No Bridge!

At the time of this writing, Jason and I are in Dickson, Tennessee for a Missions Conference. Today, we decided to do some hiking at the nearby state park. The first thing we discovered was that the bugs in Tennessee are worse than the bugs in the upstate of South Carolina, and I didn’t think that was possible.

The second thing we found out is the path we chose to hike was perhaps not the best choice. Nearly two-thirds of the way through the hike, we came upon a sign that warned of a bridge outage ahead. We hiked a bit further, hoping that the bridge was located on one of the other branching trails. No such luck! If you look at the pictures below, you’ll see all that remains of the bridge after a recent storm. Yup, that big monument-looking stone is the center support for the bridge, but there was no sign of the bridge itself.

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As we surveyed the river before us, we knew we had two options. One, we could turn around and go back the way we came. Or two, we could try to cross the river without the bridge. Being the big chicken I am, I opted for the first choice, but Jason convinced me the river was easy enough to cross. Believe it or not, we both crossed without getting wet (and if you knew how clumsy we both are, you’d realize what a feat that was).

Once across the river, I turned back to take some pictures. As I shot my photos, a catchy caption came to mind: “No bridge; no problem!” I smiled at my wittiness and the fact that I was still dry after crossing the river without a bridge or boat, and we continued our hike. But my caption rolled around in my head, taking on a new meaning and a sober reminder.

When it came time for Jason and me to cross that little river, it really wasn’t that difficult (despite my protests). No bridge; no problem. But when it comes to crossing the vast gulf between God and man, no bridge, big problem. The chasm is too wide. The distance is too far. Man cannot make his own way. He must use the bridge—Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. There is no get-around or alternate route. Man must go through Jesus or not at all. No matter how good, creative, or clever a man (or woman) may be, he (or she) cannot arrange their way into God’s presence. It is only through the blood of Jesus.

You may be reading this and thinking, Amen. Good message, but it doesn’t apply to me because I’m already saved. If that’s the case, I’m so glad to know you’re part of the family of God, but have you invited anyone else to join you? When was the last time you told those around you about Jesus? Have you shared with others that Jesus is the only way to Heaven?

I’m not trying to put anyone on a guilt trip. I promise. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t witness as I should. And that’s why today’s reminder was so convicting to me. I know I’m saved, but I also know I could do much better at telling others the good news. After all, when it comes to Heaven, no Bridge, big problem!!!

Never Hunger or Thirst

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Do you know how much time I could free up from my days if specific tasks didn’t have to be repeated daily, weekly, or monthly? Yes, if every task were a “one and done” kind of thing, I’d have time to sit back with a good book without a care in the world. But that’s not the way life works, is it? House chores like laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning have to be done on a daily (or near daily basis). Grocery shopping and other errands take up at least one day per week. Bills have to be paid each month, and on the flip side of that, the financial reports have to be organized, updated and processed. Barnabas needs a daily walk, and I like to hug and kiss my sweet hubby at least once a day. Oh, and these daily devotions don’t write themselves either. This list doesn’t even include things like regular exercise or quiet time with the Lord.

The truth is, my to-do list from one day to the next is often filled with the same tasks plus a few unique ones to spice things up.  Let’s face it, life is full of repetition—jobs that have to be completed over and over again. Is it any wonder why we always feel like we’re behind and that we’re seldom getting anything accomplished? Laundry again today? Didn’t I do that yesterday? What do you mean I have to cook more than once a week. . or once a day? Good grief!

Fortunately, when it comes to our salvation, it is a “one and done” deal. The experience never has to be repeated. I don’t have to get up each morning and get saved all over again. It’s—well, to use my new word for the year—settled. A onetime thing. I could give (and have given in the past) a myriad of verses to confirm this declaration, but to stick with our “never” theme, I’ll share these two:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
— John 4:14
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
— John 6:35

How awesome would it be to eat once and be forever satisfied? My hips would undoubtedly benefit from the arrangement! How about to drink a single glass of water and never again experience thirst? Physically, it’s impossible. God didn’t create us that way. These earthly bodies require food and water to function correctly. But spiritually speaking, it’s not only possible; I’ve experienced it. I don’t have to wonder what it’s like to know God. I don’t have to imagine what it’s like to be His child. I never have to hunger or thirst for everlasting life because it’s already mine. I gained it the day I believed in Jesus and accepted Him as the Lord of my life. That was over 35 years ago, but it’s as true today as it was then.

While I live each day to bring glory to God, I never waste time and energy on renewing my salvation. I serve God because I am saved not so I can be saved. It’s a privilege, not a duty, unlike doing laundry and dishes and paying bills.

Are you hungry today? Are you seeking something to give your life meaning? Is there a hunger or thirst in your soul that nothing else can satisfy? If so, I invite you to go to Jesus. He is the answer to everything that’s wrong in your life, and He is the only one who can fill the void and make your life complete.

We Take Nothing With Us When We Die

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Ah, Black Friday. The day when thousands of people fight with and trample over others to get the latest, greatest deals. I have to wonder whose idea it was to crown the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday. It’s an oxymoron. We spend Thursday being thankful, then Friday being greedy and discontent. What’s up with that?

Please understand, I am not belittling anyone who goes shopping on Black Friday. I used to be among those who woke up early and stood in line waiting for the stores to open. But now, many stores have extended their Black Friday deals to their online stores, so I opt to shop from the comfort of my home. It’s safer that way.

It’s not the day or the shopping with which I have a problem. It’s the attitudes. Me first. Get out of my way. He who has the most toys wins. It’s sad and pathetic to see human beings treat one another with such disrespect. And for what? The latest fad? A new computer or phone? Is it worth it? After all, when we leave this earth, we won’t be able to take any of it with us.

Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
— Psalm 49:16-17
As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
— Ecclesiastes 5:15
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
— I Timothy 6:6-7

Would you believe me if I told you this “nothing” was the next one of my list? I couldn’t have chosen a better day than Black Friday to discuss this point. Yes, there are unbelievable deals today. Yes, it’s a great time to do some Christmas shopping. Yes, it can even be a fantastic opportunity to spend time with family. (Some of my fondest memories are Black Friday shopping with my mom and sister. My mom was there to shop. My sister and I were there to see how much we could aggravate my mom, in good fun, of course.) But as you go about the day, keep this in mind: we take nothing with us when we die. It all remains. All of it. No matter how good a deal we received, we can’t take it with us.

That being the case, how much is “stuff” really worth? Is it worth working extra hours at the office to afford the bigger television? Is it worth ignoring our family for hours on end playing with that awesome phone? In the end, we don’t even get to keep it.

But this particular nothing has an exception. Yes, I know if there is an exception to nothing, it would be something, but hear me out. When the Bible says we can take nothing with us when we die, it’s referring to stuff. Money, houses, toys, and gadgets are all left behind, and who knows what will happen to them when we’re gone? But there is one thing we can take with us to Heaven—another soul.

What would happen if we spent less time with our stuff and more time witnessing to others? How would the world change if we put down our phones, turned off our televisions, and used that time telling others about Christ? How would our conversations change if God was the topic instead of the latest and greatest sale? Our lives would make an everlasting difference! No, we can’t take our stuff with us, but we can be reunited with those who made it to Heaven because of our witness.

Again, I’m not condemning shopping or having nice things, but I am reminding all of us to make sure we have our priorities straight. This life—with all its stuff—is temporary. Heaven, on the other hand, is eternal. What are we doing here on earth that is making a Heavenly difference?