Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm coming back as something else when I die.

This is Randy Travis Hammond. If you guessed that he was named after the singer, you’re correct. I had the pleasure of talking with this young father of 3 at the Hispanic outreach on May 30th. I gave him a million dollar bill, started with my usual, “It’s your part of the bailout,” got a laugh and we were off.

I asked him if he’d given much thought to the million dollar question on the back of the bill? He said that he believes that we will come back as something else. I asked if he believed there was a God and he said, “Oh, definitely!” I reasoned with him that the Bible says that we were created in God’s image. If that is true and we can see from evidence around us that we are smarter than the animals, God would not allow us to return as say, a worm, a tree, or anything else for that matter. Furthermore, I pointed out that in Hebrews 9:27 states that man is destined to die once and then face judgment.

I asked Randy if he gave much thought to being judged by God. He said that he had a hard time believing the Bible and knowing if it’s true which made him doubt Jesus and besides, he had an uncle who died and at the funeral people said bad things about him just because he was a drunkard who lived a reprehensible life. He also stated that he used to be involved in church and gave his life to the Lord but doesn’t go now because the church is filled with hypocrites. Um, OK, one rabbit trail at time, please.

I asked him, “Randy, have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a really crappy meal with really crappy service?” He said, “I sure have.” I asked him, “So, have you quit eating out at restaurants?” He said, “No,” and started smiling because he could see where I was going. I told him that just because some people do things that are unkind and unlovely doesn’t mean we can judge the entire body of Christ by those people and quit. I wish I would have told him that each man will give an account for his own life and not for anyone else’s. Oh well, maybe next time. That's definitely a scripture I'll use for that excuse. I also told him that if he had walked the aisle and said the prayer but now doesn’t believe in the Bible, Christ, or isn’t in fellowship at a church then he was never saved to begin with. Surprisingly, I got no opposition from him only wholehearted agreement.

We explored the next rabbit trail that I felt was causing him some very real unresolved pain: the uncle at the funeral. I listened to his story as he shared his hurt and disbelief that people would say true things about a dead man. It just boiled down to the fact that he believed that funerals were a place to pay respect regardless of what someone had done or how they had lived. OK, fair enough. So I asked him if he thought the man was in heaven or hell based on what he had shared with me. He said he didn’t know. I told him that was a cop out. He agreed. This was a wonderful place to take Randy to the courtroom scene where a man who had just murdered Randy’s entire family is standing before a judge. I reasoned with him that even if he protested that he only murdered once and wasn’t going to do it again and was only having a bad day the judge would be a bad judge if he took that defense and freed the man but would be a good judge if he punished that man. He agreed. I then took him into God’s courtroom and told him that he will be judged according to his offenses. We’d already established earlier that he was a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart and God takes very seriously these offenses and more. Anything that does not measure up to His standard of holiness will be judged and if they are found guilty will be condemned to hell forever.

I didn’t leave it there. I changed the story and told him that now he is the one standing before God and the gavel of eternal justice was coming down to sentence him because he WAS guilty and couldn’t pay the fine and just at the last moment someone he didn’t know shouted from the back of the courtroom, “Stop! I’ll pay Randy’s fine!” How would you feel? He said relieved. I told him that is what Jesus Christ did for him on the cross because He was morally perfect and therefore could pay his fine and turn God’s wrath away from him.

I then addressed the questions about the authenticity of Christ. I shared with him that Jesus is who He says He is because He fulfilled so much prophecy in the Bible. I explained that it was prophesied He would die by crucifixion almost 800 years before crucifixion was ever invented. I told him that he had no control over what name his parents gave him, the city of his birth, the fact that he would flee to Egypt as a child to escape death, or the city where he grew up thus, eliminating the possibility that he somehow manipulated His circumstances to “fit” so that he could be Messiah. I explained that there were at least 60 major prophecies concerning Christ and that Jesus fulfilled every single one. Furthermore, I explained that the odds of one man fulfilling only 8 of those prophecies was the number 1 with 17 zeros after it and he didn’t fulfill only 8 but ALL prophecies to the letter. I broke the size of the number down for him by telling him that if the state of Texas were filled with silver dollars approximately 2 feet deep an “X” was marked on just one silver dollar, we drop a man from a helicopter in the middle of the state and tell him he had one chance and one chance only to pick out the silver dollar with the “X” on it and then ACTUALLY did it that would be the odds he was up against and that man who pulled that silver dollar out was Jesus Christ. So, if He is who He says He is and He says He is the Son of God and the Bible is true he should really give some serious thought and consideration to what we have talked about today.

I told him that I cared about him and where he ended up and that I didn’t want him to go to hell and that God loved him so much with an extravagant love that He sent His son to die and pay the penalty for his sins but that He is also a good judge and lawbreakers must be punished.
He was very quiet. He was thinking and taking it all in. Then he shared that his mother was very young, when she was pregnant with him and he didn’t know his father. He never met him and said he’s glad that he is dead because he tried to murder Randy when he was in his mother’s belly by repeatedly punching his mother in the stomach. He then said he has been an alcoholic since he was a child. He credits his marriage to his wife as saving him and keeping him alive. My heart was breaking for this man. I told him that sounded like he had a difficult life but that he can have a different life and needs to read the Bible to see the truth it contains. Randy said that he can’t read or remember things because of his alcohol and drug use all these years. I told him that he can get the Bible on tape or CD from the library or even from the dollar store. I said, "God can restore your mind but you need to humble yourself and repent and believe and then do what the Bible says."

Altogether we talked for about an hour. He wasn’t a hard-hearted man but just doesn’t know. We shook hands and he said he appreciated our talk and that it gave him a lot to think about. I told him I'd pray for him and that I enjoyed our talk as well. Pray for him because he was not hard-hearted only confused from a life marked by sin. Pray that God pursues him and he responds in obedience.

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