Is Hell Real?

So what if you’re wrong?

I recall a conversation I had several years ago with my cousin.  She was very passionate about life, everything she did was all out.  When she set her mind on something it was very difficult to convince her otherwise.  So one day she called me up and we began to talk…you see my cousin had her  own beliefs about heaven and hell.  She believed in heaven but she believed that hell was a metaphor.  She didn’t think that hell was a real place, therefore she believed that when she died the worse thing that could happen to her is that she would return to the ground…and the best thing that could happen is that she would live forever on the new earth.

Hmm…

Actually that’s not so bad.  I mean if the worst thing that can happen to us after we die is either nothing, or eternal life on the new earth.  That sounds like a pretty good deal.  Live life how-ever you choose and end up either dead without life or knowledge of anything, or live forever on a perfect earth.

You see, she and I would go round and round with this discussion.

Here’s the problem with her belief system–it has no foundation. She claimed to believe the bible but she didn’t want to accept hell. Jesus Christ said;

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.                                                                                               Luke 12:4-5

Jesus describes hell as the place “where the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:43) and hell is also described this way;

“In hell, where he was in torment” (Luke 16:23).

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”                                                                   Matthew 25:46

Okay…I believe that hell is a real place that people who don’t accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior are sent to for eternal punishment. I believe that scripture is clear regarding hell and we have all been made aware of it.

So…what if I’m wrong and my cousin was right?  Well the worst thing that can happen to me after I die if I don’t accept Jesus is, I go back to nothing, no feeling, no knowledge, no nothing.

But what if I’m right and she was wrong?  Then the worst thing that can happen to me after I die if I don’t accept Jesus is,  I live forever in eternal punishment, separated from God forever.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to take that chance.  I would rather live believing that when I die there’s a hope of a better life after this life.

Sometimes this earth feels like hell, but the cool thing is, it’s the only hell that I will ever know.

You see… my cousin has found out the truth already, she was murdered at the age of 31.  I often wonder where she is today and my hope is that while she was still alive she found the truth.

We are all created in the image of God, and God is eternal.

We will live forever… somewhere.

Where will you spend eternity?

Think about it…

In memory of Shani Renee Holloway

Vision…

I was having dinner the other night with some friends and the subject of helping the needy came up.  My friend got real excited as he began to layout this plan to feed the nation.  He started breaking down how our government subsidizes the farmers and how we have silos of grain rotting and going to waste.

I mean he was really into it.  He had carefully thought through everything he needed to do to accomplish his task.  It was pretty intense.  This guy had a plan and a vision.

That reminds me of a scripture;

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

Let’s talk about that.  You see if you don’t have vision, or revelation from God then your life will be out of control. If you aren’t in tune with God’s purpose, or his laws then you will spiritually die.  But if you are in tune with God’s vision for your life and with his purpose and you let them guide you, then you will thrive.

You see God has created us to have a vision in life, to have a purpose for life. But it’s his vision for us, not our own.  Do you feel like life is going no-where? Do you feel like your constantly spinning but getting absolutely no-where?

If so, you may want to have your vision checked.  Are you in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are you listening to the guidance of God?

You see God created us to thrive, to overcome, to be more than conquers.  If those things aren’t happening in your life, then maybe you’re going blind.

How’s your vision?

The Impossible

It was early in the year 2003 and I remember this overwhelming desire to pray for my city.  You need to understand something, I’m not just talking about… Oh Lord bless my city kind of prayer.  I’m talking about something that I could never imagine doing.  Have you ever been asked to do something that you knew was impossible?  Something that you knew was just too big to tackle.

You see when I accepted Jesus as my savior, I told him that I would do anything he asked me to do.  I told him to send me to do the work that the others refused to do.  I told him that I was one of “the few” that he had referred to in the book of Luke .

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.                                       Luke 10:2-3

You see, “like lambs among wolves”, this was serious stuff. Let me give you a little history about me and my wife. In 2001 we founded a ministry and we felt that God wanted us to trust in him for everything. Now I know that sounds simple, but it was harder than we thought. In September of 2001 I lost my job and we felt that I was supposed to work the ministry full-time without pay and just watch God provide. That’s another blog in its self.

So here we are feeling like God wanted us to pray for our city, but what we heard was pray through the entire city, down every street.  What!!  Every street?  That could take days , even weeks! How could we do that?  The answer is, we can’t, but…”Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

You see sometimes God asks us to do the impossible so he can show himself to us.  My wife and I prayed and prayed and God was faithful to give us the plan.  We assembled a team and we fasted and prayed together.  We chopped up the city into sections and on a Saturday morning we met at the park and all 14 of us took our section and off we went.

I remember my wife and I and 3 of our sons driving down each street praying.  It brings a smile to my face as I write this because it took us 10 hours to complete all the sections that we had, but God’s grace was so good, our boys never cried or complained.  That in it self was a miracle!

Next time you feel a passion or a stirring for something to big to be you, or to big to do.  It might just be God calling you to do his work, calling you to do the impossible.  Are you willing to be the answer to prayer?

Think about it.

Is America’s Church Dying?

I mean really, is the Church in America even relative? As a follower of Jesus Christ I find it very disturbing to see some of the things that I see everyday. We are constantly bombarded by T.V. ads with half-dressed people every commercial has a sexual theme to sell its products. The news if filled with stories of selfishness and greed.

Where’s the Church??? I thought this was a country built on the Word of God. I mean, do our churches even go outside of their own building to see what’s happening in the world? Now I know that there are some “Mega Churches” out there with 30,000 & 20,000 members and so on. But don’t you think if even those churches lived what they believed that this nation would be a little different? Hmmm maybe not.

You see I think that the Church in America is stuck in its own way of thinking, but over time the way the church thinks has been distorted. Where in the bible does it say to think highly of yourself, or judge people based on the way they dress or the way they talk? I don’t think that the church consciously does these things, I just think that somewhere down the road it has lost site of its purpose and vision.

” Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment.” The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”

Matthew 22:37-39 (CEV)

Really!!?? We love ourselves, we make sure we eat and have clothes and if we are followers of Jesus Christ we teach our selves about Him by reading the Bible. Do we do these things for others??

Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (CEV)

You see, while Jesus walked on earth he built personal relationships with his disciples and with others. He spent time with them and he got to know them on a personal level. Jesus modeled what the church should look like by the way he lived his life. It’s time for the church to get to know the people in a practical sense, not with big religious words and fancy sounding prayers. Just keep it real and simple, that’s what Jesus did.

It’s really very simple, just try to see people the way that Jesus see’s them. If we can do this we would begin to treat people with love and respect and we would bring life back to the church.

Tell/Show The World

As a youth pastor I am constantly having to communicate with others. When I have a vision or direction for our youth group it is very important for me to be able to explain that vision. My ability to communicate is vital to the spiritual growth of our students. There is no difference between me communicating my faith with a group of young people and you communicating your faith with others. The word communicate, means to impart or to make known…wow, that’s pretty simple. So all we’re doing is making known Jesus Christ to those who don’t know Him. It’s like giving the dead life, John 14;6 says I am the way, the truth and the life. When we share our faith we give dead people an opportunity to live. How wonderful is that. There is nothing greater than sharing the gospel. I get so excited about this subject that I could go on for days, but I think I could help you better understand if I let my students explain it to you.

Colton is an 18-year-old student leader and Lindsay is a 15-year-old student leader, I asked them 4 simple questions and this is what they had to say.

Question: What does it mean to communicate our faith?

Response: It’s all about actions and words, we need to be able to show people our faith through our lives. But living it is not enough, we also need to be able to talk about it and explain exactly what we believe. Going out to others and striking up a conversation. Asking people about their faith is a good way to get people to open up. Then we can tell them what we believe. And if your shy or you’re not a good speaker, just have faith that God will give you the strength to get out of your comfort zone and share your faith.

Question: Why is it important for us as Christians to communicate our faith?

Response: Because if we don’t no one would ever know the Truth. The truth is that everyone is meant to bear the image of God. Sharing our faith may lead them to Christ and then they too will bear His image. We also need to communicate our faith to fulfill our purpose on this earth. We as Christians are called to be the salt and light of the earth. You see, sin leads to spiritual death. So we need to give them the one thing that leads to everlasting life.

Question: Are there any verses that can help us on communicating our faith?

Response:
Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth… “You are the light of the world…

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 5:1-2
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

The 11th chapter of Hebrews.

Question: How can we communicate our faith to people we don’t even know? Should we?

Response: It’s very hard to have the authority to speak into someone’s life that you don’t even know. So it’s best that we show strangers the love of Christ through our lives. Just live it! So the answer is yes, we need to make known our faith to strangers because we never know who really needs a touch from God. God may use us at any time to be His hands and feet to people we don’t even know and we have to be ready to be used.

You see students these responses came from your peers, kids just like you. You get it!
You really do understand! All those nights at youth group are really paying off. And here I was thinking that no one ever listens to our long boring sermons. Lol

But seriously students, you are the generation that will change this world, either you will make it worse or you will make it better, but the bottom line is that you will change it. Your generation is like no other generation before you, you are unique. You have a boldness that has never been seen before. You are passionate about whatever you do. You are created to make an impact, for such a time as this. God has set you apart for these times. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Rise up and answer the call that God has given you, stand for what you believe in. Believe who God says you are not who the world says you are. Buy into the truth, that God has created you for great and mighty things. “Tell/Show The World” the glory of God through your life. Get excited and passionate about Jesus and the harvest field. “The Bible says the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Luke 10:2). Be the generation of “The Few” Go and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. You are created to make a difference, go out and live your faith and change the world.

And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Romans 10:15