Heaven and The Other Place

Heaven and The Other Place – 6-7-17

I have read and heard so many sermons over all the years. Many different church affiliations, as well as independent writers. Lately I have heard another set for discussion that has always sparked my interest. To simply paraphrase, “if you do not believe that Jesus is the son of God you are doomed to Hell for all eternity.”

That seems pretty straight forward. As someone who comments on occasion with my unique perspective, I extend some thoughts. My comments are usually blogishy short, bare with.

As I have read it, Jesus, long before He became the Christ of world renown found himself hanging from a tree with nails securing his hands and feet after a whirlwind trial which ended by committing him to death by crucifixion. On either side of him were two thieves. According to the Book of Luke, Chapter 23 verses 39-43 (The Jerusalem Bible) this discourse:

One of the criminals hanging there abused him.

Are you not the Christ?” he said. “Save yourself and us as well.”

But the other (thief) spoke up and rebuked him. “Have you no fear of God at all?” he said. “You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. “Jesus,” he said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Indeed, I promise you,” Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Third Day, the Resurrection, the Books that became the NEW Testament had yet to occur. The people who had convicted him and the priests who had mocked him questioned his authenticity from below the cross, “Come Down from the cross and prove to us who you are”

But that one rebel, without the benefit of the history of those next few days, and the writings of 30+ years later, or all of the interpretations of over 2000 years, recognized that he personally was getting what he deserved, but this other, this man who had done nothing wrong, but the legend of him helping people was known in the area, had been whipped and staggered through to this conclusion equally. He felt that Jesus did not deserve this, and asked Jesus to but pray for him once he had died and his spirit returned to his Kingdom, whatever that Kingdom he believed it to be. He sought no favors, and probably expected none. And Jesus not only accepted him, but had him accompany himself into paradise. What a shock to his system must that have been.

One, at the very least, recognized Jesus as innocent, the other merely felt that Jesus existed to save him from the punishment that even his companion felt they had coming.

One was taken to the Kingdom, and one probably ended in “Hell”. But where was “Hell”?

My Father led a challenged life. The challenges compounded by my Father’s own approach to it. The week before he died he offered this advice. “This (Earthly life) is Hell”.

My point is this, two thieves, by their choices, lived a life that may have reflected what we might consider to be hellish. One felt it should be free of charge and another recognized that what he had done was his own doing, not to be paid for by someone else. I hear the news, I read the papers, I side a lot with my father. On those days that I agree I look over the results of my actions over the years and have to be honest with myself that much of it is of my own doing.

And then I reflect on this passage “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

I believe in the Kingdom. I try to be a good friend, and I enjoy my conversations with Jesus and His Father. I remember Lyle, a close friend who thought the diet he was on was the best diet he had ever had. And then he discovered it was a liver cancer that produced the results and at 53 he was gone to the Kingdom within a few weeks. But during those last few weeks he made a comment that has been with me ever since, “You know, Dennis, the roses are redder this morning, the grass is greener. Don’t miss the gifts along the journey.”

The ensuing 30 years has brought me closer to Jesus’ ideas, and friendship by Lyle’s example. I have never questioned His capability to comfort. The hell that many choose to bring upon themselves is balanced by a creation to be marveled at if we do our part to take it in and even to make it better.

Many do not require a Hell for punishment. They choose to live it today. I do not require the condemnation of a third party for any reason that I may pass on to a place called Hell or purgatory or underworld. When I leave, MY OPINION, is this, and this is the worst thing that I believe anyone may hear.

God invites me to coffee after I have died. He asks “Dennis, I haven’t done Earth for awhile. Tell me, what do the roses smell like on a spring morning, or the cool air of evening feel like after a hot summers day in the mountains? Did you enjoy the friendship of the people I sent your way? Did you learn to love?…”

If I can not answer the questions this way:
“The roses are sweet, the cool air in the summer is refreshing, the mentors you sent became great friends, and I learned to love, by loving and being loved also.”
If I can not answer that way, the time was wasted.

And I see God shaking his head a bit and says “That is unfortunate. It was your only opportunity to enjoy it.”

If I can answer the questions positively, the time was special and I might even choose to visit it once again...

Even in the midst of the most difficult of days, or tragic events that cross my path along my journey, I know to take in the gifts that have been given to me and cherish that opportunity.
Will it be Heaven on Earth, or the other place?
My Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
On Earth,
As it is in Heaven.

Make every day special…..

Leave The Victory to Him

I have just been adding an old song to my music site. Remember, the title of this web blog is Unorthodox Christianity, and this song and its meaning and story embody what it is to be an Unorthodox Christian. The context meaning of this song is below.  The words to the song are below the story. Click on the left control button to play the song.

 

9-11-2001 was an emotional day for all of us, and it set off an emotional roller coaster we have been on ever since.  Many of the events surrounding that time come to mind. Where you were, what you were doing when you heard, the TV images, the angst, the reactions.

I remember the Sunday following Sept 11, 2001.

As they entered the sanctuary to pray, I could see the stress on the faces of my Pakistani Christian friends. The brush we were painting with as a nation was obviously very broad. I walked up and extended a hug. The hug and thank you I received were so warm, unlike any before or since. The tragedy had struck all of us irregardless of race, religion, location. It was an attack on the world, not just America. The victims came from around the world, all walks of life, and crossed cultural and religious lines. The darker skin of the Pauls was the skin that Jesus would have been wearing on that day. I am sure the pressure that He (Jesus) would have felt would have been just as intense.

A month later, as the United States response was taking shape, I found myself performing music at a Christian men’s retreat in central Idaho. The talk of the event was still very fresh, and vehement. As the weekend progressed the air was tainted by the anger. As often happens, I chose to express my opinion through the music GOD gave me. You are listening to that song as you read this. The message of JESUS, whom we professed to believe in and follow, was being sacrificed to our own survival of the fittest animal instinct.

I don’t believe that our response as a nation would have been reflected in the response of our teacher. Rather than contain the loss of life to those who weren’t waylayed for one reason or another, to those from every nation who were in the building or on a plane or fought the fires, the loss has been magnified to the families of troops from all over America and the world that have found themselves engaged in a war that is more politics than it has been protective. It has resulted in more terrorism, not less. If the terrorist intent was to kill as many as possible in one radical attack, we have certainly accommodated their desires quite well over the ensuing years.

Jesus was radical because His response to life’s events was so against our instinct. The challenge to follow the charge of Love One Another is as difficult today, and as remote to our leaders, as it was to the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus own world. I can only pray that the outcome to our nation today is not reflective of the outcome that came to the Pharisees within theirs who also chose to ignore the message.

‘Leave The Victory To Him’ is for those who may still feel that GOD isn’t big enough to fight GODS own battles GODS way. I don’t believe our future will be secure as long as we feel that we need to beat people into loving. Love One Another is the charge, and Leave the Victory to Him.

Thank you.

Leave The Victory to Him
W/m dennis wheeler© 2001

There is a gospel of the Christian that we must hold as true,

 It is a teaching of their master

That they are bound by nails to.

 It’s not a complicated concept.

It isn’t hard to understand.

Simply Love One Another,

and offer helping hands .

 Leave the Victory to Him   

 Leave the victory to Him    

   Simply Love one another  

   And Leave the Victory to Him..   

We often focus on conversion

and not the message of the cross.

For if you Love One another,

then the sacrifice is not lost.

For God can speak to every nation,

the only victory to win,

is to love one another,

 And leave the victory to him.

     Chorus

        Repeat 1st verse.

 

Food For Thought

I was at the grocery store yesterday and was pushing a cart back to the store that someone had left in the parking lot where their car was. In my world of unorthodox christianity a thought came to mind. Would Jesus have pushed the cart back to the store? Would Jesus have left the cart in the middle of the parking lot in the first place under the assumption that it was someone else’s task to put it where it belonged?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Is it loving one another to expect others to complete the task that we find inconvenient?

To this day I see on my wife’s car the sizeable dent made by the shopping cart that blew into my wife’s car in the parking lot of Sam’s Club on one average windy day in El Paso.
Do I file that under Love One Another, or Take Advantage Of One Another?

Requirements

My daily prayer starts like this:
The Lord is My Savior and my guide,
I shall have all that I require….  (a take off on the 23rd psalm).
 I never liked the idea that I shall have all I want. I might not do well with all I think I want.  I have always had a roof, I have always had food to eat and companionship. Anything else shows up for emergencies and goes away quickly but I always have all that I require.
You will also, this year, next year and thirty years from now because you have faith, hope and experience on your side. The end of the prayer: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Have a great day. dw

Living With Hope

The teachings of Jesus emphasized hope to a people in a time of persecution. Whether it was political, physical or mental Jesus’ message was one of hope through hard times.
It is my desire that Unorthodox Christianity also carry that message to all of those who feel disenfranchised by a traditional church and reflect a Jesus that was giving a message for all those who followed and even came in contact with him, that hope is always available and can become a way of life. Too often we interpret the promise of Jesus is life after death. The reality is that the hope of Jesus was that this hope is yours to have every moment. Change in a world of a GOD who is LOVE, is accessible to all who are open to its possibilities.
When asked once about how he was going to celebrate his birthday, the Dalai Lama replied, “Why would I celebrate the birth of my sufferings day?” The message of Jesus is that the hope of Jesus is a message of the joys that are inherent and available to us every day of our living. Life is to be embraced, even when it seems as though the persecution is winning. Hope, as has been said, springs eternal.

Watching for a ‘Sign’

Over my years within Christianity I have learned to ‘watch for the sign’. The sign that says that God is talking to you, that God has a plan, that the end is coming, that the signs of the times is imminent. Often we Christians come to rely on a sign from God to share with us the direction that God wishes to lead us in. The older and more experienced I have become I have been led to this caveat:  Be careful. The truly wise man learns to discern the ‘sign’ from God from a temptation of Satan. I think once in awhile we justify our activities based on a sign from GOD which is truly merely a temptation of our human nature. The bottom line question becomes does this direction serve God or merely myself.
Remember, you are the reflection of what you truly believe. To follow Christ remember that his lampstand was a cross and his light shown from a mountaintop called Calvary. It is more than just merely a group of people, it is your personal commitment to walk that path not always theirs.