A Heart of Gold

Every story has a beginning and this one begins in a most unlikely place. . . a brothel.  Not many stories in the Bible start in a house of ill repute, as a matter of fact I can only think of one other..  The scripture was read earlier and there is a lot that was left unsaid in the Hebrews account that could lead to some wild speculations.
Let’s read it again Hebrews 11:31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.   Nod Nod, wink wink.  Friendly welcome indeed. 
And that is why a text out of context is a pretext.  You see the original readers of Hebrews 11 would know exactly what was meant by “a friendly welcome”  while the rest of you just think you know.  And as a boss of mine used to say “The only thing you get from jumping to conclusions are sore feet.”
And to be fair Rahab may have given the spies a “friendly welcome”, nod, nod, wink wink, but that wasn’t what she was being commended for in Hebrews 11.  So let’s go back to the beginning and find out the rest of the story.
You know the history here.  Moses has led the Hebrews in the greatest escape every chronicled.  You can read about it in the book called Exodus, which is the second book in the Bible.  Now what should have been a fairly straight forward trip across the desert turns into a 40 year epic because of the disobedience and unbelief of the Hebrew people. 
Now however the promise is about to be fulfilled.  The Promised Land lies just within their grasp, the people have left the desert, now they have to cross the Jordan and get past the city of Jericho.  And so we read in  Joshua 2:1 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.   Seemed a little focused in their trip, the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute.  But to be fair a brothel would be a place where people would be used to strange men showing up at all hours.  So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that there were strategic reasons for ending up at Rahab’s place. 
However word had somehow gotten out to the King of Jericho, who I would suspect was King like Peter Kelly is King of Halifax, that spies had entered the land.  And he immediately sends his men to Rahab’s place.   Must have been one of those “If I was a spy where would I go first?” questions and the answer was “Oh yeah, Rahab’s, she has that discount that she gives to spies.”
So the King’s men show up at the brothel but Rahab tells them, “Oh those spies, yeah they were here but they left earlier, they are heading out of town but if you hurry you can catch them.”    The king’s men obviously believed her because they get a posse together and head out of town after the guys.
But, it’s here the plot thickens.  You see the guys hadn’t actually left, Rahab had hidden them on the roof of her place and it was there they spent the night.   Obviously this was the friendly welcome that is alluded to in the book of Hebrews.
As a reward for her saving the spies they agree to spare her and her family when the Hebrews eventually overthrow the city on their way into the promised land.  And that is a whole other story that is mentioned in the previous verse in Hebrews 11. A story that you probably remember from Sunday School.  And it if you don’t the recap is in Hebrews 11:30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
And it is immortalized in this song.  (Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho).  But that is a story for a different time. 
When the battle breaks out, Rahab hangs a scarlet cord from the window of her home and she and her family are spared in the battle.
So what is it that we learn from the story?  Hebrews 11:31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.   
1) Rahab Had a Past  It was interesting as I was preparing this message how hard some commentators worked at cleaning up Rahab’s past.    Adam Clarke writes “the word which we translate harlot, should be rendered innkeeper or tavernkeeper, as there is no proper evidence that the person in question was such a woman as our translation represents her. As to her having been a harlot before and converted afterwards, it is a figment of an idle fancy”.
So I thought “maybe they just called her a hooker to spice up the story, it already had mystery and intrigue, all it needed was a hint of sex.”  So I went back to the original languages to see if that was actually the case.   In the book of Hebrews the Greek word that is used is πόρνη Porne, and that word does not mean innkeeper or even tavern keeper.  It is only ever used for a prostitute.  And it is no different in the original story in the book of Joshua, the Hebrew word used there is זָנָה‎ zānâ, and again there is no ambiguity there at all.  One meaning and one meaning only.   Today she might have been called a “Sex Worker” but no one would have mistaken  her for the manager at the Holiday Inn.
John Wesley used a great phrase to describe Rahab,  “Formerly one not of the fairest character.” 
Now it’s easy to cast stones and wonder how this woman could sell her body like this, or perhaps wonder what men did to cause her to become a prostitute.  Some will scorn her and others will pity her but the reality is we don’t know why she was what she was.  She obviously had a story that had brought her to this place in her life.  And without knowing the story it isn’t fair to judge her past.
Every once in a while you read a story about someone whose past has come back to haunt them.  There was a story this past week about a man who disappeared 30 years ago, just disappeared, left his family, his home and his job.  Nobody knew if he was dead or alive and he showed up the other day working in Vegas. 
Or you will hear of a war criminal from the World War Two who has been discovered living in Canada or the States.  Their past comes back to haunt them. 
Every one of us has a past.  I would suspect that there isn’t a person here who would want all of their past revealed.  I know that for the most part your past is spotless that you never did anything that you are ashamed of.  Because you are really nice people, but I would suspect that if tomorrow you got up and someone had left a note on your door that said “I know what you have done.”  Your mind would immediately jump to some incident and wonder how it is they knew and whether they would tell others about it. 
Maybe something you did as a child, or maybe something you did while your brain took a nap during your teen years.  Perhaps it was just a moment of indiscretion, but it is there and even though nobody else or very few people know about it, you do.
Oscar Wilde nailed it when he said “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
I have come to the conclusion that nobody should be judged by the worst moment in their lives. 
It’s easy to cast stones but listen to what Jesus said in  Matthew 7:3 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”   And in the book of John when the crowd had gathered around the woman caught in adultery so eager to judge her, Jesus told them John 8:7 . . .”He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
Two mistakes that we make about our past, one is to forget about it.  The ex-smoker who has little or no sympathy for those who still smoke.  They have forgotten the cravings and desires that went along with nicotine and say stupid things like “Why don’t you just quit.”  Forgetting the 247 times they tried to quit before they got it right.
The adult who forgets what it was like to be a teen, all the pressures and all the things waiting to be discovered and tried, for right or for wrong.  And how they behaved as a teen, for right or for wrong.  We want our teens to emulate the good things we did when we were their age but are terrified they will discover the real stupid things we did.  A friend of mine calls it “Boomer Guilt.” 
The second mistake we make about our past is not forgetting it.  We dwell in it, can’t get over it and can’t forgive ourselves for the mistakes that were made.    We spend our lives saying “If only” and “If I had my life to live again.”  
Thomas H. Raddall who said “Don’t brood on the past, but don’t forget it either.”
Everything that happened up to a minute ago is part of your past, you can’t change it or undo it, you simply need to accept that it happened and learn from it. 
And so Rahab stood at the intersection of her life, her past behind her and her future ahead of her.  She had to decide what part of her past she was going to embrace and what part she was going to reject.  Because not only was part of her past made up of Rahab the hooker, part of her past was made up of Rahab the virgin. 
There was a time in her life that she wasn’t what she had become.  Sometimes when we look backward we are overcome with shame, but that wasn’t always the way it was and isn’t the way it has to stay.
Rahab had a Choice  So, the King of Jericho heard that spies had arrived in his city and he made the logical leap that they were at Rahab’s home.  His men arrive and demand that Rahab surrender the spies. 
And it was at the point in time that Rahab had to make a decision.  Will she do what is easy or will she do what is right?  And even in that there are issues, as a citizen of Jericho what is right is different than what is right for two Hebrew spies. 
Contrary to what some people will tell you not every issue is black and white, right or wrong.  And there are issues that will divide people and one side will think you did a great job and will put up monuments in your honour while the other side will stand in line to spit on that very same monument. 
To the Hebrews Rahab was a hero, to the people of Jericho she was a traitor and worse. 
There are a number of us here at Cornerstone who hail from Saint John New Brunswick.  And Saint John proudly proclaims that it is Canada’s Loyalist City.  But those people who proclaimed their loyalty to the crown in the 1700’s during the American Revolution certainly weren’t considered to be loyalists by their neighbours but they were willing to give up their lands and their lives in order to stand by their loyalty.  When you think about it Benedict Arnold was a Loyalist hero.
And so Rahab hides the spies and then lies to the authorities before sending them on a wild goose chase. 
Why?  I’m sure as the spies lay on her rooftop hidden under piles of flax that they wondered the same thing and as they heard her footsteps approach they probably wondered if she was alone, if she had changed her mind and what their future would be like or even if they would have a future.
But it wasn’t the fact that Rahab had defied the King’s men that got her mentioned in the book of Hebrews, it was why she defied the King’s men that got her mentioned in the book of Hebrews.  After she has sent the authorities away she goes up on the rooftop to let the spies know they are in the clear and she tells them why she has saved them. 
Her explanation begins in Joshua 2:9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, …” And finishes in Joshua 2:11 “. . .  for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
She came to a place that she was willing to leave her past behind her and claim and believe the promises of God.   No matter what your past held your future stretches out before you and God invites you to step into it with him.  At the end of the book of Joshua as the people of Israel prepare to finally settle into the land that God promised them Joshua issues this challenge to the people.  Joshua 24:15 But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
By the time that challenge was issued we know that Rahab had already aligned herself with the Hebrews and was probably part of the crowd that heard those words.  Choose today what you will serve, will you continue to serve the past or are you ready to step through the door into the incredible future God has for you?  It’s your choice.  Years ago my mother introduced me to a book called “Seeds of Greatness” and the author Denis Waitley wrote “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.”
Rahab had a future  So the Israelites capture the city, you know the story how they marched around the city for six days and on the seventh day they blew their horns and shouted and brought the walls of the city down.  And how Rahab hung a scarlet cord from her window and was spared along with her family.  By the way some people believe that the scarlet cord was the beginning of the “red light” tradition. 
And the story could have ended there, alls well that ends well.  Joshua and the people of Israel could have settled the promise land and Rahab could have gone back to . . . providing a friendly welcome for people.
But that isn’t how the story ends.  The story continues in Joshua 6:25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
And then we hear nothing about Rahab for the next thousand years, nothing zip, nada.  And then she reappears out of nowhere.  And it is in the most unlikely place, the genealogy of Jesus!  Matthew 1:5-6 Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).
Did you catch that?  Rahab the prostitute was the Grandmother of King David, the greatest king who ever ruled over Israel and ultimately at the very end of that list was Joseph.  You know, Joseph who married the Virgin Mary and who raised Jesus as his own son.  
You understand? No Rahab, no Boaz.  Boaz was the man who married the widow Ruth, there’s an entire book in the Bible written about that love story.  No Rahab, no David to fight Goliath, no David to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, no David to plan the Temple that Solomon would build, no David no 23rd Psalm.  And you understand that without a Rahab there would have been no Joseph to believe in Mary, no Joseph to raise Jesus in a loving and caring home.
And it all began in a brothel with a woman that good respectable people had given up on long before.  But Rahab hadn’t given up on Rahab and neither had God.  Rahab saw beyond the reality of the present and made a choice that would affect an entire nation.  When she not only came to the point that she knew Joshua 2:11 “. . .  for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  But when she acted on that belief doing what was right instead of doing what was easy.  It’s easy to say “I believe in God”  Good for you, people have been saying that for thousands of years and to quote James the brother of Jesus,  James 2:19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.   James goes on to say James 2:20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? And then as an example of that statement he tells the story of Abraham, and then we read James 2:25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
What is it that God could do with you if you made the choice to not only believe that he is God but to believe that he has great things for you to do?  I would suspect that you all believe in God, otherwise you would be at the beach today, but what can you believe that God can do with you and through you?  And are you willing to take that next step?

No Ordinary Family: Moses

Every story has a beginning and this story began on the side of the Nile River.
But before we can tell you about the beginning we need to tell you the beginning of the beginning.  I’ve told you the story several times about Joseph being sold into slavery and ending up as governor of Egypt, how he brought his family to him and how they enjoyed the benefits of being kinfolk of the boss. But in the four hundred years that had elapsed the Egyptians had become fearful of this ever enlarging group and then we are told in  Exodus 1:8-11 Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.
And so began the first of many persecutions for the Jews. And in an attempt to destroy the people of God, the pharaoh issued orders to kill all the male children belonging to the Jews.
Hebrews 11:23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
1) Moses’ Life Began With a Decision  Moses wasn’t the only male child born during that time, and other parents probably were heart broken when their sons were killed.  Moses survived because of a decision his parents made.  Other parents looked at their options and gave up, they saw no way to fight back against the force of the Pharaoh and yet Moses’ parents looked for a solution and they found it.    
Of course you all know how when Moses was three months old his mother placed him in a water tight basket and placed him in the bulrushes.   And we all know how the Pharaoh’s daughter found him, and how his mother became his nurse maid, I mean I don’t have to tell you any of that do I?   
So I won’t but  that is the beginning of the story.  I will tell you that this young Jewish boy was raised as the grandson of the pharaoh and as such enjoyed all of the privileges, and perks of being one of the most powerful men in Egypt.
He had all of the wealth, resources and benefits that the palace of pharaoh could offer.  And hey, any way you slice it, being royalty sure beats working for a living.
But as the man said, all good things must come to an end. And so we read in Exodus 2:11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. Moses came to a place where he had to make a choice.
2) Moses’ Life Changed With a Decision Moses had to ask himself “Am I for em or agin em?”  He had to decide, “am I an Egyptian?” or “am I a Jew?”  And it was a decision that no one could make for Moses except Moses.  Moses had the ability, the opportunity and chance to decide who he would serve, and what nationality he would claim.  I don’t know what prompted Moses to leave the palace and seek his past, maybe there was that nagging desire to find the truth about who he really was and who his family was, we don’t know but whatever it was he could have chosen to ignore it and to continue to live the life he had always known.  Instead he chose another path.  Moses could have said with Robert Frost “Two roads diverge in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
And so Moses has come to a fork in the road of life, a time when it is no longer enough to be the grandson of pharaoh.  A place where he can no longer compromise on his stand, but must decide which path he must follow.  A decision must be made or a decision will be.  By not pursuing his Hebrew lineage then Moses will have made the decision to be an Egyptian. Often we simply refuse to move, but we have to move.  Life doesn’t just stand still, and we can’t allow our indecision to become our decision.  After all it was Yogi Berra who said “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Every person here at one time or another will have to make a decision over which direction they will take.  Will it be the high road or will it be the low road, will it be the left path or the right path.  
And so Moses made a decision, and in his decision were two very distinct elements. And every decision we make in life has two parts.  What the Chinese would call the yang and the yin.  The yang being the positive, and the yin the negative.
Hebrews 11:24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
3) Moses’ Decision Had a Negative Side He Refused There was something to which Moses said no to.  He came to a fork in the road and to one fork he said a vigorous no.  He decided not to follow that course.  By saying yes to his Jewishness he was saying no to his royalty.  In saying yes to his natural people he was saying No to his adopted people.
People say, “I don’t want to be negative,” but it’s a fact of life.  Do you remember Newton’s third law?  Sure you do, it states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  And so in life when we say yes to one thing, we are in effect saying no to something else. In life there are nos to be said and there is no way to get around it.
When we choose to follow Christ we are choosing to say no to some things.  There are behaviours and actions that are not consistent with being a Christ Follower, things we have to say “No” to.
I hear people say “I was brought up in the church and it just stresses the things people shouldn’t do, that’s not what I’m looking for.”  Sure it is, you want someone to say “this is right and that is wrong.”   You want a faith that will stand up for the underdog and say it is wrong to take advantage of people.  You want someone to say it is wrong to abuse children, it’s wrong for your spouse to be unfaithful to you, it’s wrong that there are people in this world who are starving to death and are still being sold as chattel.  You just don’t want that someone to point at your behaviour and say “that is wrong.” 
But there will come a time that you will realize that just as Moses said no to his old life of being a grandson of Pharaoh there will come a time that you will have to say no to your old lifestyle if you are going to move on.   We can’t have it both ways; you can’t profess to live a new life and continue to live the old life.  That is why we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
But Moses didn’t just say no to his life in the palace.  The story continues:  Hebrews 11:25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
4) Moses’ Decisions Had a Positive Side. He Chose just as Moses said “no” to one direction for his life, he said “yes” to another direction.
Now some people come to a fork in the road and say no to one direction, but won’t commit themselves to the other direction. But we have to realize that even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just stand there.  Decisions have to be made in life, every day.  And once you make that decision then you have to be ready to carry through with it.
To simply decide without taking appropriate action is wasting your time and your resources.  There has to be movement with that thought.  In choosing to become a Christian there is also a negative response in saying no, and a positive response in saying yes.  And our Christian walk is entirely dependent on both decisions.
In Acts 3:19 Peter tells the people Acts 3:19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.   Repent, or turn from your sins, that’s the negative, the thing or things you stop doing.  And turn to God, that is the positive the new direction that your life is going to take. 
But that isn’t always preached.  60 years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote  “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
But that’s not how it’s supposed to be, both aspects of the conversion experience must happen for us to become a child of God.  All too often either the negative or the positive aspect of Christianity is emphasized to the neglect of the other.
Yet before you can turn to God you have to turn away from sin.   Isaiah warned the people of Israel Isaiah 59:2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. And that warning is as relevant today as it was then. 
And so because sin separates us from God, we need to turn away from it, but remember in that response once you have turned away from sin your life remains a void until you fill it with God.  So you turn from one to the other.  Following God is as much a decision as it was for Moses to align himself with the Hebrews.
Just as Moses didn’t have to make a conscious decision to follow Pharaoh, he was already doing that, in the same way it doesn’t take a deliberate act to follow Satan.  We are  born with that bent toward sin.  We are born walking a road to hell. Our very nature is a nature of rebellion toward God, and toward life.  Evidenced as I have said before in children.  You don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching a child rebellion. You have to teach you kids to say please and thank you, but which one of you taught your kids to say no and won’t and to lay on the floor and throw a tantrum?
We have to refuse to walk the devil’s way any further, and we have to decide to walk the path that God would have us walk.  And when we make that decision there will be things in our life that we have to say no to.  And that is the negative aspect of Christianity, the saying no to sin. 
But it has to happen because Christianity is a new life, a different life, and there are old habits and old life styles that we have to put our foot down over and say “no more.” And it is as we mature in our Christian walk that more of these areas are pointed out.
But let’s not get caught up in the negatives, lest we become like the Pharisees in the gospels, they were the religious leaders of the day who were so caught up in the rules of God that they missed the love and grace of God. 
There are people out there that when you inquire about the nature of their Christian walk, man they whip out a long list and start, “Why I don’t dance, or go to movies, or smoke or chew, or cuss or drink or play cards.”  And the list goes on and on.  And that’s it; in their minds if you don’t do the 400 things on their list then you’re a Christian.  The big problem is that most of the list concerns externals.  Not that they aren’t important, but let us not put too big of a premium on our outward behaviour while neglecting our inward behaviour, you know stuff like anger, envy, lust, hatred, gossip and stuff like.
But there is also a positive element of Christianity, you can’t just dump all the old things and not replace them.  Peter didn’t just tell us to repent, he also told us to turn to God.  And we need to walk with him daily.  Colossians 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
There will always be the negatives in the Christian walk, and that is part of the disciplined life.  But there are piles of positive things to do.  And if you concentrate on the dos then often the don’ts will take care of themselves.
You don’t have to make a conscience effort to stop hating once you start loving.  You don’t have to concentrate on your temper when you are concentrating on your patience.  Your bad habits will start taking care of themselves when you start taking care of self-control.  When you start down God’s road you have made a conscience decision to leave Satan’s road.
Nobody will be attracted to Christ because of the things you don’t do.  Nobody is going to look at you and say “I want to be just like them, they don’t smoke or drink or cuss.”  Instead it will be when people see the joy or peace or forgiveness in your life that they will say “I want me some of that.”
Hebrews 11:26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
5) Moses’ Decision Had a Cost  there was much to be given up.
Moses gave up earthly wealth to gain a heavenly kingdom.  Folks don’t be deceived; the decision to follow Christ is never a cheap one.  Not if we are going to be whole hearted about it.  We will have to give up things, and we’ll have to lose things, and they won’t always be material things.
Moses gave up his place in society, and went from the highest position in the land to a common criminal on the run.  There are stands that we will have to take as a Christian that won’t always make us popular. You may have to take a stand at work about what you will do and won’t do, will say and won’t say that might affect your career. 
There may be things that you enjoy doing that you will have to stop doing, at least for now. 
Moses’ decision must have broken the heart of the ones who loved him, including the woman who chose to raise him as a son.
There are people who won’t be able to cope with your conversion; I lost some close friends when I became a Christ Follower because they just couldn’t accept the change in me.  I had become a new person and they really preferred the old person.   You say, “Well brother they couldn’t have really been friends.”  Oh yes they were.
But eternal life must be worth some sacrifices.  If God has given us so much, there must be something we can give back to God.  But today people don’t want to hear about sacrifice, they don’t want to be challenged about sacrifice and they certainly don’t want to sacrifice.  We want what religion we can buy with the five bucks we throw in the box on a Sunday.
I read this poem a number of years ago:
Three Dollars Worth of God
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
— Wilbur Rees
6) Moses’ Decision Had a Reward.
Hebrews 11:26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him.
It’s true that when you compare the life that Moses left with the life he chose, first tending sheep in the wilderness and then tending Israelites in the wilderness it would appear that he got the short end of the stick, so to speak.  He no longer had the perks that the palace had to offer, he didn’t have all the privileges of being grandson of the Pharaoh instead he became a fugitive leading a group of ungrateful people across a barren desert. 
And I’m sure that there were times that Moses wished that he was back in Pharaoh’s court, just enjoying all the perks of being the King’s grandson instead of wandering around in a hot dessert, listening to the complaints and whining of a ungrateful people.
But ultimately what Moses received was far greater.  You probably can’t name the Pharaoh that tried to kill Moses, you probably can’t name his other grandchildren, but you know who Moses is.  He is one of the heroes of both the Jewish and Christian faith, and he has eternal life.
There will be times that you will make decisions because of your faith that will cost you money, friends or position and you will look around and see people who have no faith and no ethics and no scruples and they have everything.  They have rejected God and his will and his ways and yet . . . you ever feel like the Prophet Jeremiah when he said Jeremiah 12:1 Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. Now let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?
Let me remind you of a couple of things, first of all the game’s not over yet and secondly not all of God’s accounts are settled this side of eternity.  So don’t give up.  Listen to God’s word Galatians 6:9 So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.  Let’s read that again, together.  Galatians 6:9 So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.  Now let’s personalize it and read it together  Galatians 6:9 So if I don’t get tired of doing what is good. If I don’t get discouraged and give up, I will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.  Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up. 
And finally Colossians 3:24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.
So where are you at today?  Any major decisions that you need to make?  How about the decision to serve God?

What Type of Christian was that?

A mad man goes off the rails, slaughters dozens of people and the media describe him as a conservative or fundamental Christian.  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read that statement. Now I know how moderate Muslims feel when terrorists are identified as Muslims. 
But in reality, Anders Behring Breivik, referred to himself as a cultural Christian, and didn’t consider himself a religious Christian which he felt entailed having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, something he didn’t claim.  Whatever type of Christian he may have claimed to have been, he certainly wasn’t a Christ Follower. 
A Christ Follower is one who follows Christ and I would assume that a Fundamentalist Christ Follower would be one who followed the fundamentals of Christ.  And what are the fundamentals of Christ?  Love your enemy, forgive 7 x 70 and seek first the Kingdom of God.   There is nothing there about blowing up government buildings or shooting children.
What about our lives?  Do we follow the fundamentals of Christ’s teachings?  And if not, can we truthfully refer to ourselves as Christ followers?   And if you’re not 100% sure what the fundamentals are then maybe it’s time to read the Gospels again, or for the first time.   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Imagine finding your million-dollar lottery ticket on August 7th and then realizing that it had expired on August 6th.  Could happen.  Atlantic Lottery spokeswoman, Sarah MacBeath, was commenting on a Lotto Max ticket that has been unclaimed since last August and said, “We are really hoping that someone can come forward. Sometimes people put tickets away in their winter coats, or at the bottom of a purse or a junk drawer.”
The ticket was sold in Dartmouth last August and the Lottery has put out a press release letting people know that they only have a few weeks left if they want to claim the prize. They refer to it as a “winning ticket”, but unless someone claims the prize it’s just another piece of scrap paper, it only becomes a winner when someone makes the effort to claim it.
The grace of God is the same way.  As wonderful and incredible of a gift that God’s grace is, unless it is claimed and accepted it is worthless.  The lottery ticket in Dartmouth may never be found but the Grace of God can be found by whosoever will. The only question is:  Will that whosoever be you? 
Oh, and if the ticket is yours, the tithe is $100,000.00.   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Jacob and Hyde

Every story has a beginning and we can find this story begining in Genesis 25:24 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins!   And those twins were mentioned in the scripture that was read earlier.  Hebrews 11:20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
Now the story didn’t have a really great beginning.  If you think you have problems getting your kids to get along you ain’t’ seen nothing.  This was the family that put the fun in dysfunctional.  Sometimes I will be talking to a parent and they will be describing their kids fighting and say “I don’t understand it, they got along great until . . .” But with Jacob and Esau they were at each other’s throats almost from day one. 
We should start at the beginning because the beginning is usually the best place to begin, and so we read in Genesis 25:24-26 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins!   The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau.   Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.  
Kind of a cute thing that Rebekah did, not.  Esau sounds like the Hebrew word of hairy, and Jacob meant heel grabber, which was a colloquial term for someone who couldn’t be trusted, a deceiver, and a manipulator.  The name of her second son became a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If we continue to read we discover the two boys had a bad case of sibling rivalry.  And this wasn’t something new, listen to the description of Rebekah’s pregnancy.  Genesis 25:22-23 But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
Now in hindsight we see how the prophecy came to be fulfilled, how Jacob would go on to become one of the religious leaders that the Jews would look back to as a man of God.  He would be included in both of the genealogies of Christ, would be spoken of in Hebrews chapter 11 as a champion of the faith, and would receive over 360 mentions in the Old and New Testament alike. 
But it wasn’t always like that, sometimes we look at these folks in Hebrews 11 and figure that they had it all under control.  The reality is that Jacob’s early life was a little bit like this  (Use clip from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)   
You’ve probably clued in by now right?  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 and became the basis of numerous movies.  Including the clip I just showed that was from 1932 .  The very names of Jekyll & Hyde have come to represent a duality of nature.  The good and evil side that lurks inside each person.  This was an idea that Stevenson had toyed with for a while; what would happen if you could separate the evil from the good, or for that matter the good from the evil.  The horrifying conclusion that Stevenson came to is that when you are operating in your own strength that evil can overcome the good if given a chance.  When Mr. Hyde was turned loose he took over Dr. Jekyll’s complete being.
Stevenson’s novel is a classic, it’s still being read a hundred and twenty five years after it was written and even people who haven’t read the book or seen the movie know the story line, and the term Jekyll & Hyde has crept into common usage in the English language.  But even though it is a classic story it isn’t all that original. 
The dual nature of man has been a reality since the beginning of time, when we first meet Adam and Eve’s son Cain he is worshipping God and then just 5 verses later he murders his brother.   The Bible is full of Jekyll & Hyde behavior.  Men and women who struggle with the desire to do what is right while trying to rein in the compulsion to do what is wrong. 
 Probably every person who has chosen to follow Christ has felt that struggle at some time.  But one of the best scriptural examples of this Jekyll & Hyde behavior would be Jacob.  Son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, twin brother of Esau.  The very same Jacob who is listed in Hebrews 11 as a hero of the faith. 
But that was Jekyll part of Jacob that made the Hebrews list.  His early years, not so much.  It was during those years that Jacob spent struggling with the Hyde part of his personality.  And perhaps the helpful part of Jacob making the list is the hope that it offers for each one of us. 
Listen to his story, Genesis 25:27-28 As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
A little more rivalry is being set up, Esau the man’s man, this was a guy that Tim Taylor would love, an outdoors man a hunter, big, hairy and he was his father’s favorite.  Then there was Jacob.  Jacob was the homebody, tended the sheep, and was a bit of a cook and Mom really did like him the best.  When we look at the differences in the boys plus the very blatant favoritism shown to each by their parents then we can see how things are starting to be set up.  The story is told over the next twelve chapters.
So let’s start by meeting  Jacob the Schemer  Remember what the name Jacob meant?  Heel Grabber.  Well, we see Jacob come into his own as the heel grabber at the end Chapter twenty five.  Esau comes home from the woods, looked like a bear, probably smelled like a bear and was as hungry as a bear and Jacob has a pot of stew on the fire.  Esau comes in takes one whiff and says “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!”  Now that’s a pleasant attitude isn’t it?  Aren’t you glad your kids don’t talk to each that way?  And so Jacob says “No problem, big fellow, but trade me your birthright for it.”  Do you remember when I spoke about the story of the prodigal son, and how the first born son would get 2/3 of the family’s estate?  That’s what Jacob was asking for and Isaac had a pretty decent size estate.  Now this may not have been very moral, but under Jewish law it was legal. And Esau said  “Look, I’m dying of starvation!  What good is my birthright to me now?” Now Esau may have been hungry but he wasn’t going die, but he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and so he agreed.  Starting to get a picture of Jacob’s nature?
Jacob schemed to get Esau’s inheritance. 
Next we meet Jacob the Liar 
The next incident happens in Chapter 27.  Isaac has become old and blind and wants to do the right thing by his eldest son before he dies by bestowing a blessing on him.  That was the thing to do, and it was very important for Esau to have that blessing, after all he had given up his birthright.  And so Isaac calls Esau to him and tells him to go hunting and bring him a meal of wild game so that he might bestow a blessing upon him.  But unbeknownst to Isaac and Esau Rebekah has overheard the conversation, and as you might remember Jacob was her favorite.
So the fix was in, Rebekah gives Jacob the scoop and they plot to steal Esau’s blessing.  Those are the right words too.  Jacob bought Esau’s birthright, remember what I said, it may have been immoral but it wasn’t illegal, but now he was stealing Esau’s blessing. 
It’s tough for us to grasp this entire concept of blessings, but it was a common occurrence in that day and age.  And the blessing was different then the birthright.  The birthright had to do with family inheritance, the family’s prosperity.  The blessing from the father had more to do with personal success, or personal prosperity.  And even though in our culture we would presume that everything from birthright to blessing should be split evenly between all the children that wasn’t the culture that this story took place in.
Rebekah went and got some of Esau’s clothing for Jacob to wear and then she covered his neck and hands with goatskins so that Isaac would think that it was really Esau that he was blessing.  They weren’t kidding when they said the guy was hairy.  Well, with Jacob’s disguise and Isaac’s blindness they got away with it and a blessing was passed on to the younger son. 
But the reality is that Jacob stole what rightfully belonged to his brother.  He lied to his father three times.  The first was when he dressed up like Esau to deceive his father, the second was when Isaac asked who it was and Jacob claimed to be his brother, and thirdly when his father got suspicious because of his voice and asked him point blank “are you really Esau?” and Jacob answered “Yes Father I am”
Now Esau may have been a little slow but he wasn’t completely daft and so when he gets back and says “Hey dad I’m back and ready to be blessed” and then we read Genesis 27:33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”
I’m not necessarily saying that Esau took it bad but listen to his words in Genesis 27:41 From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”
Remember Jacob wasn’t the slow one and so he left, it was his mother’s idea, and she told him to stay with his uncle for a little while until Esau forgot what had happened to him.  I wonder how long would it take for you to forget that your little brother tricked you out of your birthright and then stole your blessing?  It was twenty years before Jacob would see Esau again.
Next we are introduced to Jacob the Dealer   You don’t have to read very far in the story to discover that Jacob was a deal maker.  Time and time again throughout his life you would see him playing the odds, making deals, trying to come out on top.  If God crossed Jacob’s  mind it was to try and make a deal with him.  Even when God appeared to Jacob in a dream and told him how he would bless him, and how he would bless his descendants.  Listen to what Jacob’s reply was in Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”    Did you catch the deal maker at work here?  “God if you do this, and if you do that, and if you do something else then you will be my God.”
And I’m sure that God wanted to say “Hey Jacob even if I don’t do that I will still be your God.”  You see God being God is dependent on who He is not on what He does.  And as we read the account of the next twenty years that Jacob would spend God is neither named or mentioned, it’s like Jacob has pushed God out of his life and forgotten the promises that were made.  And if you’re familiar with the deal maker then you know that he got back some of his own during that time. 
Maybe you don’t know the story.  Jacob lands at Paddan Aram to live with his Uncle and discovers that Uncle Laban has two daughters.  The youngest was a knockout, the Bible says that she was beautiful and had a good figure.  The older sister, well depending on the version of the Bible you’re reading from the best she could do was that she had pretty eyes. 
Jacob being a man fell in love with the youngest, Rachel, and struck a deal with her father to work for seven years in exchange for being able to marry her.  This by the way was his first cousin, talk about your family tree being a wreath, being from a small island the question that often comes up in my family is: if you get a divorce are you still cousins?
Back to the story, Jacob  works seven years, the wedding takes place there’s a big wedding feast the happy couple retires to the honeymoon tent and in the morning Jacob wakes up with. . .  Leah, Rachel’s older sister, you know the one with the nice eyes. 
The dealer had been dealt.  I know the question that begs to be asked is “How could he have spent his wedding night with the wrong sister”  I don’t know, maybe he was tired, maybe the tent was dark, maybe he’d had a little too much of the wedding wine.”  Let’s not go down that road, let it be suffice to say he was not a happy camper in the morning.
So he confronts Uncle Laban who says “Oh didn’t I mention, in our culture the older sister has to be married first, sorry, but if you’re willing to work another seven years you can marry Rachel as well.”  Jacob continued to work for Laban for another thirteen years during which time his Uncle changed the terms of his employment contract ten times always trying to get the better of Jacob.  Finally Jacob gets tired of being on the short end of the stick and gets back in communication with God who sends him back home to make peace with his brother.  You still with me here?
And so finally we have Jacob the Surrendered
It is during the trip home that we read the story of an encounter that would change Jacob’s life.  It’s found in Genesis 32:22-33.  Jacob meets with a man in the middle of the night and for whatever reason they begin to wrestle if I met a man in the middle of the night my first response wouldn’t be “Hey you want to wrestle?”  but what can I say, Jacob married two of his first cousins.  So they begin to wrestle and they wrestle all night long until daybreak, when it would appear that Jacob is getting the upper hand the man touches Jacob’s hip with one finger and throws it out of place. 
Now there are a lot of questions that can be asked about this portion of scripture, like who was Jacob actually wrestling with?  Was it God?  An Angel or just another man.  And if it was a supernatural being why was Jacob able to get the upper hand at times?  Jacob says he saw the face of God but did he mean that figuratively or literally?  Whoever it was that wrestled with Jacob said Genesis 32:28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Did he mean that Jacob had been wrestling with God right at that moment or that he’d been wrestling with God during that past twenty years?  Inquiring minds want to know.  But we probably never know this side of heaven.  What we do know is that Jacob only seemed to be winning because whoever or whatever it was that Jacob was struggling with showed his superiority by touching his side and dislocating his hip.  All it took was the touch of a finger, and if there was that much strength in a finger what else could he have done?   
All we really know is that this was a turning point for Jacob.  It was here that he chose to live as Jekyll and not Hyde, to serve God and not demand that God serve him.  Up to this point the only time Jacob ever talked to God was when he was in trouble and he wanted something.  It’s amazing how a little trouble can send us scurrying to God.  Without wanting to sound callous I would imagine that ten years ago on September 11 that God heard a lot of unfamiliar voices.  And I would imagine that right here in this group there are people who only talk to God when they have problems, the kid’s sick, they might lose their job, and their teens are rebellious.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  We’ve all tried to make deals with God at one time or another, “God if you do this then I’ll go to church every Sunday, God if you do that then I promise I’ll give ten percent of everything I make to you, God if you do something else I promise that I’ll serve you faithfully.”  Uh-huh. 
The month before I accepted Christ as the manager of my life I was fishing on a herring seiner on the Gaspe coast of Quebec.  My best friend had been trying his hardest to convince me to become a Christ Follower that summer and I wasn’t sure what I wanted. 
Well actually I did know what I wanted; I wanted to make lots of money so I could drive fast cars.  Now what I did when we were fishing was to trip the tow boat.  In herring seining you have a net that’s like a ¼ of a mile long and tied to each end of the net was a boat.  On one end was the fishing boat in this case the Ralli 2, on the other end was a tow boat which was like a little floating bulldozer.  When we would get in the area of fish we’d put two guys in the tow boat and there they’d wait.  And then there was one guy who stood next to the control to release the tow boat and that was me, see I was the engineer so I was the only person allowed to pull levers. 
When you’d get over a school of fish the skipper would yell “Let her go”  and I’d pull the lever that would start the tow boat sliding down a ramp on the stern of the seiner and it would pull the seine with it.  Now I’ve said all of that to say that I would stand out there all alone many nights just me and God.  And I’d try and make deals with Him.  “You know God if you’ll let us have a really good season so I can buy the little Mazda RX7 I want then I will become a Christian.”  
But you know what?  God isn’t interested in deals, he’s interested in obedience and there isn’t anything that you can do that will earn you God’s favor.  God didn’t have to bless Jacob, but he did.  And God doesn’t have to forgive you but he will.
And there are times that we struggle with God over that issue of obedience and there are even times that it seems like maybe we are getting the upper hand, but we’re not.  In Stephenson’s novel, the only way that Jekyll could destroy Hyde was to kill him, and in doing so he had to kill himself.
Something very similar had to happen to Jacob, he didn’t have to kill himself, instead he had to put to death his desire to always come out on top.
In the New Testament Paul talks about putting different things to death Colossians 3:5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
And in Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
And again in  Romans 6:6-7 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.
I don’t know what you’re struggling with, maybe nothing, maybe you and God have everything under control, and if that’s the case super.  But if you are struggling to keep Hyde in his place it’s not going to work.  You can’t do it by yourself, it’s only when you give it over to God and quit trying to do it in your own power that you will win and win you will.  Listen to the promise made to you  1 John 5:4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
Do you have that victory?  Do you want that victory?

A Royal Meeting

Will and Kate are wrapping up their visit and by all accounts they took Canada and the States by storm.  Unless you have been living under a rock then you know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been on a belated, extended honeymoon.  Their journey has taken them from PEI to Nunavut to Hollywood.   If you asked them, I’m sure the highlight of the trip was meeting Steve and Jen Akins and the kids in Charlottetown and their biggest disappointment would have been missing Dean at the Stampede…… just saying.  
They seem like very nice people, but you understand, they are just people.  In theory, they put their pants on one leg at a time and they struggle with many of the same issues that we do. 
I am amazed at how people will drive hundreds of kilometres and stand around for hours to get a glimpse at  a couple who someday may be King and Queen of England but show no interest in meeting and developing a relationship with the King and Master of the universe.  
Meeting and greeting Will and Kate might provide a memory that will last a lifetime but meeting the King of the Universe can provide us with the grace that will last an eternity.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Standing Face to Faith

Every story has a beginning.  And this one is found in Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. 
Did you catch that?  A righteous man.  The only blameless person living on the earth at the time.  He walked in close fellowship with God.

You know his story, you learned all about it in Sunday School.  But really you know Noah for the boat he built, but have you ever thought of all that went into building that boat?  Seriously, the man built a large, a very large boat in the middle of a country that had no major body of water and had never seen rain?
It had to be an act of either insanity or faith.  And we don’t have to guess because the Bible tells us that it was an act of faith, in the scripture that was read this morning we heard  Hebrews 11:7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

God had decided to destroy the world because of its unrighteousness and the evil that had become so rampant and there was Noah standing face to faith. 
Did you ever have a teacher in high school or college that graded on the curve?  You know the theory that if a test was a good test and the teacher was a good teacher then the grades should fall along a bell curve. You’d have so many As and Fs, a few more Bs and Ds and the majority would fall in the C range.  C being average and by it’s very definition most people are average, that’s what average is.  And so a curve would end up looking something like this.  However, if the test wasn’t a good test or the material wasn’t taught well enough the entire curve would move down and when that happened a professor who was committed to the entire curve thing would grade accordingly, and move the marks up. Is that somewhat clear?
The problem was when the curve was here, and one or two students still scored high, thus indicating that the problem wasn’t with the test or the teacher but with the students. And the prof wouldn’t move the marks.  We referred to those people in the nicest possible way as curve blowers.
Noah was a curve blower. Had there not been a Noah then God could conclude that either he hadn’t taught the course properly or that the test was too hard. But if we go back to the book of Genesis we read in Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Because Noah was righteous, because Noah was obedient, because Noah enjoyed a close relationship with God that was the evidence that it could be done, if people had a wanted to.
I wonder if any of us would have joined Noah in making it into the faith hall of fame, after all the people who are mentioned are simply ordinary people who did extraordinary things through the power of God, they were sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see.”  
One of our favourite Australian singers was a guy by the name of Graeme Connor and on his Tropicalli CD is a song that includes the line, “If we only believe what we can see, then we will only see what we can believe.”  Think about it, “If we only believe what we can see, then we will only see what we can believe.” The secret then of faith is seeing out beyond the horizon of our sight.  Or believing more then we can see.

1) Do We Have Enough Faith To Believe That God Can Do Great Things, Through Us?  Now the first part is easy isn’t it, “Do we have enough faith to believe that God can do great things?”  of course we do, throughout history God has done great things.  He created the heavens and the earth in six days, he parted the red sea, he brought down Jericho, he closed the lion’s mouths for Daniel, He sent His Son to be born of a virgin,  and three days after His Son died on a cross he raised Him from the dead, God has always done great things.  But that isn’t the question, the question was,  “Do we have enough faith to believe that God can do great things, through us?”  Yes, or no?  As strange as it may seem God has used people throughout history to carry out His will, do you believe that He can use you?   I love the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, and one of my favourite parts of this story is when David come out and Goliath gets his first look at the champion of Israel, and he is a little put out, after all he was a giant and all they were going to send to fight him was a boy?  So he taunts David a little bit, lays down how bad he going to hurt him and then David has his opportunity for rebuttal and he says in, 1 Samuel 17:45-46 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!

David believed that God could bring down Goliath, but he also believed that God could use him to bring down Goliath.  You see that is the secret, because of the rules that God has laid down for himself he needs to use people to do the things which need getting done.  Oh he could have toppled Goliath without the shepherd boy and his sling shot, but that isn’t the way he works.  When it gets down to the bottom line God uses everyday people he may give them a little supernatural help but he needs people.  And if God is going to use someone why can’t that someone be you? 
Just from the human side, wouldn’t it be great if you allowed yourself to be used of God and in three or four thousand years people still talked about how Mike killed the Giant or how Angela brought down the walls of a great city and how Matt built an ark.  What can you believe God for today, What could he do through you and with you, look around at this world and ask yourself, “What would I change if I could?”  And then ask yourself “If I had the greatest power in the universe at my disposal could I do it?”
Perhaps you’ve heard Bobby Kennedy quoted as saying “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”,  Well actually he didn’t say it, his brother Ted said at his funeral “Some saw things the way they were and asked ‘why?”   Bobby saw things the way they could be and asked ‘why not?’“ But Ted was actually quoting George Bernard Shaw who said “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”   When was the last time you saw things the way they could be and asked why not.  When was the last time you looked at an unbelieving loved one and said “They could be a Christian, why not”  When was the last time you looked at injustices in the world and thought, “We could find a solution, why not?”  Instead of grumbling about the way things are in our community, our province and our country have you envisioned it the way it could be and said why not? 
You say “but preacher I’m just one person, I’m powerless,”  ahah, if you think that you have bought into a lie of the Devil, You have the power, do you remember the promise of Christ in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
You will receive power, think about it You, not just others but You, will not might, not may but will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, that would lead me to believe that if you don’t have power in your life then you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life. Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 
Who gives you strength?  You might not be able to do it by yourself,  but then again nobody asked you to do it by yourself.  You have the power of almighty God at your disposal and we know what kind of things he is capable of, don’t we?  Have you come face to faith with the fact that God can do great things through you?
                                                                             
2) Do You Have Enough Faith To Believe In The Goodness Of God, No Matter What?  Once again the first part of the statement is fairly easy to answer.  Do you believe in the goodness of God.  Of course you do, the Bible says time and time again “The Lord is good”, and most of us have experienced his goodness.  It doesn’t take much faith to believe in the goodness of God when the sun is shining, we have a job, we have healthy children and the world is at peace.  But what about when the sun isn’t shining, we are unemployed, have sick children and the world is at war?  I heard a story once about a lady trying to comfort a friend whose child had leukemia, “Maybe God will be good and he will heal your son” said the first lady to which her friend replied, “God will be good whether He heals my son or not.”  Do you have faith enough to believe in the goodness of God, no matter what?
We live in an imperfect world.  A world where much of the suffering and pain comes from man and it’s neither fair nor correct to blame God.  If God fixed all of our problems where would it leave us?  If every time we got into trouble God stepped in and with a little Godly influence bailed us out would we ever learn? 
When I was learning how to fly I had an annoying habit of resting my left foot on the rudder pedal.  It actually didn’t matter a whole lot in the air but on landings it meant that we were landing crooked on the runway, a neat way to remove the landing gear from your airplane.  Time and time again it would happen and every time, just before we touched down my instructor would correct the situation.  Finally Dave must have gotten frustrated because as we came in for our final approach he tucked his feet under the seat and sat on his hands.  “what are you doing” I inquired calmly.”  His reply will always stick with me he said, “As long as you know that I’ll correct your mistake you’ll keep making it.”  God has created us with an incredible capacity to correct our own mistakes, and along with that he has given us the greatest gift in the world and that is the gift of our free will so we can choose to exercise that capacity or not.  Oh by the way I didn’t correct the mistake, we crashed on impact and I was consumed in the flames, no that’s another story.  The truth is that on that day I learnt not to rest my left foot on the rudder.  But only because I knew that I had to learn it.
The Bible says that we were created just a little lower then angels, and I believe that we were created with the ability to solve whatever problems come our way, whether we choose to or not does not change the goodness of God.
Think about all the things that people dump on God.  In 1985 a family that I had grown up with lost their ten year old son Travis.  Trapper had been digging a cave in a mud bank when it collapsed on him and he suffocated.  I took part in the funeral and afterwards I remember standing on the sidewalk outside the funeral home with tears streaming down my face demanding of God why, why did you allow this.  The truth of the matter is that God could save all the Travis Laselles who suffocate and all of the Vaughn Taylors who are killed in car accidents and all of the Welsley Morses who drown but He had already given them the intelligence to know that you shouldn’t dig caves in mud banks, drive too fast or work in your boat alone without a life jacket. Travis, Vaughn and Welsley were friends of mine, and I would love to have them back but it does not make God any less good because they died in accidents.  And if the accidents hadn’t been their fault then they would have been the fault of some other human being not God.
What about diseases like aids and cancer?  I don’t believe that aids is God’s judgement on the homosexual community, if it was then lesbians would be in danger as well as homosexual men and they aren’t.  But the homosexuals are the ones most responsible for the spread of aids, along with promiscuous heterosexuals and intravenous drug users.  God should cop the blame for something which has spread primarily through man’s sinfulness? 
Besides it gets worse because we know how to stop the spread of aids, but mankind lets it’s hormones rule them instead of their brains and so aids has to be the only disease in history that is spread through stupidity.   Give me a break and realise that it will be someone using the intelligence that God has given them to develop a cure for aids.  Most of the problems in the world from cancer to hunger to war to the environment are the product of man’s greed.  If the western world poured as much money into cancer research as they have into their armed forces or for their toys then the big “C” wouldn’t kill our loved ones like it does.  World hunger isn’t a supply problem it’s a greed and distribution problem, how much food is destroyed or not produced in Canada, Australia or the U.S. because there isn’t enough profit.  How much milk has been dumped, how much wheat is stockpiled how many sheep have been shot.  Don’t blame God blame man. 
Have you come face to faith in believing in the goodness of God, no matter what? 
3) Do You Have Enough Faith To Believe In The Wisdom Of God, Even When You Don’t Agree With It?   We know that God is wise,  Especially  when his wisdom is in agreement with ours.  But what about when God appears to be leading in a direction that we don’t consider the wisest course of action.  Do we then have enough faith to follow our heart and not our head? 
Listen to some of the things that people were commended for believing in Hebrews chapter 11:
Hebrews 11:7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before.
Hebrews 11:8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 
Hebrews 11:11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. 
Hebrews 11:17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 
                                                    
Hebrews 11:24-25 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.   He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 
Hebrews 11:29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians followed, they were all drowned.
Hebrews 11:30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
There are times as parents that we do things that don’t seem overly wise to our children.  Things like sending them to school or taking them to the dentist, or getting them vaccinated.  They don’t think those things are wise, why not, because they can’t see the big picture, they haven’t matured enough to recognise the validity of those things.  Could it be, just maybe that we can’t always see the big picture? 
You won’t always agree with what God is doing, don’t try to get spiritual and tell me that you do, you don’t and you won’t, because he is God and you is just a people.  In 1990 God directed us to move to Australia.  The church in Bracken Ridge thought that was a great idea, they could see God’s wisdom in bringing them Denn Guptill from Truro Nova Scotia,  But you know there were people in  Wesleyan church in Truro  that weren’t quite as convinced at that point of the wisdom of God.  In 1994 God sent us back to the Maritimes to plant a brand new church in Bedford, and you may think that was a great idea but I can assure you that there are people at North Point Wesleyan Methodist Church in Brisbane who didn’t think it was so hot.
Sometimes God commands you to do things which would appear to go against common sense, but nowhere does God tell us that we have to understand everything God calls us to do, or everything that God does in our life, but he does call us to be obedient.
Have you come face to faith in believing in the wisdom of God, even when you don’t agree with it?
Faith, someone once defined it as Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him, And you have to agree that many of these people had most excellent adventures even if they didn’t understand it at the beginning.  Do we have enough faith today to believe that God can do great things, through us?    Do we have enough faith today to believe in the goodness of God, no matter what?  Do we have enough faith to believe in the wisdom of God, even when you don’t agree with it?
Faith sounds tough but it’s gotta be done because Paul tell us in Hebrews 11:6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Are you ready to take the step and live by faith?  Today is the day to stand face to faith.

A Sale on Sin

On my way to Beulah I saw an interesting store in Salisbury NB, it was a New Brunswick Liquor Clearance Centre? A clearance centre for booze!  Interesting. And it got me thinking.  I was wondering; will the savings carry over to the cost that alcohol has on society and families. I mean if someone saves 25% at the liquor store and then they are in an alcohol related accident will 25% fewer people die?  And if the driver is arrested and charged will they only have to serve 75% of their sentence?  If someone developed a drinking problem and became an alcoholic drinking spirits that were purchased on sale would they only have to attend a 9 step program? Would an abusive drinker be 25% more abusive or 25% less abusive because of the sale?
If someone shot and killed numerous people with a pistol, they had bought on sale there would be a great hue and cry concerning the person who sold the pistol.  So how come NB Liquor won’t have to be accountable for the cost and tragedy that comes from the misuse of their product? And I wonder how many more lives are lost because of alcohol as compared to guns but we haven’t tried to register drinkers.  Just wondering.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

And there He Was. . . Gone

No Ordinary Family 2 Enoch
Every story has a beginning and this story has a strange beginning.  In most of the stories that are told in Hebrews 11 there are some really neat things happening, nations begin, arks are built, people are rescued.  But listen again to the scripture that was read earlier  Hebrews 11:5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—”he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.
That sounds like something out of x-files.  “Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying.”  You might say “there he was and there he was, gone.”  Taken up to heaven without dying.  That is so cool and it’s even cooler in the King James Version because it reads Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.   Enoch was translated.  I’ve had my words translated, and we all know what that means.  You speak using words from one language and they are repeated in a different language.  One night on my first trip to Africa my friend Nick Graham spoke in English his words were translated into a second language and then another person translated them into a third language. 
 So we know that when you translate a language the message remains the same but the words used are different.  In the original language the word used meant “To change, or to turn”  And another friend of mine H.C. Wilson, who gives oversight to the Wesleyan Church worldwide has referred on some occasions to translators as “Word Turners”
So Enoch was changed, he was turned from one thing into another thing, while the essence of who he was remained the same. And we don’t know how, not at all.  And if anyone tells you they know how it happened they are bluffing. 
But it is a neat concept.  When I was trying to figure out what happened and how it happened this is what came to mind  (scene from Disney’s Cinderella).  The essence of who Cinderella was remained the same but she had been changed and translated. 
Quite a number of years ago now Joe Diffie had a song called “Prop me up beside the Juke Box When I’m Gone.”    And that’s why I love country music.  And in the song there is a line that says “I’m not afraid of dying it’s the thought of being dead.”  But for most of us it is the opposite, we’re not afraid of being dead it’s the thought of dying and not knowing what that will look like. 
And I don’t think I’m alone in that four hundred years ago Francis Bacon wrote “I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.”  And forty years ago Woody Allen said virtually the same thing “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
And probably if most of us were honest here today we would admit to the same thing.  That we have the assurance of an eternity with God, but we aren’t really looking forward to the journey.  It’s like travelling with Angela, she wants to be wherever it is we are going but she hates to fly and doesn’t look forward to that part of the trip. 
If we could be assured of the transition and that it would be peaceful, then perhaps we could say with Samuel Butler “To die is but to leave off dying and do the thing once for all.”  Or Joyce Cary who said “I look upon life as a gift from God. I did nothing to earn it. Now that the time is coming to give it back, I have no right to complain.”
I love the bumper sticker that says “I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming like the passengers in his car.”
But we don’t get that choice; most of us won’t get to pick how we are going to go.   
So what do we know about Enoch?  Not much.  He is mentioned three times in the New Testament, here in Hebrews.  In the book of Luke he is mentioned in the genealogy of Christ and there is a brief and obscure reference to a prophecy of his in the book of Jude.  There is almost as much written about him in the 2 verses in Hebrews 11 as there was in the original story where we read in  Genesis 5:21-23 When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
Now some of you have fixated on the fact that Enoch lived 365 years and you are stuck there.  And you are thinking “365 years that is impossible, how can I believe that bible when it makes statements like that?”   You know I don’t have a problem with that.  Some people have said that it was just a different way of counting they used back then.  I tried that different way of counting when I was taking math in school, didn’t work out so good for me. 
But you know I’m quite content to say “ok, he live 365 years, let’s move on.” Because it wasn’t even that long in the big scheme of things back then, the bible tells us that Enoch’s son Methuselah lived for 969 years.  Enoch was just middle aged when he was translated. 
And I wouldn’t worry too much about not living that long Mark Twain got it right when he said “Methuselah lived to be 969 years old . You boys and girls will see more in the next fifty years than Methuselah saw in his whole lifetime.”  And if that was true over a hundred years ago think of how more you will see today.
My theory, if you are interested in it, is that when humanity was that close to creation it wouldn’t have been unusual for people to live that long.  Have you ever made a copy of a copy of a copy?  Starts to get a little fuzzy doesn’t it?   Every step away from the original means that the copy gets a little less crisp and clear.  If we believe the bible account then Enoch was only six copies from the original.   
But really what does it matter to you?  You probably won’t live to be 365 years old.  If you are lucky you won’t have a child at 65 and you probably won’t be translated.  Although in saying that you understand that we believe that Christ will return, that is part of the promise that we are given in the bible, and here is another part of that promise.  1 Corinthians 15:51-52 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.   Sure sounds like what happened to Enoch.  But that is a whole different sermon.
Today I want to focus on what we can learn about living and dying from Enoch.
Genesis 5:18 When Jared was 162 years old, he became the father of Enoch.  1)  We have been born to live Sounds kind of redundant doesn’t it?  Of course we’ve been born to live, if we weren’t born we wouldn’t be living would we?  And yet the truth of the matter is this:  Many many people in our world today walk, talk and breath but they aren’t really alive they’re just taking up space.  Life offers them nothing, it has become a drudgery and they are simply going through the motions.  That isn’t what Christ had in mind when He told us in John 10:10 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.   That promise might be 2000 years old but it is as valid and fresh today as it was 2000 years ago when Jesus made it to his disciples on that bright Palestinian afternoon. 
The problem is that trying to explain abundant life to someone who hasn’t got it is like watching an ad for a 60 inch HD TV on your 12 inch black and white, oh yes I can see the difference now. 
Christ didn’t come that we could live life half-heartedly, his intent was that we would live it wholeheartedly.  Life is meant to be lived on the very edge of expectancy.
a) We need to recognize that we have something to offer to life.  I think that one of the saddest things that I see on a day to day basis are people who are just putting in time.  They’re just here.  I mean they are here, they go to work and raise a family but the overriding goal of each day is simply to make it through to the next day.  They lay absolutely nothing on the line, never take any risks, never put anything back into life.
There are too many people out there who are like the servant that Jesus told us about in Matthew chapter 25 do you know the story?  A wealthy man split up his wealth amongst his servants and told them to invest it, the first two doubled what they had but the third was afraid that he would lose it so he buried his money in the back yard and simply gave it back to the boss intact, needless to say the boss wasn’t really impressed. 
But there are people out there just like that, they really don’t want what they were given so they figure that if they can hide it they can give it back later but that’s not the way it works.  It’s easy to get into the mindset that says “As long as everything’s all right why put ourselves out?”  Hey, even a dead fish can drift downstream; it takes some fight to make it against the flow.
I truly believe that even though we may never be a Da Vinci or Rembrandt, may never be a Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa that we were each put on this world to make a difference.  We can help make an impact on our world, but only if we want to.
b) We need to recognise that we are here to enjoy life.  Sometimes it is hard to find time in our hectic lifestyles to stop and laugh.  Be honest when was the last time that you giggled, snickered or had a good belly laugh?  It has been clinically proven that people who laugh live longer.  They used to say that married men lived longer then single men but my Dad told me that it just seemed longer. 
Remember King Solomon, he was King David’s son, considered by many to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, wrote the book of Proverbs well one of those proverbs say  Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine.   There are many things in life that I won’t regret doing, and a good portion of those were the fun things I’ve done with my family and friends.  Very few people will say on their death bed, “Darn I wish I had of enjoyed life less”
The stereotype Christian was probably summed up best by Mark Twain who described an acquaintance as “a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked as if he was waiting for a vacancy on the trinity.”   You know how Christians are viewed as dull and boring and solemn, never smiling, never laughing,  But I don’t think that was what Christ had in mind.
Too often we fail to recognize that Christ had a sense of humour.  Really it would be very difficult to keep a straight face well using metaphors of camels leaping through the eyes of needles, and people with huge beams trying carefully very carefully to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye.  “Hold on, I’ve almost got it” and wham he belts his friend in the head with the beam again.  Let alone the thought of someone who is very careful to strain the little bitty gnat from their drink, being careful to remove and discard it and then that same person unknowingly and unwittingly swallowing a huge hairy two hump camel.  Now there’s a serious thought.  I figure that God must have a sense of humour, after all he created me, what are you laughing at?  He created you too.
c) We Need to recognise that we have a responsibility to do our very best.  Luke 21:1-4 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
If you were brought up in the church you might remember that they used to talk about the widow putting two mites in the offering, I have a friend who said as a child he could never understand why the lady would put two mice in the box.
We need to recognise that this story is not a financial statement but instead is an attitude statement.  It easy to see how little the widow gave without realizing how much the widow gave.  We gotta realize that she didn’t simply give two very small copper coins she gave everything she had.  When we give to God it should cost something, I have often said that we don’t need equal giving but equal sacrifice, after all a lot of other people could have given the two coins and it would have just been pocket change, for them to have matched her sacrifice they would have had to dig a lot deeper.  But it’s not just money, you know what they saying is “When they say it’s not the money, it’s the money.”  In this case it goes much further then money because God wants all of you.  Everything you are and everything you’re going to be.
Listen to what Paul told believers in the book of Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
In whatever you do, it doesn’t matter if it’s a word or a deed, everything you do, whatever you say, all of your actions, your work, and your play, everything that you do as a Christian you are to do in the name of Jesus.  That one fact, that simple Scripture should be enough to compel every man, woman and child who professes to know Jesus Christ to strive for excellence in every pursuit and endeavour. 
When you call yourself a Christian then you are calling yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, and your are supposed to be Christ like or like Christ, and so your actions reflect the actions of your Lord or at least they should, and I trust that He would do His very best.
I said all of that to say , We Have Been Born To Live!
Genesis 5:23-24 Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
2) We Have Been Born to Die   I know that Enoch didn’t die, but the fact that he didn’t was reason enough to put him in the bible.  He is only one of two people who we are told skipped that part of life.  The other one was Elijah 2 Kings 2:11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.   That sounds even cooler than being translated, whisked into heaven in a chariot of fire.   Was it a real chariot of fire?  Maybe, but think of the many different things that would have to be described as a chariot of fire by someone who lived 3000 years ago. 
Our biggest problem at this point is that we view death as the enemy.  We see death as  some kind of great  cosmic mistake.  And so we are never quite comfortable talking about it.  We are  like the two friends who meet on the street and the first one says “So how’s your wife?” and his friend responds “Oh didn’t you know, she’s gone to heaven.”  And so the first fellow says, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean I’m sorry she’s in heaven I mean I’m glad, no I don’t mean I’m glad she’s in heaven I’m just surprised that she’s there.”  Which brings me to my next question, “If heaven is such a wonderful place how come nobodies in a hurry to go?” 
I mean like Disney World is a wonderful place and everybody wants to go to Disney World.  The answer by the way is that’s the way God made us.  God instils into each one of us a sense of self preservation, it in turn keeps us from doing dumb things like stepping off of tall buildings and into the path of speeding trains.  But even though we try to put it off death is inevitable. 
Death may be unexpected, it may be a tragedy or a blessing.  It may be as early as the death that comes to over a 100,000 pre-born babies a year across Canada.  It may be as tragic as a family destroyed in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver as violent as a life stolen by a killer or it may be as peaceful as a senior Christian entering his or her saviour’s arms as they sleep.  But however death comes, it is inevitable.  Tony Campolo put it eloquently when he said  “You are all going to die and they will put you in a hole in the ground, throw dirt in your face and then go back to the church and eat egg salad sandwiches.”
In its plainest terms death is simply the end of life, that is the end of this life.  We need to recognize that our destiny is death and we can’t change that.  David Niven said “I won’t go, I’ll kick and scream and make a terrible fuss”  Now I don’t know what type of fuss he made but I do know that in 1983 he went.  The truth is that we are all going, whether we want to or not because We Have Been Born To Die.
So let’s see what have we got so far, We’ve been born to live, and we’ve been born to die, pretty well covers it doesn’t it?  Oh not that’s right there has to be more doesn’t there?
Genesis 5:23-24 Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
3) We Have Been Born To Live Forever.  I marvel at people who have their entire lives planned out yet never give any thought as to what will happen when the last page is turned.   The bible tells us of an incident that happened between Jesus and someone who was obviously thinking about what would happen when the last page was turned, we read in Luke 10:25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
But really the lawyer was asking the wrong question.  Sometimes we hear Christians talk about eternal life being a part of the grace package, but the reality is that we are taught in the bible that we are eternal beings and we will all live forever.  Some will live forever in the presence of God, which means in the presence of love and light and goodness and kindness and joy. 
And others will live forever far from God and far from love and light and goodness and kindness and joy.  And Jesus tells us that each one of us gets to choose where we will spend forever.  John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.   The how is spelled out in  John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.   And when we accept Jesus we accept his grace and his forgiveness and his instructions, and it’s our choice. 
None of us choose when and how we would be born, very few if any of us will be able to choose when and how we will die, but everyone of us will get to choose where we will spend eternity.