Church is…… Whoa!

I’m not sure how I’m going to write this post.     But I know I have to try.

Church yesterday morning was, well, for lack of a better term, “Whoa!”   

Not “Whoa” as in, slow down there, you’re getting ahead of yourself.    Or “whoa, cut that out!”

“Whoa” as in,  “I  had never thought of it that way.”

“Whoa” as in, “that makes so much sense and that really impacts my life”

“Whoa” as in, “my older 13 year old was still thinking and talking about what Pastor Dave said later that night.”

So, what was this amazing sermon and service about? 

Luke 16:19-26 – The story of Lazarus and the rich man.   You know the story?   The poor beggar outside of the rich man’s house – but yet the rich man does nothing to help?

Then the tables turn – Lazarus dies and goes to heaven.   The rich man dies and goes to hell.   From hell, he begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers to repent.    Abraham said, “they have the prophets, they’ll be fine.   If they don’t believe because of them, they won’t believe.”   (Obviously paraphrased and shortened)

So what’s so “Whoa!” about that?    A couple of things:

  • The teaching of Hell makes you more peace filled.   Why?  Because you know that God settles scores.   Justice prevails.   It always has and it always will.   It won’t always prevail here on this earth, but it will prevail.   Justice prevailed for Lazarus once he got to heaven.   Justice prevailed against the rich man when he got to hell.
  • John  Lennon had it wrong.   He sang, “Imagine there’s no heaven.”   If there was no heaven and no hell, there would be no justice in this world.   If there was no justice, there would be no peace.
  • Don’t let bitterness corrupt your soul if justice is not granted in this world.   Hell is real and God will make it right – in His time, not our time.

God will make it right because He sent His Son to hell to make sure that justice will prevail.    He sent His Son to suffer because He loves us.   He loves us with a very costly and overwhelming love.

A love that changes us.   He did that for me?

Yes, He did THAT for you.   And for me.    And for your neighbor and the couple down the street and the orphans in Uganda and………

Because of that costly love, we do a couple of things differently:

  • We fight injustice with an eternal outlook.   Yes, we want to bring justice here and now but we know that God settles scores and He will bring justice.   In His time.
  • We look at the struggles of our daily lives differently.   We know that God’s got this.
  • We don’t let bitterness corrupt our souls.   There are so many evil and corrupt things in this world that could turn us into bitter people if justice isn’t “done” here and now.   God’s love overwhelms that desire.

So, “Whoa!”   Because God sent Jesus to Hell, because of that crazy love that He has for us, we can live with an eternal peace that comes from knowing that God’s justice will prevail.

“Whoa!”

Tom

P.S. If you want to listen to the entire sermon, go to: http://www.madisonsquarechurch.org/sermondownloads/2014-10-26-AM_Square-Campus_Foundation-Matters-Jesus-and-Hell.mp3

Expect the Unexpected…….

As part of the process of putting together a dossier, at least for Haiti 10 years ago, you had to have a lot of documents notarized and then “legitimized” by the state government (in other words, verify that the Notary who notarized the papers was indeed a notary. Then they had to be “accepted” by the Haitian embassy before they could be sent to Haiti.

We didn’t like the idea of sending the documents to the Haitian embassy and waiting for them, so decided that we’d take a day off and drive them down there. We set up an appointment for 11:30 at the Haitian Embassy in Chicago (about a 3 hour drive for us).

At about 8:00 PM the night before, I was reviewing the paperwork one more time to make sure we had everything and realized, to my dismay, that we missed getting one of the documents stamped by the State of Michigan (about an hour away from us in the opposite direction).

Uh oh.

We found out that the State of Michigan office opened at 8:00. So we got the grandparents over, left at 6:30 in the morning and were waiting outside the office when they opened at 8:00. In and out in 15 minutes.

And then the mad dash from Lansing Michigan to Chicago. We were careful to not violate speed limits too much (a traffic stop would definitely make us late) and let’s say there was no time for “pit stops” for food or anything like that.

It looked like we were going to make it. And suddenly the red lights started coming on. Brake lights and more brake lights……

The traffic came to a screeching halt. But it’s right over there! We were on the expressway and could literally see the building that the Haitian embassy was in. But we couldn’t get to it.

At 11:25, we called the Embassy and told them what was happening and that we could see the Embassy but were stuck in traffic due to an accident. They assured us that it was “no problem.”

At 11:45, we got to the Embassy, walked in the door, only to be told that the person we needed had “just left for lunch.” We said, “No problem, we’ll get some lunch and be back around 1?” We were told to give it until 1:30.

So, we got some lunch and then came back at 1:30. And we waited and we waited.

And we waited some more.

Finally, the lunch meeting was over – at 4:00! Apparently this was our first introduction to what is know as “Haitian time.”

In 15 minutes we were done and on our way out of town on the way home.

We learned a valuable lesson that day. Actually two of them.

We are not in control, God is.

Expect the Unexpected.