What We Shall Be

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

Across the street from my home there is a 300-room hotel going up. When the hotel is opened, occupants will be able to look down right into my living room windows!

Because of our continual rainy weather, the 5-level building is covered in plastic so the work can go on. Once in a while, the construction workers will move the sheets of plastic and I’ll get a peek at what’s going on underneath, but most of what the hotel will be is hidden for now.

Early Christians were troubled when their saved friends and loved ones died. The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage and comfort them, explaining why believers don’t mourn over death like the unsaved do. The Bible’s great funeral text says that death comes with hope (1 Thess 4:12-18).

When a Christian dies, his spirit immediately goes into the presence of God in Heaven (2 Cor 5:6, 8). His body goes into the grave awaiting the resurrection of all believers, when mortality is transformed into immortality. In the resurrection, the body will be reunited with the soul and spend eternity in fellowship with God (John 5:29). At the same time, the bodies of living believers will be transformed and also rise to be with Christ in Heaven.

Like the hotel being constructed underneath the plastic, we don’t know everything about these resurrected bodies, but we do know a few things.

For the child of God, your resurrected body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (1 Cor 15:49-53). After His resurrection, Jesus ate food (Lk 24:42-43), and could touch and be touched (Jn 20:27). He had flesh and bone, but no blood (Lk 24:39) and was not bound by time or space so He could appear and disappear (Jn 20:19; Lk 24:31). More importantly, we will be made like Jesus in character, free from sin and the affects of sin.

For now, the details of these bodies is hidden from us, like the hotel across the street. To go beyond Scripture is to go beyond God, but we know that when Jesus returns, and we see Him as He is, we’ll be made like Him. Until then, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).


The Parable of the New Suit

Monday morning always felt early for Martin. He dragged himself out of bed and into the shower, out of the subway and onto the sidewalk, out of the elevator and through the office door. This morning he already had a new client waiting for him.

He looked over the paperwork on his desk and then made some preliminary observations about the client. Male. Early 20s. Straight teeth. No tattoos. No needle marks. Homeless, but somebody’s son. Martin had grown tired of the same clientele day after day, but something about this young man was different. He would treat this man differently.

Martin took the client into the dressing room and began the search for the perfect new suit. “It really is the suit that makes the man,” Martin said. White shirt with spread collar. Navy suit with a modern skinny cut … Perry Ellis would look great. Most important was the necktie; two-inch, solid black. He worked carefully to ensure that the tie reached down just over the top of the belt buckle. His client looked like a million dollars. Perfectly perfect! As they said in Martin’s business, “Fit for a funeral.”

Hair trimmed and styled with a barely noticeable touch of makeup, his client was ready for the debut. It wasn’t often, but today Martin was proud of himself and his work as he wheeled the young man in the coffin into the Hearse.

A dead man is still a dead man no matter how he’s dressed.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord  (Romans 6:23).

The Parable of the Snail’s Tale


Herbert and Hobart were twins. Almost.

They’d spent every minute of the three months of their lives together. They liked the same things, did the same things and went to the same places.

Every morning when the sun came up, Herbert opened his eyes, moved to the bright pink wheel in the center of his home, and began running around and around and around.

Hobart would wake at the same time as Herbert, only he didn’t have a wheel, he’d just move to the edge of his house and swim around and around and around.

The two best friends, a hamster and a goldfish, kept busy going. They had so many places to go and things to see in their little world.

One day as the two brothers were making the circuit around the world, Hobart noticed something odd outside his glassy home. He stopped swimming to stare. Herbert stopped running in his wheel and tumbled to the wood shavings on the floor of his home.

“Hey, what’s up?” the hamster protested as he turned to see what his twin was so interested in.

Hobart ignored his brother and rose to the top of his fishbowl. Taking a big gulp of air he called out, “You! On the wall! What are you doing?”

The snail on the wall stood still in his thin trail of slime. Turning his antennae, he saw the two twins on the table, each peering over the edges of their glass houses.

“I didn’t see you fellas there. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Solomon and I’m on my way up the wall to the window. I’ve dreamed about a big-wide world out there just waiting to be discovered. More snails than I could ever imagine. This adventure has taken me three days so far, but I’m on my way. See, I spend the day climbing up the wall and then each night I slide down a bit, but I’m certain to reach the window sill in a few days.” Solomon couldn’t resist adding, “Then the world’s my … oyster!”

The twins looked at each other and sneered. “Up the wall.” They both laughed simultaneously, Hobart’s gills choking on a wave stirred up from laughing so hard. “That’s nonsense! A world waiting to be discovered. We’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do.”

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).


The Sign Reads: Resurrection Taxidermy

Resurrection Taxidermy

The sign on the little building near my home reads: Resurrection Taxidermy. Taxidermy is the art of taking the skin of an animal and arranging it over a form to make it appear alive. While the outside of the animal is forever preserved, it’s not living. It’s only an illusion of life.

The Christian doctrine of resurrection isn’t the rearrangement of skin over a lifeless skeleton.

When Jesus died, His body was buried (Lk 23:50-56). Three days later, His spirit returned to the body that was in the grave and that body returned to life (1 Cor 15:42-44). This is resurrection: when the spirit returns to the body.

The same body of Christ that entered the grave came out of the grave (Lk 24:39-40). His body, still sporting nail scars in His hands and feet, and a spear wound in His side, is the body that came to life (Jn 20:26-29). It is the body that Jesus still has, and is the body He will return in one day.

The Bible says that we all, the redeemed and the wicked both, will be resurrected one day to spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell (1 Cor 15:50-55; Rev 20:11-15).

Jesus said, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of the condemnation (John 5:28-29).


I’m the Sexiest Man Alive

Jesus said to them, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

If I claimed to be . . . ohhhhh, let’s say . . . the sexiest man alive . . . at some point I’d have to either put up the proof or give up the fantasy.

Let’s also say that a group of children became my social media fans and took to devoting their lives to me.  Soon parents, the public school system, and the federal government determine I need to be stopped. I’m arrested, put on trial, found guilty, and scheduled for death.

By this point one of three things would happen: I’d either change my story and admit I’d made up my claims, everyone would know that I’m mentally insane, or people would accept my testimony as true.

Jesus didn’t hide or run away from the claims He made about Himself. In fact, he was tried, convicted, and then executed for His claims. He never walked back His claims. His press secretary never suggested, “Oops! Did He say He was the Messiah? He meant ‘Carpenter’.”

Accepting Christ means accepting who He claimed to be. Who did He claim to be? Almighty God, the Creator, in human flesh! “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).


We Need More Miracles

Growing up in a Pentecostal church, I heard it said that we needed more miracles. Miracles were the bait to convert the lost.

The Bible tells of a lame man healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Acts 3:6). This healing coupled with Peter and John’s preaching about Jesus caused a great stir among the people. The Jewish leaders were so upset that they arrested Peter and John.

The facts of the case were undeniable. The Jewish leaders seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it …. “a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:14, 16). They also knew by what power the man had been healed, for they commanded the Apostles not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).

The fact that a miracle occurred in the name of Jesus could not be argued, but the facts led to persecution rather than revival. The leaders knew Peter and John were speaking under the power of the God of Israel, but that didn’t convert anyone; it hardened the hearts of the unsaved even more.

Dead people do nothing but lay in their coffins. They can’t believe, no matter what miracles they see or what facts confront them. No one dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) can be converted unless the Holy Spirit first brings him to life through new birth. Miracles only harden the already hardened heart. Remember the miracles Egypt’s pharaoh saw?

It was the courageous and un-compromised preaching of Jesus by the Apostles that encouraged believers and brought conversion of the wicked. It’s not irrefutable facts or miracles that bring the lost to Christ, but the Spirit of God working through the preaching of the gospel.

God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14).


In Remembrance Of Me

Pastor Phil was a tall, broad-shouldered man who liked to laugh. One Sunday night I asked him why, if God saved people by grace, he said people needed to work up their faith and repeat a prayer to be saved. To me, this seemed illogical, like self-works to earn salvation.

In his typical good-humored way, Pastor Phil smiled and laughed. He put his finger to his lips, thought a moment, then said, “That’s a good question.” That ended the conversation.

My pastor always talked about being saved by grace, but then he added a bit more of our own efforts.

The Lord’s Supper is a pictorial reminder of God’s saving grace. When Communion is served, the words of Jesus are repeated: This do in remembrance of Me (1 Corinthians 11:25). These words are a gentle reminder that salvation isn’t in remembrance of Richard plus Jesus. It’s not in honor of anything we’ve done or brought to add to Christ’s own work.

Salvation is, and has ever only been, by God’s grace through faith in Jesus alone. There’s not one stitch of us involved except that we receive the finished product of redemption. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift of God’s grace.

Communion is a frequent reminder Jesus left with us that salvation is all about Him. It is by His grace that we have eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of Heaven. We partake of the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him: what He began, what He did, and what He finished.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).


God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Speaking of God, the Bible says: You have broken the teeth of the ungodly (Psalm 3:7).

We were reading the Bible together before leaving home for work. My wife read Psalm 3 where David calls out to God for deliverance from his enemies. She paused after verse 7, then said, So much for the people who say that God loves everyone and has a wonderful plan for their lives.

Having God knock out all your teeth snarled in anger isn’t a wonderful plan, unless that weakness brings you to repentance from ungodliness and sin. God does have a wonderful plan of eternal life, but that wonderful plan is limited to those who believe upon Christ Jesus.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).


If You See a Crowd

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Daniel and I were invited to a baseball game this past summer. It was a scorching 100-plus degree day, and after finding our seats, I left Daniel and went to buy 2 Cokes. I got in a line that looked like it led to the refreshments. About 10 minutes later I realized I was in a line for the bathrooms.

No one is ever born a Christian, raised a Christian, or becomes a Christian by accident. Eternal life is found and only a few ever find it.

Think a moment about 3 of Christ’s words in Matthew 7:13-14: narrow, difficult, and few. Those are stark words.

More than 8 of 10 Americans claim to be Christians. We see churches filled with people on Sunday morning, some by tens of thousands of people. I heard a pastor say he could get anyone saved in just 10 minutes. Anyone.

How does this match those 3 words of Jesus: narrow, difficult, few?

Salvation isn’t for those desiring an easy entrance into Heaven while walking their own pathway. Christianity isn’t for those looking for health, wealth, and a prosperous life here on Earth. Jesus isn’t an add-on to our lives; rather, He makes all things new. Christ Jesus is for those who are spiritually helpless, who mourn over their sin, and hunger and thirst after a righteousness only He provides (Mt 5:3, 4, 6).

God’s way of salvation is quite simple: trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sin.

There are many people on the broad and easy road, yet God’s way of salvation is so narrow and difficult that only a few ever find the Gate. So if you see a crowd, you’re probably on the wrong road.

Many are called; but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).


The Ark of His Testimony

Revelation 11 begins with a scene from the earthly temple of God and moves to the temple of God … in Heaven where John sees the ark of His covenant. In the heavenly temple, the ark of His covenant is a reminder that God’s promise of salvation isn’t about us, what we deserve, or our religious rituals. Salvation is about the covenant promise God made and fulfilled in Himself.

The word ark means chest or container used to store something precious.

God had Noah build an ark. Into that ark God sent two of every kind of animal with Noah with his family. Of special note is Genesis 7:16. When the ark was finished, the Bible says those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him, and the Lord shut him in. The Lord shut Noah, who was precious to Him, into the safety of the ark.

About 900 years later, God had Moses build a small box known as the ark of the covenant or the ark of the testimony. The ark symbolized God’s presence among His earthly people Israel (Num 10:35, 36). Once a year the Jewish high priest sprinkled sacrificial blood on the ark to symbolize God’s covering of their sins (Lev 16:2-16).

Inside this ark were three precious symbols of God’s covenant: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments revealing the will of God, Aaron’s dead walking stick that came back to life and budded, and a jar of bread from Heaven called manna. None of these symbols were man-made. God made them and they testified of Him.

Today we understand that the ark of the covenant symbolized Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9) and He testifies to the character of the invisible Father (Jn 1:14, 18).

As our Prophet, Jesus perfectly delivered and fulfilled the Word of God that we break (Mt 5:17). Our our Priest, He didn’t offer a sacrifice but gave Himself as a Sacrifice, His blood taking away our sins, then was resurrected to forever minister on our behalf (Heb 4:14-15; 7:24-25). As our King, He provides for us eternal life, feeding us with Himself, the Bread of Heaven (Jn 6:32-35).