Hey, we live in shaky times economically. Investments are real risks. We think them through carefully. Shouldn’t we think through our spiritual investments just as carefully?

Below is a perspective so to speak on our spiritual lives. But I want to confess a couple things about it before you read on:

1. It’s pretty hard hitting and a little bit in your face and might seem like it’s all about a holy God who is out to get us! But that isn’t really the case. God is love, literally! His holiness flows out of his love, so however you “hear” this, you need to know that God loves you. But at the same time, amazingly, he doesn’t force you in any way to love Him!

2. You may be tempted to blow off reading this at all because you have met a few Christians and sort of got the idea that if that’s what it’s all about, I’m not interested. As a Christ-follower, may I be the first to apologize that sometimes our attitudes and actions get in the way of others ever really seeing who Jesus is. But that doesn’t change who he is and what he offers us!

3. It’s possible that what you read below may seem incredible. I encourage you to at least wrestle with it. The investment I am asking us to consider is a major paradigm shift. It is counter-intuitive to just about every form of hype you have had thrown at you in life. There’s no way I expect you in like ten minutes, to be ready to shift your whole life paradigm. But I do challenge you to let this be a fresh starting point of thinking life through…this really is a message of hope!

4. All of us are wired differently…some of us respond more readily to “head” stuff and some to “heart” stuff. We need both. What is presented below is mostly from a “head stuff” perspective. To catch a more heart like perspective please check out the other two articles at this web site- "He Did This All for You” and “Taking Out the Trash!”

Pastor Tim

Life is full of questions. Some are superficial. Some are significant. It’s possible that you might find the questions below a little “tacky”, but I risk asking them because I believe they are significant!

1. What is your purpose for living?

2. Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that when you die, you will spend eternity in heaven?

3. If you were to die today and stand before God, and he were to say to you, .'Why should I let you into my heaven?", what would you respond?

What Is your purpose for living? While our answers to that question vary greatly, a basic thread runs through most. We tend to sum up our purpose for living in terms of money, or success, or family, or health, or happiness. And yet for our many responses, all but one will leave us ultimately empty. Hebrews 9:27* tells us that at some point in time, all of us will die, but after that there will be judgment. As varied as our answers are, as varied as our lifestyles are, we all share one common denominator-sooner or later, we are going to die. Then what?
Genesis 1:27* tells us we were created in the image of God! Our purpose for living is summed up in why God created us! We were created to have a relationship with God himself. know His peace, His love, His direction in all that we do! So what went wrong? Obviously, the emptiness of many lives reflects nothing of fellowship with God. Why not, if God designed life to be that way? The answer is that man rebelled against God; man sinned. Adam and Eve started it all (Genesis 3*), but Romans 3:3 makes it clear that all of us have sinned; and the penalty of sin is death, -not just physical death, but spiritual death! (Romans 6:23*)

Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain when you (physically) die, you will spend eternity in heaven? It is possible to know you know! And the key to that certainty is reflected in your answer and my answer to the final question.

If you should die today and stand before God, and He were to ask you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?", what would you say? Our typical answer to that question falls in two categories"

1. I don't know?!

2. Because I've tried to lead a good life, not harm others etc.
The problem with the first answer is obvious.

The problem with the second answer is that such fails to realize who God really is! God is holy; and therefore no one could ever be good enough to enter heaven or live in right relationship with God. ..unless of course, he had never sinned! But we have! Psychologists tell us that we think at least 10,000 thoughts a day. If you live 70 years, that's at least 255 million thoughts! If only one of those thoughts were impure, that would be one too many for a holy God! So how in the world can we know God, live in the right relationship to Him, and know hope of heaven? We can because God is not only holy; God is also love! He loves us! Now God in love can't simply say,..Hey, you've sinned, you've rebelled against me, but I love you so much, that's o.k."' He is holy! So how did a holy, loving God deal with the dilemma? He did so by sending His Son to take the penalty of our sin! Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, came to this earth and died on a cross, taking the penalty of our sin! And He rose again from the dead, thus defeating the consequences of sin-death, forever! And because He died and rose again, we can have a brand new relationship with God himself through Jesus! (Check out these verses: John 3:16*, Romans 5:8*, Romans 5:17*,11 Corinthians 5:17').

So how do we receive this gift of eternal life beginning now in terms of our new relationship with God?

Well it all starts to unfold when we come to a place that we are convinced of three realities- sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8-11) While we often think of sin as some major deal like murder or adultery, in reality sin is anything that misses the mark for which we were created. We are convinced of sin when we come to the place that we realize that all the stuff we try to fill our lives with is not big enough to fill the God shaped vacuum at the core of who we are. We realize we are empty; that we need “something more” than this life offers.

We are convinced of righteousness when we come to the place we realize that Jesus is the key to a relationship with God. Many paths can lead us to a point of seeing our need, but it is only through Jesus we pass through the final door that leads to the Father. It’s when we have checked out all religious systems so to speak but have discovered relationship is found through Jesus, that we are convinced of righteousness.

To be convinced of judgment simply means we realize that beyond death is eternity…an eternity spent either living life to the fullest with God or living life to the ultimate degree of emptiness separated from God…living a life whereby we say “Thanks for life in you God”” (heaven) or “No thanks God, I prefer my own way!” (hell). If in our spiritual journey we are not yet at a place we are convinced of all three of these realities, becoming a Christ follower won’t make sense. But once we are convinced, we are ready to exchange our life for life in Christ.

We do so by. ..believing that Jesus as Son of God, died for our sins, and was raised to new life (believe the facts about what God has done for us through Jesus).

We do so by. ..admitting that we are sinners (empty) and unable to do anything in ourselves to secure right relationship with God and hope of heaven (Ephesians 2:8, 9*).

We do so by. ..accepting God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ for ourselves. A pardon is only good if one accepts it! (Romans 10:9, 10*).

To receive God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ does not mean that life will contain no more problems. It does mean that the peace of God will be yours (Romans 5:1 * ), and that God by His Spirit dwelling in you will give you strength to deal with life from a whole new (eternal) perspective. (II Corinthians 1:21*).
You can make that decision to accept God's gift and have assurance of eternal life right now. It is not our desire to pressure you. This is worthy of your serious consideration and time. But we believe it is absolutely the most important decision you can ever make. ..for it is a matter of LIFE! Below is listed a prayer to receive Christ. There is no magic in the prayer and you may want to use your own words. We simply print it to give you some direction in sealing your decision. Thank you for allowing us to share our greatest concern with you! ! !

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner, and that my life is empty and without ultimate purpose or direction. I know that I can't save myself or do anything good enough to deserve your acceptance of me or relationship with me. But, I also know that you sent your Son to die for me and take care of the penalty of sin and death which I deserved. So I simply accept what you have done for me through Jesus. I accept your forgiveness of my sins, attitudes and actions. Thank you for making me a new person in you! In Jesus name pray, Amen!

Now what?
If you have entered into a relationship with God by inviting Christ into your life, the Bible says you are a new person! (II Corinthians 5:17*) You have not "added" Jesus to your life; you have exchanged your way of living for God's way of living in you! Before any of us came to know Christ, three things were true of us:

1. Our spirits were dead. Like a dead battery we were disconnected from God. He made us. He loved us. But we had no relationship.

2. Our minds were distorted. Seeing things God's way didn't make sense. We lived for our own purposes, but those purposes were ultimately dead ends. They weren't "big enough to" to give us peace.

3. Our bodies were dying. In fact, from the time we are born our bodies are beginning to die. Now isn't that a pleasant thought!

But when we accept Christ, all those areas of our life become "new:

1. Our spirit comes alive. We are now connected with God, through Christ Jesus!

2. Our mind is renewed. We can begin to understand God's perspective...the Bible begins to make sense!

3. Our body, though still dying, will one day be given new life as a glorified body in heaven...and strength is available for our body until we die through prayer and healing.

As a "new" person with a "new" perspective here are a couple of "new" things you may want to do!

1. Tell someone about your new relationship with God. You might want to start with a friend, neighbor, relative, or coworker who is a Christian.

2. Begin to read the Bible and to pray. God's Spirit is alive in you and He will help you understand. You may want to start by reading in the New Testament with the first four books- each of them is an account of Jesus' life. Then read Acts (the history of the early church) and then Romans (a summary of the Christian life, but with some sections that are pretty tough to grasp). After that, you might want to go back to the first book in the Bible-Genesis. And by the time you get that far-hopefully you will be involved with other Christians who can help you go from there.

3. Find a church to be a part of. Churches aren’t perfect! But “Church” is a place where you can grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ and bring friends. It is a place where you can begin to understand more about being a Christian. Don't worry that it all seems new---everybody starts as a baby Christian and at church you will learn what it takes to grow! The church is an authentic place where you can continue to ask questions too---tough questions about life and love and suffering that weren't addressed in this brief article.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. The investment we are asking you to consider is huge. It is the most important commitment you will ever consider. So we understand why you would take time to wrestle it through. Please do so! And know that we are praying for those who read this- that the "truth" of life in Christ will set them free!

* All words marked with an asterisk are passages from the Bible. We believe the Bible to be God's Word to us! All that we have shared has not been our own opinion, but validated by God's Word, the Bible. We encourage you to "look it up!"