Friday, September 29, 2006

Random Questions

Every now and then I like to think of what heaven will be like....

Here are some random questions on that topic:

  • Is there an "express lane" for Christians to enter heaven?
  • What will my mansion be like?
  • When we are “clothed in our heavenly dwelling” what will we look like? (Seeds often look nothing like the mature plant ... will our "heavenly dwelling" look anything like our earthly human form?)
  • What will be along the streets of gold? Street vendors? Mansions? Will there be cars? Will the streets have gutters?
  • Will we need the internet in heaven?
  • Will the Book of Life be online, or is it all manually written down?
  • After Jesus, who is the first person I would want to see?
  • Is fishing allowed in the River of Life? What about skinny-dipping?
  • What does an angel really look like?
  • What kind of food will be at the feast?
  • How many people can be seated at the table?
  • Will I have to wait in a line to be with Jesus?
  • Will everyone in heaven always get along?
  • Will there be people in heaven surprised to see that I was allowed in?
  • Who will I be looking for that didn't enter the Kingdom?

  • What am I doing today to be sure that my friends and loved ones still on earth will someday meet me in heaven?

Friday, September 15, 2006

More than one way

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

To many non-believers, that statement makes Christianity smack of exclusivity. "You mean to tell me that I can only get in to Heaven if I believe a certain way, and it has to be your way?"

While there is only one way to gain access to God - through Jesus Christ - there are as many ways to Jesus as there are individuals.

For example, let's say that I invited you to have coffee with me at my home. There's only one way that I'm going to let you into my home, and that's through my front door. But how do you get to my front door? There's more than one way - it all depends on what your starting point is. The way is different for someone who lives in San Pedro than, say, someone who lives in San Bernardino. But both would still have to go through my front door to gain (welcome) access to my home.

God's love for us is so vast that he has provided as many paths to Jesus as there are individuals, and the Gospels and the New Testament are rich in examples of this. In Luke Chapter 7 alone there are five examples:
  • The Centurion, a middle-management guy whose servant was ill. "I'm not worghy of your time, Jesus." (But my employees think that I am)
  • The widow at Nain, whose son had died. "A prophet is among us. God has come to help His people!" (*side note: Back in the day, to touch a dead body made you "unclean." Somehow, that's a non-issue when you bring somene back to life.)
  • The disciples of John the Baptist. "Are you really the Christ?"
  • Simon the Pharisee. "Let's have dinner, Jesus. I want to see for myself what you're really like...... SCANDALOUS! He allows a sinful woman to anoint him!"
  • The Sinful Woman. "Jesus, you've made such a difference in my life. How can I ever repay you enough?"

And the Bible shows more paths to Jesus:

  • Nicodemus: "I don't understand this 'Born Again' thing. Can you explain it to me?"
  • The Woman at the Well: "How do you know so much about me?"
  • The father of the demon-possessed son: "Jesus, your disciples weree not successful in healing my son, but I still believe."
  • The Rich Young Ruler: "Tell me exactly what I have to do -- give me the Heavenly To-Do List." (He got the list, but he didn't do it.)
  • The woman with the 12 years of bleeding: "If I could just get close enough to brush my hand against the hem of Jesus' robe ... he doesn't even have to notice me..." (She did. He noticed.)
  • The Centurion at the cross: "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
  • Saul of Tarsus: "Let's go to Damascus and kill us some Jesus Freaks!" (Thank God that Jesus had given Saul a change of plans!)

Fast-forward 2,000 years, and the encounters with Jesus still happen.

  • The person who notices that something is happening: "I believe in God, but does he really care about what happens to me?"
  • The skeptic: "I'm going to prove to you that thes Jesus guy is a fraud." (andthe more he tries to prove his point, the more he sees the evidence that Jesus is who he says he is.)
  • The disaster observer: "Where was God when all of this took place? How could God let this happen?"
  • The Prison Inmate: "I've done some pretty awful things and hurt a lot of people on my way down. Why would Jesus forgive me?"
  • The fast-track corporate executive: "I've done some pretty awful things and hurt a lot of people on my way up. Why would Jesus forgive me?"
  • The Athelete or The Golden Child: "I'm doing OK on my own." (Take a hard look. Are you really? Who are you kidding?)

Sooner or later, we are all going to have a Jesus encounter, because when it comes right down to it, we all need Jesus. The question is, how will you respond to your Jesus Encounter?

Just as there is only one way into my home, there is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ. The Good News is that your path to Jesus does not have to be my path to him. It begins from where you are coming from right here, right now. Encounter Jesus. Ask him into your heart.

"Dear Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me and give me a new heart. Amen."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

That "S" Word (Again)

I seem to live in a constant power struggle. You see, I have this insatiable need to be right, and to be in control of my circumstances. There are times that the situation at hand is obviously bigger than my abilities. I feel powerless, and the result does not match the picture that I had at first set out to create. It didn't take long for me to realize that by giving up my autonomy - my "Mary-Do" mindset - and sharing the load, then the bigger tasks could still have the end result I originally envisioned, and I could still maintain at least some sense of control.

But even in sharing the struggle, I can still put a limit on what God can do to intervene in my life. The struggle becomes one between God and me. If I can handle, delegate or manage every detail, then where is the room for God? I know what I want the outcome to look like. And I won't let anything change that image in my mind.

God tells me in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." But, my plans are for good and not disaster too.... I mean, it doesn't make sense if I plan something for a deliberate failure. At least it's good to know that there's a Plan B out there....

Foolishness! "Do not be impressed with your own wisdom" (Proverbs 3:7). God has had a plan for me for thousands of years, and has been the "Master Planner" for waayyy longer than that! I think I could stand to learn a thing or two about God's plans, especially the ones pertaining to me.

But if I decide to scrap my plan and follow God's plan for me, leaving me with no Plan B - no safety net - isn't that risky? If I can't be in control, then what?


Really. Look at what you have. It's nothing more than "temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand." It can all be lost in an instant. Now, look at what God is offering by following His plan. "Plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." God is faithful in keeping His promises. In comparing the two offers, I want what God's offering. And it only comes from following His plan.

I want to take the risk. I don't need a "Plan B."

Relax. God is in control.

Do not be afraid.

Trust. Obey.