Tag Archives: heaven

Money without Meaning

It’s official.  Our $1.5 Billion PowerBall lottery dreams are gone.  All of the hopes and plans for that money, or even just a small part of it, are no longer.  But it sure created a buzz while it lasted.  What would you do with all of that money?

Did you know that Jesus taught more on money than on any other subject?  There are more than 2000 verses in the Bible about money.  That’s more than prayer, more than faith, more than forgiveness, heaven, hell and the Kingdom of God.  Check out some of the “financial” words that God uses to describe His relationship with us:

1) we are redeemed (Is. 44:22, Lam. 3:58, Gal. 3:13),
2) we are reconciled (Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, Col. 1:22),
3) our debt is cancelled (Luke 7:41-43, Col. 2:14),
4) Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Cor. 6:10 & 8:9),
5) we cannot serve two masters, both God and money (Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13).

And that’s just a small sampling.

There’s a hymn that describes the gospel of Jesus this way:

“He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay”
He Paid a Debt by Ellis J. Crum

Let’s take that a step further.  What if Jesus is more powerful than PowerBall?  What if He died so that all of our debts would be forgiven, literally?  What if our mortgage was paid, our cars were paid, we had no credit card debt, no student loan debt, or any debt at all, and all of the food, clothing and shelter we would ever need were provided for us?

Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:24 about not serving two masters and goes on to say:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”
-Matt. 6:25-26 (ESV)

Our heavenly Father knows that we need food and clothing, and He provides them for the birds and flowers.  Why wouldn’t He provide them for us?  We’re so caught up in making money, saving money, spending money, moving money around, worrying that there won’t be enough money, trying to figure out how to get things without money (lotteries, loans, credit cards, getting you to give me something), anxious and distracted.

What if we never had to think about money again?  What if wealth and power and greed had no meaning?  What if I didn’t need to be concerned about what you had (envy, jealously, keeping up with the Jones’s), because I had everything I needed?  What if I were content down to my bones?  What would my life be about?  Would I go to work?  Would I strive?  Would I do anything?  What would define me?

The Apostle Paul says this in his letter to the Romans:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
-Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)

What if Jesus is the one who takes away the debt of the world?  What if believing in Him and receiving Him means that we get to see the world through His eyes?  Would our entire focus change?  Would we no longer be slaves to the “stuff that makes the world go round”?  Would we instead be free to love one other, because that’s what Jesus does and that’s what He wants to do through us?  Would that be Heaven on Earth?

The Eastside Vineyard Church started a new series on Heaven a few weeks back.  In Dan Kopp’s 1-17-16 message called Looking (and Praying) Down from Above, he asked two questions:

1) If someone from Heaven could talk to you, what do you think they would say?

2) If someone in Heaven was praying for you, what do you hope they’d be praying for?

Do you think they’d tell us that we should focus on accumulating more while we’re here (“whoever dies with the most stuff wins”?) or do you think they would pray that we would focus on what really matters?  PowerBall or the Power of God?  It’s only by His power that we can truly love one another.  We don’t have it in us.  But if He is in us, we have all we need.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matt. 6:33 (ESV)

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain
All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven’s gates swing wide
Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture

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The Tale of 4 Justins

John doesn’t go to Wednesday night church.  He likes Sunday morning church well enough, but standing and singing aren’t his thing.  I take the kids to church on Wednesday nights for their K-Rock classes, and I really enjoy the services.  John has been in therapy every Wednesday night for the last several months for his neck, back and arm, but he couldn’t get an appointment for Wednesday, March 4th.  I invited him to church, but he wanted to close up the tackle store to give the guys a break.

When John texted Justin, our store manager, and told him that he didn’t have therapy, Justin told him to stay home and spend time with his family.  Little did he know, that would mean going to church with us too.  I was excited, but I knew he wasn’t, so we sweetened the deal with dinner at La Botana Mexican before church.  And a lovely time was had by all.

When we got to service, we realized they were doing baptisms that night.  There was a lot of activity with people getting ready for the service.  One family stood out to us, as the dad, mom and daughter were all wearing Superman t-shirts.  We both wondered if they knew Roy Townsend’s family, as Superman t-shirts had come to mean “Justin Townsend” to everyone who knew them (more on that below).

About an hour into the service, it was time for this family to be baptized.  Instead of telling you their story, I’m going to let them tell it:

“Hi, my name is John, this is my wife Heidi, my 13 year old daughter Natalia and my son Antonios.  About the last week we’ve been having conversations with my daughter regarding God Himself and she’s had a lot of questions like most 13 year olds do.  And one of those questions was how do you know when God speaks to you?  And I told her that as you grow in your faith and you have a personal relationship with God and your arms are open and you’re receptive to Him, you’ll know when He speaks.

Unfortunately, about 6 months ago, one of her classmates passed away after a year battle with cancer.  The young man’s name was Justin.  This symbol that we’re wearing here tonight was a symbol that his family had for him in that struggle.  So, we’ve always had the name Justin and Superman in our head.  

About a month ago we came here to Kensington and we watched the baptism.  And it was a young strong man who got up on stage.  He walks up, he’s got a Superman shirt on, he’s vibrant and excited about his journey that he’s going to take on with God and he says his name is Justin.  At that moment, it spoke to my daughter.  She spoke to her mother afterwards and explained to her that she thinks that God spoke to her.

What’s more amazing is God brings people, Christians, together to bring us to that point and be an example.  What’s even more amazing is when we walked in this evening, that man Justin was standing there, which we never met.  And it’s this man right here (points to him down front and everyone claps).  And I want to just say thank you for your testimony.  We all love you.  Without you, we wouldn’t be here.  So, God bless you.”

As we were walking out of church to get the kids from K-Rock upstairs, the “young strong man” Justin was outside the auditorium.  I asked him, “Are you Justin?” and then “Superman” John walked up.  I introduced John to my John, telling him that John had worked for Roy Townsend (Justin’s father) for years.  But I was crying at that point, as John wouldn’t have been there if our store manager, Justin, hadn’t told him to stay home and spend time with his family.  Thank you, Justin!

If you’d like to watch the service for yourself (you don’t have to stand and sing if you don’t want to), click here:  First Wednesday

Justin Townsend’s 14th birthday would have been March 7th.  Roy wrote the most beautiful letter to his son on his Caring Bridge journal, which I just read tonight (and I would encourage you to do the same – click the red words above).  Love this part:

“As you know, several of us went to the hockey game last night.  We found it ironic that the only two goals scored by the “Red Wings” were scored by “Justin” Abdelkader.”

Happy Birthday Justin!
Happy Birthday Justin!  In the words of your father, I hope your birthday was as wonderful in heaven as it was here on earth.