Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth ~ Part 2

With the rains behind us and the sun shining brightly, even if not yet warmly, the sanctuary was vibrant with chatter before the service. Pastor Brad, in summer plaid, came to the front to greet us. “I’m grateful you’re hear to worship with us this morning.” He noted that since it is Fourth of July weekend some of the singing we do will be about Independence Day.

1. Meeting after the service for a special congregational meeting to take a vote as a church, to build or not to build.
2. Brad read a letter/card from Paula Saxin thanking the congregation for its love and support “that kept our boat afloat” during “one of the darkest moments of our lives. “It’s amazing how much love and kindness this little church holds…. Your generosity enveloped us in so many ways… God blessed us with love when we needed it most.”

After a moving introit by Darlene, Drake led us in worship beginning with “Bless the Lord, My Soul.”

As we prepared to collect the tithes and offerings Brad noted that the church was God purposed means for redeeming the world. “There was no Plan B. Jesus said, ‘I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Our tithes enable the church to do its work.”

Many prayer needs and requests were lifted up before the sermon was delivered.

An Inconvenient Truth ~ Part 2

Pastor Brad began by reading Matthew 13:24-30, the Parable of the Weeds

My wife asked me, “Why are you preaching about hell?” Perhaps it's because there are books that say there is no hell. Perhaps, too, because it has been preached and written about in so many distorted ways.

The core truth is that our human souls will experience an eternal destiny, either with God or apart from God. The latter is a tragedy.

“What about my grandmother? She’s a kind person who bakes cookies, helps others. Just because she’s just not into the God thing or the church thing, you can’t tell me she’s going to hell, really?”

Brad told a story about the life she lived that isn't told, from a different angle, the many decisions she made to push God away in the various ways God came near. In the course of a lifetime she has said no to God and locked him out a thousand times in a thousand ways.

When people say, “I can’t believe a good God would send people to hell.” But Brad said he does not believe God sends people to hell, they choose to place a wall between themselves and God so that in the end God lets them have what they want, an existence apart from Him.

Hell is the inevitable result of the subtle and persistent rejection of God.

Hell is not a vindictive torture chamber that God invented. The reason images like outer darkness and fire are in Scripture is because the writers are trying to convey the seriousness of rejecting God.

No one likes to think about hell. The prophet Micah pointed out that we would rather feel comfortable than face realities like this.

It is noteworthy that Jesus talked more about hell than anyone in the Bible. Jesus loved being in the Father’s presence. He knew how great God was. This is why He warned people as much as He did because He did not want to see people miss out on that which we were created for, to be with God and enjoy Him forever.

So we find Jesus telling parables of weeping and gnashing of teeth… indicative of a longing so deep that there are not words to express it. Jesus took this image from the Old Testament.

The wicked will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing. ~ Ps 112:10

There is nothing apart from God that can truly satisfy your soul. The essence of hell is separation from God. You are the one who decides.

Do you realize what price God was willing to pay to keep us from this eternal separation. “My Father is like a shepherd with 99 sheep in the fold and but he can’t sleep because there is one missing.”

This is why Jesus went to the cross. There He took our pain and separation into Himself…. for us. This is why He cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken Me?”

Brad closed with a story about going the wrong way on a road that resulted in his missing a meeting. No matter how much he gnashed his teeth that afternoon he was unable to make that meeting happen again. All the while he was going the wrong way there was a voice saying “you need to turn around.” He didn’t listen.

To repent means to turn around. It can happen at any point in your life.

God will forgive. “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment a pardon from Jesus receives.”

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." ~ Isaiah 53:6

* * * * * * * * * * * *

After the service there was a congregational meeting to vote on whether to proceed with the new building project. It was a meeting with more than the usual numbers of members present. After presentations about the amount that has been raised and pledged, as well as the sequence of events that we are setting in motion, a vote was taken. The vote was unanimous with two abstains. The land will be cleared and a well dug this year now. A foundation will be laid in the spring... and the work will proceed. 

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