HOPE VS HELL: CHOOSE HOPE

When pondering hope, I realized that HOPE can stand for Heaven On Planet Earth. There’s no need for hope in heaven. It will have been attained. Here on earth, however, there’s great need for hope.

That Hope is synonymous with Jesus Christ. When He is ours and we are His we can experience just a glimpse of heaven while still here on earth. With Him we have hope to reach heaven where we will have no need of such hope ever again.

What is Hope & Eternal Life Lost? That’s HELL. It’s a simple acrostic but a profound and tragic truth.

According to the Bible, hell is a real place. It is where there is no hope; no life (dying only with no end); and nothing gained. Hell is where there is no God, no love, no goodness, no joy, no comfort, no possibility of escape.

The Way to avoid hell must be chosen here and now. He is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Way, the Truth, and the Life….

Freely giving Himself, Christ paid the price, and all that is needed is for His gift of eternal life to be received by faith in Him. A simple act of trusting Him and obedience to His Word and His way of salvation provides heaven and avoids hell.

I believe the most important decision for us earthlings is to choose Jesus Christ. That choice determines whether we experience glorious hope attained in heaven or horrific hopelessness in hell without Him. Either way He loves us and allows us to decide, then He honors our choice. Thankfully His sacrifice provided the way for our salvation when we respond to His love.

Choose Jesus Christ, choose Hope. You have an eternity in heaven to gain (and an eternity in hell to lose).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him   shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

NEDIM YASAR: HOPE TO CHANGE A LIFE

I want to introduce readers to ROOTS, an important book about leaving a life of crime by Marie Louise Toksvig. It is Nedim Yasar’s personal memoirs….

Nedim Yasar was born in Turkey, moved to Denmark at age four, and grew up to be the subject of this book.  His story is not ordinary, because he also grew up to become leader of Los Guerreros, a notorious gang heavily involved with the drug trade and related crimes, including violence, robbery, and blackmail.

In 2012 a major turning point in Vasar’s life contributed to his story becoming even more extraordinary. He made a decision to end his gang affiliation when he learned he was going to become a father.

After participating in a successful exit program in Copenhagen, he dedicated himself to help steer others away from gang life. Yasar mentored young people as host of a local Copenhagen radio station and became a respected voice for change.

Then murderers shot and killed 31 year old Yasar in November 2018. This cowardly act just as his book was being released could cause hopelessness, because it appeared that evil had won. Yet I think there is much hope to be found in Yasar’s life-changing decision and dedicated efforts to help young people avoid his previous path.

As his child, a son, grows up, may he be proud of his father and see Nedim Yasar as a courageous hero who took a stand for his son to have a better life. Yasar didn’t choose to “disappear” into anonymity — a much safer choice — but chose to proceed publicly via his radio show, this book, and other meaningful efforts. He must have realized the dangers of sharing his personal story in a public way especially after a previous attempt on his life a year earlier.

Yasar must have had hope that his son will never fall prey to the dangerous hate-filled lifestyle that he had experienced in his own past. Yasar chose hope to change first his own life then modeled hope for his son and other young people.

The hope presented here today is the reality of a changed life. Also I find hope in the fact that hope didn’t end with Yasar’s death. The book, ROOTS, is full of hope and impacts others. The legacy of Nedim Yasar includes countless changed lives. His heritage is a son to follow his determined walk in a different direction toward a better life.

I want to share Nedim Yasar’s story and promote the hope at the heart of his changed life. I believe that his murderers did not win. Nothing can stop real hope. Hope always trumps hate… always.

A quote by holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

THE SINGING CONTRACTORS: BUILD, SING, SHARE HOPE

Two ordinary guys from Indiana… boyhood friends, husbands, fathers, skilled carpenters,  experienced contractors… blessed with God-given talent using their voices to sing Christian gospel songs and hymn classics accapella on job sites… cell phone video has gone viral with millions of viewers!

Maybe they don’t sound like ordinary guys at all. The story of the musical journey of Josh Arnett and Aaron Gray really is remarkable.

Two ordinary contractors singing to share hope and almost immediately gaining a following of thousands of fans (of whom I am one) is more extraordinary than ordinary. Theirs is a true story, and they are real… real in their song choices, real in their Christian faith, real in their ordinary roots.

What else would singing contractors call themselves except The Singing Contractors? If you haven’t heard them yet, then go to youtube.com or their official website at thesingingcontractors.com.

“I am a little overwhelmed by how good God has been to us,” admitted Arnett.

Gray added, “As far as the fame, it’s never something we wanted or asked for, it’s just something that God has placed in our laps, and we’re just trusting that we can get His message of hope out there.”

Responses have been remarkable and indicate their music and message offer more than mere enjoyment.  At least one life has been touched in a real life-and-death way, as indicated by the following communication they received.

“Thank you so much for singing that song. It’s made me question myself and stop myself from committing suicide….” (unnamed source)

The Singing Contractors agree that is a wonderful story and say if they have done nothing else in this world and saved one life, it is worth it all to them!

It seems The Singing Contractors are good at building more than homes. They are building an important legacy of hope as they share the message of their music.

Maybe Gray and Arnett are two ordinary guys from Indiana, but they trust an extraordinary God. That makes all the difference.

 

“By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24:3, 4)

“Sing to the LORD a new song;
Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1, 2)

ZACH WILLIAMS: HOPE IN THE CHAIN BREAKER

Zach Williams was a rock musician bound by chains of alcohol and drugs. He is now free of those chains, but his freedom didn’t happen in his strength. His new freedom — and a better life — happened by the power of Jesus Christ, THE Chain Breaker.

The song he co-wrote, “He’s A Chain Breaker,” reveals Williams’ personal experience. Real change and new freedom is visible in the transformed Zach Williams, who is now a Christian musician.

See if you can relate to the words of the song below. If you can, then consider accepting a better life in Christ free from chains.

HE’S A CHAIN BREAKER:

“If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles;
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies;
If you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside;
There’s a better life,
There’s a better life.

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night;
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight;
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right;
And there’s a better life,
There’s a better life.

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

If you believe it;
If you receive it;
If you can feel it;
Somebody testify….

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.”

(Songwriters: Jonathan Lindley Smith, Mia Fieldes, & Zach Williams)

“Out of my distress I called upon the Lord.” (Psalm 118:5)

“For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

“So if the Son makes you free you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

COACH JOHN WOODEN: HOPE TO INSPIRE SUCCESS

ESPN named Coach John Wooden as “Coach of The 20th Century.”

Sports Illustrated declared, “There’s never been a finer coach in American sports than John Wooden. Nor a finer man.”

Sport Magazine entitled him, “Greatest Coach of the Century.”

There’s no doubt that the success of Coach John Wooden has been well-documented. I am writing about him today, because his legendary greatness extends beyond the sports realm.

Coach John Wooden was a coach among coaches in terms of team championships, leadership awards, and accolades. His legacy is especially amazing in how he impacted the young men he coached.

Perhaps more important than the best-selling books he authored, the record wins he led, the leadership awards that were named for him… perhaps more important were the character he modeled, the hope he inspired, and the hearts he touched. 

“Coach Wooden never talked about winning and losing but rather about the effort to win. He rarely talked about basketball but generally about life. He never talked about strategy, statistics or plays but rather about people and character. Coach Wooden never tired of telling us that once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player.” (Bill Walton)

Coach Wooden often shared wisdom worth remembering and is known for many quotes including these following.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” (John R. Wooden)

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” (JRW)

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” (JRW)

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” (JRW)

“…stay the course even when that course is most difficult and the obstacles seem insurmountable…. Be persistent. Be determined. Be tenacious. Be unrelenting. The road to achievement is rocky, hard, and long. Things easily achieved are rarely long-lasting or significant.” (JRW)

The John R. Wooden Award is prestigious and was named for Coach. This John R. Wooden Award Trophy goes anually to “The Outstanding College Basketball Player in the United States.” To be considered as a candidate, not only the player’s performance in the regular season, conference tournaments and post-season are taken into account but also the player’s character.”

It seems that Coach’s calling was more than to be successful but also to teach others to be successful. Coach developed the Pyramid of Success, which is worth noting by those aspiring to more than a mediocre going-with-the-flow ride through life.

Aspects of this model include character traits vital to attaining success in all areas of life not just sports. These traits included confidence, cooperation, enthusiasm, friendship, initiative, loyalty, poise, and self-control.

You may rightly assume that faith is part of Coach’s model just as it was part of his personal success and of his own life. Working at being the very best he could be wasn’t just Coach’s “talk” but was his “walk” and was practiced in his personal life and in his personal faith.

He was intentional in praying, reading  Scripture, and working to grow in his faith and in his love for God. A silver cross carried in his pocket tangibly symbolized his faith in the One Who is the “Alpha” and “Omega,” the words etched thereupon.

Our planet will be a more hopeful place if we all strive to leave footprints worth following as those of John R. Wooden.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God, “who was and who is and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Much more info may be found at www.coachwooden.com and many other online sites as well as in books authored both by and about John Wooden.