HOW DO YOU KNOW JESUS LOVES YOU?

The question, “How do you know Jesus loves you?” was recently asked me by someone at my fitness center. At the time, I was wearing a work-out shirt boldly printed with the words JESUS LOVES YOU centered within a large Star of David. While the design was obviously meant for Jews who don’t know Jesus, it also speaks to Gentiles. And while it is true that God loves everyone, and arguable that everyone knows of Jesus, far fewer actually know Jesus; that is, have a personal relationship with Him.

Is the distinction important? When I surrendered my life to Christ at the late-bloomer age of fifty-eight, believing that He died for my sins, Jesus not only became my Savior, but the LORD of my life. Jesus clearly taught that believing in Him is the only way to heaven. But what makes this statement truth? He alone died for our sins to make us right before God.

Why will so many never get to heaven? How did Christ put it? You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow, and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Building on a solid foundation versus on sand: Of this, Jesus said: Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. Anyonw who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crush. (Matthew 7:24, 26, 27)

Most people do not deliberately seek to build with faulty materials on an inferior foundation, instead, they just don’t think about either life’s purposes or the consequences of ignoring Christ’s message. So it was with me for more than the first half of my life.

What is the bottom line here? The answer has to do with Judgment Day: What happens then, long after it is too late? First of all, “too late” means there is no second chance for salvation beyond death. Acceptance of Christ as Savior and our obedience to Him will matter on Judgment Day. Many people think that if they are “good” people they will be rewarded with eternal life.

By whose authority would that be true? On the contrary, the Father in heaven will say to those who do not truly know Him at the final day of reckoning–when God will settle all accounts, judge sin, and reward faith–I never knew you. (Matthew 7:23a)

What keeps you from Christ?  Put another way, what keeps you from everlasting life in the presence of God? It is only a person’s pride that keeps him or her from Christ. To this point, Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. If anyone seeks Truth–and Truth is a Person, and that Person is Jesus, the Christ; the Messiah–he will find it.

How can we be certain of that? Again, Jesus words: Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find . Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

God’s love knows no bounds. Hear God’s words on this very subject:

I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me. Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall. (Hosea 14:8-9)

 

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How Easy Is It to See God’s Awesomeness in Everyday Life?

At the invitation of my long time BFF in Iowa, Helga and I met Jack and his wife Joan in little (population 10,500) Branson, Missouri for five days to take in a number of the 100 or so country and western show and events. I am not writing this blog to brag on our vacation, but to brag on the Lord for His awesomeness.

The drive to Missouri and back was a welcome break itself. The topography of the thirty mile from Springfield south to Branson is magnificent. Massive limestone road cuts and the steep, seemingly endless hills of hardwood forests beautifully illustrate God’s almighty hand in creation.

The musical shows and other activities were both entertaining and inspiring; everything from the nearly football field-sized theater stage of the Sights and Sounds performance of Jonah, to the famous Thorncrown Chapel, which rises forth-eight feet into the Ozark sky in Eureka Sprints, Arkansas, only a few miles from Branson. Critics have called this solemn glass and wooden structure “one of the finest religious spaces of modern times.”

The author of a book about Thorncrown’s miraculous happening titled God Is a Gift was written by the twenty-seven year-long pastor of this very chapel. He writes: “The scriptures reveal a purpose so great that it compels worship. God wanted a creation, but He would not merely bless His creation. He would call to service One to whom He would give the greatest gift possible–Himself. Thus we were made to possess the gift of God.

As for food during our visits that week, our server at one small restaurant said, “Our blackberry cobbler is to dine for.” We gasped in delight at its taste. Helga gave up the last few bites of her share when she took pity on my drooling. Now, before you judge me, although giving is a gift, so, too, is the ability to receive a gift. (–:

Aside from the many blessings of having been able to spend meaningful time with best friends, two other events stood out for us: One was a spectacular outdoor evening drama with thirty or more players, some galloping on horseback and others in mule-drawn wagons. The play has been produced in Branson for fifty-five years, and is called the “Shepherd of the Hills.” I was so intrigued by Jack and Joan’s advance endorsement of the play that I read the 384 pages of the giant print book of this 1909 Ozark hills story during the four days prior to our attending the performance.

The second event mentioned above was the opportunity to pray aloud at our table with yet another restaurant server; someone who as having some health problems. Before I could lift her up in prayer, however, she dashed out to tell another worker that we were going to pray for her and brought the cashier back to join our circle. We were all blessed by that moment.

Paraphrasing how Doug Reed, author of God Is a Gift, puts it, not all of us will answer the how of creation, but we will all answer the why. Whether we will be conscious of our answer or not, we will answer the question in how we relate to God and to each other. As for how God measures our success, He does do with the yardsticks of obedience, faithfulness, and righteousness (justified in Christ, not in ourselves). If we are faithfully doing the work God has given us, we are successful in His eyes.

Terry Dodd

P.S. If you are into Facebooking and You Tubing, check out my latest one-minute juggling-and-talk video of another of my own books; this one being The Seeker, one man’s struggle with faith and marriage. 

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THE PRIMACY OF GOD

THE PRIMACY OF GOD

During one of There’s Hope for the Hungry’s recent mobile food-and-faith ministry runs, I spoke with a person needing a home (as opposed to continue living in her truck). She readily affirmed that she was saved by the blood of Christ, but she was concerned that her backslidden ways might keep her from going to heaven. I explained to her that no only could she restore her fellowship with God through repentance and prayer, but that He promises to give us strength to endure.

That particular promise always serves to remind me of the experience of Daniel’s having been thrown into the furnace. Although the faithful are not always rescued from the fire, God will meet us in the furnace. In other words, He rewards our faithfulness, but not always in our life time.

In one of my Christian novels, The Seeker, I tell the story of one man’s growth from a miserably failed marriage to ultimate success through application of the deeper meaning of life, marriage, relationships, and most importantly, his newly acquired faith. The unbelieving protagonist deceptively manages to meet a Christian woman through a dating service. In that process she steals his heart, but she easily sees through his claim to be walking with the LORD.

She refuses to see him again. In an effort to get onto the same page with her, but not understanding the importance of the primacy of God, he enlists a remarkable mentor who employs an unlikely resource in helping him. That resource is the biblical book, Song of Songs.

Any of my nine Christian books (seven novels and three memoirs), including The Seeker, can be ordered ON LINE from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or directly from me. Check out my web site, terrygdoddbooks.com, and any or all of my six one-minute videos listed under my name on You Tube and Facebook.

Terry Dodd, Christian Books worth Reading

 

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Welcome to my website!

If you are not familiar with my books, that is quite understandable. According to Prairie Home Companion author and humorist, Garrison Keillor, I am one of those who fit into a literary category he humorously describes as “the 18 million self-published authors in America, each with 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives and have average annual earnings of $1.75.”

Keillor light-heartedly laments that self-publishing marks the end of an era in book publishing, along with its tortured geniuses. I don’t argue with some of his facts, but I do take humble (if I do say so myself) exception to his seeming position that only celebrated writers have the right to take satisfaction from their writing efforts. 🙂

Although I spent my business career as a traveling salesman in the least known, but most commonly used medium of advertising (promotional products) in this country, my outside interest has always been writing. The first of the eight books I have written over the past 18 years came before the advent of print-on-demand publishing. In that effort I invested (my late wife preferred the word “blew”) $20,000 to produce 3,000 copies of a secular thriller. Five years later I had personally sold 1,500 copies while  joyfully giving away another 1,500 copies. Admittedly, had I not also sold eight full pages of advertising in the back of my novel at $1,000 a page, I would never have earned my destined $1.75!

I have not written and self-published any of my books with the expectation of actually making a profit, although that would be welcome. Each of my stories wanted to be told, although for different reasons. For example, in the process of writing my second novel—The Foursome—research led me to read the Bible through in order to intellectually understand the born-again faith of the story’s believer. In that process God revealed Himself to me (see my Personal Testimony page). Thus, at age 58 I began following a calling to write Christian books exclusively, mostly novels with genres ranging from  faith and marriage to historical fiction and even science fiction; not to mention that sporting genre of young and old alike, golf.

I obviously derive great pleasure in writing for the 14 readers who buy each of my books, and I invite you to be one of those astute few! Certainly, Garrison Keillor’s tortured American genius writers  will not be in danger of having to share in their martyrdom! Between you and me, however, I am willing to bet there is at least one would-be writer in Keillor’s Lake Wobegon who is aching to share with his family and six friends a written tale about the record Walleyed Pike he nearly caught and ate.

Terry Dodd

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