Heaven IS For Real! (but not because a Toddler says so!)

With the release of a movie recently, many, many people are talking about Heaven. That’s a good thing, right?

Maybe.

Heaven Is For Real, a movie produced by mega-church pastor TD Jakes, and a book about a 4-year-old view who allegedly “visited Heaven” when he died on an operating table, has taken the nation by storm. Over and over, I have the same conversation. Someone will know that I’m a pastor and so must LOVE this enterprise, says, “I saw Heaven Is For Real last night. SUCH a good movie! I totally believe it!”

Then my face, which I imagine looks a bit like a boy being pinned down by his older sister and her friends for a “makeover,” launches us into a different discussion. Continue reading

Wounds from a friend can be trusted

Wounds from a friend can be trusted.
But an enemy multiplies kisses.
-Proverbs 27:6

So often we want to surround ourselves with “yes men.” We consider a friend someone who will support us, or be proud of us no matter what. Somehow “loving” one another has become synonymous with “eternally agreeing with (or at least not disagreeing with) one another.” We hear this type of thinking all the time, especially from more progressive folks in the church. “God is love. Why would I say something to someone that would offend them? That’s not very loving.” Or we’ll hear, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Jesus did come to preach God’s love. But he was plenty blunt about sin, too. He delivered “woes” to those who were religiously pious but spiritually dead. He talked about living for God. Jesus defined love in what he taught. And the picture that he painted was one where love is a verb, not a mushy-gushy feeling “inside our hearts” for one another.

His Church is here to spur one another to holiness as the primary vehicle to love. We are to be a community (not a collection of individuals) who grow more like Christ and help one another do the same. The most loving thing you can do for someone, sometimes, is to call them out on their junk.

WOUNDS FROM A FRIEND CAN BE TRUSTED

Sometimes, as a friend, you need to tell your friend when they are out of line. If you are working with a neighbor in math class classmate going astray, the loving thing is to look out for their best interest and correct them, not let them do it their way. Those assignments are going to be graded! The loving thing, when you see a friend in an unhealthy relationship is to share your concerns in love, because you don’t want them to be hurt. When a friend is texting and driving, the loving thing is to do or say what you can to remove them from harm’s way and get their eyes on the road.

The key is that these have to come from a friend. It has to be an “I’m concerned for you” conversation, not a “Be better, like me” conversation. I believe this is the key to Christian confrontation. Another thought: to judge a person’s behavior as sinful or not in line with the Bible is not the same as judging the eternal destination of their soul based on that behavior. As long as the prior is done with an acknowledgement that I also behave in all sorts of ways that are inconsistent with the Bible, we’re good. It’s when we say, “you need to fix the sin in your life,” and fail to acknowledge the sin in ours that we run into trouble.

The Bible is the most honest book ever written. It is going to present views that we find hard to swallow. “Love” is not being silent when we see someone straying into a harmful situation, but lovingly expressing concern for them. Being honest. It might hurt, but a wound from a friend can be trusted.

AN ENEMY MULTIPLIES KISSES

History would tell us that we when we surround ourselves with people that agree with us, we set ourselves up for failure. We need people to remind us when we are drifting into incorrect thinking and action. This goes for behavior but also things like worldview and theology. I could metaphorically adorn you with “kisses” and tell you that your ideas are all great, but a survey of most people’s High School careers would suggest that doesn’t lead anywhere good.

If all I hear from someone is positive, I don’t trust their opinion for fear they are just puffing me up.

If I get criticism when it’s deserved, it makes me think, makes me better, and builds trust with that person.

Don’t surround yourself with “yes men.”

Where do you find it tough to “speak the truth in love?”