bible off and on since I was a kid.  Sometimes that meant reading through the Bible in a year.  But typically it meant reading a few verses or chapters here and there, for a few days or weeks.  But it was seldom structured or consistent, and never permanent.   

But when I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in 2016, I did it with others in our church.  I completed the “Bible in a Year” Plan on schedule and decided to do it again in 2017.  But as I began, now two years ago, I recalled the example of my grandfather.   

🔹My Grandfather’s Example

When Oscar Werner turned 50, he set a goal of reading through the Bible four times a year so that when he was 75 he would finish reading the Bible 100 times.  He met his goal and continued that same schedule until he died in his 80’s.  I wrote an article about his story which you can read on my blog.  It’s entitled The Wisdom of the Ages: The Example of My Grandfather“.

So as I began reading through the Bible again in 2017, I began to double or triple up my readings each day.  I realized that doing so was actually quite easy.  I enjoyed it and was also challenged by the increased amount of time in God’s Word.  

Four and a half months into 2017, I completed reading the entire Bible.  And it was such a joy to do so.  With this renewed love for God’s Word, I felt I needed more.  So I found a reading program via my Bible app that would take me through the Bible in 90 days.  I set out to do that.  In essence this was the same schedule that my grandfather had embarked on 75 years earlier.   

But 44 days later, I completed reading through the Bible again.  I was impacted, and inspired.  When the Bible says that it is “alive and sharper than any two edged sword” I could testify to this truth.  I was being convicted and challenged over and over, day after day, in such a meaningful manner. At the same time, my thoughts and philosophy on a host of matters were being changed, dramatically, as I sought to conform them to God’s Word!  (That’s a whole separate story.) 

So I continued on my reading program, starting on my third time through the Bible in June 2017.  As the weeks ticked by, I continued to ingest God’s Word at an ever increasing rate.  18 days. 21 days. 27 days… and on and on.  By the end of 2017, I completed reading through the Bible ten times, and nine of those times were in a little over seven months. 

Truthfully, I was addicted… in a good way.  I started 2018 with a continued fervor to devour the Word.  It had become the single most important activity in my life each day and something I eagerly anticipated.   

Walking.  Waiting in line.  Traveling on a plane.  Riding in a car (using the audio option).  Hiking in Nepal under the shadows of the Himalayas.  Whenever I had time where I was not engaged with someone or something else, I found myself continuously opening my Bible app and getting some more “time in the Word.”  It replaced my love for music and talk radio.   

So as I write this, a few days before Christmas 2018, I just completed my 17th time through God’s Word in 2018 — 27 times in 2 years. 

Perhaps the most exciting thing for me though has been to see my wife become consumed with this same passion, as she also completed reading both the entire Bible as well as the New Testament multiple times in 2018, and has now started the 90 Day Plan. 

🔹My Challenge to You

Again, I want to reiterate that I don’t share this to bring any focus to me.  The fact is I’ve had this article written for months and have hesitated to share it lest it be misunderstood.  

Truthfully, I share this for one reason.  It’s the same reason I believe that my grandfather allowed his family to know about the goal he had set:  to inspire and challenge others to do the same… to get into God’s Word.  Oscar Werner knew that if his family would follow his example, we would find the answers to life’s deepest questions, and most difficult struggles. 

So like my grandfather inspired me, I want to inspire you to get into the Bible.  

No, I’m not suggesting that you read 2-3 hours a day, although some day I hope you will.  Rather, I want to challenge you to simply begin reading consistently through the Bible, every day, in a structured manner.   Never miss it.  Set a reminder if you must.   

Every significant habit, begins with a simple decision.  

When a person is suffering from a debilitating disease, oftentimes the only cure might be a blood transfusion.  Their own diseased blood must be replaced with new, fresh, pure blood.  Likewise, we as humans are diseased.  Our nature is sinful.  Our thoughts are impure.  And our hearts are unrighteous.  And only through a daily transfusion of God’s Word, can we ever hope to live a life of humility, repentance and victory through Christ’s strength.   

So I challenge you to get into the Word.  Start today.  And if you do, or are already doing so, I’d love to know that you do.  In fact, let’s do it together! 

Finally, as a result of my time in the Word over the last couple years, the following verse summarizes this season in my life: 

💡 “Let all my words sink deep into your own heart first.  Listen to them carefully…”  Ezekiel 3:10

I hope you will allow God’s Words to sink deep into your own heart as well. 

Let’s make 2019 the Year of the Bible.  Will you do so? 

💡 “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.”  Jeremiah 15:16  

🔹Reading Suggestions

Here are my reading suggestions, but they are simply what work for me: 

  • Download the YouVersion Bible App on your phone.  (With the Brown Holy Bible icon).
  • Go to “Plans” and click on “Find Plans”
  • Go to “Through the Bible”
  • Click on “Whole”
  • Find “Read Through the Bible” Plan (It’s a one year plan)
  • Click “Start Plan”
  • My favorite version is the New Living Translation (NLT).  Not only is it in modern vocabulary, but it has a great Audio option.
  • I both read (with eyes) and listen (with my ears) via the Bible App.  Even when I’m reading with my eyes, I have the audio playing, so I can see and hear simultaneously.  It helps me to better understand and retain what I’m reading. 
  • Regarding the “Audio” option, it’s pretty much all I listen to anymore when I’m driving, walking/exercising, etc. It connects well with any Bluetooth device.  Also, the NLT audio is by far the most pleasant to listen to, in my opinion.  It also includes dramatization where various voices are used to “act out” the stories in the Gospels and Acts.
  • I recommend you Register with “You Version” so you can track your Bible reading, interact with friends and so much more.  If you do, please send me a friend request so we can encourage each other via the app.
  • If you start on this journey, and have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me. There’s nothing more important to me than encouraging others to read the Bible. So if I can help in any way, including questions or problems with the Bible app, please let me know. 
The Christian Life: A Marathon, Not a 100 Yard Dash

The Christian Life: A Marathon, Not a 100 Yard Dash

Anyone who believes Christianity is for the faint of heart, or the mentally weak, has never tried living the Christian life.  The truth is that the Christian life, when experienced like Jesus lived and taught it, is the most difficult thing you will ever do.  In fact, Jesus Himself referred to it as “taking up your cross” which by all accounts would hardly be easy.  Likewise, the Apostle Paul referred to the Christian life as running a race… not a quick sprint, but rather a marathon.  And this race would involve many hardships along the way.

I’ve run several half marathons, and even one marathon 10 years ago (before I seriously injured my back).  Running my first marathon at age 48 was hardly an easy feat, but completing it was something I’ll always cherish.  Despite all the months and months of training, and the sacrifice and pain (both mental and physical) associated with the marathon, it was more than worth it.  

The same holds true with the Christian life.  Despite the sacrifice and difficulties associated with living the Christian life as Jesus taught, if we actually do so, the rewards are literally out of this world!  The standard “three score and ten” we live here on earth includes many heartaches, trials and difficulties.  To be fair though, it will include joy and peace and freedom as well.  

But can you imagine preferring our 70 years on earth over an eternity with God, in a new world created especially for those who simply trusted God and took Him at His word?  Is it worth it?  Only you can decide whether it is for you.  But your choice to pursue or reject Christ, and the life He offers, will be affirmed the moment after your last breath on earth. 

Your choice will lead to either eternal reward and blessing or eternal separation from God in a real place prepared for Satan and his minions. 

So are you ready for this marathon called a Christian life?  You don’t have to run it alone, and you will be strengthened supernaturally as you begin it.  So let’s do it!  Ready, set, GO!

Check out these verses for encouragement and strength, as you travel down the narrow and less travelled path:

Galatians 5:16-26

Ephesians 6:10-18

Galatians 6:9

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times.  So we must constantly be on guard against it.  But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions. 

In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.”  It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.

TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone.  Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by. 

There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs.  These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead.  And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil. 

There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right.  This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party. 

Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible. 

There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific.  There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more.  To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.

So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play.  Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.  

In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace.  They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves.  In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace.  What a sad reality.  But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner.  We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws.  But we must still share truth regardless. 

Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families.  Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court.  His Truths remain, as does His Justice.

So the good news is this.  Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished.  Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others.  Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.  

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…”  (Isaiah 51:7)

The Key to Life

The Key to Life

What if I told you that the Key to Life was just one word?  Would you believe it?  Could you guess the word?  

I believe most, if not all, of humanity has often wondered what that Key is.  The fact is most who have searched for the Key have never found it because they have gone down the wrong path looking for it.  Without the Truth to instruct them, they invariably realize the key they’ve pursued has failed to open the door to Life. 

So just what is that Key?  I believe we can find it over and over in God’s Word, but perhaps the following verses are as plain as it can be made:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life…”  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Did you catch that?  The Key to Life is a Choice. And that Choice is a deliberate decision: “…loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him.”

It’s really that simple. A Choice. 

But to be honest, while simple, it is quite hard, as far as I’ve discovered — hard because we live in a difficult, broken world. 

This “Hard” is realized each day because, while we may make this Choice in the morning, by noon, or even earlier, the enemy (Satan) has likely tempted us to forget that Choice.  And because we are frail, and our “spirit is willing but our flesh is weak” we may fall, again and again. 

But God recognized this trait of humanity. He understood that “the godly may trip seven times, but he will get up again.” (Prov. 24:16)  To be clear, this is not because the godly are good, or better or stronger than others, but rather because God promised that “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

In my own life, I have found myself failing and falling way more often than succeeding. Why is this?  I believe it’s because we are truly engaged in the war of the ages. It has been going on since the beginning of time “for we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

I have often met to discuss God, the Bible and spiritual matters with friends who question, scoff at, or even reject God.  My heart is often heavy for them. But I believe if they are honest with themselves, they too will admit that they are engaged in an inner struggle — one which they most likely cannot understand or explain. Yet God did not desire us to be ignorant concerning Life or these deep personal struggles.  Because God “is not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9)

But God is also not one to demand or force someone to do something they do not want to do.  And so we come back to that simple truth:

🔑 The Key to Life is a Choice. 

And it’s our decision. No one else’s.  But even though we choose God once and for all for our eternal destination (heaven), we must also continuously choose God moment by moment in order to have the “rich and satisfying life” that Jesus promised (John 10:10).

So Choose God… and Live!