Posts Tagged ‘eternal life’

Identifying the Antichrist

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Recently, a friend asked me (via Facebook) to look at a website published by a woman claiming to be a modern day prophet and naming a specific individual as the antichrist.

He wanted to know what I thought about it. My response was lengthy, and considering the tribulation we all can see in the world today, I thought worth sharing.

Several people in recent history have been identified as THE antichrist.

Is Obama the Antichrist?Adolf Hitler and Raj Patel come to mind as having had that finger pointed at them, and frankly, in 2008 I suspected Obama as being the one. All are of them are at least symptoms of the growing culture of ‘antichristism’, but I don’t think the text in Revelation points to a person as much as an “ism”. The bible teaches that God uses both righteous and evil men to achieve His will. No position of power is received by any man unless God permits it. It is all part of His plan, perfecting humanity so that as many will come to Him of their own free will as possible.

In Isaiah 55:8-11 it says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

In Revelation we are shown a vision of the world from the divine perspective in order that we may understand that what we see and hear and touch and experience is not necessarily what it appears to us to be. I have been studying the Revelation in depth over the past 18 months, so allow me to share some things from a different perspective.

(more…)

A Lucrative Investment

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

What defines a lucrative investment?

A Lucrative Investment

Professionals agree that with any investment there is a certain amount of risk.  Generally, the lower risk investment yields a lower and slower return.  Conversely, the higher the risk, the higher the potential gain or lose.  Conservative investors that start early in life may consider a lucrative investment to be the long term safe investment that can, over time, amass some tidy profits.  Those willing to take huge risks will either end up losing it all or become insanely wealthy.  They are the ones that understand a safe investment has limited potential and so they seek out innovative opportunities with massive potential, while they are undervalued because the majority of investors just can’t “see it”.

Just as we traverse the financial precipice making choices by what we are willing to risk, we also have social and spiritual choices to make that involve risk.  Alucrative investment in the social sense might be one that allows you to meet and greet the movers and shakers of your community or industry in hopes that their influence would reflect favorably on you.  What is the risk?  When swimming in the pond with the big fish, be prepared to swallow your pride and be treated by some as the little fish that you are.  Other forms of a socially lucrative investment could be recycling (little to no risk with benefits dependent upon how many others make the investment), or even adopting a pet (they may chew on the furniture and mess on the carpet but offer unconditional love).  The bottom line is that any lucrative investment results in ROI (return on investment).  It could be money or influence, a cleaner environment, or it could be affection or security, all tangible and measurable returns.

When we speak of spiritual investment, everything becomes a bit less tangible, and difficult if not impossible to measure.  What would the ROI of a lucrative investment spiritually look like?  How high is the risk and how great the potential return, and what is the risk of making no investment at all?

A Lucrative Investment

By looking at these things we can evaluate if the spiritual investment we are making truly is a lucrative investment.

So what exactly is a spiritual investment?  It is giving our time, our talent and our treasure to others AND to God, and its ROI can only be calculated using the biblical concept of sowing and reaping.  Rick Warren breaks the concept down this way:

There are three things the bible says about sowing and reaping:
1.    Whatever you sow, you are going to reap. If you sow criticism, people are going to criticize you. If you sow gossip, people are going to gossip about you. Whatever you sow in life, you are going to reap it back. Count on it. The good news is, this works in positive terms too. Give it to God and watch his blessings flow onto others and back to you.
2.    You will reap more than you sow every time. A farmer who plants one kernel of corn in the ground will get a stalk with eight or nine ears that have 100 to 200 corn kernels each.
3.    You always reap in a different season than you sowed. You sow in one season and then you reap the benefit in another season. You can go plant a seed today, dig it up tomorrow, and there will be no difference. But if you let it settle, slowly it will grow and produce. That’s the faith portion of the waiting period in God’s economy.

How big a harvest do you want to see in your life? It’s up to you. God says, “According to your faith will it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV).

So if we want it to be a lucrative investment, we can’t give it a half-hearted effort.

We must make it with joy and expectation… faith.  When it comes to spiritual investment, the cautious, who give little of their time, talent, and treasure will never experience that deep and intimate walk with God they long for.  Matthew 25:14-30 (The Parable of the Talents) teaches us that we are not the true owners of what we possess. According to this parable we are stewards, caretakers, or managers of that which belongs to another, specifically God.  When we grip our possessions too tightly, there is little or no sowing taking place.  Where nothing is sown there will be nothing to reap.

A Lucrative InvestmentThose who make their spiritual investment with their all will reap a bountiful harvest.  They sow a generous portion of the blessings they have received into the kingdom of God, the source of all blessings, and they do this with joy.  The time that they spend in the Word of God develops a deep and intimate relationship with Him, building both faith and trust.  Even if they do not become wealthy in this life, they will always have everything they need. They take a great risk in terms of worldly standards.  They may be mocked, tortured, or killed for their faith in some parts of the world.  They will do without so that others can have.  They will do for others rather than lavish luxuries on themselves.  They will be outcasts in the material world so many strive to be successful in, BUT they know who they belong to, and where they are going.  They have the promise of eternal life with God the Father in heaven.  By all definitions, that would be a lucrative investment.

John 12:24-26 (NKJV)
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Read that again if did not sink all the way in… the ultimate payoff, to be honored by God.

On the flip side, the biggest risk is likely making no spiritual investment at all.  If you are on my blog reading this I would expect that does not describe you, but it may describe someone you know.  We hear a lot about preaching the gospel, sharing the good news, and leading the lost to accept Christ in our “church circles”.  Sometimes it seems like there is a giant scorecard counting conversions as if that it all that matters.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it doesn’t matter, but it is not the only thing that matters.

I want to challenge you to make a lucrative investment today.  Make a spiritual investment into someone you know by helping them to understand how God’s economy works.  Help them to understand the concept of sowing and reaping, and then pray with them that God would provide them a seed to sow and fertile ground in which to sow it.  Stand with them in faith during their season of waiting, and rejoice with them when God provides an abundant harvest.

Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)
10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

A Lucrative Investment

Sowing seed into the kingdom of God is always a lucrative investment.  Reinvesting blessings received is always a lucrative investment, and one that has an ever increasing spiraling effect.  You just can’t out-give God!

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

Pastor Leonardo Diaz and His Final Act Of Faith

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Friday morning I received a shocking email announcing the death of Pastor Leonardo Diaz, District Superintendent and Pastor of the United Methodist Church in Manzanillo, Cuba.

Pastor Leonardo Diaz

Pastor Leo at the Pulpit

I First met Pastor Leo when he visited the United States and spoke at Temple Terrace United Methodist Church in Tampa, FL.  I really got to know him on my recent trip to Cuba.  Pastor Leo and his wife led the delegation that met our mission team at the Santiago airport when we arrived, and escorted us all the way to our destination in Niquero.  He was charismatic to say the least… a better description, a character!

At first, the details were sketchy.  We were told a bus collided with his car.  He and his driver were found dead at the scene, his wife was seriously injured.  It was not until Sunday morning that I received an email with more detail.  I wanted to share that message with you because it speaks volumes regarding the faith and perseverance of the Cuban people, and of the final acts of a leader who was loved by many and will be sorely missed.

Pastor Leo lived his faith and gave his witness up to the very moment of death.

The message that follows bears witness to that faith and so much more…

Greetings and blessings to all our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:

I’ve tried to write to all of you at the same time to tell you about Pastor Leonardo and Mercedes’ accident.  You may already know some of what I am writing to you but not all the details.  We were so busy and distraught with the news that we didn’t know what we were saying or doing, repeating just what we heard.

Pastor Leonardo Diaz

Pastor Leo addressing our team and the seminary students upon our arrival in Niquero

Yesterday, at the wake  in Cienfuegos, Bishop Ricardo Pereira gave more information: There were 2 cars parked on the side of the road and Leo’s car was on its proper lane. A bus passed both cars and swiped Leo’s car.  Leo and the driver died instantaneously. Mechy’s body had to be taken out from the back  since the trunk was completely sealed.

Bishop says that when they took  Leo’s body he had his Bible open on his lap and had written a paper saying “Christ loves you”. Bishop also told us that there were other writings all over the car with all sorts of promises, such as:  “Christ for Cuba”, “We want Cuba for Christ”, “All nations are for Christ”, and many more.  As Bishop talked he was crying and we were all crying with him. There were more than 600 persons at the service.  The coffin had to be placed in front of the cafeteria and near the close family members.  There were so many people that there was no room between the enormous patio y the inside porches. There were people from all denominations, friends and relatives.

Bishop divided the people of the church (Methodist brothers, pastors, leaders, Superintendents, His Cabinet) into 3 groups: One group went to Leo’s funeral, another group went to the driver’s funeral in Manzanillo, and another group was with Mechy (in the hospital).  She is under the care of a doctor who belongs to Bishop’s church and he is working directly with her.  She has someone with her at all times, informing the Bishop of her health conditions.

Pastor Leonardo Diaz

On the way to Niquero, Pastor Leo got out of the car in a terrible storm to pull the suitcases off of the car roof. Miraculously, although all of the clothing in the suitcases were soaked, the electronics we were carrying remained dry.

The Pinar del Rio pastor cried as he was giving his testimony since Leo had been with him that week preaching in his church and had been traveling with him throughout Pinar and Havana.  Later on he preached at Bishop’s church.  Everyone was crying saying that it seemed that brother Leonardo was saying goodbye to all of us.  Bishop said, “All my pastors are distraught and the brothers and sisters also”.

It rained and rained and the Pinar pastor said that it seemed heaven was also crying for Leonardo.

This morning we were told that Mechi is doing better but she has not been told yet of Leo’s death since she’s been operated on her jaw. I believe she will undergo another operation soon since the clavicle is pinching her lung and not her rib.  Her condition is serious but stable.

Brothers/sisters, the funeral was very, very large.  Cannot tell you how many buses and cars there were. Also cannot tell you how many tears of pain fell in that place, knowing that our brother Leo was gone. We were moved to see his son Luis Miguel (15 yrs old) crying by the tomb…. Everything was sad and painful.  Pastora Baby placed some flowers in his hands and he placed it on the tomb crying but he behaved like a man.  We also know that Leo is in a holy place.  What more, I imagine he’s one more of our Lord’s angels.

Well, my children and dearest brothers and sisters whom remember with much love, take care of yourselves and pray every time your leave anywhere, placing that day and night in the hands of He who created us. We cannot forget that He who made the heavens also made us.

And so I do not say “goodbye Pastor Leo”, but rather “until we meet again!”

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

 

Raised From the Dead!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

What does it mean to be raised from the dead? Is this something reserved solely for biblical characters like Jesus and Lazarus, or is it something that applies to our lives as well?

I believe that I, too, was raised from the dead, and I am not talking about a near death experience I had when I was 8 years old. I refer to the moment I accepted the promise of eternal life by listening to and following Jesus. Before that moment I was as good as dead, or already dead depending on how you want to look at it.  What I had, at best, was a potential for life. I drifted day to day seeking to fulfill the carnal desires that my unhappy shell of a body cried out for to create the illusion of a reason for being.

Moment of SalvationYes, I had gone astray, and I lusted for all kinds of things, but I loved nothing.  In one blessed moment I promised my life to Him, and He handed my life back to me, and for the first time in my life, I felt truly ALIVE!

I wonder sometimes how many others are trapped in that box, and have no idea that life truly awaits them.  I had no idea at the time that I was just going through the motions, putting on a show for the world, and professing to be something, when in reality my contribution to the world amounted to less than nothing.  But even in the state I was in, a slave to drugs and promiscuity, my life was of such value to the Creator of the universe, that He sought after me in the darkest of places to bring me home.  I had done nothing to deserve this honor, it was by grace alone.

I once heard it explained this way.  If I had a $100 bill in my shoe, all sweaty and nasty smelling, crusted up with dirt, and I offered it to you, would you take it?  Well you might hold it out at arms length, handle it with protective gloves, or or spray it with disinfectant, but at the end of the day, $100 is $100.  It still spends.  It has value even when it has been poorly treated, abused and walked on.

God sees us like that $100 bill.  He sees past the filth and stench, and values us.  By grace He understands that what is most valuable within us has no ability to function in this world, apart from His presence in our lives, and so He makes a way for us to find Him and be cleansed.  In that cleansing moment, we step out of a waking death and into living life.  In Jesus, we are raised from the dead.

Just in case you are having a skeptical moment and wondering if lynnibug went a little over the edge here, I decided to do just a little searching online to find the testimony of others who experienced a tangible, describable change in the moment they chose life over death.

Sarah D had this to say.

“It seemed that rivers of water were washing over me, and like I was being cleansed. I felt that God gave me this unique experience, because the Hound of Heaven had been after me for some time, and God wanted me to be able to hold on to this experience so that I would have it to cling to during times of doubt.”

Rob Conrad had never given a thought to what the bible was about and admits he was clueless just a week before his own salvation experience.  He responded when told of his mother’s salvation, “Saved from what?”  His salvation experience took place in the work place.  Upon retreating to his office and closing the door, he witnessed a brilliant light followed by a series of winds.  Below is but a tiny excerpt.  I highly recommend you follow the link in his name to the full version.

“God’s presence of  LIGHT  blasted my entire being as a  person might whip a  sheet  outside to shake off  the dust.   Instantly,  any trace of sin  or  guilt  in my concience  was  gone.    The intensity  and  reality of  this  incredible  blast  of  God’s  light  locked  me  into  place  as  I still  was  leaning  back in  my seat  and  with  my  eyes also  locked closed.   My  immediate  awareness of  Almighty  God  was  instantly  recognizable  to   me  as  was  His   unexplainable  nature  of   peace  and  comfort  which  overwhelmingly  saturated  me  in  an  instant….

…After all  of  this took place,  it was exactly 11:15AM  when  I  opened my  eyes.   Although  when  adding  up  the  total  time of  the  actual waves  of  glory  themselves  would  seem  to  be  maybe  10 minutes, somehow   45  minutes  had   passed.      After  just  sitting  perfectly calmly   in   my   chair  in   silence  and   in   total   awe  for  about  5 more  minutes  or  so,    I   finally stood   up  and    walked  back  into my  department,   aglow  and   a   brand   new  man  in  Christ  Jesus.”

Tazzee tells about how she sang in gospel choirs, not because she was a Christian, but because she liked to sing. Her testimony really struck a chord with me because her description of her existence prior to knowing Jesus was so much like mine.

“And when I say partying, I mean getting drunk, grinding, sexing – the whole 9. I was also quick to cuss a person out if they got in my way and my last real fight was my freshman year at Purdue.  My nickname after that was ‘Scrappy’ – so Scrappy was singing the Lord’s praises and cursing folks out on a regular basis.”

Her moment of salvation came later, not terribly dramatic until…

“I went to my first gospel choir rehearsal. We were singing this one song and I just felt overtaken! I mean I just started crying, I could barely stand up – looking back on it now, that was the moment that the Holy Spirit was truly awakened within me…   So that choir rehearsal was the point at which the Holy Spirit was awakened in me. And it was like an instant transformation.”

So I am not at all alone in having had a truly tangible transformation experience when I turned my life over to Jesus.  In fact, these three testimonies came from page 1 of the Google search results for the phrase “salvation experiences“.  There were about 10,500,000 results! I can’t wait to go read some more.

Blessings & Adventure

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

 

When Does Eternal Life Begin?

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

eternal lifeNow that is a loaded question, and one I have been pondering for about a week.  I knew what my own gut reaction to the question was, but I imagined all kinds of answers people of different faiths and philosophies might have, so I set out on a journey to see where it would take me.

The question of eternal life is at the root of mankind’s eternal questions.  Who am I?  Why am I here? Is there anything more?  What happens after I die?  Because God has made us intelligent, we are naturally curious, and it seems we are most curious about things we cannot prove.   One thing is quite certain; we do not want to die.  Even when we grow old and fragile, clinging to life is more than instinctive and it is more than fear of the death of the body.  It is a sincere desire to live on after the body has withered and died.

Almost every religion and culture has some doctrine related to an afterlife.  From reincarnation to the idea of the dead haunting the living, to a clear separation of heaven and hell, evidence that mankind has been obsessed with the idea of eternal life throughout human history.  There is biblical foundation as well.  Found in Proverbs 12:28, “Everlasting life is on the way of righteousness. Eternal death is not along its path.”  And in Psalm 133:3 the psalmist tells us “It is like dew on Mount Hermon, dew which comes down on Zion’s mountains. That is where the LORD promised the blessing of eternal life.”  Matthews gospel (19:16) records Jesus being asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

There seems no doubt that most believe that there is such a thing as eternal life, but responses vary when asked when it begins?  I did my own little survey on a site that I frequent, made up of writers and thinkers from all walks of life.  I asked not only “When does eternal life begin?” but also, how one goes about the process of acquiring it.

shelly_ramasocky responded “Immortality (or eternal life) is the concept of existing in a spiritual or physical form for an infinite period of time, infinite, meaning unlimited or immeasurable in extent of space, duration and time. It obviously is not possible to reach this biologically. (yet ?)  However, I believe that it is possible on the spiritual realm! Whether that exists prior to physical birth and extends beyond death infinitely we won’t know until we die. If we have the answer to this prior to birth; for some reason it is stripped away! … As far as the methods to achieve this; I truly believe that one has to find his or her own.  Someone who is truly seeking answers will educate themselves thoroughly on any and all denominations available and piece together something that works.”

So for Shelly the process and the timing are personal, the pieces of the puzzle may be taken from multiple sources, and it could begin prior to birth, or sometime after.  I would agree that the process is both spiritual and very personal.  Each person must find their own way to the Truth with a capital T.

onegoodwoman said, “Even while within the womb of my mother, God knew my name.  It started even before then………. Look at a wedding band… (or a rubber band, if you are a doubter)… really, do this, can you tell where it begins or ends? It is a perfect circle…………… so is life. It begins at the beginning.”

eternal deathI applaud one good woman, because her faith is so strong!  I agree with her as well, but at the same time my thoughts race… If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  Most people just can’t wrap their mind around “it begins at the beginning”.  They want something more concrete because they exist in a finite world and infinite is just too hard to envision.  If one accepts the existence of eternal death as an alternative to eternal life, then there must also be turning points.

Thesource answered, “Christians are told by their elders that life begins at conception.  I know that life began long before conception. Many have lived before the life they are in now. I also believe that life does not end with the death of one’s earthly body.  So what is eternal life if we are always life?  God has been with you, is with you and will always be with you forever and ever.  Your eternal life began when God created your soul from Himself. This was long before your conception in this lifetime. You soul knows this, but your mind does not know this.”

To Thesource I would reply that he/she sees life much as I understand love, not as a feeling or action, but rather as the stuff we are made of and meant to be.  I am not in agreement with “many have lived before the life they are in now”.  Maybe it is just my Judeo-Christian belief system here, but if life is eternal, it is one continuous life rather than beginnings and endings of separate and distinct lives.   And if I were to choose not to be what God created me to be, in other words, if I reject God and the life He offers, will He still want to be with me forever and ever?  I think that free will concept has to be a part of this discussion.

SpiritPhilosopher’s answer hangs on faith alone.  “Eternal life is NOT related to Physical, but related to Spiritual, or you can say related to the true faith in ‘God’ which is eternal or everlasting one!”

I am pretty much on the same page SpiritPhilosopher, who believes that it is by our faith in an eternal God, we may receive eternal life, and infers that it would begin when our faith takes precedence over our physical being.

I am truly blessed that I took this journey because it opened up new dimensions to the answer I initially responded with, and will share with you now.  I believe that eternal life begins when we choose it by faith, and start living it. It is the gift of a gracious God, given to the undeserving by virtue of the passion and sacrifice of the one Son of God and Son of Man.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Knowing that the choices I make today matter, and shape who I am for eternity, gives me reason to strive for wisdom to make the best possible choices, and honor the eternal God that I serve.

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

 

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