Monday, November 30, 2015

Who will be in heaven?

Continuing on in Scot McKnight's nifty little book 'The Heaven Promise,' today's chapter (18) answers the question: "Who Will Be in Heaven? (The Most Important Question in This Book)."

Scot very aptly points out, "The question, Who will be in Heaven? necessitates a follow-up question every time: What do we have to do to get into Heaven?"

He then discusses the 'size' of Heaven. Revelation tells us the New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia in length, width, and height. Scot says, "That's 2.25 million square miles. One person computed this to mean the New Jerusalem could house more than 100 billion people!... Surely we are not meant to spend our time computing just how many people will be in Heaven, but one thing we are to hear when we read this text is quite clear: Heaven is an expanse so high and so wide and so deep that we cannot comprehend its spaciousness."

"When I'm asked the question, Who will be in Heaven? my answer is simple: Jesus. I could stop right there because that's how the Bible answers the question. Jesus is the One who lived and died and was raised into the presence of God and who will be the center of the kingdom forever and ever..."

"...The second answer to the question, Who will be in Heaven? is those who are in Christ. I say this because, once again, it was Jesus who cracked through the doom of death and it was Jesus who was raised from the dead and clothed with a glorious body fit for Heaven. It all begins with Jesus, and Jesus promised his followers that he was going to prepare a place for them so they could dwell forever with him. Heaven is for Jesus and his people."

"The question we need to ask is, Are you in Christ? This means that the answer to the question, What do we have to do to get into Heaven? is a big loud... nothing! Nothing! Jesus has paved the way, and we simply have to look to him, turn to him, believe in him, and let his life, death, and resurrection be our life, death, and resurrection."

Sounds good to me.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

D/c's anniversary, brother mark, trolleys, and things

We had a very good weekend to end the Thanksgiving holiday. Saturday (28th) was Drew Carrie's 6th wedding anniversary, Jane's brother Mark came for a visit, Saturday we did the 'shop local trolley tour' of Fort Wayne, and today was a very nice worship gathering followed by everyone coming back to our house for turkey leftovers.

I didn't get a chance to post about Drew Carrie's wedding anniversary yesterday. I can't believe it has been 6 years since it happened, and how much everyone's life has changed since then.

I remember that day like it was yesterday in many respects. One of my very best memories of all time is when it came time for the ceremony to begin. I went downstairs in the old church basement to get Carrie. I opened the divider door into the room where she was waiting.... And there stood my little girl, looking like the most beautiful bride ever in the world, and she had the biggest, prettiest smile I have ever seen on her face. Oh my... I was bursting with pride and joy. Then I led her upstairs and escorted her down the aisle to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic."

The ceremony itself was splendid, I thought (I wrote about it HERE). My friend Tom opened things up so I could walk Carrie down the aisle. Then I took over officiating the rest of the service. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life. Afterward we had a great party and Jane and I enjoyed every minute of it. There was no commotion, no drama, no worrying or stress whatsoever. It was a beautiful weekend.

Since then... Well, they've had 3 beautiful children: Anna, Bennett, and Caleb. Carrie works at home as a full-time mom, and has also started working part-time at the Downtown YMCA (which is such a great place for her to work). Drew works for the same self-storage company I do. He actually got me the job there, and he is the assistant General Manager. They are super parents, and I can't wait to see how their family matures in the coming years.

Jane's brother Mark usually comes out once or twice a year for a visit. He is closest in age to her - though he's still 9 years older. Our families kind of grew up together and we have much in common. It's always nice to share stories, and we spend a lot of time laughing together.

Mark recently retired from the company he has worked for since he was in high school. That's a pretty remarkable feat in my opinion. Hopefully he will be able to come for more visits now that he's a little freer - though he is now working part-time helping an uncle farm.

I'm not sure exactly what it was called, but Saturday we went downtown FW for the "shop local; small-business-Saturday; trolley tour." They had a bunch of small shops in Fort Wayne that were organized and connected via one of three trolley cars that ran the streets. We went to several of the shops - sometimes just walking from one to the other, but we did ride the trolley for awhile. It was fun, and fun seeing all the people walking about the downtown area of our fine city. I do like living in Fort Wayne.

This was the first time we'd taken Mark to the church we are connected to now. We weren't sure how he would feel about it since it's a little different. Grace is in a big industrial-looking room, which gets very dark during certain parts of the service, and the music gets pretty loud, and then the speaker stands in the center of the room filled with tables and chairs surrounded by gobs of other plastic chairs. There are 2 services at this location, and one at another location (right by my office, actually). It also defies the 80/20 rule, in that we have been running above 80% capacity for awhile now. It is often hard to find a seat.

Anyway, it happened to be a very nice service today, I thought. We had communion, the Scripture readings and music were nicely done, and Andy B. shared what I thought was a really good message. At least it was something I needed to hear. I actually felt some hate and bitterness lift off of me during the service.

The only bad part was that, for some reason, they lost water to the building sometime during the service, so none of the bathrooms were operational. Not good when you've got 5-600 people gathering in a rural location together.

Anyway, we survived, and the three of us and the Feipel Five came over afterward and we finished off some more of the Thanksgiving Day leftovers. It was then neat to watch Anna reading (or at least pretending to read), Bennett quietly sitting playing games on a phone, and Caleb just being Caleb.

It was a good day, and a good weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Coaching renewal

Well, I sent in my $75 to renew my coaching certificate for another year (certificate in Christian Leadership Coaching). I had been going back and forth as to whether I should or not. I still don't know if it will be a waste of money, but at least I have another year to decide if I'm going to get serious about coaching or not.

I like to do, and I think I could do okay at it. Not that I would be able to make a living at it, but more as a side ministry. However, I'm just not motivated to do it. And I'm not sure how to get motivated. So... we'll see.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving traditions/memories/things

Here it is Thanksgiving Day 2015. I'm not necessarily "un" thankful, but I've probably been more thankful in previous years. I kinda just feel "un" in general nowadays. Not mad, not upset, not happy, not unhappy... Just kind of 'here.' So I thought I would share some things that I can recall Thanksgiving meaning to me.

 Aside from the usual turkey dinner and all the fixin's that go along with it and spending time with family, Thanksgiving has always meant watching the Dallas Cowboys play on TV. I've been a Cowboys fan since 2nd grade - after watching them lose to the Baltimore Colts. So I didn't really jump on the bandwagon of their winning years. At any rate, my interest has gone up and down over the years, but they're my team and I'm thankful they're on TV on Thanksgiving day.

Another Thanksgiving "tradition" has been the listening to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacre." A hilariously funny, and long (18-minute) song about the stupidity of too much of life. It's a classic song, but I've been a fan of Arlo since probably... high school. He was one of them there hippies, and even though I never really lived the hippy life, I've always associated with them mentally. I suppose you could say I've always been a hippy at heart. Perhaps it just came from the times I lived in, or the neighbors I had at the time, I don't know. Sometimes I worry that I'm more of a "peace & love" hippy than I am a Christian. I hope not; I hope one can be both. I think you can.

Another favorite on this holiday is recollecting the episode from the TV show 'WKRP in Cincinnati' where the station manager had the brilliant idea to drop live turkeys from a helicopter. "I swear, as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Hahahahaha... That was a funny show, and one of the funniest episodes ever on the airwaves in my opinion.

So, those are some of my Thanksgiving "things": family, football, fine music, and funny flightless bird incidents. As I write this, maybe the thing that's lacking this year is more faith-related thankfulness. Not sure how to fill that void, but I guess noticing it is a good place to start.

Thanksgiving Day 2015 will include sleeping in, having the Feipel's over for a big lunch, watching football, and maybe going to see the new James Bond movie tonight. A nice low-key relaxing day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday haircut

We got to close our facilities at 3 pm today for the Thanksgiving holiday (and we are closed tomorrow). We don't get paid for tomorrow, but they paid us for a whole day today.

I decided to get my hair cut after work at the Great Clips by where I work. I've went there the last few times, and like it better than the one by our house. I actually signed in ON LINE for the first time too. It was a good thing, because when I got there the place was packed. I was fourth on a list of about ten people waiting.

Tori cut my hair, and she did and excellent job. We chatted a bit, and she trimmed my ears and my eyebrows. She also went over my hair with scissors to catch any strays she'd missed with the clippers. I liked her. It was the usual $12, plus a $3 tip.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rewards in heaven

The 2nd of the "10 Questions" section, and chapter 17 of Scot McKnights book 'The Heaven Promise.' This chapter is "What About Rewards in Heaven? What Grace Creates Remains Grace."

In addressing questions of rewards in heaven, and whether some will receive more or less, if some will be happier than others, status, etc., etc.... he notes a common American cultural problem that has arisen. He quotes Peter Kreeft in that for some reason we are very egalitarian when it comes to Heaven:
"We modern egalitarians are tempted to the primal sin of pride in the opposite way from the ancients. The old, aristocratic form of pride was the desire to be better than others. The new, democratic form is the desire not to have anyone better than yourself."

That's a huge difference in many ways, but as McKnight notes, when it comes to Heaven we need to "make up our minds on the basis of what the Bible reveals, not on the basis of our culture's preferences."

Scot uses the parable of the workers in Matthew 20:1-16 to show how Jesus makes it all about grace and not about fairness. In this parable the landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day. A little later he went out and hired some others, and agreed to pay them the same as the first. Near the end of the day he hired still more, and for the same denarius that he'd hired the first workers.

When the day was over the owner of the vineyard instructed the foreman to pay the workers, but interestingly enough, he wants the last ones hired to be paid first. In this way the first ones hired would clearly see that everyone was paid the same amount. Of course they complained. This wasn't fair?

But he answered them, "I am not being unfair. I paid you what I said I would." And the kickers is v.15, "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"


McKnight shares...
"His fundamental idea is that in the kingdom, the correlation between work and reward is out of whack. Jesus wants us to feel sympathy for those who worked more but got paid the same amount as others who worked fewer hours. Why? So we will realize that God's ways are not our ways. God is generous, while we are exacting. The parable is not about reversing the order, but instead about the end to ordering.

The whole parable comes down to the question that we read just ahead of the last line: "Or are you envious because I am generous?" Human envy is the opposite of divine generosity. God's generosity is not like our desire for order, rank, status, and hierarchy. In Heaven, God will be God, Jesus will be on the Throne, and we will all equally be gazing at God in his glory (not ours)."

Here are the big ideas at the end of the chapter:
First, all talk of reward (or of our status or our capacities to enjoy God) distracts from God's glory and the promise that we will experience intense, satisfying pleasures forever more.
Second, there is no talk of gradiations in heaven in John's book of Revelation. Read his last visions in Revelation 20-22 with this in mind, and you'll see that no one is more important than anyone else.
Third, it is far wiser to see the language of reward as God's way of motivating us to be faithful.

Here is the point: all saints will be full of joy and you can't be fuller than full.
God's generosity will overwhelm any sense of correlation between what we have done on earth and any reward in Heaven.
Perhaps the most important line in the Bible about reward is found in the book of Revelation where it says the saints will "lay their crowns before the throne."
If there are crowns, they will leave no trace on the heads of the ones who have handed them back to God.

It's all grace.

Amen, and amen. Good stuff.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Career advice (again)

This is a post I first put up on May 5, 2011. I thought this a timely time to repost it (especially for a certain someone looking for a new job). So below is what I wrote then:

I just finished reading William Bridges book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change (3rd Edition)...

 The basic premise is - we live in a changing world... and change is not what causes us problems (there's nothing we can do about change anyway); but it's the transitions to change that cause us stress and affect our lives. So, while we can't stop change, we CAN learn to better navigate the transitions.

...At the end of the book he has an appendix he calls, 'Career Advice for Employees of Organizations in Transition.' While it's true that almost ALL organizations are in transition of some sort - even just the job-market itself is in transition - I thought this stuff was good for everybody. He calls it his "Five JobShift Steps," and this is a very brief overview, which is described in much more detail in his book Creating You & Co.: How to Think Like the CEO of Your Career.

He suggest we need to learn to think of ourselves not so much as "workers" but more as "free agents."  
The Five JobShift Steps are:
Step 1:
You start by finding out what resources you bring to anyone who needs some help. I urge you to think of those resources as being made up of four parts:
  • What you really want - because your Desires lead to powerful motivation. Wanting something a lot makes you work hard, and hard work is something that people need today.
  • Consider your Abilities. What are you good at?
  • What is your Temperament? What kind of activity are you naturally most suited to?
  • What are your Assets? What special knowledge or skill or experience, what contacts or qualifications (a certificate, a degree?), do you happen to have?
Together, Desires, Abilities, Temperament, and Assets represent the DATA that you bring to the table. They are your resources.

Step 2:
Then you have to survey and understand the "market" you are trying to serve: Who are the customers? What are they after? What are the problems these customers are trying to solve? What are the specifications for the desired products or services? You are going to have to learn something about the customers you are proposing to serve. It's take a little work, but all the better! That way you won't have so many people competing with you.

Step 3:
Next, you combine your DATA and the unmet needs you find in the market. This combination - call it "what-I-have-that-you-need" - is your "product." Your product is a solution to a particular customer problem, a way of getting a result that the customer can't presently get but that he or she wants to get. You are no longer an employee doing a job. You are more like an independent worker (who just happens to be an "employee" too) who is selling a product. Many times you'll find that the customer would be willing to pay more for your product than the company was paying you as a wage. Good deal! If you keep finding that to be true, you may have to reconsider your employee status.

Step 4:
If you start to see yourself as "selling a product" rather than "doing a job," you are in business for yourself, no matter whether you work inside the company or outside it. What business are you in - not your company's business but YOURS? You don't know? Well, don't feel too bad. Most of your fellow workers don't know either, so when you figure out the answer you'll have a head start on them.

Step 5:
If you are in business, you are a micro-company - even if you are technically an employee. Stop thinking about your career. Start thinking about your business's strategic plan. Where is "You & Co." headed? What resources does it need? How can it market its services, whether inside your employer or outside?

The Five JobShift Steps will shift your mindset from that of an employee who does a job to that of an independent worker who provides a customer with what he or she needs. You say you that doesn't fit your needs because you want to remain an employee? Fine. What do companies need today? Workers who will deliver the best possible service or product to their customer - that's what. And this is the way to deliver the best.

This isn't really a church-related entry, but I think this is good stuff for anyone who works any job (or wants to get a job). Anyway, take it for what it's worth. Just sharing. I hope William doesn't mind me posting this. I would HIGHLY recommend reading the Managing Transitions book, and it looks like this other one would be good too.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The first snow

We had our first snowfall of the year yesterday. We just got a couple inches, but it covered the ground and the trees. It was kind of pretty, but, gah... I am not a fan of winter.

It also got pretty chilly overnight, with highs not expected to reach freezing (32f) today.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A "new" mower, and other saturday things

This is my new lawn mower. It's also my old lawn mower.

For the past few years I've been looking for a new mower because my old one was literally falling apart. I bought the old Murray 22" push mower 30-some years ago. It was the first mower I bought. Each spring I wondered if it would start, and it almost always did - on the very first pull! The problem was that the mower deck was breaking apart. I'd welded it a couple of times, but I can't imagine it would make another year.

Well, a couple months ago I found this green push mower in my dumpster at work. It looks almost new, but the engine had some parts missing. I tried to get it going but it was beyond my ability to repair. So... today I got the gumption to take the engine off of my old mower, and mount it onto this "new" deck. I was surprised that it fit perfectly. The engine looks a little over-sized on this deck, but I'd say I have a new mower.

In other events, I also managed to get the motorcycle in the garage for the winter. I also took a load of things to my storage unit (at work) and brought the snow blower home.

While I was doing those things, Jane put up our Christmas lights. It was a good day to do it, because this afternoon we got our first snowfall. More about that tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cheap gas and a finicky furnace

I bought gas for my car this morning at $1.77/gal.! I don't remember the last time it was that low (thanks, Obama!). In fact, I have a notebook in my car where I record when I get gas, how much, and the price. This notebook goes back to 2012 and the next cheapest was in January of this year at $1.85. I can dig it.

This all happened after I had furnace trouble this morning. I thought it was colder than usual inside the house when I got out of bed. Sure enough, it was only 62. I can't remember what it is set at at night, but it should have went to 68 at 6:30 this morning. It would run just a little, then stop, and it never did warm up. So I went down and opened the furnace door, then I changed the batteries in the thermostat. For some reason it started warming up after that. So, who knows. I may get home tonight and have it not be working. Of course it would happen when it's barely supposed to get above freezing this weekend.

I did go ahead and order a new furnace filter. I hadn't realized the last time I replaced it was in 2011. It takes one of those big honkin' filters that's like 20x20x6. I ordered it online for around $30. Later I saw that they actually do have them at Meijers for about the same price. I'll have to remember that next time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Near-death experiences

Continuing on today in Scot McKnight's nifty little book 'The Heaven Promise'... This starts section 4 on Ten Questions About Heaven. Chapter 16 is "What About Near-Death Experiences: An Old Theme Suddenly New."

Scot notes several books/movies and tales as shared by others, as well as several biblical examples. He says, "After studying these stories, I believe they are glimpses of the afterlife. But I also believe we need to be wary of making the claim that they reveal what Heaven will be like."

He shares some info from Mally Cox-Chapman, an expert in NDEs (near-death experiences). Apparently some 8 million Americans have reported such experiences. Cox-Chapman believes the most common elements of NDEs are:
  • Feelings of peace and quiet
  • Feeling oneself out of the body
  • Going through a dark tunnel
  • Meeting others, including one or more beings of light
  • A life review
  • Coming to a border or limit
  • Coming back
  • Seeing life differently
  • Having new views of death
Cox-Chapman reached four conclusions:
First, the experiencers become believers in some kind of life after death: "If experiencers were atheists before, they are believers (in the afterlife) afterward."
Second, they become more universalistic in their faith. As she puts it, "If they had a firm commitment to one particular religion before, they believe any religious path leads to God afterward."
Third, they believe in the afterlife. "They say they absolutely believe that their souls will persist beyond physical death."
Fourth, Cox-Chapman believes on the basis of her study that "we will be provided with the Heaven that is right for each of us."

In noting that most NDEs do not match up to what Jesus or Paul or the Bible teach, Scot says, "We have to wonder if NDEs are little more than a case of people projecting onto eternity what they want for themselves. Or maybe the stories provide little more than a glimpse of the afterlife."

"It's obvious that NDEs vary wildly... What we need is a history of these experiences, since this history makes it clear that the reports are interpretations, and the interpretations reflect the beliefs of the one undergoing the experience. An NDE expresses what the person already believes. I'm not denying the experience or its impact. But the interpretation of that experience flows out of what one already things."

 In the end Scot says, "All this to say: every religious, ethnic, and cultural group has stories to tell. The overlaps between those who have NDEs are worthy of serious study, but the differences among the various stories over the course of history are so dramatic it makes me skeptical that they are reporting what Heaven or the afterlife is like... The absence of the major biblical themes make me doubly wary that near-death experiences reveal anything about Heaven."

So, there ya go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I forgot my phone, and other tragic events from the day

I think today might be the first time since I've been regularly using a cell phone that I forgot it at home. Of course I feel naked without it. How did anyone ever survive before cell phones, smart phones, and internet access at your fingertips?

I actually don't use my phone all that much - at least not compared to some people. I still prefer using a computer/laptop for internet. Mostly I use my phone for texting, checking the weather, and checking email now and then. So, really, it's not all that bad.

I did have a little bit of excitement at work this morning. My power went out around 10 or 11 am. I had been out on the grounds in the golf cart and it started raining. When I went to open the garage door to put the cart way, the automatic door opener wouldn't work. I thought maybe the battery was dead. So I went back to the office and, sure enough, it was dark. So then I spent the next half hour or so unlocking all the doors on our 11 climate control buildings (each with 2 or 3 doors). They all have key pad entry, and the key pads don't work if there is no power. Of course, not long after I got them all unlocked... the power came back on. Just how things work, isn't it?

I also had a missed call from a police detective. Apparently someone has accused someone else of stealing something and putting it in our facility. Oh brother. I haven't returned his phone call yet. I really don't want to deal with this. The people involved, while all being nice people, are just a little "different." Such is life.

I did have a great time at the Jackson Browne concert last night at the Embassy Theater. We had good seats, and he put on a great show. I will write more about that later.

That's all for now.


Wow, this was like the day from hell. I called the police detective back and he was coming to the office to check our security cameras. I decided to see if I could find anything, and while I was in the back room looking through footage, a guy came in all upset because the three entry doors to the building where his climate control unit was were all blown open and the door frames were bent so bad that they wouldn't close. He just stood there like he expected me to do something about it right that moment. I got rid of him, closed up the camera room, and checked out the doors. Sure enough, all three doors on building 8 were totally messed up. I hadn't had a chance to lock them yet after the power came on, and because of the kind of door they have, they weren't latched. To compound the problem, we had just recently put chains on the doors so they only open 90 degrees. I wasn't sure why we did that, because otherwise they would open all the way (but it's not my decision). I guess it turns out that the chains are what caused the frames to bend. Had they not been on there the doors would have just swung open and been okay.

So... I had to work with the construction people to get the doors going. Then, while doing that, our lone office tenant came and told me they couldn't get their keys to work. There doors were supposed to have been re-keyed last week. So I had to go down and open the door for them and then try to appease them that it would be taken care of.

So, other than forgetting my phone, having a power outage, having some major wind damage, having to be interviewed by a police detective, and the normal issues of a day at work... I suppose it was just another day at work. But I am beat. Ugh. I suppose it could always be worse though.