Half-dead or Dead-dead, which were/are you?


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; John Masefield 1878-1967

Yesterday another blogger asked an important question:

Which of the two ways – there are only two – would you describe how you were saved?

1. You were drowning in a deep pool of water. You were just about to go under. A man on the bank shouted to you to stretch out your hand. You struggled with all your might and managed to stretch out a bit of your exhausted arm. He grabbed your arm and pulled you out. He told you all about yourself and promised you would live forever if you put your trust in him for the rest of your life. You were so grateful that you decided to follow him the rest of your life.

2, You were lying dead at the bottom of the pool. You, of course, didn’t know this because you were dead. A man came dived into the pool, swam to the bottom and dragged you to the surface onto the bank. The “kiss of life” would be of no use because you weren’t half-dead but dead dead. Yet, he brought you back to life. He told you all about yourself and promised that you would live forever if you put your trust in him the rest of your life. You were so filled with joy that you decided to follow him the rest of your life.

This is my response.

Ahhhhhhhh! The second–I was dead-dead. So dead, that I didn’t recognize that the person next to me praying with tears and sobs was praying for ME! I patted her on the leg to comfort her. My boyfriend (future husband, but that was later to be determined) and I were being kind to his parents and attending a ‘camp meeting’. I had just graduated from nursing school, had a boyfriend that said he loved me, and was looking forward to working for a steady paycheck. I was in ‘heaven’ by my definition.

Now, here I was in a really weird church service in the evening and it wasn’t even Sunday. People were praying out loud, bunches of them at the same time. Young people, old people, some of them were walking around the hall that held the meeting. I don’t remember the message, the songs were unfamiliar, but I can vividly picture my friend’s mother sitting next to me on my left, with her handkerchief in her hand and tears rolling down her face. When I asked her if she was OK, she just nodded.

For many years after this I would call this same woman and ask her to pray. I knew whatever was troubling me would be laid at the feet of the only One who could fix things. Dorothy prayed until heaven answered.

The year was 1976. July of that year was to be a big celebration here in the U.S. It was our bicentennial year. One night my boyfriend and I went out to celebrate and watch fireworks. I should have been having fun, celebrating everything that had happened recently. But, my ‘heavenly’ existence, didn’t seem that satisfying! Here I was walking through the best time of my life–and still not satisfied. Actually, I remember feeling disappointed and empty. That evening, after we came ‘home’ (we were living together–a real NO-NO to everyone at the time) I was sitting on the sofa and my boyfriend was in the back room.

I was thinking.

Then, I can’t tell you how I knew, but I knew. Just as real as my computer before me is right now, I knew God was real. I knew HE existed. The next thing I knew, or felt, was an overwhelming sadness. It wasn’t my sadness. It was as if GOD were sad. He was sad that my life could be so much more. There is something gut wrenching about someone who responds to your stupidity with sadness. Beat me over the head, yell at me, I can walk away. But respond with love and sadness, I have to stop……at least for a moment.

Well, if God is real, maybe I need to do something about that. No, wait, I need to do something RIGHT NOW! I may go back to forgetting HE is real. I may go back to my cynical, Nietsche-loving, Stalin-pondering idealogies.

But wait, this guy that says he loves me, what about him? He is going to think I am some kind of weirdo. Well, God, you will just need to find me another. It seemed like I needed to make some changes, and quickly, before I dismissed this whole thing as indigestion.

I got up, walked to the back of the apartment where I thought my boyfriend was studying. I told him, “I need to be a Jesus freak.” (That’s what we called sold-out believers back in the day.)

He responded something like, “me too. I was just sitting here thinking, I could never marry someone who did not believe in God.”

No one can ever tell me there is no Holy Spirit; a Being so awesome, who works in the hearts of men. I didn’t realize that at the moment, I just knew that I gave up the love of my life in the front room and received him back in the back room. Except now, he was all dressed up as a man of God! I still remember this scene with awe. Who wouldn’t want to follow a God like this! I thought I was giving to Him–He gave so much more to me…………

I can actually see each of the above scenarios bringing the same results. I think the eventual outcome is what is important. Half-dead or dead-dead, things are not looking good. Realizing that you cannot do it for yourself is the key to salvation.


Ephesians 2:3-9 (NLT)

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

God Loves YOU SO MUCH!

Before Jesus came to earth, suffered and died for our indiscretions (rebellion and sin against God), the Presence of God was resident in only one place: the Holy of Holies. Wherever Israel set up camp, the ‘temple’ was also set up. At first it was a tent with surrounding grounds bordered by curtains. Then later, with King Solomon, an actual temple was built. It consisted of three sections: the Outer Court, Inner Court and the Holy of Holies.

All people could enter the Outer Court. Only the priests could enter the Inner Court and only with restrictions such as: no alcoholic drinks, no diseases, and no reason to be unclean or defiled. But, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. He could go behind the veil that separated the Inner Court from the Presence of God usually only once a year and only after an elaborate purification process. If he failed to perform the purification process properly or had some other reason to be unworthy to enter the Presence, he would drop dead in the Presence of God. Evidently this happened on occasion, because it was customary to tie a rope around the High Priest’s leg when he went in, in case he did die. No one wanted to go in after the body, but with the rope, they could just drag him out.

After the death of Jesus, when He said ‘it is finished’ and the curtain was torn in two, then symbolically, God was giving all men the ability to enter His Presence.

50 days later at the celebration of Pentecost, the Presence of God dwelling with His people became a reality. The Spirit of God appeared suddenly in the Upper Room as a mighty rushing wind where the 120 were gathered. They were gathered there because Jesus had told them (Acts 1: 4-5) to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father.

When the wind came—the Holy Spirit appeared as a fire, which split and rested on each person there. They then carried with them the Holy Spirit as evidenced among other things by speaking in foreign tongues and prophesying.

About 4000 years of planning, teaching, prophesying, and sacrificing led up to the death and resurrection of Christ. Then 50 days later, God sealed the deal. Ephesians 1: 13-14 says:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

We do not belong to ourselves.

We were purchased with a price.

1 Cor 6:19-20 (NLT) “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

Doll and Pocketknife

My dad was an air conditioner repairman when I was little, before I was in kindergarten. At that time it was me and two little sisters plus my mom and dad. Christmas was special, but we didn’t have a lot of spare cash. My favorite toy as a child was my Tiny Tears. I remember how amazing she was. She had rockabye eyes; she could drink cry real tears and wet her diaper! Guys, I know you understand how cool this was—right?

Well, back in the day—if you were a guy—you probably had a pocketknife with you all the time! (Check your pocket—got one now?) What do a doll and a pocketknife have to do with my thoughts here? Think about it—what do these things represent to us? Fun, special times, maybe sacrifice, family memories, comfort, can all be tied up in this knife or this doll.

Now, you are not a doll or pocketknife to God—and you are WAY MORE precious to Him than that doll was to me. He knows every cute little thing you do. Every funny word, every nice gesture, every hair on your head—He knows and delights in them all. Read Psalm 139 if you want a CRAZY list of everything God knows about us! Or, read Psalm 121, if you want some reassurance that HE NEVER SLEEPS, HE IS NEVER OFF HIS GAME, and yes—that means He knows you.

You are so precious to God that, when you tell Him you want to be a member of His family and confess your sin, and put your faith in what Jesus did on the cross; Ephesians chapter 1 says he seals you with the Holy Spirit.

Did you read the passage above in Ephesians? Did you REALLY read it? Here it is again,

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Wow! You can be sealed. You can be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit! Think about that as you go about your business this next week. I would bet the Israelites would be pretty pumped about that thought!

I know it is changing me—just focusing on that one thought. How will it change you? Will it give you great peace? Will it make you more careful how you go about your day? Probably both! My parents paid for me to get braces on my teeth when I was in High School. I so appreciated the sacrifice they made, that I have always taken care of my teeth; making regular dental appointments, etc., This has meant something to me for all my adult life–and that is just braces on my teeth.

Find something that means a lot to you—a picture, a pocketknife—put it where you can see it. Every time you see it, let it remind you that God is watching and rejoicing over you. Zephaniah 3:17 says

“For the lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Broken Covenant

In another blog, I talked about the first covenant with Adam. A covenant at its base is an agreement with a condition. This could be enough, when both parties consent, to form the covenant. However ‘covenant’ also has the idea that it is not casual consent. Each party pledges themselves and all they are, their honor, their name, and their possessions to one another.

The partaking of a meal, the exchanging of gifts or names can further signify a covenant. It is an agreement full of honor. However honorable a covenant may be though, it can still be broken.

Sometimes when we read a familiar writing or hear a familiar song we know so well, we no longer hear what is being said. Take the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Ring Around the Rosie’. As a young person growing up, I know I recited this poem, dancing around in a circle of friends, to see who would be the last to ‘fall down’. It wasn’t until I was an adult and heard there was another meaning to this rhyme, did I really examine the words and realize the macabre reality behind it.

With this in mind, I would suggest we take a look at the first part of the Book of Genesis from a new vantage point. For some of you, it will be to get behind each word and imagine the scenery, the awesomeness of Adam’s position and the incredible relationship he had with the Creator of the universe. For others, you will need to lay aside the skeptical view you have fostered, maybe for many years, and imagine (for just a moment) it could all be written exactly as it happened. Imagine that a loving awesome all-powerful God decided to create a world where He could interact and have a deep friendship with His creation. Imagine.

We know from the Bible that God gave the earth and all living creatures to Adam to rule over. (Genesis 1:26-28) Then in Genesis 2:16-17 God draws a line. God has created Adam in His own image. God has been in relationship with Adam. He has given him the position of authority over all creation with one caveat: Adam must respect God’s boundary. All creation depends on this fact: Adam must remain in harmony with God. This harmony rests on one condition. Adam must not eat of this one single tree in the garden.

But, without this condition, Adam is just a slave. He has no free will. A true friendship, a love relationship, is not free if it is forced. If I say “YOU MUST LOVE ME!” there is no love.

And, at just the right moment, if God jumped in to beat back Satan, He would be in violation of His covenant with Adam. He can’t say, (not Bible–my thoughts) “Well Adam, I am sorry, I take it back, you cannot be the ruler of the Garden. I can see you are not capable. Sorry, I made a mistake.” If He does this He is not true to His nature as God. He would be faithless. The garden was a gift to Adam. Your life is a gift to you. He had to allow Adam to choose.

And choose Adam does. (me again) “Sorry God, not this time. I know you said I would die, that’s why I let Eve eat first. And really, ‘Good’ is so ‘yesterday’. Been there, done that.”

Is your heart breaking? Mine is. Do you have children? Do you know a loved one or friend who is making/has made bad choices? Did you warn them? Did you watch and realize the choice was not yours?

I wonder what God felt? He knew. And yet, He made us with free will. He wanted a real relationship: a real love relationship. Genesis 3:8 says “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”

God, all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful, is searching for Adam. Maybe He is searching Adam. Maybe He is ready to forgive. But, Adam and Eve are not ready to repent. He did, she did, it did, not me! Mercy cannot be received without acknowledgement of the transgression.

So God starts the process. The way of salvation is begun. How can a holy, perfect, sinless Being commune with rebellion? Only sacred life-blood can cover sin. God sheds the blood of an animal, one He has lovingly created, and takes its skin as a sign that the shame of Adam and Eve’s nakedness (rebellion) is covered. With the covering comes a partial restoration of their relationship. It is just an ‘atonement’. The Hebrew word atonement means covering. It can only cover their transgression. God teaches them to continue this tradition to remain in relationship to Him. (We know this because later in Genesis, Abel offers an animal sacrifice to God. Genesis 4:3)

Many years later, after Mankind is ready to ask for forgiveness, a true offering will be made. When Mankind becomes weary of sacrifices and traditions.

Then and only then, an offering that is a perfect representation of Man will be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Once this perfect sacrifice is offered…it will be finished. The atonement will not be a covering; it will be a propitiation…a perfect substitution for the sin of every man. This perfect sacrifice—Jesus—will once and for all shed His blood so that Man can be forgiven.

I woke up this morning with the words to an old Isaac Watts hymn on my mind:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Jesus, the NAME above all NAMES, thank you. What can I say? How do I express my thanks for what you were willing to do? And WHY? I know there are times when the ‘apple’ still looks good to me. Even though, like Adam and Eve, I have known you. It could have been me instead of Eve, or Judas, or Peter; I could just as easily have betrayed you. But, you always hang in there with me. You continually extend your hand of friendship towards me. You don’t turn your back on me. Your name is Faithful and True. All I can offer is a humble thank you.