It had been an incredible morning already. Up at with six others for a side hike to Window Rock to watch the sun pierce the eastern sky at the end of a beautiful valley. It was an amazing view stretching about 10 miles eastward from the suddenly terminated alpine meadow several hundred feet below the cliff where we sat. We had just finished our breakfast snacks when the foretaste of God’s glory suddenly appeared and quickly magnified. Our breathing was forced to suspend its activity and our awareness of any other presence (other than God’s) was suppressed for a few incredible moments. As our earthly consciousness began to return, the exclamations began. The word “awesome” was used a lot.
Our forty-five minute walk back to camp was more reverent
than the earlier hike. The treat from
our Master would not be easily dismissed, not that anyone cared to dismiss
it. The five young men (all teens,
including my two sons) and the other adult, and I, had just been initiated with
a life-long memory. Upon arrival at
camp, the other five youths were stirred and the crew broke camp. We would try to describe our early morning
experience at about 8000 feet in the sky, but they missed it, and they would
never really understand the wonder of it.
We were back on the trail in about an hour. The other adult and I were tired, but blessed
as we shared our time with these ten young men at Philmont Scout Ranch. It was next to the last day of a two-week
excursion through the Sangre de Cristo Range in the foothills of the
There are over three hundred miles of trails through these mountains and we had walked about eighty of them. I had had the privilege of witnessing these young men discover resources in their surroundings and in their very souls that they never knew existed before this trek. The work of God in them was more awesome to me than even the work of God in the eastern sky that morning. In fact, some of these guys are looking for another appearance in the eastern sky, and ironically, this future appearance they await, also involves the same Christ.
I am tempted to visit with you more about the name of the
mountain range, but I feel led in another direction. After marching out of Dean Cow Camp, we knew
we had a little more than an hour of hiking into
Our ultimate destination that day was Shaffer’s Pass. Most of our hiking was downhill into
You see, over the last several years, I had hiked most of the three hundred plus miles through these mountains, several times over. I knew Shaffer’s Pass. I knew that faithful mountain spring pouring out of the side of that peak, blessing that alpine meadow so beautifully that words could not possibly bring the vision to you. Granted, the mountains had suffered from a severe and relentless drought for several years (this being the worst). Granted, springs have been known to dry up. But I had seen the snow on this peak and others. I had seen the cumulative river activity in the valleys below. I just believed differently.
Besides that, do you know how much water weighs? Our bottles used for drinking on the trail are generally quart bottles. The bottles used for drinking, cooking and cleaning in camp are 2-1/2” gallon collapsible containers. With water weighing over 8 lbs per gallon, one of those camp containers weighs about 21 lbs when filled. All three of them would have to be filled and carefully attached to our already heavy packs. It is not a fun thing to walk up a long steep trail with a 75 lb pack, and besides most packs begin to perform poorly or fail entirely and come apart bearing that kind of weight. We considered a suggestion to send four guys (after arrival in camp) back down the hill with empty packs for a “water run”. But they were already tired and I knew they would be totally exhausted when they got to the “top”. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I was in pretty good physical condition (wow, that was a long time ago!). As soon as we arrived at Clark’s Fork at about 9:00 A.M., I put my pack in the pack line, grabbed my bottles, topped them off, grabbed a day pack and water filter, told the guys to have fun for a couple of hours, and I took off jogging up the hill. I alternated running and speed walking for about forty-five minutes, until I broke over the ridge, continuing south through a forested area, down a hill past some campsites, and finally breaking out into a beautiful alpine meadow (altitude: over 9000 feet). I continued on southward on a trail running alongside the west side of the meadow. A little past the far south side of the meadow, I veered right from the main trail onto a smaller trail skirting up the hillside (of Shaffer’s Peak). Within a few minutes I came to the trail’s end, and there it was! The spring.
It appeared a little slower than in times past, but the flow seemed strong enough. I gave it a test. I finished off my quart of water and took out my water filter/hand pump. Within a couple of minutes, the bottle was refilled with clear, cold, refreshing liquid. I drank.
Only one thing left to do: inform my fellow hikers and enjoy the celebration of not adding another sixty-three pounds to our packs, and not being limited with water use when we arrive at camp. I ran all the way down the hill (much easier than up!), except for when I tripped and skinned up my knee and hands. (It was still worth it!). As soon as I got back, we loaded up and headed to our day’s destination for rest, recreation, and praise the Lord, refreshment!
Well, that was fun to remember, and share with you, but I guess I ought to get on to where this is all going.
First, let me share a few Bible verses with you.
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
“for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
You know folks, we have really been sold a lousy bill of goods.
We, of course, accept happily that we have a yoke to bear. I’m not meaning that is “lousy”.
We take up our cross with joy and follow Jesus, knowing that our Lord will enable us to bear it. I’m not meaning that is “lousy”.
We know that the path is narrow, at times treacherous and trying, and the uphill grade can sometimes seem so demanding. I’m not meaning that is “lousy”.
Only those that bear the load, and reach beyond what others call “safe”…only those will know the breath-taking vistas, and the unimaginable fellowship sharing in triumph with the other trekkers, and your Leader, at the top! And only those will know the unspeakable refreshment of the Spring on the other side of the meadow!
But what about that “lousy bill of goods” noted above? If you’ve been looking for it, well, I have yet to mention it. Here it is:
“We have been to the Spring, and it is not flowing. You will have to bring your own refreshment. Never mind that the yoke you now carry is easy. You are going to have to add to it or you will run dry. You will not be refreshed. Some ‘weights’ must be retained; some ‘sins’ must be attached. We are telling you the Spring is not flowing. Trust us! You will regret it if you leave with only your regular allotment of weight.”
Ever heard this? Sure you have, in one form or another, you know what I am talking about? They like to say things like:
“You need to get with the program!”
“It’s crazy to tithe that much!”
“God understands if you can’t stop yourself from being improper with that person (who is not your spouse).”
“A little witchcraft and sorcery can be really fun to watch! Besides, it’s only fantasy!”
“Nothing wrong with that website! After all, it might open up a door to witness!”
Of course, we could on and on. I’m sure you could add plenty to the list. In fact, I may discover something on your list that helps me wake up!
But seriously, Jesus wants you to come. You have been laboring too much! You need to drop a few hindrances that are weighing you down. Get to Him! He wants to give you rest. He wants to give you refreshment. You won’t regret it.
Even now, the lies come to you as you consider these words. The devil, or your friends, or your self, are trying to sell you a lousy bill of goods. But let me just say, they have not been there! I think deep down, you know that, don’t you? Let me also say, I have been there. The Fountain is flowing, and it is flowing strong! Don’t miss it. It is simply too good to miss! Still not sure? Look up! Look to the hills. See the snow on the mountaintops. The water is flowing! Look at the valleys where you have been made to walk. Where do you think those rivers are fed from at these heights? The proof is right in front of you. You are thirsty, but you are too tired to carry that unnecessary weight. If you don’t believe me, believe your own eyes.
You say, “The struggle is too much.” I say, “Hey mister! Hey lady!” There is a turnout just ahead. That’s right. It’s ok. Look at the vistas and catch your breath. Let your friends take a little weight from your pack. They understand. They will help. They will help bear one another’s burdens, and they will help you trust the Leader more.
But the ground must “move” beneath your feet. The vista is not the destination.
There is a “meadow” just over the ridge, and it is
“I’m back guys, and the water’s fine! Lets get going!”
Ó 2001 C. E. Briggs
Luke 19:39And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (NKJV)
My wife, Beth had surgery this weekend. She is doing fine and healing quickly. I am, of course, in charge of everything right now (except resting). I have discovered a new dimension in time management as I try to accomplish her responsibilities and mine. And of course you realize this means Wally World USA must be visited. I mean, it seems like we stop by the house every once in a while to make sure everything is ok, and then we get on back to our “real” home, Wal Mart! If things keep developing like this, Wal Mart will probably set up computer terminals, so customers like me can just send emails to the rest of the family. This will keep us from ever having to leave! Actually, since they are open 24/7, maybe I could apply as Chaplain for the poor souls who may be missing out on Christian gatherings and group worship. Ok, maybe I’m kidding just a little.
Seriously, that is kind of what I want to visit about. My Wal Mart appointment yesterday went about normal at first. I got a good parking place (yeh!). I know what you’re thinking. No, I did not park in the handicap parking. As I entered the building and commandeered a shopping basket, I scanned through the coupons, which were also doubling as my shopping list.
Diet Dr. Pepper
Oh no! (not going to list that one – why do women make men buy that stuff anyway!)
Anyhow, after I checked out, and began to roll my cart to the door, I noticed an elderly lady coming toward me with me with very dark, heavy sunglasses on. These were not the kind of glasses one would wear for cosmetic reasons. She must have had some sensitivity to sunlight. The Wal Mart “greeter” near her gave her a basket and greeted her with a friendly word about Jesus. She coldly ignored him, except to utter something like “keep it to yourself”. And as she passed on by him, I heard him say, “Well, if I keep quiet, you realize, the Bible says God can raise up the rocks to speak out for him!” She continued on.
Now, please understand, he was not rude or even crazy. In fact, he has worked there a long time, is quite solid mentally, and is a delight to his customers, his coworkers, and his employer. I could not help but reflect on this “voice crying out in the wilderness”. Most believers (that I know) would not dream of such boldness. They would dismiss it as unwise. And it is unlikely they will ever advance to the last beatitude (Matthew -12). And it is unlikely they will ever know the joy exhorted by Jesus in that last beatitude.
Consider something with me for a moment, if you will:
John 15:26“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27“And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
I cannot help but feel that this “voice”, this “prophet” at Wal Mart has encountered the Helper, the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit of truth that testified of Jesus, was sent by the Son, proceeding from the Father, right into the witness of this elderly man gently crying out in the corridors of Wal Mart.
Too many (so-called) Spirit-filled believers do not even know the name of their next-door neighbor, and it seems far too many do not know the name of their Savior when they are outside the walls of their Church building. I would suggest to you that:
1) If you know the name of your Savior,
2) You know the name of your neighbor, and
3) Your neighbor knows the name of your Savior.
What did it say? Lets look at it again.
1) “will testify”
and you (quit looking over your shoulder)
2) “will bear witness”.
I’ve looked, and I just don’t see “maybe” anywhere in there.
It seems today that many of the churched appear exactly the same as the unchurched for 167 hours per week (166 if they are “unfortunate” enough to have to endure some long-winded clergy). I wonder sometimes how “saved” we are. The word “saved” (to me) can only occur in the context of unspeakable horror, unless being used as a cliché in a flippant manner. When I think of being “saved”, I think of burning buildings and heroic firemen, of catastrophic car accidents and fearless paramedics, of being lost in dark forests or mountainous wildernesses and tireless search and rescuers. I think of being trapped on a Cliffside with an abyss below, and a tower piercing the sky above with no way to move up or down. I am losing my footing and there is nothing to hold onto, and I here a voice say, “I have lowered a rope ladder. It is right beside you. Take hold and I will lift you up.
But when I think of being “saved” by God, I think of eternity…I said, eternity! I still think of burning, crashing, and wandering, hopelessly separated from the most beautiful Person ever. But I also think of eternity. Anything seems tolerable if you know there is an end!
And then I look at the obituaries. I see the varied ages, and I wonder, where is the urgency in the church? In fact, where is the urgency in the neighborhood? And perhaps, most important of all, where is the urgency in the family? Just exactly what are we saved from?
You know that Christ died for sins, according to the scriptures. You know that He was buried. And I think you know that He was raised again on the third day, according to the scriptures. But do you know that He appeared to people? He spoke, He ate, He fellowshipped. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable: Jesus lives! This is not a bedtime fairy tale or a Mother Goose nursery rhyme. You will not find Charles Schultz in the credits. There are no green puppets in the next chapter, no silly wabbits, no mice in clothes, no sleeping maidens, no dancing frogs, and no fighting turtles.
There is only well documented fact. Real life! Still having trouble with it? Beloved, catch the clue here. Catch the facts of science. Fifty years ago, most scientists would not dare entertain a belief in a Creator. Today, after decades of technological advances and archaeological discoveries, most scientists are convinced it takes far more faith to believe there is no God than it takes to believe there is. Where science and creation were once considered hopelessly irreconcilable, now there are entire sectors of the science community devoted to exploring the obvious evidences of creation and its Creator.
Well, now that we know Jesus was crucified, buried, raised, and appeared, I only have one question for you, personally. Please, if necessary, pretend there is no one else in the room other than God, you, and me.
Has He appeared to you?
I am not asking if you believed the recital of facts above. I am asking you if Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the living God, has appeared to the eyes of your heart, personally. I mentioned when I think of “saved”, I think of eternity. But even more important than that, I think of death and I think of life. I believe John gives us a Savior whose focus is on life. We see this when Jesus later tells us He is the Life.
Wow, saved from death and destruction and saved to Life!
All that and, oh, by the way, it’s eternal!
This gift of Life is a more than sufficient picture of boundless grace, but that eternity thing is an enhancement that defies human articulation.
So, what does the elderly “prophet” of Wal Mart know that much of our church community doesn’t? Perhaps he simply knows what he has been saved from. Maybe he knows it could be the next soul he speaks to that has marked the moment in the Father’s mind when He will say to His Son, “It is time”. Or could it be that he just senses the eastern skies groaning for the presence of the Deliverer? What is this love that drives him so urgently when most are walking around anesthetized by the temporary? Where does he get this sense of eternity, this awareness of those listed in the obituaries, next week!?
Our Father in Heaven, grant your holy will in our lives, as it is in Heaven. Grant us our daily provision needed to enable us to eternal purposes. Grant us a baptism in your Spirit of truth, and grant us an anointing of power, fervor, and love that this community has yet to see. Forgive us for our sins of neglect, apathy, and lethargy, as we forgive those who have failed us. Lead us into the path of self-denial and deliver us from the powers and principalities of the air that have so subtly and gently massaged us into this slumber. For we know deep down, just like the prophet of Wal Mart, the Kingdom that will last, the power that prevails, and the glory to be desired is Yours, Father.
In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
I love you and I love your neighbor
Ó 2001 C. E. Briggs
Last month the topic referred to the family of God, loving one another, and caring even for our enemies. One of the most useful tools in making this happen (or in keeping it from happening) is our words. In fact, the Bible has some alarming things to say about the power of words that I think we all can relate to.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. (Jas 3:6)
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (Jas 3:8)
But wait a minute! Don’t give up yet! The Bible also says:
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. (Pr 16:24)
If the health of your soul is suffering, may I suggest the diet in that last verse? When someone is hurting, or mistaken, or weak, with our words we can either tear them down or build them up.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Eph 4:29)
Our Father in heaven, may Your holy will, guide our thoughts and words, because we know that what we say is the frontline of reflecting Your love to those around us. It is true that our actions of kindness follow close behind, but to always control what we say seems impossible. We need Your Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with a seven-course meal of the original soul food: love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and patience. When our hearts are filled with such treasures, our words will always reveal them. Forgive us where we fail and help us to forgive others who fail us. And may we always live in full surrender to Your glory. For Jesus, the Christ of the Almighty. Amen.
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs
One of the most beautiful and most famous
sections of the Bible is the 13th chapter of the letter written by
the Apostle Paul to the Church at
Not surprisingly, portions of this chapter have been quoted in Valentine’s Day cards, as well as many other forms of literature highlighting expressions of romance.
However, when I first read through this chapter, I failed to see the “sugar and syrup.” In fact, one section of it (from verse 4 through 6 and the first part of verse 8) amazed me, because it seemed so totally impossible. Read it for yourself and see what you think:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; … Love never fails.
Now, of course, those words embody a great principle, but really folks, who can measure up to that? Just in case you don’t see what I mean, try reading it again, only this time put your name in the blanks below (I’ll paraphrase a little):
_____ is patient and is kind. _____ does not envy.
_____ is not prideful. _____ does not behave rudely.
_____ is not selfish. _____ is not provoked.
_____ thinks no evil. _____ does not rejoice in iniquity.
_____ rejoices in the truth. _____ never fails.
See what I mean? Who can do that?! Who could possibly live up to that?! Not me! Not you! In fact, I can only think of one name that could be truthfully used in those blanks above. I suspect you have guessed it: the Lord Jesus Christ. Lets try it and see.
The Lord is patient and is kind. The Lord does not envy. The Lord is not prideful. The Lord does not behave rudely. The Lord is not selfish. The Lord is not provoked. The Lord thinks no evil. The Lord does not rejoice in iniquity. The Lord rejoices in the truth. The Lord never fails.
Fits perfectly, doesn’t it? No wonder the Bible says,
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)
That phrase “new creation” is all encompassing. It means if we are surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we are changed. We are better to our spouse, better to our children, better to our parents, better to our employer, better to our community, better to our church, and the list goes on.
It is only in Christ, that we can even desire to fulfill the requirements of true love.
May your family be blessed this year with the eternal, unfailing love of Christ.
Ó 2002 C.E. Briggs
When job-hunting, a person discovers, experience is usually preferred, but when one gets a job, one also discovers, new ways of doing things must be learned. Have you ever heard it said, “I don’t care how you did it at your last job! If you want to work for me, you better do it this way!”
Funny how the preferred experience is no longer preferred!
The fact is, knowledge is good, but it must be the right kind of knowledge.
Adam and Eve were warned to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, hopefully, we all agree, this is not an apple tree. I realize that may be what you learned in Sunday school, but sorry, no apples are specifically mentioned anywhere in the book of Genesis. So, relax, doctors – apples are ok! Obviously, this tree was a source of knowledge, just not the right kind of knowledge. Here’s the Bible verse:
…out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:9, 16-17, NKJV)
In the Bible trees often represent systems or structures, such as nations, families, and even systems of thought. The two trees we encounter here clearly represent systems of thought (or knowledge).
The Tree of Life represents the right kind of knowledge. Solomon calls wisdom “a tree of life”:
She [wisdom] is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her. (Proverbs 3:18, NKJV)
Webster defines wisdom as, “Insightful understanding of what is true, right, or enduring.” This is the right kind of knowledge. But what is true, right, and enduring? What does the Tree of Life really represent?
The answer, of course, is - it represents Jesus Christ as the source of true life.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. I am the bread of life. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;…” (John 14:6, & 51 NKJV)
It has been well said, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship.”
Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected. He lives today to provide eternal life to those who follow Him. The gulf that separates sinful humans from the holy Creator is impossible to cross by manmade bridges, such as rituals, good works, or personal sacrifice. Jesus is the only Way.
Unlike any other worldview, the Christian faith is not trusting in what must be done; it is trusting in what has been done!
So… Two trees. One choice. Choose Life!
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
Most of us own a vehicle or two (or more!). Most have bought a house.
Many have spouses, some have children, and virtually all of us have friends to share our love and lives with.
Most have a job. Some even like it! Then there’s the income. We all like that!
And oh boy, when all else fails, there is always the Weekend!
We have the movies, trips, dinners, games, and parties. The quest for happiness through entertainment is the American obsession. We must be amused.
[Some of the poorest people I know have a big screen TV with satellite.]
If we think it will make us happy, we want it. Money is no object – just charge it!
So…Why are so many people so dead-dog defeated, disillusioned, and drained – down deep – in the deepest part of the soul?
Our houses are filled with gadgets intended to give us more control over our lives. So, why don’t we feel in control?!!
The Apostle Paul answered this question in a letter to a church - not from a house in the suburbs or from a high-rise penthouse, or from an executive suite on a laptop with high-speed internet email.
He wrote the following words from a Roman prison while in chains:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength. (Ph 4:11-13, NIV, italics, underline mine)
When I saw my son acting miserable a few days ago, I asked him what might make him happy. “Just a little more money,” he said. He sounded just like the famous billionaire when he was asked how much money was enough, and he held up his finger and thumb close together, and said, “Just a little more.”
Why does everything seem out of control? Look at that last line in the verse above. “…through Christ who gives me strength.”
Learn the Secret. Trust your soul to Jesus Christ today. God bless.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
Last night my wife was watching an episode of the popular television series, Third Watch, and I was reading. At one point my attention was drawn to a conversation between 2 characters on the show. Having seen every kind of tragedy imaginable, they were discussing the existence of a loving God. The younger one, who was very bitter from all that he had seen and been through personally, said if he stood before God, he would say, “How dare You!” He was referring especially to all the suffering he had seen little children go through.
How could a loving God allow little children to suffer? The question seems valid, even though it is the finite and fallible questioning the infinite and perfect.
So, what’s the answer? Well, it starts with love, true love. Crazy? Not really. You see, love has always involved choice. Most would agree, forced love is a contradiction of terms. True love can only be voluntary. But when God honors the dignity of free choice, guess who gets blamed for the results? God!
Since the beginning of human history, we have imagined that we know better than God. We even think we can explain a creation that excludes God, and yet no one has ever come up with an “independent” beginning (except believers in God). The best we can do is to clap our hands and proclaim the “Big Bang!” theory. But even that uses dependent conditions, so it explains nothing.
We just won’t let God be God, and with our free choice, we show our “brilliance” with actions that should only be in nightmares!
We want a world without suffering, not realizing a world without pain would be a world without many of the great composers, artists, and benefactors of civilization. No tragedy means no triumph. No suffering means no…CROSS!
But it is only at the Cross that we find the culmination of all suffering, and only in the Resurrection can we find the conquering of all suffering. How could a righteous God save unrighteous humanity and remain perfectly holy? Only one way - the substitution of the Innocent, the Sinless, which of course means that God Himself must become human, remain sinless, and offer Himself in our place.
We can dismiss it as a fable, or we can investigate. The certain result will be the discovery that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than just a mystical method of escape. The sincere seeker will find that God entered the human race at an actual point in history, conquering sin, suffering, and death. Frankly, more faith is required to avoid this than to embrace it. To call it delusion would truly be the worst tragedy!
Why? Because - we have a choice! May God bless you.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
I listened this week to Billy Graham minister in
Most people are not as comfortable with leaving this earthly life as Dr. Graham. To them, death is a frightful black abyss of uncertainty. This overwhelming unknown is intensified even more because it is so amazingly inescapable. We may live as if we believe this is all there is, but if the truth is known, in the depths of our souls we know our time on earth is but a brief journey. Physically speaking, everyone dies.
Dr. Graham quoted C.S. Lewis who once commented that all the wars ever fought with all the millions who have died, did not change the death rate one single bit. With or without the wars the death rate is the same, 100%. Think about it. Everyone dies!
And while most suppress it, most fear it. We Americans fear a lot of things. Our society enjoys more abundance than any society in the history of mankind, and yet our society is also plagued by fear - terrorists, disease, lack of money, loss of money, business failure, job loss, weather, spiders, snakes, heights – I could go on and on. People are afraid. They go to incredible lengths to find peace through satisfying their desires, but the rock band got it right when they sang that there is “no satisfaction” in physical pursuits.
From weekend to weekend, from desire to desire, we plan to satisfy and search for peace, but the fear remains. Reality returns, boredom threatens, and we plan yet another escape. The relentless cycle is interrupted only by death, which does not even seem to notice our fear, our charms, and our intellect, not to mention our wealth!
It appears the real tragedy here is that our fear of death has become eclipsed by the fear of life!
Well, despite these dark observations, Jesus offers a very bright solution. He said:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
But the trail is hard to see.
I was hesitant when the guys (9 teens) asked me if our 12-man group could spend the last morning of a 12-day mountain trek watching the sunrise from a giant cliff jutting upward from a 9000-foot ridge at the edge of the New Mexico Rockies. The cliff was called the Tooth of Time, because from many miles away it looked like a huge molar. With a little bit of negotiating, we compromised, and they got their wish. I only had two requirements: 1) since we had to break camp about they had to agree to be in their tents and quiet by and 2) I would be the lead hiker in the morning.
That second one surprised them. Normally I prefer to walk at the back of the crew, because I feel that is the surest position to guarantee strong awareness and quick availability for emergencies. But I knew the trail would be nearly invisible while hiking in the dark, and up on the ridge, what looks like a trail could easily lead someone right over a 2000-foot drop. Moonlight of course helps, but clouds were expected.
This time, I would assign the rear position to another trusted adult, and I would take the point.
The process: no flashlights and slow, single-file hiking. The flashlights can sometimes help but more often they damage the natural night vision that comes only with much patience. When there was no clear trail ahead, I would simply slow down or stop and scan for the big picture, and then scope back in until an almost indiscernible trail began to emerge from the darkness. Sounds funny, but the guys quickly learned that identifying the trail was nearly impossible. Nobody wanted to take over for me.
After several hours, the payoff came; we conquered the night, and watched breathlessly as the sun gleamed reluctantly around the edges of a cloud and then suddenly consumed it in a splash of brilliance bursting across the high plains below. For a few wonderful moments it seemed our theatre seat on that rock had been carried to the threshold of Heaven!
I remembered one of the greatest kings that ever lived, King David, wrote that God’s Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to the path.
The trail is definitely hard to see. But don’t give up on God’s Word!
Find a good Bible study group that believes God’s Word is infallible, and teaches and applies it in a relevant manner. If you struggle with understanding the Bible, ask God to help. Be persistent and you will discover a love for God’s Word that will take you beyond the edge of your mortality into the gates of Heaven. Why? Because it reveals the Savior, Jesus Christ!
As you study and pray, the path that once seemed invisible will emerge out of the darkness and guide your feet to a safe, eternal, and indescribably gratifying destiny. (John 14:6) God bless.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
We took our seats,
Our orders placed;
With two good friends
To state my case.
Thoughts of Jesus
And all He loves.
Wish the Lord was
The subject of….
We talked of work;
We talked of wives,
And all the things
That changed our lives.
Steve spoke up first,
Such angry words,
“I gave up all
My things to her.
She took my life;
She took my heart.
Not to mention,
The house and car!
And I can say
The price I paid
Roger looked down,
And I did too.
He said, “My friend,
I’m sad for you.
Because the best
Years of my life
Are the twenty-
Five with my wife.
She gave her life;
She gave her heart.
Not to mention
The moon and stars.
And I can say
The price she paid
My eyes were moist,
I thought of Christ,
And all He gave
To win His Bride.
I looked and spoke
To both my friends,
Not really sure
How I’d begin.
“He gave His life;
He gave His heart,
His will, His blood,
His stripes, His scars.
And I can say
The price He paid
He died for me
Upon the cross.
He searched for me
When I was lost,
And I can say
The price He paid
Undeserved, the pain, the shame.
Undeserved, His loss, my gain.
The world He loved,
The world He served,
The Giver gave the undeserved.
Take me Lord, and make me whole.
Take my life, and save my soul.
Help me spread this blessed Word:
“Receive the Gift, so undeserved!”
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs
Since days of old, it has been said,
There is no peace in days.
You struggle so to win your bread,
Then die and just decay.
Be not deceived; your heart does know,
This is but just a lie,
For you believe, you’re sure to go
Where spirits never die.
Eternal life; eternal death:
Which fate? For one is sure!
An endless strife? Or joyful rest?
The choice is only yours.
He is the Way; He is the Life.
Come only in His Name.
Accept this day, His sacrifice:
The Lamb of God is slain.
Yet from the grave, within three days,
Lord Jesus rose again!
Because He lives, if you believe,
He frees from death and sin!
Ó 2000 C. E. Briggs
Who died, arose, and lives.
I trust… The Bible as God’s Holy Word,
God’s voice to us He gives.
I trust… His promise to return for me
To ever be with Him.
I trust… His plan of redeeming mercy
To save from death and sin.
I trust… That if you think this strange, you will
Compare your options well.
I trust… You’ll see, just as Heaven is real,
So must there be a Hell.
I trust… His Hand is reaching out to you.
Please, turn, and take it, now.
I trust… That God so loved the world, He knew
You’d read this poem somehow.
Ó 2000 C. E. Briggs
That’s where he’s chosen to roam
That’s where he makes his presence known
Jesus calls my heart home
He saved my soul
Made me new from old
I’ll never be left alone
Jesus calls my heart home
I choose to follow his path
Leave behind strife and wrath
I’m walking down his glory road
Jesus calls my heart home
I set my face on him
Lord forgive me of my sins
You’re the only god I know
Jesus calls my heart home
You give us our daily bread
God raised you from the dead
You sit on the right side of his throne
Jesus calls my heart home
Your kingdom will come
Your will be done
Our enemies are the foot stool of your throne
Jesus calls my heart home
Jesus calls my heart home (x3)
© W.P. Allen
The Holy Bible, New King James
The Holy Bible, New King
The Holy Bible, New King
The Holy Bible, New King
The Holy Bible, New King