Does God really "save" Everybody?

Some Christians have stumbled at the question, "Does God save those who do not hear the Gospel? What about those in countries that did not have the Bible or churches or preachers?" This question unanswered, turns once Christ following sons and daughters into either ignorant believers, who discard reason and intellectual capacity with "faith", or non-believers, where the God of the Holy Bible no longer exists because of His lack of moral dignity. So what is the answer to this question?

Listen to this: The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:24-27

There are numerous accounts where people from various countries who have never been to a church or never opened up a Bible have had encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ. These countries, mind you, are not "biased" in the sense that they have something to gain by "making up" a story about Jesus; these stories are mainly from Islamic states and atheistic communities. Persian Springs is a fantastic book that recounts many tales of such dreams and visions of Jesus among un-churched people groups.

It is crystal clear then, that God does not simply create man and woman to watch them "burn in hell" as some have eloquently expressed to me, but rather, gives everybody an opportunity to reach out and find Him, for I truly believe that when Jesus said "Seek and you shall find," (Matt 7:7) that is exactly what He meant.

Jesus Christ did not say you must come through a "mediator", like a preacher or a prophet to get to Him; He said I AM the Mediator that will unite you with the Father of heaven and earth. Jesus Christ did not say "There are many ways to God, I am but one of them"; He proclaimed that I AM God, the One God that is over and above all things. And finally, Jesus Christ did not say that He shows favoritism based on race, color, gender, or bank account; Jesus declared "I am the bread of life. WHOEVER comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6.

God is love.

The American Who Once Was

Listen Church! Many Christians believe they no longer serve idols. Let me ask us all a few questions... when we check our bank account today... after we've taken out money for our expenses, food, rent, mortgage, etc., where does our money go then? Then when we check our time today... after we've taken time out for our needs, job, kids, etc., where does our free time go? And when we check our thoughts... after we've focused on our needs, work, relationships, etc., where do our thoughts go? And finally, when we check our hearts... after we've answered these questions about what we spend our money, time, and thoughts on... are we free enough to say our idols are made of our hobbies? Or our human praise? What about furry creatures that take up enough of our money that we could feed multitudes of starving children with that same money? I have yet to meet an actual loving father who considers his dog a person.

Foolish American, who has bewitched you? Don't you know that not everyone who calls Jesus "Lord" will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? And I quote:

‘LORD, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then THEY will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” -Matthew 25:44-46

Be careful then, for life is but a fleeting moment, a whisper in the wind, and the Lord may call on you at any moment... let not that day come upon you like a thief in the night, but rather, keep oil in your lamps that they may be lit when He comes for you, for even now HE is ready and willing to heal you, to bring you back into His House, ready to make all things new once more, by the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. God is love.

Listen to My Heart

How I long for heaven!

I have not seen anything on this earth that can match the joy I can only imagine we will have, when we see that place where we dance among the new heavens, where no tears are shed and no pain is felt... in the twinkling of an eye, we will be in the place where unending bliss is just a glimpse of what is to come, and will never pass away..

How fleeting is the life of man on this earth! Where every emotion one may have felt no longer exists, and where every thought one may have thought will never come to be thought. It is a fleeting life this earth, a sinking ship, a star that is falling, awaiting its' doom while hopelessly burning through the night sky, shedding off its' own glory in marvelous light before its' tragic end.

How I long for heaven, the everlasting!

I have been to many funerals in my life, and still at least one more to come before my time is up here. And I have seen the tears racing down the cheeks of men, women and children, and shed them together with my loved ones... and no one, not a single soul on earth can say they have not felt the same pain and angst that comes with the cold, pale complexion that overtakes the vibrant soul we once called 'friend.' How fleeting this life is, how quick is its' end!

Oh Father, when will we learn? When will we see we were created for so much, yet we continue to settle for so little? We are so much more than refilling the day's rations of water and happiness, only to awake needing more of the same thing. Are we the hamster that runs in place atop a meaningless wheel? Oh when will we finally know that You are the source of eternity itself? For You are the Great Eternal One! The One who made us for joy and peace that is everlasting, all-satisfying, and never-ending. You are the Most High and Great Creator, who made us with a single Breathe, who tells the stars where they should go, the rivers to run over or run dry, the oceans to be still or rage on through the darkest of nights..

When will we know?
Will it be too late then?

God, I am just a man. Who am I that You give thought to me? I am just a whisper in the wind, a fleeting moment that passes by that only a few will notice. But I am a man that You have noticed, and that means the world to me, that means the world to me.

How I long for You my King, the One who put the earth in its' place, the One who brought me out of my own mire and breathed life into a lifeless body... the One who has given me visions and dreams of a better place than here, and a better time than now. You have given me hope, a hope I will soon never forget, and never regret. You have given me life, and a glimpse of what is to come. Like a fish out of the sea, I am jumping and jumping to be where I belong! Eternally with my Maker, my Father, My King, My God, My Jesus.. I love You, I love You, I love You. Listen to my heart Lord, You know that I do.

A Thirsty Son

Oh why oh soul of mine, do you fear?

Why does the Lord make me wait upon Him? How I long for You my Beloved Savior!

How I desire to see You face to face, and be embraced by Your loving arms forever in eternal bliss, in the land of milk and honey, in the land of forever peace and mercy.

How my eyes long to gaze upon the golden gates of heaven, knowing that the works of these hands have built everlasting treasure in the everlasting House of the everlasting One, the great I AM! Oh Lord don’t have me wait too long, for my soul is weary and eyes are dry from tears. The Enemy mocks me and accuses me day and night, oppressing the righteous and confusing the truth lover. Oh Lord please do not wait long, for my soul and my heart pants for you, my eyes run rivers of tears in hope, for I know I will yet again praise Your Name, for though I am hungry now, I know You. You who are called faithful… You will fill me yet again. I will see You again. I will not fear any longer, for my God is beside me. He is righteous, He is called Faithful, for He is the Faithful Father; He can not deny Himself... My God and My King! I cry out to you! Hasten to Your servant, Your son, for Your Beloved cries out to you this night and the next. I will anxiously wait for You in the morning, yes, my soul anxiously waits for my Groom to return. I long for You my Jesus, my God, my King, my Beloved.

A Teenage Pharisee

When I was 19...

"It's a sad thing when friends turn from one another. It is sad when a person's religion, is the line that is drawn between two lovers, or two friends, or even two family members. You see, there was a time when Christians tried to justify segregation between whites and blacks, by arguing that Negroes were inferior by nature because of Noah's curse on the children of Ham. But we are taught that this is wrong, and we can all see that now, now that it has already happened. We can all say with confidence that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus."

You would have said this to those who were racist, correct? To those who you would say didn't "know better"? But there is something that is still in question, because there is still segregation among us, among the church, among believers, although we claim to "know better". It is not racial, nor sexist...but a segregation within the Body of Christ. This is not new, and it never was. There has been more than 250 denominations within Protestantism in America, and it's still going. The true Body of Christ has no denominations, no divisions, no quarrels, no gray, just black and white, just truth.

The segregation comes from the danger of claiming to know more than another. This claim turns into a "spiritual arrogance" as MLK put it, that a man or woman who sits at his or her church, lifting their arms high in the air praising the Lord, believes that he or she is actually BETTER than the person next to them. Don't get this confused, everybody will say they are not perfect, this is not what I said, I said BETTER, not perfect. I know you don't think you're perfect, I know. But try and picture a Pharisee today, picture a church leader, a club leader, a praise leader, a person who is always in the front of the church, who is on time every Sunday, who goes to every small group, every retreat, every revival, every rally, every missions...picture this. And seeing this man having a full resume of "good deeds", it is not hard to believe that he would be arrogant, that he would see himself being a little bit "better", a little bit more "qualified" to sit at the Right Hand of God than a man who is lacking in these "church credentials".

And as a very simple example, imagine a person who has claimed to have been a christian all his life, who also has a full resume of "good deeds", sees another man showing up to his church on Sunday's sporadically, inconsistently, always late, and always in the back row. What would he think? What did you think? You see it was never the deed that made a Christian, but the faith. And yes, faith without deeds is dead, but it has to start with faith. That man who did all those great things for the church was spiritually dead, he believed that every good deed he did, he became that much of a better person, and began falling in love with himself, and did it for that exact reason. And as he grew older, he started doing more and more, for the sake of being recognized in the church as a person of integrity, because it felt good believing he was righteous, not perfect, but righteous. And I can see this in many of you, I can see it in your eyes, your talk, in your actions, through your "white-washed tombs".

How? How can you claim to see so much? Because that was me, I was that man. I tell you this through writing, because I know it will hurt you if I personally said it, because then you would believe I was judging you, and my integrity in your mind would become lower than it already was, and nothing would come of it. I saw you looking at me when I was high, when I was at those parties, when I was with those girls, fulfilling my temporal desires as a human. And I saw you look down on me. And I believed you. I believed you were better than me, because I once believed I was better than you.

And to some of you I wish I could just say it, because I know reading this will not change you, reading this will not make you realize that you have been lying to yourself for so long. It took me two years of loneliness, emptiness, drugs and more drugs, and a man from my church that helped me realize this(u know who u are), and I thank you. He also helped me realize I had turned back into that same person, that I once again looked down on those who use to be like me, going back to the danger of claiming to knowing more than another, to know absolute truth. And to those of you who are in a position in your church to speak out, personally, face to face, with that person you know is not true, is a Pharisee, then speak out. Tell them. Don't let them nod their heads and go on with their business like they'll be nodding their heads if they read know they'll agree with everything you say. But they don't believe it. Be blunt, be clear, above all pray. I may be young, but this much I know."

When My Friends Didn't Like Me

There was a time in my life when I heard that many of my friends were quietly upset with me. I had gotten under their skin without even knowing it, and the fruit I had grown was selfishness and a hunger to have my own way, and the root of it was my pride. I asked one of my closest friends, "How come nobody said this to me?" He replied "Because Andy, your pride always caused arguments, and your rhetoric never allowed for anything to happen." I promised him I would keep my mouth shut when he would speak to me of these issues from here on out, and I made him promise me that day to always, always tell me the truth from now on. From then on, I regularly asked him "Did I do it again? Please tell me. Am I doing anything else wrong? Please tell me. You are all valuable to me. Forgive me." As painful as this pruning process was, it was necessary, and one that I continually go over to this day.

"When did we let evil become stronger than us?" -Tauriel, the Hobbit. When did we let ourselves believe that we no longer needed accountability? This implies an arrogance beyond correction; the belief that one needs no correction. This implies a weakness of the heart and the mind; the inability to hear the truth that disables our ability to turn TO the truth.

One day, after praying for a week straight about a certain pressing issue in my life, the Lord answered me at the end of the week through a friend I had not spoken to in years, by a dream he had of me, regarding that exact same issue. One thing he said to me was "I had not seen you in a long time, but when we sat down together, I saw an Andy I had never seen before, the most humble Andy I ever imagined." After thanking God for this, I prayed to Him again saying "Oh Lord, how I desire this, how I long to be this humble man that I never believed I could be, and was unable to do in the vigor and passion of my youth... Father, make me holy like You."

Many of you know I have been pastoring a group of college students that I have come to love dearly, as a father loves and cares for his own, and I imagine it is some of you that are reading this blog. I tell you the truth, there have been many moments with some of them that have been difficult, where in my youth my pride and anger would have bested me, and the Enemy would have won the day. Yet the only reason the Lord has appointed me to be their pastor, is because of this pruning process I undertook many moons ago, and continue on to this day. Any pastor who claims to be perfect, is a liar, and a dangerous man/woman who is vulnerable to become as the pharisees were in the days of Jesus. One thing I learned from my youth pastor Johnny, was his humility. How difficult it must have been for him to deal with kids like me and my peers in our teens! I never realized it then, but walking a mile in his shoes has opened my eyes and he has gained even more of my respect.

Is not a friend who tells the truth better than an enemy who tells lies? For one who tells lies is an enemy, and the clever ones guise themselves as friends. Beloved I tell you now, to speak truth to one another in love, that you may grow up in every way to be like the Master (Eph 4:15), removing the planks out of your own eyes to clearly remove the specks in your friends'. And this is not to hurt your friends, to ridicule them, or to lord yourself over them as if you wanted to become the "wise sage" of your group (it is God who will appoint that one)... but to reveal a sin to a friend is to draw out the admission of their sin that can bring about their repentance and salvation.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. - Proverbs 28:13

Be of good courage, go forth and speak to them truth in love, in gentleness, in humility, knowing you are no better than any other, for "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment." -Proverbs 28:13 God is love.

Is There More?

Do you ever notice it's easier to believe the bad stuff about yourself, than the good? I mean, it's easy to believe it when people put you down, and it's even easier to listen to the whispers in your head telling you you're lower than what you really are. The Bible speaks of us as "sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty," (2 Cor 6), but it takes long hours of constant reminder to make a person truly realize who they really are. If we keep a person in prison long enough, they will eventually believe that they belong there, even if they do not. That's why the apostle Paul tells us to keep our minds set on heavenly things (Col 3), on our future place of glory and ever-increasing wonder and amazement (2 Cor 5), living in the heavenly realm where beaches never end and the skies are so beautiful they set you free every time you take in a breathe, staring into a vastness with no beginning or end... Can you imagine the beauty that awaits us? My heart longs for that place called Heaven, the place where the Perfect One dwells and we along with Him... truly, our imaginations have a greater purpose than to dwell on the things below in the world. How often do we fill our minds with songs and stories that only take us to the tallest mountains on earth, yet even the highest places in the world are lower than the lowest places among the stars... and beloved, we were meant for the stars.

There was once a very popular story called "Pretty Woman", about a prostitute who, being found by a very wealthy and noble man, falls in love and remembers the person she truly is that she had long ago forgotten. Coming from a troubled past, the lack of a loving father and the discouragement of a bitter mother, she went from man to man only to find that she believed she was worth no more than what she had been told all her life, attracting unruly, cruel, and merciless men. Yet when this good man came to her, he saw beauty in her she once only dreamt about in the dreams of her youth, and slowly she began to change in a way she never knew was possible; she changed the way she saw herself… as a person meant to be truly loved. Perhaps it was the new clothes he bought for her, or perhaps it was the frequent meals she had that were not out of Chinese take-out boxes… or it just may have been the dignity she was treated with that was due to her as a child of the living God, I mean, after all...

We are all equal under the sun.

Whatever it was, this man saw a light and beauty that awaited her, a light that was dying to be set free, washing over fields of gold and spilling over mountain tops and sapphire blue lakes on warm summer mornings…

For no light is meant to be hidden.

She recalls the time when she was a little girl being punished by her mother, trapped in the basement, dreaming of a knight in shining armor that would come and rescue her from the evil queen. And when the generous man offers to buy her an apartment and a car and take her off the streets, she refuses him. Why? She refuses him because she no longer wanted to be treated as someone’s property, she refused him because she knew what she was worth, and it was more than any amount of money could ever buy. For knights in shining armor never come for mistresses to put up in penthouse suites, but comes for the beautiful princess he will one day make his bride. This movie captured the hearts of millions because there was a part in every one of us that was waiting for a knight to come and rescue us. Yet are we worth saving? Are you? One by one, the wicked queens and dragons come knocking, reminding us of our chains, for freedom is meant only for the free.

My dear friend… You have dreamt dreams too, haven’t you? Perhaps you were young, and perhaps you have convinced yourself that dreams are just for kids, and that we’ve “grown out of it." But my dear friend, the beauty of children is their capacity not only to dream, but to believe in those dreams and live them out as free spirits. It is as if their innocence realized a greater blessing than our knowledge ever offered; faith. My dear friend, let your heart stir tonight, for you are worth more than what you have come to believe about yourself, for you were not meant to search for happy moment after happy moment as a person constantly needing to draw water from a well, but you were meant to be filled with happiness, a spring of water bursting inside of you that is not finite but infinite… for how many people once dared to dream of eternal bliss?

Didn't you?

One day, just as this woman saw, a knight in shining armor came to rescue us, yet this knight was not dressed in armor clad by iron or steel; His armor was clothed in heavenly light, a light the world could not see or touch... And He did not ride on a beautiful stallion made for the fading kings of the earth, but on a humble colt, showing us the Kingdom of Heaven is not found in the precious things of earth, but humanity must be found again by the precious things of Heaven; He is the Lamb that was slain for the sins of all the world. He came to take away the pain, the hunger, the fear of damnation, and free us from our mistakes and the guilt that haunts us so. He comes in the Name of love and the Name of God Himself, a Joy giver that never stops giving, and leaves us with a Message of true, unfiltered, unedited, and completely perfected, love. He is Jesus Christ, and there is none like Him. He loves, He forgives, He is patient and ready and willing to heal… for He did not come for the self-righteous, the proud who claim on rooftops they need no help yet cower away in their cold rooms lying alone on their cold beds… no, He is the one who gives grace and mercies to the humble, who carved out the rivers and the oceans with so much beauty and light that we can see glimpses of what is to come, so we would thirst for more than water, and seek that which is greater. Come and see Him while He knocks on your door, for you are no stranger to Him... you are His son, His daughter, and He has been waiting for you for a very long time. Come home now.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16-17