Every Man Has a Story

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I read a news story about a newly-married couple who shared a piece of their wedding cake with a homeless man outside the church where they were married. It was a touching story—the man had lived on the streets for years and spoke of the unkind treatment he so often received. He thought the couple were going to chase him away, but instead received a piece of cake, kind words, hugs, and friendship.

The ensuing media attention on the homeless man’s plight saw more of the man’s life story emerge. He had a good upbringing in a religious home, he left his home country, joined the military, served with distinction, had some difficult experiences, returned home, developed a drinking problem, and wound up living on the streets. A place where more often than not he encountered derision and rejection and even outright hostility.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about people. A criminal is easy to dismiss as worthless, or, as worth less, as a bad person. A problem child or a cranky old man are easy to judge without taking certain things into consideration.

The homeless man said something that struck me. 

“Don’t judge me,” he said, “because every man has a story.” Every man has a story.

Jesus said in John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” It’s important to keep that in mind. It takes no skill at all to rush to judgment. It’s always better to learn the facts of a person’s situation. Better yet to do something to be help the person in question. It’s always right to be compassionate, no matter what.

“Every man has a story.”

What would the world be like if we remembered to remember that?

Positive Thinking

slider-positivethinking-noclickStudies of the brain have revealed that every experience you have, every thought or feeling, triggers thousands of neurons which then form a neural network. Repeated behaviors form—as it were—bridges in the brain. Which is why certain things “come naturally” to you after a while. A Canadian neuropsychologist said years ago, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” 

But this means that negative behaviors can also become deeply embedded in a person’s psyche. For example, scientists say that complaining rewires your brain. Studies reveal the average person complains once a minute during a typical conversation. If you continue to complain, you become a complainer. Stanford University research has said complaining shrinks your hippocampus, the brain’s center of emotion and memory.1 

However, research out of UC Davis has found that people who cultivate an attitude of gratitude experience improved mood and energy and much less anxiety. James wrote in James 1:2,3, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” The old phrase, “look on the bright side of things” might contain more wisdom than we’ve realized. 

While adjusting your attitude can take time and persistence, it’s worth being proactive as the negative habits you develop can lead you into full-blown negativity. People actually become changed by their behavior, including negative or destructive behaviors. The very good news is that the Holy Spirit is able to remake you, to remake your mind, to adjust your attitude, to give you a positive outlook, and to make you the kind of person that speaks of what God can do in a life. And negativity takes the edge off a person’s witness for God. Who wants to be a follower of God, if being a follower of God has made you into a grump? 

Remember what God can do. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Be positive today! Let God make you into a positive person.


  1.  Shrinkage of the hippocampus is implicated in Alzheimers disease. If you’re an habitual complainer, you might want to change that!

Making America Great

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The inauguration has come and gone. President Trump has officially set out to “Make America Great Again!”

However, like every president before him, President Trump faces challenges that legislation alone won’t be able to solve.

A president is in a tough position. It’s the president’s job to set high goals for the country.  No president would ever stand before the world and say, “Realistically, we’re never going to be able to stop terrorism but we’re going to give it our best shot.” Or, “We’re always going to have people on welfare but at the very least we might be able to get some folks back into work, and there’s a good chance we might be able to see crime rates inch down some.”

Instead, a president makes promises to stop crime, get people back to work and eradicate terrorism.  But how does something like that actually happen?

While political initiatives certainly make a major impact on society—and while it is right for politicians to do their job and plot what they see as the best course for a country—the actual solution to the problems faced by America is identified in God’s Word.

The wise man wrote long ago, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  Isaiah 32:17 says, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

Experience has taught us that you simply can’t legislate a country out of sin and into righteousness, out of crime and into order, out of chaos and into peace.  The reasons crime exists at all go all the way to the human heart.  The United States is one of only four industrialized countries that imposes the death penalty.  In 2015, the only countries to execute more people than the United States were Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.  Yet few people would claim the death penalty is a deterrent against murder.  The murder rate in states which do not have the death penalty is lower than in states which do.

Politicians absolutely must do all they can to steer a country in the best path.  But God’s Word is clear.  “Righteousness exalts a nation.”  Meaning people who really care about their country will live in connection with God, enabling the blessing of God to flow into and through their lives for the benefit of the country as a whole.  While the congress and senate will do all they can to better the country, God alone is able to make a country all it can be.  “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
Presidents, senators, and members of congress have been elected to lead.  But the only way to prosperity and peace for the United States is the conversion of the heart, which comes from a reliance on God and His Word and a total surrender to God’s will.


 

Tragedy and Deliverance

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We were supposed to be in Gatlinburg. But then the fires came, and 14,000 people in the area were evacuated.

Which is odd, really. Gatlinburg doesn’t get a lot of wildfires. It sits in the middle of a temperate rain forest. The humidity in the area makes it difficult for even controlled burns to take place.

But this was different. After months of drought, years of accumulated forest fire fuel—trees, leaves and leaf matter, sticks, weeds—was simply waiting to go up in flames. And it did. Property after property has been destroyed, but what matters most is “eleven.” So far, 11 people have been confirmed dead.

It Is Written was scheduled to be in Gatlinburg from Friday, December 2 to Sunday morning, December 4, hosting 350 ministry Partners at a spiritual retreat. We hold these retreats in six locations around the United States and report on the work of the ministry and discuss ministry plans. The weekends are mountaintop experiences. In Gatlinburg, that is literally so. We meet in Gatlinburg at the Park Vista Hotel, a property with a spectacular view owing to it’s location on the side of a mountain.

But the hillsides surrounding the Park Vista went up in flames.  A spectacular—and chilling—video taken from inside the Park Vista on the night of the fires shows flames roaring immediately outside the hotel. People inside the hotel—and there were plenty—were terrified.

For It Is Written, if the fires had to come at all then they came right on time. Three days later and our team would have been in Gatlinburg. Four, and we’d have been there with hundreds of guests. God enabled us to not only avoid the fire, but to relocate our event to Chattanooga, just miles from our ministry headquarters.

Except, at the same time we are praising God for His deliverance, there are people in Gatlinburg burying their dead. Others are trying to figure out how they’re going to rebuild their devastated lives. We remained cognizant throughout the weekend of the reality of the desperate situation being faced by the people in Gatlinburg, many of whom we have come to know well.

So how do we reconcile this? It seems that one person’s blessing is another person’s curse.

Firstly, it pays to recognize that even when disaster strikes, we human beings have an amazing amount to be thankful for. We were brought into this world and given life. We have been offered the gift of eternal life. We can say through faith that we actually have eternal life—and that’s a lot!

Yet we can add to that. We have family and health and homes and friends and warm days and successes and vehicles (and almost always “vehicles,” plural), nature to enjoy and clean air to breathe. God has simply been good to us. All of us. And He doesn’t have to be. God owes us nothing. It was the human family that chose to collapse into sin, and in so doing cause the death of God’s Son. Still God is good to us.

So what of the tragedy in the world? How good is God when your mother dies in a forest fire? Truthfully? Plenty good. Incredibly good. Amazingly good. Especially because God has promised Mom eternal life. Mom can wake up in the resurrection and look into the face of Jesus and look forward to a life of absolute contentment and fulfillment that will never end. There’s no way around that. That’s just good!.

Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). It might be difficult, especially in the moment. But it’s important to keep the trials of your life in perspective.  The best is yet to come. And no, that’s not Paul saying, “Just pull yourself together, man, and remember how blessed you are!” That’s Paul stating a reality. Even though some days on this earth can be brutally dark, that glory we will soon enjoy is unfathomably good.

James described life as “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Life is really short. Eternity is reeeeally long. If you measure the goodness of God by your trials on this earth, there’s a really good chance you’re going to end up with a negative picture of God. However, f you remember the big picture, there’s a better chance you’ll find strength to endure even the toughest challenges life offers. 

In times of tragedy, Romans 8:28 can almost sound flippant. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Forest fires? Loss? Death? Yes, all things.

Tragedy challenges us to trust God no matter what. In “all things.” God is still sovereign, even when things go bitterly awry.

So, what of us at It Is Written, enjoying our deliverance while others lost so much? A plane crashes, some survive, some do not. A tornado tears through a town? Some live, some die.  Lightning flashes, and 50,000 people in town are unharmed, while one man loses his life.

Is that fair? Tragedy can never be described as “fair.” Tragedy is tragic. But yes, God is fair.  He doesn’t protect all of us from all of the damage sin has brought into the world. But He protects us from more than we care to realize. And He offers us eternal life, where there will be no more “death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

By God’s grace, We’ll trust Him in all things. There’ll be times we rejoice, and times we weep.

And we’ll lean on Him either way.

Giving Thanks

give-thanks-bHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind? Or deaf?

My friend Ernie Jones became blind more than 20 years ago owing to retina degeneration. He writes a weekly column for a newspaper in Walla Walla, Washington. I wanted to share one of his recent columns with you:

While you go about your daily life—working, driving, caring for the house and children, watching TV, or any other activity—have you ever thought how life would be if one day you lost your hearing or eyesight? If told you had to either lose your sight or hearing, which would you choose? Are there any advantages or disadvantages of one disability over the other?

I have not had a lot of experience with people who can’t hear, but here is some of what I have learned. The deaf people I have been in touch with say they would rather not hear than not be able to see. They use their eyes to help them cover for not being able to hear.

On the other hand, the blind say it is better to hear than to be able to see, for they “see” much with their ears.

Sighted people can usually tell if a person is blind, as the blind person is being guided by another person, a guide dog, or with a cane. Those who are deaf may not even give a clue to their deafness, unless they are seen using sign language or don’t acknowledge you speaking to them until you are right in front of them.

When out walking, those who are deaf may appear to be like everyone else—they stroll along as one who has no disability. They need no help at street crossings, don’t hold a white cane, or need to be guided by a guide dog or another person. They see the street crossing signals and read the signs along the street. They enter stores with no hesitation, able to locate the items they are shopping for. They drive their car, can travel alone, and are quite independent. They don’t need a guide and only use a cane if they also have some balance problem.

Guide dog is helping bilnd peopleBut the deaf don’t hear the wind chimes in the breeze, don’t hear the birds singing in the trees overhead, don’t hear their dog bark a welcome, or the neighbor’s cow bawling, or the flock of geese flying overhead. They don’t hear the gurgling stream as it bounces over the rocks on its way to the valley below. They don’t hear beautiful music ringing forth from the choir or from happy children singing Christmas carols. Their eyes have to do double duty, working for their ears too.

People who are legally blind, but who still have enough eyesight to get around without aid in public, may be considered haughty when they don’t wave to someone nearby. I found this out from a fellow church member. When it was known that my eyesight was failing and that I had to retire early, he came to me and said, “Now I understand. I was beginning to think you were a little stuck up, for the other day you walked right past me and completely ignored me.”

I wonder how many other times I may have passed a person I knew and never greeted him or her.

I am very thankful I was not given the choice to either be blind or deaf, for I have no idea what I’d say—no one wants either disability. But speaking from blindness, I am thankful for my hearing. I am excited when in mid to late winter I hear the red-wing blackbirds back in our area, for I know spring is coming. I enjoy being part of a choir or hearing others sing, and hearing an orchestra play. Yes, I am thankful I never had to make the choice, I am thankful I can hear.

Either disability may cause frustration and confusion when out in public, both for the individual and for others.

A friend of mine, Dick, who is blind, went out to eat with one of his friends, Larry, who is deaf. Noticing Dick’s white cane, the server turned her attention to Larry, not knowing he was unable to hear.

Looking at Larry she asked, “Hello, what would you like today?” Then she added, “And what would your friend like?”

From his years of friendship with Larry, Dick had picked up some sign language, and also understood his attempts at speech. So as the waitress spoke to Larry, Dick repeated with sign language to Larry what she had asked. Larry answered Dick—in his not-so-clear voice—what he wanted, after which Dick explained Larry’s order to the server.

It became a game for the two men until at last the waitress got the message. She learned that being blind didn’t make Dick so he couldn’t talk or that his brain wasn’t working well. Nor does being deaf make the person of less worth.

Remember, both the deaf and the blind can have important roles in the community. Have a great day—and please take time to see and hear.

What a day it will be when Jesus returns and every one of the redeemed is made perfectly whole.  In the meantime, look to be kind towards and understanding of those who may be dealing with personal challenges.  And be thankful for the blessings of God you experience.


Read more articles by Ernie here.

Veteran’s Day—You Can’t Judge a Book By its Cover

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I learned long ago that behind many people is an extraordinary story.

I spoke with an employee in a furniture store years ago in North Carolina, an unremarkable-looking guy with a “Why howdy, Sir,” demeanor and a hayseed accent. As we spoke he referred to his time in the service.

“Thank you for your service,” I said to him. “What branch were you in?”

“Navy,” he said, managing to turn two syllables into three.

I have a brother who served in the navy. I could imagine old Hayseed swabbing the decks. He sure didn’t strike me as a ship’s captain kind of guy. “And what did you do in the navy?” I enquired. 

I definitely wasn’t expecting his answer.

“I was a fighter pilot.”

I thanked him again and made a mental note to not judge books by their cover. Hayseed had actually been a US Navy Commander and had served his country with distinction.

You just never know.

Last night I bumped into a man who told me he was looking forward to seeing Hacksaw Ridge, the movie about Desmond Doss, the “conscientious cooperator” who received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman after World War II.

He said something that grabbed me: “But I wonder if it might bring back some unpleasant memories…”

He told me he had been a medic in the service. “During Vietnam.” He worked in factories after leaving the military.

He said, “I’m not thinking the violence in the movie would really bother me because we saw so much of that stuff in Vietnam.” I didn’t have to ask him to go on. He seemed to almost need to.

“You know, we’d have body parts brought to us. Men had lost them out on the field. All kinds. We’d send them on to the morgue.” He went on. “I spent so much time with my hands inside men’s bodies as we tried to save their lives or put them back together… I don’t think the movie could be any worse that what I saw.”

I could only imagine. And unfortunately, he may well be right. Hacksaw Ridge likely is no worse than what he saw in the military. And what he saw and experienced was real—not Hollywood special effects.

This humble man—past retirement age but working at a big box store—was a Vietnam veteran who carried with him vivid memories of body parts and dead or dying men, and of having limbs in his hands and his hands inside chest cavities and torsos… This everyday man had experienced the extraordinary in the service of his country.

You’d never know. How can you know where people have been, what they’ve seen, what they’ve endured, what has left indelible impressions on their minds and in their hearts?

Veteran’s Day is approaching. Those of us who have never served? We just don’t really have a clue. 

Many vets have been though extremely difficult experiences in the line of duty. You’d barely know, looking at them. But they served, they lost friends. Many were injured, scarred. They saw what they saw and did what they did and came home and got on with their lives and lived with their “unpleasant memories.” 

Be sure to thank a veteran for what he or she has done for this country. For what he or she has done for you and me.

If they cared to tell it, theirs would be an extraordinary story.

Election 2016—God Has This Covered

2016-11-07-1Two days after the greatest upset in American political history, President-elect Harry S. Truman was handed a copy of the Chicago Tribune. The bold headline on the front page read: “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The photo of President Truman posing with the newspaper has become one of the most famous political photographs ever taken.

The headline—printed several hours before the election results were in—reflected the feeling that ran through much of America at the time. Thomas Dewey, the Republican governor of New York, was unbeatable. Truman simply had no chance of winning the 1948 presidential election.

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By election night several of Truman’s aides had left his campaign to accept jobs elsewhere. Truman’s poll numbers had been so low that some party officials at the Democratic National Convention wanted him dropped as their party’s nominee for president.

Truman simply wasn’t supposed to win against Dewey. But win he did—comfortably—in what was the greatest upset of all time.

As happens every four years, America is about to go to the polls. And again—irrespective of which candidate triumphs—the election result is going to be a massive upset for approximately half of the electorate.

The current presidential election is notable for several reasons. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the first female presidential candidate in US history. Businessman Donald Trump has never before run for public office. And Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two least popular presidential candidates in American history.

It seems that every four years there’s a group of people who threaten to move to Canada if candidate “x” is elected President. What is a person to do if their candidate comes up short in this year’s presidential election? Is it time to shop for Canadian real estate?

It might be helpful to remember that the future of the United States doesn’t actually depend on who wins the race for the White House. The country does not elect a dictator every quadrennium. Our system of local, state, and federal politics means that no president can unilaterally impose his or her will on the American people. In all reality, it might be said that a president’s ultimate impact on life in the United States is not as remarkable as a presidential candidate might have you think.

Which is not to say a president’s role is unimportant. But whomever is sworn in as the forty-fifth president of the United States will not prevent God from ultimately fulfilling His will. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:21 that God “removes kings and raises up kings,” and said in Daniel 4:17 that, “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.” Could it be that God is preparing to set Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump over the kingdom of men?

Stranger things have happened. In the sixth century B.C., Nebuchadnezzar spent 40 years or so on the throne of the neo-Babylonian empire. Nebuchadnezzar was a bloodthirsty, power hungry, megalomaniacal idol-worshiper. It was Nebuchadnezzar who sentenced his closest counselors to death because they couldn’t comply with a request that was both irrational and absurd. The contumacious Nebuchadnezzar built an image of gold in direct defiance of a decree of the Almighty, and boastfully said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).

Most people wouldn’t want someone with Nebuchadnezzar’s character anywhere near a position of power. Yet God called Nebuchadnezzar, “My servant” (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6).

Lest you think God didn’t really mean what He said, God not only used Nebuchadnezzar to further the advancement of His kingdom, but also saved Nebuchadnezzar to be a part of that eternal kingdom. While Nebuchadnezzar was conquering nations, destroying cities, and bowing before idols, God wasn’t finished with him. God saw Nebuchadnezzar not as he was but as he might be through the grace of God.  God saw where Nebuchadnezzar fit into the big picture. He saw how he could affect the world in such a way that God would ultimately be glorified. As the wise man wrote in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Christians have a remarkable capacity to smile sweetly and say “God bless you” on cue while at the same time espousing raw hatred for political figures1 Like them or not, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are children of God. Jesus died for them. While some might paraphrase David and say, “What are Clinton and Trump that you are mindful of them?”2 God sees in both candidates something so magnificent that He gave Jesus to die for them. They might not get your vote, but as candidates for eternity they get the vote of God. Whether or not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump make it to the White House, God wants them in His house.

Whether or not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton3 succeed in their run for this country’s highest office, God’s plans for this earth will not be hindered. The reaction of believers to the election result will speak far more of the depth of their Christianity than about the election result itself.

When the dust settles on this election, and the Obamas have moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Clintons or the Trumps have moved in, the greatest challenge facing our country will still remain. Jesus urged His followers in Matthew 28:19 to “go… and make disciples of all nations.”

After the last vote has been cast in this year’s presidential election, the mission of the church remains unchanged. There is a world to win with the saving message of God’s unfailing grace.

Trump or Clinton? Clinton or Trump? Maybe even more than half of the population will be disappointed with this election result. But God won’t be taken by surprise. He still sits on the throne of heaven. He still knows the end from the beginning. 

God has this covered.


  1.  James 3:10: “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
  2. See Psalm 8:4
  3. Yes, there are other candidates running for president, but…

Reformation Day

In the United States, October 31 means essentially one thing. It’s Halloween. People dress up in costumes, children go trick or treating and the fake cobwebs, carved pumpkins and plastic backyard tombstones will soon be put away until next year.

Halloween might just be the devil’s favorite day of the year as death, demons, zombies and witches are all treated as harmless fun and games. And while the attention is on Halloween, most people are entirely unaware of the important significance of October 31.

On October 31, 1517, a young priest in the German town of Wittenberg made a defiant protest. Fed up with what he saw as the abuses of the church of Rome, Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 statements to the door of the castle church—and in doing so he altered the course of history.

Until this time, the Roman Catholic Church had been the ruling power in much of Europe. The Pope of Rome was the final authority not only in the church but also in society. Kings bent in the direction of the Pope. Those who did not were threatened with being shut out from the church and whole kingdoms were made to fear being placed under “interdict”—religious services could not be held, baptisms were not performed, and the dead could not be buried in a Christian funeral. The message to those under interdict was that heaven was essentially closed to them. Fear reigned as a church with unbridled power used that power with impunity.

One church practice Luther found especially galling was that of the selling of indulgences. For a sum of money people were able to purchase from the church the rescinding of the temporal punishment for sin. Payment of money to the church was said to release souls from Purgatory, and even pardon for sins not yet committed could be purchased.  Appalled by this monstrous deception and other errors of his church, Luther eventually came to the place where he separated from the church and led others by his example and teaching to do the same.

Martin Luther originally had no intention of withdrawing from the Roman Catholic Church, but recognizing his faith in the Bible was incompatible with the teachings of his church he became a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. And although they did not agree upon every point of doctrine, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin in Switzerland, John Knox in Scotland, Thomas Cranmer and Nicolas Ridley in England, and later John Wesley also in England, all took steps away from the errors of the Roman church and lifted up the Bible as the believer’s rule of faith and practice.

Anyone who values religious liberty should remember the events of October 31, 1517, with thanks to God in their heart. Martin Luther’s short walk along what is now known as the Schlossstrasse was a bold and defiant stand for Bible truth in the face of an extremely powerful church which tried repeatedly to end his life. Many people suffered persecution so that today we could have the freedom to read the Bible and follow it according as our conscience dictates. Worse, thousands and thousands and thousands of people were killed because they chose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and reject the teachings of a corrupt church.

499 years later, it would appear the Protestant Reformation is over. Not only are precious few still protesting, but most people are unaware as to what the Protestant Reformation was even about. Where are the Protestants today?

If you hold a Bible in your hand; if you value the freedom you have to worship as you please; if you understand salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ; if you receive forgiveness from sin through Christ and not a priest or a church, say a prayer of thanks for what other great men and women of faith made possible by their example and their selfless dedication to God.

Forget Halloween.

Happy Reformation Day!

Halloween: Be Unafraid. Be Very Unafraid.

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Across the street from where I’m staying in Boston, a skeleton is trying to climb through an open second-story window.

Two other skeletons are climbing onto the porch. A fetching auburn-colored wig seems to suggest one of the skeletons is a female. She and her friend appear to be trying to gain access to the house by taking a more direct route through the front door.

The porch of the house is festooned with enormous spider webs. Ghosts decorate the scene. At night, giant glowing eyes stare out of two windows. 

You get the idea. It’s Halloween.

Further up the street a giant skull adorns the gate to another residence. A small imitation graveyard contains gravestones saying “Rest in Pieces,” “I’ll be Back,” and “Come, Join Me.” A few blocks away, a family has what the sign calls a “Zombie Party” going on in their front yard. Several skeletons appear to be climbing out of the ground.

A couple of blocks over is the most incredible front-yard Halloween display I’ve ever witnessed. The front yard is aIMG_2004 veritable forest of Halloween paraphernalia, and the house is decorated like I’ve never seen. Voices call from somewhere in the midst of mayhem, invitations to join the deceased and to “be very afraid.”

But it’s all fun, isn’t it? Kids of all ages enjoy dressing up in costumes, and some Halloween costumes are fun and creative. Trick or treating is a long-established and much-loved American tradition.

Happy Halloween, right? Wrong. The ‘harmless fun’ Halloween represents for many people is predicated upon a lie, and exists to perpetuate a lie. Fun isn’t really the point of Halloween. Halloween is a celebration of spiritualism, the belief that the spirits of the dead survive bodily death and communicate with or even taunt the living. Scary!

But the fact is that Halloween is all bark and no bite. Halloween revels in the idea that the dead come back to life, that the dead haunt houses, and that immediately beyond death is life in another realm. The truth is, that’s not the truth. There’s not a single reason to be afraid at Halloween.

Why? Because the last person who can trouble you, frighten you, or haunt your house is a dead person. The Bible is plain about this.

Writing in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon stated, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.” Far from being interested in climbing through your upstairs window, the dead are oblivious to anything at all.

No, the dead aren’t in heaven praising God. The Bible is unequivocal on that point. “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.” Paul taught that the dead sleep—see 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18—and he did so plainly. Those who teach that humans possess an immortal soul, or a soul that survives bodily death, owe their belief system more to Plato than to the Bible.

The creation story teaches—again, plainly—that human beings were not given a soul but that Adam was created as “a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, KJV). Without a soul that survives bodily death, we are left to conclude that the dead—who don’t praise the Lord and who know “nothing”—are not prowling around neighborhoods, or graveyards, or attempting to climb through second-floor windows on Halloween. They’re asleep. Should a person be afraid of the dead, of ghosts, and ghouls? No. Not in the slightest.

Vampires? No, of course not. Zombies? No. Things that go bump in the night? That depends on what those “things” are. But you can be certain they’re not the spirits of the dead.

Jesus Himself let all the air out of the Halloween balloon when He spoke to His disciples about their friend Lazarus. Jesus said: “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” The disciples were confused by this, “Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (John 11:11–14).

The Bible is consistent. The dead sleep until the resurrection day. Remember Jesus’ words: “I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). Jesus made clear the righteous will be “repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). If someone were to survive bodily death and go immediately to heaven, they would be “repaid” long before “the resurrection of the just.”

Halloween is a toothless tiger, and exists to perpetuate one of Satan’s biggest lies—the lie that the dead aren’t really dead. It’s an untruth that is setting people up for massive deception before the return of Jesus.

As Halloween comes and goes for another year, keep in mind what the Bible teaches about death. The key to life beyond this life is Jesus, “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Without Jesus, nobody comes forth from the grave. With Jesus, “the dead in Christ shall rise” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Our hope for life after this life is faith in Him.

And that’s nothing to be afraid of!

For more information on this subject, click here to check out the It Is Written resource, “The Mystery of Death.”


Other resources:

Bible study:

“The Mystery of Death”

Books:

“Is Your Soul Immortal?”

DVDs:

“The Allure of Death” or watch online

“Beyond the Inevitable” or watch online

“The Ghosts of Gettysburg” or watch online

“Resurrection” (new program)

 

It Is Written SALT students from Southern Adventist University train church leaders

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This year’s Fall Annual Council at the General Conference office in Silver Springs, Maryland, involved a lot of action. Students from the It Is Written and Southern Adventist University sponsored Soul-winning And Leadership Training (SALT) program were leading that action.   

As you have likely heard, General Conference President, Ted Wilson, has been calling for Total Member Involvement (TMI). The North American Division (NAD) answered that call by initiating something at the Fall Annual Council this year that has never been done before: placing our church administrators out in the streets sharing their faith, door-to-door.

Evangelism schools from all across the North American Division were invited to the General Conference to organize, instruct, and mentor a massive community outreach in the Silver Springs metro area. SALT Program Coordinator Greg Wilson, SALT Outreach Coordinator Janelle Dietrich, and a team of SALT students led the outreach. They partnered Division and Union presidents with students and alumni from NAD evangelism training schools around the country to reach the Silver Springs community for Jesus Christ. Students helped church leaders who are not comfortable with their English and mentored those who wanted to grow in their ability to do door-to-door work.  

As Division and Union presidents knocked on doors along side evangelism students-turned-mentors, something beautiful took place: a passion for reaching hearts one-on-one was rekindled and a respect for those leaders willing to learn and grow was reignited. Those who were skeptical or who had simply forgotten the effectiveness of door-to-door work were quickly reminded of its joy and blessings. Leaders who were already doing the work in their home countries were inspired to see that it is also effective here in the United States! And those who were looking for ideas on how to accomplish TMI were reminded of how beautiful and simple getting others involved could be. Everyone was inspired that across the NAD there is a movement of young people on fire to share the gospel with the world.

It Is Written and Southern Adventist University were honored to have SALT students at the forefront of this General Conference initiative. Since it began in 2013, SALT has trained and equipped hundreds of people to win souls for Christ. God is using this school of evangelism to make a difference for the kingdom of God. It’s easy to get involved. SALT has fall, summer, and online training programs that fit every budget and lifestyle. For more information, visit saltevangelism.com. Maranatha!

dj sallt salt Janelle