Flunking out of Church

It has been an incredibly tiring couple of weeks, that is for sure. In addition to my new job, I also had the privilege of speaking on a retreat last week (more on that later!), which was awesome, but still draining.

I have to admit, because of all of that, I had to take a deep breath and drag myself to Youth Group last night, despite how tired I was feeling. But you know what? I was so glad that I did! In our guys group, we had some great conversations that really refreshed me and encouraged me about how we’re all thinking.

One of the things that was expressed was the fact that it can truly be hard sometimes to find the motivation to work on our spiritual life once we leave the church building. We hear what we are supposed to, but because there aren’t usually any immediate consequences, we forget about it completely. As was said last night, if you don’t do your work in school, you can fail…but you can’t flunk out of church!

I understand exactly where these thoughts were coming from. But I’ll tell you what I said last night: You may not see the consequences, either positive or negative, at the time, but you will see them later. If I had known what my actions or lack thereof would result in, you can bet I would have done things differently!

So what I encourage all of you to do is to really think about the future. Not like, the Jetsons’ future…although I do love the Jetsons!…but about the impact what you’re doing now will have on your life later.

If you truly want to grow and desire to be better, that’s great! Find someone to hold you accountable. Joy and I are certainly here for you…and your parents are too! Plus you’ve got a whole church full of people that are rooting for you to succeed!

You can’t do it on your own, because life isn’t lived alone. And that’s what’s so great about it!

Eternity Is So Much More Than Heaven

What a fantastic time we had last night discussing what Eternity will be like! Every time I talk about it, I get excited for this wonderful life that awaits us. But you know what’s kind of sad? Sometimes I forget about Eternity completely. Sometimes I just go on living my life as if all we talked about last night isn’t an incredible reality. Why do I do that?

That’s a really good question.

I think that sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on with life, you know? Things get really busy and there’s places to go and people to see. TV shows to watch, you know what I mean? And because I get caught up in life…even enjoying life…I forget to remember that there’s so much more than this waiting.

Like we talked about last night, so many of us have grown up thinking that Heaven is going to be an eternal church service where we sing out of some heavenly hymn books and sit on clouds. Can you even sit on a cloud? Isn’t it just water droplets? I don’t know, someone needs to look it up.    But, regardless, the good news is that Eternity is so much more than Heaven! Eternity is life with Jesus and life means that there is something to live, something to do, something to participate it. We’ve all heard “life is not a spectator sport,” so why should eternal life be one?

Instead of clouds and choirs, we’ll hike and swim with Jesus and those that we love and those that we will start to love. We’ll learn and read that new book C.S. Lewis must be writing. (I hope it’s part 9 of Narnia, personally.) We’ll truly enjoy Jesus and the eternal life that He has prepared for us to live. Forever.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We can’t always walk around with our heads in the proverbial clouds. We still have a lot to focus on down here. God has us still here for a reason and we have to be ready to serve Him. The Christian Life is still going on right now before we get to Eternity.

But when life starts getting unbearable…or even when it’s great!…it’s always a good idea to look at that river, that mountain, that campfire, that good book…and dream a little about what it will be like on the New Earth, sharing it with Christ and each other.

Can’t wait to see you there!

A Little Something New

The Summer is coming to a close. For some of you guys, school has already started! Whether it has or hasn’t yet, it’s still a drastic change to the way that we’ve all been living the past few months. Summer really is a wonderful time, but like even wonderful things, it had to end sooner or later. Of course, knowing that doesn’t always change the sadness that we feel about the end of summer or the anxiousness we may feel about the new school year starting; especially because, for some of you, a new year means a new school. I know a little bit of how you feel as this year, I too, am starting a new school!

As some of you may know, this is my first year teaching middle school Bible at Holmesburg Christian Academy. Even though I teach the Bible all the time here at church, teaching it in a school atmosphere is very different, and I’ll admit…a little intimidating! As I’m writing this, I just got back from my first day and I have to say it was not without its share of challenges. From trying to figure how to get back and forth to Holmesburg from my other job at Cairn to being locked out of the building when I got there to having NO IDEA how to write lesson plans! And then as I was teaching and meeting my students, many of my stresses and fears faded away.

Why? Because the experience was so much greater than my fear of it! Paul says in Philippians 4:6 to not be anxious or worry about anything. Instead, he says, take things to God in prayer. Because God knows better then we do. God knows that the things that we think are so incredibly scary are not really all that bad. It’s us who make it seem so much worse than it is by being anxious and worrying about before it even happens!

That doesn’t mean that everything will be easy. I still have to write lesson plans. I still don’t have a key to get in the building. The guys in the back row are still talking. Still. Talking.  ……    But what it does mean is that if we put all of the new, intimidating, scary things in God’s hands, He will make sure not to drop them. So stop worrying. You don’t need to. We can sing “He’s got your new school in His hands” if you want to.

Good Questions

If you were here last night for our continuing study on Eschatology (end times), then you know that we had a really good time talking about the Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom. I know that at times, it can be a little hard to understand, but keep thinking about and keeping talking about it and always ask questions when you have them!

After our study was over last night, I did get a good question regarding something that we ran out of time to go over. It was so good, though, that I thought it was worth mentioning on here. The question was related to the 1st and 2nd Resurrections and judgements: If Eternity doesn’t begin until after the Millennium, then where do we go now, if we die…either as Christians or non-Christians?

This can be a little tricky. The Bible does talk about an “intermediate state” as we wait for Eternity to begin. When it comes to believers, the intermediate state is quite comforting. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul tells us that when we are absent from the body (dead), we are present with the Lord. Meaning, even before Eternity begins, when a Christian dies, they go to be with God. Could this be the “old heaven” that gets destroyed, like we talked about last night? Perhaps.

Unbelievers are a little more difficult. In Luke 16, we read a parable that Jesus is telling about a rich unbeliever who dies and goes to “Hades.” In Hades, he definitely feels the separation from God and physical torment that we associate with eternal Hell (Lake of Fire). We know from our study together that no one is thrown into the Lake of Fire (eternal Hell) until after the Tribulation, so Hades must be some sort of holding area for unbelievers. This is not purgatory, as Catholics believer, because there is no getting out of this place…the choice has been made. However, Revelation 20 does mention that Hades gets thrown into the Lake of Fire, which signifies the end of the holding area as Eternity is now open for business.

I hope that this clarifies a few things for you guys and maybe answers some questions you may have had. If you still have more questions about this or anything else, please always ask!

See you guys soon!

New Website!

Hey guys…Tom, here!

I hope that you excited about the new website for The Assembly Jr. High! We’re working hard to get this up and running and keep it up to date with what’s going on at church as well as some other fun and exciting things.

Right now, you’ll see some fliers up for our upcoming activities, a few pictures here and there, and even podcasts of our Sunday School and Wednesday night talks!

I’ll be posting here every now and then, as well, so keep checking back. If you have some questions you want to see talked about on here, use the contact page and an email will get sent right to me.

Be sure to share it with your friends and family as well so they can experience the same excitement that you do!

Okay…I understand that you’re supposed to be excited about a lot of things here, so just do your best, alright? Take a deep breath…smile…and listen to that Sunday School you overslept for last week.