“What will we do in heaven all the time?” was a question that used to give me pause. When I was much younger, my thinking was that heaven was certainly a better location to spend eternity than hell, but a part of me also wondered what I would be doing for all eternity. I have a feeling that many Christians harbor similar questions as well: Will we get bored? Will we be sitting on clouds, plucking harps all day? Will it be one never-ending church service (talk about long sermons!)? Maybe never-ending life has some drawbacks?
I think that part of our hesitation to fully embrace and joyfully look forward to eternal life is because we compare it with life here. There’s not much in this life that I’d like to do forever. Even the best things would get repetitive or boring eventually. The reason for this is that life here simply isn’t perfect. Even at it’s best, it is filled with sin, with disappointment, and with heartache. Much like a wonderful vacation, there comes a point when going back home simply feels necessary. And not only because of work schedules or family obligations, but because most of us sense that eternal vacation wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as some might think.
The change for me came when I realized that heaven won’t be like life here. It won’t have any of the disappointments, any of the marketing hype that doesn’t live up to what was promised, nor any of the sin and heartache that tarnish our lives. In short, I stopped comparing heaven with just a really good day on earth and started seeing it the other way around: heaven is the standard and it is earth (or rather, our own sin) which has deviated from what God’s eternal kingdom really is like. If life here is, to borrow C. S. Lewis’ words “always winter, never Christmas,” then our hope fulfilled in Christ will usher in such a transformation that – as Pastor Tim Keller puts it – “in Christ, all things sad will become untrue.” Imagine that! Now imagine it not just as a great and momentous event, but forevermore. That is what awaits us in the heavenly kingdom! And that is worth hoping for!
(Here’s a recent post from Desiring God that I’ve found helpful on just this exact topic.)
A few choice quotes from an excellent article which challenges us to love the church – the people – that God has placed us alongside rather than our idea of what a perfect church ought to be:
“Yet there’s a temptation I have noticed that you and I are susceptible to: we can love our vision of what a church should be more than we love the people who compose it. We can be like the unmarried man who loves the idea of a wife, but who marries a real woman and finds it harder to love her than the idea of her. Or like the mother who loves her dream of the perfect daughter more than the daughter herself.”
“This is an implicit danger for all of us who have learned much from God-given books and conferences and ministries about ‘healthy churches.’ We start loving the idea of a healthy church more than the church God has placed us in.”
“Individually and corporately, we represent him [Christ].”
“Think about what that means. It means that Christ has put his name on immature Christians, and Christians who speak too much at members’ meetings, and Christians who wrongly give their unbaptized children communion, and Christians who love shallow praise songs. Christ has identified himself with Christians whose theology is underdeveloped and imperfect. Christ points to the Christians who wrongly oppose biblical leadership structures and the practice of church discipline and says, ‘They represent me. Sin against them and you sin against me!'”
Do we love the church? Or do we just love the idea of the church?
Read the rest of the article here.
Please click the video below to watch the sermon.
Disciplined Lives Hebrews 12:1-17
It is precisely because we have seen all the
pictures of those who served the Lord
faithfully that we are now called to do
likewise. We are to set aside anything and
everything that would keep us from running
the race of life faithfully.
Look to the Example of Christ as You
Consider What God is Doing in You
Discipline is God’s Way of Making Us Holy
Do You Live A Holy (Disciplined) Life?
Pretty well every year, usually around Easter or Christmas, some news organization feels the need to run an article exposing all of the supposed errors, misunderstandings, and inconsistencies with Christianity. As well, each year, a number of Christian theologians – to their great credit and patience – respond to such articles showing how Christianity is actually extremely consistent, historically reliable, and that the Scriptures really don’t contain the errors that the average person on the street thinks they do.
One recent blog post that I’ve found helpful, relates to a misunderstanding about how we received the Bible. Some would say that the Bible is inaccurate because we received it through a decades (or centuries!) long game of “telephone” – the child’s game where you start with a message that is secretly whispered in the ears of the next person until you get to the end of the line. The message repeated at the end is nothing like the original message and hilarity ensues. But there are a number of problems with thinking that the Scriptures were transmitted to us in this way, and one of my seminary professors – Dan Wallace (quoted at Stand to Reason) – does a great job of simply and concisely showing what the difference is here. See also his full rebuttal to a recent Newsweek article here.
Please click on the video below to watch the sermon.
It’s the time for New Years’ resolutions. Get fit, get into the Bible more, spend more time with family and friends. And no doubt, for many (especially with the holiday credit card bills rolling in): get out of debt. Randy Alcorn has some sound, Biblical, and wise advice on this very topic:
1) Examine every purchase in light of its ministry potential.
2) Pray before you spend.
3) Realize that nothing is a good deal if you can’t afford it.
4) Recognize that God isn’t behind every good deal.
5) Understand the difference between spending money and saving it.
6) Look at the long-term cost, not just the short-term expense.
7) Understand and resist the manipulative nature of advertising.
8) Learn to walk away from things you want but don’t need.
9) Realize that little things add up.
10) Set up a budget and live by it.
Explanations for each point are found here.
When you consider that personal debt is skyrocketing, that the misuse of money contributes to many marital problems, and that debt is more often unwise rather than wise, we as Christians need to do a lot more thinking about using the money that God entrusts to us wisely. This starts with several realizations that go directly against the grain of what our world tells us each and every day: We must realize that debt is very dangerous (Proverbs 17:18, 22:26-27). We must realize that “always needing to find a good deal” and treating shopping as an activity to do when we are bored – rather than when we need something – is very much like a lustful disease that only shows our discontentment. We must realize that acquiring more “stuff” and feeding the need to be on the cutting edge aren’t what is most important to the Lord; that delayed gratification is actually a good thing. Therefore, the points above are a great place to start. But don’t end there: if you haven’t already, take time at the start of this year to analyze how you steward God’s money. Make faithful changes where necessary. And then live in the freedom of faithfulness.