The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!







Saturday, April 15, 2017

MURDER in HELL


                       Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

Who goes to HELL? The MURDERER or the MURDEREE? Sorry, but that's a trick question. The answer is maybe both or maybe neither. 

Our salvation, or lack thereof, does not depend on our actions. A MURDEREE who has never repented of his sins and found forgiveness in the saving work of Christ for his soul does not get a free pass--he is not redeemed-- by being MURDERED. We can not save ourselves by good works nor are we saved by being wronged (even extremely).

And one of us who commits MURDER may still repent, while he still lives, and be saved from HELL! Not that God our judge can ever be fooled by a "jailhouse confession." He looks into and reads our hearts; discerning the authentic from the contrived. This truth may seem objectionable to some who would cry "Unfair!" at the thought of a killer getting off Scot free, But they need to think about it from the other side. "If God can forgive a MURDERER, he can certainly forgive ME of my little sins!" This is truly good news!

A problem is that so many people think that God is fully obliged to punish MURDERERS, AND that he is then duty bound to let the rest of us non-MURDERERS into heaven. As if we could corner him like some high school teacher and convince him to grade us on a curve! While it is true that some sins are worse than others, and will be judged more harshly, it is also true that every sin is equally damaging to our relationship with God and egregious in his sight. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."   Romans 3:23

NO sin will be allowed into heaven, and therefore must be confessed and repented of so the sinner can be cleansed of even the most trivial, but still very real, transgression. The verse above delivers very bad news to those who would claim immunity from sin, but it continues with very good news for those who can admit they "fall short" and would seek forgiveness:  

"and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." 
Romans 3:24



But in HELL? A MURDERING spirit will live on and on. Though there will be no deliverance, for there is no death in HELL. Just as there are many people here and now that "live" in a perpetual state of having died to life, all those in HELL will go on, not so much as the "living dead" but more as the "dead living."



By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Friday, April 14, 2017

LISTENING in HELL

                           Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.


LISTENING is one of those things we all try to do for our friends and loved ones, but is so often a struggle. "I HEARD you," he will say, but then she counters with "Yes, but were you LISTENING?" We are often reminded of this important distinction. LISTENING starts with hearing, but means so much more.

We do the same thing with God. Although with him, because he does not confront us face to face but rather in spirit, we go so far as to deny even the hearing part! We pretend we don't even believe he exists despite the fact that: "what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:19 

God speaks to us through our consciences, to start. Society may try to challenge us to prove what we say is right or wrong philosophically, but that is a mere distraction from the truth each of us can directly perceive. (Isn't any particular philosophy actually just the collected conclusion of someone else's conscience, anyway? Better to weigh and consider your own.) It IS enough to say "I know because I know that I know." Better to LISTEN to that voice now, and to follow its lead than to deny it and be forced to admit its validity in the end. Refusing to LISTEN is the sin that will lead many into HELL and leave them there with nothing to hear but their own delusions.

Paul went on in Romans 1 to explain what happens after denying God's message.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:21

But what will become of LISTENING for those who choose HELL? I hate to say it, but perhaps part of being in HELL will be an eternal obligation to LISTEN! If hope is the interval between a promise and its fulfillment, then HELLISH hope is just the vain wish for any promise other than the guarantee of continuous and worsening trouble. "My ears are burning." will be more than a clever metaphor, when people are longing to LISTEN, and futilely straining to even hear the tiniest sound of fellowship or contact or interaction.

"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" Proverbs 1:5

By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

KILLING in HELL

  
                 Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

God's greatest understatement may very well be found in Romans 6:23 where He tells us that


                                                "the wages of sin is death."  

Perhaps there is much more expressed in this short verse than the brutally honest and absolute statement of finality we find on the surface. I wonder if it also means that there is KILLING in HELL. Or to put it another way; HELL is KILLING. 

Think about all the things you know and love that can die. We typically lose our parents to death. Worse; we sometimes lose our children first. Our pets regularly die long before we are ready. We are stunned at times when a favorite celebrity passes away as if their fame should have made them invulnerable to the same ravages of sin and time that will bring each of us down in the end. And we are even double-stunned when two or three of them die in one week.

But there are things even more precious to us than entertainers. And closer to our hearts than the mass of foreigners gunned down or bombed or caught up in some accident or natural disaster. Have you ever experienced the death of hope? It had always been there--sometimes weak and thready, but at least present--and then it was gone! Perhaps you are familiar with the KILLING of laughter. With no more humor in your life, whether banished from the outside or from within, you have suffered a  terrible death.

There is the KILLING of zeal and ambition, of plans and dreams, and of games and goals. Many suffer the KILLING of physical abilities: Death to sight or hearing or locomotion or even freedom from constant pain. 

The end of a marriage for any reason brings a dearth of so many good things. It is like a KILLING of fellowship, of camaraderie, of sexual comfort, of partnering and even of sharing chores. No more doubling joys and halving burdens. 

Both in heaven and in hell, people will be living in glorified bodies that are perhaps more spirit than physical. But these bodies will be real and material enough to enjoy eternally the good fruits of heaven or to suffer the KILLING nature of HELL forever. There is no reason to think that hell will eventually bring an annihilation of the soul. It will endure forever in the KILLING FIELD known as HELL, where everything good that one has ever known and cherished will die in turn. In John 10:10 Jesus said: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Choose life in Him--ever growing and vibrant--or the process of death--forever and ever destructive.

Remember the verse from Romans we started out with? Yes, "the wages of sin is death" but this verse has a wonderful ending! 


"The wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23


By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

JESUS in HELL

                  Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

I didn't see that title coming either. "Jesus? In HELL?" Well there is a Biblical suggestion that, at the time of his resurrection, Jesus "descended into hell" for the purpose of setting prisoners free. In the sense that there probably were, in hell (or, Sheol--"the place of the dead" which is different from hell), some number of people who would have desired, and would have accepted the Good work of salvation accomplished on the cross, if only they had the option before death, then yes, Jesus would have made it possible for them. The "whosoever" offer of salvation referred to in John 3:16 is not just for you today but is a universal truth that covers every generation of mankind. (I quickly add that I am not suggesting people who decide they do not like hell can simply opt out! Only that the ones who God knows would have chosen repentance and belief in Jesus, do get delivered from the future eternity in HELL.)

But I am not writing about that mysterious episode. In fact, a more accurate title to this post would be "NO JESUS in HELL." If you are prone to resist JESUS; if you are sick of hearing the name; or if you would rather societies everywhere act to banish his memory, his followers, and even his spirit; then you will finally get your wish, in HELL.

Now before you start celebrating this fact and declare that at least HELL has one redeeming factor, remember the warning from the guy rescued from Dark Island in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:"



“Fly! Fly! About with your ship and fly! Row, row, row for your lives away from this accursed shore. This is the Island where Dreams come true.”

“That’s the island I’ve been looking for this long time,” said one of the sailors. “I reckon I’d find I was married to Nancy if we landed here.”

“And I’d find Tom alive again,” said another.

“Fools!” said the man, stamping his foot with rage. “That is the sort of talk that brought me here, and I’d better have been drowned or never born. Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams–dreams, do you understand–come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams.”

There was about half a minute’s silence and then, with a great clatter of armor, the whole crew were tumbling down the main hatch as quick as they could and flinging themselves on the oars to row as they had never rowed before; and Drinian was swinging round the tiller, and the boatswain was giving out the quickest stroke that had ever been heard at sea. For it had taken everyone just that half-minute to remember certain dreams they had had–dreams that make you afraid of going to sleep again–and to realize what it would mean to land on a country where dreams come true."*


Considering that all things good, that any possible positive, that each joy and every delight was conceived, created and given by Him, then HELL is the strikingly opposite of JESUS. It's one thing for me to list off the excruciations of hell and warn of its perpetual active scourges, but the open question today is "Which is worse?" Perhaps the absence of all things simple and sweet, soft and kind, lit and lovely, gentle and good; (of all things JESUS) will be the heavier anguish to bear.


Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:3-5

*Read more: http://www.quotesquotations.com/narnia/the-voyage-of-the-dawn-treader-quotes.htm#ixzz4epTbQYWZ





By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

IDOLATRY in HELL


                      Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

Are you picturing the poor sap moving into his shabby, forlorn apartment in hell? He lets out a sigh as he stumbles in, tripping over those darn chains shackled to his ankles: "I'll have to get used to these things quickly!" he says aloud. and then begins to look around. Deciding to "make lemonade" out of this sour state of affairs, his first goal is to find just the right nook to set up the idol he brought with him; that dear friend he has loved and been devoted to all of his old earthly life. 

Not! In reality (as I imagine it) the idol will be there, but it will no longer be the complacent object or passive focus of attention it was content to be all of those years on Earth. Now in hell, the idol, or more to the point, the IDOLATRY, will aggressively act out its given position as the hell-dwellers god. Inasmuch as it was always given the place rightfully belonging to God, it now exerts the authority of God. Now the symbolism of the cardinal letter "G" is rightly applied to what was once only vying for a place in the spotlight of man's attention. The IDOL will have become a vicious tyrant. And instead of being posed and giving you a nice place to bow before it, it will spend eternity inventing ways to berate and depreciate you.

There have always been stone or wooden idols: Objects created by men who were eager to direct that inner knowledge of their own created nature away from that good understanding, toward the presumptuous illusion that they themselves were the creators! IDOLS were made and set up to take the place of the real God and to replace the real nature of man's need for humility and repentance. 

Modern man is not so honest. Instead of material objects, we prostrate our lives before ideas. Or we devote ourselves to programs and policies. We let the few years of our lives be digested by "entertainment" and "amusement." Ultimately, we set our own selves up to be IDOLS, and then continually bow down trying to slake our own self-made demands for gratification!

Paul tells the Colossian believers that greed is IDOLATRY and he explains what must be done with such dangerous IDOLS. 

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

They must die. If they are not killed here and now they will live on and on. We IDOLIZE some of those things listed above, hoping to be satisfied by them. But think about this: when the tables have turned, and your IDOL is finally given the place of the true and fully enabled GOD you only pretended it to be, the very sins you have chosen and elevated and IDOLIZED will be your uninhibited rulers.


             What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? 
 2 Cor 6:16


By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Monday, April 10, 2017

HATE in HELL

                       Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.










Don Adams, as Maxwell Smart, spoofed James Bond so well in the classic 1960s TV show "Get Smart." You just gotta love it! Which...is like the opposite of HATE. But HATE has its place. We need it to hate it, as the psychologist character in the video has just explained.

I think we will agree that there are in fact plenty of things worth HATING. I hate when I drop my pizza on the ground...face down! I hate snow plows when they come by and leave a giant berm of snow across my driveway just when I have to leave for work! I hate misunderstandings, and I hate lies and I hate fake news. I hate the devil (My Mom once told me that was OK.), and his evil (HATEFUL) plots to distract us from a relationship with God.


Finally. I've hit upon the ultimate good purpose for that vile feeling. To HATE what is evil. All that is evil. All corruption and transgression and lawlessness are worth HATING. Proverbs 6 tells us of 7 things "the Lord HATES":


There are six things the Lord hates,

seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,

a lying tongue,

hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.


Do you feel the ire rising up within you at the thought of each of these activities? I do. As God does. We would all be better off without them, and one day, we can be. "Without them," that is. In heaven, there will be humility instead of haughtiness, truth instead of lies, no violence or scheming, no evil to rush into nor any reason to lie, and no possibility of stirring up conflict! Nothing to HATE.

In hell, on the other hand, there will be nothing to love! Everything said or done or felt or thought will only be always HATEABLE, as well as HATEFUL. And every act of HATE will be met and answered (and raised) with more HATE. Can you remember the one time (or the worst time) when you felt an overwhelming flood of HATE toward someone? Such a wrenching outpouring will be magnified over and over in hell until the HATE itself will be a combustible thing that may actually be the very fire of hell. It will flow both ways, and always be burning as much whether being given or being taken. People in hell are prisoners of torment, but they are also the perpetrators of hell's flames.

Psalm 11:5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.





By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

GUILT in HELL

                       Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

"But of course," you say. If hell is really real, there will be guilt there. Yes, and nothing but guilt.

The general idea that people can earn salvation is widespread. Many otherwise "Christian" denominations even offer a kind of works-based way to heaven. They say that if we are more good than bad we are safe; if we perform a certain quota of sacraments, or meet the penance standard we will make it. Islam too teaches that if a man is at least 50% good then he may cross the line successfully. (Although they say Allah can still choose to to go with his impersonal whims. Even Muhammed, just before he died, was unsure if he had earned his way into paradise.)

But the GOOD NEWS is that our salvation is a free gift. Either we take it or we don't. We are all GUILTY and will suffer the consequences (The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23) ...unless we take the free gift! This is the only "unless" available, but it's a doozy! There are no good deeds, good works, good looks or good vibes required. 

Will you argue that admitting you are a sinner, confessing your sin, and then maybe nodding your head in agreement with God and declaring your willingness to...choke...receive the gift, are all a big pile of good works? If so, then I will admit defeat and you can say that you do in fact have to do a few things. After all, they may seem like minor or trivial things, and although they are not as outlandish as, say, the killing of infidels, these tokens of humility truly do represent a gargantuan sea change to a life otherwise known for sin. But please, just do them! 

This is the only way for your GUILT to be removed. God will not abide any portion or strain of GUILT in his presence. When asked, he will cover it by the rich sacrifice offered on your behalf at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Let the GUILT go to hell where it belongs. The place where those who insist on keeping it will bear it forever and ever. Those who plead "GUILTY" may be exonerated or forgiven, but those who insist on declaring their innocence, denying all truth, will only be convicted.

Exodus 23:7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.




By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?