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Posts Tagged ‘John 3:16’

 

 

 

Johnny reached for the highball near his workspace, even though it was only 10:00 in the morning. It was a necessity, he told himself, to help release his creativity and wit. How else was he supposed to come up with new ideas day after day?

He had thought a new home in the country would provide inspiration, renewed energy for his work, and the tranquility he longed for. But once he and his wife Bobby settled on their 150-acre estate, with a huge, wood-paneled studio overlooking a 25-acre lake, Johnny found himself just as unhappy and uninspired as before the move.

 

(Not Johnny’s and Bobby’s lake, but perhaps similar)

 

The success he’d achieved, the fortune he had acquired, the entertainment he pursued did not provide the satisfaction he’d expected.

Not long after settling into their new home, Johnny and Bobby decided to address its one drawback: there was no television reception. They purchased a satellite system.

The company sent a father/son team to install it—a process that became more complicated and time-consuming than anyone expected. The father and son stayed in the large studio for the days it took to complete the task.

As work progressed to hook up the several TVs in the house and one in the studio, the two men tuned in to a Christian station. Johnny found himself drawn to the screens, listening to the likes of D. James Kennedy, a well-respected preacher and author at the time.  Johnny had been a believer in Jesus when he was young, but had drifted away in adulthood.

The more he listened, the more he remembered what he’d learned years before in Sunday School: God made us humans and loves us. But we are sinful, and sin separates us from him. So God sent his perfect Son, Jesus, to die in our place. And those who believe in him receive the incredible gift of eternal life with him in heaven when we die (John 3:16).

 

 

Johnny began reading the Bible and felt his doubts, dissatisfaction and fears melting away. In their place he noticed a deep sense of peace and purpose.

Part of that purpose was to allow his rekindled faith to impact his work as a cartoonist. He began to include Christian references in his highly successful comic strip, “B.C.”

You might remember it. Simple drawings of cavemen, dinosaurs, ants, and other animals inhabited a very stark habitat. The genius wasn’t in the drawings; it was in the puns, irony, wordplay, and dry humor that Johnny Hart produced for fifty years, from 1957-2007.

For example, in one strip, a caveman says, “God, if you’re up there, give me a sign.” In the next frame, a huge neon sign sits crookedly and slightly buried in the sand in front of the caveman. It has obviously just fallen from the sky, and it reads—in big capital letters—“I’M UP HERE.”

Of course, Johnny was criticized for those strips that affirmed Christian beliefs. His response to such reproach was to ask a question:

“What purpose would I serve if I had the answer to the mystery of life only I did not tell it for the sake of what other people believe (1)?”

One of Johnny Hart’s strips about the mystery of life moved me to tears.

It appeared on Good Friday, 1996.

There were simply four empty panels with no artwork and no conversation bubbles. The first panel was gray, the second a shade darker, the third darker still, and the last frame was completely black. That final panel carried the simple caption: Good Friday.

Such a simple presentation, but overflowing with meaning. For me, the progression toward black was symbolic of Jesus’ experiences that day—from betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane to an unlawful trial, a flogging, a crown of thorns, a heavy cross to carry, and the worst torture man has ever devised: crucifixion. The land was shrouded in darkness that day for three hours (Mark 15:33).

But oh, it is Good Friday, because that darkest deed of history became our bright victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

 

 

And because of Jesus’ profound sacrifice, we do have hope, peace, purpose, and more.

Johnny Hart would want us to know.

 

Note:

(1) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1999/04/04/god-thats-funny/38fc77f9-dee5-4a18-b8c5-e5283c3e0964/?utm_term=.ff75a4558709

 

Sources:

1) https://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/572-newsletters/the-buzz/4671-johnny-hart-i-did-it-his-way

2)http://jeffjenkinsocala.blogspot.com/2008/07/bc-comics-censored.html

3) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1999/04/04/god-thats-funny/38fc77f9-dee5-4a18-b8c5-e5283c3e0964/?utm_term=.ff75a4558709

 

Photo credits:  http://www.flicr.com; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.dailyverses.net (2).

 

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persuasive-landing-pages-words-have-power

 

Companies spend much time and money analyzing factors that grab our attention to their advertisements. They’ve discovered that certain colors, shapes, and layouts create impact upon buyers.

In fact, researchers have even determined the most powerful, persuasive words. They recommend  advertisers use these top ten:

  • You – you matter; you deserve the product
  • Free – after all, everyone likes a deal
  • Because – people need reasons why they should buy
  • Instantly – we care about immediate results
  • New – everyone appreciates an improved product
  • Save – people like a bargain
  • Proven – we appreciate research that backs up an advertiser’s claim
  • Love – taps into what’s important to us, like family, safety, and security
  • Discover – hints of a promise that we’ll be satisfied
  • Guarantee – removes the feeling of risk

As I read through this list it occurred to me all these words are part of the glorious message of Christmas:

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On that quiet night in sleepy Bethlehem, God sent his only Son into the world to be our Savior. Why? Because he loves us. Whoever believes on him will be saved from death and will receive the free gift of eternal life (John 3:16). That includes you!

 Oh, but there’s more. When we fuse ourselves to Jesus, we become brand new people (2 Corinthians 5:17).   Our outlook on life is revitalized; our values and motivations change. We instantly experience the peace of God and his joy (John 14:27 and 10:10). Each day is an opportunity to discover more of what it means to live a God-enhanced life.

And how do we know those statements are true? God’s Word is our guarantee that these blessings become ours through Jesus. The truth presented within its pages has been proven. 

  • Over 150 years of archaeological studies back up the accuracy of numerous facts in scripture. Not one discovery has uncovered an inaccuracy.
  • Dozens of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus. The mathematical laws of chance refute the possibility of coincidence.
  • Scientific and medical information in the Bible has been verified centuries later.*
  • Thousands of ancient manuscript fragments and letters (which include Bible quotes) corroborate the scriptures – many more than any other ancient text.
  • The influence of the Bible has been evident in the lives of individuals and upon the culture and history of the Western world. No other book has produced such impact.

There you have it. Ten words that researchers have found to be powerful and persuasive for selling products, or ten words that persuasively express the significance of Christmas and why it makes sense to embrace it.

The apostle John summarized the central truth of Christmas with these ten words:

nativityscene

(“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14)

That is glorious, incredible news worth celebrating.

But Christmas isn’t just a happy one-day celebration, it’s meant to be a joyous, whole new way of living with Jesus — all year, every year.

Better yet?  A day is coming when the joy of Christmas will be purified, intensified and extended for all eternity–on the day when he comes again!

 

*For one small example, see “Pathfinder of the Seas” about Matthew Maury and his discoveries.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wordstream.com; http://www.beyondwaiting.com; http://www.outreach.com.)

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what-can-separate-us

“I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future,

nor any powers,

neither height nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God

that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

–Romans 8:38-39

Consider the author of these lofty, poetic words: Paul—a man who endured beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, danger, sleepless nights, extreme hunger and thirst, and exposure to the elements (1).

Yet in spite of all these hardships, Paul never thought, Maybe God doesn’t love me anymore.  No, he was convinced otherwise.  And he wanted to assure his readers, including us today, that nothing can come between the believer and his/her God:

            “Neither death nor life…”

Every moment of our lives God is watching over us, working out his plans that will achieve the highest good. Sometimes that includes suffering, for reasons we don’t always understand.

But consider: the greatest tragedy of history, the cruel torture and death of God’s perfect Son on a cross, brought about the most glorious consequence–the eternal salvation of all who believe (2).

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And when we die? God will still be watching over us (3). Visit a dying Christian and you will be the one encouraged by their God-given peace, joy, and expectation.

“Neither angels nor demons…” 

Long ago, the rabbis believed some angels were grudgingly hostile to men, not wanting to share God with earthly creatures. Perhaps Paul was saying, “Even jealous angels can do nothing to separate us from God’s love” (William Barclay).

As for demons, they were defeated when Jesus died on the cross (4). Granted, they may prowl around and cause mischief, but they are powerless to sever us from God’s love. Their teeth were removed at Calvary!

colossians2_15

“Neither the present nor the future…”

 Sometimes we worry about the future. Will we be able to handle potential calamities down the road? Or, perhaps it’s the present that’s unbearable, and we wonder if better days will ever dawn.

But our omniscient God has never been surprised by any turn of events. What he says here (through Paul) is a guaranteed promise: nothing present or future—no circumstance–can separate us from his loving presence.

“Nor any powers…” 

All powers of the universe—whether physical or spiritual—are subject to God, because he alone is the Omnipotent One. No one supersedes him.

“Neither height nor depth…”

 Many in Paul’s day believed that the star a person was born under controlled that person’s destiny. Height referred to a star’s zenith; depth to the star’s lowest point in the sky. Paul may have been assuring his readers that the stars have no power over our lives.

By contrast, our Star of David, Jesus, is like the North Star. He never waxes and wanes; he never changes. And his love is present everywhere (5).

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            “Nor anything else in all creation…”  

No circumstance, no place, no person can remove us from God’s love. “God never loses his loving grip on his children” (Keith Krell, www.bible.org).

And so Paul covered every eventuality that might separate us from the love of God and assured us: It. Can’t. Happen. Surely, if Paul was convinced, after all he suffered, shouldn’t we be convinced as well?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *

Day after day, Father, you express your love to us: forgiving our sins, transforming our spirits, defending us from spiritual enemies, showering us with blessings. We praise you for the warm embrace of your love—a love that spans all time and space, overcomes all pain and suffering, and defeats every foe! “Because your love is better than life, [our] lips will glorify you” (6).

(1) 2 Corinthians 11:25-27

(2) John 3:16

(3) Psalm 23:4

(4) Colossians 2:15

(5) Psalm 139:7-10

(6) Psalm 63:3

Photo credit:  www.doughusen.com; http://www.klove.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.pinterest.com.

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