JOHN TRANTHAM: HOPE IN SOLID FOUNDATION

During the last century sounds so long ago, but today’s blog post comes from a time more than three decades ago. However it is said it still seems a long time ago, but the message is timeless.

My family knew an old retired pastor, B. John Trantham, who loved God and sharing the gospel of hope in Christ. He did those things well with the helper God had given him when he was a young man, the sweet and (in my memories) always smiling Mrs. Trantham.

Even at an advanced age this Christian brother still had powerful thoughts and messages to share. I remember one in particular that he called Fourfold Foundation of Faith. It neatly presents John 3:16, a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If any one verse could be the foundation of Christian faith, then surely it could be this one.

John 3:16 offers four important aspects: God’s Love, God’s Gift, God’s Gracious Condition, and God’s Great Salvation. This Bible verse says, “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.”

“For God so loved the world” presents the first foundation part of GOD’S LOVE. “That He gave His only begotten Son” shows the second foundation part of GOD’S GIFT. “That whoever believes in Him” is the third foundation part of GOD’S GRACIOUS CONDITION. “Shall not perish but have eternal life” offers the fourth foundation part of GOD’S GREAT SALVATION.

Together these four aspects of faith are one firm foundation upon which the Christian faith can be built. Together they explain enough of the gospel for one who believes to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

One doesn’t have to know it as Fourfold Foundation of Faith. Know that trusting John 3:16 as the foundation of faith makes an eternal difference. Ponder that verse, and trust God’s Love, Gift, Gracious Condition, and Great Salvation. Do it today!

LGBT: HOPE FOR TRANSFORMATION

Although the percentage of people identifying themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is relatively low (according to Gallup Poll), they receive frequent press in both positive and negative ways. It is a sensitive topic to consider since many of us are impacted by at least one LGBT individual that we know, love, or identify with.

I think most Christian believers agree with a biblical view of sexuality. Brian Hobbs, Editor of “The Baptist Messenger,” wrote that it’s important that Christians are prepared “to uphold biblical sexuality but also minister with the Gospel.” *

Hobbs recently interviewed Laura Perry of Oklahoma, who lived almost 10 years as a transgender male before becoming a born-again Christian. You may go to www.baptistmessenger.com to hear that interview.

Laura also shares her story of redemption in her new book, TRANSGENDER to TRANSFORMED. She shares her past struggles and confusion, and she admits she did not find peace in the transgender life. What Laura did find was that only Christ brought her peace.

Laura shares that while her parents did not compromise biblical teaching, they maintained a loving attitude toward her. By sharing God’s grace and truth, Laura’s family was an example of Jesus Christ, Who is “full of grace and truth.” **

Her parents’ attitude helped make it easier for Laura to choose new life in Christ and freedom from the transgender lifestyle. When Laura came to Christ she came spiritually and physically and found the Peace she had been looking for all along.

If you are tempted to think that I’m a hater, notice I’m only sharing what the Bible says and sharing a real person’s transformation experience. Laura’s conversion brought her real peace and a healthier lifestyle (according to statistics). Where’s the hate in that?

God offers redemption in Christ for all, because He loves and not because He hates. I write this blog post not condemning but confessing I am “a sinner saved by grace.” ***

I find great hope in God’s power to transform any of us when we come to Him just as we are.

* The Gospel is the good news in the Bible that tells of our Hope in Jesus Christ that saves souls and transforms lives.

** “And the Word  became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

*** “Sinner Saved by Grace” (lyrics by Gloria Gaither; music by William Gaither and Mitch Humphries).

“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

“Therefore if any man is in Christ,  he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME: HOPE FROM DESPAIR

I have liked the song, “Oh, How He Loves You and Me by Kurt Kaiser, since first hearing it probably in the 1970s. It has a lovely tune with an important reminder of the great love that Jesus has for us all.

A song can have simple lyrics and still relate a powerful Truth. I believe this short simple song does just that.

The lyrics remind us that Jesus gave his life then asks, “What more could He give?” Also we’re reminded that Jesus went to Calvary to show His love for sinners (meaning all of us).

One line especially makes this song right for being included in my blog. The song acknowledges that what He (Jesus) did there (at Calvary) brought hope from despair.

As sinners we would be left in utter despair with no hope if a perfect Savior had not willingly gone to Calvary to show His love for us and pay the price required by a holy God. What Jesus did there at Calvary truly brought hope from despair.

When we have received by faith the redemption that cleanses and gives new life then we can experience a sure hope. We can agree with these simple yet powerful lyrics, “Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.”

We know love by this, that Jesus laid down His life for us….” (I John 3:16)

FROM COWS TO CHRIST: HOPE IN COLORFUL EQUATION

I grew up in rural America where the sight and sounds of white-faced hereford cattle in our pasture were part of my daily environment. Although our cows weren’t typically for milking, I remember we had one milk cow when I was a child.

My older brother’s chore was to milk that cow, and my self-appointed chore was to supervise. Anyone with a younger sibling may relate to how annoyed he was with me at times.

I remember that the milk did not always find its way into the bucket. If I stood too close I was sure to get “showered” by big brother’s accurate though wasteful aim. But I digress… back to the point I want to reach.

As a child I considered it a miracle that a reddish-brown cow could consume green grass and produce white milk.  I won’t attempt to explain that process in this blog, but I will mention another “mystery.”

There’s a colorful equation that seems somewhat miraculous as well. It can be simply expressed as black + red = white. No artist can solve this color equation except One. Only the Master Artist of the Universe can accomplish the steps of applying red to black and ending with white.

According to the Holy Bible, each human heart (past an age of “accountability” or spiritual awareness and understanding of right and wrong) is sinful and dark — let’s say black with sin.

When a person chooses Jesus as Savior and accepts His payment for sin, then His red blood that was shed as the payment covers the sin.

Then God the Father chooses not to see the sin but sees (through the red blood of Jesus) the person’s heart clean and forgiven. The new (reborn) heart has been washed white as snow.

It is a miracle, because only God is able to do it. No human can accomplish changing one’s own dark and sinful heart to one clean and white as snow. Only Jesus’ lived a purely perfect and righteous life, so His shed blood was needed for each of us. Thankfully He loved us enough to be our sacrifice and to pay our debt in full.

I think this can then be considered a miraculous equation: black + red = white. Of course, it may not be a literal equation, but I think it is a simple (and colorful) way to express a profound truth.

If this blog leads you to ponder this truth, then you may want to answer these questions:

Is my heart black with sin?

Do I trust Jesus to apply His blood payment and pay my sin debt?

Do I accept God’s forgiveness and receive rebirth and new life?

If you have already come to Him, then follow Him, live in hope, and share the good news! If you have not come to Him, then WHY NOT???

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:20, 21)

“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23)

“But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  (Romans 10:9, 10)

“For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  (Romans 10:13)

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Want to give your life to God but not sure how to pray? Prayer is simply talking to Him. Your heart’s attitude is more important than your words, but here’s an example of what to say….

“Dear God, I admit I am a sinner, I want to turn away from sin, and I ask you to forgive me.

I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, paid for my sins when He willingly became a sacrifice for me on the cross where He died. He was resurrected and now is in heaven praying for me.

I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Thank you for new life with your Holy Spirit to help me obey You.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Amen!

LIFE IS HARD: HOPE FOR ETERNAL LIFE

I don’t have to tell you that life is sometimes hard. Probably no one will argue with that statement except those who say it is always hard. The good news is this life isn’t the end. The bad news is this life isn’t the end.

Let me explain what I mean…. If you have no hope for a better life after this one, then the idea of never-ending death is worse than terribly sad news.

However, if you have hope for eternal life in heaven after this one, then faith in Jesus of the Bible brings better than incredibly good news!

The Bible tells us “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Accepting, trusting, believing in Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, as means of eternal life results in living forever in heaven, a place of no more death nor crying nor sorrow. Why would anyone not want to go there? To know Jesus is to know eternal life. This idea brings hope.

Rejecting God’s gift given at Christ’s expense results in one getting his own way. In other words, if one doesn’t want to be with Him, he can have it his way. No Jesus means no eternal life, therefore no Jesus means to know eternal death. This offers utter hopelessness.

Worth pondering…. the consequences of this one choice of what to do with Jesus will last forever! I pray you will have faith to believe the Truth and be filled with hope for eternal life.

BIRTHDAY BLESSING: HOPE FOR BELLA’S FUTURE

Ciao, Bella!!!

Happy birthday with love to my precious granddaughter! How perfect that Bella in Italian means “beautiful.” I totally agree that you are — even if we’re not Italian!

Remember that it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside. It’s better to be kind and good and loving than just to look pretty. Follow God everyday to become truly beautiful in your heart!

Remember that it’s more important to be wise than just smart. It’s better to be wise enough to make right choices and think good thoughts than to be smart enough to be a clever fool. Learn God’s ways to grow in His wisdom to live right!

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He will be with you ALWAYS! Remember one of our favorite verses: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!” (Phillipians 4:13)

I remember your birth brought hope for your future, prayers, and excitement! The first time I met you as a beautiful bundle of baby I unleashed a load of love and released tears of joy. It was a moment I will always cherish and never forget.

You, granddaughter, are a gift from heaven, and I am blessed beyond measure to be your grandparent! To your parents: THANK YOU for your part in the Beautiful Bella miracle!

To God, the Creator of Life: Thank You for this amazing gift of a granddaughter! May her life be filled with Faith, Hope, and Love. May she walk Your Way, believe Your Truth, and live Life according to Your plan. Thank You for her time now on earth, and thank You even more for her eternal life to come in heaven that will never end, because her name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.” Psalm 127:3

HOPEFUL or HOPELESS: HOPE RIGHTLY PLACED

Hope is a good thing. Hope is a needed thing, but it matters in whom or what my hope is placed. I believe it makes all the difference in the world.

Hope misplaced is, well, hopeless. Hope rightly placed results in whatever — or Whomever — hoped for being reached or received.

If my hope lies in something or someone false or even non-existent, will I receive that for which I hope? Of course not! My hope must lie in that which has the ability or capability to fulfill my hope. My hope must be rightly placed.

Perhaps the saddest thing in life is being hopeless. To live without hope is hardly living at all. Hopelessness may be the reason for many suicidal deaths.

How different is the life promised to believers who have chosen to place our hope in Jesus Christ. The difference is abundant living versus hopelessness. (That’s only in this life on earth. It gets even more important in the  afterlife, because the difference is eternal life versus eternal death.)

Jesus said, “…I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Why would anyone choose less when it is so freely offered?

Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so in Him hope is rightly placed. Hope will not be disappointed when placed in the One whom God gave for that purpose.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That’s reason for hope!

As Edward Mote, the author of the beloved hymn, “The Solid Rock,” professed in 1834: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness….” Amen!

PRAYER: NEW HEART… NEW HOPE… NEW FUTURE

Dear Lord, You know I’ve prayed for her… for her grandparents… for her mother… for her children… for her to have a future and a hope. I realize You love her and patiently waited for her. You created her, knew her so well… knew even the number of hairs on her head. You saw her pain… and the pain of those who love her.

You understood her need for Your redemption… for Your power to change her direction… for Your joy in her life… for Your wisdom to trust You… for Your peace that passes all understanding… for Your faithfulness… even when she felt hopeless.

The dark night was real, but Your Word says joy comes in the morning! Tuesday morning brought that joy when she called her grandmother from rehab. It was the call long awaited. She at last had reached the end of herself… and the beginning of new life in Christ!

May she choose to be filled daily with Your Spirit… to find strength in Your joy… to walk in Your Way, Truth, and Life. May she experience Your hope… to pray, to grow, to share Your love. May she model godliness… as a woman… mother… daughter… granddaughter… friend….

Thank You, Lord, for the miracle of a new heart… a new hope… and a new future. Amen.

(The above prayer was inspired by true events in the life of a real person. Her recent decision brings hope to me, so I’m sharing.)