Heaven is for Real

...but you don't get there by banning soda, sugar, guns or anything else for that matter!

The book Heaven is for Real came out in 2010.  I remember my dad bought it at the time and just loved it.  I mean loved it.  The experiences this young man had, they are just amazing, and I'm so glad they made this into a movie - we need more movies like this.  

It makes you think.  Because if heaven is for real, then how do we get there?

Sean Hannity interviewed the real Colton Burpo, the boy at the center of this story and his dad, on Hannity last week and it was remarkable.  Sean essentially asked Colton if everyone went to heaven, to which Colton replied they did not, but rather everyone who was in heaven loved Jesus.  Needless to say, that is a pretty Biblical response.  

And that's the thing with Colton's account, it aligns with what the Bible tells us about heaven.  Personally, I believe he gives us just a glimpse, a tiny peek, at what heaven will be like.  I don't think - and mind you, if you read other accounts of those who have died and come back or had similar experiences, they are almost all the same - but I don't think our human minds can begin to comprehend heaven.  The Bible says eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him.  

Colton also told Hannity that Jesus is like us in heaven, you can walk with him and talk with him - but God, God he couldn't describe.  He was just too big for words.  That's awesome.  That's incredible.  How awesome is God?  You may not believe in Jesus or heaven, but how exciting for those of us who do!  The thought of eternal life in a perfect world that's bigger and better than anything I can imagine - where everyone is at their prime and all my friends who love Jesus are - that sounds great to me!

You see, heaven isn't about sitting on a cloud and playing a harp!  Randy Alcorn had a great book a few years back called Heaven which deals with the subject of what we'll do for eternity, and it is just fascinating.  Worth the read.  Anyway... Heaven IS for real... but you don't get there by banning soda.

Michael Bloomburg, however, would disagree.  The former New York mayor has big plans to invest a whole lot of money to combat ads run by the NRA, and attempt to bring gun control to more American cities while destroying more of your second amendment rights.  In order to push his grand scheme, he gave an interview to the New York Times.  The last two paragraphs are particularly intriguing. Jeremy Peters writes:

"Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the 'in memoriam' pages of his school newsletter.

But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: 'I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.'"

Setting aside the obvious theological ramifications of what he's implying for a minute... the arrogance of this statement is mind-boggling!  If there is a God, and if He is there, I'm not talking to him, I'm strolling right in, because I've earned it.  Taking people guns away from them, not letting salt be on restaurant tables, banning big gulps - Mayor Bloomberg apparently believes these things have EARNED HIM a place in heaven.  Does the man know nothing of how the afterlife works? 

The Bible says all have sinned and it's not by works of righteousness which we can do, but according to God's grace, by faith, He saves us.  So, even if we could consider banning sugar and gun control righteous works - which I would argue they're not - but even if they were, they wouldn't be enough.

You can't EARN heaven.  That's not how heaven works.  Like Colton said, everyone there loves Jesus.  Jesus died and rose again - God humbled Himself beyond anything we can imagine, made himself a man, walked the earth and died taking the punishment that we all deserve (including the Mayor), and it's through belief in Him and confession that we're saved and given the gift of eternal life.  

I hate to have to break it to the Mayor, but if he's comparing his banning sugar with Jesus dying for the world, well then, yes.  It's not even close.  Your stuff, your actions, your life - anything you may think are good deeds, they're never close.  And if that's all you've got, the bad news is, you're definitely not headed straight in.


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Dealing with Accusations

Several people have asked me of late for my opinion on the latest accusations made against a Christian leader in the homeschool movement… since I'm a Christian who was homeschooled and had interactions with the organization in question, I've decided to answer publicly, simply with a post on dealing with accusations.

We live in an age of lies, deception, and melodrama. Everyone’s out to be the next big star, to make the next big headline, to break through the noise with their story.  If there’s one thing I hope we as conservatives and Christians have learned in recent years, it’s to not believe everything we hear. It may be on Wikipedia, it may have even made national news – but that does not prove something true or false one way or the other. Being national news doesn’t make something necessarily true; being on Wikipedia doesn’t make something necessarily false. We should be as the Bereans, and see if things are indeed what we’re told (or not) before we act upon them.

Personally, I am amazed at how quick many people are to believe what is negatively said about others. While we preach a message of “do unto others,” our flesh loves to hear accusations, which we naturally believe are true, regardless of what facts we may or may not know. It’s easy to hear and share gossip. It’s easy to make oneself both jury and judge. It’s hard to believe innocence until guilt is actually proven.

Have you ever seen a child falsely accuse their parent of abuse? I have. I’ve watched as a family was torn apart and someone sent to prison because of the lying words of another. Eventually, the truth was known, but the hurt remained. The doubt remained. Many will never give that family a second chance.

Have you ever seen a family lose a child because of the spiteful words of a neighbor? I have. I’ve watched as they were subjected to visit after visit of social workers needlessly poking and prodding through their lives. I watched the pain in the eyes of children as their siblings were questioned and accused falsely. Again, the truth eventually was known and the family reunited – but great damage was already done. All because of the words of one who was hurt, and who reacted by creating a false narrative to hurt others in return.

Accusations are easy to make – and believe. But before doing either, stop to consider this: it could be you they are accusing. It could be your family. It could be your friend. Anyone can make any accusation of anyone else at any time. What would you do if you were accused of evil? Would you want others to give you the benefit of the doubt?

I ask you – are you believing something you read online or heard on the news based on your own feelings towards the individual in question, or do you have personal knowledge of the situation and know for sure what is and is not true?

The only people who know 100% of what is true in any situation are the accused and the one making the accusation. The rest of us, well, we speculate. We’ll never know the entire story. We are given information by which we form an opinion, but opinions formed from only one side of a story are slanted (at best).

Before forming an opinion, it is important to hear both sides of any story. It is also important to wait to hear the facts as determined by law enforcement personnel and the legal system. We have processes in place to deal with these types of situations, and we should let them run their course before declaring a person’s guilt – or innocence.

If guilt should be proven, do we then throw out the baby with the bathwater? Do we say that all of an individual’s teachings and writings are in error because they, as a human, committed human error (sin)? Many seem to want to go this route.

Remember Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer? We sing his hymns, we study his teachings and instruct our children with his doctrine. But did you know Martin Luther was a vehement anti-Semite who propagated the burning of Jewish communities? How about King David of the Bible? He was proven guilty of both adultery AND murder. Yet, we plaster his writings all across our homes and churches. We read his Psalms to the dying and sing them in our churches.

Being a sinner doesn’t mean you have nothing viable to contribute to a community or that we should haphazardly throw out your teachings if you do sin. Rather, it means you’re human. Should there be an examination of your teachings to determine their Biblicity? Yes. (Hopefully, this would be happening regardless of accusations, anyway.) Should there be consequences? Yes. Should there be forgiveness? Yes. 

Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Should guilt be proven, this might be a good verse for us to consider. But wait! Do you know the context behind this statement? Do you know what the stoning of any individual entailed in New Testament terms? I challenge you to study this concept. It just might change your worldview a little bit. (And, shameless plug here - stay tuned to The Friddle Show. I’ll be having a learned Jewish scholar as my guest in April. We’ll be discussing this concept, along with many others. It’s sure to be an episode you don’t want to miss!) 

Until we have actual proof, perhaps the words of James 3:4-10 should be meditated upon by those of us outside the situation. May we also keep all parties involved, and their families, in prayer.

“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”


Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again!  Valentine's Day is upon us... and while many of you are excitedly making plans and buying gifts... I'm just waiting for Saturday when all the Valentine's Day candy goes on sale!

You see, Valentine's Day is not exactly “fun” when you're single.  You've probably heard it said that February 14th is actually "Single's Awareness Day."  This is not too far from the truth...

Every Valentine's Day, children give each other little trading cards with cartoon characters on them, teenagers have a new excuse to make out with this month's boyfriend or girlfriend, and I hear some adults actually do fun, romantic adult things.

But did you know that Valentine’s Day is as much about marriage as it is about love?  Have you ever wondered who St. Valentine was?  It's not just Valentine's Day... it's SAINT Valentine's Day.

The Catholic Church actually recognizes three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus – the first was imprisoned for his teachings that Jesus was God rather than the Emperor.  While incarcerated, he healed the jailer's daughter of blindness.  The night prior to his execution, he wrote a letter to the jailer's daughter and signed it, “from your Valentine.”  The second Valentine is one who was martyred for his work in helping Christians escape from Roman prisons, where they were often held and tortured for their beliefs.  But it is the third Valentine who seems to hold the most historical credence and he's the one I really want to tell you about today.  

This legendary Valentine was a priest who served in third century Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II.  During his short reign, Claudius came to the conclusion that single young men made better soldiers than those who had wives and families.  (I have no idea how he came to this conclusion.  But, it is interesting to note that Claudius himself was a soldier, and as far as we know, had no wife of his own.  Seemingly, then... he was unable to comprehend why a married man - a man with home and family to defend - might be just as effective a soldier as his single counterpart.  But I digress.)  And so, it came to pass that Constantine outlawed marriage for young men.  

Valentine, however, believed that marriage was a holy institution created by God, and thus, he refused to abide by the decree and continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret.   When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. 

This hero, St. Valentine, he risked his life for the sake of marriage.  Traditional marriage.  Why would a man risk his life for this?  What secret did Valentine know that our time and culture has forgotten?

Could it be that traditional marriage is the bedrock upon which a strong society is built?  Is it time that we on the right take a greater stand for that institution upon which our own great nation was built?

Happy (St.) Valentine’s Day, everyone!


Obama and Executive Orders

It's incredible how a few years changes things, isn't it?  We've gone from a candidate who said this:

“I taught constitutional law for ten years,” President Obama said in 2008. “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.”

Obama executive ordersTo a President who has issued TWELVE executive orders to change his OWN pet-project law which was duly passed by Congress - without any legal justification for doing so... and now he's issued a proclamation raising the minimum wage... potentially in violation of federal law.

Senator Rand Paul has brought a lawsuit against the Obama Administration with regard to the NSA scandal.  How long until the President is censured by Congress for these actions which mirror his "I can do whatever I want" attitude?


Broncos Bad Day

Super Bowl XLVIII was quite possibly the worst football game I've ever watched in my life... and not just because I'm a Broncos fan, but because it was just plain terrible.  From the moment of the first snap, you could feel the hearts of Broncos fans everywhere sink.  Rapidly.

The Seahawks scored enough points in the first 12 seconds of each half to have won the game outright.  Everything that happened in between those seconds just added to the complete torture that was this debacle - unless, of course, you were a Seahawks fan.  Though even Seahawks fans would have liked to at least have a good game.  Which this was not.

Despite the horrible ending, the Broncos nevertheless had an epic season.  Manning and the Broncos broke an insane amount of records in the 2013 season.  Here are a few:
  • Most touchdowns by a team in a season (76)
  • Most passing first downs (293)
  • Tied record for most games with 50+ points (3)
  • Most passing touchdowns by QB (55)
  • Most passing yards by QB (5,477)
  • Longest field goal (64 yds)
  • Most two touchdown passing games (15)
  • Most four touchdown passing games (9)
  • Tied record for most 400 yard passing games (4)

And yes, there were many more records broken.  Perhaps not the least of which was Manning's 34 completed passes in the Super Bowl - yep, that's a record, too.  Sadly, it wasn't enough.

And so it was that Broncos fans woke up on February 3, 2014 - heartbroken.  How do arguably the nation's most passionate fans go on with life after such a catastrophe?  That's what we set out to find in the video below...

Time to stand up, Broncos fans!  Time to #TakeTheBagOff!  Let's show our boys in orange and blue #WeStillLoveYou!  #BroncosForLife!


Hannity on The Friddle Show

Recently, my show name changed from "Freedom's Edge" to "The Friddle Show."  Why?  Well, when Sean Hannity gives you advice for how to raise your baby radio show, you take it.

But that's not all we talked about.  Football, faith, advice for America's youth... in case you missed it, here's my conversation with Sean Hannity earlier this year:  The Friddle Show -Sean Hannity Interview -1/13.  (Also embedded below ;-)  You don't want to miss it!


Sean answers my question on Hannity!

The Hannity Show recently introduced a new segment called "Ask Sean."  Viewers can submit questions through social media outlets (yup, it works just like #AskFriddle! ;-), and they are presented - without any rehearsal - to Sean by a show guest once each week.

In a rather fabulous turn of events, the very first EVER #AskSean question chosen for the show was sent by none other than... yours truly. 

Enjoy the video of the below and be sure to catch Hannity, weeknights at 10ET, on the Fox News Channel.


LIVE on the 405!

Big news, everybody!  In case you haven't heard... my half hour podcast has grown into a one hour live broadcast every Monday night from 9-10ET over at The 405 Radio!  Be sure to join us soon!

Thanks to Rose Finley of The Focus Photography for our great logo!


Happy Holidays?

Yeah, that question mark is supposed to be there.  Why?  Because if I didn't put it there, lots of people would huff and puff about how we shouldn't use the phrase.  And honestly, I guess I must agree because I don't know that I've ever used it in a conversation myself... except perhaps to debate whether or not it should be used in conversation... anyways...

The simple fact is that most people you run into this holiday season will be celebrating Christmas.  Those who don't celebrate Christmas will likely be celebrating Hanukkah instead.  Therefore, "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah" are phrases you should know... and use.  (Of course, if you should happen to know what Kwanza is and/or anyone who actually celebrates it, by all means, wish those people a Happy Kwanza.)  Although there's nothing actually wrong with saying "Happy Holidays," why be generic when you can be specific?  Be bold... wish people a Merry Christmas this year!

Though I've seen some really weird comments about people celebrating a "secular Christmas" instead of a "religious Christmas" (I'm sorry, WHAT?) this year, the fact remains that Christmas is - and always will be - a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

And regarding the use of the term "X-mas," no I don't use that either, because Christmas is not about the birthday of Wolverine.  It's about the birthday of the Christ.  Not familiar with the story?  Please see Luke, chapter 2.

But more about Christmas in a future post.  The title of this one says "holidays" and today I want to talk to you about Hanukkah, as well.

Earlier this week, I attended my first ever Hanukkah service.  And it was cool.  Very cool.  Friends and I joined 450+ Jews near Philadelphia to light the candles, eat latkes, and listen to a fabulous concert by the Maccabeats (Jewish a capella group - yup, we even got a backstage picture!).

A lot of my Christian friends were perplexed as to why I'd attend a Jewish celebration like this.  Did I give up on Christmas?

No, of course not.  I love Christmas!

But mostly, I love Jesus.  And Jesus was Jewish.  And... He celebrated Hanukkah.  John 10:22-23 tell us, "It was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch."  If you didn't guess it... the "feast of dedication" mentioned in these verses is what is now known as Hanukkah.

Check out this fun Hanukkah video from the Maccabeats:

So what, you ask?  Jesus celebrated all the other Jewish feasts but we don't... why should I as a Christian care about Hanukkah?

Honestly, I wish we as Christians understood not only Hanukkah, but all the other Jewish feasts, as well. Because understanding cultural context is just as important as understanding written context when we study the Bible.  It was at this celebration of Hanukkah that Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah.  John 10:24 tells us the Jews came to Him and asked, "How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly."  Jesus answered by telling them that His works bore witness of Him and that He'd come to give eternal life... but He ended by saying, "I and my Father are one."  The Jews then gathered in the Temple to stone Jesus for blasphemy saying, "Thou, being a man, makest thyself God."

Many people, even some who call themselves Christians, say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  But John chapter 10 stands in direct opposition to that statement.  Jesus did declare Himself God, and it happened during the celebration of Hanukkah.

But wait, there's more!

Remember when Jesus said He was the light of the world?  (Can you guess where I'm going with this?)

Think about it for a minute.  When Jesus said this, the Jewish people were preparing to celebrate the feast of dedication - the celebration of a miracle.  The miracle where oil that should only have lasted one night lasted for eight.  (You can read more about the history of Hanukkah in this great article from Jews for Jesus.)

Each year, the Jewish people celebrated eight days of light.  And then Jesus showed up.  He walked among the Jewish people and said to them, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall never walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Eight nights of light... that's a miracle.  But light that lasts forever... that's Jesus.

And that's why I went to a Hanukkah celebration this year.  To remind myself of the light that we celebrate not just at Hanukkah, or even Christmas... but forever.

So the next time you see a menorah, remember that the miracle of light was never meant to be merely an eight night celebration... it's meant to change your life forever.  Because the light of the world is the gift that we celebrate on Christmas.  Jesus.