Tag Archives: heaven

Don’t be allured by the illusion! Spiritually assess the true value.

Most people believe that violins by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), which sell for millions of dollars, project a superior sound to modern violins. On the contrary, modern sound tests have failed to show the proof of these claims. In fact, in a recent series of tests, Stradivari’s violins, once again, failed to impress…well, sort of.

Stradivari’s violins are beautiful works of art. But in “blind” sound tests, such as those published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, modern violins are preferred. Modern violins are consistently said to project sound louder and better. But, guess what? When listeners were told a Stradivarius was being played, they picked it as the better instrument!

This isn’t unusual. Name brands are perceived to have quality. People pay thousands more for name brand watches, purses, etc. In functionality, though, the illusion of the brand often fails to live up to perceptions of superiority.

Assume that you had paid millions of dollars for a Stradivarius because you thought it had superior sound. Then it failed to impress when compared to a far less expensive, modern violin. Would you feel duped?

In Spiritual matters we see this every day. People are duped by the illusion of worldly matters. But the illusion of this world’s value is surpassed immensely by the actual value of heaven and the functional reality of the gospel.

The Hebrews writer lets us know why Jesus is better: As the Son, Jesus is greater than all messengers and messages (1:4-7); He builds a greater house than Moses (3:1-6); Jesus brings a greater rest than Joshua did (4:8-9); He is a greater priest than Aaron because He is sinless and lives forever (7:26-28); He has a greater ministry with a greater covenant, built on greater promises, with the greatest sacrifice (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6; 9:12).

Those who live for this world cannot see beyond its allure. Rather, we must appraise the value of things according to their spiritual worth (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)! Things in the world have the illusion of being better, but Jesus is the best! And why would you listen to anything else?

Tragedy Into Triumph

cmak“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, fatally shot 20 children (ages 6-7) and 6 adults, and then took his own life as first responders arrived.

That could have been the end of the story. In fact, for many people, the tragedy at Sandy Hook is a distant memory. For others though, it stands as a stark reminder that we must do better. We live in a sin-sick world, and we should be an influence for good.

And, thankfully, the tragedy at Sandy Hook isn’t the end of the story. Some people are making a difference. And I was thankful to have been a witness to two events recently that are ensuring that we change the narrative in this country.

The first is called Race For Chase. Chase was a young boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy. But his story didn’t end there. Chase loved to run, swim, and bike. And the CMAK foundation (http://www.cmakfoundation.org; Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski) honors his life in many ways, the most well-known is helping kids take part in something Chase got to do and loved – triathlons.

CMAK’s vision statement is: To turn tragedy into triumph by healing and strengthening our families and communities.

CMAK - FamilyBoth my girls got to participate in the Race For Chase this week through the YMCA in York County. After 6 weeks of training, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, ~30 kids took part in this great event. We are so thankful for the foundation, the coaches, and all the sponsors who helped bring Race For Chase to York County. It was a blessing to watch these kids, several of whom couldn’t swim or bike beforehand, blossom into triathletes!

The other event I got to take part in recently was an Eagle Scout’s project to help train first responders. As sad as it is, school shootings have become a part of life in this country. And, while we want to do everything we can to stop that from being our future, training police and EMT staff to respond better, could save lives.

So, last month, several dozen teens and adults took part in two “mock” shootings in Gaston County, NC. The Eagle Scout candidate, a member of our congregation, worked with the law enforcement and EMTs to help provide this training. They got to see in “real time” how to react and how to save lives in these worst-case scenarios.

While we hope there is never any reason for them to use this training, they are all better prepared to serve in their community and save lives.

I am thankful to know that there are people like the Kowalskis who turn tragedy into triumph. I am thankful to know that there are first responders who put their lives on the line every day. I am thankful to know that are young people still have a hope of a better tomorrow.

In Church, we occasionally sing the hymn, “This World Is Not My Home.” It reminds us that our citizenship is in Heaven and this earth is our temporary residence. And we often need the reminder that our focus should be more heavenly than worldly. But we must also remember that we are called to be lights in the world.

Last week I began a series on the Olympics by preaching about our need to be torchbearers in a lost and dark world. I am thankful for those who don’t just talk about change but truly try to enact it.

Of course, the greatest change of all, eternal life in Heaven, is only possible because of the sacrifice made by Jesus. CMAK’s vision statement ought to be a rallying cry for all Christians: “To turn tragedy into triumph by healing and strengthening our families and communities.”

Have you believed in Him? Have you repented of your sins, confessed Jesus as the Son of God, and been baptized for the forgiveness of sin? A safer, better world is a wonderful thing to strive for while we are here. But let’s do it with the knowledge of our eternal security by giving our lives to God today. If I can help you come to know that joy, please get in touch.

Oops…Honey, I Accidentally Recorded Over The Game!

SuperBowl1

The story is as old as the VCR. It’s your anniversary; your wife suggests watching the wedding video; you pop the tape in the VCR; and oops…you accidentally recorded the big game over your wedding! Welcome to the doghouse.

Or maybe she recorded a cooking show over your game. Whatever. But odds are pretty good, that if you owned a VCR, someone accidentally recorded over something important. But who would have guessed that this could happen to something like the only recordings of the Super Bowl!

You see, in 1967, tapes that NBC and CBS used to record on were expensive. So tapes were reused and things got recorded over often. And, in 1967, when the 1st Super Bowl was played, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. 30 second ads went for a few thousand dollars in comparison with the millions they will cost this year.

So, amazingly, folks at NBC and CBS recorded…wait for it…soap operas, over the master tapes to save money! And until recently, the 1st Super Bowl was thought to be completely lost. But using modern technology, camera views from NFL game video, and the audio recording dubbed in, the 1967 Super Bowl re-aired last week for the first time in almost 50 years.

The game is nostalgic for many reasons. It was the 1st “Super” Bowl; it reminds us of a simpler time and a purer game; it was one of Vince Lombardi’s last Super Bowls; and 14 future Hall of Famers played in that day. By the way, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. But the game will go down in history more for being “found” when it was “lost” than for what the scoreboard read.

Finding important lost things is fun. Did you know it is a favorite theme of scripture too? In the Old Testament, there was a King named, Josiah. And while work was being done on the Temple, they found scrolls of the Torah that had been lost (2 Kings 22)! They experienced both grief over learning they had been doing things wrong and great joy over committing themselves to the Lord.

In the New Testament, there are several lost things that are found in Luke 15: A Lost Sheep, A Lost Coin, and A Lost Son. Jesus uses these examples to remind us that even Angels in Heaven rejoice when one lost sinner is found. “Found,” as we learn about it in Scripture, means to be a sinner who comes to know the Lord…to return home to our Father’s house, where we belong.

What about you, friend? When the great books are opened in heaven, there won’t be any lost recordings, only lost souls. Will you be recorded as “found” or “lost” on that day? Amazing grace…what once was lost can be found! Get in touch, and let’s talk more about how you can be found on that great day.

Easy Beats Better? Not In My Book!

pizzahutboxcarApparently, Pizza Hut isn’t doing well. Sales are down 3%, and they are 2 minutes slower than Dominos in delivering pizza. Their parent company, Yum! Brands wants to change that though. How? CEO, Greg Creed, has a plan…a little something he is calling: ”Easy” beats “Better.”

Easy beats better? Is that right? Yep, I checked. He said that.

In a meeting with investors, Creed claimed that better quality food was “once the best way to beat the competition.” But times have changed. Creed says that now, “Easy” beats “Better.” According to reports, Creed says that Pizza Hut should “shift its focus from serving better food than rival chains to being more convenient for consumers.”

Now, I like to get my pizza fast too. But I don’t want quality to suffer! In the pizza world though, it seems that fastest and easiest wins. Pizza is pizza.

Sadly, some churches are heading that way too. After all, many churches sacrifice quality for ease and comfort. And if there are no differences between churches, then why not go to the easiest and fastest?

But easiest and fastest rarely equate with quality! Perhaps Pizza Hut doesn’t mind sacrificing a little quality for speed, but how would you feel about that in other areas? Want doctors who are the fastest or the best? Want a degree that takes a day but won’t get you a job anywhere? Want to attend a church that is quick but can’t help you get to Heaven?

Want to attend a church that is quick but can’t help you get to Heaven?

Now, to be fair, coming to Jesus is supposed to be easy. The path to Him should not be hindered (Matthew 19:14), and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). But, with Jesus, ease is never in lieu of quality!

But, with Jesus, ease is never in lieu of quality!

In fact, everything about Jesus is better than the competition. He is better than: the Angels (Hebrews 1:4,6,8), Moses (3:3-4), Joshua (4:8-9), Aaron (7:26-28), the Old Covenant (7:22; 8:6; 9:12), sacrifices (8:6-10:18), etc. “Better” is “Better” when it comes to Bible.

“Better” is “Better” when it comes to Bible.

Many churches compete to be easier. “Just believe and don’t worry about DOING anything” is their mantra. But churches aren’t pizza! And if your church simply caters to a desire for instant gratification, the “Better” of Christ is probably suffering.

The call to Christ is easy. The ability to have sins removed is easy. But the Christian life is a marathon; it is a battle; it is a life-long struggle to maintain quality in worship, service, and dedication. And anyone selling anything else is just selling,…pizza.