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The Alex McFarland Show-72-Focusing on the Eternal

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland
The Truth Network Radio
August 24, 2023 1:00 pm

The Alex McFarland Show-72-Focusing on the Eternal

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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August 24, 2023 1:00 pm

With discouragement and grief being intertwined with human existence, it can be easy to lose sight of what ultimately matters. For the believer, that’s Christ. As Jesus’ return draws closer and closer, it’s all the more important to stay focused on the eternal goal, and to keep shining His light throughout the dark world. Today’s episode of the Alex McFarland Show  provides a hopeful reminder that efforts to live a God-centered life will not be in vain.” Tune in for a hope-filled message that will strengthen your spirit and leave you feeling empowered as you continue running your race. 

Alex McFarland

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The Weight of Glory (by C.S. Lewis)  

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Why do we love stories about heroes?

Hi, Alex McFarland here. I want to talk about the return of Christ, and I want to talk about why we have incentive to show Christ's love to others. But I'm going to start in what might be a little bit of a surprising way, and I want to talk about stories and movies, and even art and music for a second. Have you ever noticed how so many of our great art, literature, music, movies are all about common thematic story plots? There's a victim and a villain, but then a hero shows up, like Lawrence of Arabia, who rescues people out of tyranny.

Or maybe in Westerns. Recently I re-watched the Clint Eastwood movie Pale Rider, and there is a family. It's a Christian family, and they're being terrorized. They're out West trying to stake a claim and find gold, but they're being terrorized by some robbers and the man of the house, who apparently is a pacifist and doesn't really fight.

He's been beaten up and robbed many times. But Clint Eastwood shows up, and there's been a lot of debate about the movie Pale Rider. I think it won an Oscar or it was nominated, and it was kind of the movie in the 1980s that brought back the Western film genre. But Clint Eastwood, who's a minister, or maybe an angel even, he seems to have survived gunshots, but he shows up at just the right moment. And as the villains are terrorizing the victims, Clint Eastwood, who represents God's truth and God's powering and God's judgment, shows up and really beats up the villains, rescues the family, and is the hero.

And it's very climactic and fill in the blank. I mean, you know, whether it's Westerns or just stories of life, and even some science fiction, there are stories of heroes and villains. And we relate to those.

Why is that? Folks, we relate to love stories. People fall in love.

They're separated for long periods of time over long distances of space. And just when you think all hope is lost, they're reunited. They're stories of coming of age and discovery, things you didn't know, and then you knew there must be some secret, and you found it out, and you begin to understand reality. There's a reason that coming of age stories, love stories, tragedies, and yes, heroes and villains stories, why do we so relate to these things? It's because we're in a story. And I'm going to talk about that, because history, right now there's a worldview called nihilism.

It's a Latin word that really means nothing. And there are a lot of people that seem resigned to life just means nothing. I was talking to a guy a couple of days ago, he's like 20, trying to find out what life is all about. And I said, what are you doing? What are your plans? He said, I really don't have any plans. Do you want to go to school? No, not really. Do you have a girlfriend, or might you get married?

No, don't plan to. And really, my heart goes out to people like this that I meet that really don't have a lot of direction. And I said, so tell me about your life. What are you doing? He said, well I guess I'm just experiencing life.

I talk with young people all the time that drop out of college. They might have had a dream and they let it go. And yet deep down, somehow in our soul, even the most discouraged person, even the person who seems to be wandering, somehow intuitively they believe that there's got to be an answer. But maybe life is too complex a riddle to solve. Let me say the answer is Jesus Christ. And the meaning of our own story, and yes, your life is a story.

The Bible tells us that God planned your life before you were even in your mother's womb. And the key, the secret, just the magic combination, it's not magic, but it is a relationship with the one who made you and who loves you. And there is a reason that the art, the literature, the music, the songs that so speak to our soul, that talk about love, talk about redemption, talk about restoration. The reason that these things pull us so strongly and persuasively is because indeed we are in a story, the greatest story ever told. History is not just this purposeless, meaningless existence careening through space.

No, history is the story of God that created, sin that came in and broke the relationship and harmed the ones God lovingly made, but then God acting to initiate the restoration. And of course, some of the reasons that we love the Old Testament. There's the promised Messiah. We love the Christmas story. There's the birth of the baby. We love the Gospels. It's the unveiling of the Messiah.

We love Easter and the Passion of Christ because it's the work, the finished atonement of the Messiah, the empty tomb, the victory, the resurrection of the Messiah. Life is going on. We're telling the world about Christ. And one day, and it may be soon, in fact I happen to believe it will be soon, there will be the return of the Messiah. And so this is, I really believe, great incentive to be encouraged, to be excited, and yes, to treat each other with love and grace and care. And I know, you know, even for the most devout Christian, life can be stressful sometimes. You know, there's that little verse, to live above with those we love. Oh, that would be glory, but to live below with those we know.

Well, that's another story. I'm going to give you several reasons that I think, in light of the fact that we are in the greatest drama, the real, the true truth, the drama of God's redemption, and your relationship with Christ, and your place in God's big panoramic story, we have every incentive to stay hopeful, to stay on point, to walk with Christ, to grow in the Lord, to be conformed to his image, and yes, to treat each other with love and grace. You know, the Bible tells us that Christ is coming back one day. I've been asked by people, you know, do you really believe that?

Yes, I absolutely believe it, because God has a 100% track record of keeping his promises. And yes, I believe that Jesus is coming back, and I'm going to talk about that, but I want to share a quote, and I think it relates to why so many profound truths that mirror God's truth, the true truth, the real reality, is God's Word, and Jesus, and history, and Christ's return, and you and I have a little window of opportunity to turn to Christ, to become born again, to grow in Christ, to serve Christ, and yes, to do things that really do matter for all of eternity, and to draw people from the delusion of just nihilistic existence, and to draw people from just being mindlessly entertained by the imitations, to draw people into the true story of the Gospel. I want to share a quote, and then we'll have to take a brief break, but I heard a quote one time. Somebody said, if you want somebody to know the truth, tell them the truth. But if you want somebody to love the truth, tell them a story. I think that's why God's Word contains so many riveting stories, from Noah and the Ark, to Joseph and his brothers and the coat of many colors, Moses and the journey through the desert, King David, Bathsheba, then Solomon who built the temple, and the stories of the Bible, and then the great stories from Shakespeare, to the Coen brothers, to Steven Spielberg, to George Lucas. Look, the great stories point us to the real story, the story of Jesus. We'll talk about that more when we come back.

Stay tuned. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages, about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally. Hi, Alex McFarland, I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real-life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world.

My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask, you can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. We're talking about stories and the greatest story of all, which is the real story, the story of Jesus. You know, before the break, I shared a quote.

I don't know where it originated. I learned it from my friend Warren Smith, the journalist. But he said, if you want people to know the truth, tell them the truth.

If you want people to love the truth, tell them a story. And you know, I remember as a young Christian going to UNC Greensboro many years ago. I was 21. I had really come to Christ through a Bible study, and I began to read the Bible all the way through. And I remember, and I was at that point in my life an English major, and I remember reading all of these stories and, of course, the Gospels. I read the Gospel of Mark, which is a good book to encourage young believers to read.

It's kind of short. And then I read John. Mark is 16 chapters. John is 21 chapters.

And I remember thinking, this is amazing. Raising Lazarus, feeding the 5,000, rising from the dead. Shakespeare wishes he had written stories like this. Oh, and P.S., these stories are true.

They're God's stories. And then I remember reading the book of Revelation. Revelation 3, verse 3 says, you know, remember what you have received and heard.

Keep it. Repent. For I come like a thief, and you do not know the day or the hour when I come. And over and over, the book of Revelation, and much of the New Testament tells us to be ready and be faithful. And then I remember, of course, I was reading that very famous passage in Revelation 11, where it says, the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever at the sound of the seventh trumpet.

Revelation 11, 15. And I remember thinking about, you know, that's why people have hope. That's why we love these stories of the hero writing in at just the critical moment. Because honestly, folks, history is coming to a point, we don't know the exact moment, but Christ is going to return. Believe it. Be ready for it.

Be prepared for it, that the trumpet will sound, that eastern sky will open up, and Christ will return. And do you know, there have been many, well, one genre that does this so well are westerns. And whether it's, you know, the outlaw Josie Wales, or A Fistful of Dollars, or, you know, some of the great westerns that you've seen at just the right moment when the damsel in distress is done for. Here comes the hero.

And it's no accident that heroes ride white horses, because Jesus will come back on a white stallion. And all of our stories are not the thing, but they point us to the thing. And we really need to be careful to keep in mind, while we appreciate, you know, art, literature, music, entertainment perhaps. It should be wholesome entertainment.

That's why, you know, I used to write for PluggedIn.com when I worked for Focus on the Family, and there's still a great website. So many movie reviews are archived, and they're posting new things all the time, to, you know, make wholesome, God-honoring entertainment choices. But let me say this. The things that stir you, and it could be looking at your old photo album, maybe going through family archives and remembering things.

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Weight of Glory, does a good job of reminding us that all of the things in this life know this, that the blessings of this life are wonderful, but heaven's going to be way better. And even the tears and the pain and the tragedies of this life, they're real, and we don't minimize that, but they pale in comparison. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, says the Bible.

But do you know what? Hope validated in Jesus. That's what you're going to experience. All of your trust in Christ is going to be validated. Showing grace to that person who really doesn't deserve it. Well, let's remember, we didn't deserve Jesus' love and mercy either.

C.S. Lewis says this about how very often we miss the point. You know, we're moved by a love story. But let's remember that those are simply little ways the Spirit of God nudges us toward the real love story, which is Christ's love for you. Lewis wrote this, quote, There's an inconsolable secret in each one of you. The secret, which hurts so much that you take revenge on it, you dismiss it, call it names like nostalgia or romanticism or adolescence. And the secret, and what Lewis is talking about is hope and just wishing I could somehow get to that place where everything's okay. Well, you can, but let's go on. The secret pierces you with such sweetness that in intimate conversation, if the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and we try to laugh it off, right?

Okay. In other words, folks, if you say, hey, I love Jesus and I'm trusting in God, and you know what, life is hard down here, but I've got a home in heaven. See, it's rare that we can be that transparent with each other. And just look, if you're out and you see a butterfly that's beautiful or a sunset that moves you, or just being outside on a beautiful, pleasant day, don't you just want to move your heart and say, God, I worship you. Lord, thank you. Lord, thank you for baked spaghetti. It tastes so good. Lord, you've showered your love on us.

You know, to really open up and just, yeah, wear your love for Jesus on your sleeve. We don't do that. We laugh it off. Okay, back to C.S.

Lewis. The secret, in other words, which you, like a child, in childlike trust, you want to lean on Jesus and have everybody find him as well. He says this is the secret that we cannot hide and cannot tell, but we try to do both. We cannot tell it because it's a desire for something that we've never really found here in this world. And yet, we still, the human heart longs for truth, for getting things straightened out, closure, resolve.

Look, it can happen in Jesus. And he says, look, our commonest expedient, says Lewis, in other words, the default position is, we just say, well, it's, you know, romanticism or sentimentality or something. But he says the books and the music, which we thought was the beauty of life, will betray us, because it was not them, although beauty and love might have been in them, but these are mirror images of what we desire, says Lewis. If art, literature, music, relationships, substance abuse, materialism, money, fame, accomplishment, you know, fill in the blank, he says, if we think they are the thing itself, then really we've made an idol. But all of the pleasures of life, Lewis famously said, I know you've heard this quote, he said, God whispers to us in our day-to-day pleasures, God speaks to us in our struggles, God shouts in our pain, pain is very often God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world, said Lewis. But love, beauty, the great stories that move us, he said, look, and this is art, if words on paper could be art, this is it, C.S. Lewis said, they are the scent of a flower we have not yet found, the echo of a tune we've not yet heard, news from a country we've not yet visited. He said, people ask, do we really desire heaven? He said, deep down, I don't think we've ever desired anything else.

The heart desires for heaven and the return of the King. When we come back, we'll talk more about that and how this is the great incentive to live for Christ. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this.

While also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit alexmcfarland.com or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at alexmcfarland.com.

He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program.

Alex McFarland here. You know, as I record this, I'm on the road speaking. In fact, I went to one-tenth of the states in the last week.

North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Colorado. Five states in under a week to speak and teach. Praise God. And I want to say a big thank you to all that pray for our good work.

To speak and teach. Praise God. And I want to say a big thank you to all that pray for our growing ministry and whose support financially. We just wrapped up our seventh summer camp. It was great. We had over 300 kids that prayed to accept Christ as their Savior.

And more than 1,000 kids that were in the camps. And we talked about the Gospel biblical worldview. And I want to say a big thank you. We are, you know, paying the bills and wrapping up some printing and travel costs. Then we've got so much this fall going on. Of course, we're on the radio literally seven days a week. Television on the NRB Television Network. And if you would, please go to my website, which is AlexMcFarland.com. And my tour schedule, I'm in Arkansas with an evangelistic crusade.

I'm at First Baptist Church of Dillon, South Carolina for a biblical worldview conference. And just so many things from now to the end of the year. And of course, I want to say a big thank you to our staff. Amy Myers and Jonathan McNabb and Kelly Pract and Kim McMillan and Sean Morgan and Chuck Wallington. And our board and Jennifer Dean and T.A.

Wall. Now, what do these people do? They're helping us every week.

Share the gospel by radio, social media, television, the printed page, products being shipped, tens of thousands of items, millions and millions of people hearing the gospel, making decisions for Christ. And I thank God for our board and staff. But I thank God for you who pray and you support, you partner with us to call young people back to our nation. And I want to ask for your continued support.

If you would go to my website, AlexMcFarland.com, you can give online securely. Please consider becoming a monthly donor, a recurrent supporter. You can mail a donation. Simply make the check out to TNG, as in Truth for a New Generation. TNG to P.O.

Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. And yes, your gifts are tax deductible. And, you know, I just want to say how much I appreciate your prayers. One thing you'd love, I'd love to play this on the radio, but it probably wouldn't come through. But when we have our camps, we have the kids. We talk to them about Jesus. We talk about the gospel. But we talk about America and why they need to be strong for Christ.

Wherever they go in any field of endeavor. And I have the kids in unison shout out, We are the generation who will restore America. Can you imagine?

We've got pictures. Imagine 150 kids in a room, middle school, high schoolers, chanting, We are the generation who will restore America. And I have to chuckle because I know that probably people who are liberal, woke, kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance and praying to Jesus and committing to live for God and country. That would really bother some people.

But it doesn't bother us. In fact, we feel like it's our mission. But before the break, we were talking about the desire for heaven. And I hear a lot of people who say that they just wish Christ would come back. And I get that.

I do too. But until we get to heaven, we are on mission for Christ. We really are. And that's not always easy. That's not always easy. But I want to give a little incentive to double down, recommit, dig in your heels and say, I'm going to know Christ. I'm going to serve Christ. I'm going to live for Christ.

And that must begin in our homes and with the people around us. People in our families can hurt our feelings, get on our nerves. People at church, I've literally dialogued with thousands of people who say, I don't want to go back to church. We had a negative experience and it hurt me and I just won't go back to church.

No, don't do that. Don't nurse a wound. Give it to Christ. Because the greatest miracle of all is God's grace that he extended to us. And the Bible says, as much as is possible, live at peace with all persons.

Right? God will give you the grace to do that. Like the Lord told Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. And why should we show Jesus to people that we think, you know, they don't deserve it? And they're not even listening.

They're not paying attention. Well, let's remember, everybody around us is somebody made in God's image. C.S. Lewis, by the way, he said that there are no such thing as, quote, mere mortals. The people around us, our neighbors, the people we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit, said C.S. Lewis in his book, The Weight of Glory. They are headed towards something either to be immortal horrors or everlasting splinters.

That's what C.S. Lewis said. He said, it is a serious thing to live in a society of eternal souls all around us. He says, remember this, now listen, the dullest, most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw them now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

We're never around mere mortals, said Lewis. We're around everlasting souls. And all day long, he wrote, in some degree we're helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of all these overwhelming possibilities, with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our relationships, friendships, all that we do in life, love, play, and politics. Because, think about this, about the people all around you.

Number one, and I'll give you about six or seven things to think about. The people around you are a person made in God's image. That's right. They're a sinner for whom Christ died. They are, if they're born again, a fellow Christian in whom the Spirit of God dwells. They are, if we're both Christians, my family members.

See, that irritating person at work. If you're both believers, they're part of the body of Christ, and we are joint inheritors of our Savior's kingdom. You better get along with people down here, because you're going to spend eternity with them. The Bible tells us, like in Romans 2-11, that God is not a respecter of persons. Acts 10-25 says that as well.

We are not to show partiality, James 2, 3, and 4. We are to love unconditionally, like Christ unconditionally loved us. And Matthew 12-36 says that we will give an account to God for every idle word. Ephesians 4 tells us not to blaspheme each other by mean, cruel talk. And then Ecclesiastes 12-14 in the Old Testament says that God will bring every deed into judgment.

So, I mean, those are seven reasons right there, in light of Christ's return, in light of the real story that we're in, to be good to each other, to be kind to each other, to be loving to each other. And so, I'm going to close, because we're almost out of time, but speaking of grace, I read a story, a true story, in World War II. You know, the Jews were mercilessly killed by the Nazis in concentration camps. And after the war had ended, a former Nazi soldier came to a little village to settle down, and he bragged to all these people around that he killed hundreds of Jews. Well, one night he was bragging about his conquests and slaughters in the war, but the wife of the man in whose house they were was a Jewish woman, and had lost all of her family members in a concentration camp. But the Jewish wife and husband were both Christians. And instead of hating this man and seeking revenge, they told him about Jesus. And they forgave him for killing her whole family. And when this German soldier realized that, he was moved to tears, and realized how sinful he was. And he repented, and he fell down, and he asked Christ to save him. See, we have the incentive to love others and to live for Jesus, not only because we're going to see Christ again soon, and we're going to give an account, but we who have been shown grace should be quick to show grace to others.

It's the right thing to do. God will bless you. You will be rewarded, and Christ is coming. At this late hour in the last days, let's show the world Jesus, because soon the world will see Jesus.

He's coming back. Let's live in light of that reality. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ, and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-Yes-God-1.

That's 1-877-Yes-God-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of the Alex McFarland Show. So visit the website, alexmcfarland.com, and look for the section that says, Ask Alex Online.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-29 03:04:56 / 2023-08-29 03:16:27 / 12

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