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Jan. 16, 1999
Column #907

(Last of three part series)

Y2K -- III: A TIME FOR SPIRITUAL RECONSIDERATION

The world is not going to end on January 1, 2000 AD.

If God planned to end the world on the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus, you would not be reading this column. Jesus was not born nearly 2000 years ago, but four to six years earlier. Luke's Gospel says he was born ''in the time of Herod, king of Judea,'' who died in 4 BC.

Experts think Jesus' life began in 6 or 7 BC (Before Christ!) and that we are really in the year 2006 AD (Annus Dominum, Latin for the Year of Our Lord).

However, assume the world will end in less than a year. What would you do differently? How would you use this brief time that is left?

Last year I faced two life-threatening illnesses and literally had my life saved twice by surgery. I felt the brush of eternity's wing on my cheek. So I find myself thinking more about how to best use the limited time I have left, whether months or years.

My mind goes back to 1983 when my father died of lung cancer at age 66. He was not a religious man. He never went to church. For years he had fought verbal battles with each of his three adult children over matters that seem trivial as I look back.

Yet he wanted to make peace with each of us. Before he died, he gave each of us part of our inheritance. He had never been more loving as he was in those last months. His deteriorating body led him to return to a kind of pure love for each of us.

I traveled across the country to spend some days with him, and tried to lead him to make a reconciliation with God, as well. But he resisted: ''It is too late, Mike,'' he said to me in a hoarse whisper the last time I saw him. We hugged each other, and I left with a joy about our personal reconciliation, but with sadness over his attitude toward his maker.

How can one who is now lost to God, become found?

It is not enough to return to churchianty. There is something superficial about most religious services. They reach only a layer or two down, particularly to a troubled soul. What I recommend is an extraordinary workbook and course that has now been taken by 2.5 million people: ''Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God'' written by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. Here is the opening paragraph:

''Jesus said, `This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent''' (John 17:3). The heart of eternal life and the heart of this study is for you to KNOW GOD and to KNOW JESUS CHRIST whom He has sent, Knowing God does not come through a program or a method. It is a relationship with a Person. It is an intimate love relationship with God. Through this relationship, God reveals His will and invites you to join Him where He is already at work. When you obey, God accomplishes through you something only He can do. Then you come to KNOW GOD in a more intimate way by EXPERIENCING GOD at work through you.''

This is an immensely encouraging concept that it is possible to actually know the creator and what his plan is for our life. ''I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly,'' Jesus said. Would you like to have that experience?

''Experiencing God'' is a course that has had a catalytic force in the lives of millions. It is laced with Scriptural quotes and practical, step-by-step exercises that lead one into a deeper relationship with God. It says, ''The Bible is God's Word for you. Scriptures will be your source of authority for faith and practice.''

It is broken up into 30 to 60 minutes of study each day and participants are encouraged to join a small group of 6-10 people who take the 13 week course together. The workbook has space to write answers to draw out one's reflections on Scripture.

For example, we read Jesus saying to Peter and other disciples, ''Follow me." He gave no detailed map, but asks people to trust him. Read John 5:17 and 5:19-20, and write answers to these questions: Who is always at work? How much can the Son do by himself? What does the Son do?

To order ''Experiencing God'' for $11.95 call 800 458-2772.

Copyright 1999 Michael J. McManus.

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