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An Open Letter to William Shatner in 24 Tweets.

I have long appreciated Star Trek and Captain Kirk. As a result, over the years, I have watched or read numerous interviews with William Shatner including this recent one. I have noticed that he frequently brings up the topics of death, the afterlife and God. And I have often thought I would love to talk to him and discuss how he can find the answers he seems to be seeking, in Jesus. In lieu of that I sent him 24 tweets in the hopes that God would see fit to show himself to Bill, through his Word, even in a medium as imperfect as twitter. Here are those tweets.

Bill, I write this with great affection and longing for you – You have asked these questions in many places over the years I have followed you “What have I done?” “Why am I here?” “What’s going to happen?” “Is this the end?” – What does life mean?  What is death?

And as David accused Kirk – “You’ve never faced death before” perhaps you feel somewhat like Kirk – You know death is inevitable – at 88 you feel it – yet in many ways have cheated death. You have tasted all this world has to offer but you also taste its inability to satisfy you.

CS Lewis wrote “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” As Spock aptly noted “There are always possibilities” Perhaps the answer to your questions lie in a possibility….

I’m sure over the years someone has presented Jesus and Christianity to you. For whatever reason – Jesus has not captured your attention – maybe the messenger was flawed – maybe you find His story implausible – Maybe you hate the judgement of religion – I don’t know… but…

Here are some things I have found to be true and give me hope facing my own mortality – more than hope – joy – happiness even in my sorrows. Every good story must have a villain – Kirk must have his Klingons. And in the story of the human race – we are the villains.

Now I know this may sound like religious stone casting – but I’m including myself – I am broken – not good – not righteous – and the Bible indicts all of humanity as sinners Romans 3:10 – “There is NONE righteous…. no not one” Romans 3:23 “The wages of sin is death, BUT…

Let me leave that “but” hanging for a minute, because until we realize our diagnosis is bad and justifiably so the “but” is just sentimental meaningless drivel of religious people. Jesus said “I did not come to those who have no need of a physician but to the sick” not because

some are sick and some are not – but because all of us are sick but not all of us recognize it. Most of us believe that if there is a God he will accept us because we are “not too bad.” We compare ourselves with others based on our intentions and decide “I’m ok.”

And maybe compared to other sinners we are mildly better. But our maker is not a fellow sinner – he is a holy, perfect, radiant in splendor, dwelling-in unapproachable-light being – If we were to come into His presence in our self-evaluated, not-too-badness – we would be undone

If you were to compare not to others or by your good intentions, but instead to a perfect being-pure in every way- you would cry out like the Prophet Isaiah – “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips …for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Scripture has this diagnosis “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment.” If that judgment is by our creator and he is in fact perfect and his requirement of us is perfection-because no one imperfect can stand before him…What will his judgement be of you?

I don’t ask you this as someone better than you – save for one thing I would stand condemned, with you and all of humanity. I ask because as I stated before – unless we understand our plight, our condition – we will not understand the meaning or need of the solution.

The sacrifice of Spock to save the Enterprise is silly, unnecessary-a waste, even embarrassing-if the context of what is at stake not understood. If it truly is life and death-and the stakes could not be higher then the sacrifice is understood for what it is-absolutely essential.

Your soul is of great value. Jesus asks “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul?” … You have been a man who has, more than most, tasted what this world has to offer and, I suspect, found that it is not enough to satisfy you…

Your soul need not be lost. Let’s come back to the “BUT” “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”There is salvation for your soul and it is found in one person-Jesus. He says “I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father BUT by me

Jesus is not one path of many – He is the Only path to the Father and to eternal life. That is his claim. So here is what us Christians call the “Gospel” – Gospel just means “Good News” It is a proclamation of what God in Christ has done for sinners like you and me.

  1. “BUT God demonstrated His own love for us – EVEN while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 – What this means is that God our creator saw our rebellion, our sin and our failure and instead of moving away from us condescended to send his Son to rescue us.
  2. Jesus, who is God and one with the Father, came as a man, humbling himself as one of his creatures and lived the perfect life that we have not, died the death we deserved so that all those who trust in Him alone will be raised to life as he was raised.

II Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him (Jesus), who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God.” So our just penalty for our sin (death) was borne by Christ and his perfect righteousness is given to us because God is rich in mercy.

Ephesians 2:4 says “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”

The grace of God alone is able to rescue you, my friend. Not your goodness or efforts to do right. Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy”

So the meaning of life and death is not found in ourselves or in our accomplishments or failures. Our souls are not designed to find the answer to our longings in our work or possessions or accolades. The longing that CS Lewis references can only be satisfied in knowing Jesus

He is your maker – and despite all your failures, and sin, and pride he has come that you may have life – eternal life – with your maker and designer – with the one who formed you and loves you. The question is What will you do with Jesus? Will you trust him alone to save you?

I don’t know, Bill, if you will even see this and if you do if it will make any sense at all to you. But I know this is my only hope in life and in death. Jesus is the answer to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. And I am praying that you will find peace for your soul in Him.

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Covington Catholic, Our Sick Culture, and Hope

This story keeps on deepening. (If you haven’t followed the story read through the link at the bottom of this article) The latest is a response from a guy whose brother happened to look like the kid from the Catholic school. His name was put on social media and as a result his family and his family’s business have been subject to non-stop attacks. Threats of physical attack, slander of the family and the family business in an attempt (perhaps successful) of destroying a family because a member of the family was inaccurately identified as the student in the video. This family has no connection at all to the events on the video but their lives are threatened.

This is the “reasoned” response to a young man smiling oddly and remaining in an individual’s personal space after his own had been invaded. I “know” the smile radiated “evil” of the darkest kind – but even if you interpret the smile in that way the reaction has been far more evil.

Social and instant media can create this kind of mob think – where we act (at least for most of us I hope) against what we would otherwise know to be an unwise, ill-considered course of action. All of us (myself included) would be wise to not take the click bait. No matter which news source you prefer there is almost always a slant – a bias – driving it.

I quoted a proverb yesterday that says “”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

We can do better on both sides of the aisle at not just looking for confirmation of our biases. In the case in question if you hate Trump the MAGA hats make you look at the situation in a certain light. They same thing happens the other way.

Instead of further pushing us apart as a people this could be an event to draw us together. Perhaps we will be not so quick to judge – not so quick to demand retributation. We could admit that we are all at times wrong in our judgement or rash in our response and we could extend grace to each other. Not just when our judgement is in error but grace even in the face of actual wrong.

If we are honest with ourselves – and if all that we have ever thought or done was broadcast on twitter for the world to see and judge we would all be found guilty. I know I would be.

Jesus’ message to the world is -yes you are guilty – more than you probably recognize or want to admit – and when compared to God we all stand guilty and worthy of death and hell.

But God has another word – it is called the Gospel – Good News – and that is the perfect One – our creator became a part of his creation to redeem us. He died the death we deserve to rescue us – to restore us to his good design for humanity. So yes more guilty that I dare admit AND more loved that I thought possible.

When I am honest about who I am and when I see that despite who I am God has loved me, forgiven me and adopted me as his child – I am freed by His grace to extend grace to others with whom I disagree or who even hate me.

If there is to be a change in this country – a reconcillation – it will come with the rediscovery of this Good News – that though grossly undeserving God has forgiven and received me. If we were to fall on our faces as a country and acknowledge our sin we would begin to recognize the sweet notes of the Good News that Christ has come for sinners. And if that were to soak into our national conscience and we believed it to be true our country I believe would experience a new birth of freedom.

Note: The best summary of the events is at this LINK

What is the Christian Gospel?

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What is the Gospel?

“God is Holy” – God is perfect in all of his attributes – glorious in all that he does. He is set apart – unique – His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He dwells in pure radiant unapproachable light. Nothing and no one can stand in His presence.

“We are not Holy” – We are messed up people. We lie. We cheat. We lust. We steal. We are angry. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We are arrogant. We gossip. We do not honor God. We do not love God.

“The Penalty for Sin is Death” – That’s bad news for everyone reading this, because we are all sinners – God doesn’t weigh our “good” and our “bad.” He declares that if we have ever violated his holy law in one place we stand guilty of violating all of His law and are subject to condemnation. We have violated in many places and our just penalty is eternal death in hell. Don’t let yourself deny this reality. Acknowledge your guilt before an infinitely holy God.

“Jesus Died the Death We Deserve” – Jesus is God in human form. He came to the earth, born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Even though he was God he laid aside the splendors of heaven and became a man and dwelt among us. He humbled himself and died a torturous death on the cross though he himself was innocent. In his death he paid the penalty required for sin – he became our substitute. Though we are the sinful ones, He took our sins on himself. Though we deserve the sentence of death, he died our death in our place.

“God Gives Us Jesus’ Life by Faith and Not by Works” – Not only did Christ’s death pay our penalty, but for all those who receive Him, God gives them the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus. So when we give up trying to prove ourselves good to God and instead acknowledge that we are broken sinners in need of a dramatic rescue – there is hope. God Himself has died for us paying our penalty and by his grace through faith imparts to us his perfection. For all who believe in Jesus stand not condemned not because we are good but because He is and He has given his righteousness by faith.

“Faith is Casting Yourself on the Lord” – As you consider these things – God’s holiness, your sinfulness, sin’s penalty and Jesus’ payment – you will be tempted to think is that really true? Is it really enough that Christ died for me a sinner? I have to contribute something don’t I? I am still tempted by these thoughts even though I have been a Christian for many years. But the truth declared in Scripture stands that salvation comes not to the one who works or is good, but to sinners who cast themselves fully on the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ who died to take away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed him stricken
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
and with his stripes we are healed
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:4-5
Now to the one that works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

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Grace is Practical

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You don’t have to have your eyes open very wide to realize there is something horribly wrong in the world. I recently picked up a book given to my oldest son Steven by his teacher – Mrs. Copley. It is titled simply “Night” and the book describes the horrors of a young Jewish boy by the name of Elie Wiesel trapped in Nazi concentration camps. The book describesJewish captives being forced to dig their own graves while Nazi soldiers shot their children and then the parents themselves. Elie had a mentor by the name of Francois Mauriac whom he asked to write the forward of his book describing his experience. Mauriac in attempting to understand what young Elie had to endure wrote,

“Let us try to imagine what goes on in his mind as his eyes watch rings of black smoke unfurl in the sky, smoke that emanates from the furnaces into which his little sister and his mother had been thrown after thousands of other victims.”

The thought is unfathomably awful. That was less than 70 years ago. Elie was with us until just a few months ago.

Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?

luther

To the extent the Law of God is made attainable with statements like

– do your best and God will do the rest – we not only cheapen what the law says we lose grace in the process.

The law clearly says “your best efforts” are not going to be sufficient – more than that they are only going to serve to condemn you. God is not saying for us to do what we can and whatever we can’t do he will make up the difference. Instead he is saying our best efforts are tainted with sin and instead of calling us to work our way up to him by doing better he calls us to Faith in the Perfect One. Continue reading “Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?”

Morning Mercies in the Word

sunrise

I am increasingly appreciative of the Word. It has a way of speaking by the Holy Spirit that nothing else can do. I don’t know about you but there are a lot of other voices in my head – and the Word of God is able to transcend them and speak with clarity words of correction – words of hope – words of beauty and glory that I would not otherwise hear. Into a world filled with relativity and homespun, self-serving philosophies the Word of God is an anchor of truth. It is like a bright beacon of light cutting through the fog on my own thoughts and the muddle of this world.  Continue reading “Morning Mercies in the Word”

Every Good Story…

castle

Here is what I have noticed about every story– there must be a plight. There must be a peril to be rescued from – Kirk must have Klingons endangering the Enterprise or there is no story – there is no glory – there is no rescue. Can you imagine Superman flying at the speed of light – shadow boxing – “don’t be afraid – I’m here to save the day” if there were no bad guys – if there was nothing to be rescued from? You would think that guy is crazy. What is he doing? Saved me from what? Continue reading “Every Good Story…”

When Being a Good Sailor is Not Enough

sail

The law is like a man in a sailboat with a sailing instruction manual. He knows what proper sailing is – He may even possess a lot of technology to aid him in sailing. But his knowledge and tech cannot move him across the water. Only wind can do that. So we must stop preaching the law for change. We must stop running to the law to make us good sailors. Only the gospel can fill our sails with wind. The grace of the Father in rescuing sinners by the blood of Jesus is the good news – is the gospel. Oh Spirit, breathe your wind in our sails!

Come & Dine With Me

dark-forest

I had this picture come to mind on Sunday while in church.

You remember the scene in the movie Hook with Robin Williams where he has met the Lost Boys and he sits down at the end of a very long day to what he thinks is going to be a glorious meal, but when the lids come off there is nothing. Peter is starving – dying for something to eat, but he can’t see the food.  We are like this sometimes.

Continue reading “Come & Dine With Me”

The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel

At the center of the good news of the gospel is Jesus Christ.

The ultimate benefit of the gospel is not that we can now do good works, or that we won’t go to hell, or even that our sins our forgiven as great as all those things are– the ultimate benefit is Continue reading “The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel”

The Cross Speaks

bangkok-church

Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

Nothing in this World…

There is a God who if you “be good” he will help you feel good = Moralistic Therapeutic Deism NOT the Christian Gospel.

Instead Christianity says

There is a God, who seeing the evil of mankind, sent his own Son, Jesus, as a man to suffer and die in their place so that all who are willing to abandon their own goodness and bank their lives on the goodness of God, will obtain a great treasure – Jesus Christ himself.

This does not mean that life will be easy or you will feel good all the time. What it does mean is that nothing in this world – terrorism, poverty, divorce, loneliness, suffering, even death itself – is able to separate you from the love of God.

The Gospel – Destination to Inception

tree

1) Jesus is our destination – Knowing Him is our highest good and joy. He is what our souls were designed for and crave. Rom 5:11 Continue reading “The Gospel – Destination to Inception”

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