Waiting for the flames

Hell_n2

Watching television with my wife last night we were well into a crime show she enjoys watching when the star of the show stated that pulling the fire alarm doesn’t work for clearing out a building anymore because “people ignore alarms and are waiting for the flames before they’ll leave”.

Right about there I checked out of the TV show as my mind went to the profound truth that was just stated.  People aren’t scared of Hell anymore.  No matter how much we preach about Hell or read what the Scriptures state about Hell people aren’t scared of the warnings anymore.

My wife and I were in the area Children’s hospital a couple of weeks ago for several days with our niece when the fire alarm went off one afternoon.  We looked around and realized that everyone that worked there completely ignored it.  It was much like walking through the parking lot when the car alarm goes off and everyone complains about how annoying the alarm is without anyone actually concerned that someone might be breaking into a car. We are desensitized to warning labels, caution signs and safety precautions.

We preach about the horrors of Hell and I think the message is falling on deaf ears. People aren’t scared of the reality of hell.  Everything around them is warning them of the ‘worst case scenario’.  Which leads them to wonder if the church isn’t  just doing the same thing?

So how do we reach a world that isn’t scared of hell anymore?  LOVE.  We must share the love of God to a lost world.  We may live in a world where people are desensitized to the reality of Hell fire, but we also live in a world that is full of despair, loneliness, pain, depression and hurt.  Love is the answer.  People are looking for hope.  This doesn’t remove the truth of Hell and Eternal Damnation – this just focuses on the needs of the people that we are trying to reach today.  People that are just ‘waiting for the flames’ and we know that waiting until they see the flames of Hell is way too late!

Five benefits of the ‘War on Christmas’

The so called ‘War on Christmas’ has continued to become a lightning rod each year.  I have seen a number of benefits emerge from this social interaction:

1) Keeps Christ in the Conversation.  By continually discussing whether or not companies, schools, advertisers and others are keeping Christ in Christmas we are constantly discussing the fact that Christ is indeed the subject of Christmas.  This sounds obvious, but think about it; We are constantly discussing the real meaning of Christmas whenever one side or the other brings up Christ.  This really beckons to the old saying that ‘there is no such thing as bad advertising’!

2) Encourages Believers to say ‘Merry Christmas’.  Because of the increased awareness of keeping Christ in Christmas, Christians are more conscientious than ever of saying ‘Merry Christmas’.  This is especially true when a cashier says ‘Happy Holidays’.  That’s when those that are sensitive to the importance of Christmas are quick to respond with a ‘Merry Christmas’.

3) An increase in Nativity Scenes.  Because local municipalities and governments are becoming less likely to put up nativity scenes in public places – it seems that more and more individuals are putting them in their yards.  In my own neighborhood I have counted more than a dozen nativity scenes in private yards and in front of local churches.  That is far more than we saw just a few years ago.

4) Renewed interest in Christmas Carols.  Due to the sensitivity of mentioning Christ, I have noticed that people are listening to the words of the Christmas carols and hymns more than ever.  They point out when the song mentions the ‘Christ child’ or the ‘virgin birth’.  Rather than just letting the words of the songs become routine and go in one ear and out the other, people are listening to the message in the songs even if their intent is to be critical.

5) Keeps everyone aware of the Reason for the Season.  All of the above instances show that there is now a renewed awareness of what Christmas is all about.  If there was no discussion, than the gift purchasing and pretty lights and Santa Claus stories would be dominant.  Instead, because of backlash from non Christians, we find that more people than ever are at least aware of the fact that Christ is the Reason for the Season.

christ in christmas

Biblical description of a fool.

foolishness

Proverbs 18:7  A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

            A fool will get himself into trouble with his mouth.

Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

A fool expresses his anger right away – he “blows up”

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

A fool is a burden to his parents.

Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

Proverbs 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth , and is confident .

The fool angrily will insist that he is right!

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

A quick temper and angry spirit are characteristics of a fool.

Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

A fool cannot see the current situation clearly – his eyes are always elsewhere considering his fate.

Proverbs1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

A fool does not listen to advice.

Proverbs 29:11A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards

A fool says whatever is on his mind.

Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes

A fool’s mouth is always leading him into arguments.

 

Response to a fool:

Proverbs 29:9  If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh , there is no rest.

Proverbs 26:3-12

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. 4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. 6 He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage. 7 The legs of the lame are not equal : so is a parable in the mouth of fools. 8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool. 9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools. 10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors. 11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. 12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

 

Titus 3:1-11

1. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates to be ready to every good work.

2. To speak evil of n man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men/

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

4. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.

5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly,that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject ;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted , and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

 

Proverbs 14:7-9

7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. 8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. 9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

We’re not trying to grow nice leaves!

The passage of the True Vine in John 15 has been preached, taught, written about and studied many time.  One simple application I have made comes from my own garden.  I have a small grape arbor.  Each fall I cut back the vine – I prune my grapes.  It was difficult for me to do that the first couple of years as I had just started to get my grape vine going. However, the reason I cut back the vine is because no matter how extensive my grape vine grew – I was not trying to grow a large vine with pretty leaves.  I was trying to grow grapes.  It I wanted shade I would have planted a tree.  I wanted the grapes.  I want grapes for canning. I want to eat the grapes.  I cannot use beautiful grape leaves.

In the Christian life we struggle when trials come.  We don’t like the pruning.  We understand getting sin out of our lives, but we really struggle when God prunes seemingly good things from our lives.  Why did our parent get dementia?   Why did we lose that job or not get that promotion?  Why did my child fall ill?  We struggle with things that enter our lives that seem like they conflict with our happiness.

grape vineThe bottom line is – we are not here to grow nice leaves.  As Christians our purpose is not to look nice and ‘pretty’ in our Christian life.  God’s goal for us is to be fruitful and then to produce more fruit.  We want to be a nice looking ‘plant’ in God’s garden.  God wants us to be productive and give forth that which He designed us for.

We are not here to grow nice leaves – we are here to produce fruit!

– Pastor Wes Gunther