The Holy Spirit? What is it?

When I write, I mention the Holy Spirit often.

Recently, it has come to my attention that some of my readers don't really know what I am referring to when I mention the Spirit. What is it? Who is it?

There have been volumes of books and systematic theologies. The main difference in views is whether the Spirit is a force, or a person. To answer this question, I choose to go to the earliest source available to see what the earliest sources say.  Of course, the earliest sources are found in the books of the Bible. This is what I find in the Bible:  The Bible itself doesn't directly tell us if the Spirit is a force or a person, but it does tell us that the Spirit interacts very closely with those who are seeking and following Christ's ways on earth, and the Spirit interacts with us in ways that can be personified. 

First of all, it was also common in New Testament times that believers did not know what the Holy Spirit was, and they had to learn about the Spirit from Paul and the disciples of Jesus. In Acts 19:1-6, Paul entered into Ephesus, and he saw some followers there, and he asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"  They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit!" Paul then goes on to explain more to them. (See Acts 19 for the rest of the account.)

So today, I feel led to examine and share some verses about who -- or what -- the Holy Spirit is and how the Holy Spirit interacts with us. This should give more clarity about who -- or what -- the Holy Spirit is and does.

1) The Holy Spirit is a gift that Christians receive from God. - Acts 2:38

2) The Holy Spirit is a helper to us -- and assists us with discerning truth from the lies of the world. - John 14:15-17

3) The Holy Spirit will pray for us and intercede for us, asking God for what is best for us, even though we may not know what the best is. We can ask the Holy Spirit to be constantly interceding for us in this way. - Romans 8:26

4) God will give the Holy Spirit to all who sincerely seek Him and ask Him to receive it. - Luke 11:13

5) The Holy Spirit is always with us, and always available when we request it -- forever.  - John 14:16

6) Even if a person is not a Christian, the Holy Spirit can inflence him or her. The Holy Spirit convicts non-Christians of the severity of their sin and their need for Christ. The Bible is very clear that it is not the actual preacher, nor the evangelist, nor the minister, nor the missionary who convince unbelievers to turn to Christ -- all believers are ultimately brought to the knowledge of Christ through the interceding work of the Holy Spirit. - John 16:7-9

7) The Spirit does not "take over" an unbeliever when it convicts him or her. The Holy Spirit can be resisted or denied. - Acts 7:51

8) The Holy Spirit gives Christians knowledge and wisdom that is not based on human wisdom. The  knowledge that is given to us by the Holy Spirit is based on spiritual wisdom and spiritual truths.  - 1 Corinthians 2:13

9) A person who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot understand these spiritual truths; it often sounds like silliness to them. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

10) The power that Jesus had to perform miracles and healings -- that power all came from the Holy Spirit.  - Acts 10:38

11) Those who have a strong, unshakeable faith and confidence in the truth of Christ have received that confidence from the Holy Spirit. - Matthew 10:20, Acts 4:31

12) God's love and peace is poured into us through the Holy Spirit. - Romans 5:5

13) The wind is used as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. You can experience the Holy Spirit, even though you cannot see it.  - John 3:8

Of course, there is much more that can be written about the Holy Spirit based, but these  biblical truths above lay the basic foundation for understanding who -- or what -- the Holy Spirit of God is; and how the Spirit is with us and greatly helps us.

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I trust in ______(fill in the blank).

When times are hard or uncertain....I trust in __________ (fill in the blank.)

What is your honest response?  

Today, it feels like a good time to review the reading from this past March HERE

When You Are in a "Rut"

I have a confession to make.

Notwithstanding my best intentions to stay positive and hopeful, and to inspire others as well...

I have found myself the last couple of weeks to be "in a rut."

What does that mean, anyway? To be "in a rut?"

I looked it up; and the saying originated in the pioneer days of  the early 1800's, when the wheels of the horse-pulled wagons would literally end up in a "rut." A rut is a worn groove in a path. A definition is a long, deep track made by the repeated passage of the wheels of vehicles.

Oh yes. I'm in a rut. I'm locked into a mandatory routine of back and forth, back and forth -- to work, to appointments, to errands, to bed; and then waking up the next day and doing it all over again. Even weekends have been taken up by many unexpected "have to do's" instead of any sort of restful break.

It's stuck in the rut. Yuck.  When you are in a rut, it's not boredom -- you have plenty to do. It's not depression. It's not even "the blues." It's just "going through the motions" and finding yourself lacking inspiration.

So what to do to get out of the rut? Are there any verses or words from Christ that can help?

Here are a few truths to think upon and a few recommendations to help get unstuck from the rut:

1. Pray. Of course this will be the first recommendation. Often times when in a rut, though, you don't even know what to pray for, so you may skip a prayer time or even just "go through the motions" in prayer. Remember, however, that if you have accepted Christ, then the Holy Spirit will interceed for you when you do not know what to pray for, or how to pray (Romans 8:26-27). Try this: simply pray

"God, I'm feeling ______________ (tired, stuck, uninspired, feeling down for no good reason); and I don't know why or what to do to get unstuck in my mind. I just want to ask your Spirit to interceed for me and help encourage the change in me or in my mind that needs to happen to get un-stuck."

Then look up and review some of your favorite verses, and most importantly, grab a notebook or journal and write down the date that you prayed this prayer. This is important because you will want to look back and see how quickly this prayer is answered.

2. Plan out your day or your week to get any "unfinished" tasks you are procrastinating on done. Many times we find ourselves in a rut because we have been procrastinating. Actually schedule the time into your weekly calendar for finishing the task or project, or at least finishing a portion of it, if it is a large or ongoing project.  Then get it done. Knock out  the task that may very well be keeping you walled into your rut.

3. Next, this is even more important than #2. Look at your weekly plan and schedule in some time to do some activities that are "not typical" for you that you will enjoy. If you haven't been exercising, then schedule in a walk for an hour. If you do exercise regularly already, then do something different. Drive to a pretty park and walk or jog there, instead of just walking around your neighborhood. Go do something "touristy" in your own city or nearby town. Do something to purposefully and intentionally step out of the rut for as little as an hour. It may just be the "spark" you need to help get inspired once again.

4. Finally, be intentionally thankful. I've learned that being intentionally thankful, no matter the circumstances, seems to soothe many of life's ills. No matter what your circumstance, there is something to be thankful for, even if it is something that seems small. Colossians 3:17 prescribes, "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." The truth is, you cannot keep your thoughts in a rut and also in an intentionally thankful state at the same time. The thankful thoughts will drive out the thoughts that keep you stuck, and will leave no room for the dull and listless thoughts to take further root in your mind. If you are really having a hard time being intentionally thankful, then write down at least 10 things you are thankful for, and tape it to your alarm clock. Every morning, read that list and pray thankfulness over it before you even fully get out of bed to start your day of "to do's."

Oh, and at the bottom of that list of yours, add Psalms 107:1, and read it out loud when you get to it:

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!"

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon

How God Leads Us to Himself

Today, I want to share my notes from a video based Bible study I am currently reviewing. The study is a youth study on Doctrines, and it is a video study put together by Francis Chan. I just have to share these notes today -- because there are some encouraging, spiritual truths within them!

In Acts 17, we are taught an amazing truth, and it is this:

God designed us and designed our lives so that we would have opportunity to find Him.

Acts 17:27 tells us that God marks out our appointed times in history, and that He does this so that we may seek after God and perhaps feel our way toward Him and find Him -- even though He is not far from any one of us.

In some ways, it may be as if God has set out your life, perhaps like a maze with a series of openings and dead ends. The purpose of your life's maze is to ultimately guide you to finding Him. At times, you may find yourself in a dead end of the maze, and you may decide to just give up and camp out in that dead end. That is your choice. But God always leaves an opportunity for you to find Him; and if you truly seek Him, He will guide you to Himself.


Often, he puts people in your life to start sharing His word.

He also orchestrates events in our lives to cause us to "feel our way toward Him."

God uses difficult times to help us recognize that we need Him. When we find Him, we find something far greater than what we would have ever planned for ourselves.

When you stray from the path of God's will for your life, you may eventually remember some words that you read or that someone spoke to you. You may even remember a verse from the Bible. Or someone may share a word of truth with you.

Then those words stir something in your spirit, in your heart.

In Hebrews, chapter 4, we are told this: "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to...the soul and spirit...It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

There is certainly something different about His word -- these words in Scripture! These words are so different from our words. The words of scripture will slice right through your attitudes, like a knife, like a two-edged sword, and will get right to the core of your being, to your inner spirit -- the part of you that connects with God.

They are Living Words. Words that are God-breathed.

It is because we have the word of God, in Scripture, that we are even able to come to know God, to know what He is like, to know His promises, to know that we can depend on Him.

There truly is something  indescribable about His word.

This is why it is written in the book of Romans, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes."

The most powerful thing we can do for our spiritual lives is to read the words of the Bible.

The words explain the power of the salvation.

The words contain the power of salvation when they are believed.

The words go straight to the soul.

Help is found in the pages of scripture, help that comes from God (Psalms 121:2).

The words of God are not only truth to be studied, they are words worth living. They are living, active, and piercing words! .

"God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." 
- Acts 17:27 (NIV)

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
- Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) 

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering  Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon

How Spiritual Life is Like Bread Dough

Today, I want to share a chapter from an upcoming book to be published in is below. Enjoy!

Leaven in Flour

He (Jesus) spoke another parable to them, “ The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three specks of flour until it was all leavened.”
Matthew 13:33

Leaven, like yeast, is composed of very small, flour-like particles. Like the mustard seed, a single particle of yeast is hard to even see with our eyes. 

Yet when you add leaven to bread dough, the leaven will transform the entire portion of the dough. In this parable, the woman, the bread maker, adds a small amount of leaven to the flour. Next, she sets the dough aside for a time. After a time of hours or days, the leaven will permeate the entire loaf of dough to make it it fluffy and delicious when baked. Without the leaven, the dough would bake into a hard lump, having the consistency, and likely the flavor, of a rock. But with the addition of the leaven, the entire amount of dough is transformed into something useful, delightful, delicious, and satisfying.

The comparison of the kingdom of heaven to leaven is similar to the parables which compare the kingdom of heaven to the growth of a plant from a seed. We do not know all the scientific details as to how the plant grows, and neither do we fully understand exactly how such a small amount of leaven can transform an entire batch of dough on its own. Also, once the dough is leavened, you cannot remove the leaven. The dough is now a wholly new type of substance, with new properties. In a similar way, when a person is transformed by the spirit of God, that individual's soul is completely transformed and renewed.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is like the leaven for mankind. It was when the Holy Spirit was sent down at Pentecost (as written in the book of Acts in the New Testament), that the process of “leavening the dough of the hearts of mankind” was added to the life-experience on Earth. It was at that time that an initial reaction occurred, and it was at that time when access to the spiritual Kingdom of God became available to all mankind. Since that time (which was about 33 or 34 A.D.), the Holy Spirit, together and with the direction of God through Christ, has been transforming the lives and hearts of people all over the world. 

When you, as an individual, accepted the message of Christ, you also received the Holy Spirit as available to you as your sole “guide;” and you received your “portion of leaven!” Do you recognize, at least in part, how the “spiritual leaven” in your own life and attitudes is working? How has the spiritual leavening process changed you thus far? What areas of your life, or attitudes in your life, have you allowed to be transformed by the message and teachings of Christ? What areas of your life do you know still need to be transformed?

There will be seasons in your life during which God will allow or bring circumstances into your life in order to continue your spiritual transformation. You can allow the transformation to occur and look forward to it, or you can slow the process by resisting the promptings of the Spirit upon your life. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” Likewise, you can be assured that areas of your life which have not yet been touched or transformed by “God's spiritual leaven” eventually will be transformed over time. The Spirit will nudge you to make changes in certain areas of your life, in order to bring those areas into accordance with the will of God. When this happens, be faithful to God and to the teachings of Christ. Allow those areas of your life to change in order to be in accordance with God's will. It is worth it! The transformation often seems hard. Sometimes the transformation seems frightening or undesirable. However, I have never known anyone who has been “spiritually leavened” by the Holy Spirit who isn't delighted with the end result! Take notice of the spiritual leavening in your own life and thank God for bringing you closer to Him in the process!

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering  Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon

Building Your Faith Muscles

(Note: Today's post is a share...enjoy!)

Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely. -John Ortberg

Train yourself to be godly.  . - Timothy, in 1 Tim 4:7b (NIV) 

Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. - Timothy, in 1 Tim 4:7-9 (NLT)   

Following Jesus simply means learning from Him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit. - John Ortberg

Would you like to build your faith and your spiritual fitness? 
[Read the brief, yet powerful devotional article by clicking here. ]

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering scriptural-based classes and Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon 

Ouch! Bible Truths that Pinch the Heart

Author's note: Today's post is to share a little of what has been convicting me over the past month. It's from a verse that I have known for a long time, except it never really "got to me" until I recently read it within the New Living Translation. It is summer time too, and I admit that my brain gets a bit scattered in summer, as my family is not on its regular schedule, and I have less scheduled time to write. I think this post is reflecting some of my mind-scatter too. Enjoy!


I was reading the Bible a few weeks ago, and a verse popped out at me which has been poking on my heart ever since.

The verse is Luke 6:45. But let's look at it first in the NIV:

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 

That's the version we used in my church in the 90's. It's a little formal in the way it is written. I'm a bit of a grammar enthusiast, so I noticed that the sentence in this verse starts with a preposition and also ends with a preposition.  For me, the structure of the verse is interesting, but those prepositions are a bit of a distraction from the meaning of the verse.

So, now lets look at the KJV:

...for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 

That's even more formal, of course. It starts with a preposition also, but then ends with the ever so formal word, speaketh. It's the formal language of the 1600's. I do like it.  I still love the word "shall," by the way,  and I still use the word "shall" a lot, in sort of a fun loving manner. Shall we go out for dinner?  Today, I shall do some laundry. What shall we do this morning? I think we shall take the dogs for a walk together. I admit that I'm peculiar. I love the word shall, and I have definitely not retired it from my everyday vocabulary. I usually reserve it for use at home with my family, of course. My family members are used to it, and they often tune out much of what I say, anyway. I like the formality of the KJV. When I was elementary school age, we memorized all our weekly memory verses in the KJV.  Still, in this version, I again get distracted by the formality of the wording. This verse worded this way doesn't quite stir my spirit, yet.

Let's look at one more translation:

What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Ouch. That one pinched me right in the heart. That is direct and to the point. That is Jesus speaking directly to me in Luke 6:45!  When I read Jesus' words in that translation, I know it is truth, and that should be Truth with a capital T. Ouch!

What I say flows from what is in my heart? I can't just blame it on my current situation? I can't just blame it on being tired, or on merely having a bad day? I can't blame it on the person who provoked me, maybe even intentionally provoked me? My critical words didn't come from any of those circumstances? It's a spiritual problem? A spiritual heart problem? My spiritual heart problem?

That is personal! That really pinches!

What you say also flows from what is in your heart,  too.  Do you feel pinched now, too? Now you and I shall both feel the twinge of conviction, together.

That particular phrasing of Luke 6:45 is from the New Living Translation (NLT).  I started doing my regular Bible reading  in both the ESV and the NLT recently, and I have decided that I would like to read the whole Bible through again in the NLT translation. This translation is actually a good, modern translation, according to most Biblical scholars. It's not just a paraphrase like it was in the original Living Bible published in 1971.

Reading from the NLT has revitalized my Bible study,  and I've been able to more easily go to a "deeper level" of understanding in the scriptures without getting caught up in the peculiar grammar of some of the earlier translations. As I read the NLT, I notice a lot of verses popping out at me that I never really noticed that much before. In other words, a whole lot of verses are pinching me in ways they haven't done so before! I shall have to do something about that!

I actually like it when a Bible verses "pinches" me. Do you? In the past, I might have felt guilty, as if I could never change such deeply ingrained habits. However,  now I see it as an opportunity -- an opportunity to grow my relationship with God and get even closer to Him. That's part of what occurs in the process of sanctification.

Sanctification is the process by which God reveals to you areas you need to change in your life,  in order to live more in line with His will and purposes. When you recognize these areas and you genuinely desire to change, He, through His Spirit,  draws closer to you and helps you. These "pinchy verses" are used by God to help me see areas in my life for which I need to ask His help to improve. The benefit is that throughout it all, I am able to grow closer to Him. That is what I really want: to be closer to Him. It's worth going through the "spiritual pinches" when the result is being closer to Him.

For the next several weeks, I am going to do my best to keep this verse at the forefront of my mind. I am going to tackle a new project: monitoring my words with my family and friends,  and checking those words to help determine the true status of my heart. If I'm honest, I have many days where my words indicate I have a sick spiritual heart surrounding certain issues. I don't want a sick spiritual heart. I want a heart that flows from a reservoir of love and understanding. A reservoir that is filled by His words and truth.  I want a patient heart. I want a heart of kindness, not a heart that is mostly healthy with splotches of dark, unhealthy spots. I want a heart that inspires and encourages, not one that criticizes or wounds.

After reading Luke 6 in the NLT, I realize this: my words flow out of me as if they come from a water hose that is attached to the spigot of my heart.

Now that is an image that makes it real. Real pinchy. It stings.

What do the words that I say throughout the day reflect about the status of my heart?

What do the words you say throughout the day reflect about the status of your heart?

Ask God to help you keep this heart crisis at the forefront of your mind; ask Him to help you monitor your heart talk.

Do you have any verses that really "pinch you?"

Please feel free to share in the comments or on my facebook page here.

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering scriptural-based classes and Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon 

Quotes on Waiting for God's Timing

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. – John Ortberg

To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord, and to hope in Him.… The folly of not waiting for God is that we forfeit the blessing of having God work for us. John Piper

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. - Lamentations 3:25

Those who leave everything in God's hands will eventually see God's hand in everything. - Unknown

“As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned. That's what you call God's Will.” - unknown

To us, waiting is wasting. To God, waiting is working. - Louie Giglio

"You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will."  - Jesus, in John 13:7

"God may withhold an answer to prayer until we relinquish control of the outcome and put our complete trust in Him.”  - Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. 
 - Isaiah 30:8

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering scriptural-based classes and Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth and young adults . Link -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon 

10 Quotes for Christians Facing Difficult Times

Author's note: Today I just wish to share a collection of a few quotes and scriptures that may help to bring clarity, comfort, or compassion in these difficult times. 

"But the good Lord stood with me and gave me strength."  - 2 Timothy 4:17

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."  - Pastor Martin Luther King, Jr.

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that airplanes take off against the wind, not with it."  - Henry Ford

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you." - Isaiah 43:2

"The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them." - published in newspaper column and several magazines in 1922, original quote source uncertain

"The pain that you have been feeling cannot compare to the joy that is coming." - Romans 8:18

"The Bible teaches that true joy is formed in the midst of difficult seasons of life." 
- Francis Chan

"Faith in God involves trusting in His timing."  -  unknown, supported by Genesis 18:4,  Acts 1:7, Ezekiel 34:26

"We all want progress, but if you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." - C.S. Lewis

“From the world’s perspective, there are many places you can go to find comfort. But there is only one place you will find a hand to catch your tears and a heart to listen to your every longing. True peace comes only from God."  - Charles Stanley

Follow this link to find this blogger's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering scriptural-based classes and Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . -->  Sherry Elaine Evans Kindle Books available on Amazon 

10 Favorite Quotes from Billy Graham

I've been reading parts of Billy Graham's biography recently, and I have been reading many of his quotes.  Here are 10 that I find especially encouraging that I'd like to share, along with at least one reference of scriptural support for each of the quotes. Enjoy!

"It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict; God's job to judge; and my job to love." John 16:8, John 3:17, James 4:11-17, Luke 6:37-42

"Comfort and wealth have never enriched the world as much as adversity does."  James 1:2-4

"Christ not only died for all, he died for each."  Romans 10:9

"Heaven is full of answers for which nobody ever bothered to ask." 1 Corinthians 2:9; Romans 8:18

“We say to our children, 'Act like grown-ups,' but Jesus said to the grown-ups, 'Be like children.' Matthew 18:3

“World events are moving very rapidly now. I pick up the Bible in one hand, and I pick up the newspaper in the other. And I read almost the same words in the newspaper as I read in the Bible. It’s being fulfilled every day round about us."  Joshua 21:45, Isaiah 55:11, Ezekial 12:25, Matthew 24:35

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”  Ephesians 2:10, Phillipians 1:6, John 3:30

"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys."  James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

“Believers, look up – take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.” Psalm 91:11, Hebrews 13:2

“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God."  Ephesians 4:22-24

Follow this link to find the author's books and writings available for Kindle, and some in paperback, on If you see something you would like to read, please know that your purchase as low as $2.99 goes directly to support the author's ministry, a ministry focused on encouraging genuine revival in the hearts of God's people, and delivering scripturally-based classes and Bible-based "in-depth" studies for youth in grades 6-12 . -->  Author's Kindle Books available on Amazon

Faith is Really Hard....Until You Get Past the Pull Back (A tap dance metaphor)

My 14 year old daughter loves dance. "I mean, she really loves to dance -- not "boogie dancing" on the dance floor - but learning and developing the very precise, classical dance moves associated with ballet and tap.  She spends more than 8 hours a week in the dance studio. If you asked her what her favorite style of dance is today, she would assuredly answer "tap."  For the past two years, she has even competed in tap dancing in the Houston area, and has won three first place regional champion titles.  Yes, my daughter can tap. Tap dancing is easy for her.

But it didn't start that way.  In the beginning, three years ago, she wasn't sure she was going to like doing tap at all. It was hard. She would leave her tap class frustrated and upset. A few times she came out of class to tell me that she thought her teacher was frustrated with her. She would tell me she "was the worst student in the class." Sometimes she would say she was intimidated by her teacher.

Now, here she is, 3 years later. She loves tap. Now she tap dances in competitions, and she has won three championship titles. She also dances on a competitive tap team, and this year her tap team was nominated for an IDA award for tap. That means that out of all the tap dance teams in the country -- her team was recognized as having one of the top choreographed and executed routines. What a transformation! Of course, now she loves to tap, and she tells me that she knows her tap teacher (the same one who was frustrated with her during that first year) is very proud of her and her accomplishments. Any frustration between her and her teacher is gone.

As we were driving home from the dance studio last week, I was remembering how far she had come. I asked her, "Do you remember how much you struggled that first year in tap? What changed?"

And her response was this: "Well, tap is very, very hard, get your 'pull backs.' After that, it is easy. I went from being one of the worst students at the program, to being one of the best."

For some reason, what she said has stuck with me all week long: "Tap is very hard, until you get your 'pull backs;' after that, it is easy." That sentence has been replaying in my head numerous times this week; and today I woke up and figured out why.

My daughter's journey with tap dance may be likened to a metaphor for the Christian's spiritual journey.

For those of you who don't know what a pull back is, here is a quick video. (The main demonstration is from 1:00 to 1:30, if you would like to skip the introduction in the video!)

So, in the words of my daughter, those "pull backs" are the stumbling block in tap. They are the point of frustration. They are the skill that causes every novice and intermediate tap dancer to doubt themselves. Sometimes learning the "pull back" can even bring frustration between dancer and teacher. The novice dancer, or even the intermediate level dancer,  may even consider quitting tap altogether. They may leave the program. They may leave their teacher.

So how does this relate to the Christian's spiritual life and his or her relationship with God? If you have overcome a major stumbling block in your walk with Christ, then you  may fill in your own blank:

Following Christ was hard, until _____________________. Then it was easy. After that, I received so many spiritual rewards. After that, trusting God was easy.

For me, I can write this:

 "Following Christ was very hard, until I finally just gave in to Christ's teachings. Until I finally decided to submit to what God placed on my heart to do through my conscience --  regardless of my own rationalizations and my own desires. After that, the spiritual rewards which came made it much easier to continue to follow Him. "

See, I called myself a Christian for over twenty years. But I had a number of "secret, small sin habits" in my life that I was engaging in. I now know that these habits were my "pull backs." For me, the sin habits involved how I was spending my free time. I won't go into details on this blog, because I don't want the description of my sin habits to be a stumbling block in assisting you to identify what your "pull backs" are.

In general, I had some habits that most people would probably not even consider to be sinful on the surface. But I knew in my heart that God wanted me to give those habits up.  However, I didn't want to give those habits up. I even talked back to God, and rationalized that the habits were helpful and necessary in my life in order to reach my life goals. I ignored God's promptings and struggled, frustrated with God, My Teacher -- for 8 years. My pull back was this:

I needed to stop the rationalizing of doing things my way,  and I needed to start following God's instructions; I needed to start submitting to His promptings in my conscience; and I had to trust and follow in Christ's example for me.

Once I finally just made a strong, conscious decision to  submit to God's promptings on my heart,
Once I finally just gave in and gave up, and consciously decided to do what my conscience was whispering to me to do,
Once I ultimately and purposefully fell to my knees and told God --

"Okay God, I am going to quit these habits. I am going to quit them immediately and completely. With your help I am going to stop those habits, and I am choosing to change for only one reason -- not because I want to quit -- but because You have revealed to me that it is not what you want for me. 

I am just going to trust You, believe your word, and follow You -- no matter what. I am going to stop practicing my 'pull backs' in the way I think will work. I am going to submit to You and to what you place on my heart to do. I am just going to give up my way, and I'm going to do life the way You show me. Not because I really want to; but because I choose to trust you."

Then everything spiritual in my life just became easier.

That 8 year long season of life was my "pull back."

I can now say that faith was really hard for me. Following Christ was really hard for me, until I got past that "pull back" maneuver. It took me 8 years to conquer that pull back. Now trusting God is so much easier. 

So what is the "pull back" in your spiritual tap dance?

What is the skill you need to develop, or the stumbling block you need to overcome, or the sin in your life you need to release --

-- in order to experience a transformation from a "faith is hard" attitude to a "faith is easy" attitude?

You too can transition from a ho-hum Christian life, to the life of a spiritual champion in the spirit of Christ -- but first -- you must submit to what He places on your heart. And the decision to submit is just that -- a conscious decision to get over whatever is hindering you. It is a conscious decision to conquer your "pull back."  

Whatever is in your life that is hindering you from conquering your spiritual pull back...just choose to let it go...with the help of prayer, Godly mentors, and relying on His spirit...just choose to let it go.

Believe me, I know that conquering your spiritual pull back will be hard. I just admitted that one of my pull backs took over 8 years to conquer. However, now, when faced with a new pull back, it is so much easier for me to not struggle, and instead to remain focused in My Teacher's (Christ's) instructions. Your first spiritual pull back may be very hard, but afterwards, your faith, your trust, and your desire to  following Christ will be so strengthened that following Him becomes more like a familiar spiritual dance routine that you have mastered.  And your reward for mastering this spiritual dance routine may not be a worldly trophy; but it will certainly be something so great in your spirit, that you can hardly even describe it.

I can try to describe it like this:

Immense peace, even in times of difficulty.

Immense happiness, even though your happiness is defined differently than how the world defines happiness. Others may see you and not even realize how much at peace and happiness you are. It is not of this world.

Immense security in who you are as a child of the Spirit of the Lord -- as if every cell in your body vibrates with the Spirit of the Lord, as His word and wisdom literally vibrate joy into your soul.

So with all I have to to encourage you -- I strongly recommend that you stay with Your Teacher until you conquer those pull backs!

With His help, conquer them!

You will never regret it!

You will never want to go back to your "pre-pull back" days!

I would like to end today's post with a few wonderful Billy Graham quotes and two verses from the Bible:

“God never takes away something from your life without replacing it with something better.” - Billy Graham

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” - Billy Graham

“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God." - Billy Graham


Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 
- Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!
- Romans 6:1 (ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness... - Galatians 5:22

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God's Promises to Claim #2: You Are to Stop Wallowing; and Find Freedom in Following....Him

There are many people these days teaching that a Christian can "claim" a blessed and prosperous life from God. Although many of these teachings are false and potentially destructive spiritually, we should not overlook the fact that God does indeed make many promises to us, and we can indeed claim them with full confidence. Today, I want to remind you of a second, genuine, in-context, promise of God that is waiting and ready to be claimed.

If you confess your sins with a truly repentant heart, He will fully forgive you.

I can hear your thought response, again. "Yes, I know that. I learned that in Sunday School in Kindergarten. Or I learned that on the first day of Christianity 101. Certainly you must have found something in your "promises of God" theology with more insight that that!

And yes, there is more to grasp than just that! Grasp this! When God forgives you; He fully forgives you!

Do you know what fully implies? Do you know what it truly means for you?

The Bible tells us that not only does He forgive you, but He remembers your sins no more! And that is a promise. A promise you can claim. Now of course, God can remember your sins, as He is all-knowing and not forgetful; but instead, He purposely chooses not to remember your sins.

"And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins."  - Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)

Notice that God spoke this in the future tense. He was speaking of the new covenant that would be in place after Christ's death. So yes, this is a genuine promise we can claim. 

The Bible also tells us this:

"He has removed our sins as far from us  as the east is from the west."  - Psalms 103:12

Again, this is a genuine promise of God we can claim.  If we authentically confess and repent of our sins, then He will forgive us. Fully.

And this means -- that you are no longer required to punish yourself in your own mind. 
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I will go so far to say that if you are continuing to commiserate, to replay past events in your mind, or to mentally punish yourself over sins you have truly confessed to Him - then you are actually not in line with God's will for you in that particular thought place in your life. 

Because if God is choosing to forget your past sins; and if He is choosing to set them apart from you as far as the east is from the west...

Then it is not God who is causing you or wanting you to replay those past events in your mind

We cannot be our best for Him if we are wallowing in past regrets -- regrets that have already been forgiven.

Think of a loving parent and a child. The child is careless and accidentally breaks his mother's favorite vase. The child realizes what he has done and realizes it happened due to his carelessness. The child realizes he has caused this, and he starts crying and is truly sorry, and cries out, "I'm so sorry mommy; it was my fault; I was so careless, I'm so sorry!"

And his mother forgives him. Completely.

Now, do you know what that loving mother will do if that child keeps crying for hours or days over what he did? Do you know how frustrated she will become if that child takes an hour every week for the purpose of commiserating over the broken vase? What will she do if her child keeps coming to her, multiple times a month over the next 3 to five years and keeps re-apologizing and tells her how he so wishes things had been different on that day, the day he broke the vase due to his carelessness?

That mother is going to tell her son. "Listen to me. Stop this! I forgave you as soon as you demonstrated you were truly sorry and would be more careful in the future! It is actually frustrating to me that you keep bringing this issue up and apologizing for it over and over. It has been three years now! Do you not understand how much I love you? Do you not trust that I actually forgave you? This actually saddens me, because you seem to believe that I am still holding a grudge and wanting to punish you for that past. Why are you spending an hour every week, or even a minute every week, dwelling on this past broken vase? Your commiserating is not good for you; and it is not good for us! I now command you child, to let these guilty, wishful thoughts go and to no longer dwell on them!  It is not what I want for you! It is not what I desire for you! It is not my will for you! It is not good for you! Let it go! For your own future, let it go! Live in the blessing of knowing you have been fully forgiven, and of knowing I have chosen to forget about it."

I think that simple little story should illuminate why -- just as the mother does not want her son to live in such a manner -- it is not the will of God for us to similarily wallow in past regrets.  As Paul exemplified, the will of God is for us to choose to forget "what lies behind" and reach "forward to what lies ahead." (NAS)

And just in case you think your past sin was so big that you are an exception, remember what Paul's sin was. Murder. Hate crimes. Paul later went on to say that he knew he had been one of the worst sinners in the whole world - even the worst of all!  (1 Timothy 1:15) But Paul goes on to say:

But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. - 1 Timothy 1:16 (NLT)

If Paul could stop dwelling on his mega-sins, then you can certainly stop punishing yourself for losing your temper last week. Or for a past dependence on alcohol. Or for past promiscuities. Or for past infractions of the law.  Or for whatever is in your past that you just have to keep bringing to your mind -- whatever it is that replays in your mind and tells you, "I am not worthy because of what I did." You can just let that go. God wants you to let it go.

The will of God is for us to no longer dwell in thought of guilt about our past after we have repented.  This is a promise we can claim, a genuine promise we can claim, based on the very nature of God.  And if this is true, then it must logically follow that if we continue to wallow in past guilt over things we have authentically confessed and repented, then we are actually choosing to camp out outside of God's will in that area of our thought life. 

You are free to stop replaying past events in your head. You are free to stop feeling guilty. You are free to forget what is past and to move ahead. This may not be a promise of earthly wealth. But spiritually and psychologically, it is truly a greater promise.

When you grasp this truth -- it will set you free in your mind. Stop feeling guilty for the past -- when you have repented of it -- and use that time instead to build your relationship and your purpose that is within God's will for you. Let it go, completely,  just as God separated it so far from you that you cannot measure this distance. This is a truth that you can know; this is a truth that will set your mind free -- fully free -- to dwell on where He wants you to go.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 
-John 8:32

A Key Question for Handling Life's Problems

Do you know that there is one question you can ask yourself to know if you are solving a personal problem in a manner that is within God's will for you? 

Answer: No matter what type of problem you may have, there is one key question you may consider to determine whether or not your decision about how to handle the problem is a good one.

Is the way I am handling this problem bringing me closer to God, or not?

 If the action you take is one that brings you closer to God, then you can be assured that you are still walking in His will for you.

"Those who have reverence for the Lord will learn from him 
the path they should follow." Psalm 25:12

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The Resurrection - From Fear to Faith

Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds of people not to prove himself great.
He rose to prove that there is more to our lives than these years we spend on Earth. 
He rose to give the disciples -- and us -- strong evidence, so we may keep a strong faith. 
The fact that he rose gives authority to His teachings, because....
He knows all about spiritual things, and we do not. 
He knows about eternity and what is to come; and we do not.
He knows about how what we do now affects what will happen in eternity; and we do not. 
So we look to Him and His teachings to calm our fears and to give us answers.
If death is not the end, then what is there to fear? 
True faith in Him will always starve all your fears. 
Happy Resurrection Day friends! 
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For Easter, My Respectful Explanation as Why Jesus Really is the Only Assured Way

This post is one of my longest thus far. It probably should be two posts. Personally, however, it drives me crazy when I'm reading a really good blog article and then I have to wait for Part 2 the next day or the next week. So since I wish to treat others as I would like to be treated, I have decided to post it all at once -- all 3700+ words! Enjoy! And please share with other Christians, so that their decision to choose Christ may be strengthened. And also share with others who may not be Christians, because they have a right to know and decide for themselves about what history, philosophy, and logic teaches about their spiritual options!

What do you think happens after you die? Do you believe in an afterlife? Do you believe in heaven?

Or do you believe that after death we are just done, ceasing to exist?

If you don't believe there may be an afterlife or a place called heaven whatsoever, then I suppose that you stumbled here by mistake or by curiosity.  You may be merely curious as to what the majority of Americans believe, and why. Whether you believe in heaven or not, you may still be interested in some of the facts here in this article.    

A recent pew research report indicated that, as of the end of 2014,  67% of Americans still  believe in heaven as a real place, regardless of what religion they identify with. However, there is much disagreement among this 67% of people about how to get to heaven.

Let's take a look at what Americans believe, and compare that with what the major world religions teach about heaven and how to get there:

 Out of the 67% of  Americans who believe in heaven:

45% say there are "many ways to heaven"; while

53% say that heaven is through Jesus Christ alone.

Then, when asked more specific questions:

41% said that people who have never heard of Jesus can still get to heaven; and

30% said that people will have another chance to follow God even after they die.

First, let me cut right to the chase.

I know what you may be wondering:  "What does this writer believe?  I can sense it coming. Is she going to tell us that Jesus is the only way to heaven? What a closed minded and potentially hate filled message!"

No. It is more complicated than that. So please allow me a few minutes so I can fully answer that loaded, complicated question.

This is a question that became very important to me during the years that I considered myself an agnostic person. See, I am not really the type of person who can approach spiritual topics with a “whatever” attitude.  I am not able to just say, "Oh whatever. Some of those ideas are right; some are wrong, and we will never know.”  I'm the type of person that wants to figure it out! I want to research and learn and make the best decision I can. And if possible, I want to know the truth! And if not possible, I want to make the best decision based on the potential rewards and potential consequences, and based on the most thorough research and information available.

I also believe that making decisions about spiritual things is important for everyone. Yet I also try to be respectful, and I don’t force others into discussions they do not wish to have.

So,  do I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven?

My answer is a well researched response: When looking at all the options, all the major religious belief systems,  and all the major philosophies that people follow in this world,  there is only one that teaches an assured way to get to heaven.

I often hear people perpetuate this idea: "I think all religions lead to heaven." These people haven't done their research. There is only one religion that teaches a secure way to heaven. A more accurate statement would be,

"Many religions teach a method for attempting to get to heaven.  Only one teaches an assured way, a certain way, to heaven."

Christianity is the only religion that teaches that there is an assured way. This is one reason why Christianity calls its message "the good news!" The gospel!

Later in this article, I will briefly outline the major belief systems of the world, and what each one teaches, or doesn't teach, about heaven and how to get there.

First, however, allow me to respond to another tough question that often arises:  Do I believe that if a person doesn't accept Jesus before they die on earth, that he or she will go to hell?

My answer for that is this: not necessarily. The research here is not as clear cut, because I base my answer on research through Christian Scripture, and the Scripture doesn't say for certain nor with specificity that "anyone who dies on earth must believe in Jesus before they die their physical death, or they will go straight to hell." Paul, in the book of Hebrews writes that "It is appointed for man to die once, and then there is judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) However this statement is a bit obscure. He doesn't specifically say that the judgment mentioned in Hebrews 9 is a final judgment. Nor does it say that the judgment occurs immediately within seconds of dying. The Bible is also not 100% clear about whether there is one judgment or two judgments.  Truthfully, as the pew research report discovered, there is much confusion and disagreement between Christians about what specifically happens after death. 

Here is what we do know: Jesus didn't provide a detailed, step by step process about what happens after death. No flowcharts explaining the afterlife were provided.

Instead, Jesus just focused on what we need to do in the "here-and- now", in order to be assured of heaven in the here-and-now. Jesus didn't deal with questions about "what if this happens" or "what if that happens.”  Jesus always "cut right to the chase" and emphatically told us what we really needed to know.

Here is what Jesus clearly taught:

·         There is a heaven, an afterlife within a spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of God.

·         There is a hell, which is an afterlife that is lived in eternal punishment, apart from the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:40-46).

·         The only way to have present assurance that you will go to God’s kingdom in heaven, is through believing in Jesus.

There is no doubt that Jesus taught those three things. The gospels are clear on those three basic points.

I do believe that Jesus is the only way to God's kingdom in heaven.  I do believe that everyone who goes to heaven will enter by the way of the Spirit of Christ.  However, I do not know what that process is going to look like for every individual soul.  Furthermore, it's not my place to decide – nor is it anyone’s place to try to decide for another individual what their fate is going to be.

I'm not going to even waste time trying to hypothesize "what if this" or "what if that." I'm just going to cut to the chase and tell you what various religions teach and what Christian Scripture clearly says and does not say. You can draw your own conclusions from there. (Meanwhile, I will pray that God's spirit draws you to His truth as you are deciding things out for yourself.)

Do I think that some people who follow other religions while on earth will be saved and ultimately go to God's kingdom in heaven? Yes I think it is possible that some, and possibly many, will go to heaven. It is God through Jesus who will ultimately judge that person's soul and decide. He is the judge for ALL and that is why He is the only way. (John 5:21-23).  It may be a last minute, "death bed," recognition of who He is. Also, there are some scriptures that may lightly suggest (emphasis on the word lightly is important) that there may even be some sort "passing through" second chance period, or that there may be some type of chance for forgiveness after death. (Matthew 12:32). However,  there is no clear assurance anywhere in the Christian Bible, that there will be a second chance for everyone or anyone after death.

Is a second chance after death possible? Yes.

Is it probable? We do not know. Personally I don’t think it is worth the risk.

Is a second chance certainly guaranteed? No.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me." But, notice carefully that Jesus did not say that "You must believe in me for a certain period of time, with obedience, while on earth in order to be able to go to the Father, and if you don't meet those requirements you are certainly going to eternal punishment." He never said anything close to that. It seems that some Christians think that is what He said. Or even more accurately, some Christians act as if that is what Jesus said.

In fact, the parable of the servants and their pay clearly suggests that those who accept Christ late in life will receive the same reward as those who accept him early in their lives. (Matthew 20:1-16)

Jesus said,  "For God so loved the world, He sent His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life." That is the famous John 3:16 verse. These words aren't just a verse in the Bible. These aren't the words of Paul, whose teachings are so oftentimes controversial these days.  These words are the very words of Jesus himself!  These words provide assurance of salvation and going to heaven, God’s spiritual kingdom, based on belief in Jesus.

Might you be able to go to heaven another way? 

However a person gets to God's kingdom in heaven, it ultimately will be through Jesus. You may be on a different path for most of your life. But if you then end up in God’s kingdom, it is because your path diverted along the way and you ultimately ended up in heaven through God’s grace through Jesus.  

Do you have to make the decision right now in order to go to heaven?

The truth is, if you are still alive and haven't met your judgment day, then you still have some time to figure this out. Of course, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow (but we don't like to think about that, do we?)

Do you have to make the decision before you die a physical death?

The Bible isn't 100% clear on this. Personally, I wouldn't recommend waiting to find out. Such an experiment is too risky. Why would anyone risk it? Are earthly sinful pleasures worth risking it? Is one's pride, or one's fear of being wrong or of being mocked, worth risking it?

I would say it's not worth the risk -- but the important question is -- do you think it is worth the risk?

And from the rational, logical perspective, that is the question that everyone who doesn't believe in Christ or in the afterlife must answer for themselves: If you are not on the path towards Christ, then is the path you are on worth the risk of what you could lose if you are wrong about spiritual things?

I can't answer that for you. It’s a personal decision,  but you may want to mull over it for awhile.

I know there are many different personalities in this world. I know there are many people who would read this and say, "I'm going to risk it!  I'm going to bet that I am going to get a second chance later; so I'm going to put this sort of deep-thinking off for now. I'm busy." Yes, some people are going to hear the message and they are going to take a risk that, if Jesus is true, they will get another opportunity at a later date to make up their mind. However, they have no present assurance of going to heaven. They may go there through Christ eventually, but there is no present assurance for them. 

Others are not going to want to risk it; they have such a personality that they cannot risk it! They are going to decide either right now or very soon that they are going to accept Jesus and what He taught.

Others, like myself - have had such a personal testimony and a personal revelation of Jesus -- that we become evangelistic.  We believe this decision is the most important any soul can make because it has eternal, spiritual consequences.  We are the ones who are going to teach, and preach, and blog, and write about this very issue -- so that all may have the opportunity to know the good news: that there is a way to be assured of heaven.

Some preachers still do scare unbelievers. They want unbelievers to make the decision immediately, "Right now" they say, "lest you die in a car accident on the way home."  But  Jesus didn’t scare people like that. Jesus explained spiritual truths. Then he just moved along to the next crowd or the next town. His methods were genuine and respectful.

So here are three basic generalizations on heaven, gathered from a review of all the major world religions and belief systems:

1)Out of all the religious wisdom and reported spiritual revelation in all of human history -- there are many ways that are taught by which a person can attempt to get to heaven.

2) Out of all the religious wisdom and reported spiritual revelation in all of human history -- there is only one that reveals an assured way to heaven.

3) That assured way is this: Recognizing and admitting that Jesus Christ is who He said He was. The Son of God. The Way to God.

I consider myself an open minded person. With that said, I do not believe that scientific knowledge is the only true knowledge. I believe, for example, that philosophical knowledge, historical knowledge, and knowledge gained through logical reasoning are just as valuable as scientific knowledge in learning what truth is. So, if millions of people in this world are believing and teaching, "You must accept Muhammad and his teachings or you have no chance of heaven;" and if millions more teach "Follow the ways of Buddha to reach Nirvana,"  I'm going to at least explore what they say. I’m not just going to assume that I am right and they are wrong.  I'm going to at least read what Muhammad and the Islam religion actually says. I'm at least going to research and learn about the basic teachings of Buddhism.

I'm going to research it for myself. I'm not going to say, "Well, my parents say that Muhammad is false, so that is what I believe." I'm not going to think, "Well, Buddhism originated in the sixth century B.C so it must be an ancient fable -- no more to see here!" Likewise, I'm not going to think, "There is a recent book published by a prominent atheist that says God is a delusion, so that must be true. " After all, for every book written that says “there is no God;” there are at least a thousand that say, “There is a God; and He gives good news!” No, I recognize that each belief system is an opinion based on a limited selection of facts and knowledge, and  I want to know – are all of them true? Is one of them true? And if so, what are the implications?

But I've also discovered that I am unusual. I'm weird because things like television shows bore me; and instead, I stay up late and ponder these things. Most people aren't as critical or as skeptical as I am. They will just believe whatever their friends believe, whatever their parents believe, whatever their favorite celebrity believes, or whatever their favorite scientist believes. Or  most of the time, they will just believe what they want to believe, based on their thinking over the issues for less than an hour or two. Because we are all busy, right?

So, once again, do I believe Jesus is the only way?  Yes; however, I'm not sure what that is going to look like for each individual. I do believe that whether you choose to believe Christ, or Christ chooses to choose you (John 5:21-23), then ultimately, yes He is the only assured way.  The Bible tells us that genuine belief in Jesus is the assured way.

All other religions and philosophies do not provide an assured way. 

What, you ask?

Don't Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims all have their own assurance of heaven too? No, they don’t. So don’t tell me that all religions lead to heaven, if those religions themselves don’t teach a certain way to heaven.

Let's look at what other belief systems teach:

Athiesm - Yes, atheism is a belief system in itself.  Atheists generally do not believe in God or an afterlife. They believe that humans are nothing more than a physical system (no spiritual parts, no soul, no eternal consciousness). Atheists believe that when you die, you and all your thoughts merely cease to exist. Obviously then, there is no assurance of heaven in Atheism. (By the way, science has now practically proven that consciousness continues to exist after physical death, but that is another post for another day.)

Buddhism - Buddhism generally teaches that you have to master a set of precepts of "understanding the universe," as well as rightful living and right intentions. By doing so you can reach a state called "Nirvana” which is a state of being reunited with God. There is no assurance to any Buddhist, however, that this state of "Nirvana" will ever be reached.

Christianity  - Christianity is the only religion or belief system that provides assurance of heaven.  Christianity teaches that all humans are sinful, and therefore, incapable of ever being fully reunited with God on their own.  Christianity teaches that there is nothing man can do to reach heaven on his own. Christianity believes that God sent Jesus to us to teach us about God, His Kingdom, and about the afterlife. We can be assured of our salvation, and assured of going to heaven, by believing Jesus. We can trust Jesus is who He says He is; because He demonstrated His God-given power and authority through numerous miracles and through His resurrection from death, after which he appeared to many people and ultimately sent the Holy Spirit to us. Once we believe in Christ, our souls are invaded by the essence of the Spirit of God. We are changed internally; and, if given enough time on earth, we will become more Christ like in our thoughts and actions over time. The change to becoming more Christ-like is never mastered in this lifetime. (This is why we Christians so often look like a bunch of hypocrites.) Most of us experience this internal change, usually, as a very slow process over a number of decades. However, Christians trust that our experiences in life are ordered by God in such a way to teach us spiritual lessons, so that we ultimately desire to be more like Jesus.

Hinduism - Hinduism is similar to Buddhism. You have to rid yourself of all bad intent (bad karma) in order to be joined with God.  Again, there is no assurance you will ever be able to do this, so therefore there is no assurance of heaven.

Islam - Muslims believe that they must obey Allah (their God); and that their good works must outweigh their bad works in order to go to heaven. They engage in daily religious prayers, go on religious fasts, go on pilgrimages, and other traditions, believing that those practices will help to outweigh their bad works. In general, Muslims do not have assurance of heaven or hell. They don't know where they are going until they are judged by Allah.  However, Muslims do believe that there is one assured way for them to get to heaven: by dying as a martyr for Allah.

Judaism - Jews teach about "being reconciled to God" through repentance of sins, through devotion to God, and through doing good deeds.  Judaism doesn't have any clear teachings on heaven or an afterlife, so there is really no concept of "assurance of heaven" in Judaism.

Roman Catholicism - Catholics are Christians, although many do not identify as such. Traditional Catholicism teaches that a person's soul must have faith in Christ, and they must complete certain acts to be purified in order to enter heaven. If a person dies without completing the process of purification, then they go to a temporary place called purgatory, where they will go through a process of further purification. Once fully purified, their soul will go to heaven. In Catholicism, if  a person rejects Christ in their soul, they will go to hell. I personally do believe that Catholics are Christians and are saved and do have assurance of heaven; because the essential requirement of belief and acceptance of Jesus has been met for them.

Agnosticism - Agnosticism isn't a religion in itself. It is a belief system that basically says, "I don't know. I'm not sure. I haven't made my final decision yet.” Usually, agnostics are leaning towards atheism at the time that they profess agnosticism. I actually really like most agnostics. I was agnostic for about three years. These people, whether they realize it or not, are still doing "soul-work." Many agnostics who do the research and do become Christians end up becoming great earthly leaders for Christianity, because they have researched and know the answers and have responses for the toughest questions and the greatest criticisms of the faith.

There are also more religions and philosophies, such as Wicca, Unitarianism, New Age beliefs, and Scientology. Again, none of them offer an assured way to heaven.

Personally, if the assurance of heaven could be available to me, I want to know about it.  I want assurance of heaven, and if I can have assurance during this lifetime, then I want it! I don't want to risk it by trying to take any other path or philosophy to get to heaven, especially since none of the other ways actually provide any assurance. None of the other philosophies teach that the essence of God himself came down to earth in the form of a man,  in order to give us hope and assurance that we are saved for eternity.

So why would anyone believe that "all religions teach that being a good person will certainly get you to heaven."  None of the other religious thought systems even claim that for themselves!

In other words, how can anyone say that "all religions lead to heaven;" when the actual teachings of all the other religions don't even guarantee entrance into heaven?

So after that very lengthy explanation, my answer again is definitely this: 

Yes – out of all the world religions and philosophies, Jesus is the only way that has been revealed as an assured way to heaven. 

And for the logical, rational, seeking person – that is what this weekend, Easter weekend, is truly all about.