I was brought up in a Christian home so that got me started.
On April 15, 1979 I heard the most compelling sermon I'd heard in 60+ years and if you are interested, I'll share it with you.
This sermon was preached by Pastor Del McKenzie at the Alliance Church in Grande Prairie, Alberta and recorded "live" at that time. I got a copy of that original tape and digitized it Feb. 2011. Pastor McKenzie gave me email permission Feb. 2011 to "without a doubt, use that sermon in any way you wish. Anything good in it is by the grace of God."
The file is large; 25.8Mb and it runs for 28 minutes. You can download it
This is an MP3 file. You can play that or burn it to an "Audio CD" and play it in any CD player, e.g. in your car.
If you are not sure how to burn an "Audio CD" then see "Burning an Audio CD" further down this page.
One person who listened to that sermon wrote back to me and said:
"Hey Ken, I listened to it, interesting.
There are a lot of fictional characters that people think are historical figures. Huck Fin, Robinson Crusoe, etc.
There are people who have been abducted by aliens.
Now, I'm not saying that I don't believe that Jesus was here at one time, and that he died and rose again, but I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I'm quite sure I believe that, but sometimes I'm not sure I do.
People who are brought up in non-Christian homes must have a harder time than I do. You and I were brought up to believe in God, and that the earth is round. But if you haven't heard about Jesus from the beginning, it must be hard to get your head around it.
I don't know if what I said makes sense to you, but I do spend time trying to convince myself that there is a God, and he is all the Bible says he is.
I dare you to try even harder to convince me, I really WANT to believe.
And there's more, if you want to go to Heaven, believing is the first step only. I don't know if anyone, except a VERY select few that is worthy of Heaven. The way I hear tell, you almost have to be Mother Theresa to get there. When I think about it, even if I tried, I don't think I could be 'good enough'."
My son David spent some time on this and came up with his views on it:
"I'd say you are heading in absolutely the right direction. But it's worse than you think - much worse. NOBODY is worthy of heaven. Even Mother Theresa isn't worthy. And no matter how much we try we simply can't be good enough. The bible says our best attempts are as good as filthy menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6). The language there is purposefully pretty strong. It's point is clear: In ourselves we don't have the capacity to ever be 'good enough'.
Jesus came to be our substitute. He came in order to take that very filthiness onto himself for us. In our place. God heaped his wrath on Jesus, our substitute. The most unfair act in history. Him for us. We didn't deserve it, we didn't ask for it - he simply chose out of love to become that for us. The bible calls him the second Adam. The first Adam sinned and brought sin into the world and his sin became a thorough stain on humanity that each and every one of us prove out day by day in all its obviousness. Jesus, as the second 'Adam', came and his perfection was accounted to us. It doesn't make us perfect, but it makes us in God's eyes, as though we were perfect. In the bible's language, we are now 'justified' before God.
It's a bit trite and cliche sounding, but I've heard it put this way: when we stand before God after our death, he'll have one question: Why would you expect or even hope to enter heaven - on what grounds do you deserve entry?
Any answer we could possibly give, any stories of great acts, any sacrifice we've made, any lineage, any acts of heroism or charity - anything we could possibly say would only receive the response: 'filthy rags'. Sad but true. Others may have appreciate our efforts. We may have made entire communities better-off. We might have saved lives. We might have turned the tide of racism in a culture. Might have even given up our very life for the sake of others and God will say: 'filthy rags'. We judge men based on different standards than God does.
There's only one answer that will pass muster: 'I put my only trust and hope in Jesus and his death for me'.
That's it. The simplest answer - one that a child can give. One that a lifetime of love in and trust of Jesus can bear out. Doesn't mean that I'm perfect. Doesn't mean that I'm often even an unpleasant guy. Or that I don't struggle with various sins throughout my life. But my trust is that Jesus in his love died for me. That his act actually did something - for me. It wasn't something Jesus did, hoping I might find it helpful. It was effective. And it was enough.
A lifetime of living with this deep, satisfying knowledge and longing to understand it more and wanting to love Jesus more, and being with Jesus' very imperfect people, and serving him in the best stumble-bumble way I can - all of this does change us. It just does. Sometimes almost imperceptibly slowly, and at other times in big obvious ways. But it does change us. But even the change - as much as it refines us (and hopefully makes us easier to live with) - it will never make us worthy of God love, worthy of heaven. Simply putting our trust and faith alone in Jesus' death for me - that's my only answer for God, and it's the only one that God will accept.
I believe this with all my heart. Do I live it out every day? Does it show in my life all the time? Um, no. To my shame I too often live as though I don't believe any of this. And there are times I have crazy thoughts that my imagination has just run wild to believe any of it. But those times are becoming more seldom, and my trust grows.
I love the first question of the Heidelberg Confession. It's a document written with the goal of summarizing the bible's main teachings and does so with a series of questions and answers. It was written ages ago so the language is a bit odd, but hopefully not too much of a distraction. I don't know how many questions there are - many - but the first one is perhaps the most important, or the one that I suppose burns brightest on everyone's mind who thinks about important stuffs.
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death? Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
I suppose the cousin of that document would be the Westminster Catechism. Again, a summary of the teachings of the bible, put in Q&A form. The first question isn't what you've asked here, but it's the next logical question if the stuff above is to be believed.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
The entire catechism is here and it's very good.
And of course if the above is believed, then it opens up a TON of other questions - why is God so angry at sin, what about babies who can't actively put their trust in God. What about people who've never heard about Jesus, why does God allow such great suffering in the world. All awesome, amazing, hard questions. But none of those will have any meaning outside the context of the question you asked. You asked the first and most important question.
I hope my opinions are helpful.
These are notes I made in the back of my Bible, over a period of many years.
2Thes. 4:13-17, 2Cor. 5:1, John 3:13, Mark 5:39, John 11:11, Acts 13:26, 1Cor. 15:6,23, Rom. 14:8, Ph. 1:21, Rev. 14:3, Rev. 20:5, Rev. 2:26, Rev. 3:21, Phil. 3:20-21, 2Tim. 4:6-8, Dan. 12:2, John 5:21-29, Acts 2:23-24
James 1:26, James 3: 1-10, 1Pet. 3:10, Prov. 12:18, Prov. 11:9, Prov. 17:9, Prov. 20:19, Prov. 26:20, Prov. 16:28, Prov. 13:3, Prov. 21:23
Mark 9:29, John 14:14, Mark 11:24, Matt. 21:22, Matt. 18:19, Matt. 7:7, 1Kings 8:17-53, Luke 11:9, Eph. 6:18, 1Thes. 5:17, 1Tim. 2:8, James 5:17
A.C.T.S: Adoration, Confession, Thankfulness, Supplication
1Thes. 4:13-17, Matt. 9:24, Acts 2:34, 1Cor. 15:6, 1Cor. 15:20,51, Mark 5:39, John 11:11, John 3:13, Zech. 14:4, 2Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23, Acts 2:29, Ecc. 3:19-20, Ecc. 9:5-10, Psalms 146:4, John 5:28,29, Acts 26:23
Matt. 5:32, Matt. 19:9, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18, 1Cor. 7:15
Isaiah 11:1-9, Gen. 9:6, Ex. 21:12-29, Gen. 4:15, Ezek. 8,9, Ex. 21:28,29, Rom. 13:4, Luke 23:41, Ezek. 18:4, Heb. 10:28
Rom. 14:5, Ex. 20:5, Deut. 5:12, Col. 2:16
1Tim. 2:11, 1Cor. 14:34, 1Cor. 11:3-6, Gal. 3:28
Deut. 10:20, Lev. 24:16
Luke 22:7-9, Gen. 9:3
Lev. 25:35-36, Deut. 23:19-20, Psalms 15:5
Mark 13:30, Luke 21:17-18, Luke 17:32, Matt. 27:24 vs Luke 23:39, John 19:17 vs Luke 23:26
This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. CHRIST IS ITS GRAND SUBJECT, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered for ever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and condemns all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Fact of sin: Romans 3:23
Life or death: Romans 6:23
God's love gift: John 3:16
Saved by grace: Eph. 2:8,9
Pray this prayer: Luke 18:13
Life of victory: I Cor: 10:13
God will keep: Rom. 8:38,39
Do two things: Rom. 10:9,10
Must be today: II Cor. 6:2
Be baptized: Mark 16:16
Live for God: Matthew 5:16
The God who stopped the sun on high
and sent the manna from the sky
laid flat the walls of Jericho
and put to flight old Israel's foe
why can't he answer prayer today
and drive each stormy cloud away?
who turned the water into wine
and healed a helpless cripple's spine
commanded tempests "Peace, be still"
and hungry multitudes did fill
His power is just the same today
so why not labour, watch, and pray?
He conquered in the lions' den
brought Lazarus back to life again
He heard Elijah's cry for rain
and freed the sufferers from pain
if He could do those wonders then
Let's prove our mighty God again
why can't the God who raised the dead
gave little David Goliath's head
cast out the demons with a word
yet sees the fall of one wee bird
do signs and miracles today
in that same good old fashioned way
He CAN; he's just the same today.
----- Martin Luther
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked
in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth - His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
1. There is one God, who is infinitely perfect, existing eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2. Jesus Christ is the true God and the true man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He died upon the cross, the Just for the unjust, as a substitutionary sacrifice, and all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood. He arose from the dead according to the Scriptures. He is now at the right hand of Majesty on high as our great High Priest. He will come again to establish His kingdom, righteousness and peace.
3. The Holy Spirit is a divine person, sent to indwell, guide, teach, empower the believer, and convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
4. The Old and New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice.
5. Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God: he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death. All men are born with a sinful nature, are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The portion of the unrepentant and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment; and that of the believer, in everlasting joy and bliss.
6. Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all men; and those who repent and believe in Him are born again of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of eternal life, and become the children of God.
7. It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to conversion.
8. Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body. Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in the Scriptures and are privileges for the Church in this present age.
9. The Church consists of all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, are redeemed through His blood, and are born again of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church, which has been commissioned by Him to go into all the world as a witness, preaching the gospel to all nations. The local church is a body of believers in Christ who are joined together for the worship of God, for edification through the Word of God, for prayer, fellowship, the proclamation of the gospel, and observance of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
10. There shall be a bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; for the former, a resurrection unto life; for the latter, a resurrection unto judgment.
11. The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent and will be personal, visible, and premillennial. This is the believer's blessed hope and is a vital truth which is an incentive to holy living and faithful service.
You can read more about this, and references in scripture about these statements, at http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/doctrine.
(I received this by email)
You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having 'wealth' from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, 'Purpose Driven Life' author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California.
In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:
People ask me, What is the purpose of life?
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body -- but not the end of me.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her - It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.
That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.
If you do not pass it on, nothing will happen. But it will just be nice to pass it on to a friend....just like I have done.
NOW... (August 13, 2012) I am VERY GLAD that I believe in what I believe. That is, that Jesus was born and died to pay the price for MY sins and as a result of that, I can be assured that Paradise has a spot for ME.
In May of 2012 I was diagnosed as having terminal cancer of the pancreas.
The details of that ordeal can be found in my NEW BLOG at http://www.sticksite.com/death.html.
How to burn an Audio CD with Windows Media Player and Windows 7
insert the blank disc, note that nothing happens
Start | Computer and locate the CD
double-click the CD and choose "With a CD/DVD Player" and click "Next" Drag the MP3 files to the CD folder
A or B Below
A. note the 3 tabs on the right: Play | Burn | Sync
under "Play" click "Start Burn"
B. Note at the top "Organize | Burn disc | Delete....
Choose "Burn..., then follow prompts
If there are TWO discs because there are too many files for one, you can remove some files by right-clicking them and choosing "Remove...."
Burning an "AUDIO" CD from MP3 files, using WindowsXP and Media Player 9 (700MB, 80 minutes)
Assume you have (6) folders, each with (200) MP3 files and want an "Audio" CD with the maximum number of songs on it.
A. Make a new Playlist for each new CD:
1. click the "Media Library" button on the left side
2. right-click "My Playlists" and choose "new" and enter the name you want to give the new playlist (e.g."AudioCD2"); click "OK"
B. click "Media Libary" button
1. click "All music" and clear out all the files (click the top one, hold down the "Shift" key and click the bottom one, then hit "Delete" on the keyboard.
2. "Add" and "By searching computer", add the relevant folder and "new files only" and "search" (very slow)
3. make sure all 200 files are in "All music"
4. in the right pane, drag column headings around until you have "Title.....Filename....Artist....length"
5. Click "File Name" to sort the files and be sure they will be in the same order next time and have them in same order as in Windows Explorer
6. Hold down the Ctrl key, select 28 song files and drag them to the new Playlist (I use 28 because there is a good chance one or two may not be convertible; if your songs are mainly "short" you might use 35 or more)
NOTE: look for the length in minutes/seconds; if any do not show a figure, they will not be converted so add others to replace them.
7. Leave the "All music" playlist for the next audio CD
8. In your new Playlist (Media Library) remove any songs which were not copied to the CD (due to errors or because there were too many)
C. click "Copy to CD or Device"
1. under "Items to copy" change to "Audio2A" (e.g. if copying playlist "Audio2A" to the CD)
2. Note, at the bottom, the number of files and number of minutes. If the minutes are less than the 80 allowed, you might add another song or two.
3. If you have more songs than the CD can hold, it will remove the checkmark from those which won't fit and color them and mark them. BUT NOTE: Sometimes it will burn these IN PART onto the CD anyway so it is best to DELETE THEM from the list. Some may have "error" indications; you should remove these from the playlist both here and in the "Media Library" and the refresh the list by opening a different list and then coming back to it.
4. make sure that under "Items on device" it shows "Audio CD"
5. click the "Copy" button.
6. make a list of songs which could not be converted, for later study
7. the CD will eject when done; when done it may not show 100% done but that is not a problem
8. While you still have the playlist of the songs on screen: - press "Print Screen" on the keyboard and then open Irfanview and "Edit | Paste" and then crop to leave a picture showing Filename, title, length, size and the playlist name at the top. Save the cropped image with a file name to match the name of the new CD, eg. Audio2A.jpg.
- Take the main Text (or RTF) file of ALL your MP3 files and copy to a new RFT (in Wordpad) file the files on the new CD
- type each song's length and file size into the new document and save as and RTF file. Print to keep with the new CD