Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: September 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

REST. IT APPARENTLY DOESN'T MEAN REST.

Have you ever heard anyone at the office remark ... perhaps after a particularly busy weekend, or even a vacation ... that they were glad to get back to the office so they could get some rest? I sure have, and have even said that, myself.

In most cases, particularly for us Believers, I don't think that ought to be.

THE GOSPEL PROJECT, the Lifeway Sunday School material that was introduced a year or so ago, is currently, in our case, in the middle of a series highlighting what man was created to do. More about that in a second.

First, though, I love the material. Generally, the lessons contain three main points, each substantiated by one or more scripture passages. On occasion, the scripture cited in the material doesn't really substantiate the point the lesson is trying to make, forcing the teacher to dig into scriptures and find verses that do make the point. And that's one of the things I really, really like about the material. It's challenging to teach, but more than worth the effort, as the points made in the lessons are really, really worth making.

Oh .. TGP's managing editor, Trevin Wax, is always most gracious when I write him to tell him about things I note about the lesson material.

Back to the lessons.

Yesterday's lesson ... Session 4 of the Fall Series, concerns the truth that man was created to rest. Session 3 focused on the scriptural truth that man was created to work, so Session 4 was a natural follow-up. Included in the scripture references were multiple passages in Genesis, and the conclusion I'm forced to reach, after reading them all, is that we're really supposed to rest on our Sabbath. Which, of course, we observe on Sunday. I even cited the Exodus passage in which God was quite clear that His followers were not even to tolerate any work on Sunday by their slaves, or even sojourners in the midst. Nor by their animals!

But rather than the prohibitions, focus on the instructions as to what we're supposed to do on our Sabbaths. And I don't think that needs to be Saturday, as Genesis indicates the land is to observe a Sabbath rest one year out of seven.

That passage wasn't referring to Saturday. Also, let's face it, Monday is really the start of our week, anyway.

Back to what we're supposed to do: REST. I looked up several verses where that word appears in verses concerning observance of the Sabbath. And I found that they all use a word meaning, to settle down, rest, be calm, etc.

Then, I wondered, what did God say that He did on Sabbath day, after creation was complete? Well, He says He did nothing but rest.

Do we do that? I know that our observance of our "Sabbath" includes Bible teaching and corporate worship, and in light of the commands to stimulate one another to love and good works, assembling together in the process, I suppose that's OK. But I noticed, yesterday, that there were nine other activities, scheduled in our Bulletin, for Sundays, besides Sunday School, worship services, and the 6:30am prayer meeting.

Not one of those things is anything that couldn't be done on another day. We'll take our kids to practice baseball or football or dance or whatever on Saturday, or a weekday evening; why can't those other "church" activities be done at one of those times, too?

Or could it be that churches are prone to fill up the time with things to do, and Sunday has become Churchday, and Sunday is fair game for anything done in our buildings?

It's changed my mind on one thing. I'm planning a new class called "Conversational Christianity", helping people lose their fear of starting a conversation with someone, about Spiritual matters. And giving them the tools to know what to do once they start that conversation. It was going to be a Sunday Class, but not any more. We're going to start in January, on Wednesday nights.

Sundays? I figure it's time for me to start doing as much of what God told us to to that day, as I can.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

AT THE OPPOSITE ENDS OF INFINITY

Several things have had me pondering Scripture lately, especially as it relates to Heaven and hell. They've led me to some speculative conclusions that I thought I'd share, here.

First premise: Man’s mind is finite. Man cannot, therefore, truly comprehend the infinite. Just try to comprehend light traveling a million light years, before it strikes our eyes. Keep in mind, one light year is how far light travels in a year, going 186,285 miles every second. 

Personally, my mind kind of shuts down when I try to grasp that.

Perhaps this is why God wouldn't allow Moses to see Him ... but, rather, had him hide in a cave and then let him see God’s back. Seeing God, while we are finite human beings, would be more than we could bear.

Second premise: Heaven is infinitely beautiful. Infinitely wonderful. Infinitely fulfilling. Likewise, Hell is infinitely terrible. Thus, exposure to the reality of either might be dangerous to us, now, too.

Third premise: God wanted to reveal the promise of Heaven, and warn us of the terror of hell. He would, therefore, tell us about them, in terms we could comprehend.

Fourth premise: Our connection with fellow Christians, here, is a Spiritual one. That makes sense, in light of the truth that we are really Spiritual beings, having a temporary human experience, as opposed to human beings having Spiritual experiences. And Romans 8:16 & 17 seem to confirm that.

If that’s true, then we don’t have a Spiritual connection with those who are lost; nor do they have any spiritual connection to other lost people.

Fifth premise: one of the results of sin is that we humans get tired of everything. Peg and I have traveled a lot; enough so that there’s no place we want to go (as in vacationing….) badly enough to travel to get there. We’ve given away a lot of air-miles, in fact.

Consider it this way: think of the first really great vacation you ever took. When you first got there, it was probably thrilling in the extreme. But after a week or two, you were probably ready to go home.

Same thing for your first house. Today, it’s likely just your house, but it was something else the day you moved in.

That’s all because we get used to things, and have to be reminded of what we have, etc. Every now and then I have to pause as I’m driving home through our subdivision, to remind myself how beautiful it is (winding streets, beautiful homes, heavily forested, etc.).

If we accept all these thoughts, then two conclusions jump out at me. The first is that there will be a huge change in me … the real me, inside … when I get to heaven. Otherwise, there’s a possibility (in my mind) that I would get tired of it, there. Since that would make it less than Heaven, I don’t think that’s possible. 

The second conclusion is that, in our finite humanness, we cannot comprehend the true wonder of Heaven, or the true horror of hell. But God, despite that inability on our part, wanted to tell us that Heaven was great and hell was awful, anyway. So how would He do that? By telling us in the most beautiful terms … descriptions, analogies, comparisons … what Heaven is like, and similarly in the most awful terms, how bad hell is.

So, 2000 years ago, how would He say that? I think there’s a good possibility that He’d use, as a frame of reference, what people then would have seen as the most beautiful, awesome, precious things they could imagine. Things like gold, silver, precious stones and the like.

Similarly, how would He describe hell? Perhaps, most simply, in the most terrible terms they could comprehend. Like a lake of fire.

I doubt that, 2000 years ago, He would have described Heaven in terms of free world-wide Wi-Fi, Ferraris and Autobahns for everybody, or lifetime airline free passes. Nor would He have compared hell to dying of AIDS, the Chinese death of 10,000 cuts, or waterboarding.

Before the last conclusion, let me say I have no idea the substance of Heaven, or of hell. No idea at all. Heaven may well be the kind of streets and walls and gates that God said. And hell may be a real lake, burning with an eternal fire. Or not … but consider the following alternative:

We die, and suddenly we are in Heaven. The wait is over, there’s no doubt any more. Our faith was genuine, it’s all true, and there’s no sinful flesh to cloud things. No more glass to peer through, darkly. I cannot even begin to imagine the tremendous thrill that will be.

PLUS: Every investment we made in any soul, while here on earth, will pay the eternal dividend of fellowship in every sort of activity … including worship … that we ever experience there. And we would never, ever, get used to it! It would never, ever, fade. We would feel and appreciate that for eternity! 

WOW! 

Conversely, the lost one dies, and stands in hell. Whatever its form and substance is. With full realization of A) He didn’t have to end up there, B) every misdeed he ever committed, every wrong he ever did, gnawing at his conscience (now free of flesh….), and C) the knowledge that he will spend eternity there. That the first flash of guilt and wretchedness will never, ever end. He will feel that, for eternity!

PLUS: Since he had no spiritual connection with anyone here, he will be alone. For eternity!

WOW! 

I think Heaven is a lot better than golden streets, and hell is a lot worse than burning in a fiery lake. What I don’t know, however, is just how extreme either one really is. And that’s OK. Heaven will be at least as great as God described it, and hell will be at least as terrible as He said.

Friday, September 06, 2013

What A "Church"!

I was in on the founding of a "church" in this area, some years ago. And what a bunch of folks it was!

When someone wanted to join, they were informed about what was expected of them. They were told what we believed and what we stood for.

Attendance was expected to be very high, and if folks weren't there when we met, they were expected to be at another "church".

If they attended less than 2/3 of the meetings, they were out.

And, if we had projects, folks were expected to be involved.

Anyone involved with this bunch was expected to participate in the programs. Bring things to our meetings that would benefit to the group.

Folks were happy to invite others, who usually came. Most joined.

Everyone there joined in the spirit of the group. It was really neat, and even though it's been 30 years ago, and I moved on after about 4 years, I made friendships that last until this day. And, even though they've changed their name to better represent the community in which they're located, they're still the same group, and going strong.

Their "denominational ties" continue to extend their reach across the community, the state, the nation, and around the globe.

Sound like a good outcome for starting a local church? It does, to me.

BUT:

I must add I have been lying. Not about the organizing, the expectations, the involvement, the spirit, or the outcome, though. It's just that it wasn't a church.

It was a Rotary Club.

Is there any reason that God ... the One Who conceived of salvation and enacted the plan ... the One Who brings us the eternal life now and in the future via the resurrection ... which He proved by doing it a couple thousand years ago ... the One Who remains as fascinating, involving, revealing, enrapturing ... even after all the thrills of the world have worn themselves out ... is there any reason He wouldn't see results in His church at least as impressive as the Hoover-Riverchase Rotary ... now the Hoover Rotary ... Club did, 30 years ago?

I can't, either. Must be our fault. Showing up, maybe, in 33.28% attendance in the key areas of Alabama, churches constantly looking for nursery workers, and lousy attendance at prayer meetings?

Not to mention the old truism that 15-20% of the people do 80-85% of the work and give 80-85% of the money, 30-35% do the rest, and half do and give nothing?

Yup. Must be it. It can't be God and it can't be the Bible.