Why Would You Want to Be in Heaven?

20140623-072211-26531420.jpgIntriguing thought from Collin Smith on why do we want to go to heaven!

Whom have I in heaven but you? Psalm 73:25

Imagine Joe and Mary, a young couple engaged and about to be married. The wedding is just five days away, and Joe takes Mary out for a candlelit dinner.

“Five days to go,” Joe says, “I can hardly wait for Saturday to come.” Mary smiles as she looks into his eyes across the candles. “Tell me why you’re so excited about Saturday.” Now, all Joe has to say is, “Because on Saturday I get to marry you!”

But instead, Joe says, “I can’t wait for Saturday, because my great uncle Jack is coming in from Boston, and I haven’t seen him for years!” Or, “My college friends from the football team are all coming into town, and we’re going out Friday night!” Or, “The reception is at the Grand Hotel, and the food there is awesome!” These things may be wonderfully true. The problem is that by making them his focus, Joe has completely missed the point!

Surveys show that something like 90% of all Americans think that they’ll be in heaven. A good question to ask is “Why would you want to be in heaven?” Your answer to this question will be one of the most revealing things about you.

If your life on earth is about people, pleasures and possessions, that will probably be your idea of heaven as well. There is no more room for Christ in some people’s view of heaven than there is in their life on earth.

Why would you want to be in heaven?

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By lakeviewbc Posted in Heaven

Fire Hydrants!

Fire_Hydrant_3.jpg078d278e-d856-49ba-b5df-04da52d07f9eLargerMy friend recently moved into a private and expensive neighborhood. The homeowners pressured the town and successfully had a fire hydrant installed in the midst of their community. This new hydrant will have the ability to provide an unending stream of pressured water in the event of a fire. The hydrant greatly reduces the chances that homeowners there will suffer complete and catastrophe loss. In fact, insurance premiums for the homes have been lowered because of the hydrant.

If you were not looking for it, you would likely miss it. However, to the keen observer, there it is. A one-and- half foot high and freshly painted red fire hydrant sitting in the middle of a perfectly groomed area. It is true that it looks like every other fire hydrant but to these homeowners, it is special. The local fire department has a map of the location of every hydrant in town and sure enough, this new hydrant has a prominent place on the map.

Last night, faulty wiring in the garage of a newly constructed home was responsible for the start of a fire. The smoke alarms, installed and tied to the fire department, did their jobs in alerting the authorities of the problem. The fire trucks arrived quickly and hooked their hoses to the new hydrant. As a firefighter began to unloose the valve that would deliver thousands of gallons of water, the unthinkable became apparent. In their haste to get the fire hydrant in the neighborhood, the town had failed to hook it up to the water supply. Not one drop of water came out of the hydrant and in a matter of minutes the house was totally lost.

Above ground, the hydrant looked functional and provided security and a sense of safety but there was no connection that would make the hydrant functional. Everyone took for granted that the outward appearance indicated an underground connection.

I am afraid that many people are just like the fire hydrant in this hypothetical story. They look the part and on the at times they appear to be what they say they are. When the salvation question arises, they quickly say, “I am saved.” There is assurance in their statement and some security for the family in their assertion. However, I fear that when the fire of God’s judgment comes they will discover there was a fatal neglect in connecting themselves to Jesus Christ. They installed themselves in the community of God’s people but they never truly connected themselves by faith to the finished work of Christ on the cross.

The Bible tells us that many on that day will face Jesus and will claim that they have done many things in His name only to hear Jesus respond that He never knew them. When the fire of eternal punishment is blazing, they will turn the valve only to find that there is no water—no connection to the only remedy for the flames of judgment—Jesus Christ.

Please make your calling and election sure. Examine yourself to see if your clearly see the fruits of the Holy Spirit evident in your heart. Make sure of your connection to Christ by faith. He is the only hope.

How the Pew Can Help The Pulpit!

Pew and PulpitI ran across this article today by H.B. Charles, Jr. that I thought might be thought provoking.

Sometimes pastors struggle in preaching because they don’t take their pulpit work seriously. Others struggle in preaching because they struggle alone. But good preaching is a partnership between pastor and congregation, pulpit and pew, the one who preaches and the one who listens. The pastor preaches to help those in the pew. But the congregation can and should help the one in the pulpit, as well.

Pray for your pastor.

I mean, pray specifically for his preaching. Pray that he will have the time to study and will use it well. Pray the Lord will open his eyes and give him understanding (Ps. 119:18, 24). Pray that he will guard his life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16) Pray that he will rightly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Pray that the Lord will keep his heart and mind free from sinful distractions. Pray that God will give his power in the pulpit.

I highly recommend you read the booklet by Mike Faberez, entitled, Praying for Sunday.

Give him time to study.

Members love pastors who are always available. But it is not good if he is always available. He will be more help to you if he shuts himself up to pray and study. You want a pastor who has something to say, rather than someone who has to say something. This requires times to prepare. Give it to him.

Provide for him.

Bi-vocational pastors are the unsung heroes of the church, who work a job to care for their families as they do the work of ministry for little or no pay. Many churches are not able to adequately compensate their pastors. But others are just stingy. Being determined to deprive the preacher, they rob themselves. Do you best to care for the needs of your pastor and his family.

Be marked present.

A blind and deaf Christian was asked why he attended church, since he could not see or hear the service. He answered, “I just want people to know which side I’m on. Your regular church attendance is a statement to the world. It is an act of obedience that builds up other believers (Heb. 10:24-25). And it is a great encouragement to your pastor. You challenge him to prepare a better meal if you consistently show up with a good attitude and a big appetite.

Listen to the sermon.

Just because you are in the service does not mean you hear the sermon. And the pastor knows it. He stands on a raised platform in a room with people sitting in front of him. And he sees what’s happening in front of him. When you spend the sermon talking, walking, texting, or sleeping, it’s distracting and discouraging. But nothing makes a man want to preach harder than to have people actually listening, sitting up, following along, and taking notes. An occasional “Amen” doesn’t hurt either.

Encourage him.

Preaching can be discouraging work. If I stopped writing this article and didn’t get back to it for a week, I could pick up right where I left off. Preaching doesn’t work that way. We try to reach out people on Sunday mornings. The world tries to reach them all the rest of the week. The gravitational pull is against the things of God. And the pastor often feels he is not making a difference. Encourage him. Don’t stroke his ego. But give him specific ways you are learning and growing.

Be a doer of the word.

A church is not committed to the word, just because the pulpit preaches the truth. A church is committed to the word when biblical preaching together shapes its life. To hear the word without doing what it says is self-deception (James 1:22-25). Members often leave the service and rate the pastor’s sermon. But the real issue is what you do with what you hear. Be eager hear the word. But don’t stop there. Live it out by Christ’s power and for God’s glory!

 

Lord. We Confess Our Numerous Faults!

watts_i_3I ran across the lyrics to this wonderful hymn written by Isaac Watts that I wanted to share with you.

Lord, we confess our numerous faults;
How great our guilt has been,
How vain and foolish all our thoughts,
And all our lives were sin.

But, O my soul, forever praise,
Forever love, His name
Who turns thy feet from dangerous ways
Of folly, sin, and shame.

Tis not by works of righteousness
Which our own hands have done,
But we are saved by God’s free grace
Abounding through His Son.

Tis from the mercy of our God
That all our hopes begin;
‘Tis by the Water and the Blood
Our souls are washed from sin.

Tis through the purchase of His death
Who hung upon the tree
The Spirit is sent down to breathe
On such dry bones as we.

Raised from the dead, we live anew;
And justified by grace.
We shall appear in glory, too,
And see our Father’s face.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Music

Grace Flows Downhill!

graceGrace flows downhill, that is the thought I want to consume you today and everyday. The Grace of God is the motivation of God in salvation. Salvation is given by grace to those who have done absolutely nothing to deserve it or earn it. Grace flows down hill and then puddles in great depth at the bottom. Please get that truth clear in your mind and heart. Grace is at the bottom and not the top.

Grace flows downhill to reach those who are spiritually dead, those who are confessionally weak, those who are fully aware of their failings and faults. Grace runs counter to our self-esteem massaging American culture that tries to see and magnify good and specialness in every person. Self-esteem would be great if grace was at the top but it’s not.

The further you climb religiously, the less you experience grace. The higher you go the less grace is a reality. The greater the altitude the less grace you have. The Pharisees climbed to the very summit of religion and found at the top that there was no grace. At the top, there is only performances that will gain you nothing with God because we are not saved by performance, we are saved by grace. It is very lonely at the top because at the top, there is only you.

The more you feel your deadness, the more you face your weakness, the more you acknowledge your inability, the more you own your nothingness, the more you admit your sinfulness, the more you confess your failings the more you will see grace and the the greater you will see the God of all grace.

Always remember that Grace flows downhill.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Grace