What the Hell?

The word “hell” is used frequently in our society.  “Hot as hell”, “mad as hell”, “hell no”, “hell yes” and many other phrases containing references to hell are used. But many people using “hell” language have no idea about the reality of the awful place called hell.  Hell is real.  Hell is to be avoided at all cost!


There are several Greek words that are translated as “hell” in the New Testament.  Gehenna is the word Jesus frequently used in His teaching.  Gehenna comes from the Hebrew phrase “Valley of the sons of Hinnon”.  During a time of rebellion against God several hundred years before Jesus appeared on the earth, Jews worshiped the Canaanite god Molech by sacrificially burning their children with fire in that valley. After this practice was banned, Gehenna was forever viewed as a cursed place and only used to burn trash and the bodies of dead animals. Gehenna was a place filled with decay, worms, filth, an awful stench and smoldering fires.  Jesus used Gehenna as a metaphorical term to describe the horrors of the place for departed spirits that did not know God.  In Mark 9:48, Jesus declares of hell, “Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

Jesus tells the story in Luke 16 of a rich man that died and went to hell.  This man cries out from hell with these words, “And being in torments in hell (the grave), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (place of rest and peace).  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ Flames, worms, anguish – it all sounds horrible, but the worst part will be the absence of the presence of God and His peace.  Will real worms consume people while fires burn them alive?  I don’t know, but I do know that hell will be a horrible place where sinners are separated from God and left alone in anguish and torment.  There will be no peace, no Holy Spirit and no way of escape.

Many times we see renditions of hell where the devil is king and demons are tormenting the poor souls that are there.  That idea is totally false.  The devil will not be in charge of anything in hell.  Actually, hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41), not mankind.  The devil and his demons will be in horrible torment and eternal damnation.

One more interesting fact about hell is that it will not be the final resting place of the lost or the devil and his angels.  After the resurrection, hell itself with all its inhabitants will be thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 21:8 (Composite) makes it plain, “But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars—the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  It sounds like hell is merely a holding place for the spiritually dead while the lake of fire is eternal prison.

The question is always asked, “Why would a loving God send anyone to hell?”  The answer is simple – He doesn’t.  God is not the hell sender.  He is the savior from hell.  Even though man ‘s sin separated him from God, Jesus was sent to pay the price for mankind’s sin and set  us right with God.  As redeemed children of God, we simply go to our Father God’s house when we die while the lost go to their devil daddy’s eternal home in hell.  Actually, the choice of eternal homes is given to each person.

If you are reading this and you are not sure of your eternal destination, then simply pause now and decide to turn from your sin and give your life to Jesus. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord (boss) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”  Simply tell Jesus that you turn away from your sin and choose him as Boss of your life.  If you do that simple act, you are now a child of God and saved from hell.  Now follow up by finding a Bible believing church where you can grow in your faith and fellowship with your new brothers and sisters.

If you are reading this and already saved, it is so important that we not only thank God for the sacrificial blood of Jesus that allows us to escape hell and live eternally with our king, but that we share the gospel with those that do not know Jesus.  If we don’t reach them, they are doomed to an eternity without God in the lake of fire.  Get busy Christians!

God bless you all!.

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Turning your Dreams into Reality

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years? At retirement age?  What has God called you to do in ministry, in business, in family? Do you have written goals for your life?  Do you dream of doing something great in God’s kingdom?

Understanding hope is a necessity in making your dreams come true.  Hope is not wishful thinking but a spiritual force just like love or faith.  Hope is the expectation of future events.  When hope is mixed with faithful action, dreams come true.


When we seek the Lord, He will show us His blueprint for our lives.  One of my favorite scriptures is Jerimiah 29:11:  For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” It is really encouraging to me that God has a specific plan for my life. By seeking the Lord and following His Spirit, I have been able to move into God’s plan for my life.  Have I gotten it all 100% right?  Of course not!  But I have followed God into ministry and been a faithful husband and father.  Here are a few scriptural tips to experience turning dreams into reality:


  1. Proclaim it – Habakkuk 2:2 states, “The Lord gave me this answer: Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance (GNT).” Back in the 70’s, we were in serious financial trouble. We owned a house we couldn’t afford, a car we couldn’t afford and had two children to provide for.  We sold the house and paid off the car, but things were still seriously tight financially. After attending a financial seminar where I was reminded that God wants His children to be successful, I wrote my vision for my financial and ministry life on a note card and stuck it in my wallet.  Here is what I wrote: “At the age of 45, I expect to be totally debt free, with xxx dollars in the bank, and our sons’ college money in savings.”  I carried that card, proclaimed the message to myself, and prayed over it for 15 years.  At age 45, we had achieved those financial goals, and I entered full time ministry.


  1. Plan it. Proverbs 16:9 says, A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lorddirects his steps. Plans are essential in production.  We have built several houses and a church building over our lives and each one had a drawn set of plans.  However, we should remember that the Holy Spirit is our master builder.  He can and will make worthwhile changes to our plans.


  1. Pursue it. James 2:20 reminds us that “faith without corresponding action is dead or useless.” It is so important to put actions to our prayers and believing. Whether it is furthering one’s education or winning more people to Jesus, it all takes work. Plan your work; then work your plan.


So, there we have it!  God has every intention of blessing us and fulfilling our dreams, but we must proclaim it, plan it, and pursue it!

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Sardine Santa

“Sardines and crackers?  Why would Santa want sardines and crackers?” I asked my mother.  My little brother and I knew that Santa wanted cookies and milk. He told us himself when we sat in his lap in Woolworth’s.  Mom said, “Well, that’s right sometimes, but Santa told me that he wanted sardines and crackers at our house.”  She smiled as we got a can of sardines and a few saltines and put them on the table for Santa.  My brother and I scurried off to bed and I went to sleep dreaming of riding the new bike Santa would bring.  Santa stood by eating sardines and crackers.

I figured out a couple of years later that Santa was really mom and dad.  No real Santa would ever eat sardines. They were awful and smelly.  Only my father could bear to eat them.  I asked my dad who Santa really was and he said that Santa was the spirit of Christmas but he and mom bought the gifts. That made a little sense to me since I had heard about the Holy Spirit in Sunday school.  That bit of information did cause somewhat of a stir at my grade school when I told Billy Robertson that Santa and the Holy Ghost were kinda like brothers.  My mom got a call from the school and I was severely reprimanded and sent to my room to think about what I had done.  I thought about it and figured that I had gotten it wrong.  Santa and the Holy Ghost were not brothers but cousins.  I never brought it up again.

Now, as I reflect on those early Christmas seasons, I remember family, food, gifts, squabbles, excitement, disappointment and depression.  I remember seeing baby Jesus in the manger and even being in Christmas pageants, but for me Jesus was always part of the scenery, not the object of my Christmas affections.  Even as a young church member, I didn’t know the Savior.

I progressed into a friendly but somewhat jaded young man that only lived to serve himself.  Christmas became an event to just “get through” rather than a time to honor the birth of the Savior. I didn’t really care about family gatherings, giving or receiving gifts, or anything else to do with Jesus or Christmas.  I was truly miserable at Christmas time but didn’t seem to know why.

Then I met a young woman that truly loved Christmas. Her name was Ann and she loved Jesus too.  Ann and I dated off and on for about 18 months before I was captured by the Savior.  For the next six months I grew by leaps and bounds as the Holy Spirit began to break down my walls and prepare me for his service.  Ann and I were married in August of 1970.  I gave her a fur coat with a leather collar for our first “married” Christmas.  A picture of her wearing it still gleams in our living room 44 years later.

Today, Christmas is fun.  The family, friends, delightful Christmas goodies, gifts, carols, pageants and even Santa are still all part of the Christmas scenario but Jesus is now central to Christmas.  Actually, Jesus is Christmas.

Thank you King Jesus for taking human form, dying on the cross, rising from the dead, securing our salvation and filling us with the Holy Spirit.  I will worship you on Christmas day and every day.

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The “Why” Question

I guess my background and training as an engineer has always caused me to ask “why?”  Whether conducting an experiment in a college laboratory or wondering why a certain Christian seemed to be missing the blessings that God had planned for him, I have always wanted specific answers to the question “Why?”

I have often taken time to ponder the “why” question as it relates to the successes and disappointments that I have observed in my life and the lives of others over my 44 years as a believer.  Why do some Christians always seem to have the blessing of God on their lives while others seem to constantly struggle?  I believe there are three characteristics that yield success in the Christian life that I have seen emerge in my life and the lives of others.  These characteristics are consistency, availability, and spiritual passion.

Consistency simply means doing the same thing over and over again.  An athlete that trains and practices on a daily basis will normally be much more successful that an athlete that trains in a haphazard manner.  This principle works for students and business people alike.  This principle also works in the negative.  If a person consistently drinks alcohol or takes illegal drugs, they have a very high chance of becoming an addict.  For the Christian, consistent obedience in lifestyle, prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers leads to the blessing of God according to His Word.

Availability is the second key.  God is much more interested in availability than ability.  Jesus didn’t target the super religious Jewish businessmen called Pharisees as His followers, but rather He called fishermen and other common people.  Jesus is looking for folks that don’t “have it all together” so that His amazing abilities can flow through available “earthen vessels”.  When Ann and I founded Victory Fellowship Church, we did whatever was necessary to meet the needs of the people.  I was the preacher, janitor, music leader, and general flunky.  She also preached, cleaned, took care of the children, and spent hours in counseling.  The church grew and thrived because we were willing to trust God rather than our own abilities.  Now, 18 years later, we are surrounded by a wonderful group of people that have given their hearts to Jesus and their time and energy to spreading the gospel.

Finally, spiritual passion is the glue that holds it all together.  Genuine love for Jesus keeps commitment from becoming obligation.  Only through an ongoing relationship with the Savior can we allow the love of the Father to flow through us on a daily basis.  When I miss my time in God’s presence and in His Word, I tend to become bitter, offended, self-centered and worldly.  Only by spending time with Him can my spiritual passion for Jesus become stirred up and active.  Only when I am full of His Spirit can I continue to reach out to the broken and hurting.

Whether believing for the blessing of God in our own lives or sharing the life of Jesus with another, without consistency, availability, and spiritual passion, our results will be mixed at best.  I encourage you to examine your life and see if these characteristics are working to bring about the good things that God intends for you and your family.

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Mother, Where’s My Teeth?

Do you have childhood events that are forever stuck in your memory?  One of the memories that always travels across my mind and brings a smile, happened just before our family was going out for the evening.  My brother and I had already gotten dressed and were waiting in the den for our parents.  Suddenly our dad came in excitedly looking for his partial dental plate.  He kept saying to our mom, “Mother, where’s my teeth?  We are late and I can’t find my teeth!”  He then enlisted my brother and me for the search.  All four of us spread out in search for the missing teeth.  We looked in all the bathrooms, bedrooms, and on the table next to dad’s recliner.  We looked under beds and the breakfast room table, but no teeth.  Dad continued running around excitedly asking, “Mother, where’s my teeth?!”  Suddenly I heard a hilarious laugh from my mom as she shouted with glee, “Silly, they’re in your mouth!”  We all had a big family laugh and went out for the evening.


Sometimes Christians are just like my dad.  We scurry around excitedly asking God to give us something when we already have it.  Consider Romans 10:8-10 (GNT).

What it says is this: “God’s message is near you, on your lips and in your heart”—that is, the message of faith that we preach.  If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved.  For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved.

 When we pray, we are not trying to get God to do something.  We are simply asking in agreement for what he has already done in the finished work of the cross.  It is by our belief in and confession of His promises that we receive salvation and wholeness in every area of our lives.

Remember that the Greek word for save is sozo which means to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to make well, to heal and restore to health, to preserve and to deliver from divine judgment.  Wow!  All of that is in that little word and it was given to us when Jesus endured the cross and rose from the dead!

So, the next time you cry out to God for something you need, remember that He has already provided all of our needs through Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  Therefore, we can believe in our heart and declare with our mouth that the deliverance, protection, healing, restoration and wholeness that Jesus purchased for us are moving in us right now!

I sure don’t want to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Silly, what you need is in your heart and in your mouth.”  Rather, I want to believe it, confess it, and receive it!”

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The Passion of Jesus

God has really been stirring me up concerning my passion for Him.  I am beginning to sense a new fire in my spiritual life as I seek the Lord and His ways.  I have been studying various characters from the pages of scripture and see a real zeal for God in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and many others.  However, the most passionate person I find in all of the scriptures is the Lord Jesus Himself.  I see great passion in His cleansing of the temple and His ministry to the sick and demon possessed.  I see great passion in the fact that He came to save broken people like you and me.  Jesus is our model for a zealous, passionate Christian life.  As I have taken a fresh look at the life of Christ, I find His passion is centered in three areas:

Jesus was passionate about his relationship with God the Father.  Jesus said in John 5:19, “The son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.”  Also, in John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can of myself do nothing.  As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”

Jesus was passionate about His prayer life.  In Mark 1:32-35, we find an amazing story.  Jesus is healing the sick and casting out demons in Capernaum.  In the evening, the entire city comes to the house where He is ministering to the people.  He must have prayed for thousands of people far into the night, yet we find these words in verse 35: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place and there He prayed.”  It is hard for me to believe that Jesus didn’t at least get a good night’s sleep after all that ministry.  But Jesus found it necessary to connect with His heavenly Father in prayer in order to “recharge His spiritual battery.”  We find this same scenario throughout the New Testament as Jesus approaches His prayer life with great passion.

Jesus was passionate about people.  The whole idea of the incarnation is about Jesus’ willingness to clothe Himself in flesh and journey after His lost and dying people.  Jesus loved us so much that He poured out His very life-blood for a rebellious people that only deserved death and separation from a holy God.  Jesus’ passion for people manifested itself in two ways. Jesus spent years training men that would take His place in proclaiming the gospel after He went back to the Father.  Jesus ministered unceasingly to the masses of diseased and demonized people that the religious leaders of His day simply ignored. jesus passion

Jesus is still full of passion today.  He is in full fellowship with His father in heaven.  He tirelessly intercedes for you and me as we live our lives on this earth.  Jesus is also still issuing invitations to a lost and dying world to accept Him as Lord and King.  He is continuing to train His church to reach out to this current generation.

I encourage you, as we move into the Easter season – let the passions of Christ become your passions.  t your relationship with God be red hot.  Spend time in prayer cultivating that special relationship.  And finally, reach out to the lost and hurting around you that so desperately need the Savior.  May our lives be filled with the passion of Jesus!

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The Mercy and Grace Connection

I had mercy and grace mixed up for years. I used them interchangeably as if they were the same concept. But Mercy and grace are totally different from each other but work together to meet the needs of God’s people.


Mercy is God’s not requiring payment for sin. Mercy sets us free when we should be held accountable. Mercy comes as a result of God’s amazing love and grace. In a personal example, I have received mercy several times from police officers that stopped me for a traffic violation but didn’t give me a ticket. I was guilty but I didn’t have to pay for my “crime”. Thank God for Mercy!!

In the basic form, grace simply means favor, but God’s grace is much more than that. Charles Capps says “grace is God’s willingness to use His ability and power on our behalf even though we don’t deserve it.” My own definition of grace is “Gods power, wrapped in God’s favor and energized by God’s love. “
In short: Grace is the power to change!

Without God’s mercy, we simply die in our sins and are heard from no more. But mercy keeps us alive and connected to God so that grace can do its job of changing us.

Hebrews 4:16 clearly shows the mercy and grace connection: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” When we have a problem or need in life, we are clearly instructed on what to do.

1. We boldly enter into God’s presence because of what Jesus has done on the cross. God’s favor toward us as His child enables us to walk right into His presence.

2. Once in God’s presence, we ask for His mercy in our situation. Maybe we have messed our life up big time or maybe we are under attack from the devil, but we need mercy in either case. We ask for mercy and we receive it. If we have sins to confess, we do so and receive mercy in the form of forgiveness.

3. Now we are ready to be empowered by grace to see our situation change by the power of God. Maybe we receive a scripture that builds our faith or God sends a person to minister to us. But grace provides answers and power to change our situation and grow our spiritual lives.

It is my prayer that we all realize that mercy and grace are just a prayer away. As we face life’s problems and seek do God’s will, the mercy and grace connection will empower us to experience victory in our everyday lives. Plus, we will be ready to meet the needs of those around us. Thank God for His wonderful gift of the Mercy and Grace Connection.

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