Am I Going To Heaven? (Part 2) : What Are My Afterlife Options?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

  When I take my wife out to dinner, it usually begins with us trying to work out which restaurant to go to. I’ll start by asking her where she wants to go. She’ll say she doesn’t know. And then I’ll say I don’t know. Then she’ll ask me to give her some options to choose from. And then we’ll narrow it down to one choice. And then, knowing my luck, the place will be shut and we have to go through the whole process again. It’s good to know your options before you settle on a decision. Especially when the decision is where you are going to spend eternity. I want to go to heaven, but before I get my heart set on it, I really should investigate the alternatives. So the way I see it, just looking from the Christian point of view, there are three possible destinations when we die: heaven, hell, and purgatory aka limbo. We can automatically cross out ideas like reincarnation or the Norse place called Valhalla because they’re not part of the Christian mindset. This purgatory place is worth investigating. From what I understand, it’s some kind of waiting place. The idea is that if you’re not good enough for heaven when you die, and not bad enough for hell, then purgatory is where you end up. Some people say it’s a boring place where nothing much happens. Others say it is a place where you get punished, but only for a short time. So you hang out in purgatory until you burn off all those little nagging sins until you’re good enough to get into heaven. That doesn’t sound too bad. I understand the appeal. It’s good to have a backup just in case I’m not good enough to get into heaven. Here’s that second chance that everyone loves. The problem with that, is that it sounds all well and good, but purgatory is not a real option. It’s not even a real place. You won’t find it mentioned anywhere in the Bible, unless you go hunting for books that most people agree aren’t really Scripture. And that’s not just because the writers of the Bible just forgot to mention it. The Bible is pretty clear: there are only two place you can go after you die. In John 3:36, Jesus says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” So there’s two options here. Either it’s eternal life (heaven) or God’s wrath, his anger, remains (hell). There’s no middle option. No fence sitting. No loop holes. So when I die, I’m either going to be...

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Am I Going To Heaven? Part 1: The Big Question

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold. And she’s buying the stairway to heaven. When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for. Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying the stairway to heaven.   Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin is one of those really well known songs that I just don’t understand. Great piece of music, but the lyrics are a complete mystery to me. There’s someone in there about “a bustle in your hedgerow”. I mean really, what’s that supposed to mean? I don’t have a clue here. But I am intrigued by this idea of a stairway to heaven. That somewhere there’s this massive staircase you can walk up, up through the clouds, until you get to the top and there’s this whopping big sign that says “Welcome To Heaven!” I really doubt that a stairway like is exists but it’s a fascinating idea. Because I have a lot of questions about heaven. How do I get to heaven? If there’s no stairway, is there an elevator? What will heaven look like? Will it be all clouds with guys in funny dresses and wings? What will I look like in heaven? Will I look like myself or do I get to join the funky halo club? But the biggest question for me, the question that takes precedence over all the other questions is: Am I going to heaven? All the other questions are trivial really. I’ll find out the answer when I get there. If I get there. I mean, how can I be sure that God will let me in? Why should he let me in? I’m just some nobody and he’s God. Is there something I can be doing now, in this life, to ensure I get into heaven? For me, this is a really important question. Because one day I’m going to die. And I can ensure you, I’m not looking forward to it. But one day it’s going to happen. And then what? I want to go to heaven. I’m told it’s the best place to spend the afterlife. But I have some doubts. Am I good enough? Have I met God’s selection criteria? Do I need to hand in an application form with a photo ID and three references? In this series I’m going to be tackling the big question about heaven: How can I be sure I’m going to heaven? I’ll be investigating the afterlife options, God’s entry criteria for heaven, and finally, what God has done to change the rules of the game. At the end of the day, you can be sure about where...

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Ten Tips For Marketing

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

A word from our publisher: Deborah Malone has written three novels published by Lamp Post, and time and time again she has impressed me with her ability to self-promote and sell numerous copies of her books. Here she shares her secrets and provides some great insights into how she has achieved this success. And if you like a good “cozy mystery”, be sure to pick up your copies of Death in Dahlonega, Murder in Marietta, and the newly-released Terror on Tybee Island! Only from Lamp Post! — Brett Burner, Publisher    TEN TIPS FOR MARKETING Congratulations, you’re holding your first published book. Now you can sit back and relax. Not! Your work is just now starting – marketing. This is a part of every writer’s world. You must market your books. You’ll need to get the word out about your books, and the best way to do that is to shamelessly self-promote. Below you’ll find a few tips that might help you get started in that direction. Now get out there and promote your book! 1. Establish a website Once your book is contracted and by the time it shows up in online bookstores, you should have a website – preferably one with your author name as the URL,(www.deborah-malone.com) so that readers can easily find you. Use Google blogspot for free and pay only for the URL. 2. Start a blog I’ve discovered blogging and reviewing books is a great way to get your name out in the world of writing. You can build a following before you have your book published. If possible use your author name as your URL (see above). Interviews and book giveaways are a great way to draw traffic to your blog. You can use Google or WordPress for free. 3. Start an author Facebook page If you start an author page as opposed to a personal page it allows followers to connect with you without having to wait for a friend approval. You can post book news, awards, and book signings. 4. Get an update author photo This doesn’t have to be a high-priced photograph, but make sure it is updated and of good quality. It won’t hurt to have a couple of different shots 5. Set Up Accounts On Reader Sites: .There is a great opportunity in this area. You can sign up at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Shelfari. Then when your book is published you can set up author pages and list your book and your information. 6. Get Business Cards, Postcards and Bookmarks:  Vista Print offers great prices on these items. You can get your business cards before your book comes out – be sure and put your...

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Of Dogs and Men

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

So today was a pretty rough day. One of those I’ll remember for a long time.  My son and I put our dog in the car and we took the long drive to the vet. Today would be Hammy’s last day Hamlet is my big black Great Dane. Named for Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark…(He’s Danish, get it?. It’s a stretch, sure, but tongue-in-cheek enough for me.) If you know me at all, you’ve likely heard a “Hammy story”. If you’ve come to my house, you’ve been leaned on, sat on, and loved on by the big oaf. You’re barked at as an intruder on the way in, but you leave as a friend. He’s protected us. He watched over my little boy when he took his bath.  He barked when we wrestled. He cuddled on the couch. He snored. And he provided big warm hugs on bad days (nothing beats a hug from a big dog!).  He’s been a huge blessing to our family. I really do love that dog. If you don’t get it, you’ll think I’m pretty silly. If you do, this will all make perfect sense. So there my son and I sat on the floor of the veterinarian’s office.  I’d just received my last kiss.  The final shot was administered and we watched as life left him.  The vet and his assistant respectfully left, and I held my dog, and held my boy, and we cried and cried and cried.  The pain in my chest threatened to burst my heart, but instead it overflowed through hot tears down my face. Exhausted, I sat back.  I looked at Hammy.  I tried to reason with myself.  “He’s just a dog!”  But a greater emotion shouted back: YOU LOVE HIM! Then it hit me.  I think this is why God gave us dogs in the first place. To love and care for something less than us, and to come to a significant realization: This is how God loves us.  We are so much less than Him.  I mean, we’re just people, created, fallen, sinful. And He is Almighty God. Creator. Savior.  But He loves us. I considered that when one of us turns from Him, shuts Him out, walks away…that it hurts him.  Not that we can do Him damage, but that he feels that aching pain in His heart for a lost soul.  To risk losing every last one of us was too much!  To die for us, little us, insignificant us…was an easy choice.  I imagine the angels said, “But they’re just people!” I think that if I could take on Hammy’s pain to keep him going away forever, I might consider doing just that.  Reason...

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How To Move On With Your Life

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

One of the toughest questions to answer is how to move on with your life. Why? Because it’s both personal and painful. Unfortunately, it’s a question no one else can answer but you. I’ll never forget a few years back when I sat in my church’s counseling office. I had booked an appointment last minute because my life at that time was in major crisis mode. I never knew when I was going to have a panic attack or how long it would last. But, I remember her vividly. The lady whom I didn’t like or care for much. She was just someone who could see me at the last minute. Not to mention, I didn’t have to pay her an arm and a leg for counseling appointments. It was during our last visit that she told me, “I think you should go back on your anxiety medication and stay on it for the rest of your life!” Or maybe she said “for a long time.” I don’t really remember much after that. She scared the crap out of me. Her words hung over me like a death sentence. *** Recently, I woke up. It was as if a light bulb suddenly went off inside my mind, and I yelled at the top of my lungs. “I reject those words spoken over me by her.” I said those words of freedom loudly and resolutely. It was one of those rare moments of freedom I’ve experienced since that fateful day at the counselors office, and I didn’t want to let the moment go. I want to be free of my anxiety. I want to let go of my past. I want to move on with my life. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been on anxiety medication before–a few times in fact. It helped me when nothing else did. What I appreciated about my nurse practitioner is that she took the time to listen to me. She didn’t just tell me there was nothing (or everything) wrong with me. When she diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a young 20-something–it felt nice to finally know what the heck was wrong with me! But. But anxiety medication was never prescribed as a forever pill. It was meant for a temporary fix to help me through my moment of crisis (and I’ve had a lot). *** I’m excited that I am ready to share my story! In my new book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me I share the good, the bad, and the ugly about forgiveness and how it took me a really long time to forgive myself. I am no longer hiding. I am a giant mosaic of brokenness, and I’m finally okay with it. I know...

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Gold Rush

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Articles, Interviews & Articles | 0 comments

I was more than pleasantly surprised yesterday to see that my DVR suddenly had on about 5 episodes of Gold Rush.  For the last few years it’s a been a Saturday Morning ritual…Sitting on the couch with three kids huddled on top of me while I watch the show. I don’t have any other shows that I claim as “my show”… so when it’s my turn…it’s my turn!   I love this show, watching the exploits of Todd Hoffman, his dad Jack, and his crew as they stumble about the Yukon, trying their best, working hard, making good and bad decisions, and making blind leaps of faith as they go for the gold. What is it I love so much about this show?  I think in many ways it reminds me of me… First, on the most simplest of levels, we all trudge through life trying to make it.  These guys are inspiring in that they are breaking the mold and trying to do something that will provide a windfall of money…  Who doesn’t want to strike it rich? That really appeals to the entrepreneur in me. But even more so, it reminds me of my spiritual life.  The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19:9-10: The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; I work hard to seek the righteousness of his calling…and I dig for it with all my might as something much more precious than gold.  But sometimes I just make bad decisions.  Sometimes I utterly fail.  Sometimes for all of my hard work I seem to get very little reward.  And sometimes, I feel like I have a dozen cameras and a full film crew there to capture every stupid move I make at every angle to show it to all the world, waiting to watch it on their DVR. But I also know how it feels at the end of a day to cradle a jar full of “more precious than gold”…to be able to share it with my brothers and sisters who labor alongside of me and tell them “they get a cut!” Regardless, whether I end the Season with a dozen full jars, or a few flakes in a vial, I know it is God’s reward for seeking Him and honoring His ways, and He tells me “Well done!”  He is the Producer of my show, and He’s always ready to prepare me for a new season! (“More Precious than Gold Rush: Season 44, coming this October!”) Gotta go!  The show is about to start! Written by Brett Burner, publisher, Lamp Post Inc....

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