God promises eternal life to those who believe in His Son. It’s in the Bible, John 3:16, NIV. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Eternal life is a gift given to those who trust in Jesus. It’s in the Bible, I John 5:11-12, NIV. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Our future in heaven begins when Jesus comes the second time. It’s in the Bible, I Thessalonians 4:16-17, NIV. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

At the second coming, Jesus will make us perfect, just like Him. It’s in the Bible, Philippians 3:20-21, NIV. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

What does the Bible say about heaven? It’s in the Bible, John 14:2-3, NIV. “There are many homes up there where My Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with Me where I am.”

The future is beyond our comprehension. It’s in the Bible, I Corinthians 2:9, NIV. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

How did Isaiah describe the conditions of a perfect future? It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 65:21-23, NIV. “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of My people; My chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.”

Peace will pervade even the animal kingdom. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 65:25, NIV. “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy in all My holy mountain.”

The handicapped will be healed. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 35:5-6, NIV. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy.”

God will live with His people and there will be an end to death, crying, and pain. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 21:3-4, NIV. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

cryingJesus wept- John 11:35

This is verse is famous for being the shortest verse in the Bible. But it deserves our attention for reasons much more significant than that. What a scene! The eternal, unchanging, immovable God-in-the-flesh Jesus, weeping in front of the tomb of a friend.

How mysterious a scene this is. And yet there are some clear implications, embedded in the context of the verse, from which we can learn valuable lessons. First, Jesus was not weeping because of despair at the death of Lazarus his friend. He had already told his disciples that this death had been allowed in order to provide an occasion for their faith to be strengthened (11:15). Moments after weeping, Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead.

Secondly, Jesus was weeping because he saw the deep grief of those around him and was deeply moved by compassion for them (11:33). Even though…

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One dictionary defines contentment as “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” Today it is rare that we find anyone who is truly content with his or her condition in life. The Bible has a great deal to say about contentment—being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).

In essence, Jesus is telling us to be content with what we have. Moreover, He has given us a direct command not to worry about the things of this world. Then He adds, “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). From Jesus’ words, we can deduce that lack of contentment is sin and it puts us in the same category as those who do not know God.

The apostle Paul was a man who suffered and went without the comforts of life more than most people could ever imagine (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Yet he knew the secret of contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). The writer to the Hebrews adds, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Yet people continue to seek after more of the things of this world, never contented with their lot in life. The bumper sticker that reads “He with the most toys wins!” epitomizes the world’s cravings for more and more.

The latest global statistic shows that if one has a roof over his head and a meal on his table he is richer than 93 percent of the world’s population. If a person wears a pair of shoes he is richer than 75 percent of the people in the world. In the United States alone, credit card debt averages more than $16,000 per household, and we are still discontented. Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

“Be content with such things as you have” means as believers such should be our trust and confidence in God that we should be satisfied with our condition regardless of our circumstances. For we know assuredly that if we are faithful God will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

To worry means we do not trust God. The key to overcoming our discontentment and lack of faith is to find out who God really is and how He has been faithful to supply the needs of His people in the past. Such study will grow one’s confidence and trust for the future. The apostle Peter said it succinctly: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Seven ways to please the Lord.

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Thoughts on God

You and I can please God. It is amazing when you really think about it: human beings – seemingly so insignificant when we look at the size and scale of the universe that God has created – have the ability to please the Lord. It is also possible to ‘displease’ the Lord (Isaiah 66:4c). The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Find out what pleases the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:10), or as The Message translation puts it, ‘Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it’.

1. Praise the Lord

Psalm 113:1-9Praise is the appropriate response to God. It is not that he is a megalomaniac. He is worthy of all our praise. We teach our children to be thankful – not for our own sake but for theirs. We are pleased when they are thankful. God teaches us to praise him because it is the right response to him, and because it is good for us. Thanksgiving is an appropriate response to human generosity. Continual praise is the appropriate response to God’s generosity.

The psalmist repeats over and over again that we should ‘praise the Lord’ (v.1). We should praise him all day long, ‘From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised’ (v.3). We should praise him throughout our lives, ‘now and tomorrow and always’ (v.2, MSG). We should praise him particularly for his love for the marginalised: the poor, the needy and the barren (vv.7–9).

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord …

2. Live in the light

Ephesians 5:8-33Ephesians 5:8–14

As Christians, we are called to be a community whose conduct shines as a beacon to others, illuminating the way that God intended life to be lived.

Paul wrote that you are ‘light in the Lord’ (v.8). Therefore, you should live as ‘children of light’ (v.8). Light produces good fruit: goodness (generosity towards others), righteousness (doing right in relation to God and humanity) and truth. These are ways you can please the Lord (v.10).

Light exposes evil. The best way to get rid of evil is to drag it into the light. Evil thrives in the darkness, but the moment it’s brought into the light, its power diminishes.

Ask God to shine the light of the Holy Spirit into your heart. If the Holy Spirit exposes an area of darkness, deal with it through confession and repentance. The moment you do so, the power of evil is broken.

Lord, help us to get rid of darkness in our lives and to live as children of light, shining in a way that pleases you.

3. Make the most of every opportunity

Ephesians 5:15–17

Time is our most valuable possession. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.

Paul wrote, ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (vv.15–16). We must not fritter away our lives, like fools. Life is short – we should live in the moment and make the most of every day.

Lord, may we not live carelessly or unthinkingly. Rather, may we make sure we understand what you want and make the most of every hour of every day.

4. Be filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18–20

Paul contrasts the escapism of substance abuse (getting ‘drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery’) with being ‘filled’ (v.18) with the Holy Spirit. ‘Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him’ (v.18, MSG). In these verses, he uses ‘filled’ in the present continuous tense, urging us to go on and on being filled with the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit leads to singing ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ (v.19) instead of ‘drinking songs!’ (v.19, MSG). It leads us to worship the Lord Jesus in our hearts and to give thanks to God – the very opposite of grumbling and complaining. It is characteristic of the Spirit-filled community to be grateful to God for all things, in all places and at all times. It leads to mutual submission as we see in the next section.

Lord, please fill me today with the Holy Spirit.

5. Submit to one another with love and respect

Ephesians 5:21–23

John Paul Getty, once the wealthiest man on the planet, who was married three times, said, ‘I’d give my entire fortune for one happy marriage.’ Mutual respect is the key to a happy marriage. The key words in verses 21–33 are ‘respect’, ‘love’ and ‘submit’. The overall heading for this section is that ‘out of respect for Christ’ (v.21, MSG), we are to ‘submit to one another’ (v.21).

The word used for submission is different from the word used for ‘obey’ (6:1). Submission is voluntarily yielding in love. It is a beautiful characteristic and it is clear from the overall heading, ‘submit to one another’ (v.21), that he expects mutual submission. This teaching would have been a revolutionary concept in first-century culture.

Respect is the key to a good relationship between the sexes. We are not at war. As Pope Benedict put it, ‘In Christ, the rivalry, enmity and violence can be overcome and has been overcome. It is respect throughout marriage that elevates the other and gives them the dignity and increases their confidence and self worth.’

The overall emphasis of the passage is on love. Although it is directed particularly at the husband, it would be absurd to suggest that the love is not mutual. Paul is saying that both love and submission are mutual. Love is self-giving; this is how a husband submits .

This kind of love is sanctifying (vv.26–27). It makes us holy. It makes us like Jesus. It is sensitive (vv.28–30). And it is sealed in marriage by sexual union (v.31). This is the New Testament context of sexual union. It is the most beautiful and the most romantic attitude to sex and marriage. As Robert Spaemann put it, ‘The essence of marriage is that two lives, two whole biographies, are so tied together that they become one history.’

Furthermore, these verses are precious gems to be treasured because of what they suggest about the forthcoming marriage feast of the Lamb, and the consummation of the union between Christ and his church. In today’s passage in Isaiah (see section 7 below) we get an insight into what this union will be.

Lord, help us in all our relationships, whether we are married or single, to submit to one another, respecting and loving each other and pleasing you.

6. Be humble

Isaiah 65:17-66:24Isaiah 66:2b

‘These are the ones I esteem: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and tremble at my word’ (Isaiah 66:2b). ‘But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say’ (v.2b, MSG).

This is another way to please the Lord. Through constant study of, and submission to, his word, God keeps us humble and contrite. It is easy to become prideful until we fall on our knees before God and his word, and see ourselves in the light of his truth.

Lord, help us to be humble and contrite and reverently responsive to what you say.

7. Look forward to a world where everything pleases God

Isaiah 65:17–66:24

Isaiah encouraged the people: ‘Be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create’ (65:18). God promises that he will create ‘new heavens and a new earth’ (v.17).

This new heaven and new earth will finally be a place where everything pleases God, where he can ‘delight in [his] people’ (v.19). In these final chapters, Isaiah sketches out a glorious vision of what this new creation will be like.

This passage also warns of the coming judgment, as all that displeases God is excluded from this new creation (66:4b).

The imagery of a new creation, which these chapters give us, is then a picture of joy and rejoicing (65:18–19a); a place where there is no more suffering and ‘the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more’ (v.19b). This prefigures some of the last chapters in the New Testament (see Revelation 21:4).

Isaiah promises that everyone will reach their full potential (Isaiah 65:20). But the New Testament goes even further, with Jesus promising eternal life. There will be no need for funerals, undertakers or cemeteries. God’s people will be given immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).

Isaiah looks forward to a time when all activity will be a blessing (Isaiah 65:21–23a). There will be no more work in vain. There will be no more labour or toil. Rather, there will be a restoration of the rule over creation for which we were originally entrusted (see Genesis 1:26; Revelation 22:5).

There will be a closeness of relationship with God (Isaiah 65:23b–24), with no more struggling or seemingly unanswered prayer. We will have an unimpaired vision of God and of Jesus.

There will be harmony and peace (v.25). All relationships will be restored – including even the animal world. There will be unity and intimacy in all our relationships. Nature will be restored as a place of stability, safety and peace. The kingdom of God will be fully established. Martin Luther wrote, ‘I would not give up one moment of Heaven for all the joys and riches of the world, even if they lasted for thousands and thousands of years.’

Lord, we praise you for this wonderful promise of a new heaven and a new earth. May it spur us on in our desire to live now in a way that pleases you.

God always keeps his promises. It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, NKJV. “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us”

God never takes back or changes His promises. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 89:34, TLB. “No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back one word of what I said.”

None of God’s promises ever fail. It’s in the Bible, Joshua 23:14, NIV. “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”

We have been promised eternal life. It’s in the Bible, 1 John 2:25, NKJV. “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

God can do the impossible. It’s in the Bible, Luke 18:27, NKJV. “But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

We have been promised new hearts and desires. It’s in the Bible, Ezekiel 36:26, NKJV. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

He has promised forgiveness. It’s in the Bible, 1 John 1:9, NKJV. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God promises our sins will be far removed from us. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 103:12, NKJV. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

We are promised that our sins will be buried. It’s in the Bible, Micah 7:19, NKJV. ” He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

He has promised the fruit of the Spirit. It’s in the Bible, Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

He has promised deliverance from fear. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 34:4, NKJV. “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

God has promised salvation for our children. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 49:25, NKJV. “For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.

We are promised the Holy Spirit. It’s in the Bible, Luke 11:13, NKJV. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

All of our needs will be supplied. It’s in the Bible, Philippians 4:19, NKJV. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

God gave the best He had by giving us His only Son. It’s in the Bible, Romans 8:32, NKJV. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

God does not hold back anything that is for your benefit or good. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 84:11, TLB. “For Jehovah God is our Light and our Protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk along his paths.”

He has promised wisdom. It’s in the Bible, James 1:5, NKJV. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

God has promised peace. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 26:3, NKJV. “You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

God has promised victory over temptations. It’s in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

We have the promise of health and healing. It’s in the Bible, Jeremiah 30:17, NKJV. “For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord

God has promised protection from harm and danger. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 91:4-6, NKJV. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”

The Bible promises that the dead will live again. It’s in the Bible, John 5:28-29, NKJV. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

Jesus has promised that He will come again. It’s in the Bible, John 14:2-3, NKJV. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

He has promised an end to death, sorrow, and pain. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 21:4, NKJV. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

 

Start the day with a thankful attitude, and end the day with it. It’s in the Bible, NKJV. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night,”

Being thankful is a choice. It’s in the Bible, Leviticus 22:29, NKJV. “And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will.”

One of the first marks of rejecting God is forgetting to thank him. It’s in the Bible, Romans 1:21, TLB. “Yes, they knew about Him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all his daily care. And after awhile they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused.”

Give thanks in every situation. It’s in the Bible, I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In giving thanks to God; don’t forget from where our blessings come. It’s in the Bible, Psalms 103: 2, NIV. “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

Give thanks for you are redeemed! It’s in the Bible, Psalms 107: 1-2, NKJV. “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy”

Give thanks for all the good God does for you. It’s in the Bible, Psalms 107:8, NKJV. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

We can be thankful for how God has rescued us from our enemies. It’s in the Bible, 2 Samuel 22:49, NKJV. “He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man.”

Give thanks – the victory is ours! It’s in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:57, NKJV. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Praise God – He leads us into victory to help lead others along life’s way. It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, NKJV. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Be grateful for the good people in your life. It’s in the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, NKJV. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,”

Be thankful for all the people in your life – even those in authority. It’s in the Bible, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, NKJV. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

Daniel gave thanks even in the face of the lion’s den – it was his habit. It’s in the Bible, Daniel 6:10, NKJV. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”

Give thanks before the miracle. It’s in the Bible, John 11:41, NKJV. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.”

Give thanks to God to let others know where your good gifts come from. It’s in the Bible, Psalms 69:30, NKJV. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

In everything you do, demonstrate your gratitude to God. It’s in the Bible, Colossians 3:17, NKJV. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Give thanks to God who made us qualified! It’s in the Bible, Colossians 1:12, NKJV. “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

Instead of joining in crude, vulgar, or useless chatter, give thanks. It’s in the Bible, Ephesians 5:4, NKJV. “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Trust God even in the dark of night, and give thanks. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 119: 62, NKJV. “At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments.”

God is on the throne – give thanks! It’s in the Bible, Revelation 11:17, NKJV. “Saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.”

The mountain top experience

Posted: November 13, 2014 in Thoughts on God

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:2-3 ESV)

Jesus takes his inner circle to a mountain with him and they experience a “God thing”; something unlike anything they had ever seen. Most of us have had a similar experience, maybe not as intense, but a “mountain top” experience nonetheless. It may have been while worshipping at youth camp, a prayer meeting, or maybe even during a normal day. A time when suddenly God moved in a way you had never experienced. What did you do with it when it was over?

Some attempt to relive the same experience everywhere they go. Life doesn’t seem right if one of those experiences isn’t right around the corner. They began looking for an experience instead of living their life for Jesus. Peter wanted to do just this (Mark 9:5), he wanted to make a memorial to what happened on the mountain so they could come to it and relive the event. But Jesus didn’t allow him to, and he brought them all back down the mountain, telling them not to mention this until he was risen from the dead (Mark 9:9). What a buzz kill, right? You see this awesome thing, you want to keep reliving it over again and again and Jesus says, “Oh yeah, by the way, don’t mention this to anyone until I have risen again.” The disciples didn’t understand this (Mark 9:10), but Jesus knew what he was doing.

Jesus gave them the glowing mountain top to aid them through the dark valley when he would be taken away and murdered. He graciously gives us these experiences so we are able to navigate the many valleys in our lives, not so we can stay on the mountain. So, cherish these mountain top experiences, and draw from them in the valleys. Be sure to never create an idol by living for them instead of Jesus.

Are you holding on to your “mountain top” experiences more tightly than you’re holding on to Jesus?