final regrets / no regrets

Larry Tomczak looks at deathbed declarations of both non-Christians and believers

Deceased MLB All-Star: Avoid my fatal flaw

Do you know somebody who smokes? Maybe someone in your church, circle of friends or simply a companion at school or work? Out of compassionate concern, consider passing along this commentary to him or her.

Rush Limbaugh, iconic broadcaster for over 30 years, used to joke about his “formerly nicotine-stained fingers” as he continued smoking only cigars. After a valiant fight against lung cancer, Rush passed away recently. He was one of my heroes and a brilliant instructor to about 30 million people via his daily three-hour radio program.

As late night comedians desperately struggle to draw an audience, the three talk-show hosts gather anywhere from 1 to 2 million viewers. This pales in comparison to Johnny Carson who drew over 9 million nightly on “The Tonight Show.” Johnny smoked (even on-camera) and died a horrible death of emphysema. Prior to passing he said, “These things are killing me.”

One of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time died not long ago at the age of 54. Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn hit over .300 for 19 consecutive seasons, something only the legendary Ty Cobb had accomplished.

Before passing away, Gwynn recorded a video message appealing for people not to follow his example with tobacco. It most certainly was the cause of his death from cancer. As a result, All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg vowed to quit his nicotine habit!

When the time comes for your grand finale, have you ever pondered what you would say? There is merit to reflecting on this opportunity and also to making some important decisions now, to exit with no regrets.

Dying Declarations

Examine some of the sad statements left by those who led lives apart from an authentic saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Music legend Kurt Cobain of Nirvana blew his brains out with a shotgun after writing he was a “miserable, self-destructive, death-rocker … hateful towards all humans in general.”

Freddie Mercury was the “star” of the Academy Award winning film “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the flamboyant front-man for the rock group “Queen” (a male homosexual). The gay glam rocker was said to have the greatest pure voice in rock ‘n’ roll history. His life of narcotics and debauchery caused Elton John to declare, “He could out party me!” Freddie died of AIDS and was in excruciating pain when even clothing touched his skin. His parting statement is best captured by the title of his final video, “These are the days of our lives.”

Actress Joan Crawford rebuked her housekeeper who began praying as Joan was dying: “Damn it … don’t you dare ask God to help me!”

Lecherous Henry VIII pleaded for spiritual support in beseeching, “All is lost! Monks! Monks! Monks!”

Occultist Aleister Crowley shrieked, “I am perplexed! Satan get out!”

Pop megastar Michael Jackson desperately pleaded for more of the drug Propofol, on which he fatally overdosed, “More milk!”

An archenemy of Christianity, Voltaire, when begged by a priest to renounce Satan, declined, saying, “This is no time for making enemies!”

Frank Sinatra, who “Did it My Way” with his Mafia ties, serial affairs, lavish escapades and four wives, succumbed sorrowfully, uttering, “I’m losing,” then breathed his last.

Comedian W.C. Fields, when asked why he was reading the Bible on his deathbed, commented, “I’m looking for loopholes!”

Christian Contrast

Celebrate the final statements of Christians like George Washington who said, “I am not afraid to go.”

Scientist Michael Faraday declared, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough.”

Forty years ago, a Christian leader who was very influential in my life spoke on a college campus and was asked this question in closing out his evening session: “Sir, if you had one message to leave with us before you depart, what would it be?”

The nationally known leader was shortly thereafter killed in a tragic car accident. Decades later the response he gave these students still reverberates in my heart. It’s a great sayonara statement worthy of emulating.

“If I had just one sentence to leave with you as I exit tonight it would be this. My life is my message!”

What Will be on Your Gravestone?

Billy Graham once was asked what he wants on his tombstone. He replied, “He was faithful. He walked in integrity.”

The similarity to the other leader is striking. Both men were committed to practice what they preached. Authenticity was their core value. Shouldn’t it be the magnificent obsession of every one of us?

Time to Decide

One day as we lie on our bed ready to pass “through the valley of the shadow of death,” may those gathered around us affirm that our words were authenticated by our lives.

“The years of a man’s life are threescore and ten, or by reason of strength fourscore” (Psalm 90:10). Moses penned those words thousands of years ago, and they remain true today. He went on to say, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (v. 12).

God equates wisdom with the stewardship of our days on earth. Are you wisely investing your time for His glory? Are you living a sincere life that draws people to Him? Observers know if we’re the real deal. Do you pass your days with eternity in mind, ever conscious of life’s brevity?

The Brevity of Life

“The shoes you tie in the morning can be untied by an undertaker in the evening.” Not long ago an acquaintance veered off the road and immediately entered into eternity. He was in his early 30s.

I’m not being morbid but simply challenging all of us to identify with the words of the departed leader who speaks through the corridors of time: “My life is my message.”

Is yours? And if you are falling short, are you ready to make any course corrections including ending any habits that are harmful to your life, family and friends?

There are two Sauls in the Bible. One’s exit statement was a pathetic, “I have played the fool and have erred exceedingly” (1 Samuel 26:21). The other’s was a triumphant, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Which Saul reflects your life and the legacy you’ll leave? Determine today that “when your time comes,” your life will have truly validated a genuine relationship with Jesus.

Here’s the deal: As countless millions watch the annual MLB All-Star Game Tuesday, would this be an opportune time to reflect on the brevity of life and respond to the deathbed declaration of Tony Gwynn? Has the time come to get serious and surrender your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? It’s not an accident that you’re reading this today.

Source: Deceased MLB All-Star: Avoid my fatal flaw

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Lessons From a Man on the Run

Jonah 1

Have you ever tried to run from God? Most of us won’t try to escape physically by fleeing to another place, the way Jonah did. But we’re experts at ignoring God’s commands, distracting ourselves with busyness, and offering an alternative plan in place of full obedience. No matter how we rationalize and excuse ourselves, rebellion leads only to pain and suffering. 

While running from the Lord, Jonah overlooked some essentials that we should all keep in mind. He incorrectly assumed that fleeing would be a way to avoid obeying God, but the Lord is not deterred by our attempts at manipulation. As David once wrote, He’ll pursue us even to the “remotest part of the sea” (Psalm 139:9).

Jonah also overlooked the fact that disobedience will, figuratively speaking, bring a person down. But notice that the reluctant prophet actually experienced this in a more literal way as well: After initially going down to Joppa, he proceeded down into a ship, and ultimately found himself plunging into the depths of the sea (Jonah 1:15).

Running from God is futile—there’s no hiding place because we are always visible to the Lord. So instead of trying to flee His presence, we should welcome it.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 5-8

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Growing in God’s Grace

Bible in a Year:

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

2 Peter 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Peter 1:3–11

The English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) lived life “full throttle.” He became a pastor at age nineteen—and soon was preaching to large crowds. He personally edited all of his sermons, which eventually filled sixty-three volumes, and wrote many commentaries, books on prayer, and other works. And he typically read six books a week! In one of his sermons, Spurgeon said, “The sin of doing nothing is about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others. . . . Horrible idleness! God save us from it!”

Charles Spurgeon lived with diligence, which meant he “[made] every effort” (2 Peter 1:5) to grow in God’s grace and to live for Him. If we’re Christ’s followers, God can instill in us that same desire and capacity to grow more like Jesus, to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge . . . self-control, perseverance . . . godliness” (vv. 5–7).

We each have different motivations, abilities, and energy levels—not all of us can, or should, live at Charles Spurgeon’s pace! But when we understand all Jesus has done for us, we have the greatest motivation for diligent, faithful living. And we find our strength through the resources God has given us to live for and serve Him. God through His Spirit can empower us in our efforts—big and small—to do so.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

How are you making every effort to grow more like Christ? What will help you in this endeavor?

Loving God, help me to be diligent to live for You in all I do and say. Thank You for enabling me to do so through Your Spirit inside me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – A Living Sacrifice

“Offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Every faculty you have is to be used for God’s glory.

In Romans 12:1 Paul pleads with believers to present their bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice, which is an appropriate and acceptable act of worship. But as someone has rightly said, the problem with living sacrifices is they tend to crawl off the altar. That’s because sacrificial living demands spiritual discipline and constant dependence on the Holy Spirit. We as Christians aren’t always willing to do that.

According to Paul, the motivation and ability for self-sacrifice are found in the mercies we’ve already experienced in Christ. In Romans 1-11 he mentions several, including love, grace, peace, faith, comfort, power, hope, patience, kindness, glory, honor, righteousness, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, security, eternal life, freedom, resurrection, sonship, intercession, and the Holy Spirit. Because you’ve received all that, you should gladly surrender every faculty you have for holy purposes.

“Body” in Romans 12:1 also includes your mind. Verse 2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” A transformed mind is the key to transformed behavior.

Prior to your salvation, you had neither the desire nor the ability to make such a sacrifice. But because you are a new creation in Christ, you are not to “go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but . . . as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13). One practical implication? Abstain from sexual immorality. Know how to possess your own body in sanctification and honor (1 Thess. 4:3-4).

You are a holy priest, and your priestly work begins with presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice. Is that your desire? Are you a faithful priest?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His bountiful mercies toward you.
  • Commit this day to Him, asking for the grace to live a holy life.

For Further Study

Read Romans 6.

  • What choices do you have as a believer that you didn’t have as an unbeliever?
  • What is the benefit of being God’s slave?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The New Life in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

— 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

It’s so amazing to realize that when we give our lives to Christ, He takes us just as we are and in exchange, gives us His nature, making us a new creation. It’s just the beginning of a lifelong journey we take with Him to become everything God created us to be.

In this process, God doesn’t give us a list of rules to follow and then stand on the sidelines watching us fail, but He gives us a new heart and then helps us do all that He has given us a desire to do.

We can learn to depend entirely on Jesus to give us right standing with God and to help us do what is right in His sight. We can form the habit of leaning on God in all things.

The cardinal guideline for the Christian who wants to be what God wants him to be is, Apart from Me… you can do nothing (John 15:5 AMP). Abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine, continually receiving new life that produces new growth.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me see myself the way You see me, as a new creature in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –God’s Hand in Your Life

Forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to observe the hand of God in our own lives? Should we not look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before?

We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He performed all His mighty acts and showed Himself strong for those in the early time but does not perform wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favors? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “who satisfies you with good,”1 has He never filled you up to overflowing? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls produce music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures forever.

1) Psalm 103:5

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Word Is Your Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

How can you rejoice in the Lord always? Sometimes life might seem too difficult for you to be happy. However, you can always rejoice in God’s Word. David, the man after God’s own heart, found great delight in God’s Word. David calls God his “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4). He says, “I will delight myself in [God’s] commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:47), and “let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77). David found so much delight in God’s Word!

But what about you? How can you rejoice in God’s Word? The first step is obvious: Read it! Read it, looking for how great and amazing God is on every page. Read it prayerfully. Read it as God Word to you, and then talk back to Him in response – speaking right back to Him! Few people truly delight in God’s Word, and most of them do not even try to delight in it. Do you ever read because you have to? or because you think you ought to? You should read God’s Word as much as you can because you love it! You should not be able to get enough of it! You should want more and more time with God, just as a deer longs for the water brooks! (See Psalm 42:1.) Pray about it; ask God to help you love His Word more.

You can live joyfully because you have God’s eternal, unchanging Word, and because you have a great God. No matter what happens, you can, and should, always rejoice in the Lord. Rejoicing in God’s Word isn’t all! There are all kinds of things to rejoice in. Look in the Bible to see what else God has given you to rejoice in. Learn to delight in God’s Word as David did, and say with him “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). Rejoice in God’s Word!

Rejoice in God’s Word.

My Response:
» Have I spent time reading God’s Word today?
» What did I learn about God today in His Word?
» How can I rejoice in the Lord today?

The post God’s Word Is Your Joy appeared first on EquipU Online Library.


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Denison Forum – Teen raised $38,000 for cancer research by cutting off his 19-inch Afro: Why I disagree with Philip Yancey on culture and grace

Kieran Moïse has always been known for what the Washington Post describes as “a stunning Afro that stood high and wide above his head.” For the last six years, he has not cut or trimmed it because, as his mother explained, “he really hated haircuts.”

When Kieran was accepted to the Air Force Academy, he knew he would have to cut his now nineteen-inch Afro. He lost a close friend to cancer when Kieran was in the eighth grade. So, he decided to make his hair cutting into a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and donate his hair to Children With Hair Loss, a Michigan nonprofit that provides free human hair wigs to children and young adults facing medically related hair loss.

Both plans came to fruition. His hair was mailed to the children’s hair charity, and the fundraiser ultimately brought in more than $38,000 for St. Jude’s. Kieran is now at the Academy, where his mother says, “He’s going to do great things. I have no doubt.”

Pete Davidson is getting his tattoos removed

One of the ways God redeems all he allows is by using past suffering to make us more sensitive to present needs and future opportunities to help others. The loss of Kieran’s friend to cancer led him to do what he could for cancer patients. When we use our suffering to serve, we become what Henri Nouwen called “wounded healers.” And our story touches more lives than we may know.

Here’s another example in the news: comedian Pete Davidson is getting his tattoos removed. He says the process is incredibly painful and will take another two years to complete.

He teamed with smartwater to promote last Monday’s first-ever Rehydration Day, a day dedicated to getting Americans rehydrated after the July 4th holiday weekend. As a result, he made a video in which he had arm tattoos lasered off while confessing, “I’ve made a lot of questionable choices, and a couple of them need removing.” Then he added, “Now I’m trying to make smarter choices, hydrating with smartwater and stuff like that.”

When we recognize our “questionable choices” and use them to serve others, our humility earns us the right to share a positive message. If we follow Jesus, such compassion born from his grace enables and empowers us to share that grace with the world.

Presbyterian denomination takes stand on homosexuality

However, part of sharing God’s grace is standing against decisions and deceptions that harm those we are called to serve.

For example, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) recently adopted Overture 23, a statement that those who “profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘Gay Christian,’ ‘same sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) . . . are not qualified for ordained office.” The overture, which was approved overwhelmingly 1,438–417 on July 1, explains that such an identity “undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires . . . or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations.”

The chair of the committee recommending Overture 23 stated that it is not intended to exclude Christians who are gay but remain celibate. The overture must still be approved by two-thirds of the denomination’s regional presbyteries and then again by a majority at the General Assembly scheduled for next year in Birmingham, Alabama.

One pastor who spoke in favor of the overture called it “most consistent with the gospel—and because it’s consistent with the gospel, it is by definition compassionate.”

I agree with that pastor and commend PCA leaders for taking a biblical stand on such a pressing cultural issue. Not everyone would agree with me, however.

Why I disagree with Philip Yancey

Bestselling author Philip Yancey was asked in an interview with Religion News Service, “If you could talk to evangelical leaders right now or to people in the pew, what would you tell them?” Yancey, perhaps best known for his insightful book What’s So Amazing About Grace?, stated: “So often the church seems more interested in cleaning up society, you know, returning America to its pristine 1950s. That’s the myth we have—we are making America pure again, cleaning it up.”

He added: “Jesus lived under the Roman Empire, Paul lived under the Roman Empire, which was much worse morally than anything going on in the United States. They didn’t say a word about how to clean up the Roman Empire, not a word. They just kind of dismissed it.”

Yancey then called us to “remember why we are here. We love people, we serve, and we show them why God’s way is better. Let’s concentrate on that rather than tearing people down or rejecting them or denigrating them in some way. We’re here to bring pleasure to God. I believe we do that by living in the way God’s Son taught us to live when he was on earth.”

I appreciate Yancey’s reminder that we love people by serving them. But I disagree completely with his belief that Jesus and Paul “didn’t say a word about how to clean up the Roman Empire.”

Jesus’ earthly ministry did not extend beyond Palestine, but he addressed specifically the hypocrisy of the religious leaders (Matthew 23) and the urgency of serving those in need (Matthew 25:31–46). Paul’s ministry did extend throughout the Empire; he addressed directly the sexual immorality and other sins of his day (cf. Romans 1:26–321 Corinthians 6:9–101 Timothy 1:8–11). And don’t forget that John the Baptist was martyred for opposing the sexual immorality of Herod the tetrarch (Matthew 14:1–12).

As Yancey notes, part of loving people and serving them is showing them “why God’s way is better.” However, God’s way includes sexual purity (cf. Matthew 5:281 Corinthians 6:181 Thessalonians 4:3–5Colossians 3:5) and holy living (cf. Galatians 5:19–262 Corinthians 7:1Hebrews 12:14).

William Wilberforce’s “two great objects”

As we have seen today, we serve others best when we do so out of humility that recognizes our own weaknesses and compassion that empowers us to seek their best. Then we will pay any price to impact our culture with God’s transforming word and grace.

William Wilberforce testified, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”

What “objects” has God Almighty set before you?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado – The Inside Track to Peace

THE INSIDE TRACK TO PEACE – July 9, 2021

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. Rejoice in what he has accomplished. Rejoice that he is able to do what you cannot do.

Fill your mind with thoughts of God: “He is the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25). “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “His years will never end” (Psalm 102:27).

He is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, an overlord of all history. An arch of his eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute! Every throne is a footstool to his. Every crown is papier-mache next to his. He consults no advisers, he needs no congress, he reports to no one. He is in charge.

Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace. Others see the problems of the world and wring their hands. We see the problems of the world and bend our knees.

http://www.MaxLucado.com