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Archive for the ‘hell’ Category

Sinking In Debt

So I’m doing a little reading on the stock market and came across this quote.

“Financial contracts tied to Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) amount to more than $300 trillion — or $45,000 for every person in the world.”

If I’m getting this right, that means that the world is at least 3,000,000,000,000 in debt. That’s a lot of zeros.  Tell me that doesn’t sound like hell on earth.  And there is no way that can feel good.

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What if God is not who we think He is?

Recently Scot McKnight, a noted theologian, has been going through wrath in the Bible. And for the most part it has been uneventful. Kind of like waiting for the big explosion at the end of a movie and it never comes. In one of his posts he highlights Romans 12:14-21

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

What if the wrath of God is love?

Think about what Jesus is saying here. Instead of simply ignoring an enemies response, he’s inviting them to participate in their redemption. And in doing so, is he revealing something deeper? He says, “Overcome evil with good.” What if Jesus is saying that God’s wrath is to overwhelm people with His love. What if Jesus is saying that love will feel like burning coals on their heads.

Anyone who has every participated in some kind of non-violent resistance will understand what Jesus is saying here. When we return love in response to evil, it infuriates people. It reveals brokenness in ways that only love can. It makes them look silly because it reveals how stupid violence is. Love becomes the counterpoint, the mirror that reveals an absurd contrast. But it also invites the person into restoration, to participate in another way. Love reveals something worth fighting for, something restorative.

What I love about this passage is how close a description of hell Jesus makes. What if hell is really people enraged with the question, “How can you still love me?”

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This post, at dear-god.net really hit me. I was that kid. I remember feeling that way and wondering how God could possibly love me. Forgiveness was not a likely scenario.

I now realize that I was deeply broken and searching for love in so many destructive ways. I was looking for something to heal my heart and found it in the intense sexual pleasure that is porn that was always followed by intense shame. To a great extent, that moment, the one deeply embedded in shame right after pleasure, was one of the closest things to hell on earth that I have experienced.

But what hit me about this post was not about porn, but about being on the outside and seeing that kid and knowing that God loves him no matter what he has done. I wish someone had told me that twenty years ago.

May we be love to those who live in this world and lift them out of shame.

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There are some things about being a follower of Jesus that are really hard to deal with. They don’t provide easy answers, even when we want them to be easy. The following passage below of “The Sheep and The Goats” is one of those. This is the one people typically point to in regards to hell.

Honestly I’ve avoided this post for a long time. Why I’m writing it today is a mystery to me. Maybe it’s the hard week I’ve had. Maybe its the reflective music I’m listening to. Maybe its the quiet corner in Starbucks on my personal day.

It’s obvious which side we want to be on. We want to be the sheep. We want to be ushered in wondering what we possibly did that God would accept us.

One of the things that strikes me about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t use typical terms. He uses the metaphor of the sheep and the goats. In some respects this seems like an invitation to try and figure it out, only to find out this is the trick. Those who keep trying are the ones tricked. We like to control don’t we?

The second thing that strikes me about this passage is that it says NOTHING about belief. It’s not wrapped in a pretty little disposable package that we can endlessly design, manufacture and sell. The goats haven’t said the wrong thing in their sinner’s prayer, or even avoided it all together. There’s no long diatribe of incorrect theology or even heresy. There’s no Buddhist, or Universalist, or even a token homosexual for good measure. Jesus refuses to make it easy for us.

Their sin? They forgot to engage love.

It’s likely that we all get this passage wrong. And we don’t like that do we? We don’t like it when we can’t figure out the complete measure of God, as if we really could. But do we really want the mystery of God to cease? Do we really want him to fit into our box?

All He gives us is Jesus, who says “Come follow me.”

And this is the journey of faith. To let go of the judgment process and to trust that we will be the sheep. It’s hard putting our future into the hands of God, as though it weren’t there in the first place. And the only way he’s given us a clue as to which side we are on is to love.

Listening: The Cure For Pain by Jon Foreman

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The Sheep and the Goats

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“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. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.’

44“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?’

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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I’ve always loved Lenny, from the early days of Let Love Rule.  His new album, Love Revolution is definitely worth buying.

If You Want It by Lenny Kravitz

Don’t you let it all pass you by
Looking through life’s window pane
Don’t you sit around wasting time
That would be a crying shame

There’s a power that’s deep inside
And it burns just like a flame
Just believe and you’ll see that God
Will shower you like pouring rain

If you want it
You can change your world today
If you want it
Just break free and walk away

There’s a reason for you to explore
Why you’re here, what do you say
And the beauty is that you’re the one
Who controls just how you play

There’s a choice that you need to make
One is ore and one is clay
So drop your chains and take up your cross
And let Jesus make your way
Oh, oh, oh

If you want it
You can change your world today
If you want it
Just break free and walk away

If you want it, want it
You can change your evil ways
If you want it, want it
Just break free and walk away

If you want it, want it
You can change your world today
If you want it, want it
Just break free and walk away

If you want it, want it
You can change your evil ways
If you want it, want it
Just break free and walk away

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This is one of my all time favorite songs and a glorious reminder of the love that transforms a life.  I love the subtle change from black and white to color.

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Tonight was a hard night. I am part of a group of men that are engaged in a missional discipleship program. And tonight we faced some serious issues that are part of all of our past. It centered around our question of worth. Are we worth it in God’s eyes. Is what Jesus called us into really real, or is it just all a bunch of B.S.? Because for my friend it was not real. It was virtually impossible for him to step out of his own oppression and engage restoration. Nothing in his being told him that there was peace, or hope, or even joy.

Because he thought he wasn’t worth it.

It was honestly one of those night that allowed me to see how deep the conflict is in the spiritual world. The enemy was doing his very best to keep him locked in his own prison and he just wouldn’t fight for himself, nor would he surrender. His own little prison was simply acceptable, no matter how bad the pain he had learned to ignore. It was painful seeing my good friend get really honest and say that his faith was dead. At least this was his experience so far. The night ended with very little changed. My friend took little tiny steps towards his own restoration. He began the process of restoring his own heart.

But driving home I kept seeing it in my head. “You are worth it.” Tell them that. And for some reason you chose to read my blog today. I don’t want you to leave without me saying it. You are worth it. Know that you are worth every painful moment on the cross, the beatings, the ridicule. You are worth it. Know that every step along the way is for your good, because you are worth it. Know that He would do it all again, and again and again, because you are worth it. He loves you because you are worth it.

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