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

Thursday, April 20, 2017


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

 Jesus made this declarative statement about his Father, our God:

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Mathew 5:45

QUIET, it seems to me, is like rain and like sunshine. Is the sun good? Or bad? How about rain? Is rain good or bad? I think we can all think of times when both sun and rain can be a great blessing or a terrible curse. Either one can wreak havoc or be a critical life saver. QUIET too can be either/or.

"Getting away from it all" is often an important goal. People sometimes need a break from the business and turmoil of life; from the hubbub and racket of machines and traffic and, yes, people. So a nice quiet place with maybe only a bubbling brook and a little breeze in the trees offers the perfect background music for relaxation and recovery.

But then again, getting closed in alone in a muffled elevator with nothing to hear but the berating thoughts of a guilty conscience can be torturous. Or worse, lying in bed in a dead QUIET house, wide awake and only wishing for some distracting noise or even a mild uproar to stifle the drama going on in your head. (I wonder if studies would show that deaf people tend to keep short accounts with their friends, being sure to quell the voices of guilt and bitterness and jealousy that the rest of us can more readily counter with NOISE.)

In HELL, I suspect, the only QUIET times are of the bad kind. Absolute silence of an unknown duration that does nothing good, but only fosters those haranguing indictments that can not be denied. Not a stillness that lets one "rest in peace" (there will be NONE of that in HELL!) or a quiescent purposeful dormancy, but a bare boned exposure and amplification of every thought.

Out of respect for our standing as independent creatures, made in his image, God only speaks to us in hushed, beseeching tones, and hopes we will listen. He tells us of himself through the magnificence of the material world he created, and waits for the one logical response. He answers our deepest questions in the QUIET form of a book, and only invites us to read about his ways.

One day such quality QUIET times will be unavailable. After a terrible windstorm, an earthquake, and a raging fire, God finally got through to Elijah in a gentle whisper. We should keep our ears perked up for that small QUIET voice of God, for he wants to save us from the forever badgering voices of guilt and shame that will plague those in HELL forever.

For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
                                                                                                        2 Corinthians 6:2

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017


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

The number one sin. The first sin. The worst sin. And the polar opposite of perhaps the most foundational virtue, humility. Humility allows one to listen and to receive from God what he says is needed (forgiveness and salvation). PRIDE works in the antagonistic direction. It is diametrically opposed to any consideration of God's perspective. Like "the lust of the eyes" and the "lust of the flesh," the PRIDE OF LIFE originates with the world and only supplants God.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Instead of the Lord's Prayer, here is PRIDE'S prayer:

"Our imaginary friend, who really is nowhere, forgotten be your name. MY kingdom come! MY will be done; here in my house and everywhere I go. You can't give me anything, and I won't give you anything. I will never forgive you for anything, but hold your nonexistent self in contempt instead. Nothing is wrong, so there is no "temptation" to avoid, and I will deliver evil wherever I go."

And it is this spirit that speaks ever louder and more powerfully into the ear and out the mouth of those in HELL.

Psalm 36 speaks to our PRIDE.

1  I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2  In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
3  The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
4   Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.

PS After further analysis, I have concluded that my milk pouring is not all I cracked it up to be.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017


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

My biggest fear, in writing these posts on HELL, is that the ideas offered and the perspective given are merely an expression of another fallible and foibled person (me). Of course any time anyone opens his or her mouth, or puts ideas out by pen or keyboard, they are taking responsibility for what is expressed. And I do. That's why I am scared. I do not want to be responsible for any misleadings or false teachings or OPINIONS which might misrepresent the truth about God or his order.

Misrepresenting God by the pushing of faulty OPINIONS can readily cause someone to "stumble." Here we see that each of the 3 synoptic Gospel writers share what Jesus had to say about the seriousness of such a mistake.

Matthew 18:6
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:2
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of  these little ones to stumble.

Mathew went on in verse 7 to suggest stumbling would indeed happen, and to warn us to be careful with our assertions. "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!"

This is why I try to reference a voice from The Bible in each post. Please call me out if a thought expressed here is not either backed up directly in Scripture, or easily inferred. Or if my inferences are flawed.

I think we suffer much from pushed OPINIONS. We have a new name for the phenomenon of mere OPINIONS being disguised as established fact: "Fake news." We stumble enough on our own without being mislead or encumbered with anything extra-factual.

But HELL, I think, will be filled only with untruth. Jesus said that he IS truth, so there will be only the opposite in HELL. Only OPINION. Which of course leads only to argument and dissension and bullying and hate. One aspect of HELL will be like being sucked into a Facebook comment thread where absolutely nobody can even present a fact and where no rules of logic can be used (they are too much based on truth). So yeah, like a Facebook comment thread!

What a horrible place to dwell in forever!

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Monday, April 17, 2017


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

In case you think this post is "all about you," let me set you straight. It's all about ME! 

You may be projecting a sarcastic voice into that last statement of mine, but alas, no. Too often--as in ALWAYS--I approach the day with that very ME-centric attitude. "How will the weather effect ME? today? Will anybody interfere with MY plans today? Nobody better have an accident and be lying there dying on the highway when I am trying to get to Walmart!" That last one may be a stretch (there is always another Walmart in a different direction), but you get the point.

It's bad enough here and now to be so NARCISSISTIC, but can you imagine that tendency growing in power and strengthening in its particularly selfish focus FOREVER? I feel a certain relief when I put someone else over my considerations. But that will never come in HELL. There will be no pause in the self-torment. Like Gollum falling into the molten mountain with that precious ring in his hand, we would go into HELL obsessed with our own vain wishes. Wide-eyed with expectations and desire for self-fulfillment, but only and always being burned by the hot lava of reality engulfing.

It will one day be too late to repent. TODAY is the day of Salvation. Now, let God empower the change from doomed sinner to forgiven and saved sinner with a promised eternity of celebrating Him, and of sharing a beautiful fellowship with the like-minded.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,"  Philippians 2:3

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Saturday, April 15, 2017


                       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."

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Friday, April 14, 2017


                           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

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Thursday, April 13, 2017


                 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

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017


                  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:

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017


                      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

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Monday, April 10, 2017


                       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! 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.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017


                       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.

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Friday, April 7, 2017


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

As if there will be anything like human interactions in hell! Anything like sexual fulfillment or even the unseemly and incommodious satisfaction of a conjugal visit! No. I do not believe there will be sexual pleasure in hell. Simply because sex is one of God's greatest ideas and one of his best gifts. None of which will exist in hell.

Mankind's perversions of sex, however, will abound. Shall I provide a list? Or do they readily spring to mind? They can all be broken down and recognized as evil spirits, I think, and these will thrive and infest hell. I do not mean to refer to "evil spirits" in hell which are actual demons. They will be suffering their own dire fates and not be gaining any satisfaction as tormenters. But I mean something far worse. The spirit by which one's sin is exercised and directed. For example, we talk about an element of our society called "rape culture." That brutal spirit of thievery and abuse; of overwhelming with raw power. That spirit will thrive and teem in hell. 

There is a spirit of adultery. We know the violation as a grievous affront to one's marriage partner by one partner having sexual relations with someone else (Prohibited by a wise God in the 7th Commandment). Jesus taught that this technical definition did not really cover what God had in mind when he gave the prohibition. He said that if someone even looked at another with lust in his heart he was guilty of adultery. If a guy "would if he could," then he was in violation. (What wife doesn't recognize and agree with this truism?) 

FORNICATION, though it does not violate any human marriage vows, stands as a trespass to the 7th (Do not commit adultery) Command because in the spirit of the order, is a message to us regarding the special nature of our sexual privilege. This gift is not meant to be spent recklessly nor selfishly. It is to be revered and reserved for that time and for that one person we are ready to commit to. In this sense, a transgression of such a commitment can occur either before or after the wedding.

But the infringement on God's plan of singular devotion will certainly play out and be extremely exacerbated in hell! Who in hell, who has already proven they have no allegiance or attachment to their creator, will care to hold fidelity to any other entity? People in hell do not become loyal followers of Satan, if for no other reason, than because "loyalty" or "fealty" represent another of God's good things that simply can not appear in hell. 

No. There will be no gathering or "partying with friends" in hell, where no hint of friendship and no taste of fellowship or camaraderie will ever appear. Only a constant effort to dissociate from God and instead to bond with any other spirit (FORNICATION) will futilely occupy each soul in hell forever.

Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017


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


noun: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.

verb: desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).

It's hard to imagine a sin that will more likely abound in hell than ENVY. The longing for some relief, for something better than what is being experienced there, is only natural and obvious. And since those who go to hell are absolutely bound to bring their sin with them--unforgiven, uncovered and uninhibited--the "discontented and resentful longing" will flourish wildly.

Of course, God always expected us to grow and improve, to make gains and to advance. He told Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Sometimes people see these instructions and react strongly against them, but I think that is only because we know the sinfulness of mankind (because we know the sin in our own hearts). We know nothing of a world or a civilization without the impact of sin on its history or its relations or even its geography.

Without ENVY and its ilk, such as COVETOUSNESS, we would have been fully capable of "subduing" the earth and "ruling" over it without any undo or objectionable consequences. Look at this definition of COVET, which was actually prohibited emphatically in the 10th Commandment (Exodus 20:17).


verb: to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others:

If only we could set out to grow and improve and prosper without being prompted to take unfair advantage, by the likes of ENVY! And if only those choosing hell could escape its ongoing ravages. But the spiteful and venomous fruit of ENVY will only "grow, and improve, and prosper" into eternity.

Exodus 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017


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

In the introduction to this series, I asked you to imagine that hell is real. Now I want to ask you to really stretch your imagination and try to picture something absolutely impossible. Try to picture the slightest trouble, in heaven. I know, right? Inconceivable! But let's try.

Heaven is better than earth, true? Of course. In fact, it is said that life on earth is both the believer's hell, and the heaven of the unbeliever. So the good things of earth will at least continue in heaven, though they are more likely to improve dramatically in wonder and beauty and goodness and joy etc. etc.. One of the good things that will continue for the believer in heaven is God's Word. Jesus said that his Word "will never pass away."

So if there WERE any trouble in heaven; any sad remembrances of our sinful past, any obstacles or traps, any pains or anxieties; we would be able to bring our concerns straight to Jesus, but of course, ever more directly than we do now when we are burdened with the like. Here are a few examples of casting cares upon the Lord from Psalm 25.

"Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me for you are good, O Lord."  Psalm 25:7  We can talk to God about anything, now and in heaven.

"My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare." Psalm 25:15  We have nothing to dread, neither here or in heaven.

"Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins." Psalm 25:18  If even now, while still habitually inclined to transgress God's standard, we can call upon him for relief of every worry, in heaven, we will forget all about burdens and just shrug our shoulders in confusion if such a word comes up in a game of Scrabble!

In hell, not so much. If Dante was right, and the inscription over the entry to hell does, in fact, say "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," you might take it as a challenge to your self-reliance and thus endure for a few centuries without DESPAIR, but it will come. For every chance you have now or would have had if you had elected to repent and accept God's forgiveness, to talk freely with the Creator, you will then be regretting fully what was forsaken. The chance to bring any burden to the Father will be forfeit. There will be no going back, no return, no second chance, no possibility of parole, and no hope.

We think we know something of DESPAIR because sometimes the pizza is burned or the Internet crashes, or the car crashes, or a bomb explodes or a tornado strikes. These are just a tickle compared to the DESPAIR worn and carried and intimately enwrapped about those in hell.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017


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

Do you think you will COMPLAIN if you are refused entry into heaven and end up in hell? Not necessarily. But if you live a life full of COMPLAINING, if your friends and family find that there are very few other platforms from which you speak, then (IF you refuse the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ!), yes, you will COMPLAIN in hell.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi, and included in his good counsel is this gem: "Do everything without grumbling or arguing..." Would that today's church (and people everywhere) would heed this simple and sound advice! In heaven we will. Heed the advice, I mean. Because in heaven, all of our sinful ways will be left outside the gate. The struggle to obey will be done, and the victory over all corruption will be won!

 But, if hell is the opposite of heaven we can assume that everything done in hell is done with grumbling or arguing. Not just the disparaging COMPLAINTS against God and his sovereign judgement (No VALID arguments against him will be made, by the way); not just faux "legal" arguments claiming innocence etc.; but EVERYTHING in hell will be done with grumbling!

Think of your most bitterly, constantly COMPLAINING friend who you can barely accompany to any event or non-event. It drives you nuts, and no amount of good news rebuttal gets anywhere with such a person. But multiply that habit by a million, set it aside where it will only grow and gain unmitigated power, and let eternity begin. The COMPLAINING spirit will be monstrous.

Hell is the place where the minor sins we sometimes laugh about, albeit with a cringe as we walk away relieved, become the very tools of torment we would suffer under.

Number 14:27      How long will this wicked community grumble against me?

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Monday, April 3, 2017


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

I was fixing myself a bowl of cereal this morning and as I poured the milk I realized that I very seldom have a drinkable remnant of milk to slurp up after the sodden flakes and banana slices are gone. Somewhere from the recesses of my mind (perhaps because I've been thinking about this posting, but not necessarily) came the thought: "I am pretty good at estimating the right amount of milk to put in the cereal." And then...."Who should I tell?" LOL! Of course, it was shame and embarrassment which followed next, but I was sadly impressed with how easily I slipped into BOASTING mode! (But pouring milk does just happen to be a big part of my skill set.)

By the way, the idea that someone saved from his sinfulness by the work done on the cross by Jesus Christ will never sin again is terribly incorrect. We are freed from the bondage to sin. From the slavery of sin. From the overwhelming proclivity to sin, but even being saved by grace and forgiven, we are still able to shun the right, and to choose the wrong. Thankfully, as God's Spirit led me to immediate acknowledgment and confession of my wrongful interest in BOASTING, he prompts us and nudges us and helps us to escape from the temptation to sin. And forgives us in Christ when we fail.

Back to the subject? Sure.

The Bible has a lot to say about BOASTING. And it's not all bad. I may BOAST in the love God has shown me but only in as much as He shows it to all of us because such "boasting" then reflects upon Him. I may BOAST in the character and accomplishments of my kids, as long as I am being truthful and encouraging, and I am not just trying to blow my own horn. Proverbs 27:2 says "Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips." So I may "OtherBoast" (praise), but not "SelfBoast."

We people have one major tendency to wrongful boasting that God was very determined to help us avoid. When someone recognizes their need for salvation, they often follow up by attempting to save themselves by setting out to perform some type of "good works" lifestyle. But if we could do that, can you imagine the swaggering approach we would make to those Pearly Gates? What a horrible heaven that would create! But we are saved by grace!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8,9

I think BOASTING is one of those sins that we can readily detect, and despise, in other folks, but are less likely to find within ourselves. We don't want to because we know it is so wrong. In fact, Psalm 94, as well as James 4, tell us that BOASTING goes hand and hand with evil.

They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. Psalm 94:4
As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. James 4:16

It may also be hard to imagine people walking into hell and still BOASTING. Perhaps we think someone who was determined to avoid humbling himself enough to be saved by the Cross will suddenly repent and regret that decision when facing hell, but I don't think so. The arrogance that refuses salvation by grace will only grow worse after conviction. Like the murderer who screams out from death row "I'll get you for this!," the BOASTER in hell will make some inane claim to fame. "I am more depraved and more deprived of anything good than the rest of you!" 

Let us repent now. In the light. Choose grace and after spending the rest of our lives growing in Christ and growing little buds of good fruit, then let's move to heaven to spend eternity flowering and producing and enjoying unimagined blessings instead.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017


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

I can just hear the response to this headline. "Of course there's ANGER in hell! Who wouldn't be angry if some cruel god threw them in there for no good reason?" But I'm not talking here about that anger, which will actually be more of a delusional self-justifying, fist-shaking-at-God hubris. We may get to that later in the month. I'm talking about the kind of anger you feel and express when the driver in front of you turns abruptly without signaling, or stops too quickly, or doesn't move fast enough, or turns into your path too suddenly.

Or the anger you feel when it starts pouring down rain just when you have to get out of the car. Or when your printer is out of ink. Or when you stub your toe or step on a lego. When you take a minor, innocent incident personally, and instantly claim that your right to go on unbothered has been unjustly violated!

If you're a person who can't accept the impact of nature or of nature's God or of others who, like yourself, are created in God's image but are fallen into imperfection, then you will reject God's offer of justification and forgiveness. You will never know the peace He has in store for you, and will not be able to allow others to enjoy such a treasure. In such a state, ANGER is truly guaranteed and unavoidable.

And it will be with you in hell, always.

If hell is a place without God, which it is, by definition, then there will be no sign of the good effect his spirit has on us here and now (when we allow it). No conscientious needling to lead us to back down from road rage into embarrassment; no meddlesome guilty remorse to keep us humble when our anger carries us down the wrong accusatory trail; and no eruptions of sorrow to reign us in when an outburst is more hurtful than intended. And that, because there will never be any limit to the intended hurt!

The point I want to make here has to do with the sad corollary of the old adage "Practice Makes Perfect." If persistent practicing of free-throws leads to a near 100% accomplishment on the court, what will an eternity of rehearsing totally uninhibited angry outbursts do to the soul? In as much as heaven is a place where the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) are ever growing and multiplying in us, so hell is a place where the rotten fruit of our sinfulness is only putrifying and metastasizing forever and ever.

We can choose now whether we want to experience love, joy, peace, etc. and go on and on with these gifts developing more and more into such wonderful manifestations that can not be imagined now; or cling to our sins--rebuffing forgiveness!--and let them overpower and torment us increasingly and eternally.

HOSEA 7:2 Their sins engulf them.

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An A to Z Introduction to HELL

Let's pretend you believe in hell. I don't need to pretend because I do believe in hell. The Bible talks about it; Jesus talked about it quite a bit. Plus, it makes sense. It doesn't make me feel good, but there are many real and nasty things out there which make me feel bad. If it's real it's real. To proceed with this discussion then, just pretend that you believe it exists.

So what's it like?

Let's never mind about the devil. Hell will indeed be his place, not to manage or operate or use for his sadistic delight; nor even for him to "dwell" in as some kind of suitable habitation for one of his ilk, but it will be a place for him to suffer in, with the ever-painful realization that he rejected his creator God. We know he will be thrown there. That part is settled. But what about you? Will you choose to go there?

I know that sounds funny. "Who would CHOOSE to go to hell?" you say. But when we die, we don't stand at the door and choose smoking or non-smoking (that used to be a thing), paper or plastic, red state or blue state. Rather, all the while we are making decisions like these in life, we are also in the process of deciding on heaven or hell. It may or may not show on the surface of your life--in your association with or without religion; in your words and deeds; or even in your thoughts. But down deep in your heart, where only God can truly look, your chosen "bent" is clearly seen.

Think about this question: If you found reasonable answers to all of your intellectual and cultural objections to trusting in God, would you? Or would that internal bend still refuse to lean toward Him? If you are not immediately responding with a "YES!" then the answer is "NO!" and you know it.

The A to Z posts this month will try to envision a life in hell. An ongoing, eternal and ever building process of "life" in that place without God, but full of you. The Bible says that right now if we struggle at all, we struggle against "the world, the flesh, and the devil." I propose that in hell, all three of these enemies will be rendered moot. There will not only be the incredible absence of God, as Jesus felt on the cross when he cried out "My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?", but there will be no "world," no "flesh," and no "devil" to contend with. But worse. There will be the sinful you.

The series opens on Saturday April 1st with "ANGER in HELL."

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