Rising Waters

The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Origin Unknown

I grew up hearing this phrase, always uttered by an older person and always in closing a discussion about upcoming events. It was a disclaimer of sorts acknowledging the element of uncertainty in any planning session.

We’ll see you on Saturday, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!

But before I move on…

Unfortunately Necessary Disclaimer:

Before any feathers get ruffled over the modern-day tendency to take every imaginable thing and twist its meaning to fit the current social narrative, if you have heard anything about this phrase attributed to worries of a Creek native uprising, click here and read with your whole capacity for critical thinking engaged. Thank you. Now on to my point.

Most of the people my childish self heard utter this phrase grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. All of them spent most of their lives in the Tennessee Valley between the mountains to the east and the Cumberland Plateau to the west. Several recalled the days of wagons drawn by horse or mule which stuck in the mud or shied at the dull roar of a swollen creek smoothing the rocks as it drained the peaks and plateaus into our little bowl of a town.

Even a youngun’ like me who grew up in the age of motor cars can attest that a plethora of creeks of varying depths and breadths wind their way through this lush valley. When they rise, the way is often barred. I’ve seen cars stalled out and half-filled with water in intersections which looked deceptively shallow, roads collapsed from great surges of water flushing out the soil beneath the pavement, and I’ve missed school because there was no passable road open to anyone without a kayak or canoe.

But even if the creeks remain gurgling placidly in their banks, the Lord may not always be willing. And this, my friends, is a Biblical principle I have been reminded of often this school year.

…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:14-1

On July 19, I went into my classroom to begin setting it up for the new school year. Teacher in-service began the following week and students would return to classes on August 2. My hope was to get a head start on all things in order to spend quality time with my college freshman before she left for her new adventure.

I went home that day with what seemed to be a typical (for me) occipital headache but turned out to be the beginnings of my second go-round with viral meningitis.

Then school started. Then the creeks DID rise, affecting neighboring counties much more than our own. And a mere 3 weeks into our new school year, COVID struck hard and fast and forced us into a remote learning environment for a couple of weeks while we pled for the Lord to heal teachers and friends who were – and are – incredibly ill.

The last six weeks have felt a lot like a song list stuck on repeat. There have been plenty of interruption in all our plans. Yet we continue to trust in the Lord and understand that if He is not willing, He has a very good reason. After all, it isn’t the results we choose to trust in; it’s the character of the One who holds all things in His very capable hands.

He is good. Because He is Creator of all, good is defined by who He is and not by what we, who are warped and hoodwinked by sin, think about His ways.

So if His will takes me in a direction 180 degrees from where the path I laid leads, I know I can walk His way with confidence. He made each one of us, and He knows what is truly best – even when it causes inconvenience or suffering. Even then, He is still good. In the present age, we’ll do well not to forget this fact.

I hope to see you sooner rather than later. The good Lord willing, of course.

Debtors

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:12-13, ESV

I recently learned that the devotions I’ve written for my church should be shared differently. Oops! SO with integrity and my Lord in mind, click this link for more:

BBC Daily Devotional

A Thorny Problem

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
(Genesis 3:17-18)

Let’s face it, Church. As a body, we have become far too flippant about the horrors of sin.

Oh, we see the evil of the world out there and shake our heads. We scan headlines filled with riots and shootings and stabbings and mutter clichés about hell and handbaskets. We think of the Mansons and the Dahmers and keep that odd character in our peripherals while we shop. It’s no trouble for us to recognize the myriad ways our society is sliding faster than every on its downward spiral.

What does seem to trouble us is recognizing our participation in the descent.

The longer I’ve walked with the Lord, the more I’ve realized how great the gulf between His holiness and my depravity truly is. Early in my walk, I came to Him fully armed with a compliment of justification for my crimes:

  • This isn’t gossip; it’s venting. Or a prayer request. Or concern for the subject of the discussion.
  • What I think about doesn’t really matter, only what I act on.
  • My actions aren’t holy because it’s impossible to act holy all the time. After all, I’m only human.
  • My words don’t honor God because the pain wrenched something odd out of me, or I was startled, or I was careless…

But the truth is, all this and more is mere flimsy fakery.

  • Gossip is gossip, no matter how much you try to fancy it up.
  • My thoughts are a reflection of me, and every action has roots in the thought life.
  • With man, it is impossible to act holy all of the time, but all things are possible with God – and I have been set apart by Him and for Him.
  • My words are a reflection of my heart. Circumstances don’t cause, they reveal.

Et cetera.

Once my eyes were open, a flood of realization threatened to drown me. My crimes against my Creator infested every facet of life. The evil in the world made sense as I realized how much evil each one of us harbors inside.

How much evil I harbor inside.

For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me...

I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

Psalm 38:4, 18

Too much for me, but not too much for my God. Though I cannot even stand up beneath the weight of my own crimes, my Lord and King bore not only mine but everyone’s on His death march to the cross.

And He did it all crowned with the first symbol of the curse humans unleashed upon the earth when they chose to strike out on their own rather than living in accord with their Designer and the way they’d been designed.

And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

John 19:2-3

I’ll never look at a thistle the same way.

Lord, so great is Your magnificence that even in the emblems of our rebellion, You crafted things of strange beauty. Please forgive us our crimes and our cruel and selfish hearts. Change us so we can appreciate Your grace and mercy and fully recognize our own sorry state. Please open our eyes to see how very far we are from what You created us to be. Thank You for sending Your Son to offer us a way back to You! I pray that each one who reads this and all the names I’ve lifted to You before this moment will submit to Your Way, love Your Son, repent, and follow Your Spirit as He leads into eternal life, amen.

PS – Look around and stop by my Patreon page if you like what you see!

Food for Thought

…. as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Ephesians 5:23b

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5

In a recent group conversation, I had asked for prayers for a family member who has walked away from faith in Christ to return to Him. At the end of our gathering, a sweet friend asked me a question:

Did the person walk away from Christ or from the church?

I did not (and do not) know. But the more I’ve thought about it, I’m not sure if it’s possible to do one without the other.

The church is properly the body of Christ, functioning under His leadership and direction to do His work in this world until He comes again. And Christ – He is the Head, the brains of the operation sending directions to each part to do its part.

With this fact in mind, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it is indeed possible to walk away from the Body of Christ without also walking away from the Head…

Perspective

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

Luke 24:15-16

Some things never change.

When Jesus of Nazareth walked the dusty streets of the Middle East as a Man, His ministry evoked a wide range of emotions from God’s chosen people. He had His detractors, of course; people who hated His inconvenient tendency to tear down self-righteous facades and expose the unseemly rot within the human heart.

But even among His supporters were an astonishing number who loved Him for what they expected Him to do. They watched His ministry with excitement, anticipating the the moment He would declare Himself Judah’s King and lead them in revolt against the oppressive Roman government. They missed out on the greater freedom He actually came to provide.

Fast forward a couple thousand years, and we find a similar mix of emotions.

It’s not surprising many people continue to hate the uncomfortable teachings of Jesus concerning sin and sacrifice. What surprises me is this: Despite Jesus’s clear statements – recorded in the Word – that His Kingdom is not of this world, there are still SO MANY who are looking for the King of kings to bring political and socioeconomic peace.

I suppose it was naïve of me to believe His followers today would listen to His words more than those who saw Him in the flesh. Both then and now, however, the truth of Jesus hasn’t changed. He didn’t give His life to reform our governments, cultures, or social systems.

He gave it to reform us.

This fact is worth repeating. The Lamb of God was not sacrificed to make the world a better place to live but to save each one of us from the penalty of our own crimes against our Creator.

Jesus came because we are the reason the world is in its present state.

The effects of sin are so pervasive, every element of our lives is twisted by them – including our understanding of right and wrong, of truth and justice. Sin’s putrefaction is so complete as to taint even our most noble deeds with the foul reek of death.

Until the glorious Day when the Lord comes again, this world will not be a nice place to live. In fact, it’s even predicted in the Scriptures that it will get worse.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

2 Timothy 3:12-13

For those of us who are truly in Christ Jesus, this is not bad news. The worst other men can do is to kill us, and as Paul wrote, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

While we remain here, our mission is to tell others of our great Hope – that although we are born into separation from our Maker with hearts filled with evil in a world corrupted into chaos, our God loves us so much that He gave His Divine Son to bridge the impossible gap so we could once more be reunited with Him, both in the midst of this crooked generation and forever long after this age is ancient history.

This is the Good News. This is the Gospel.

But don’t take my word for it. Search the Scriptures for yourself with a humble and prayerful heart.

Denials in Deed

Originally published for my church family as part of the Brentwood Baptist Daily Devotional.

Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 

Luke 22:56-57

Read Luke 22:54-62

I would love to roll my eyes at Peter’s failure by the courtyard fire. After all, mere hours before this triple denial, the man had assured Jesus of his willingness to stick with Him even if it meant prison or death.  Brave but hollow words that crumbled under the fierce strain of being noticed by – not a powerful official or Roman legionary – but a servant girl.

Yes, I would like to give a little self-satisfied chuckle at Peter’s crippling fear of the powerless. However, the truth is, I have been just as impulsive in my own walk with the Lord and just as faithless.

On a good day, full of the joy of the Lord and an awe-inspiring sense of His presence, I might swear my fealty, thoroughly convinced in mind and heart of my ceaseless devotion to Him.  I will do anything – even die for you, Lord!

But am I truly willing to live for Him?

Like Peter, my denials are not in moments of intimate fellowship with the Lord but when I’m apart from Him, out in the cold and the dark and trying to determine my next steps. However, unlike Peter, my denials are subtle and more difficult to spot.

My repudiations are uglier and more hypocritical than Peter’s because they occur when my proclamations of Jesus fail to match my actual responses to both hardship and pleasure.

Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek when struck, but I’m more apt to strike back in anger when hurt – literally or verbally.

He calls us to lay down our lives for others, but my tendency is to defend my rights from them.

He commands us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; I often prioritize comfort, convenience, or even entertainment.

He says forgive; I allow for bitterness and grudges.

And make no mistake, these actions and others like them deny the Lord’s trustworthiness and reality in far more destructive ways than words. By my idolatry of self and self-reliance, by seeking worldly things above His Spirit and Truth, and in all ways where my words of devotion to Him are proven empty, His worthiness and goodness are discredited to a closely watching world.

Oh Lord, forgive my unbelief and overcome it! Shape me into a truly faithful and dedicated disciple who exalts You always in both word and deed, amen.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. In what areas of your life do you deny the truth of our faith or the reality of Jesus by your actions or responses?
  2. How can you best show a world filled with anger, fear, and hopelessness that the hope we have in Jesus is true and worth any sacrifice?
  3. Pray for awareness of these sneaky denials in your life and ask for help in better aligning your life with the one Jesus gave us an example of by His.

Throw Back Thursday – July 2008

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:1, 6

Just the other night, I was frustrated.

Due to an escalating discipline issue with our son, I was feeling like a failure as a parent. My homeschool year is looming and I did not feel ready. My once healthy body seems to be falling apart, treatments for one set of problems do not always work in conjunction with treatments for another set, bits of me seem to be aging prematurely in the most depressing ways, I’m tired of pain, tired of medicines, and tired of being tired all the time. There was more, but suffice to say that I was feeling simply overwhelmed. After putting the children to bed, I trudged downstairs ready to attack chores that had been left behind due to the time-consuming battle with Little Man and his great, big stubborn streak.

As I wearily prepared to wash the dishes, I felt a strong urge to go outside. I started to resist but recognized my Lord’s quiet voice urging me and so abandoned the dishes and went.

It was beautiful out; the heat of the day had given way to a pleasantly warm evening. I began to pray, laying all my frustrations at God’s feet and trusting Him to know the ones I couldn’t voice. As I prayed, tears began to fall and I fell silent, gazing at the horizon. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was streaked with faint color.

I sat for a moment, then stirred myself to rise and go back indoors. Again, that urging, “Just sit. Wait. I have something to show you.”

I sat. I listened. The cicadas were beginning their evening song. I realized that I used to enjoy listening to the cicadas on summer evenings but had not had the time since moving into and trying to maintain our big house. As I listened, I began to hear not only bird song, but individual birds and became aware of their locations around me. Always, the cicadas hummed their rising and falling song in the background.

Peace washed over me and suddenly the pale colors in the sky began to seem a little richer… and a little richer… until the sky blazed with red-gold tinged with violet. Still, all around me the birds, cicadas, the frogs in the lake sang their goodnight praise to their Maker. Distant voices, rather than disturbing the symphony, were simply a part of it; the owners an unknowing participant in a harmony of worship. I began to worship silently, enjoying the show, enjoying feeling wrapped in my Father’s arms.

When my husband arrived home from his errand, I was still lounging in the grass. I knew in my heart that my problems were not miraculously resolved. I knew that my health trouble was not over, nor was the battle to apply my son’s stubbornness to the correct path. In fact, both would likely get worse.

I had something better.

My Lord reminded me that He would be with me every step of the way. He reminded me not to forget to praise Him through it all.

By bringing my attention to the song of His Creation, my Father caused me to remember that He loves me too much to remove the trials. No matter what comes of it all, He has my best interests at heart. After all, no matter what happens to me here on earth, it is all to prepare me for a much greater chapter of my life after this earthly life ends.

I came away, not with solutions, but with the peace that comes from understanding in a more complete and deeper way that I am in training for eternity. Yes, the work is hard, but it will be worthwhile. And most importantly, my Father truly does love me. Me personally.

That amazes me most of all.

Gracious Father, we thank and praise You for Your goodness, for Your might, for Your compassion, and for Your strength. Your Creation sings Your praise. Thank You that we are invited to join this song! Help our frail, human minds and wills to remember You in all things–the good and the bad. Increase our faith and our sensitivity to Your Spirit’s leading so that we may honor You in all we say, think, and do. May we bless You with our lives. In Jesus’s precious name we praise and ask, amen.

The Long Haul

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

I thought I’d steal a few precious minutes to give an update from my little corner of the South. A quick note to my Facebook followers before I dive in: Even if this article posts to Facebook, I am taking a break from Zuckerberg’s social media platforms for a time. So if you have a comment to share, please share it here on WordPress… or better yet, consider helping support this writing ministry by visiting my Patreon page! Become a Patron!

I’ll be offering extras for my Patreon supporters, building in more as I go, but this blog will remain free (and sparse so long as our family’s needs require me to work outside the home!)

It’s been an interesting year. I’ve been working part-time at my kids’ school teaching cell phone photography to middle school students – a feat roughly equivalent to swallowing live eels while guiding two dogs, eighteen kittens, and a chicken safely through New York City using a homemade map and the Force.

And while it must be admitted that middle schoolers spend more energy attempting to circumnavigate the school’s network restrictions than taking photos with their phones, it can still be fun to see the photos they do take and hear their thoughts.

Then a week before Christmas break, I came down with the Bane of 2020 – COVID 19. My symptoms were mild and I recovered at home over the break. But a couple weeks after I began feeling better, the body aches and fatigue came crashing back. And again a couple weeks after that… and again… and again…

So here I am in mid-March wrestling with unpleasant facts: Not only am I blessed with the invisible illness of ME/CFS, I also get a free – and equally invisible – membership to the COVID Long Haulers’ Club.

Not fun. Incredibly humbling. But nonetheless, I am blessed.

I admit, this blessing doesn’t really feel like one. If given a menu of blessings, it isn’t one I would have selected. And it doesn’t go particularly well with the 70% pay reduction our family tasted in 2020, nor with the 2-car, 4-driver dynamic we’ve been noshing on since last fall, nor with any of the banquet of bland fiscal fare we’ve been sampling in the last 18 or so months. But it’s a blessing still.

I don’t know when, I don’t know why, and I absolutely don’t know how, but I do know the Lord will use this newest struggle in some way for the comfort of His people. Perhaps in some way I will be able to speak to those who share in this weird and unpredictable cycle of flu-like aching and exhaustion and point them to the comfort I have in Christ.

Or maybe the Lord simply wants to make His power abundantly known in my profound weakness.

I have no idea what to expect. All I know is that I committed myself years ago to walk the narrow, difficult path that leads to life. Whether this current dark valley is a brief foray of reduced visibility or just the beginnings of another steep descent into utter blackness, I have no way of knowing. The road curves just ahead and I have only enough Light for the path beneath my feet.

Still, no matter where this Way leads and no matter how short or long the journey, I know I never walk alone. The Lord Yeshua is with me. Regardless of the personal cost, with Him as my Guide I am in it for the long haul.

Freedom: You Keep Using That Word…

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

(Galatians 5:1)

Let freedom ring. Right?

Like nearly every word in this information-glutted world, it’s helpful to know what it is the speaker or writer is celebrating freedom from. Not all freedoms are created equal.

I am very thankful to live in a country which holds (for now, at least) to some degree of political freedom. Of course, as history tells us, power always seems to centralize among the powerful. Though technically a democratic republic, the actual choice is between two groups of wealthy and influential people. I am free to choose which of the two will come close to representing my values in government, or I am free to choose among the varied parties certain to lose.

Even yet, remains a sort of freedom, if one continually reminding me that I am a sojourner here.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

(1Peter 2:15-17)

But what disturbs me far more than the escalating atrophy of economic, political, and social freedoms in America is the way many of my fellow followers of Jesus seem to confuse these with the sort of freedom the Lord gave up His life to provide.

This is becoming especially evident as those sorts of freedoms become especially more fragile. In this climate, so many well-meaning brethren charge ahead into all sorts of secular activism while waving the banner of the Kingdom of God with zeal. They don’t even seem to realize the irony. Many early devotees of Jesus believed He came as a political King as well.

But what Christ died to set us free from was not political tyranny.

My friends, we may have been sold the fantasy of utopia on earth and been raised in the context of the American Dream, but if we are in Christ, we need to keep an eye on what true freedom is really all about. I’ll give you a hint – it isn’t about guns or masks or toilet paper.

So let’s step take a break from not treading on one another and look at the One we have all trod upon.

Who could be more free than the Author of life? Yet He, the Almighty Creator – this Messiah laid aside His Divine freedom and became a part of His own creation. The Infinite confined Himself to finite boundaries; submitting Himself to being human with all the awful turmoil it brings; to die at the hands of people created through Him, nailed to a tree by iron spikes, both of which were also made through Him.

And He did it to set us free – not from ideologies we feel oppressed by nor from rules that hurt our feelings – but from sin.

The real truth is, we do not take our crimes against God anywhere near seriously enough to comprehend what a gift this is. But that’s a broader topic and I’m already stuffing in too many words for the average modern mind’s patience.

Don’t miss this fact, though: Jesus accomplished our freedom by submitting Himself to death at the hands of Rome – a tyrannical foreign government which occupied Israel at the time. Let that one sink in.

Instead of setting us free to make our own choices, Christ set us free from slavery to the corruption-laced idiocy of our natural bents.

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

(2Pe 2:18-19)

He did not set us free to pursue our own gratification in any form. Rather, He set us free from the slavish need to gratify the insatiable self.

His Spirit enables us to actually reach for righteousness – something we are fully incapable of while chained in slavery to our own destructive desires. Heck, on our own, we don’t even glance at righteousness, much less reach for it.

That’s the true freedom Jesus offers – the freedom to cover the shriveled sickness of our fallen appetites and our obsessive fixation with self and dress instead in respectability. He offers as a garment His own noble nature; a nature always and forever righteous and free from wrongdoing.

To live forever with Him, forever free from the guilt, sorrow, and shame with which sin stains even our most virtuous and selfless moments.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

(John 8:34-36)

A freedom worth fighting for.

Find me on Patreon!

Love: You Keep Using That Word…

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

John 15:12-14

The word love has a flexible usage in American English. It refers to anything from a passionate romantic attachment to a strong fondness for a flavor or aroma.

People use love to describe their feelings for their pet, their children, family, or their spouse. Love might describe an act rooted in compassion or an act stemming from sexual arousal or even a score in a tennis match.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inigo Montoya

Like I said, it is a very flexible word.

But what does it mean? I guess that’s the problem with English. Love literally means all those things in my native tongue – and more.

"Love is patient and kind...

Even with all this flexibility, we the people still manage to misuse the term. We like to take a word that can perform the grammatical equivalent of a backbend and try to force it into something much more like a Gordian knot.

         "love does not envy or boast ...

For example, much of what is perpetrated in the name of love today would be more accurately termed indulgence or indifference. And if we’re brutally honest, sometimes we (myself included) use the word love as a neat slight of hand to cover our own laziness or fear of confrontation.

                  "it is not arrogant or rude ...

But perhaps the most gruesome twisting of this word comes when it’s applied in the name of my Lord to condone behaviors He actually gave His life to save us from. Or in plain terms, when sin is not only tolerated but celebrated and this celebration is called love.

                         "Love does not insist on its own way ... 

The truth is, sin is serious business. Deadly serious. And Jesus died to set us free from it. Not so we could run straight back into its often inviting – but always lethal – embrace.

                                      "it is not irritable or resentful...

Actual love should desire the best situation possible in the long term for the beloved, not just his or her short-term pleasure.

                                               "Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing...

For example, loving my children means laboring to instill a good work ethic into them both by example and by correcting laziness when it shows – even though it may be easier for me (and more fun for them) if I allowed their lives to be a nonstop Netflix and video gaming binge.

                                                             "But rejoices with the truth."  
                                                                     - 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

However, entertainment consumption never pays the bills, so if I take the easy route here and allow my kids a permanent pass on homework and chores, I’m actually inflicting damage by helping form habits and addictions that will hurt them in the long run.

Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man…

Proverbs 21:17a

Now take that one example and magnify it into a thousand careless acts of selfishness which impact eternity. Or maybe just imagine a couple thousand years, because eternity is too mind-bogglingly long to grasp. Which would you rather have: 80 years of fun and games followed by 1920 of agony? Or the reverse with unbounded joy tacked on for good measure?

And how many of us truly have agony for all our years? Few indeed, though even then, eternal joy would be worth it.

Now if we really believe what Jesus says, that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and if we honestly love others, we’ll not only tell them about the glorious freedom from sin and eternal life He offers; we will behave as though we believe it, too.