Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What An Amazing Opportunity!



   It surely is aggravating when Christmas and New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday. As I reflect on the history of my life, I am reminded that having these holidays on Sunday puts a type of “wrench” into your normal, traditional actions on these days, especially Christmas Day. Christmas Day is about ripping open packages and eating and being with your family and eating again. It is about decorations and traveling and memories and sweet smiles on the faces of our children. It is a special “once a year” time that allows families and friends to be together, sometimes when they do not see each other any other time of the year. Christmas is a special time and I love it. That “Christmas on Sunday” really only happens about once every 5-7 years. It can be a “burden” to my plans and a “wrench” to my traditional activities, but it is not every year.

            But…wait…

   Perhaps I’ve been looking at this wrong all along. Perhaps I have failed to appreciate the “amazing opportunity” that has been presented.  On Sunday, December 25, and January 1 for that matter, we have a very special opportunity to “practice what we preach.” Can you think of a better circumstance to make clear to your family what really matters most? You have an opportunity to make a statement to your children that can last a lifetime. While their friends in the neighborhood are riding their new bikes and playing with their toys, you are showing your children that nothing, and you mean absolutely nothing, takes precedent over your commitment to God, and the church. I do not know if our children and teen agers will remember one thing from their Bible class and worship service on that day. In fact, it is very likely there will be some “disappointed” children having to put their toys down as they get in the car and head to the church building. But, you are providing them a memory of what mama and daddy put first. That is absolutely “priceless.” By the way, in the “bringing up” of your children, this roll of the calendar to a Sunday Christmas will only happen a handful of times. Please do not waste the “amazing opportunity” that is there for you this year. I said earlier in this article you will have an opportunity to make a statement to your children that will last a lifetime. The truth is, you are going to make that statement, one way or the other.

May God bless you and yours in all you do.
~Clark

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteusness”
Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Striving for Perfection

By: Charles Steiner


  Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel like you have to be perfect all the time, or your never happy? The protestant preacher Martin Luther (1483-1546) started his life out at a young age in much the same way. As a young man he had the goal of living without sinning. He became a Catholic monk. At the monastery he worked all day and then prayed and studied at night. His idea was that if he could isolate himself in this way, it would keep him from sinning. At the end of his first year as a monk, he vowed to live as a monk forever and was part of a big ceremony. At the ceremony he put on a distinguished looking robe. He thought the robe would make him feel holy, but it didn’t. In an effort to feel holy he began to do radical things, which even most monks wouldn’t do. He fasted frequently. He put in extra work. Eventually, Martin came to the realization after reading Romans 1:17 “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” that no amount of work on his part to be sinless could ever make him justified in the eyes of God.

  The truth is, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) You see, it is only through Jesus’ gift of redeeming us of our sins, that we can ever be made right with God.

  Some of us take it to the opposite extreme as Luther. We think that because we can’t be perfect, we might as well do whatever we want with no care or concern for what is right and wrong. In this case, may we remember the words of Paul in Romans 6:1-4, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” So what is the answer for the Christian who struggles with being a perfectionist? Do your best to always obey God, but never forget that it is only through Jesus that we are made right with God. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Better Check Yourself


By: Randy Latner



Sometimes in our lives we have to take a step back and look at where our priorities truly are from time to time.  Let’s take a look at what are busy summers are like and I think you will see the point I’m driving at. We drive hundreds of miles just to see a desolate terrain of sand with non-drinking water crashing against it.  We spend a huge amount of hours on the roads of America visiting sites that we’ve already seen before in magazines, the internet or on the travel channel.  We run ourselves ragged to make sure that we don’t miss a birthday party, cookout, family reunion, date night, softball game, pool party, movie premier, or clothing sale at our local shopping center.  

So what happens to us on Sunday morning at 9am?  What about 6pm that very same day?  We get so wrapped up in our social lives at times that our spiritual lives tend to be placed on the backburner.  I’ve visited many congregations of the Lord’s Church in my lifetime and while I’m there, I like to take notice of the board that they post their attendance numbers on.  If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered where those 75 or more members are between 9 and 10 am.  Or even wondered why people seem to be so punctual on Facebook in their statuses but can’t even make it to worship on Sunday or to one night of Vacation Bible School.  

What’s the answer? What’s the solution?  In Luke Chapter 14 starting in verse 25, Christ talks about the cost of being His disciple.  He says that we will have to hate our families including ourselves if we truly want to be a follower of Him.  He then goes on to discuss in two separate examples where a builder isn’t able to finish building a tower because he didn’t count the cost and also where a king needs to figure out how many men it will take to win a war so he doesn’t have to send for help once the battle begins.  While there’s nothing wrong with any of the above mentioned events in our lives, I feel that so many of us fill our time with these things that we don’t have room for the Lord’s church and its’ activities. We aren’t willing to give up our social lives for the Cause of Christ and in turn if we are not careful we will place our own families and lives above His. I challenge you to look over your schedules this week and see where you can make adjustments to fit in time with your Christian family.  As the old saying goes, we better check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves. 

About the Author: Randy Latner is married to the love of his wife Mandy. He is a fireman for the city of Tuscaloosa. He is also a campus minister for the Cottondale church of Christ.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Other Side of the Phone


       
I have been running crazy since the storms hit on Wednesday, April 27. We, as a congregation, have worked hard to do what we could to help. We’ve worked with chainsaws and we’ve worked in kitchens. We’ve gone to those in need and the needy have come to us. We’ve tried to support our members and support our community. We’ve tried to address physical needs and spiritual needs, encouraging brethren and reaching out to those outside the church. We’ve seen hard work from our very young and from our older members. For what we’ve been able to do and for what we can do, I am thankful.

A fixture in my life since that day in late April has been a cell phone stuck to my right ear. For a short period of time that first weekend, my cell phone was lost. While I felt very lost without it, I must admit there was a type of “relief” not hearing it ring. But, in a box that was being delivered, my phone was found, and the “chaotic” pace continued. I wish I had kept up from the beginning with every state that made a call to me. It has been quite an experience. The common denominator has been they call wanting to help. What can we do? What do you need? The amounts have not been the same but the genuine interest from brethren has been of such unity that I’m reminded of the words of the song, “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds.”

I really cannot give you a number of people I do not know that I’ve spoken with in the last month. It should have hit me long before now, but I really had my “aha” moment as I sat at my desk on Monday, Nay 23. I had just gotten off the phone with a man named Jack Wall. Jack is an elder of the church in Evant, Texas. He is a county commissioner in that area and seems to be a very personable man. After we spoke, it really hit me. What kind of people have I been talking to? What kind of Christian people have been on the “other side of the phone?” These are people that I do not know, could not pick out of a police line-up and, in many cases, have never been to the places they call home. Yet, somehow, I have a very special bond with them. I anticipate being with them in that place called Heaven. I understand the beautiful description of the first century church. They had “all things common.” It does not mean they all liked Andy Griffith, okra and lemonade. It does mean in that deep part of your life and soul that means absolutely the most, they shared. It is a bond that is not limited to this life. It is a shared relationship that will go with us into eternity.
To my brethren that have been on the “other side of the phone,” I am thankful that with you, I have “all things common” and I do look forward to meeting you some day!
~ Clark Sims  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The World Needs People of Great Character

By Guest Blogger: Jon Townsend

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, however, I try to live each day to the best of my ability. I wake up purposed to accomplish personal change. I organize my tasks and agenda to accommodate those changes, and it becomes my priority. Why? So I can be a better Christian, husband, father, and friend. I hear people talk about how others need to change so everything could just be better, but I rarely hear those people admit that they need to change. Here is a simple truth: when we transform ourselves we ignite the fires of change in others. If each of us was willing to change our Character for the better, incrementally, then our churches would begin to build stronger members, incrementally. Our community would share greater moral awareness, incrementally, and ultimately the integrity of our society would grow into a harvest of people exhibiting great Character, incrementally.
Jesus tells a story of an Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18 that inspires us to self realization. In the parable, a servant owed the king a debt that equated to 200,000 years of a laborer’s salary. This exorbitant debt was as unfathomable then as it is today. After some time the king called the servant to settle his account. The servant begged for his debt to be forgiven, and the king had pity on him. The absurd debt owed by the pitiable servant was forgiven. So what happened to the newly freed servant? He had no debt, none! Did he call the Dave Ramsey show and scream, "I'm debt free!"?Did he go and celebrate his new found freedom? No, he went and found a fellow laborer who owed him 100 days worth of salary and he tried to collect the debt. When the fellow laborer couldn't pay, the debt free servant  had the proportionally insignificant debt laden servant thrown into jail! When this came to the king's attention by other workers, the unmerciful servant was summoned to come back. The king was furious, and he sentenced the merciless servant to be thrown into prison until he could satisfy his debt of 200,000 years of wages. Here is a person who owed more money than was ever possible to earn, yet when someone slighted him with an insignificant sum in comparison with his own he was unwilling to forgive. Jesus closed the parable by saying," So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother, from your heart." (Matthew 18.35, English Standard Version)
Selfish people want to examine the faults of others to make themselves feel better about personal weaknesses. It allows them to think, "I'm not as bad as so and so, therefore, I don't really have to change." The sad reality is fault finders are some of the most pitiful and miserable people. I can say this because I'm a recovering selfish fault finder. I'm working hard to overcome this debilitating weakness one step at a time. I have found that seeking the highest good within myself helps me to seek the highest good in others. That search for strength within my life lets me realize two profound lessons. One, I have made mistakes and will make mistakes. Two, when I fail I must be willing to say I'm wrong, gain forgiveness and move on. When I adjust my perspective from having obtained, some stature to trying to obtain a Christ like stature I'm humbled because I know my present character doesn't favorably measure to His. That's why Paul so wonderfully said, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." (Philippians 3.12-16, ESV)
The key to incrementally building great Character is exhibiting the humility which gives us the ability to assess ourselves, setting daily goals to change our specific faults, and realizing that everyone struggles therefore, we seek to assist others because we have been where they are and we understand weakness. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4.10 ESV)
Other Bible Passages to Consider: Matthew 7.3; Luke 18.9-14
About The Author:   Jon Townsend is married to the love of his wife Jenn. Jon and Jenn have two beautiful girls Eleigh Kaye (4) and Emma Bess (2). After 8 years as a campus and preaching minister in churches of Christ, Jon now has his sights set upon becoming a lawyer. He is a J.D. candidate at Faulkner University's Jones School of Law. Jon holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Amridge University and a M.Min from Freed-Hardeman University. Jon teaches the 5th and 6th grade Sunday school class at Cottondale church of Christ where he and his family are members. He is the founder of coachingcharacter.com

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tuscaloosa Tornado Victims: Call Us! We Have Food, Clothes, And Other Necessities!

If you or someone you know is a victim of the tornado that came through Tuscaloosa, AL on April 27, 2011 call Cottondale church of Christ at (205) 310-2480. We have clothes, food, water, baby items, and other necessities in large quantities at our church building. If we don't have what you need we can get what you need. We will deliver what you need to you. You can also come and pick up what you need at 
Cottondale church of Christ
2025 Prude Mill Road
Cottondale, AL 35453
A member of our church will be there to assist you Monday through Friday from 9 am to 1 pm or at any time by calling (205) 310-2480.  Thank you. We are here to help you in any way possible.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Donate for Disaster Relief in Tuscaloosa Through PayPal


Dear Friends,


As you probably know our community of Tuscaloosa, AL was devastated by a Tornado on 4/27/11. Many have lost their own lives, everything they own, and loved ones. You can now give electronically through Pay Pal to the Tuscaloosa Tornado Disaster Relief Fund sponsored by Cottondale church of Christ. Churches have requested we set this up to allow funds to reach us more quickly. This works the same way as when you use Pay Pal using Ebay. All donations will be used to provide relief to those affected by the Tornado. Go to this link below to give. Thank you in advance for your generosity.


http://goo.gl/ON7Wm

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Two Disaster Relief Teams Are Working Tomorrow. Can You Help?


Cottondale church of Christ has two teams of volunteers giving relief in Tuscaloosa tomorrow in the aftermath of the Tornado that destroyed our town. Can you help us?

Team 1 will be distributing water and snacks at the fire college by University Mall from 9-2 pm. If you can help this team call Tracie Sims at (205) 310-3359. They will meet at Cottondale church of Christ at 8:15 am.

Team 2 will be assisting David and Erica Watkins recover their belongings and clean up their yard. Their home was destroyed by the Tornado. Molly Blomeley will be keeping the Watkins children and Erica’s sister’s children. She could use some additional help. If you can help this team call Charles Steiner at (205) 310-2480. They will meet at Cottondale church of Christ at 9:15 am.

Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief

Cottondale church of Christ is collecting donations to provide disaster relief in the aftermath of the tornado that has left Tuscaloosa, AL devastated. Donations can be sent to:
Cottondale Church of Christ
2025 Prude Mill Road
Cottondale, AL 35453
Call (205) 310-2480 to get more information.
All donations will go to provide relief for those in need in Tuscaloosa. Thank you.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Finding the Way of Escape


It is very difficult to feel too sorry for Samson. He knew what he was facing. He knew he was in an environment “out to get him.” In fact, Samson was so oblivious to the danger he was in, Satan did not have to use one of his greatest weapons, deception. Delilah was not beating around the bush at all. She wanted to know the source of his great strength. She wanted to know where “her man” was vulnerable. With each passing opportunity, it had to be more and more obvious that the purpose of Delilah and the Philistines was to take down Samson. Samson should have learned from the story of Joseph, shouldn’t he? He should have learned that there comes a time that even the strong need to run away. Before we ever read of the events in Judges 16, we already know Samson had a weakness for the ladies. As “strong” as he was, by his own choices, he had a significant “achilles heal” and he gave in to it on multiple occasions. I understand temptation. I understand that every person is not tempted by the same things. I also understand that some people handle temptations differently than others. But, I do not really understand the “Samson Condition.” What is the “Samson Condition?” The “Samson Condition” is being right in the heart of trouble, and not realizing how vulnerable you really are. Frankly, Samson played games. He found a level of humor in riddles that lead Delilah and the Philistines down the continual wrong path. He knew the intention but he stayed right in harms way! Did he think he was too strong? Did he think he would always be able to resist? Maybe he just was not thinking. The Bible tells us in Judges 16 that she continued to press him every day. She wore him down and out. Eventually, he poured out his heart to her and exposed the source of his great strength. His hair was cut, his eyes were removed and he, ultimately, lost his life. Could it be that sometimes people “pretend” to care for us when they really do not care at all? Samson was blessed with this amazing, storybook strength. His feets, as a blessing from God, were legendary. But, he was made very weak by his own choices. If you let Satan “stay in the game” long enough, eventually you too will be worn down. I’m reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 10 that tells us with every temptation, there will be a way of escape. I know there is a way of escape, but we have to exercise the judgment to know what that “way of escape” is!!!
            The words of 1 Corinthians 10:12 give us something to really consider. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Be careful. Use good judgment. Do not willfully put yourself in situations that you know will expose your vulnerabilities. Always know where that “way of escape.”

~ Clark Sims 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Am I Disappointed?

I love college basketball. In fact, the NCAA tournament that is going on right now is probably my favorite sports event of the year. Along with that, I am a passionate Alabama Crimson Tide fan. So, as you can probably imagine, I was very disappointed when my team did not make the tournament field. But, why am I disappointed? Did Alabama deserve to be in the tournament? I believe I could make an intelligent argument either way. They have played wonderfully lately, including big wins against tournament teams. They won their division in the conference. They were playing their best basketball toward the end of the season. However, there were some weak performances on the schedule as well. Their computer rankings were poor. Did they deserve to be in the tournament? If you remove my passion, I could see it either way. So I am still left to ask, what is the primary source of my disappointment? I think I know what it is. Much of my disappointment is tied to teams that did get in! In the 68 team tournament field, I can list a significant number of teams that deserved it less than ‘Bama! How did they possibly “get in” over us? What did the “selection committee” miss that I see so clearly?

My disappointment is directly tied to my human perspective. It seems to be, basically, human nature to rate myself compared to you. It’s not just basketball tournaments. It is job interviews, yards, restaurants, dating, and the list goes on and on. In much of life, that is the best we can do. It’s what selection committees, contest judges and job interviewers have to do. Not everyone has the same “human” perspective. Sadly, many times we bring this same way of thinking into our spiritual lives. The Pharisee did it in Luke 18. He felt pretty good about himself, identifying all the good he was doing and his thankfulness that he was not like the Publican standing off to the side. Truthfully, though, God measures by a different standard. His standard has nothing to do with human competition and who does more and who is worse. Honestly, according to His standard, none of us are ever going to be “good enough.” We’ve all sinned and fallen short of His glory. God simplifies His standard for us in 1 Peter 2. He tells us His perfect Son, who became flesh and dwelt with us and was tempted like us, yet without sin, established the perfect example. He tells us our challenge is clear. Walk in the steps of My Son!

While I’ll always have a level of disappointment with the tournament, the job, the contest that got away. That’s just the way it is from a human perspective. Some times it goes like you want it, sometimes it doesn’t. But, there is never any reason for disappointment at the hand of the Great Judge He is. As I submit to Him, and walk in His steps, I have a place promised in a mansion, that is being built for me!

~Clark Sims

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cookies Outside the Gym!?

I’ve been trying to go the fitness center regularly to exercise. I know I desparately need daily exercise. Frankly, I have not always gotten the exercise I needed. But, I am trying to do better. Recently, I made my way to the center to exercise and noticed some kind of activity just to the side of the front door. Further examination of the activity made it clear to me that in front of the fitness center, where people go to exercise, including many people like me who are in significant need of breaking bad habits, someone was selling Girl Scout Cookies! In order to enter the place you needed to be, you had to walk right by the cookies. Going in and coming out! You can guess the decision I made.
The words are found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. In this verse, God makes it clear to us that we are going to be tempted and we do not have to “give in” to it. We know our adversary goes about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour.” We even know the Son was tempted like we are, “yet without sin.” We know it’s coming. We know who is behind it. We know that even the “standard” faced it. But, not all temptation is the same. It is likely all who are reading this can think of those things that are particularly “tempting” for you. We know it is best to stay away, to not put ourselves where that temptation is. That is always the best choice and gives us the best chance for success. There is no “way of escape” that is better than removing yourself from the temptation. However, we know that is not always realistic. Sometimes, to get to the gym, which is where you know you need to be, you have to walk past the cookies, which represents a very real temptation for you. Sometimes we just do not have the choice of staying away.
Joseph had to “go to work.” He handled the temptation the best he could. He faced up to Potiphar’s wife and resisted, knowing he could not commit this great wickedness and sin against God. He also recognized the point he could not “stay around it” any longer. It was then that he ran away. He knew that the decision to run away would result in earthly difficulty but spiritual victory.
We’ve all got “fitness centers” in our lives that are very real responsibilities, things that we do not want, or need, to avoid. In front of many of them are tables filled with “Girl Scout Cookies” that present very real temptations to us. I am thankful our God “is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” 
~ Clark Sims

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Q and A: When and Why Should the Lord's Supper Should Be Observed?



Question: Some friends I talk to go to a church where they only have the Lord’s supper occasionally. They have it on special occasions like Christmas Eve, Easter, weddings, and every once in a while at church on Sunday. Where should I go in the Bible to show we should have it every Sunday?

Answer: The Lord’s supper consists of two things. One is the unleavened bread, which represents Jesus’ body. The other is the fruit of the vine, which represents Jesus’ blood. When Jesus died his flesh was broken open and his blood was poured out. Therefore the bread and juice is a symbol for his body and blood. Jesus died for the sins of the world (John 3:16). His death made forgiveness and redemption from sin possible for all mankind (Matthew 26:26-28, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 1:7).

There is a significant reason why the Lord’s Supper is to be taken on Sundays. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday three days after his death (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1). So when communion is taken on Sunday there is a connection between Jesus’ death and resurrection. This connection would not be there on any other day of the week. Sunday is the only day the supper should be partaken of.

The Lord’s supper was partaken of each Sunday by the early Christians. The church was established on the day of Pentecost fifty days after Jesus died. Pentecost always occurred on a Sunday (Leviticus 23:15-16). Luke writes in Acts 2:42 that the disciples of Jesus “continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread.” Saying they did so steadfastly is an indication the early Christians had the Lord’s Supper unwaveringly as the church would assemble for worship on Sundays.

There is also non-inspired historical evidence that the early church observed the Lord’s supper weekly on Sundays as is indicated in the New Testament. The Didache (didache means teachings in Koine Greek), a late 1st century or early 2nd century Christian document, in 7:14 says that Christians “come together each Lord’s day of the Lord, break bread, and give thanks.” There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that the Lord’s supper should be observed each and every Sunday. There is no doubt that the early church observed the Lord’s supper each and every Sunday. There is no doubt that the 21st century church should observe the Lord’s supper each and every Sunday and continue to do so until heaven is our home!

- Charles Steiner

Q and A: Is Baptism Necessary To Be Saved?

Question: I’ve been talking with a friend at work. He grew up attending a church of Christ but is now Baptist. He believes that baptism is not necessary for salvation but that it is something you should do after you are saved to show you are saved. Can you show me some verses I should talk with him about to show him baptism is necessary for salvation? Thanks!

Answer: Yes, there are many verses throughout the New Testament that teach baptism is necessary to be saved. It would be good to study these passages with your friend.

Acts 2:38 – Baptism is for the remission of sins.
Acts 22:16 – Baptism washes away a person’s sins.
1 Peter 3:21 – Baptism Saves.
Mark 16:16 – Jesus said he who is baptized will be saved.
Romans 6:4 – Baptism is done to walk a new life.
Galatians 3:26-27 - Baptism is the way a person puts on Christ.
Acts 10:47-48 – God commands baptism.
Matthew 28:18-20 – Baptism was authorized by Jesus.
Ephesians 5:26 – Baptism cleanses a person.
John 3:3-5, Acts 2:47 – Baptism adds you to the Kingdom (the church).
I Corinthians 12:13 – Baptism gives entrance into the one body (church).
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Baptism is to become a new creature.
Acts 8:36-39, Acts 16:32-33 – Examples of those who rejoiced after being baptized.

A person with an open heart and mind will read these verses and want to be baptized for the remission of their sins, just like the people did when the church began in Acts 2.


- Charles Steiner

Q and A: What Happens When We Die?


Question: What happens to us when we die? Are we unconscious until Jesus comes back and the Judgment Day takes place?

Answer: Thanks for asking. I’d be glad to answer this for you. I think the story told by Jesus about the rich man and Lazarus is a very insightful one when it comes to learning about what happens to us after death. The story is found in Luke 16:19-31Read this passage, and then I want you to notice a few things about what this story teaches about life after death. 

When Lazarus died he was carried away by the angels to a place this passage calls Abraham’s bosom (22). The rich man died too. However he opened up his eyes after he was dead and was in torment. He was also able to see Abraham and Lazarus who were in a far away place from where he was (23). This story takes place during a time when people are still living on earth while Lazarus and the rich man are in their respective places after they have already died. We know this because the rich man begs for Abraham to allow Lazarus to go and warn the rich man’s five brothers to repent so they will not be in torment as the rich man is when they die (27-31).

So to answer your question, no we will not be unconscious until Jesus comes back and the Judgment Day takes place. If we are saved we will be in paradise following our death like Lazarus was and is today. If we are lost we will be in torment like the rich man was and is, wishing someone could come and put a drop of water on our tongue to relieve us from the intense torture. We will also wish that a ghost could go and warn our loved ones who are lost.

However both of those wishes will be denied. Once a person is in torment there is no relief. Just like the rich man’s five brothers would not repent if a ghost preached to them, instead of Moses and the prophets, neither would people today listen if a ghost preached the gospel instead of faithful Christians. However, Christians can be comforted by the state of Lazarus. Lazarus who used to be a poor, sick, beggar is now eternally as happy, peaceful, and Joyous as he can be. While the rich man was aware of where Lazarus was and the lost state of his five brothers, we have no indication that Lazarus knew where the rich man was or knew that any of his loved ones still living were lost. That is also comforting to know.

When Jesus descends from heaven to begin eternity the dead in Christ will rise first (I Thessalonians 4:16). The saved will be on the right side of Jesus and the lost will be on the left side of Jesus (Matthew 25:33). The earth will be burned up. Life on earth will cease to exist (2 Peter 3:10). The Judgment will take place where all will give an account for their lives. The saved will go to heaven. The lost will go to Hell. The saved will hear Jesus say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34).” The lost will hear Jesus say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).” I hope this helps you gain an understanding of life after death. May we all prepare ourselves to be in eternal bliss instead of eternal fire. “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any would perish, but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).”

- Charles Steiner

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Q and A: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?


Question: "Your a full/born again Christian right? My question-do you think EVERYTHING happens for a reason or some things? Y do some of the worst things imaginable happen to the Best of Christians and the most Decent of people and other people (like tom cruise) whom are Not christians get what they want/when they want?"

Answer: Thanks for the question. I'm glad to answer it. Yes, I am a born again Christian. Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose." So does everything happen for a reason? Yes. But the reason something happens is not always because God wants it to happen. God has given people the ability to make choices and with choices comes consequences for decisions we make that can sometimes affect innocent people in a negative way. Romans 2:11 "There is no partiality with God." Since there is no partiality with God that means that a Christian most endure pain and suffering just like everyone else. In Luke 13:4-5 Jesus makes reference to a tower that fell and killed 18 people and explains that this did not happen because they were worse sinners than the people who were not killed. In reference to your comments about Tom Cruise and other people like him, consider the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31. The Rich Man lived a luxurious life getting whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Lazarus was a poor man who suffered through life. When they died, Lazarus was in paradise and the rich man was in torment. My point is that we will all give an account to God for our lives. Things may not seem fair now, but in the end God is just. The entire book of Job in the Bible is about a righteous man who went through severe pain and suffering because Satan thought it would cause him to stop serving God. God knew better, and allowed Satan to put him to the test. The same can happen to us today. It is important for us to follow God in the good times and the bad. 
- Charles Steiner