by Todd Strandberg

Zip, Zero, Zilch

The Bible frequently speaks about the conflict between the material and spiritual realms. These two worlds are constantly struggling for our attention. Because many things on earth are tainted with sin, we are told to resist their allure.

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12).

Heaven is described as a wondrous place beyond our wildest dreams. Consider the following thoughts on eternity:

The Spiritual World consists of more varying aspects than all the nations, cultures, civilizations of earth of every known and unknown age and time put together. All these would be less than one atom of a drop of water in an ocean the size of the entire known universe. There are multiples of creations of God in various dimensions and universes that would take eternities to explore. For this reason many of those who have true spiritual experiences of the Spiritual World, whether for a brief time or through extended encounters, bring only a small tiny microscopic view of the spiritual realm and life after death. (The Spiritual World by Peter Tan)

We may have a mansion waiting for us in heaven, but unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification. People would gladly squander the prospect of an eternal reward for a chance at material gain in the here and now.

In nearly every city in America, you'll see these fast-cash loan stores that give you a small amount of money at a very high interest rate. If people can't wait two weeks until their next paycheck, how is it possible to get in position to wait a lifetime for a much bigger payout?

In this life, people most desire what can be called "the three F's": fame, fortune, and friendship. I seek to point out that unless you have Jesus in your heart, these will end up as "the three Z's": - zip, zero, and zilch.

Desire Things of False Value

The desire for worldly goods is often created solely be what we see other people seeking after. We have no idea whether we truly need it; all we know is that everyone else is after it, so we must need it too. When we finally get our hands on it, we realize it has no real value to us.

I was once reading a report on a financial site about an oil service company that had just declared bankruptcy. In a section that allowed people to add comments, someone posted the following story to show his view of the stock market.

"Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers, seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest, and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10, and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He further announced that he would now buy at $20.

This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further, and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each, and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on his behalf. In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers, 'Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.'

The villagers rounded up all their savings and bought all the monkeys. Then they never saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere! Now you have a better understanding of how the stock market works."
- Author unknown

When I was a child, I thought it would be wonderful to someday go Las Vegas. When I joined the Air Force, I had the opportunity to go to Sin City to support an exercise. At first, the city seemed exciting, but things faded when I focused on the main reason people go there. As I walked though the casino, I saw people sit around like zombies pouring their life savings into these one-arm-bandits.

I believe strongly that anyone will eventually find their way to Christ check the ultimate value of everything the desire in life. One of the reasons I started Rapture Ready was that I realized that operating a site such as this would be the most productive thing I could do with my remaining time on earth.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33).

Fame and Fortune Fades Away

Most people probably think that anyone who has been a major star in music, on television, on stage, or in the book world is ensured to live on easy street the rest of his or her life. The truth is that only a very small percentage of our celebrities achieve lasting wealth.

Fame is very fleeting. You might be on top of the charts one day, and then a couple of years later, you're a washed out as a has-been. When the money from a celebrity's heyday dries up, many are forced to take a regular job just like us common folks.

I was shocked when a read a story in the New York Post about the poor financial state of members of the Jackson family. While both Michael and Janet Jackson have enjoyed very lucrative music careers, several of their siblings have not enjoyed similar success and are struggling in their everyday lives.

Original Jackson Five member Marlon, now 51, has gone from the Top 10 to stocking shelves at a San Diego supermarket.

Michael's 46-year-old brother, Randy, has taken to fixing cars in Los Angeles.

The eldest Jackson brother, 56-year-old Jackie, has seen a music producing and Internet sales career fail, and is attempting to help his son find success in the music industry.

Frank DiLeo, who managed Michael's "Bad" tour, told the Post the pop star had a falling-out with his siblings and has never looked back.

Even Michael Jackson, the most successful member of the Jackson clan, has not fared too well in recent years. He is constantly dogged by rumors of pending bankruptcy. Despite once having a net value of over $400 million, Jackson's reckless spending habits have put him deep into debt. If he should end up in bankruptcy court, he will shatter previously held records by such hard-falling celebs as MC Hammer, Boy George and Vanilla Ice.

The Bell Curve Life

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." With these words, Jefferson introduced one of America's most treasured documents, the Declaration of Independence.

God may have intended for all men to be equal, but He did not intend for the days each man lives to be of equal status. Our life on earth is one giant bell curve that starts out low, rises to a peak, and then sharply drops off.

Someone put together the following humorous bell curve that does a great job of explaining how this process works. At various points it asks the basic question, "What is considered successful?"

At age 4...success is...not peeing in your pants.
At age 10...success is...making your own meals.
At age 12...success is...having friends.
At age 16...success is...having a drivers license.
At age 20...success is...having sex.
At age 35...success is...having money.
At age 50...success is...having money.
At age 60...success is...having sex.
At age 70...success is...having a drivers license.
At age 75...success is...having friends.
At age 80...success is...making your own meals.
At age 85...success is...not peeing in your pants.

You may know of someone who is very successful in life. As he got older, you noticed that his world slowly began to fall apart.

Paul McCartney is regarded as the greatest songwriter of the rock-and-roll era. When he was a member of the Beatles, he helped churn out hit record after hit record. McCartney recently released a CD that had a huge amount of promotion from the media and the Starbucks coffee chain. The CD didn't sell very well because the music was mediocre.

I don't think McCartney is mentally senile. The man is in his 60s, and he no longer has the spark of creativity that was once present in his youth. Oddly enough, one of his own songs bemoans the day he would become an aged man of 64. This song may have endured time, but unfortunately he, like all people before him, has not.

Time To Go

In the battle between good and evil, Satan has a bit of a home team advantage. The act of dying in your sins doesn't require any action on your part. You don't need to jump overboard from a ship to drown in the sea. The ship we are on is sinking, and will all too conveniently take us to a watery grave.

Many people are destroyed because they fail to realize the fallen nature of their fleshly existence. As they grow old, they just assume there is always going to be another day to live as they please. The warning signs that come with age don't seem to be enough to remind people that death will eventually overtake them.

We need to always keep in our minds a vision of a countdown clock. When time runs out, we have no choice about our departure. Christians have all the more reason to be mindful of the time. The rapture could call them home at any stage in life.

Anyone who trusts in Jesus has nothing to fear. Once we leave this world and see the glory of heaven, everything we thought was important in this life will instantly be zip, zero, zilch.

"I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20, NASB).