Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is appearance everything?

On the radio the other day I was listening to one of my boring talk shows. I'm a dork but I love them. More importantly I was listening to a atheist's show. He consistently makes me angry when he gets on his soap box about religion, for some reason I continue to listen anyway. Well the other day he had a couple of ladies on his show that were trying to slap him into believing in God. We all know that never works. He then asked the age old question, "Will there be good people in hell and bad people in heaven?" Unfortunately I didn't like their answer for him and almost violated my cardinal rule - only listen, never call. They of course continued their all non-believers are stupid approach, which as some of you know makes me just as angry. Think about it, would Jesus insult someone in an effort to get them to follow him?

Well this event made me think of the story of the fig tree. It is a great way to answer the host's question. Yes, there will be good people in hell and bad people in heaven. In Matthew 21: 18 -19 Jesus (to his disciples' amazement) condemns a fig tree to never bear fruit again. Why did he do this? Well first we have to understand a little about the tree. During the off season a fig tree not only does not have fruit it does not have leaves either. This tree was bearing leaves but when Jesus looked for fruit it was not there. Jesus was using the fig tree as an example that merely appearing faithful is not good enough.

You see there are many who go through life living morally sound. On Earth they are well respected and our true pillars to society. Some even claim to be christian and believe in Jesus Christ and I'm sure they do. Remember even the Devil believes in God. Appearance, however, is only deceiving to those of us on Earth. You not only have to believe, you have to trust in the Lord as well. Lay down your life to him as he laid his down for you. My brother's favorite message to give (and its a good one) is that faith is nothing without works. James tells us that we must back our faith up with works. The works are what help us bring others to Christ. The fig tree is showing us that the works are also nothing without faith. Jesus is not interested in appearances, he is interested in what you believe in your heart. That my friends is faith. If you continue to read the passage Jesus tells the disciples with faith you can do anything, without it you can do nothing. There are many good people without faith and it is up to us with faith to provide good works so that they will also have eternal life. Without that there will be many good people in hell and as a Christian that hurts my heart.

There are many people that live a life that is not so morally sound. They may steal, murder, lust or any number of things. They struggle with their addiction to sin. They go through life living for themselves instead of the Lord. However, when it all comes to a breaking point and they can't seem to move forward. They come to the Lord, lay at the foot of the cross and plead for his forgiveness. We have a loving God and he does so. From that point forward they turn over their life and their name is written in the Book of Life. However, here on Earth we still label them as "bad". Those bad people will be in heaven and as a Christian that pleases my heart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Just thought I would share a funny story. You should all get a good kick out of this. In my last blog I mentioned getting into trail running. Last weekend my friend Jimmy gave me a little taste of that. He took me up to Raccoon Mountain and we met one other runner and hit the trail. It was awesome. Great views, good running and just an all out good time. So this morning I decided I had to do it again.

Well running on a trail is not so hard when you have somebody who knows the trail telling you where to go. Today I set out on my own to run part of the Cumberland trail on Signal. It was only 2.8 miles from my house so I just ran to the trail head. Then I was going to run a 2 mile trail and then from the other end back to the house. All in total about 7.5 or 8 miles. Since it was only 2 miles of trail I studied the map online and thought to myself no need to print it out I'm not going far. Ignoring all the warnings of the trails not being marked well. You may see where this is going.

So I started out on the trail and everything was going fine. The trail followed along the edge of the mountain bluff over looking the Tennessee River Gorge. The view was amazing but the trail was a little rougher than the one on Raccoon Mountain. No big deal except I was running along and noticed that I didn't see trail markings anymore. I looked all around and didn't see any markings. That's when the panic suddenly set in. Below me a huge slope down to the river, behind me forest and the same in front, and above a rock wall of about 15 feet high.

I thought, well if I just keep going the trail should pick back up. I knew it followed along the gorge. However, the briers and fallen trees just got more numerous. I finally came to a spot where I could climb up on top of the bluff and look around. However, when I got up there (and here is the funny part) it was somebody's back yard and their friendly dog (yes luckily he was friendly). So I thought well I could return to the woods or run through the yard up the driveway and get on the road. I chose the second option. Luckily it was early enough that they were not awake yet. I was only lost for about 20 minutes but that seemed like an eternity when I was thinking of all the stories you here about lost hikers.

When I got back to the house and told Jessica the story. She first gave the generally accepted compassion by saying I'm glad you are alright and you found your way out. Then she followed up with what could be the best five words of relevant advice, "Next time, take the map."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A must read

In my blog links you have to click on "Out of the Box, The Survey Says". I can't say it better myself.