Quid pro Quo!

Whether we like to admit or not, even the Christian tends to think in these terms in our dealings with God. We think our obedience and faith entitle us to God’s blessings. We give to God’s work in hope of enlarged returns and so we run up a tab for God’s I.O.U.s.

We take the Old Testament promises of God’s abundant blessings such as those in the book of Haggai and use them to justify expectations of great wealth and blessing in return for our efforts in giving and serving.

How are we to regard this? First of all let me say we already receive far greater blessings than we deserve. That sinful men and women should yet remain in the enjoyment of life and sustenance when we could be suffering the eternal and deserved consequences of our sin is no small blessing. The sinner who has the salvation of Christ preached to them and the offer to come and receive it freely is a blessing in itself. The Christian has spiritual as well as temporal blessing even now with the promise of eternal joy in the world to come. Yet we often think these things to small and the full enjoyment too far away.

The workers in the vineyard because they toiled in the heat of the day wanted more than the promised denarius and we always seem to want more than what we have  received.

It is true that great things are promised to great faith but God is sovereign in the way He distributes His gifts. God is not a storekeeper dealing with our shopping list.

God is bountiful to all and especially to his children. He gives us far above all we can ask and think. However He not only gives generously but He also gives wisely, no more and no less than He thinks is good for us.

Erasmus said that for us to excessively desire earthly wealth was like a poor overloaded donkey seeking for more to be placed on his back.

Our service for God will be rewarded by His grace far out of proportion of any of our efforts. While it is not wrong to look forward to God’s blessing, our motivation is love for our God and Saviour and with the understanding that we are “Unprofitable servants, who only did our duty” and that all He gives and does for us is from grace alone not taking our deserts into account.

Influence Mines.

During the Second World War Germany use explosive mines to sink and cripple British shipping. We are all familiar with them from the old war films. They floated at sea and colliding with them sank the ship.

Early on in the war several ships limped into allied ports with their hull plates cracked and buckled, rivets blown out and the ship’s backs broken.

Ships had made it clear across the Atlantic only to be severely damaged when they entered the shallow water of a port. The Germans were thought to have invented an “influence mine” which detonated when a ship passed over it. The search was on to recover this sort of mine and find out how it worked and how it to deal with it.

A German mine-laying aircraft dropped a mine of this sort by parachute which instead of going into the sea, landed on a mud flat and the British de fused it and examined it to find out how it worked.

A large ferrous object passing through the Earth’s magnetic field will concentrate the field through it; the mine’s detector was designed to trigger as a ship passed over, when its magnetic field was concentrated as measured by the mine. The mechanism had an adjustable sensitivity, calibrated in milligaus.

 

To counter these type of mines, ships were fitted with De-gaussing coils around the hull or were de-gaussed in port to reduce the ships magnetic charge to levels below which the influence mines would not detect and detonate.

The British tried various methods to trigger the mines safely such as a ship towed and aircraft borne electromagnets but they either were dangerous to the towing vessel or swept to small an area to be effective.

A better solution was found in the “Double-L Sweep”[using electrical cables dragged behind ships that passed large pulses of current through the seawater. This induced a large magnetic field and swept the entire area between the two ships. (Cited from Wiki)

Sad to say the Christian is surrounded and in danger from the spiritual equivalent of explosive mines. Some float on the surface for everyone to see, and yet we still crash into them and will do their best to sink us. Others are not so obvious and visible but seek to exert an influence on our faith and profession. They try to damage our Christianity and break our spiritual back: robbing us of joy, peace and usefulness.

These mines take advantage of the magnetic field of sin and selfishness which still affect us. They also use our ignorance of scriptural doctrine and lack of self watch and prayer to foist wrong doctrine and Satan’s lies upon us.

Therefore we often to seek to be De-gaussed by repentance, prayer and the reading and sound preaching of the Word to avoid the peril and danger these spiritual “mines” constantly represent to us.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/37/L_L_sweeping_gear.jpg/220px-L_L_sweeping_gear.jpg https://i1.wp.com/www.goodeveca.net/CFGoodeve/llsweep.jpg

Our lack of Zeal!

J. Oswald Sanders in his book on “Cults and Isms” draws attention to the tireless and selfless efforts many of the religious cults use to spread their erroneous doctrines compared to the listless efforts of the orthodox Christian denominations.

They ,often with slender means print and distribute mountains of literature , wear out shoe leather and compass land and sea to spread their false doctrines and win “converts” to their unscriptural beliefs.

By comparison the Christian Church with custodianship of the true gospel, half heartedly proclaims it and its members niggardly support it.

Many are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ as first received and try to tailor it to appeal to the worldly minded religionists of today’s post Christian society.

He remarks that the zeal the heretic cult member’s show in propagating their doctrines leaves the true Churches efforts to spread the true doctrine of Christ throughout World, in the shade.

There is nothing wrong with the old gospel it is still the only message of salvation. The fault is with  us and our unbelief and lack of zeal. May God deliver us!

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Quid pro Quo!

The field of the Sluggard!

Spurgeon has a sermon in his “Farm sermons” with this title taken from several verses in Proverbs. He uses it to draw attention to the various areas in our lives and in the work of the kingdom which are being neglected and left to infestation by spiritual weeds and thorns.

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A cultivated field or a home garden if left unattended for a length of time will quickly become infested with weeds and other noxious plants. This will require intensive efforts to restore it to a point where it will be suitable for cultivation. Even a field that is ploughed and planted will still need hoeing, weed removal and constant attention to maintain its fertility.

The advantage is always with the weeds they spread and grow at incredible speed, where useful crops are slow growing and sensitive to weather, disease and competition.

The sluggard or lazy farmer fully intends to attend to his field and till and cultivate it, however the temptations of sleep, ease and the obstacles of weather and working conditions rob him of his slender resolve. So in the mean time his farm goes to rack and ruin and becomes an object lesson to others of the dangers of laziness and neglect.

Spurgeon points out that in our lives there are areas which need constant attention or the weeds of sin and sloth will rob us of fruitfulness and usefulness in God’s kingdom.

Likewise in the church and in the world there is work to be done for building up the brotherhood and evangelizing the “wilderness of this world”.

There were times in the history of the church, especially at the beginning, when it was “missionary” by definition; however in Spurgeon’s time and certainly in ours it was left to a dedicated few.

It does seem that very few have very much concern for the furtherance of the gospel. We want to see numbers in the church but we are more concerned with adjusting the message to the world rather than bringing people to Christ. Instead of proclaiming the same message of salvation which has always been the task of the church we are tweaking the gospel to worldly perceptions and standards.

It is no wonder there is so little sense of “mission” in the church when no one is quite sure what we should be preaching. True also, because we no longer believe in hell we have no sense of urgency about saving anyone from it.

This does not excuse us.

I remember a story of a famous missionary looking at a map of the world and pointing at a continent or country and despairing of the lack of gospel preaching and missionary work there.

Maybe some “Christians” are so busy striving for the good things of this world that they forget the whole of it is lying in the “evil one”. The world by and large is a howling wilderness spiritually.

There are great tracts of it untouched by the message of salvation by Jesus Christ. Many countries that had a real Christian witness have very little true Christianity left.

True the work of evangelism is beyond mere human effort but nevertheless it is part of every believers calling to share the gospel.

What I write to you I say to myself.

First be sure you know the real gospel yourself.

Second do what you can to reach others with the same blessing you yourself have received.Image result for the world our mission field

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2 Corinthians 5:14-15English Standard Version (ESV)

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

The question is what does newness of life mean to each of us.

In one of his sermons John Macarthur said that the Jewish Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead but made the resurrection life little more than a life the same as here. They spent their time speculating what sort of clothes the resurrected person would be wearing if any. Would he have the same clothes he was buried in or would he have new clothes.They had interminable discussion on trivial ideas regarding the afterlife.

So we today seem intent on making the new life we have in Christ as being ” our best life now” and heaven  as well. According to some the christians word has power to overcome obstacles, bring healing and fulfill our wishes and desires.

Looking at the images we see projected by some “Christian teachers” we can have it all and be saved at last.

A bit odd when the Great founder and example of Christianity had no where to lay his head half the time. Jesus it seems, had little more than what he stood up in.

He suffered rejection and ultimately crucifixion and called on his followers to walk the same path. True it leads to glory and eternal joy but not by a easy or always pleasant route.

There is not a lot of room in todays’ church for suffering or poverty. Self denial has certainly been left out of our message today.

We are so concerned to bring people in we run the risk of losing them again if we return to the teaching of way of the Cross.

The newness of life which Christ brings is joy in the midst of trial, sorrow and suffering. It brings living fellowship with Christ who walked this path before us and has taken on himself the worst of the way so that we will not have to.

To Him be the Glory.

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Many people ask “What would Jesus do?” Without really understanding what Jesus did.- Paul Locandro

 

The field of the Sluggard!

Survivor Malta!

For someone as widely traveled as the Apostle Paul Shipwreck was an occupational hazard. This particular disaster was harrowing in the extreme. It came to the point that the Roman soldiers guarding the prisoners were contemplating killing them lest they escape. Paul’s intervention no doubt saved all on board because he had faith in the promise of God for their preservation.

One lesson we can immediately draw is that God’s sovereignty does not take away man’s responsibility. That the crew and passengers of the ship were going to survive was God’s word to them by Paul but they must remain on the Ship. So in fact it proved. When the ship ran aground those who could were able to swim to land and those who could not were lashed to parts of the ship which could float and would wash to shore.

The castaway’s arrival on the island of Malta and their treatment by the inhabitants is one of those homely events of which scripture is full. The Maltese although regarded by the Greeks and Romans as barbarians proved themselves more hospitable than either and did their level best to make them comfortable.

A fire was lit and Paul pitched in by fetching firewood which by chance had a snake nestled in it. Having fastened itself on his hand the locals assumed that having escaped death in the sea, justice was catching up to this hardened criminal. Paul simply flung the viper into the fire, while everybody waited for him to swell up and die, he didn’t. There was something extraordinary about this man.https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/84/ef/18/84ef18dcd9e1e8430ddb13c60d0e3790.jpg

The headman of the island Publius welcomed them into his home and cared for them. One of his servants was sick and Paul prayed for him and by God’s power healed him. After this many came to Paul with various types of sickness and he healed them. I have no doubt that the Maltese people’s kindness and hospitality to God’s apostle and companions was the cause of great blessing to them and maybe the beginnings of a church there.

Paul had long sought to visit Rome and while this was an unlikely way to accomplish it and was harrowing at times there is no doubt but that by the providence of God, great Blessing was the result.

So it is that God leads His people in unlikely way, not always comfortable and  sometimes perilous yet He bring them through and leads to blessing and eternal good.

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Pride is apt to think ill of others; but humility leads a man to think ill of himself. While pride is observing the defects of others, their coldness and deadness, their ignorance and weakness; humility has work enough at home; is most jealous of itself, and most suspicious of the deceit of the heart which it occupies.-Thomas Charles of Bala 1755-1814

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‘Preach the gospel of the grace of God, intelligibly, affectionately and without shame-all the contents of the great book from predestination to glorification’. Christmas Evans 1766-1838, Minister Anglesey ,Wales

Survivor Malta!

A word of Reproof!

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

The words reprove and reproof, are not words that are in common use and language today. I wonder how many people today understand them?

What are we to understand The Apostle Paul is saying here?

I think we can say that the reading and preaching of Scripture has a negative and positive purpose.

Negatively it has the task of reproving and correcting. To reprove someone is to point out the wrong and mistakes in their lives, and if necessary rebuke and censure them and seek for reformation and restoration. In Christian practice this reproof is based on clear scripture teaching as to what God says is right and wrong and in accordance with what is pleasing to Him.

We see from this verse that reproval and correction go together.

Positively the Word teaches the ways of righteousness and Christ-like living.

We do not reprove merely to condemn but in order that wrong ideas and practices are cast aside and replaced by righteous Christ-pleasing belief and practice according to the Word’s teaching.

I feel that we do not hear this balanced use of the Scripture in much of today’s preaching; rather we are almost always fed a diet of sugar and no salt.

How little are we pulled up on our worldly attitudes and indifferent treatment of many sins? True we must not trowel on reproof with a shovel but we are neither to turn a blind eye on the sins which so easily beset us. The Minister and teacher must in faithfulness to the Word of God both correct and reprove in balance with comfort, up-building and edifying.

I think many teachers in the church have dropped the more confronting and unpopular side of faithful preaching. They need to return to scriptural emphasis and balance.

We are not all preachers and bible teachers, theirs is a special task. Yet in some way we can, with sensitivity and tact, be the means of turning others from the wrong path and point them to the path that leads to a closer walk with Christ and obedience to Him.

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Riding the Beam!

The Lorenz beam system (invented by the Germans) used a single radio transmitter with three antennas to guide an aircraft in landing in poor visual conditions. If an aircraft was to the left of the glide-path the pilot would hear a stream of Morse dots and if he was veering to the right he would hear a stream of dashes. When the plane was centre-line he would hear a constant tone. Later an automatic cockpit indicator was added to save the pilot the need to hear the actual signal.

This was later adapted by the German for use in guiding bombers to targets in Britain.

In the Spiritual realm we have a guidance system as well. The Christian has the inscripturated Word of God to keep them on the correct path.

We have to avoid two perils in our dealing with the Bible. First we do not add to it, neither must we subtract from it.

The Scriptures need nothing added to them, they are inspired by God the Holy Spirit and sufficient for all spiritual teaching. We are also not to take away from scripture by neglecting or explaining away verses that do not please sinful man.

Sad to say that we see a great deal of “filing cabinet theology”. A church or minister may believe or say they believe the great doctrines of the Bible but seldom take the trouble to preach and teach them. If someone pulls them up on the lack of such preaching they say that they refer new believers to learning sheets they have filed away somewhere which deal with these doctrines.

The problem is we are not all on the same page. If the whole counsel of God is not preached there are going to be those who fall through the cracks and neglect and be ignorant of scripture truths.

Like the Lorenz system the Word is a safe guide no matter how dark or foggy the conditions we face. We must know the Word, submit to it and ask for the Spirit’s teaching and guidance.

Subsidence

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We often see buildings which due to expansion and contraction of the earth beneath develop cracks in the walls and sinking foundations which put the floors out of square.

When I was searching for relatives graves at the cemetery I see memorials which have stood for decades sinking and collapsing.

This is exacerbated by mining and excavation.

We all tend to think of the earth beneath us as solid yet we know the continents are more like rafts on a molten sea.

Although it may not seem so neither the true Christian nor the true Church will ever subside or fall into a giant sinkhole or collapse into ruins.

They are based on the Great Rock of our Salvation and will stand for all time and all eternity it is only for us to take our stand upon it by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? George Keith

 

 

 

A word of Reproof!

The one thing needful.

I was glancing at a book by a well know Bakery owner and motivational speaker. I noted, apart from it being peppered with expletives, that it spoke highly of the works of Norman Vincent Peale.

For those of you who don’t know, Peale was minister at Marble collegiate church in New York and the author of the famous work “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

I was very keen on this teaching when I was young.

While there was a lot of use of scripture and Christian themes, there was also a lot of worldly wise motivational teaching and psychology. He was probably the forerunner of the prosperity teachers of today. There was always the proviso of “church attendance” but it always seemed to be an afterthought.

There are many teaching today that you can have your best life now. They have a lot of different approaches but all aim at the same end earthly prosperity here and the hope of heaven hereafter.

The mere fact that this Non- believer quotes Peale in order to further his own ends and yet come away from him with nothing more than the need to think and act in a positive way and nothing of the need to come to faith in Christ is very disturbing.

We all have selective hearing about some things. We take away from what we hear very often want we want to hear.

The work of ministers is to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation and build up believers in the faith. Whenever they divert their preaching to other ends they can divert hearers to non essential and often harmful things.

Someone like Martin Luther King is greatly admired by many yet seemed to preach more about civil rights than the actual gospel of salvation .Some question whether he actually believed it.

There is more than enough in the world to distract us from the one thing needful. We do not need Ministers and church leaders sending us off on a tangent. Rather like Paul they should be determined to know and preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified.

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Al Mohler says it well: “Prosperity theology is a False Gospel. Its message is unbiblical and its promises fail. God never assures his people of material abundance or physical health. Instead, Christians are promised the riches of Christ, the gift of eternal life, and the assurance of glory in the eternal presence of the living God. In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, not a platform for earthly prosperity. While we should seek to understand what drives so many into this movement, we must never for a moment fail to see its message for what it is — a false and failed gospel.”( quoted by challies.com)

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“Christ died”–that is history; “Christ died for our sins”–that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluble union, there is no Christianity.”
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

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26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[a] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[b] might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthian 1:26-29

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“A church ought to be seeker friendly, but the church ought to recognize there is only one Seeker. His name is God!—and if you want to be friendly to someone, if you want to accommodate someone, accommodate Him and His glory, even if it is rejected by everyone else. We are not called to build empires. We are not called to be excessive. We are called to glorify God. And if you want the Church to be something other than a peculiar people (Timothy 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9), then you want something God does not want.” -Paul Washer

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The recent heavy rainfall has caused the ground in some places to become very soft. Combined with the high winds several substantial and seemingly solid trees have fallen over.

In the church there are seemingly solid Christians who would seem well able to survive the storm and winds of false doctrine and persecution. Yet when these perils enter their lives they collapse like one of those trees.

It could be they are rooted in the clay of false profession and self delusion, maybe like mistletoe or ivy they are sustained by contact with real Christians but have no real foundation in Christ. Unfortunately all it takes is the right combination of events and circumstances to discover that they are not rooted in anything solid.

The tree cannot choose the spot and soil in which it is planted but the Christian has clearly been show the one in whom he must be found in the day of storm. We must not rest until we are in living contact with Christ and rooted and grounded in Him.

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The one thing needful.

Science Falsely Called

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Phrenology was a 19th century pseudo science which by examining and measuring the human cranium purported to determine a person’s strength and weaknesses. By feeling the lumps on your head they could tell you what character and emotional traits were under or over developed in your children and tell them things their parents and educators would need to correct.

Even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had their children examined and subscribed to this theory. Much of this study has long since been debunked.

I guess we could say that we all need to have our spiritual lumps and bumps examined sometimes. Where are we lacking and where are we falling short in our Christianity? Christians today are very reluctant to examine themselves, “to prove they are in the faith”. We are so experience centered that as long as we feel the spiritual highs every week nothing else really matters.

When the profession of Christianity is reduced to signing a card and praying a formula prayer it is easy to think we are as good as the person we sit near at church.

Christianity is a new birth, a new creature, so we need to know we are on the right foundation. We are not trusting our own righteousness; we are casting ourselves on Christ and his atoning sacrifice by faith. Unless we start from there nothing we do will avail in our Christian profession. We need to be sure our Christianity is the real thing.

The genuine Christian falls short and we all need to grow in closeness Christ and obedience to Him. We have our besetting sins  fears and doubts. We all have our blind spots and things we do not understand.

We need the light of Christ to help us to shows us our spiritual state and deal with our sins and  shortcomings.We must listen the teaching of the Holy Spirit by the Word.

We need to metaphorically pluck out the right eye and cut off the right foot to prevent ourselves from stumbling. These things are not easy to the “flesh” but are essential to our growth and perseverance in the faith.

May God strengthen us daily to do this.

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Those that are for the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ look upon it as the only foundation of all their hopes for eternity, and therefore they cannot but be zealous for it.

Also

You know there are two great plagues that have distressed the church of Christ and it will never be quite free from them; a multitude of hypocrites on a fair day, and a multitude of apostates on a foul day.

– Robert Traill ,1642 – 1716

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I have often wondered what Ballarat looked like before it was permanently settled and the gold rush took off. Apparently it was covered in trees and bush. Within a few years of the discovery of gold it was all open country with the trees cut down for mine pit props.

It is said that there was so much mining activity on Black hill that it was virtually turned upside down.

Much of the city was covered with mullock heaps although many of them were taken away and used for filling when the “White Swan” and “Gong “ reservoirs were built.

As an activity tunnel mining must have been a scary occupation. My great, great Grandfather was killed in a mining accident at Blackwood.

I have just finished watching “How Green was my valley”, at the end of which the father killed in a coal mine explosion.

Having been down some old mines myself, I can imagine what daily life must have been like, with the constant threat of cave ins and rock falls. Yet the necessity of providing for a family kept the mine workers at their employment and the hope of a rich strike kept the prospectors going.

In a spiritual sense there is great wealth to be found in following Christ. No doubt there are risks and sacrifices involved and the returns and profits may be delayed, yet the rewards are surely worth it.They are eternal and enduring and more than make up for earthly sacrifices and sufferings

Greater than all is possessing Christ and all He is, that is the treasure we seek, and to be found in Him the great hope of all believers.

 

Science Falsely Called

Alternative Realities.

One of the recurring themes in Science fiction is the idea of alternative realities. The same people living their lives in sometimes similar or sometimes completely different ways. The thought is that people standing at the crossroads in their lives make a decision and it sets them on a certain path. What would happen if the person made a completely different decision and went another way? Infinite possibilities leading to different destinations and what if in a different reality it actually is occurring?https://i0.wp.com/www.messagetoeagle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/paralleuniverses.jpg

This idea occurred to me when I was doing some family research.

My great grandfather was called Cornelius Sullivan. He was originally O’Sullivan but disliked the”O” so dropped it. When I was trying to find his grave I found “Cornelius O’Sullivan” and assumed that he was buried under his original name. My grandfather was brought up Catholic so I assumed his father was a catholic as well. This O’sullivan is buried in the catholic section of the cemetery.

My grandfather as I said was brought up catholic but lapsed because of disillusionment with that church.

On further research in City directories I found my Great grandfather always referred to as Sullivan, so I checked the cemetery records and it turns out that my grandfather is buried in what they call the Benevolent section of the same cemetery: (I am not sure yet what this means about the circumstances of his death and burial, he may have been an orphan or was too poor to afford anything else, he did die during the depression.) Whether this means also that he to lapsed from Catholicism and was buried in another section is something I may never know.

The ironic thing is that the two men both died within one year of each other.

The point being two men of the same name around the same time, similar religious upbringing and possibly a great deal in common. Yet both making different choices and ending up in different places.

While this is interesting theoretically the truth is this world is all we get. What we do and what we believe has not merely temporal but eternal consequences. If when confronted by the call to accept the Gospel and believe on Christ we reject Him, the path we have chosen leads to eternal loss and sorrow. If on the other hand we believe in Jesus and live by faith and trust in Him ,our path then, whatever befalls, is one which is leading ever upward to heavenly joy in the Saviour’s presence.

There is only one you and only one me.  Choose wisely!!

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,

15while it is said,
         “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
         DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”Hebrews 3:13-15

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Alternative Realities.