Monday, January 22, 2018

When Where You Arrive Is Not Where You Meant to Go

I've been super-busy preparing for the new website and the new blog. Everything will finally be in one place. You'll be able to go directly to the blog without social media links if you want, although those links will still be available. You'll be able to comment on the blog without signing in to Google or going back to a social media site, and I'll be able to easily reply.

There will also be a store with a variety of items for sale. One item I've worked on recently is the James Bible study. When I finished writing it, I posted it as a dropbox file for readers to download to their computers. What I quickly learned was that most of my readers use their phones or tablets to access the blog, not a computer. 

I tried converting to a series of six blog files, as well as to a print version, but neither worked well. Recently, I decided to do what I should've done all along. Make an e-book. 

As part of the preparation for uploading the file, I spent days reworking my document endnotes ("footnotes" placed at the end of the book instead of the bottom of the page). I went through every link to be sure it worked. I reread the text several times to check for errors. I studied James, and was kicked in the repenter again.

Once all that was done, I signed in to Amazon's easy create-a-book site and went to work. I designed a lovely cover, uploaded the photos and file, corrected formatting, and was almost ready to hit "publish" when I noticed something odd. There was nothing about e-books on the web page. 

I fretted with this for an absurdly long time before I realized a critical fact. I was on the site to publish print books, not e-books. 

I had gone to the wrong website and was seconds away from a book I didn't want. Where I meant to go was not where I'd arrived.

I backed out of the print site and went to the e-book prep site. An entirely different bit of formatting needed to be done. Because I work on a MAC, the e-book Table of Contents and internal links all had to be done by hand. It was way past bedtime when I finished last night.

The problem of arriving where I didn't intend to go was quickly solved by opening a new tab on my web browser. The problem of an eternal destination error is not as easily solved, however. 

Just as I had two publication options (print or e-book), we have two eternal destinations. Heaven or hell. We choose our destination in advance and, unlike publication options, once arrived, the choice cannot be undone. 

As James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, our faith is revealed by our works. Faith that isn't manifested by works is dead. In other words, if our faith doesn't change us and make us more like Jesus, we need to consider whether we have saving faith or not. 

Those are hard words, but they come straight from Scripture. I'd soften them a bit and wrap them in flowery prose. James does not. He'd rather offend and save a soul than cushion someone in comfortable words that usher them straight to hell.

James urged those to whom he wrote to examine their faith. We'd be wise to do the same. To what kind of faith do our works give evidence? Is Christ clearly seen in our words, our actions, our deeds? 

If all we do is sit on a pew once a week, can we, realistically, expect that kind of faith to take us to heaven? According to James, it's life-altering, behavior-changing faith that assures our eternity with Jesus, not attendance at a series of meetings, not matter how well-intended. 

If heaven's where we want to spent eternity, let's be sure that's where we're headed. None of us can enter God's home on our goodness alone. We're all sinners. It takes faith, covered by the grace of God, to enter Heaven.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 niv 
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Importance of Mucking Out the Stalls
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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