When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

Often in preaching we hear the pastor talk about living forever as if the best thing about Jesus saving us is that we get to live forever. Can we as biblical believers really understand “forever” or “everlasting” automatically as something good?

Think for example of Ecclesiastes 3:11 which testifies that God makes everything beautiful in its time. Then Solomon connects this testimony of God’s good work with the reality of the nature with which he created us. God put eternity in man’s heart. Finally Solomon contrasts the eternity set in man with the temporary apprehension man has of God’s work. In other words eternity is not good since fallen men cannot discover the fullness of God’s good work. Similarly, Is. 57:15-16 makes clear that while the Lord inhabits eternity, currently he and man seem to be at odds. The passage then testifies that He is the one who will cease the contending between Himself and men.

Eternity by itself is not good and yet we all know that Jesus promises us everlasting life. Is. 45:17 makes it clear that Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation, not to be shamed to all eternity. Romans 6:23 tells us that God gives us eternal life through Jesus our Lord. What we must never forget is that eternal life is good only if it is eternal life with God. For instance, 2 Peter 3:18 reminds believers to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter points out that God deserves glory both now and through eternity.

If we do not have fellowship with God we do not have an eternal life to which we can look forward. The best for a person who has not repented of his sin and trusted Jesus is right now. Further, think of the frailty of our flesh, and the troubles of this world. For an unbeliever these are but foretaste of the eternal Hell that is to come. Just imagine if you had to live forever with different parts of your body crying out with the pain of cancer or broken bones. Forever in that state is a curse.

On the other hand, for a believer the momentary frailty of this life just reminds us to long for the true joy that we will experience forever glorifying the Savior. Jesus will redeem, rescue, restore and  receive our praise throughout our everlasting life. The closer our walk with Christ, the more we will long for Jesus.  

 Just a few weeks ago, I sat by the beside of one of our saints. Her body had failed. Her eyesight was gone. She could hardly endure the pain. Eternity in that broken body would be torment. Yet her close relationship with the Lord helped her in her suffering to sing praise with me rather than curse God. She wanted the Scriptures read so that she would not forget her Savior. The prayers we offered up were that Jesus would deliver her into her new life with him, not the continued trauma of her existence. Truly Philippians 1:21 was our refrain, for us to live is Christ and to die is gain!

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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Shepherding


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Perry Noble’s 10 Promises Matter Because…

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Does it Matter that Perry Noble Believes They Are the 10 Promises?


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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Shepherding



Does it Matter that Perry Noble Believes They Are the 10 Promises?

TenCommandmentsThrough the past week, several members of my church approached me and wanted me to respond to the message Perry Noble preached at New Spring on Christmas Eve. For most the three concerns they expressed revolved around 1) changing the word commandment to promise, 2) rewriting the commandments as promises, and 3) Noble’s attitude concerning those who see these as commandments. So let me answer these one at a time after a few opening comments.


By his own admission Noble says that he believes that Scripture is “infallible and inerrant, that all Scripture is God breathed” and later he states that Scripture is true. He also believes that “God’s Word is living and active” presumably referring to how God the Holy Spirit illumines specific Scriptures at the right times for them to impact our living. I bring this up, because even if God’s Word is living and active as Noble says, illumination does not change interpretation. The reason that Noble’s view of commandments as promises matters has everything to do with interpreting the Bible.


interpretationEach Bible text only has one right INTERPRETATION, inspired by the Holy Spirit and affirmed by those whom the Spirit converts. A text may have several IMPLICATIONS, or statements that must be true if the text is true. For instance when Noble talks about God’s Word being living and active, would be that God wants to use words to communicate with his creatures. Finally illumination really speaks to the concept of APPLICATION. For some of us at certain times, a Bible text can in Noble’s words “slam us to the ground” because it applies so directly to us. The same text, with the same interpretation may not “slam others to the ground” because it does not apply in the same way to their lives. Think of a parenting passage like Ephesians 6:4. It will apply most powerfully to a father who knows he has provoked his children to wrath.


So to our congregation’s concerns, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Church Watch Care


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Understanding: A Response to the Stroller Column “Ignorance”

A member of our church asked for my thoughts on the column “Ignorance” in the Spartanburg newspaper.

As a pastor, I frequently hear believers cite the four points against same-sex relationships mentioned in the article. I cringe when I hear believers utilize these arguments, but not for the same reasons the article points out.

First, let’s talk about convictions and our country. The founders of our nation understood that any rational person’s religious convictions would naturally influence all his decisions. They also believed that a person’s religious convictions should not be forcibly coerced or corrupted by any outside influence – especially from a government. Thus, they created a system which guaranteed that every man’s personal convictions could guide his decision-making, but that no one conviction could be officially sanctioned. That’s what the establishment clause is all about – no laws to establish a religion AND no laws to prohibit the free exercise of religion.

I stress this point because it means that in our country we need to try to understand a man’s convictions rather than belittle the man. The column “Ignorance” does not help Christians understand the central convictions of people living in same-sex relationships or living with same-sex attraction. The column also does not help others understand the deep religious convictions that motivate a Christian to promote traditional marriage or singleness above all other potential sexual relationships. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Shepherding


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The Role Robin Williams Couldn’t Play: Biblical Counsel for Depression

Monday evening, while I sat outside grilling and watching my children play in the yard, my phone alerted me with the familiar sound of an incoming news story. Thinking that it probably consisted of a NFL preseason alert or some other announcement of similar importance I did not immediately pick it up.

When I did, the news on the screen told me something I did not expect. Robin Williams had encountered a role that he couldn’t play. Like so many in our times, a disorganized sadness or depression had begun to plague his days. This actor who found ways to connect with audiences through comedy always had a way of communicating in more dramatic roles the real struggles of life. Unfortunately with the depression he suffered of late, he discovered a sadness for which he saw no possible end or purpose other than to take his life.

For several days I have reflected upon what I wanted to say about Williams’ life and death. My prayer is that what follows has the kind of tone that communicates my appreciation for a man I respected and a concern for those who may share his struggles.

As a Christian the news of Williams’ death reminds me that

 1) Depression does not respect persons. Like so many forms of suffering in this world after the Fall, depression can happen to anyone.

2) Depression is no laughing matter. Depression does not end when the director yells cut or our day job ends. 24 hours a day for an average time of six to nine months during a major depressive episode, the person suffering must face the sense of spiraling out of control. Further the spiral down occurs much faster than the arduous climb back out. With such pressure any of us could find ourselves tempted as Williams was.

3) Depression is not something a person can act away. All of the comedy the world can offer will not cure the soul in anguish. We cannot hide behind an act that tells the world everything is okay forever. But with the pressures that each of us feel and Williams certainly felt, we may want to hide behind an act as long as we possibly can.

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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Shepherding


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Planning Not to Procrastinate

Last week at seminary, my professors mentioned repeatedly the need to write a little bit each day on the major project report. They warned us not to procrastinate! That simple warning does not convey the biblical seriousness of neglecting a plan to avoid procrastination.

My wife and I had a physician early in our marriage who told us “If you don’t have a plan to prevent pregnancy, you have planed to get pregnant.” The proverb this doctor offered holds true when one applies it to this situation as well. A paraphrase might read like this, “if you don’t have a plan to prevent procrastination, you have planned to procrastinate.”

So what does the Bible say about this? Look at Romans 12:17. There Paul gives a warning against merely responding to the world’s evil in kind. He then gives each believer a practical plan to avoid such evil responses. He says “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” In other words Paul says to plan ahead not to do anything evil, including procrastination.

I can hear some of you now, asking if the Bible sees procrastination as a sin. Let me assure you that this word is in no concordance. That said, the Scriptures speak of it often as gratifying the desires of our flesh rather than fulfilling the calling we have from the Lord.

Turn over a page in your Bible to Romans 13:11-14. Paul there tells believers to wake up, making no provision – or opportunity/plan – for the desires of the flesh (13:14). In this passage Paul seems to echo the Old Testament Proverbs.

Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us that sleep and slumber allows poverty and want to come against the person like an armed man. Is that not exactly what procrastination does? Once we have put off what needs doing, the pressure of deadlines and unmet needs begins to press upon us. Solomon also speaks to the biblical response towards procrastination. Referring to the ant, Solomon points out how this creature follows a plan to meet future needs by practically laboring today. Thus the ant plans not to procrastinate.

Now you might be asking how to keep yourself from worrying if you have done enough for future needs? I always keep in mind Matthew 6:34. There it says “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Thus we can only do for tomorrow what we can accomplish today. Back to the ant example. The ant cannot store up everything for winter in one day. He can however put aside some for winter each day. Thus the ant, by God’s design has a plan not to procrastinate.

How about you? If you need to plan not to procrastinate, start making your plan by…

  1. Deciding upon an honorable goal.
  2. Then notice the lusts of your own flesh.
  3. Next, consider activities that will give no provision to the flesh, but progress to the goal.
  4. Finally plan to accomplish today what will help you reach your goal tomorrow.

If you would like to read more about this topic from a Biblical perspective see Jay E. Adams’ book What to Do on Thursday: Part Four.


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Why I Am Sitting in Classes Again…

I woke up at 4 AM this morning to come sit in class all day at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. That sounds crazy right! I thought so too, especially as I thought about the hours our family has spent on the road in the past few weeks. It seems even more crazy, when I think about the class that I have come to sit in this weekend and then again next week. The course lays out for me the doctor of ministry project process, proposal guidelines, writing helps, and most terrifying, the expectations for the oral exam.

So why did I choose to continue on this crazy journey? Why dedicate myself to this sort of grueling work? Why commit as much as two more years of my life to receive this piece of paper. Allow me to offer two main reasons.

1. Robbie came with me because he really wanted to spend “Daddy-time” with me. Knowing that I will get to spend time with Robbie makes a tremendous difference to my “want-to”. I do not know what The Lord has called Robbie to do, but I do know that he will experience his own craziness. Seeing and knowing how his Daddy responds to such times will impact him. For seven days I have the privilege of training and nurturing him (Ephesians 6:4) by showing him the kind of student I am. If I want him to imitate me, as I imitate Christ, then he must see me imitate Christ in my everyday life (1 Cor. 11:1)

2. In the last session, one successful DMIN student came to share his testimony that the craziness one day ends. During questions about the oral exams, he shared that one of the major lines of questioning in his oral exams requested that he tell how his project had impacted him. For me, even though I have not completed my DMIN yet, I can readily say that right now the process has humbled me. In my life, I have never felt more weak than in trying to juggle all my responsibilities. Too often one of thee juggling balls drop. Even so, I know that through this process, The Lord has proven 2 Cor. 12:10. When I am weak, Christ proves himself strong.


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Posted by on June 21, 2014 in At the Parsonage


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