This morning at a wake someone looked at me and said, “I have no idea what to say, I just stood there and cried and hugged.” Across the room someone listening in to the conversation replied, “Perfect! They need your presence right now more than your words.” I don’t know why Solomon wrote this, but in Ecclesiastes, the king ponders, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” It is a stunning declaration that there is something “better” about what happens beyond death than what has happened in life. This could point to the afterlife but it also could communicate how important the memory and the connection of the loved ones community is the world after that person dies. When someone you know dies, who can you connect with in their family or friend group that could benefit from your presence. We live in such an individualistic, my life first, and death opens us up to our mortality, and that we are better together.
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The gateway drug was “Velvet Elvis”, Rob Bell’s first book that anybody had ever heard of, and it was amazing! I read through it in a matter of hours over the course of two days and afterwards I pretty much devoured anything he wrote or anything he said online via his messages. I could not get enough of what Bell had to say, and it begun to have a serious influence in my life. One book/video after another he began to break down the systematic theology I believed until I all of a sudden, it became easy to ask myself, “Is this ‘Jesus dying and rising from the dead’ thing just like all of the other things I broke down?” And I was a pastor!
How you approach it depends on how you might approach learning itself. My Dad is into origins, and enjoys studying original Greek and Hebrew. Some new believers might like this. They could read with a concordance, looking up “Grace” or “Love” or “Mercy” and be led to specific sections of scripture. This is great for people who like to chew their meat a lot. Others might want to start with more basics, such as the Gospels and, as Al mentioned, the three letters of John. I love Ephesians. It’s practical and offers great tools for new believers, such as putting on the armor of God, a powerful analogy for equipping yourself for the spiritual battles to come.
The Holman Report is an online magazine for people who love Jesus but are tired of playing church.
1050 men singing their hearts out “I belong to You!” It’s cool outside in the beautiful and plush Waterville Valley two hours north of Boston in the White Mountains, but hot and stuffy in the local Ice area. The men lift their hands to God, amidst the strobe lights, fog machines, and the driving band leading the way.
I’ve already mentioned on the Holman Report that I’ll be releasing my new and first novel on March 1, 2020! But today I wanted to share the title and cover design with you! The novel is called “Flat Earth” and I’m excited about finishing what has been a life goal of mine since my late 20’s. Next month I’ll give you a short synopsis of the book, and many of you have offered to read early versions for me!
Not to be outdone, John, the disciple who Jesus loved, in his golden years vividly describes a vision he has of a world sized worship service focused on Jesus.
“And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Every creature everywhere. That’s a lot of creatures, not to mention humans.
There are other scenes like these, especially in John’s Revelation, and I’ve heard these passages preached about eloquently and often in my life, but nowhere, and I mean nowhere, do these descriptions ever give the name of an individual church organization as a catalyst for launching this incredible worship scenario. Unless the twenty elders is a representation of Hillsong, then I will gladly admit I’m wrong.
So why is it so easy to feel like you’re a follower of Jesus in the wilderness if you don’t belong to a church organization?
When Mario got out of prison and went to church, he set two goals for himself. First, he wanted to give away more money than he spent on drugs and alcohol, and second, he wanted to be the opposite of his father. Mario’s dad physically abused all of his kids, and fed Mario alcohol in his bottle as an infant. Being the opposite of his dad wasn’t going to take much, but sometimes the internal conflict that thought brings can produce its own difficulties. Mario struggles with anger. Mario struggles with trust. But he fights those things with service. He serves this Haitian community by giving it money and food.
What we put inside us gives us life. What we see and hear and think is just as important as the food we ingest. Why don’t more people devour God’s word?