Month: September 2018

No, Your Loved One Did Not Become an Angel.

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(Warning: Rant incoming)

The vast majority of Christians – especially in the Western world – have a very flawed and unbiblical understanding of heaven. This is especially prevalent when a loved one dies and we try to comfort them by saying, “Well, I guess God needed another angel.”

Let’s consider the implications of this statement if it were true.

This would mean that God enjoys killing human beings – our loved ones – so that he can generate more angels to serve him. The same God who created everything that we see by the power of His Word needs to kill us to transform us into some spiritual being with wings who plays a harp for all eternity.

Okay, maybe your view of heaven isn’t that extreme. Instead, you have a false understanding of the physical world that concludes the physical is bad and the spiritual realm is good (p.s. that’s an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism that was rejected by the church as being anti-gospel). Due to this false belief we believe that when we die we become disembodied “spirit beings” who float around somewhere in space while babies in diapers and wings (i.e. how Americans view angels) also float around in some “light” that we think is God.

Why am I going on this rant? Well, this Sunday at Renovation Church we are going to be studying John 14:1-11. In this passage, Jesus speaks about how he is going to the Father to prepare a “place” for us. Nevertheless, this place is defined less by where it is and more by who it is.

Heaven is not (primarily) a place. Heaven is a person and His name is Jesus.

A blog post does not leave me enough room to unpack this truth. I encourage you to join me at Renovation Church this Sunday at 10am at the Garretson School. If you do not live in the area, we will be streaming the message live from our Facebook Page. See you then!

Unmet Expectations = Frustration

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Frustration is what happens when reality does not meet our expectations. All of us relate to this experience.

For some people it is the search for a job. You remember complaining about your old job but any job is better than no job. You have filled out countless applications, wrote cover letters, and even followed up with the hiring manager. Yet it seems as if your search is hopeless… you still have not found employment and are deeply anxious about the bills that continue to pile up.

For many it is the search for a spouse. Singleness is (wrongly) viewed by many people – especially Christians – as a second-class life. You understand what it’s like to go home each day and not have another person to talk through the events of the day with. At times you are overwhelmed with loneliness… at other times you are filled with anger – towards God, life, and circumstances.

For some couples, it is the expectation of having a baby. You got married and began dreaming about your first child – even picking out a room in the home for the nursery. Yet, after years of trying to have children, you are unable to conceive. Frustration is an understatement.

Still for others it’s a marriage that is falling apart… a child that has strayed from the faith… or dreams/career plans that failed to pan out.

This is an emotion and reality I have been wrestling with lately. It’s almost been a year since we launched Renovation Church. My honest expectation is that after a year we would have 80 – 100 people in attendance and the financial means to hire full-time staff.

It seems like the opposite happened. I do not know all the reasons but many people have left our church in the past year – some for good reasons… some for reasons I do not even know. It seems that the momentum and excitement that was with us in the beginning has stalled.

Here is a thought that has continually resurfaced as I have preached through the Gospel of John for the past year:

Jesus was crucified for not meeting expectations.

When Jesus arrived on the scene and many people concluded he was the long-awaited Messiah, they expected Jesus to be a military hero. They believed the Messiah would come, overthrow the Roman Empire, and set up an earthly kingdom that would bring about unparalleled prosperity.

Instead, they got a leader who had no interest in an earthly kingdom. They got a leader who constantly talked about dying and ended up being crucified at the age of 33. The religious leaders shouted, “Crucify him” because He did not meet their expectations.

We still crucify Jesus for not meeting our expectations. When a church doesn’t grow, we blame Jesus. When our marriage suffers, we blame Jesus. When we can’t find a spouse, we blame Jesus.

What if the greatest gift Jesus could give us is more of Himself? What if the Giver is far more desirable than the gifts and one of the ways he shows this to us is by stripping away the very things we thought would bring us happiness?

So what am I doing to drum up momentum in my church? Am I starting a brand new sermon series? Am I going to begin a building campaign? Am I going to try to hire more staff?

No.

I am going to faithfully follow Jesus in the way of the cross. Success in the Kingdom of God is defined by faithfulness, not Sunday morning attendance.

So what about you? Are you feeling frustrated today? How might God be using your frustrations to bring about greater holiness in your life and draw you closer to Him?

Friends, I do not know the answer to your frustration. What I do know is that God is good, God is present, and God loves you. Draw near to him today and He will draw near to you. 

The Root of Unbelief (Sunday Message!)

If there was a guy named Jesus who really lived on this earth and really did all the miracles that people claim… how come he was abandoned by his disciples and died with almost no followers?

This is the question I wrestled with this morning as we continued our Gospel of John series from John 12:37-50. I pray this message encourages you in your faith and challenges you to make the Scriptures a priority in your life.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail you will have to go to the actual page to watch the video.)