Zombies – The Walking Dead

heartbeat-clipart-clipart-best-amaeun-clipartPeople often ask if a physical heart transplant will change a person’s personality.  You’ll have to look elsewhere for that answer. Recently, we watched a show about a man who was a hired killer for a mob family. He was ruthless; so much so, that people said that he had no heart. After being in a car accident, this man would have died without a heart transplant. Because his boss was so powerful, he got the transplant quickly, but later he found out that the heart came from a young man who was known for his good deeds: serving at a soup kitchen and helping the homeless. After the heart transplant, the hired killer truly had a change of heart, nearly dying for the innocent witnesses whom he had relocated to a hidden location but now was ordered to kill by the mob family. For him, knowing the goodness of the donor profoundly impacted his life. Nice story.

While thinking about the plot, I couldn’t help thinking about our spiritual heart transplants and the parallels between the physical and spiritual.

  • Physical death is imminent without a heart transplant. People die every day waiting for a new heart, but to receive a new one, someone must die. For a born-again believer to receive a “new heart,” Someone had to die as well; and without a spiritual “new heart,” eternal death is imminent. In fact, before salvation, we are “dead in our trespasses.”

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1

  • The life of a heart transplant recipient is forever changed. Perhaps they were homebound, on oxygen, or in a wheelchair. But after the transplant, they literally receive a new life, and the change is evident to anyone who knew them before the operation. As believers, we too walk in “newness of life,” and the change is so real that acquaintances may ask, “What happened to you? You’ve changed!”

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

  • Knowing our Donor—His goodness, inconceivable love for us, His amazing power and grace—should have a great impact on our lives.

The heart is an essential organ—you can’t live without a heart. Spiritually, we cannot live without a “new heart” in Christ; however, salvation is even more than that. As much as a new physical heart enables a person to live, a new spiritual heart means that what was NOT there before now rules and reigns in our lives: the Holy Spirit! The lives we lived before salvation are, or should be, completely different from the lives we live with Christ. In fact, the change should be as amazingly obvious as the difference between a live and dead person! Like the song says:

There’s been a great GREAT change CHANGE since I’ve been born again.

New life in Christ. As much as a person can understand that he would have died without the physical heart transplant, we must realize that the same is true for us without a new heart. Hallelujah!  What a Savior! Have you gotten a new lease on life? OR does your life look more like a zombie—the walking dead?

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you;

and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.

 Ezekiel 11:19

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Leaving the Comfort of the Womb

 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.John 3:3Samuel

As I held our newest grandchild in my arms, I was once again amazed at the creation of God!  One line from one of my favorite songs says, “Creator of the galaxies—You hear the baby cry…there is none like You.”

Little Samuel can see very little. He can’t bring his own hand to the place that itches.  He would starve without the wonder of his mother’s milk.  Each little finger and toe is perfectly formed, and I read someplace that his intestines are no bigger than the lead of a pencil.   His brain, which is soaking up an incredible amount of information, cannot tell his lips to form words.  His smile is just a reaction to a good feeling, like passing those little gas bubbles. And ye he has all the capacity to become all that God wants Him to be.

Until three days ago, his normal was complete darkness.  His home was a cozy, albeit cramped, cocoon floating in water.  He rode around on his head, but it didn’t matter, because that’s the way God designed it to be.

Then, within a matter of minutes, his entire world changed.  Now he must breathe air to live and his food must be digested and leave his body.  His skin is exposed to the elements and he MUST get used to wearing clothes. He can see and touch the one whose voice was as much a part of his live as life itself.

I’ve often thought that this life is just a longer version of pregnancy.  We are on this earth for seventy years, much like we’re in the womb for nine months: we “see through a glass darkly.”  (1 Corinthians 13:14) Then, through the sometimes painful event of death, we are thrust forth into a new and totally different world!

But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!

And yet, the real reason for this post is another parallel: How much did your life change when you were born again?  Did you step out of the darkness and into light?  Did you begin to hunger for the milk of the Word?  Did you put on clothes, not only the clothes of righteousness given to you by your Savior, but the clothes of holiness as well?  And have you come to hear and see the One Who sustains your very life—the One whose voice was as much a part of your life as life itself, even though you didn’t know Him?

After just three days, I can’t even imagine Samuel back in the womb!  As I watch him flail his arms and stretch his little legs out straight, I doubt seriously that he would choose to reenter the womb.  ( I know his mother wouldn’t!)

Dear Christian, why do you long for this world?  Why would you ever go back it’s darkness when once you’ve walked in the light? Why do you starve yourself?  There is no direct pipeline from God to His creation except the Word of God. If you are a babe in Christ, allow other’s to feed you!  Learn from them and grow until you are able to feed yourself!

And dear older Christian, do remember that babies are messy!  All your shouting and looks of disapproval are completely lost on them! They cannot get it any more than Samuel would understand the admonition not to throw up on Mommy’s shoulder!  Just love them, and hold them, and care for them, and PRAY for them, and help them to grow in their timetable–not yours.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.John 3:7

Finally Home 

When engulfed by the terror of the tempestuous sea,
Unknown waves before you roll;
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity,
Though fear and conflict seize your soul.

But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory-And finding it home.

When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night,
O how lonely death can be;
At the end of this long tunnel is a shining light,
For death is swallowed up in victory!

But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!

~ Don Wyrtzen

 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God,
which liveth and abideth for ever.
1Peter 1:23

Believing vs. Embracing

Have you ever been invited to a party, such as Thirty-One or Pampered Chef?  Perhaps you knew nothing about the products which would be sold until you received a catalog or brochure introducing you to the produces, and it–coupled with the fact that it was a friend who invited you–piqued your interest.

You go to the party and like what you see–so much so, that you sign up to host a party, and then another party, and another.

Next thing you know, you are the local coordinator, traveling to seminars to learn more about the products and to gain more skills which will make you a better representative of the company. Why?  Because you loved the product.

However, at that same party, there were others who liked the products just as much as you did, but they went home with their purchases and never pursued the matter any further.  In fact, when the next invitation came, they stayed home.

What is the difference between these party goers:  believing and embracing. Both believed in the product.  Both accepted the invitation and attended the same party, but one went away unchanged while the other had a life transformation.

Do you ever wonder why some seekers seem completely unchanged even after they have professed to trust Christ as their Savior? We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.However, we see  “Christians” who still go places they shouldn’t go, say things they shouldn’t say, do things they shouldn’t do…in fact, the world looks on and says, “He’s a Christian?”

Jesus Christ is not a new purse or cooking utensil.  When we meet Him in the Word of God, we are faced with a decision.  We can believe that He is the Son of God and that He went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins; but if it stops at “believing,” we will come away unchanged, no matter how dramatic the encounter.

The transformation happens when we embrace what we believe.  We love Him so much that we can’t imagine life without Him!  And because of that love, and the joy of knowing that His precious promises are ours, we can’t spend enough time with Him.  We can’t help to tell other about Him!  We want to live a life that will please Him, no matter the cost.

You may say, “But Thirty-One became that woman’s career.”  Career is defined as: a job for which you are trained and in which it is possible to advance during your working life, so that you get greater responsibility and earn more money.  As a born-again believer, Jesus Christ is our career; however, the definition changes somewhat. Career: a life for which you are trained and in which it is possible to advance during your Spiritual life, so that you get greater responsibility and earn more treasures in heaven: aka, crowns for your Lord and Savior!

Perhaps I’ve simplified or commercialized this thought too much.  Or even worse, perhaps I’ve left out the main ingredient!  We do not “choose” salvation or embracing like we would a purse or a career.  We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19  Is it possible that too many “conversions” are man-led and not Spirit-led? And what do we do with Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen?   That has to be put into the mix. My purpose is NOT to end the year with more questions, but to stir you to consider your own salvation. As the children’s song says:

Oh, you can’t get to heaven without S-A-L-V-A-T-I-O-N!

Sing it out, loud and clear: S-A-L-V-A-T-I-O-N!

Shout it out, far and near: S-A-L-V-A-T-I-O-N!

End your year by not only believing. Embrace Jesus Christ, and begin a new year with a changed life that will change your world, for this life and the next!

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

James 2:19

Shocking Reality

FireBIGAs I observe the times in which we live, I sense almost a dread at the shocking reality of Christian beliefs.  Our times are filled with Christianity, in all shapes and sizes.  Some churches which would place themselves under the umbrella of Christianity deny that Jesus is even God’s Son.  To me, that is a shocking reality; while others pick and choose which teachings of Christ they will embrace and trash the others as archaic or irrelevant.  That is also a shocking reality.

However, the most shocking reality is the beliefs that people embrace about salvation.  There are those who feel that they will safely arrive into heaven’s domain because they belong to a certain church, or have completed a course, or have practiced a religious activity.  And then there are the myriads of humanity which have been “born-again,” and that also comes in all shapes and sizes!

Salvation: What does it mean to be saved, born-again, converted?  Of all the doctrines of the Bible, it is understandable that Satan would work the hardest at distorting this one!  What a price we pay for not embracing the whole truth about salvation!  What do I mean by that?  Read on…

Let’s say that you live in a community that has a wonderful community group, which does a lot of wonderful things.  They are very organized, not just a loosely banded group, and they require members to fill out an application.  You have attended some of their meetings, have even joined in with some of their activities, but you haven’t filled out the application.  Are you a member?  No.  When it would come time for any votes to be taken or any major decisions made, you would not be included.  Why?  Because you did not fill out the application.

You may really believe in their cause.  You may like them.  They may accept your presence happily and wish that you would join “officially.”  They may even give you the application and urge you to join; but for whatever the reason, you just didn’t do it.

Salvation:  Is it just believing in God?  If so, then according to a recent poll 74% of Americans are saved.  If you believe that, I have a great deal on some land in Florida I’d like to sell you!  🙂

Is it asking Jesus to be your Savior?  I would think that most of you would say, yes.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10: 13

The above scenario about the community group creates the problem concerning someone who purposely did not fill out the application.  The spiritual equivalent: someone purposefully no asking Jesus to be their Savior.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  Maybe you just never got around to it.  Maybe you don’t think it’s necessary.  Maybe you know the commitment it will involve and you’re not ready to commit.  Maybe you don’t believe in that sort of thing. Maybe you think your way or your churches way is good enough. Whatever the excuse, just know that there are consequences for not making that commitment – a big one called hell.

Is it possible to ask Him to be your Savior and still not go to heaven?  Yes – it’s not the words, it’s the heart.  Is it possible to really, really mean it and not go to heaven?  Yes – if you really, really mean it because you just don’t want to go to hell, but you will not admit your sin and forsake it – be saved from it, in Jesus name.  How could someone be saved from sin if they don’t want to let go of their sinful life and seek holiness?

“But I believe that God will accept me just the way I am.  That’s just your interpretation of the Bible.”   Another shocking reality: God loves each of us more than we could ever understand.  His love is completely unconditional – I can’t do anything to make Him love me more or less.  In fact, He loves us SO MUCH that He willingly sent His Son to die in our place – He, God the Father, placed every one of our sins on God, the Son – His ONLY Son!  Wow!  That’s beyond my comprehension!  And then someone will say that God would accept a person because they are good, even though they refuse to bow the knee and ask forgiveness – asking Jesus to save them?  The shocking reality is that many people think that way.  How do I know, because I see lives that talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.  There’s no sense of “God” in their lives except when they are in church, IF they even go to church.

Am I talking about sinless perfection?  No, just a heart for God, the rest will follow!  We, as born-again believers, all have a walk to walk.  God knows what it is that He wants us to do to glorify His name.  What a wonderful thought!

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to make a decision for Christ, don’t continue to ignore Him!

Revelation 22:7 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

 Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821-1902),James Martin Gray, chorus (1851-1935)

If you have never made that commitment to Jesus Christ, and you don’t quite understand what salvation is, maybe it would help to read “What is Salvation” at the top.