Posted by: Ed | March 6, 2009

HELL OF A MESSAGE

Tonight we start a series called DIALOGUE. It is based on questions & comments made by those that do not necessarily come to Journey who might be called “seekers” (In some ways we are all “seekers” but that’s another post for another time or just re-listen to U2 Joshua Tree). The 1st message is on the topic of hell. It was asked about more than once and in way that seemed to be coming from sincere seekers or new to God types.

Anyway, I felt led as I was journaling this morning to post this prayer. Please join me in praying it. Actually the 1st part is a thought from my reading today, then the prayer. Here goes – unedited.

Friday, March 6, 2009
Psalm 66:20 blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor his HESED from me. Yes, Lord, thank You that in all my evil, in my maddening slowness of progress, in my returns to drink from the same stupid broken wells, You still hear my prayer. My life is still filled with evidence & reminders of your H.
TODAY: Father, today I am preparing & preaching a sermon on HELL. I’m happy to do so in that A. I am obeying You & being faithful to what is in the scriptures.  B. I’m meeting a felt need. The people actually asked this question. C. There is a challenge in preaching this subject & making sure that Your nature is not distorted. Every cultural location has truths that are difficult to see b/c of the perspective in which they are immersed. Ours has great difficulty with anyone judging anything. It is hard for us to understand this (us being me) given the inherently contradictory things we assume about right & wrong, morality & our sin v. other people’s. Help me to be faithful tonight & this weekend. Faithful to Your justice, Your holiness, Your love, Your gospel. I’ve been praying a strange prayer. I’ve been asking You that people will come out of this message encouraged, positive & hopeful. As we worship may people find You to be as attractive as You really are.
The other thing that is hard for me is that I’m forced to face some of my own fuzziness on this issue. I’m forced to remind myself that I really do believe that it is a terrible fate to be apart from Christ. That it is a perilous life trajectory.

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Responses

  1. Ed, Your sermon last night was great. I loved it, as I’d never heard any of these perspectives, nor the definition of the valley of Hinom. (I would give anything to download your knowledge of Greek and Hebrew into my brain!). I will say though that it left me with a few searing questions. I would literally (the real context of the word) buy you a cup of coffee in an attempt to have them answered but I wonder if only God really can.

    What I loved was this idea of heaven and hell being a trajectory of relationship with God. Loved that. But it raised questions for me about my mom’s death (about which you know). She loved God and her neighbor, but in the end, I’m sure her fear and despair left her feeling disconnected from God. She was living in her own “smoldering garbage dump of human existence” due to her mental frailties, distorted thinking and increasing “isolation”. Technically, this put her out of relationship with God. I want to believe that God found her in this suffering, particularly because of all the good she did in her life when mentally well. That’s all I’ll say about this in such a public forum but my head is spinning a little about all this. She was not someone who “can’t stand heaven” even though in the end, she had a hard time embracing joy on earth.

    In the 2 Peter quote you gave, it says, “He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” To “change” means many things – change of heart, behavior, perspective. I wonder if that can happen after death. You said there is no real biblical truth to validate this but maybe in the eternal time/space continuum, change is possible?

    Another question I have ties in with the world religions talk, as I have many Jewish friends very God connected (in trajectory). So will they technically be in heaven (are in heaven) even though they haven’t met Jesus as God?

    On a lighter note, I saw the flyer for the series topics and misread “How about Suffering?” I “literally” thought it said “How about SURFING?” I laughed and didn’t even question it. When I realized I read it wrong, I was almost disappointed.

    I can’t believe no one responded to your post “I love church.”… I thought it was beautiful.

  2. PS – I think I’m making it more than obvious I’m a seeker… (in my ignorance and questioning)… but who or what is Satan? Isn’t he a fallen angel? Or evil incarnate? I get it that he doesn’t have the pitch fork (thank God) but what is the deal with him? (I so need to take some classes on this stuff).

  3. Good word this weekend. I especially liked the part about darkness not necessarily being literal but more of a depiction of isolation, and fire destruction, etc.


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