Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Your Daughter's Wedding

All of you fathers out there who have ever given away a daughter in marriage know how it feels. All you who haven't don't. That's the facts. I've been the preacher at a lot of weddings and I've seen fathers give their daughters away and I felt for them, knowing that some day I would have to do the same. But nothing prepared me for last Saturday.
She had asked me to do a blessing. Now it's dangerous to let a father speak. And it's doubly dangerous to let a preacher speak. But when you're dad is a preacher, that makes it even more frightening. I knew what I was going to say. Rehearsed it several times. When I stood before them and the crowd, my mind went absolutely blank. It was as if I could not speak at all. And it didn't help to see the tear streaming out of her eye. I tried and nothing came out. What I wanted to say was from Judges 18 when several Danites asked a young Levite three questions. Three good questions. Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?
Who? The auditorium was full of those who had brought them to that place in their lives. Friends and family who had influenced over the years. People who had meant so much. Everyone of them had a part in bringing them
What? It was a wedding. A wedding is different than a marriage. A wedding is an event, but a marriage is a lifetime. And I need all of those who were there Saturday to be a part of their lives because marriage is hard. They'll need God's help and ours. I'm not saying that because I predict problems. I'm saying that because Satan will do his best to destroy there relationship. He does it to all of us. So please, Lord, be with them.
Why? They were there to make a commitment to each other before God and all of us who had influenced their lives somewhere along the way.
When the Danites asked the Levite about their journey, he told them, "Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord's approval." That's really what I wanted to say. Instead, in my blithering way, I stumbled through a blessing.
It's never easy to let your first born go. It's even harder when she's a girl. But I pray the Lord will bless them. And I pray their journey has the Lord's blessing.
Once again, please give me some time off from blogging. I'll be back next Monday. I'm helping friends move to California this week and I won't be near a computer. So, have a good day. I'll talk to you next week.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Few Days Off

Please give me a few days from blogging. I have to marry off a daughter and I don't know if I can. Something gets in my eyes a lot right now. Tell you about it later. I'll be back in a week or so. Take care. JW

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Contrasts II

I know I've already written about contrasts. But this is my blog and I can write about anything. Right?
Last night I had to make a trip to the grocery store. Driving into the parking lot the Casting Crowns song, "If We Are The Body" came on the radio. I paused for a few minutes listening to the words of that great song. "If we are the body, why aren't his hands reaching, why aren't his words teaching.....?" I had to listen to the entire song because it was really speaking to me at that moment. Then I walked into the grocery store and heard "Joy to the World." No, not "Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive its King." But "Joy to the world, all you boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me." What a contrast from "Why aren't our hands reaching" to "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" and by the way, he had some pretty good wine.
The contrast between Jesus and the world is so dramatic. Yet we try to blur the lines, minimize the screen, and trivialize the difference. John said, "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world--wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important--has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out--but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity." (I John 2:15-17, The Message).
"Set for eternity." I like that. That's what I'm working toward...being set for eternity. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Role Models

As I was reading the sports news this morning, here were the three items listed as the most important. First, a pitcher for the Cincinnatti Reds was cut because he flipped off the home crowd. They were booing him and a fan was verbally abusing him, so he swore at him and flipped him off. The second was a story about an NFL player who was arrested for indecent exposure because he was having sex with an 18-year-old in an SUV. The third was another NFL (this time, all-star) punter who was arrested for DUI.
What is the deal? These guys are paid millions of dollars to play a game and we gullible fans pay for it. Not only do we pay for the tickets, but we pay for the $20 pennants, the $7 big number one finger, the $5 Cokes, and the $7.50 hamburger with the $2 fries. This is on top of the $5 parking fee. And we do this so they can be rude, immoral, and stupid.
A friend of my was at a minor league game the other night when a player went berserk because the umpire called him out at third. He bumped the guy and yelled and just generally acted like a child. He said someone behind him finally yelled, "You're a role model!"
Wow! Aren't you glad we have a role model for our lives. He didn't act unreasonably. He got angry when it was appropriate. He cried when He was touched. He loved people. He served people. Thank God for Jesus!
I've been so fortunate that I have had a number of role models; mentors who showed me--not told me--how to live. Do you have anyone like this? Tell them you appreciate them. Talk about them. Tell others about them. Thank God for them. But most of all, emulate them. Have a great day! JW

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sunrise, Sunset

Where does the time go? Every time I turn around right now I hear the song "Sunrise, Sunset." "How did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall?" I've been going through pictures recently. Looking at my little girl--just after she was born being held by her great-grandmother, standing next to her grandfather while he looks at her with such a proud look on his face, wearing a "Belle" Halloween outfit, seeing her in nice dress just before or after a choir concert, prom pictures, on and on. It makes me teary-eyed.
You see, my little girl who was born just yesterday, is getting married this week. She's 22 years old. It's time. But I'm not ready. I have to admit that I'm looking forward to not having to feed her (although I've been told that they'll be at our house more). She said something about her mom buying her some shoes. I told her she'd better hurry. "Why?" Because after Saturday she's on her own. Well, her husband can take care of her then. "And your birthday and Christmas are a long time from now," I said.
But I identify with all you fathers out there. It's time for her to go. We've spent the first 22 years preparing for this moment. It's just that you're never really ready.
"Sunrise, Sunset. Swiftly, fly the years. One season following another. Laden with happiness and tears."


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Worship III

Sorry, but it continues to be on my mind. I came to the conclusion the other day that the height of arrogance is thinking that you (or me for that matter) has a better handle on worship than anybody. I mean anybody, I don't care who it is. Worship is about humility.
Don't believe me? Think of the Pharisee praying. "I thank you, Lord, that I'm not like this tax collector." See what I'm saying? I worship better. I have a better handle on it. God likes my worship better.
Worship. Worship the best you can. Worship with all of your heart. Just worship. Don't worry if you get it wrong. Don't worry if others think you are looney. Just worship. Fall on your face. Raise your hands. Close your eyes. Just worship. I hope your worship was wonderful today. God is pleased with our worship.
Another tangent--When we plan worship around what we think and around what we like, we forget that worship is not about us. Worship is all about God. Have a great day! JW

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Holy Smoke

There is an old (and I might add, bad) joke that my father used to tell. And if you knew my father, you would know that this was his kind of joke. The preacher receives a phone call from someone and you can only hear his end of the conversation.
"You say the church building is on fire?!?!"
"Holy Smoke!"
See, I told you it was bad. But this did happen last week at our building. Our shepherds are very good at letting anyone use the building at little or no cost as a service to the community. Someone as they were coming in or leaving evidently flipped their cigarette into the bushes next to the door and it smoldered. Then it caught on fire. Yes, we did have one of the latest recorded incidences of a burning bush. Contrary to the Moses story, though, this bush was consumed and along with it, nearly the church building. I asked later if God spoke from it, but no one seemed to get the humor in the statement.
What would we have lost had the building burned down? Some books, some pictures, some computers, just stuff. I had a friend whose house burned to the ground. I asked him what he would have saved if he could have saved anything. His answer surprised me...he said he would have saved their wedding pictures. Memories that now exist only in their minds. Man, I could make a lot of applications from that!!
But I'll just stick to my favorite passage of Scripture from II Corinthians 4. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore, set your heart not what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is eternal." What is unseen. The key to life. Have a great day. JW

Friday, May 20, 2005


His name is Jason. Here are the facts about him. He wears nice suits. He drinks Starbucks. He studies his Bible. I've seen him there several times, but today I went up to him and introduced myself. It's my day off. I don't have the usual khakis and polo shirt. I don't look "normal" today. I have jeans, a t-shirt, a cap, and I haven't shaved. So I look like some guy off the street. But I've seen him there so many times and I've never said anything to him.
"Hi, my name is Jim White. I've noticed you reading your Bible and I appreciate you doing so. I'm the preacher across the street at the Southwest Church of Christ. I know I don't look too good today, but I wanted you to know that I appreciate you being a Christian." "God comes in all forms," he said. "I'm proud to study my Bible here. You preach across the street? Maybe I'll come here you sometime."
As I left with my chai in my hand, he said, "God bless, Jim." It made my day. I couldn't help but think there are more Jasons out there. They're on the same journey I am. And they want to know Jesus. People who are searching their Bibles, looking to better know the Creator, their Lord. I hear about judicial appointments and the like. Murders, rapes, extortion, kidnappings--the newspaper is full of these stories. And you don't read about lying, cheating, dishonesty in the workplace, lust, greed, and other things that go on constantly. But I still believe there are Jasons out there. There's still a lot of salt...a lot of light. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Worship Revisited

I wrote about worship the other day, but I still can't get the topic off my mind. I've read all the Scriptures (That doesn't mean I know everything, because anyone who knows me knows I don't!!). It says that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. While meditating on this, I came to the conclusion that worship consists of two elements--heart (or as I said in my other blog, attitude) and practice.
Why do we work so hard on practice and not on attitude? Haven't we had enough lessons here? Wasn't that the problem with the Israelites? They worked real hard on the practice and did virtually nothing for the heart. "With what shall I come before the Lrod and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transsgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:6, 7) Practice, practice, practice. They had it down!! But that was not what God wanted. He wanted their hearts! Don't believe me? Read on. "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Michah 6:8) Heart, heart, heart.
Still don't believe me? The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus wasn't following the traditions of the elders. Jesus said, (quoting Isaiah, by the way) "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Matthew 15:8,9)
Are we any better? I mean, really, let's think about this. You and I have been in worship services where someone complained about something because "that's just not the way we do it around here." I have a brother who left the church because that was said to him over and over again. If we pound the hearts of worshippers long enough, they go callous and they feel no more. All because we want to get it right. How sad.
Those who attend the congregation where I work have heard this story. In my office is a 3X5 card with some scribbles on it. It doesn't look like too much, but it was given to me by one of our two-year-olds. When she gave it to me, I asked what it was and she replied, "Jesus is the Son of God." Now if we had given that topic to an adult, she may have sketched a cross, maybe Jesus washing the apostles feet, or perhaps healing a leper. It would have been clear and concise and easily discernable. But we certainly wouldn't have been a meaningless scribble. Yet, in this 2-year-olds best way of drawing, she drew Jesus, Son of God. Throw it away? Not on your life. It's a precious drawing to me. Maybe one day, when Kadie gets old enough, I'll give it back to her and tell her what she drew. Do we really think God sits up with His arms folded and gripes because we didn't worship just right? Do you think God was angry because the scribbles don't accurately depict His greatness and might? Or do you think He's looking past all the "stuff" and looking at our hearts?
It doesn't say to worship God in TRUTH and spirit. It says we are to worship in spirit and truth. I think the order of those two words was intentional. God forgive us when we emphasize form more than we do heart. Have a good day! JW

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I don't know why I've been thinking about this this morning, but I have been thinking about my friends. My wife is my best friend, of course. But a song came on the radio that reminded me of my best man. My son is named after him. It was a song that made us laugh when we were in college. I was there when they thought he might have cancer. He was there when I caught an elbow in the mouth and lost my front tooth. He was there when Martha and I married. One of the first calls I received when Mom died was from him. We really don't talk that much any more because he lives so far away. But when we do have the opportunity to get together, we begin where we left off.
Then there's Bobby...all 6 feet 7 inches of him. We met as a result of our wives. They met as a result of a tragic car accident. Once again, when Mom died, Bobby and Jayme drove over four hours to be with us for maybe 2 hours, then drove home. They couldn't be there for the funeral, but they were there as fast as they could. Bobby and I have done some dumb things. We went to a Halloween party as sychronized swimmers. I love both of these men. Proverbs says "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." I'm closer to these guys than I am my own brothers.
My mind goes back to songs again--"Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them." "You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again." I have to tell you, I tear up when I think of them. They would do anything for me, even when I don't deserve it.
My life has been blessed with many friends such as these. I could make a list. I've been so blessed. And so have you. Make a list. Call a friend. Thank God for your friends. We are so blessed!! Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What Happened?

I was reminiscing last night. Going through the old photo albums of our trip to France which happened nearly a year ago. I was looking at the pictures from Notre Dame a Paris. (I can't get the diacritical marks on the e in Dame and the a.) There were pictures of great cathedrals where people worshiped. Beautiful statues of Jesus in his lifeless form being taken down off the cross. There were carvings of the apostles looking at Jesus after his resurrection. Thomas is placing his hand in Jesus' side.
Then I wonder, "What happened?" Why are the places of worship empty? Why is the world becoming increasingly secular? Why do people not care? My brother who has been a missionary for over 25 years may have an answer. When I asked him the same question, he responded, "Terrible things have been done in the name of Jesus." I still feel the pang in my heart as I remember those words.
It still happens today. We're less than encouraging to struggling souls. We ostracize and look down our nose at those who are not dressed as well as we are. We cringe when "those people" come among our midst. We eliminate, draw lines, exclude, and we tend to become very happy in our country club church. And we wonder why people aren't drawn to the church. What happened? JW

Monday, May 16, 2005

Stop Lights

It never fails. I'm in a hurry to get somewhere. There's a time limit and I've got to get to the appointment at a certain time. My wife and I have different theories about driving. (I'm sure you and your spouse are totally different!) My theory is the lights are set by good people. They understand traffic flow and are synchronized to get maximum efficiency from the traffic patterns. And if that means sitting at a light for a few short seconds, it still is faster if you go the more direct route even if there are stop lights.
My wife on the other hand feels that one must continue moving. Go two blocks over and then cut back. Miss all the lights. Even if it means you are going three miles out of the way, you are going faster if you are moving all the time.
Just last Friday we were both in the car going to an important appointment when we went down a particularly business street in Omaha. Honest to goodness, I hit every light. Every light. I'm not kidding, every light. (Going home, I could have sworn the lights went from yellow back to green so I could go through, but going home I was in no hurry.)
Doesn't Satan do that to us? We get into the bustle of life and need to get where we want. A stop light here and a stop light there. Soon we get discouraged and don't pursue the original goal. Instead we go on a more circuitous route and never really make it to our destination. Don't let him play those games. Stay on course. I'm still convinced that the lights are set by good people. And if it means an occasional wait, enjoy the scenery. It may just surprise you. Have a good day! JW

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Honorable Dave Arterburn

I did something yesterday that I've never done before. I went to see a new district judge sworn in. It was an amazing blend of pomp and commonness. But what was so impressive to me were the words I heard about one of our church members, the Honorable Dave Arterburn. You see, as a preacher, you are privy to a lot of information about people that you would really prefer not to know about. You see the struggles, the fights, the defeats, the ugly side of Satan. But this was wonderfully refreshing. I heard words such as "morality," "values," "integrity," "hard work," and "fairness." Words we don't hear very often any more.
What was even more impressive is that the courtroom was full. People were standing because there weren't enough chairs. There was a proud family sitting there including wife, three children, father, mother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law. Members of his church family. Colleagues from the Attorney General's office, and a host of other friends and acquaintances were also there. And all were proud to say they knew him. These are the types of words and occasions that usually only happen at funerals. But it was wonderful to hear them about a man who is well-respected and well-thought of because he follows God.
Wow! There's still hope for us. Even after yesterday's blog, there's still hope. Dave, I'm praying for you, man. You continue to be the example you have been and are. God honors people like you.
By the way, I asked if he could get me out of speeding tickets and he referred me to the county judge. So he's not much help there!! Have a great day. JW

Friday, May 13, 2005

Federal Ruling

You probably noticed what the federal court said about Nebraska's anti-same sex marriage law. They ruled it unconstitutional. The ramifications of this are enormous. If homosexual couples are protected under the Constitution, what happens to Christian organizations that receive federal money? Christian schools, for instance, receive millions of dollars of financial aid each year. They expel students who are openly homosexual because it is against their code of conduct because of their belief that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Will they lose their access to federal finanical aid?
What about churches who do not condone homosexual priests? Or what about churches who discipline those who promote their homosexual lifestyle? Will they lose their tax exempt status?
I wrote to Senator Hagel and Senator Nelson about this very issue when there was talk of a Federal Marriage Amendment. I encouraged them to support the issue that marriage was between one man and one woman. They both wrote back and said they did not support the amendment because they said it was a state's rights issue. Well, gentlemen, it seems that there are those in the justice (and I use that term loosely) system believe it's not a state's rights issue. By they way, Nebraskans passed this bill by over 70%. How can one judge go against the will of so many people?
The Scripture says, "Rigtheousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to many people." I pray for our country.

Just a side bar here, those of you who read my blog regularly know how much I don't like to mow grass. I could see my breath while mowing today! That's just not right!! And I thought it was April showers bring May flowers. Seems that May monsoon's bring June's blooms. Oh, that was bad!! Later. JW

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I've been thinking a lot about worship lately. What does worship look like? In the search for perfect worship, I find that there is no real definite constant in all of this.
When Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar. Who taught him that? Where were the specifications for acceptable altars? And wasn't it a waste to use one of the animals for the sacrifice. After all, we'd need all of them we could find to re-inhabit the earth.
When Job lost his family, his possessions, his health, he worshiped. He tore his robe and shaved his head. Is that what we're to do in order to worship?
Daniel, when told not to pray, prayed anyway. In fact, he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. Even when there was nothing seemingly to be thankful for, Daniel thanked God.
Paul said to present our bodies as "living sacrifices." This was our reasonable act of worship.
I've rolled this around in my mind as to what worship is. Is it altar building, head shaving, thanksgiving, lives of worship? In my mind, worship has two components--one more important than the other. The first is attitude. Why do we worship? Worship comes out a an overwhelming sense of thanksgiving, awe, and the realization of how small we are, i.e. how much we sin and are unworthy and how impure we look compared to a perfectly pure God. The second is how we worship. It's my conclusion that the first attribute is more important than the second. We tend to switch them around. Get it right and then maybe the attitude will come around. My feeling is, get the attitude right and let the other manifest itself.
I'm not there yet. But I'm thinking. Have a good day. JW

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Christians--by Maya Angelou

I'm not a Maya Angelou fan, but a friend gave me this poem by her. It's great! Thought you'd like it, too.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I am weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say.."I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow.

Have a good day! JW

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What's Really Important?

I wish I was able to be profound. There are times when I listen to songs written and the words just cut to my heart. It's always one of those "I wish I had said that" moments.
The same thing happens to me on this blog. Something that makes so much sense to me at one time and then I try to write it down. When I read it back it seems so juvenile and so not what I wanted to say. Or it didn't really deal with the way my heart felt. Then I read someone else's blog and I think, "Wow, they really know how to express themselves."
But I wonder if Paul ever dealt with the same issues. (Not that I'm on the same level as Paul!! For sure I'm not!) But he says, "God forbid that I glory, save in the cross of Jesus." It didn't matter what Paul said or even what he had accomplished in life. What was important was the cross. In I Corinthians, he told them that he had passed on to them what was of "first importance." This was one of those "it's going to be on the test" things. Jesus died, he was buried, resurrected and appeared to a number of people.
So I come back to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if I'm eloquent or not. Profound or profane. What matters is very simply, Jesus. Have a great day. JW

Monday, May 09, 2005


The other day I drove up to my house and opened the door to my van. Next to our driveway is a pine tree with many, many limbs at the bottom. To look through the bottom of the branches, one sees a blackness because of the criss-crossing of all the branches. A blackbird was sitting on one of the lower branches and my opening the door scared him. He flew toward the middle of the tree thinking there was safety. What happened next was amazing to me.
He couldn't get away from me. He was flying right into the tangled mesh of branches and he couldn't get his wings working properly. Instead, he literally bounced from limb to limb wacking his wings at every turn. It sounded painful and it was almost humorous to watch this little bird trying to get away from the big guy.
Birds aren't meant to fly among lower branches. Up to higher branches, maybe and into the top part of the tree. But not at the bottom where spreading wings is a virtual impossibility. Seems to be a lesson here. We humans are not made for the lower branches of life. Satan tries to tell us to fly into the trees and down low at the bottom where we can't spread our wings. We were made to soar. But so many times we relegate ourselves to the bottom limbs and when danger comes, we flop--battering into the very branches that could be safety for us if we would just soar and take our place on the perch of the highest branch. Isaiah said, "...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31) Jesus said that He came so that we might have life. Life to the fullest. Let's soar today. JW

Friday, May 06, 2005

School Bus Logic

There are just some words in the English language that don't go together. I think it was comedian George Carlin who made the joke about "jumbo shrimp." Just seems like an oxymoron.
I'm driving down I-40 in Arkansas on Wednesday. I think it was around Russellville that I see a school bus. The familiar yellow color made me wonder what school group was in it, where were they going, and what would they do when they got to their destination. Then I saw painted on the bus these words...."Hillybilly Pride." Now realize this is Arkansas (although the most backward state I ever lived in was West Virginia. Sorry Mountaineer fans.). But those two words just don't go together. Oil and water, Republicans and Democrats. If you're a hillbilly, why would there be pride? And if you are proud about something, would it be about being backwards and dull? Perhaps this was a reflection on the educational system of Arkansas. (Wait a minute, I have a doctorate from the University of Arkansas. So what does that say about me!!!???)
We do similar things in our own vocabulary. We'll make statements like, "He's a faithful Christian." Of course! If they're a Christian, they're faithful. Or maybe the lesson in this is what we take pride in. Is it our church buildings? Our programs? Our minister? Paul said he didn't want to talk about anything except Jesus. And he even said, "For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate." Galatians 6:14, The Message. Have a great day! Jesus Pride!! JW

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Well, I've been gone for a few days and I now have a week's worth of blog stories ready to go. However, I'll just do one at a time. Hope you've missed me. If not, I've missed being able to write my thoughts down.
While driving down the road the other day, I heard an ad for one of the many casinos one sees in Iowa and Missouri. (Thank God they were defeated in Nebraska!) The ad went on to say if you do such and such, you could be a winner. The hype made it sound like it was automatic. Just show and and it's yours. But when you really listened...you could be a winner. They don't tell you the odds are slim, reality is that you have a snowball's chance in Hades, and there is no way in the world you are going to win.
On the other hand, notice what John says in his short little five chapter book of I John. "We know we have come to know him if we obey his commands." I John 2:3 "But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." I John 3:2 "We know we have passed from life to death." I John 3:14 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." I John 3:16. And I haven't given you all of the Scriptures. See I John 2:18; 2:21; 3:19; 3:24; 4:13; 4:16; 5:2; 5:15; 5:20. "And we know." It's a sure thing. Not a maybe or could be, but an absolute, definite. Now which one makes more sense to you? Which one is more sure? Which one is reliable? Have a great day! JW