Tag Archives: Heaven

Our Own Undercover Boss

Tuesday Re-mix –

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”  Matthew 25:41-46

Have you seen the reality show, Undercover Boss yet?  I have not, but I think  the concept is brilliant.  What could be more entertaining than seeing a bad employee treat someone badly who turns out to be the CEO of their company?  It’s one of those concepts that makes you stop and imagine…the horror!

Jesus was pretty good at coming up with those concepts as well.  There were times when you just know the disciples sat speechless, looking at one another…in horror.  I think the passage above is one of those times.  I think when Jesus spoke these words, all of the disciples’ minds went to the exact same place yours and mine do…to that homeless man or woman in the street earlier today with whom we would not make eye contact, because we just did not want to speak to them or otherwise get …

For Heaven’s Sake!

Tuesday Re-mix –

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

“So what?”  That is a question I always ask when I study the Bible.  I just need to know why the writer is telling me this…why it is important to me.  Nobody in the Bible answers that question better than Paul.  In 1 Corinthians 15, there is a fascinating discourse from Paul about the reality of resurrection.  Paul spends this longest chapter of all of the epistles laying out a brilliant apologetic for the doctrine of the resurrection, logically laying out the facts of the gospel, the hope of the faith, and the description of what is yet to come.  The perishable becomes the imperishable, the seed becomes the sprout.  Verses 1-57 beautifully spell it all out in what would be as complete a sermon as anyone would ever want on the subject of the resurrection.  It is so complete, in fact, that one could easily end the lesson there.  But I will not.  Here’s why…

More than any writer I know, Paul uses the word “therefore” to signal a very important bottom line for him.  In fact, even after a long diatribe so beautifully laying out facts and arguments such as he does in 1 Corinthians 15:1-57, you can rest assured that Paul has not yet said what he really came to say until after the “therefore”.  That is how Paul signals that he is about to answer the question, “So what?”

In this case, he goes to great lengths to address those in the Corinthian church who were not convinced there would be a resurrection for Christ’s …

The Problem with “Letting Go and Letting God”

Tuesday Re-mix –

Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]

Applying step 3 to our particular addiction (the addiction to self-reliance), feels a little bit like comedian Steve Martin’s simple process for becoming a millionaire…Step 1: go and get a million dollars.

For those of us who are addicted to self-reliance and independence, “turning your life over to God” has always been a bit of a troublesome concept.  Oh, it’s easy enough to say…and it was easy enough to do when we were 7 years old at children’s camp and our “life” consisted of  a bike, a broken G.I. Joe and an annoying little brother, all of which we would gladly “turn over to God” in exchange for Heaven.  Moreover, even the concept of turning our “will” over to God seemed like a small price to pay at the time, given the reward of spending eternity in Heaven with all the donuts and sports we could ever want (what? you didn’t get that promise in your package?).

But it didn’t take long to start growing up and watching our “stuff” and our wills expand to cover a great deal more territory.  Then, the desire for the applause of men and the insecurities which were beginning to haunt us caused us to turn more and more inward and to take more short-cuts and to work harder to control the environment around us in order to survive.  The more we strove to control our environment, the harder it became and the deeper …

A Surprise (or Two) in Heaven

Tuesday Re-mix –

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” Luke 13:24

I dreamt death came the other day and Heaven’s gate swung wide;

An Angel with a halo bright ushered me inside.

There to my astonishment stood folks I had judged and labeled

as “quite unfit” or “of little worth” or “spiritually disabled”.

Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free,

For every face showed stunned surprise…not one expected me!

Anonymous

I think we are all in for some huge surprises if/when we get to Heaven.  I think we are going to find out that we didn’t know quite as much as we thought we knew about God and His ways, about Heaven and Hell, and about the doctrine of salvation.  I think we will be surprised to see some people there we never thought would be there.  I think we will be surprised to NOT see some people there whom we just assumed would be there.  And I think there may be some folks there who will be surprised to see you or me there!

But not everybody is expecting to be surprised.  There are a lot of Christians out there today who are pretty certain they already know everything about God and Heaven and salvation and who is in and who is out.  I suppose my first point in this post is that I always want to be a part of a church who does NOT think they have it all figured out.  I want to worship alongside friends who are actually expecting (even hoping for) some surprises in Heaven.

And while we are talking about surprises, I also happen to believe that many of us who …

Not for the Hope of Winning Heav’n…

Tuesday Re-mix –

My Eternal King

Original author unknown.  Translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall, 1849.

 

My God, I love Thee;
not because I hope for heav’n thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
Must die eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails, the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

Why, then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heav’n,
Or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my Eternal King.

I have been taking a look  at four New Testament conversion experiences: Zaccheus’, Paul’s, Lydia’s and the Philippian jailer’s.  It was a Bible study exercise on living a missional life.  Having been raised in a denomination with heavy Puritan influences and which is therefore pretty single-mindedly focused on salvation, I am dumbfounded by this observation of these conversion experiences: none of them included any promise of heaven.  Here are four of the most well-known conversion experiences in the Bible, and every one of them happened without even discussing heaven or hell or the after-life.  All of these people were motivated only by the promise of Spiritual significance, i.e., spiritual meaning now as opposed to eternal life later.

Please do not misunderstand me here.  The Bible teaches us about heaven and hell and “after-life” consequences of the choices we make during life.  I don’t question that.  But I am beginning to question whether our obsession with the promise of heaven is a bit misplaced.  Jesus did not …