Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Day I Will Never Forget

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13

Over the course of my life there have been some special days where the presence of God was made real to me in a very dramatic way. I want to share one of those.

Back in 1976-77 I was working with Youth With A Mission in American Samoa. During my first year there, an opportunity arose for me to visit one of the outlying islands of the Samoa chain. This island was in the Manu’a group, and I believe it was the island of Ta’u. My purpose for going was to show a film about the life of Jesus.

I left Pago Pago harbor on a small inter-island passenger boat and traveled overnight to Ta’u. Upon arrival, a group of about 10 burly Samoans rowed through the surf to meet our ship in a large wooden lifeboat. To get into the lifeboat I had to wait for the right moment. When a swell came through, the smaller boat rose up about even with the deck of the passenger ship and I stepped across into the lifeboat. The swell passed and we sank 15 feet below the deck. The Samoan crew skillfully navigated us through an “ava,” (cut in the reef), and we rode the surf right into the shore.
My hosts showed me to my room, a nice little house right near the beach. The only other memory I have of the house was that I was greeted in the bathroom sink by a large cane spider. Arrrggghhhhh!

That afternoon I walked down to the empty, pristine white beach. Leaving my colorful lavalava and rubber flip flops in the sand, I waded into the warm Pacific waters.

I am an Idaho boy. I didn’t grow up near the ocean. At the time I knew little about the sea or the ways of it. I was unaware of the rip tide at the beach on Ta’u. 

After swimming out about 30 yards, I treaded water for a few minutes, enjoying the beauty of the island, the beach, and the sea.

Deciding to return, I did a few strokes and then looked at the beach to gauge my progress. It was not closer. I tried again. Still no progress. Then I began to swim with all my might. A minute later, I checked and realized, I could not get back in!

At that point, an inner voice said, “Don’t panic.” I remember rolling onto my back, just floating and thinking. What should I do? A minute later I decided to roll over again and swim once more.

As I rolled over I had a clear inner impression. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In the midst of rolling over to swim, I said out loud, “Jesus!” I then swam 4 or 5 strokes. I opened my eyes under the 20 foot deep water. I saw a coral head coming up from the bottom to a much more shallow depth. With very little effort I put my feet down on it. Far from the beach, I was standing on a coral head in 20 feet of water! It was neck deep but I was standing. I looked into the water again and saw another coral head a few feet toward the beach. I leaped/floated/swam toward it, and put my feet down on it.

In that way I basically walked into the shore.


When I got there, no one was around. I wrapped on my lavalava and put on my flip flops. No one knew what happened. But I did. God saved me that day. I will never forget it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Faith On a Street Corner

I've been having trouble the past few weeks coming up with inspiration for this blog. What clever topic can I present that will prove to people that Jesus is God and that the Bible is true. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t have anything clever to write.

Part of the problem is that I cannot prove to you that Jesus is God or that the Bible is true. If I convince you of that by proofs, then you would not need to believe. You have proof, - facts, so no faith is required. I cannot prove God or His Word to you in that way. He won’t allow it, and I don’t think it’s possible. If it was possible, then there would be no need for faith.

Last night several of us gathered on a cold Pennsylvania street corner to give out hot dogs and drinks to people. A crowd of maybe 20 people gathered and we cooked and gave out many hot dogs and drinks. In the midst of it, I said, “Does anyone want prayer? We’re here for that reason, can I pray for anyone?” 

Silence.

Later, another one of our “hotdog team” said to a man, “How about that hit and run case you told me about? Can I pray for you for that?” The man refused prayer. I have to admit, I chuckled at that. A hit and run case?!? And he DOESN’T need prayer for that?  If you’re not praying for that, then forget about the minor things of life.

Then it struck me. There is no faith here. People simply don’t believe that prayer works. They don’t believe it has any value.

They wanted the hotdogs but not the prayer.

Jesus said, “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”[1]

Finally one man came forward, holding his bundled up little 6 pound newborn son, Jonathan. “I need prayer,” he said. I prayed for him, his wife, and his son.  I prayed for his son’s future. I prayed for the man’s father, who I also knew. I asked God to bless their lives. The very thing God wants to do. There was a little spark of faith on that street corner.

Early in the 20th Century, missionary James Frazer wrote to the church in England from his missionary post in China: “What I covet more than anything else is earnest believing prayer, and I write to ask you to continue in prayer for me and the work here.”

To believe that Jesus is God and that the Bible is true, takes faith. To pray to God takes faith. May you exercise that faith in this coming week. You won’t be disappointed.





[1] Luke 18:8 (Revised Standard Bible)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions

Consider the bumper sticker, “God bless the whole world; No Exceptions”

This slogan has been the subject of many blogs and Christian sermons. I'm not the first by any means. One blogger points out that the thought of God blessing everyone is probably not a biblical notion.[1] I have to agree.

God does bless everyone, in a general way. “... for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”[2] But notice there are categories of people in that verse: the evil and the good, the just and the unjust.

These are categories that are established and decided upon by God. Christians err when we take the role of the judge. It is not ours. But because God will never bless evil, He will not “bless everyone, no exceptions.”

Would you want God to bless the guy who had imprisoned and abused the girls for years in a cellar in Cleveland? What about the Boston Marathon bomber? A person whose error proves fatal to another? Would a rejected wife, whose husband is leaving her for another woman want to bless him?

You see,“No Exceptions” is not a philosophically consistent position. There seems to be a barb. Is it directed at people whose worldview recognizes exceptions? I mean people who view categories like evil and good, just and unjust. “No Exceptions” seems to be saying ''You're wrong. Live and let live. Don't judge.'

But there are clearly times and reasons for God or us to withhold blessing from someone.

In the Bible, we find a man named Achan. He disobeyed God and lied about it. He later confessed his wrong under duress, but he was clearly not blessed. “And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.”[3] They were an exception.

A marketing company, Northern Sun, who claim a copyright on the  bumper sticker, have added a further explanatory statement on their “No Exceptions”order page: “Through unity and tolerance, religions can coexist.”[4] That's an idealistic slogan but it does not live where the rubber meets the road. Just ask someone who has suffered in the Muslim-Hindu communal riots of India, has been victim of the “Christian” Ku Klux Klan, or who has been imprisoned for following Jesus in China.

To be sure, religions must coexist and must be tolerant and respectful, or we descend into darkness. But we must not slide into a cookie-cutter 'unity' based on conformity or compromise. All religions are not the same. We must agree to disagree.

A God who blesses the whole world, no exceptions, is a God without any discernment. He has no standards. He would be as C.S. Lewis wrote, “a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’[5]

God bless the whole world, and lead us into Your truth.




[1]    A. L. Blair, God Bless the Whole World. No Exceptions, January 14, 2006 http://abelardsghost.blogspot.com/2006/01/god-bless-whole-world-no-exceptions.html
[2]    Matthew 5:45 (RSV)
[3]    Joshua 7:25 (New Living Translation)
[5]             C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain,(New York: MacMillan Publishing Co, 1962) 40


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heads or Tails?

The lottery. It’s a mania in this nation. CNN reports, “More than half of us have played the lottery in the last year…”1

I don’t play the lottery. But if I'm honest, I have to say I've fantasized about what I would do if I won it. I'd get a Harley-Davidson, that's for sure. But because I never play, I will never win the lottery.

I know of a native American girl who won … twice. Once for a six figure payoff, and once for five figures. What are the odds?

People play the lottery because of the possibility of hitting it really big. The odds are mightily stacked against them, but it’s that hope of something wonderful and life-altering that keeps them playing. Human behavior expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh says, "We have the Cinderella complex -- there's a fairy godmother who's going to come in and save us."2

What if winning the lottery was decided by a flip of a coin? Seventeenth Century French Philosopher and Mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote about something just as dramatic. It is called Pascal’s Wager.

Pascal posited that all of us are facing a flip of the coin. We wager our life on the fact that either God is or He is not. We can't avoid playing. By means of reason alone we cannot be sure if there is a God or not. Pascal writes, “Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists… if you win you win everything, if you lose you lose nothing.”3 It's sort of like hitting the lottery. Win and I'm cruising on a Harley. Lose and I'm out five bucks. Much to gain, not much to lose.

Why don't we do that in religious matters?

The Hindu religion says that all ways-- Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Krishna, trying to be a nice person, - all lead to God. (Although, Hindus don’t really believe that. Just ask one to allow his daughter to marry a Muslim or a Christian, if you don't believe me.) Contrary to Hinduism, Christians believe in the exclusiveness of Christ based on his own statements such as, “no one comes to the Father except through me.”4 No one.

If Hinduism is right, and the coin comes up tails, a Christian should still be okay. All roads lead to God. He doesn't have much to lose except maybe a Hindu wife. But if Christ’s claim to exclusivity is true, and the coin comes up heads, the Hindu has missed his chance at eternal life… he missed the Mega Millions jackpot.

From pure logic it makes no sense to be a Hindu or an Atheist.

I do realize logic is not all that is entailed in religious commitment. It's just one factor.

Pascal urges us, “Do not hesitate then: wager that He does exist… wherever there is infinity, there is no room for hesitation, you must give everything.”5

Famed missionary martyr Jim Elliott once said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." 

Call it, heads or tails?




1 Jacque Wilson, Why You Keep Playing the Lottery, CNN, May 17, 2013 http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/15/health/psychology-playing-lottery-powerball/index.html
2Ibid
3 Blaise Pascal, Pensees (London: Penguin Books, 1995) Series II, The Wager(233) p 123
4 John 14:6 (ESV)
5 Pascal, Ibid

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Picnic and a Show

I love a picnic. On Labor Day we sat out on a patio having a picnic. I noticed how big of a panorama of the sky was in front of us. There were no trees or building, nothing near us, to block part of the sky before us. I was struck by how wide and high the sky looked.
As the meal progressed, clouds began to roll in. Big cumulo-nimbus thunderheads. There was a little bit of lightning off in the distance. At one point we commented on how it smelled like rain. It was a feeling.

High above, over our heads were these towering thunderheads. One website says, “A good sized cumulonimbus cloud, or thunderhead, might be ten kilometers tall (six miles), with a base ten kilometers in diameter.”[1]  The tops of them radiant white in the late afternoon sun. The lower parts of them various shades of gray where the sun could not strike them. Then below them, obviously much lower in altitude, came in low, whispy but dense rain clouds. Dark. Almost black.

“Becca, look,” said Charlie. The white on the edges of the highest clouds was intense.

She began to snap pictures.

“It’s going to rain, really hard,” I said.

But it didn’t. A black cloud, quite low, rolled right over our heads, carrying literally tons of water. But it didn’t rain.

“He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them…”[2] said Job in the oldest book of the Bible.

“Look over here,” said Charlie. Another breathtaking panorama behind us. “But,” he said, “that is past us. It’s over there that is coming our way.”

A small, private airplane flew over, well below the billowing, roiling thunderheads. I said, “No one intentionally flies through one of those.”

I was looking straight up. The shining white edge of the topmost clouds moving across the lower black ones, forming black silhouettes of the edges of the ominous rain clouds. What a sight! “Can any one understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?[3]

Charlie interrupted my thoughts and pointed off into the distance, “That's the worst place.” It was an extremely black, low patch. Just by a quick scan of the sky, Charlie could point out the area where the storm would be greatest. Who has put wisdom in the clouds, or given understanding to the mists?[4] I guess we take that for granted. But the skies really do give us vital information about the weather, just by looking at them. There’s a pattern to it. A plan.

We began to retreat into the air-conditioned house, realizing God had put on a show for us. An everyday sight, yet so majestic when you stop to ponder it. “He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”[5]

A few brave souls went back outside. Moments later they came running in through the sliding doors, “It started, then stopped, then started, then stopped… and then it came down like a curtain of water!” That was some serious rain. Little Kenzie said, "Wet!"

Like I say, I love a picnic. But a picnic and a show... that's the best. Thank you Lord.





[2] Job 26:8
[3] Job 36:29
[4] Job 38:36
[5] Psalm 135:7
Special thanks to BlaineFranger.com/blog for photo of the clouds

Friday, August 16, 2013

You Can Count on Him

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet without your Father’s knowledge not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.”[1]

God knows every random bird that “falls to the ground” or perishes, all over the world. That’s what Jesus said.

God knows how many hairs are on a person’s head. In fact, this applies to every person.

A 1951 estimate by an ornithologist estimated the worldwide bird population at “more than 100 billion individual wild birds in the world…”[2] That is 100,000,000,000 estimated. That is about fourteen birds for every human being. If 150,000 people die each day, then the number of birds that die every day would be 2,100,000. That is nearly 100,000 birds an hour “falling to the ground.” Over 16,000 a minute.  Over 270 birds die each second. Yet Jesus says “without your Father’s knowledge not one of them can fall to the ground.”

We’re talking an enormous knowledge base. An unfathomable ability to process information. Talk about attention to detail! Not one of them is missed. He is aware.

“… even the hairs of your head have all been counted.” Estimates of how many hairs are on a human head range from about 100,000 to 150,000. That is for one person. I am not sure a count has ever been done that exactly numbers even one head of hair.  Another factor is that about 100 hairs fall out per day, on average. The number keeps varying. So take the conservative estimate of 100 K hairs. Now multiply that times the number of people on earth, which is 7 billion. That number must come out to 7,000,000,000,000,000. If decades old, cob-web encrusted math is correct. That’s a lot of strands of hair. God has counted them. At any given time, he knows the number on my head, and on yours.

Why?

Why is he aware of every one of the 1000 birds that have died as I have written this sentence? Why does he know how many hairs are on the head of the proprietor of the Loop Plumbing Company in Mobile, Alabama?

Firstly there's the theological answer that God is omniscient, He knows all. He is capable of doing it and he does it. Secondly, and closer to our hearts, the best answer I can come up with is that He cares. He just plain cares. The things he's made matter to Him. They have value. This counting of impossibly high numbers of items, this awareness of innumerable happenings, is simply a manifestation of the fact that God cares. 

Birds have value. You have more value. “You are worth more than any number of sparrows.”






[1] Matthew 10:29-30
[2] The Audubon Encyclopedia of North American Birds

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Beautiful Balancing Act

There is a really good PBS video called “The Secrets of the Sun,” on Nova. I am giving the link here, because watching it may be more interesting than reading about it on this blog. http://video.pbs.org/video/2226474716/ It is 53 minutes well-invested.

As a Christian apologist, two things stood out to me while watching this documentary about the sun. These provide evidence that the Universe has been purposefully created by God.

The first has to do with the composition of the Sun. Nuclear fusion in its core is the source of it’s great heat and light. There is a nuclear reaction going on in the core of the Sun that is equivalent to millions of atomic bombs going off each second. If that is so, then why doesn’t the Sun blow apart? A Princeton Scientist explains on the documentary, “Because there’s a beautiful balancing act that occurs. In the core of the Sun you’ve got this pressure, from all of this fusion pushing outwards; and the sun is huge so you have all this gravitational pressure pushing downward so you’ve got this gravity pushing down and the Sun trying to blow itself apart from the inside, and it is this beautiful balancing  act between the two, that keeps the Sun in one piece.[1] It’s a “beautiful balancing act.” Just the right amount of push both ways to keep the Sun stable and dependable. I find it exciting how these types of balancing acts keep occurring over and over again in nature.

The second point that grabbed me in this documentary was the fact that the Sun is vibrating. Because of the massive movement of the Sun’s plasma due to convection, many, many sound frequencies are emitted from the Sun. Satellite studies of the Sun’s surface tended to show it vibrating. It was initially thought to be errors in the instruments. As the instruments improved, scientists finally realized the entire surface of the sun vibrates… with sound.

The sound is compared to notes on a pipe organ. Another web source quotes Stanford scientist Dr Amara Graps as comparing the sound to a bell.[2]  Professor Ken Lang of Tufts University writes, "The Sun is playing a secret melody, hidden inside itself, that produces a widespread throbbing motion of its surface. The sounds are coursing through the Sun's interior, causing the entire globe, or parts of it, to move in and out, slowly and rhythmically like the regular rise and fall of tides in a bay or of a beating heart." [3]

The sun is like a pipe organ. Like a bell. Like the rise and fall of tides. Like a beating heart.

Maybe now we begin to comprehend the meaning of the passage in Psalms: "Praise Him Sun and Moon, Praise Him, all you shining stars." [4]







[1] Luc Peterson, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, on the PBS Video, Nova: The Secrets of the Sun
[4] Psalm 148:3 (Revised Standard Version)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Serious Moment on My Way to the Bank

While riding my scooter home from the bank I saw James. We met a couple years ago. I met his wife and two daughters. The girls belonged to James’ wife by a previous marriage. They seemed happy. James was doing a landscaping business and had helped us out a few times. He was a recovering alcoholic. He had been attending a good church.

Someone told me recently that James was having issues. “He and his wife have split up and he’s drinking again.”

So when I saw James, I pulled a U-ey, which is easy to do on a scooter. He looked haggard and had a five o’clock shadow.

“How are you?”

“Fine. Okay.”

“I heard things are not going well for you?”

“Yeah, we’re getting a divorce.”

We exchanged a few more sentences. Feeling pain and a strong desire to help, I said, “Is there any hope? You’ve gotta maintain some hope, James.”

“No. It’s better for us to be happy and apart than to be sad and together.”

“I’m sorry, that really sucks.”

“It does,” he admitted, toeing the grass where he was standing.

Feeling powerless, I ended with, “I love you. Don’t give up.”

As I rode away, I felt like crying. “O God, help James not to quit.”

One day Jesus was questioned about divorce.

 After telling the Jewish teachers that marriage is God’s idea and that it’s a lifetime commitment, they asked this question. “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.[1]

That part jumps out at me, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

Divorce is not God’s intention.

The problem is “hardness of heart.” James has it.

I have it too. I have the potential to divorce my wife because of the hardness of my heart. It’s part of our human fallenness.

What is hardness of heart? It’s attitudes and words like, “It’s not my fault!” “You’re wrong!” “I’m sick of trying, it’s up to her.” It’s a failure to take responsibility for our own part in the demise of the relationship. It’s an unwillingness to talk about it.

As I approached home, I felt really bad.
   
May God have mercy on our marriages. No matter how tough it gets, don’t allow your heart to get hard. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”[2]

The opposite of a hard heart is a tender heart. One Old Testament king was told, “… because your heart was penitent (or tender), and you humbled yourself before the Lord, … I also have heard you…”[3]

Pray for James and for all who are contemplating divorce. Pray for healthy marriages. If you’ve gone through a painful divorce, pray that you’ll keep a soft heart now in your present circumstances. Don’t give up!







[1] Matthew 19:7-8 (Revised Standard Version)
[2] Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
[3] 2 Kings 22:19 (NIV)

Monday, July 1, 2013

That's Terrible

A few days ago I sat in a theater with two of my daughters. In the preview of a coming comedy attraction, a white man sat at a table full of African Americans and spoke and acted like he was black.  Behind me I heard a woman snickering, trying to suppress a laugh, yet saying, “That’s terrible.” It was obviously a farce and it was taken as a joke. But her muttered words mirrored where our society is at. Even the hint of racism is about as bad as it gets.

The same day I read of the fall of celebrity chef Paula Deen. She used the “N” word. As a result of a word she spoke, her career is basically destroyed. Her subsequent tearful appeals on interviews have not yielded mercy.

“That’s terrible,” say most; no one is laughing.

As a young Christian, I remember hearing of the verse in the Bible that says, “Sins against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”[1] We used to talk a lot about what that meant. What was the sin? Some thought it was one word. Others said, “No, it’s a willful, sustained walking away from the Lord and His commands.” I always opted for the second explanation. The first one was too scary. A random word could mean eternal judgment and damnation? What if I slipped in a moment of anger and said that word. It would be all over.

America has sort of become like the first option. We’ve lost our sense of humor. Certain words, if spoken, are crimes. If you say this word, you are that. Period. No hope. No mercy.

Paula Deen lost her job for a word spoken. Dumb on her part. Yes. Evidence that she is a racist? No. In America, there is no freedom to speak that word. It’s a bad word. But freedom has been the casualty. I wonder what words will be next?

Historically, many have lost their jobs over words spoken. Consider the actions of notorious Nazi Joseph Goebbels. “… (Goebbels) made sure teachers and lecturers were teaching what he had wanted them to teach the university students, otherwise they'd be dismissed. From 1933-38, more than 3000 academics were dismissed.”[2] Today it’s fashionable to condemn and dismiss people whose words are not politically correct. No we’re not Nazi Germany. Not even close. But aren’t there increasingly some parallels?

One day Jesus spoke to a Canaanite woman whose daughter was sick. “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”[3] Society would destroy Billy Graham if he called a foreign woman a dog! Jesus must have been a chauvinist. Two verses later we read, Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[4]

A word spoken does not a person make. Pray that we will not continue to lose our freedoms, even the freedom for people to say words we don’t like.

To be judged for a word spoken, now that’s terrible.







[1] Mark 3:29
[2] Shawn Hsu, “Life in Nazi Germany 1933-1945”  http://lifeinnazigermanyshawnhsu.weebly.com/censorship-and-propaganda.html
[3] Matthew 15:26
[4] Matthew 15:28

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eternity In Their Hearts

That’s the name of a great book by missionary Don Richardson.[1] (See link below)

The two oldest books of the Bible are thought to be Genesis and Job. Genesis is the story of creation and the beginning of God’s covenant relationship with mankind through Israel. Job is the story of a man who endures great tragedy, questions God, is accused by “friends,” but who holds onto God and is ultimately blessed.

The point I want to make is that in the earliest books of the Bible the concept of eternity appears.

“Everlasting” is from the Hebrew word “olam” meaning “time out of mind.” The idea is from God.

The first book of the Bible says that “In the beginning God…”(Gen 1:1) So God alone existed at one point. How far back does that go? The Bible tells us “Thou art from everlasting…” (Ps 93:2) We can’t grasp “everlasting.” We can’t see all the way around the world. We can only see to the horizon. Thus everlasting truly is “time out of mind.”

So God is portrayed as eternal. But it doesn’t stop there.

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” (Gen 3:22-23)

God talks about living forever.

In Job, the other early book, we find this profound reference.

"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    then from my flesh I shall see God,"
 (Job 19:25-26)

A few days ago at breakfast in Hershey, Pa, I saw an old photograph from 1910. A crowd of hundreds was gathered around an old electric trolley car. It was an anniversary gathering of Hershey Company. I looked at individual people in the crowd. One man was turned around looking at the people behind him. He was smiling as if something funny had been said. A woman in a bonnet dismounted from the trolley. A young boy, maybe 10, looked on. I thought, if that boy was alive today he’d be 113 years old now. No chance. Those hundreds of people in the picture are now dead and gone. All their work is forgotten. Their names are forgotten. Whatever they lived for is long past.

Is there anything beyond death?

Thousands of years before Christ spoke of eternal life, the Hebrew writers of old talked of eternity. Life does not end at the grave. That is not God’s intention. Don Richardson is right, God placed eternity in our hearts.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It’s been God’s idea from the very beginning.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts on Eternal Life

These thoughts barely scratch the surface, but here we go.

What would life be like if we lived forever and didn’t die?

If nothing could kill you, then could anything injure you? If you did cut your finger, would there be a chance of infection? Infection left unchecked would ultimately lead to death. That is not an option. Would the cut hurt? Or, like now, would it slowly heal on its own? The other alternative is that the injury would remain the same for eternity. If it kept hurting for eternity, then endless life would be endless torment. Would your eyes progressively deteriorate? Being symptoms of death, I don’t think wounds and chronic problems could exist. Aging certainly would not. Physical suffering would be ended.

Would we have careers? Would you be a real estate salesman for countless millennia? Would we work at all? Would we need to eat or have a heated house? Would we need money? Starving to death is not a possibility. So why work? Would we need to maintain our possessions? Would our property (like an iPod) be temporary while we are enduring? Would Apple be in business? Why? What is their motive for making an iPod if not for money? Could it be that the motive would be love of music? Because music is pleasing? The thing in and of itself, be it music, art, or poetry, would be its reason for existence. So there might be work done so that our senses could be exercised, but not out of necessity.

Would we measure time? Words like “year” and “then” would disappear. Would history, the record of events over time, be recorded? Why record what Paul Revere did when you could ask him. If I didn’t see you now, I’d see you later. I’d have time for everything. There would be no such thing as busyness. 

Would we have family? Would we be married for billions and billions of years? Would I be in an endless family unit? Would my kids be my kids forever? Would I have grandkids, great grandkids, and then great, great grandkids? Would they be kids forever? If not, at what point would babies stop “aging?” What would be the difference between a baby, a seventeen year old, and an 84 year old man? At what age would a child stop changing and be in a static state? This seems to rule out child bearing which may rule out sexual relations. If we don’t have sex there, it tells me two things. First is that those who enter into this life are a numbered lot. Secondly it tells me there are pleasures that are greater than sex to be had. But it seems each individual would know and relate to every other individual. Memories of relationships in this life would likely exist and special bonds may be held because of it.

***

Supplemental Reading: Biblical glimpses of life without end:

 “ Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord” John 11:25-27

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more… and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away… And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb… and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life…” Revelation 21:1, 4, 23, & 27

“…  and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever… Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.” Revelation 22:4-5, 14-15

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-57




Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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