Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Few Questions about Heaven - Part I

Our Eternity Series this past few weeks has been thrilling for me.  I have loved digging into scripture concerning Heaven and Hell.
As I finish my series, there are a few questions that came up, that we were not able to answer during the Sunday Messages.  Thus I have given some brief answers here.  Hope they are helpful.
Will We Be Capable of Sinning in Heaven?
Some people in the past have said “Heaven will be perfect, but a sinless environment doesn’t mean we can’t sin; Adam and Eve proved that. They lived in a sinless place, yet they sinned.”  Along with that, some also argue that being human demands free choice, and thus we must have the capacity to choose evil in Heaven. And if that is true, then we could experience another Fall.  But Christ promises that on the New Earth, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), the promise of no more death is also a promise that there will be no more sin for eternity.  Christ died once to pay for sin and will never again need to die (Hebrews 9:26-28).  In Heaven we will have the very righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  In other words, our characters change.  As God, being righteous, cannot go against his character and sin, we, having a righteous character, also can't sin.
Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?
On a card in our offering cup, I got the question "Will mankind retain free will in heaven? If yes, then mankind can potentially say “no” to God.  Not to say that they would, but they wouldn’t retain that.  If no, then the worship from mankind is not one of genuine love.  Mankind is but robots…”
Some people believe that if we have free will in Heaven, we’ll have to be free to sin, as were the first humans. But Adam and Eve’s situation was different. They were innocent but had not been made righteous by Christ.  Just as Christ could not sin, neither will we be able to, having His righteous character. The inability to sin does not change the reality of our free will.  Our very natures have changed, and we no longer will be prone to sin.  Theologian Paul Helm states, “The freedom of heaven, then, is the freedom from sin; not that the believer just happens to be free from sin, but that he is so constituted or reconstituted that he cannot sin. He doesn’t want to sin, and he does not want to want to sin.”
Will We Ever Be Tempted in Heaven?   
Will we ever be tempted to turn our backs on Christ? No.  Adam and Eve were innocent, but they were not righteous.  Mankind will not just be “Innocent” once again in Heaven, we will be “Righteousness.  We have God’s holiness, and thus we cannot sin.  The illusions of sin will no longer fool us, and will be completely unappealing to us. We can’t remember a time when we weren't sinners.  What true freedom it will be to not have to defend against our sin natures ever again!  Will We Know Everything?·    God alone is omniscient (all knowing).  When we die, we will see all things more clearly, and we’ll know much more than we do now, but we’ll never know everything.  Rather, God intended learning to be a part of our existence in Heaven.  Adam and Eve discovered and learned about the earth God created, I think we will continue to do that for all eternity!  We might even learn new skills in heaven that we never thought we could today!

In my next blog, I will answer "Is there Marriage in Heaven?"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"A Family-Friendly Ministry"

As The Source Church gets ready for our move to Rockin' R Ranch (find out more in the blog below), I have been charged with the task to draw up the ideas for "improvements" that we need to make in order to make it "family friendly."  And of course as I consider it, I ask myself, "Self, what does a family friendly ministry look like?”

SAFE for the Entire Family:
If you are like many moms, the first thing you think of is physical saftey.  Is this location safe for kids?  Our leadership team has discussed at great length what this means.  
- Do Exits keep wandering kids from wandering out?
- Are there any places a toddler can easily hurt themselves?
-Does the classroom set-up provide security and accountability?
- Are children encouraged to stay in the main area when with their parents?

ENGAGING for the Entire family:
A white-walled room is "safe" for the family, but we also want a place that is engaging!  We desiring to build a new playground that is fun for the kids, and make them want to be there.  We are building children's classrooms that are attractive and can help in focusing children's hearts and minds on the truth of the gospel.  
We believe the Western theme location can instantly be engaging for the rest of the family as well.  We want to update the lighting and A/V of the main room to create a truly worshipful atmosphere for all ages.  

WORSHIPFUL for the Entire family:
Many ministries separate families to worship.  This is understandable when it comes to aspects of teaching, but do we go as far as we can to help the family worship and fellowship together?  Our church has made the decision very consciously to keep the whole family together for most of our worship morning.  The children then head to classrooms during the message to have the little hearts focused on big (but wonderfully simple) ideas about God.  

Our fundraising will hopefully give us what we need to provide classrooms at the back of the main room, where the kids will not be far from the rest of the family, but get focused teaching.  One of those rooms will also be a nursery room, where parents can sit with their babies or little ones, but still hear and be involved in the worship and message time.

This topic is not done.  I have purposefully ended there to get your thoughts.  What other things are necessary for a Family Friendly Ministry?  Please let us know in the "Comments" field below!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A BIG Story Told in a BIG Way!

Each Christmas Eve has been a bit different for our family.  Our relatives are scattered, so often we're traveling.  Away from home, we're often at the mercy of others' traditions, schedules, and preferences.  When we're not traveling, we spend the day in different ways each year, with a few standing traditions.  THIS year, however, was a year that we will never forget, and hopefully a tradition that we can hold for a long time to come.  Our church family, The Source, hosted a live interactive manger scene!

We spent the evening singing christmas carols and keeping our thoughts on the TRUE significance of Christmas - the incarnation of God himself, come to earth as the baby Jesus. 

We sipped hot chocolate, roasted marshmallows for s'mores, and enjoyed fellowship in an environment that felt nearly like we were in Bethlehem, at the stable where Mary and Joseph found shelter and Christ was born. (okay, minus the concrete and the school chairs)
We even had live animals!
The favorite was this two week-old donkey and his mother!

There were roughly 100 people in attendance.  100 people who worshiped under the stars as the shepherds did.  100 people who could TOUCH and SEE (and smell!)"Away in a Manger".  100 people who chose JESUS over Santa.

Without a doubt, this is exactly how I would choose to spend my Christmas Eves to come!  As a church family, we are praying that next year we will have a more prominent location that is visible to passers-by so that even more people can join us!