Sleeping in Heaven

So I had the third lock-in for the year at Redeemer Lutheran Church and it was something else!

It was not a bad night, on the contrary it was a very reflective night.  We started the evening at 9pm and got the 7th and 8th grade students engaged in a game of four square, only to realize 20 minutes later that they were bored with it.  Then we entered into the "rules" part of the evening and that took maybe two minutes before they were bored with it.  And then we dove into baking cookies.

We made a game out of it, split into three teams and whoever got the batch mixed and the first tray in the oven first won.  Just won.  No prize here.  Once all the batter was mixed, the students got bored and then invaded the gym area.  Some went to grab the wheel chairs from the narthex, others raided the basketball closet to shoot hoops and others just ran around and did what kids do best.

I was glad to have some helpers to keep an eye on folks cause I cannot be every place at once.  This craziness is how the first three hours of the evening went.  There were some organized activities but for the most part it was hard to keep their attention for more than 20 minutes.  Then I put in Star Wars.  And that was a good transition because it got the kids calmed down and focused.  Again, ten minutes later kids were roaming.  But at least they weren't going crazy and had great respect towards the giant glowing screen.

As I got closer to the morning, I could see the end.  I was super tired and my feet were really sore (no thanks to breaking in a new pair of shoes).  It got me thinking... life is a lot like a lock-in.  We are super excited and ready to do everything when we are younger.  Then later on, we are ready to settle down and watch a movie.  In the life analogy, the movie is middle ages when your kids are starting to become independent and even moving out of the house.

And then as it gets closer to the end you get more and more tired and weary.  Things that happen tend to irritate you with more ease.  That is the one scenario if you do not have the hope that we have in eternal life.  If the lock-in has a Christ-centered focus then those leading it will never grow irritated but always live grace-filled lives.  If your life has a Christ-centered focus, you will never grow irritated or tired or weary when you grow old.  Christ will give you strength and He will carry you up on wings like eagles.

My last analogy, eternal life is a lot like the day after a lock-in.  Sleep.  It is so glorious after a lock-in and you can never have enough of it.  The only difference is that in Heaven we will not be sleeping, we will be praising God for ever and ever and it will be so glorious after this long stretch of night on earth.

Pray you all have glorious sleep someday!

Fire and Brimstone

"You will go to Hell if you continue in your sinful ways and not turn to God!"  Is that statement true?

Well, yes.  I don't think its a question of whether or not it is true, but whether or not it is right.

Jesus words in John 14:6-7: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus is the only way to God.  Look at the life of Jesus and see how lovingly effective He is at serving the Kingdom.  It is through the loving deeds of Jesus that people come to believe.

Now don't get me wrong, Jesus had moments when He spoke fire and brimstone, but that was mainly to the church leaders who never did come to believe.  Jesus knew that they would not believe.  Is that a sign that "fire and brimstone" evangelism is only effective at driving people away?

These are questions that I have, I do not have any answers but the book of Job has taught me to keep asking the questions and God will provide the answers.

There is a church in the south that has an annual haunted house showing at Halloween.  The theme every year is essentially, "this is what Hell will be like if you do not repent and believe in God."  They bring people through a "living Hell" and at the end present them with Gospel tracks.  Now I have not heard how successful they have been at serving the Kingdom, but something tells me that more people turn away than plead for mercy.

Does God desire us to plead for mercy?  I would say that God desires us to be on our knees giving all we have to Him in worship to give Him glory, but does that constitute pleading?  I don't think so.

In Jesus' words, He is the only way to the Father and since we know and believe in Jesus we know and have seen the Father.  No fire and brimstone.  Just love.

Black and White Faith

Ever since color television came out it seems that the world is flying by with no real standard configuration.  I do not mean that humans can configure to something standard, but taking the parallel, we as Christians live in a standard and absolute "configuration"

Faith is a black and white matter.  You either believe that Jesus Christ died and rose forgiving all your sins so that you can no longer fear death but live in eternal life, or you don't.

I wonder at times if we haven't re-written our own Bible with all the commentaries and denominations that have very different viewpoints.  If God is up in heaven looking down at His people probably shaking His head at how complex we have made salvation.

I can just imagine Him saying, "I told you that whoever believed in my Son will have eternal life."

Does this mean that we should keep on sinning because God forgives all of our sins?  I think this is an issue that Paul dealt with in Rome.  Again, I think it was God's people complicating the matter of faith and trying to weasel their way into getting their own desires out of it.

Is faith complex?  When you put it into the hands of a sinful human race, then yes it would appear to be complex.  If you listen and hear God alone, believe in what He says and admit that you are a sinful person in need of a Savior, then no.  Faith is as simple as black and white.

Jesus Wireless: Now with improved mobility.

The question that I would like to tackle tonight is:  Can church professionals utilize technology to improve their proclamation of the Gospel?

The short answer: Of course!

Long answer: First let us delve into proclaiming the Gospel.  God calls every one of us to proclaim the Good News He brings.

"And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things."  Luke 24:46-48 NLT

So we have the task.  What about the method?  In the words of Paul:

"Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity."  
Colossians 4:3-5 NLT

Paul is a very wise man because he knew very well that people of all different cultures are going to be reading his words.  The method is that God provides the opportunities wherever we are at.  Paul is calling us to make the most of every opportunity to proclaim the Good News.  Paul himself was proclaiming from a prison cell!  If he can do that, then we can proclaim anywhere God provides.  

God has provided us with amazing resources in this the 21st century.  If we should not use them then we would be neglecting the words of Paul.  We can send a message across the world in a millisecond, we can fly anywhere we want to, reach the entire globe through the internet and God has given us these great gifts, it would be a shame not to use them!

In conclusion, there is truly something significant about the trends of the 21st century that Christians everywhere can make the most of sharing this magnificent news--that those who believe that Jesus Christ defeated death and rose again to erase their sins and grant eternal life--in every possible circumstance.