Posted in Bible Studies

Victory Over Sin

Believe that Jesus is the son of God and you will have salvation. He gave up his life for us while we were still sinners, so that his sacrifice would redeem us from the penalty of sin. But like a harlot, sin continually tempts us to love her in order that we may lose ourselves again to our fleshly desires.

King Solomon recognized sin’s wily ways. He wrote about them in the Book of Proverbs. In no greater context has he written about sin’s allure than that of adultery. This is what he says:

“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol (a place of darkness).” (Proverbs 5:3-5)

Solomon is saying that sin looks beautiful on the outside. Her words are sweet to the ears and her reasoning behind doing what she does is smoother than the finest oil you can find. But Solomon is also saying that once you remove sin’s mask, underneath is an ugly bitterness that will corrupt the soul and will cut the spirit like a sharp, two-edged sword. The ultimate destiny for those who follow her steps will be the path that leads to death and darkness.

And if that stern warning was not convincing enough to keep away from her, Solomon gave sin, that whore, a voice:

“I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” (Proverbs 7:16-19)

Sin’s deception is that she makes doing bad things look good. Even more so, if sin’s corruption can seduce the very elect, she will have accomplished what she had intended. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” He later describes the fate of the unrepentant:

“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:23)

But the good news is that we have hope in Christ. We may fall and succumb to sin, but through Christ Jesus, our salvation is sure. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

How wonderful to know that as Christians, we can look to Jesus as the source of our strength to overcome sin. What a delight it is to understand the fullness of God’s love through his mercy. And what a powerful destiny we have when finally sin and death will no longer exist.

All praise belongs to God Almighty in the highest, for he is good.

Posted in My Journey

Oh, Love!

Some of the most beautiful verses in the bible come from 1 Corinthians 13. Many Christians may know this passage simply as the love chapter. For me it defines the very essence of Christ’s nature when he gave up his life on the cross for us.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

Oh, what a world it would be if everyone were patient and kind toward one another when waiting in line for anything. With envy and boasting out of the way, there would be no need for inflation because people would not be comparing themselves with others and desiring what others have. Eliminating arrogance and rudeness from society would do away with people’s sense of entitlement for special treatment. Selfishness would no longer rule. The world would have those who wore tolerance on their sleeves instead of irritability and resentfulness on their shoes. There would be rejoicing in justice and in truth.

We would bear with one another and bear with the burdens given to us. We would give others the benefit of the doubt and believe them first. We would hope always and never surrender in the face of our trials.

Oh, what a world it would be if everyone loved as Jesus loved when he died for our sins!

Posted in Freedom Friday

I Can Never Say Goodbye…

This is going to be a tough post to write.

Sometimes life throws you circumstances you just have to deal with on your own. I have to admit that I have had my trials. I would like to think, though, I have always possessed the fortitude to overcome them. Call it determination. Call it perseverance. Maybe. I call it the will to do whatever it takes to succeed.

I have been writing three posts weekly since December 17, 2012. As of next Wednesday, I would have completed 500 posts. I cannot say how grateful I am to have accomplished so much since that humble Monday Mayhem post that started it all. To put it into perspective, 498 posts at 500 words per post comes to under 250,000 words over the course of 3 years. Add to those numbers the three books I have published, weighing in at another 250,000 words, and you can quickly see a pattern.

None of it, and I say this from deep within my soul, none of it means anything without you the reader to have visited, liked, or commented on all my work. What can I say other than thank you. You are amazing. You are the one who has made JackFlacco.com a place where people can talk about anything, including life, and not be afraid.

Life. My dream was to provoke thought, interest and ideas in the impossible, no matter how improbable those ideas may have appeared to be.

Unfortunately, something has taken precedence in my life. The only thing I can say is for the next little while I have to look after my health.

In the meantime, something has to suffer. I will attempt to continue writing my books. I will continue to think about the future, but I cannot continue writing the weekly posts. You have to know it is not something I take lightly to have come to the decision of stopping. Stopping is not something I do well.

I am hoping the future will look brighter once I take care of what I have to do to carry on.

What does this feel like?

It is like telling one of your best friends you can no longer be friends. As much as it is the wrong thing to do, it is absolutely the right thing to do. How can you tell your friend you are no longer kindred spirits? That is how it feels—like I have ripped my heart from my chest and thrown it into an abyss where nothing can escape.

I plan to keep this site up during the time I am away. I am not sure when I will be back. I am hoping a few weeks. All I know is writing has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. I cannot say how honored I am to have had the opportunity to interact with each and every one of you. You certainly have made my life a joy to live. Nothing will ever replace that memory in my mind.

Thank you so much for your incredible support. I really do love you all. I will keep you in my prayers. May God bless you in everything you do.

In a bit. I promise…

Jack

Posted in Monday Mayhem

No More Dystopia

Last week I wrote about Utopia. I made a correlation with Star Trek, its technologies and moral code with that of the present era. Not only is the world currently absent from a Utopian paradise, but it also lacks the motivation to change what is broken. It will take some time before anything changes.

Mussolini at Palazzo Venezia
Mussolini at Palazzo Venezia

With that out of the way, I’d like to talk a bit about the other side of the equation. Naturally, if there is a Utopia, by all arguments, there should also be a dystopia.

For those new to the concept, dystopia is what happens when a warped sense of reality begins to rule a society. For instance, a world leader proclaims that funny hats make people happy, and the only way people will ever be happy is if they wear a funny hat. Of course, a segment of the population will grasp the concept and make it their own, but like all fads, it will fade away. However, if that leader decides people are better off dead than not wear a funny hat, and he or she makes it a national law to wear said funny hat, all of a sudden that nation becomes a dystopian society. Simple, right?

Imagine if the concept wasn’t all about a funny hat but about something bigger.

How much genocide has taken place due to a Utopian idea that took a wrong turn somewhere? I once read that humanity’s worst moments happen because of good intentions. A Utopia gone bad is not what this world needs now.

Am I sounding an alarm? I sure am. This world needs solid leadership that will not follow centuries of corruption and scandal. The direction needed to clear the waterways, plow the garbage from the streets and never turn a blind eye to those in need, especially the homeless, is lacking. That direction can only come from a change in mindset.

I hope you don’t think I’ve gone insane. Actually, I hope you do think that. If I can be an example for others, then so be it. I’m exhausted hearing the same old story repeatedly that new leadership will bring positive change, new leadership will provide for the masses.

My take on it? Don’t just say it. Do it.

We the citizens of the world don’t need politicians meeting together, enjoying $2,000-a-plate meals, driving around in fancy limos ad nauseam. We the citizens of the world demand action. We’re sick of hearing excuses. No more lies. No more stories. We want to see you with rolled up sleeves ready to work. Not just before election day.

I challenge you, politicians, to prove me wrong. Show me where you’ve stepped in to eliminate hunger for kids living in poverty around the globe. Show me where you’ve proven yourselves worthy for intervening when families have not died for defending their homes in times of war. Show me how you’ve eradicated pestilence and disease for the weak and unfortunate.

Because it is only when the heart changes that the world will become a better place. Politicians have to recognize goodness comes from the top down. Without that—there isn’t much hope other than maintaining the status quo that has been around since time immemorial.

I challenge you, leaders of the world; make a change for the better. Not just in words. But in action.

No more dystopia.

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

What I’ve Learned

I typically don’t write about God. I try to keep my topics light and free from controversy. I’ll write about other things instead, like morals, the law and what is right. But about the G-word, I’m never quite sure if I’ll say too little or if I’ll say too much. And I find it risky because I don’t want to alienate readers who read my blog for entertainment purposes only.

However, there has been a development in my life. Last year this time, I had promised myself that I would read the Holy Bible from cover to cover. To keep me on track, I went ahead and entered a chronological reading plan into my phone that would remind me daily of my goal. I say chronological because there are various reading plans out there that allow a person to start reading the word in various ways. I chose chronological because I’ve always wanted to gain a historical perspective to the writings than simply reading it for literature.

With that in mind, I’m happy to say that as of December 31, last year, I completed my goal of reading the Holy Bible from cover to cover.

What can I say about the whole thing? I can only describe it as an experience.

I learned there is a God.
I learned God would not give me a test he doesn’t think I can handle.
I learned that no matter how many times I sin, God would forgive me.

I learned about faith.
I learned about hope.
I learned about love.

I learned that I mean something to God and he will do anything to save me from the penalty of my sins.
I learned that as smart as I think I am, God is smarter.

I learned to be patient.
I learned to be kind.
I learned to love.

I learned what real peace is all about.
I learned to sleep better at night.

I learned a lot more, but those are the big ones. Apart from the experience of historical reading, I gained a huge understanding regarding human nature. For instance, I found a whole book called Proverbs chalk full of golden nuggets of wisdom dedicated to dealing with human nature. One of my favorite sayings I picked up from the book is “Go to the ant, you sluggard.” It means those who are lazy should have a look at what the ant does. The ant harvests in the fall to live through the winter. It also means, like an ant, I should always stay busy. Hard to get into trouble when I’m busy.

Yet, of all the things I’ve learned, I think loving God and loving others is the most important. I don’t want to sound preachy, but to me it made enough an impact to promote a change in how I act—a change noticeable in my writings and to others.

At least, I hope it’s noticeable.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Have you ever wanted to read something cover to cover but never had the opportunity to do so? If so, what?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Life Is…

There are days when things don’t make sense. Like when you walk across the street and a cop stops you for jaywalking—not that it’s happened to me. Or when you step outside and it begins to rain. Or when you’ve just missed your bus by a fraction of a second and all you can see are the vehicle’s taillights trailing into the distance. Or when the movie you’ve wanted to see all spring is sold out. Or when the waiter brings you a dish you thought you hadn’t ordered and realize it is the dish you ordered. It was the wrong choice after all. Yeah, some days things don’t make sense.

Life Is…
Life Is…

This is my Freedom Friday article about—well, you’ll just have to find out.

But then there are those days you want to hold on to until the end of time. Like when you order a Greek salad and the waitress adds extra olives to the dish. Or when you’re driving and every intersection you pass there’s a green light. Or when you buy that item you’ve always wanted, and find at checkout that you’ll be saving an extra twenty percent because you came into the store at the most perfect time. Or when you find the last sale item on the shelf and wonder if life could be any more amazing. Or when someone holds the door for you, and you know it has made all the difference in the world that morning when you’d lost total faith in humanity.

Yes, we all have those days. Bad or good, they are our days. No one can take them away from us and no one can say they can relate either. Your days are your own, even if it’s happened countless times to others.

Isn’t that the purpose of life, though? To hold on to the things that no one else has experienced in order for one day to show others we can provide some wisdom worthy of learning? Of course, it’s never that simple. Every moment of every day sets the bar higher and we’re still holding our breath trying to stay ahead of it all.

Yet, regardless of how the day goes, there’s always that single instance when you feel the world and all the forces of the universe have collapsed within themselves as a means to connect with you to show there is something as perfect as hope. And it’s that hope that carries everyone forward to a better life filled with wonder.

Now, it may sound strange and in some respect seem all random. But there is a logic to this illogical existence we call life.

It’s just a matter of finding out what that logic is.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you had anything good happen to you lately? What makes it so special?