“…and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes…” (Luke 16:23)
A friend (actually a former youth of mine from the late 80’s) sent me a link to a video clip the other day. The name of the 6-minute video: “A Letter from Hell.”
Having seen my fair share of cheesy videos over the years, I wasn’t expecting much. But, after watching it, those low expectations evaporated. The video is not sensationalized (although the producer does take some dramatic license). However, the descriptions of hell are all exact phrases that Jesus, Himself, used to describe hell. The video is graphic and disturbing – which, I’m certain, was the intent of the producer.
The narrator who, both, introduces and follows up the letter, is Greg Steir, president of Dare 2 Share Ministries. I’ve met him. Solid guy. His heart passion is to tell the world about the gospel of Christ. Since Jesus included the topic of hell in the gospel, we must do the same.
For those who dismiss hell as mythology, or simply something made up in the “nutty” minds of Christians, all I know to say is this: In regard to “life after life”, either the Bible’s right, or not. If the Bible’s wrong, I lose nothing. If the Bible’s right, you lose everything. I wouldn’t wager against the reliability of the Bible.
Last thing – Jesus included His own “letter from hell” in a story He told in Luke 16:19-31. In Jesus’ story, the man who went to hell desperately wanted to contact people on earth – just like the fictitious teenager in the video. But, according to Jesus, there is no “outgoing mail” from hell – which, it appears, is part of the torment.
May this brief video clip (1) remind us afresh of the reality of hell, and (2) give us motivation & courage to tell our friends/family, etc. about Jesus Christ. The link to the video is below. Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
My friends, rather than upload a recording of my talk, I thought I’d simply write out my notes in an easy-to-read format for you. (This way, you also don’t have to hear me, over and over again, become emotional as I speak 🙂 …..Christ has used this passage so powerfully in my life since the passing of my beloved son.)
May you get to know the Shepherd more intimately in your study. And, after studying and meditating upon this great psalm, may we all gain a stronger, broader understanding of what it really means when we say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Simply click on the link for the PDF file.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
INTRODUCTION TO SERIES: Since the passing of my son last May, Jordan, no biblical passage has comforted my mind & soul more than the 23rd Psalm. Quoting it has saved me, more than once, from losing my mind.
The power of God’s Word – in particular, this passage – in setting me free from a “psychological hell”, of sorts, motivated me to more deeply “mine the treasures” of these six short verses. What I’ve discovered – and experienced – has been life-changing. And now, I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
Prayerfully consider joining me, please, as we unpack this beloved psalm, verse by verse, and discover what it really means when we say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
3 Sundays: Feb. 23rd, Mar. 2nd, Mar. 9th; 5pm. BHBC Worship Center.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, Amplified)
It was a gorgeous day at Busch Gardens on May 12, 2002. The Tampa, FL, amusement park was alive with all that is associated with Spring. Colorful flowers. Warm sunshine. And the smiles on the faces of children everywhere.
Little did a 21 year old Busch Gardens employee know that her life was about to change forever.
The Associated Press article reported that she was giving her family a “behind the scenes” tour of the theme park. Details are sketchy, but apparently she had stopped to show off the park’s 350 pound male lion. All was fine until, a moment later, with lightning speed, the lion’s massive jaw clamped onto the young employee’s arm like a steel trap. Despite the screams of the girl and her family, the lion’s razor-sharp teeth had already severed her arm at the elbow. She was flown with the severed limb to Tampa General Hospital by helicopter where it was unclear if an attempt would be made to re-attach the arm.
What struck me about this story was not so much the ferocity of the lion as it was the surprise of the attack. Clearly, this young lady was not some inexperienced passerby who was visiting the zoo on a pretty Sunday afternoon. She was a trained zookeeper who, no doubt, took what she was thinking were proper precautions in dealing with a 350 pound wild animal. However, for a split-second she let her guard down. And that’s when the lion instinctively struck. She never saw it coming.
Our enemy, the devil, rarely approaches when we expect him to do so. He’s far too smart for that. He revels in the thought that we believers arrogantly believe we’ve got him figured out. The truth is he’s a demon of ancient origin, trained over millennia to center on both our weaknesses, and weak moments. And that’s when it happens. With lightning speed, he strikes. But, instead of losing an arm, we’re left with a lost reputation, shredded integrity, a severed relationship, or broken fellowship with God.
It’s when we’re most confident in ourselves (rather than in the presence and power of Christ) that we become easiest prey, which is precisely why Paul warned the Corinthians, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12, NASB)
So before you bound out of bed each morning and rush out the door ready for all life has for you, remember – satan has spent a great deal of time, perhaps years, waiting for your next unguarded moment. Abide in Jesus Christ, the One who “destroyed the works of the devil” by the Cross. If you don’t, make no mistake – the enemy will strike. And you’ll never see it coming.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
I love the Bible.
It’s unedited. Unsanitized. Emotional. Real.
As I read it, I read about God. And myself.
All 66 books comprise God’s “love letter” to mankind. And, within His “letter” we’re reminded that God used real-life, ordinary people to pen the words God wanted written down. (2 Peter 1:21)
Jeremiah (not the bullfrog) prophesied during a horrible time in Israel’s history (well, all the prophets prophesied during horrible times in Israel’s history.):) With the imminent attack and decimation at the hand of the Babylonians in view, somehow Jeremiah found within himself the courage to trust God and praise Him: “Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord!…”
Very next verse:
“Cursed be the day on which I was born!….” (Jer. 20:13-14)
Apparently, the distance between “peace” & “crazy” is one verse.
One commentator described this “bipolar” episode in Jeremiah like this: “Another tide of depression engulfed the prophet.”
Does this “tide of depression” in Jeremiah diminish my faith in God as I read it? NO! On the contrary, it STRENGTHENS it! Why? Because I look at Jeremiah and am able to say, “You too??” It gives me “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7) to know that during those times in my life when I sincerely shout, “Sing to the Lord!”, one minute, and “Cursed be the day I was born!”, the next, that people in the Bible felt the very same way.
Jeremiah, the Psalms, and most any other person God used in Scripture, give us permission, as believers, to be gut-level honest with God (He knows what’s in our heart anyway.):) They give us permission to feel like we’re, at times, going crazy.
God, in response, says, “You’re not crazy, my beloved. You’re normal. I never said it would be easy trusting Me. But please, trust Me. I’ve got this.”
I love you, Nick
“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.”
For years (way before my son passed away), I’ve tried to remind people that special times of the year, like Christmas, are not only joyful, but painful to many because it reminds them of loved ones no longer here. Since death is a part of life, what do we do with the pain of Christmas?
Author, Randall Cunningham, writes:
Pain says, “Don’t get up. Just lie here awhile.”Pain’s voice is loud, perhaps the loudest voice you’ll hear in your life. When [you] feel the pain, your mind and soul become tethered to doubt, anxiety, apprehension, and fear. The reality of the hit makes your head ring and immediately your mind begins to bend inward….When that hit comes to you, what will you do?”
Because of mankind’s failure in Eden (recorded in Genesis 3), pain is in the very fabric of human life. And if the story ended there life would be hopeless. Satan’s plan was pain.
But God had other plans.
God took what Satan believed was a clever “checkmate move” against mankind and turned it on its head – driving a stake into the heart of the dragon….a stake in the form of a cross.
Because this is true, when pain takes its best shot this Christmas we can ruthlessly trust in Him “on whom was laid the [pain] of us all.” (Isaiah 53:11)
Merry Christmas, St. Nick