“It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” – Yogi Berra

In early childhood during the dark days of World War II, I decided that I was going to be a fighter pilot. At the age of 6, as I read novels about Dave Dawson and the RAF, the fact did not escape me that fighter pilots did not live long lives–30 years was a full lifetime. So, I expected to live 30 years.

At age 35, after a family tragedy, the Father called me to Jesus and I was saved. I had led a rebellious life until then, and no one knew that better than my dad. I was his eldest and his prodigal, and I don’t use the word “prodigal” loosely. No one was more surprised at my change than he.

While visiting my folks in the following year, I had just finished reading Jesus’s parable about the vineyard owner hiring workers and said to my dad, “Gee, I showed up at 5 pm and Jesus paid me a full wage.”

Rather firmly, my father replied, “Who says it’s 5pm? You have a long life ahead of you.”

Until then, I’d been thinking I had lived 5 years longer than my childhood expectation–and having attributed this to the Marines scrapping my orders to flight training because of my eyesight– I finally realized that I really didn’t know how long I’d live. But, I knew God the Father did.

Just one year later, I was working in Buenos Aires in the midst of the Argentine terrorist wars. The terrorists killed one businessman each day on his way to work. I changed hotels every day for the first 42 months.

As I walked from my hotel to my office early one morning, I took my usual security precaution of walking along the side of the street with slanted storefront windows. This way, I could check the reflections to see whether anyone was following me. When there were no more slanted windows ahead on my side of the street, but slanted windows on the other side, I would cross the street and continue on that side. While crossing the street that morning, I came to my senses and stopped in the middle (no traffic).

“Lord. Why am I doing this on my own? It’s your job to keep me alive.”

From that day on, I have not feared for my life–despite being in great danger on numerous occasions. If I discover myself in danger, I do whatever I can to mitigate the risk. But, the Lord is in absolute control of the outcome.

Are you a Christian, often enervated by fear? Does my above response sound strange to you? If it does, you should ask the Lord to take away your fear, and give you wisdom to deal with the circumstances he places you in. Here’s what he has to say to you, just as he does to me:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Don’t forget, Christian: Isaiah called Jesus “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” And Jesus promised us his Holy Spirit forever.

A Christian Rests In Eternal Security

Many call themselves Christian. I am one of those. But there is a vital difference between calling oneself Christian and being a Christian. I can call myself anything, but what I call myself has nothing to do with what I am.  If I walk into an airplane hangar and call myself an airplane, I am still not an airplane. If I walk into a Christian church and call myself a Christian, I do not become a Christian by saying so, or any other action.

I am defined as a Christian by what I believe about Jesus, and not just because I believe Jesus existed, for the men who nailed Jesus onto a cross believed Jesus existed, bleeding right before them. Nor am I a Christian because I believe in God–even Satan and his devils believe God exists.

I am a Christian because of what I believe about Jesus.

Jesus is Who he is, not who we merely think he is, and certainly not who many want Him to be. Jesus says of himself, “I am who I am.”

St. Peter hit the nail on the head when answering Jesus’s question, “Who do you think I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded with, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

There’s the rub. We don’t study, strive and will our way to being a Christian. All our desires and hopes about Jesus are examined by God before he gives us the gift of faith to believe Jesus is all he claims to be.

In reading this morning, I thought the following represents one concise summary (there are many more) of this matter:

1 John 5:1-13 (NIV)

“5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”