Turning Bad Experiences Into Growth Encounters – Part Two

We are looking at how to turn a bad experience into a growth encounter. Last time we saw:

1> Choose a positive life stance

2> Embrace and develop your creativity

3> Embrace the value of bad experiences

President John F. Kennedy was once asked how he became a war hero. With his customary dry wit he responded, “It was easy. Someone sunk my boat.” It is always easier to see something positive in a negative experience long after it happens. It is difficult to meet the negative experience in the moment with a positive mind-set. However, if you can do that, you will always be able to learn something from it.

Inventor Charles F. Kettering, who was the head of research at General Motors, said, “You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.” In other words, where there is no struggle, there is no progress. Facing difficulties is inevitable. Learning for them is optional. Whether you learn is based on if you understand that difficulties present opportunities to learn and treat them accordingly. 

4> Make good changes after learning from bad experiences

It has been said, “Not every thing that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Often it takes a bad experience for us to face the changes we need to make in our lives. Often a bad experience introduces us to a “teachable moment.” And that bad experience gives us an opportunity to turn our lives around. A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.

Most people don’t think their way to positive change – they feel their way. In the book, The Heart of Change, we read, “Changing behaviour is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings. Both thinking and feeling are essential, and both are found in successful organizations, but the heart of change is in the emotions.”

When bad experience create strong feelings in us, we either face the feelings and try to change or we try to escape. It’s the old fight-or-flight instinct. We need to train ourselves to fight for positive changes. How do we do that? By remembering that our choices will lead to either the pain of self-discipline or the pain or regret. I would rather live with the pain of self-discipline and reap the positive rewards than live with the pain of regret, which is something that can create a deep and continual ache within us. 

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a bad experience, remind yourself that you are on the cusp of an opportunity to change and grow. Whether you do will depend on how you react to your experience, and the changes you make as a result. Allow your emotions to be the catalyst for change, think through how to change to make sure you are making good choices, and then take action.

5> Take responsibility for your life

You need to recognize that your circumstances don’t define you. They are outside of you and need not negatively impact your values and standards. At the same time, you must take responsibility for your life and the choices you make. It has been stated that people who overcome bad experiences avoid the label of “victim” and take responsibility for moving forward. They don’t say, “What happened to me is the worst thing in the world, and I’ll never be free from it.” They say, “What happened to me was pretty bad, but other people are worse off, and I won’t give up.” They do not wallow in self-pity or ask, “Why me?” And that’s a good thing, because it’s one short step from “why me?” to”woe is me.”

It is nearly impossible to grow in any significant way when you don’t take responsibility for yourself and your life. No matter what you have gone through in your life – or what you are currently going through – you have the opportunity to grow from it. It’s sometimes very difficult to see the opportunity in the midst of the pain, but it is there. You must be willing to not only look for it, but pursue it. As you do, perhaps the words of William Penn, English philosopher and founder of the Pennsylvania province, will encourage you: “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

Turning Bad Experiences Into Growth Encounters – Part One

We had a look at bad experiences yesterday and saw three basic truths. Today we want to look at how to turn a bad experience into a growth encounter.

Someone once said, “Experience isn’t really the best teacher but it sure does serve as the best excuse for not trying to do the same silly thing again.” If you want your bad experiences to keep you not only from doing the same silly things but to also lead to significant personal growth and maturity, I would suggest you consider embracing the following five actions…

1> Choose a positive life stance

“Life stance” is a term used to describe people’s overall frame of reference – the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people hold about themselves, other people, and the world in general. It comprises, for instance, people’s attitudes towards money, assumptions about their health, and expectations for their children’s future. The product of any person’s life stance is their overall way of looking at things: whether they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic, cheerful or gloomy, trusting or suspicious, friendly or reserved, brave or timid, generous or stingy, giving or selfish. If you can maintain a positive life stance, you put yourself in the best position to manage bad experience and turn them into positive growth encounters. 

Family therapy pioneer and author Virginia Satir observed, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” You cannot control much of what happens to you in life. However, you can control your attitude. And you can choose to rise above your circumstances and refuse to allow negative experiences to undermine who you are and what you believe.

You need to adopt a positive life stance because it gives you the best chance to succeed while putting you in the best position to help others succeed. To develop this daily mind-set you need to focus and think…

        • Life is filled with good and bad
        • Some of the good and bad I can’t control – that’s life
        • Some of the good and bad will find me
        • If I have a positive life stance the good and bad will become better
        • If I have a negative life stance the good and bad will become worse
        • Therefore I choose a positive life stance

To a large degree in life, you get what you expect – not always, but most of the time. So why would I want to expect the worst? 

2> Embrace and develop your creativity

There’s a story about a chicken farmer whose land was flooded nearly every spring. He didn’t want to give up his farm and move, but when the water backed up onto his land and flooded his chicken coops, it was always a struggle to get his chickens to higher ground. Some years he couldn’t move fast enough and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After the worse spring he had ever experienced and losing his entire flock, he came into the farmhouse and told his wife, “I’ve had it. I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.”

His wife replied, “Buy ducks.”

The people who make the most out of bad experiences are the ones who find creative way to meet them, like the farmer’s wife in the story. They see possibilities within their problems.

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I believe that creativity begins at the end of your comfort zone as well. When you meet the pain of bad experiences, creativity gives you the opportunity to turn the pain into gain. The secret to doing that is to use the energy that comes from either adrenaline or anger and use it to solve problems and learn lessons.

When you have had a bad experience, instead of letting it discourage you or make you angry, try to find a way to let it prompt your creativity.

More next time…

Life’s Bad Experiences

What separates people who thrive and those who merely survive? I believe it is how they face their problems.  When bad things happen we need to use these experiences as stepping stones for growth, learning, and success. I have never known anyone who said, “I love problems.” But, I have known many who have admitted that their greatest gains came in the middle of their pain.

Here is what I have learned about bad experiences:

1> Everyone has them

Life is filled with ups and downs. The problem is that what most of us want is ups and ups. That’s not possible in real life. I think it is pretty obvious that nobody gets to escape bad experiences. I heard a new statement the other day, “Some days you’re the pigeon; some days you’re the statue!”

We can do everything in our power to avoid negative experiences, but they have a way of finding us. I love the quote, “I try to take life one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once.” No matter who you are, where you live, what you do, or what your background is, you will have to deal with bad experiences. As television host and author Dennis Wholey observed, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly just because you’re a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian.”

You have to have realistic expectations when it comes to pain and problems. You can’t avoid them.

2> No one likes them

Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman described that it was like for him and some fellow actors in the early days of their careers when they were struggling:

“If anyone had told us that we would have been successful, we would have laughed in their face. We were anything but successful actors in those days. I was a waiter. Gene Hackman was a mover and Robert Duvall worked at the post office. We didn’t dream of being rich and famous; we dreamed of finding a job. It was a time of terrible rejection, and we hated being rejected. It got to the point that we use to leave our 8×10’s (picture) at the door of casting agents, knock and run, just so we wouldn’t have to be rejected face-to-face again. It was so discouraging that I seriously considered quitting and becoming an acting teacher at a university.”

No one likes it when they’re in the middle of a bad experience. It’s usually just painful. But if they manage the experience well, then they enjoy talking about it afterwards. It becomes a great war story.

3> Few people make bad experiences positive experiences

Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same. They move us. The question is, in which direction will we be moved: forward or backward? When we have bad experiences, do we become better or bitter? Will those experiences limit us or lead us to grow? As Warren G. Lester remarked, “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.”

When tough times come, many people don’t respond well. Some seem to have the motto that can be seen on bumper stickers: “When the going gets tough, it’s time to take a nap.” What a shame. Learning from painful experiences is essential for anyone who wants to grow. Most successful people will point to the hard times in their lives as key points in their journey of development. If you are dedicated to growth, then you must become committed to managing your bad experiences well.  

Looking At Priorities

I have been spending time looking at time. How I spend my time. What I use my time for. Where am I wasting my time. What needs to change to make better use of my time? 

This is something I do at the end of every year as I look towards another new year. But this year I have begun the deep dive into my priorities a little early as I realize I have been wasting time with a number of relationships. I kept hoping that with a little more time and a fair amount of investment things within the relationships would change. Regretfully they have not and appear like they will not any time soon. So, an early look at how I have been using my time. 

After all, there are only three things you can do with your time – waste it, spend it, and invest it. I want to always be doing the latter.

I am a fairly scheduled person. I need to be to continue being involved in the many projects, ministries, and relationships that I have. But, I need to continuously look at how I am investing my time. I read recently, “Perhaps the very best questions you can memorize and repeat over and over is, ‘What is the most valuable use of my time right now?’” Your answer to that question should shape any system you use to schedule your life and the way that you prioritize your activities, events, and relationships.

You should also ask yourself “When is my most valuable time?” Because you’ll want to always make the most of it. For me it’s mornings. When I recognized that I stopped scheduling breakfast meetings and morning coffee appointments. That was four decades ago. Imagine how much of my prime time would have gotten used up if I had allowed myself to meet with people, which I’m capable of doing anytime, during my prime productivity time. Instead, I use my prime time to read, study, research, and write.

Making that decision for me was fairly easy. Others have been more difficult. I am opportunity driven, and I tend to want to do everything and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that opens before me. If one is good, four is better. I love saying ‘yes.’ I have a hard time saying ‘no.’ As a result, I get spread too thin. To deal with that I had to develop a system. I had to get tough and protect my most productive time as mentioned above. But, even harder, I had to learn to protect my personal time. As an introvert I desperately need time daily to be alone, to reflect, to journal, and to recharge. However, because I love people and enjoy ministering I tended to give away my personal time when a need arises or an opportunity knocks. Of course, that is simply not healthy and not maintainable. So, I have learned to protect my time and control carefully where I am investing my time. This is not always easy. 

So, I am looking at my priorities. A little early as we are still a month away from the holiday season when iI normally look at priorities for the coming year. However, I have a relationship that has not worked out the way I though it would and prayed that it might. So, I am realizing that this particular relationship is currently not a wise investment of my time – professional and personal. And, there are several long-term ministry involvements that I also need to examining and seeing if it is wise to continue to invest my time in. So, I am drawing back somewhat as we approach a new year and a new season in life, resetting priorities and time usage.

Let me ask you the same questions:

What is the most valuable use of your time right now?

When is your most valuable and productive time?

Spend a few minutes thinking through where you are wasting or spending your time and make the needed adjustments so that you are investing your time wisely as a new year quickly approaches. 

Focus On Others…

If we spend time with Jesus, then we will naturally be driven to do the things that Jesus did. In other words, if you tell me you are hanging out with Jesus every day and yet there is no desire in your life to share your faith, or love those he gave his life for, then we should probably dig a little deeper to find out what version of Jesus we are talking about.

Jesus gave his life for others, and one of the freeing realizations you can come to is that life isn’t about you. It’s not about me, either. Life is about knowing Jesus and making him known as we relate to and serve others. Life is about extending amazing grace to people one wretch at a time. We all start wretched; we all need to be shown the way back to God. It takes discipline to keep another’s relation with God at the forefront of your thinking, but it’s a discipline you will never regret. 

Start here: the next time a friend pops into your head, instead of thinking the same old thoughts about them – thoughts based on popularity, clothes, work, school, money, their family, their house, their car, and how you compare to them – try thinking about where they are with God first. How would you like others to be praying for you? I need people to pray for me, and I can guarantee the same is true of each person God has brought into your life. With that friend in mind, say, “God, please bless him today. Please be near to him in a way he can sense. Help him overcome whatever obstacles he’s facing. Give me opportunities to share your hope with him.”

Then, text that person and say, “Hey, thinking about you. Hope you’re doing well. Praying for you today.”

I try to send texts like that every day, and I am always amazed by the responses I get back. Not everyone responds, of course. But, when they do, they tell me how it touched their lives and how big a deal it was to hear from me. Think about it, when was the last text like that you got? Let’s start a new trend.

Another habit I try to maintain as I’m on the go is to ask God to bring me opportunities to encourage strangers. I have actually entered into some neat, and often lengthy, conversations with people I did not know but now keep in regular contact with. And, a number of them, over time, have come to know the Lord. 

In my personal experience Christians spend much too much time talking about themselves. And much too little time listening to others. We need to learn how to hear the life story of others without feeling like we have to jump in and fix something that really is not broken. And even if what you want to share is an experience that you have had that is similar to what they are sharing, they don’t need nor want to hear it. Just sit and listen. And, once they have shared then ask them if you can pray for them. Right then. Right there. Don’t jump into your experience and bore them with your story. The purpose of the encounter is to hear them out and pray for them. We are too quick to speak. 

Even when I sit and chat with pastors and leaders of ministries… I sit and listen. Partly because they need someone to listen to them and, if they trust me, I am certainly a good listener. I don’t need to share what I have done, where I travel, what I have seen happen. So, I listen and care and then pray with them. And, partly because they really are so wounded that they don’t even think about how I am doing or even who I am. They are hurting and are deeply wounded, so focused on themselves and not really interested in who I am or what I am doing in life or in ministry. 

So, no matter who the person is – when God gives you an opportunity just listen intently and engage in the story they are sharing. Then, don’t offer your great wisdom and insight. Stay focused on others. Just pray with them. God will do the rest. 

Now, if they ask your advice – that is a totally different situation. However, I have found that people seldom ask for advice. They just want and need someone to care about them and to listen. Remember, people’s favourite topic is themselves. So listen and pray. 

Stretching As a Lifestyle

Too many people are dead but just haven’t made it official yet. I read that comment a few days ago in a great book that I just finished. And, as I read the comment I said, “Amen, so true” and thought of a number of young and middle aged people for whom this would apply.

I am in my early seventies and I am still reading two books a week. As I read I take notes, file material, and apply the truths and insights that I am gaining through reading. I must admit that every once in a while (about every three months) one of those two books a week ends up being a good detective novel. I read to stretch my understanding about life. I read to learn and to grow. I read to discover new truths or see old truths in new ways. I read because inside me there is a serious hunger to learn, to grow, to change, and to mature. 

If you think of a rubber band … wow! There are so many uses for a rubber band in every day life. But the one thing every possible use for a rubber band has in common is that they are stretched. Rubber bands are only useful when they are stretched! That can also be said of each one of us. So, I am a perpetual learner always hungering for new insights and understanding; new ideas and perspective; new thoughts and insights. Always stretching.

When we stop stretching, I believe we stop really living. We may keep on breathing. Our vital life signs may be working. But we are dead on the inside and dead to our greatest possibilities. James White observed, “Nature has everywhere written her protest against idleness; everything which ceases to struggle, which remains inactive, rapidly deteriorates. It is the struggle towards an ideals, the constant effort to get higher and further, which develops manhood and character.”

I’m getting older. And, I am noticing that I am not as fast nor as sharp as I once was. But, I intend to keep reading, asking questions, talking to interesting people, working hard, and exposing myself to new experiences until I die. Too many people are dead but just haven’t made it official yet! A Rabbi once said, “If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for? I refuse to give up growing. 

Now, it is not easy to find time to learn, develop, grow and mature. In fact, I don’t “find” time to do it. I “make” time. I schedule it into my calendar as an appointment with myself. I intentionally find a time each day to retreat from the active lifestyle I live to read and study, to think and write. That means less of my favourite music. It means only one hour of television an evening. That means less company and fewer people contacts in a day. It also means fighting to keep that time and not give it away to a worthy cause. It is my time to invest in me as a person and as a minister of the Gospel. 

I am planning to keep on stretching until I am all stretched out. How about you?

A Different Kind of Blog – Part Two

Some things to think about … not just read and agree or disagree with. But, some things to think deeply about. These quotes contain a great deal of wisdom and depth…

We have so persistently dissembled the power of the Gospel … that it is pardonable if those who judge of it by us should doubt whether it is anything more efficacious and inspiring than the pathetic guesses which adorn the writings of philosophy.        Canon B.F. Westcott

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.        C.S. Lewis

God delights to delegate His power to men, when He can find believing and obedient servants to accept and exercise it.       John A. MacMillan

Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s Kingdom. Without God’s Spirit, the Church simply can’t be the Church.      N.T. Wright

God’s looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only things we can do by ourselves.         A.W. Tozer

God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with a passion for the impossible.  William Booth

It takes courage to move away from the safe place into the unknown, even when we know that the safe place offers false safety and the unknown promises us a saving intimacy with God.        Henri Nouwen

Christianity should give more offence, more shock to the world than what it is doing.    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Before we do anything else, we must become convinced of our selective deafness to a great deal we should be listening to.    Benedict J. Groeschel

The truth is like a lion; you don’t need to defend it. Just let it loose; it will defend itself.      Saint Augustine

In almost everything that touches our everyday life on planet Earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.     A.W. Tozer

We may excuse the spiritual poverty of our preaching in many ways, but the true secret will be found in the lack of urgent prayer for God’s presence in the power of the Holy Spirit.      E.M. Bounds

You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.       N.T. Wright

Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.       Saint Augustine

Don’t worry that you’re not strong enough before you begin. It is in the Journey that God makes you strong.      Anonymous

Ships in a harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.        John Shedd

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.  C.S. Lewis

There will never be any awakening in me unless I am called out of darkness by Him who is light.  Thomas Merton

A Different Kind of Blog – Part One

Some things to think about … not just read and agree or disagree with. But, some things to think deeply about. These quotes contain a great deal of wisdom and depth…

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.     William Carey

Blessed is he who expects nothing, For he shall never be disappointed.       Alexander Pope

To set our hearts on the Kingdom therefore means to make the life of the Spirit within and among us the center of all we think, say and do.         Henri Nouwen

We must accept finite disappointment, bur never lose infinite hope.       Martin Luther King Jr.

God never made a promise that was too good to be true.       Dwight L. Moody

When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.                    N.T. Wright

Each time you let the love of God penetrate deeper into your heart, you lose a bit of your anxiety, you learn to know yourself better and long all the more to be known by your loving God.    Henri Nouwen

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.     Albert Einstein

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible; If you can dream it, you can do it.     Walt Disney

Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.    C.S. Lewis

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.     Thomas Aquinas

Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.       Voltaire

Many of the questions we ask God can’t be answered directly, not because God doesn’t know the answers but because our questions don’t make sense. As C.S. Lewis once pointed out, many of our questions are, from God’s point of view, rather like someone asking, “Is yellow square or round?” Or “How many hours are there in a mile?”      N. T. Wright 

“The Lord Said!”

“The Lord said…” Really, did He actually say that? I hear so many people tell me what the Lord has spoken to them. And, I honestly would like to say “Really, did He actually say that?” Well, to be more honest, I would like to say “You have got to be kidding. You actually believe the Lord said that to you?”

Let me make a bold statement. Christians listen for the Lord to speak in their soul. Their soul is their mind, will, and emotions. So, they usually hear what they want to hear. They hear what they think the Lord should be saying. They receive ‘permission’ to do what they were planning to do but now can do it with ‘God’s blessing.’ At least, that is what they honestly think. 

Believers need to stop using the Lord and “the Lord said” to back up what they believe and what they are wanting and planning to do. The majority of the time it is not the Lord. In the long run the results of “the Lord said” proves it was not the Lord at all – just your own mind, will, and emotions. At some point I would like to go back to these people and say, “So, how is that working out for you?” But, I don’t. 

Here is my take on this. Believers have something they want to do or become involved in. They think and pray about it. Then, they ‘hear God say’ that it is okay. You know, good plan; go there; do that, go for it (whatever ‘it’ is).” And, then they announce (key word) that the Lord said and off they go. When they announce “the Lord said” they are not looking for clarification or any input. Why would they? After all, the Lord told them to do this. So, it is an announcement of a completed event, decision, plan. 

Listen carefully. That is not how it works. If the Lord really says something it needs to be run past mature believers with whom you have a decent, open, and honest relationship. You know, an accountability partner or two. You run it past them and ask if this seems to them like the Lord is speaking. Is it what He would, at this time in the church and in the Kingdom, be speaking to you? Is it the right time in your life to be moving forward with what the Lord said? The right time relationally, financially, maturity wise? Is what the Lord saying biblical because, of course, if it is not then the voice is not the Lord speaking? He does not contradict His Word. And, what do your family members think about what you believe the Lord is speaking?

Here is a hint … you hear God in your spirit not in your head. God is Spirit (John 4) and the Holy Spirit lives in your born again spirit. So, when the Father wants to speak to you He speaks to / through the Holy Spirit who lives in your spirit. He does not speak to your soul as it is still in process and on a journey to becoming transformed and submitted to His will. Not there yet. 

So, you listen and hear His voice in your spirit and then it makes its way to your head. Your spirit hears God’s voice perfectly. The message is received 100% right and complete. But, on the way through your will and emotions into your mind only a detail or two gets through. And, often even those details get a little mixed up. So, you then need to learn how to release what you have received in your spirit into your mind so that you actually understand the whole substance of what God revealed to you. That process is material for a future blog. 

If you are not dealing with emotional issues like unforgiveness, greed, resentment, anger, bitterness, offences then these things in your soul will distort what the Lord has spoken and you will miss the message entirely. God might have said white but you hear black. So, the soul need to be kept clean … your mind needs to be transformed by the Word of God; your will must be submitted to God’s will and His plan for your life; your emotions must be yielded to the Holy Spirit and brought into line with Scripture. 

Too often we move fast forward on what we believe the Lord spoke when really it was simply our will speaking, our emotions working overtime, or our mind thinking ahead without knowing or understanding the Lord’s thoughts – which, by the way, are much different and higher than our thoughts.

Just a few things to consider before the next time you are wanting to say, “The Lord said.”

Drinking Coffee In An Airport

I am in my third of four airports for the day. A 14 hour travel day and I am doing what I usually do when flying and when waiting for a flight. Reading and drinking good coffee. And, when I tire of reading and have run out of things to share in an email with my accountability partner then I watch people. 

People are amazing. They come in all different shapes and sizes. They come in different colours. Some speak loudly and others speak softly. They can be relaxed, uptight, anxious, worried, frightened, or apparently at peace with themselves and the world around them. Some look refreshed and ready to go. Others look tired and wanting to finally board their last flight home. Young and old and every age in-between. As I watch some walk with an assurance and a confidence. Others walk with a definite uncertainty and caution. Some are simply lost and can’t find their gate no matter how hard they are apparently trying. People are interesting.

Here is a deep thought… every person walking by me at this moment has two things in common. First, they are travelling from somewhere to somewhere. I told you it was deep. Secondly, every one of them is dying. Some may be young, others may be old but they are all on the journey of life and this journey will, one day, come to an end. They will “pass” as everyone says it today. They will physically die and cease to be a viable human being on the planet as their earth suit (body) is finished. Life has left it.

But this is not the end of life for these people. They truly have “passed.” They have passed from life to death and from planet Earth to … and here’s the rub. They have predetermined their final resting place – heaven or hell. If they have a vibrant, personal, love relationship with Jesus that is a daily reality, then they have chosen ahead of time to enter heaven. And, Jesus, because of His relationship with them, has prepared a place for them for when they arrive. Others, because they have neglected the message of hope and love known as the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) will have a place reserved for them in hell. John’s gospel speaks of this…

John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Please note that their sins don’t send them to hell. They chose not to believe in who Jesus is and what He accomplished through His death on the cross. This lack of belief or faith in Christ and His completed work is what opens the door to hell as their final place to spend eternity. They have chosen this place. God did not condemn them to be there forever. He made a way out and sent His Son to die for us (see: John 3:16-17). Jesus made a way where there was no way. And, if we choose not to believe and to ignore or reject His offer then we can blame no one but ourselves for where life finally takes us. 

Every person born upon the earth has a default setting of “hell”. So, when they pass that is where the go. However, we can change that default setting by understanding the true Christian message of salvation by grace through faith. And, receiving Jesus as Lord, Saviour, Master, and the Christ – the only door into eternity and God’s presence. When you come to believe that Jesus has made a way where there was no way and receive His gift of the supernatural ability to have a personal relationship with Him (called eternal life – John 17:3) then you have reset your default setting to Heaven.

So, a lot of people walking past me here in the airport rushing to or from their next destination are also moving forward in life to their final destination. And, not one of us knows when that day when we ‘cross over’ is going to be. 

Makes one sense the urgency to tell people the good news of the Gospel… that Jesus still saves today.