Book: Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

Description from Amazon:

How could a loving God send people to hell? Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven?

With a humble respect for God’s Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle address the deepest questions you have about eternal destiny. They’ve asked the same questions. Like you, sometimes they just don’t want to believe in hell. But as they write, “We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue.” This is not a book about who is saying what. It’s a book about what God says. It’s not a book about impersonal theological issues. It’s a book about people who God loves. It’s not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It’s a book about the character of God.

Erasing Hell will immerse you in the truth of Scripture as, together with the authors, you find not only the truth but the courage to live it out.

Just finished reading this book on my new Kindle (another new love).  I must say it was a pretty interesting read.  I’ve always found Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God) to be an excellent writer.  He makes great points and explains them in a way anyone can understand, so I jumped on the opportunity to read another book by him.  This book is quite obviously a response to Rob Bell‘s “Love Wins” which makes it a unique work by Chan.

It’s definitely informative and a must-read for those who are or have read “Love Wins.”  I haven’t read it yet, but plan to merely out of curiosity.

‘Erasing Hell’ basically is a journey through how American Christians tend to try to avoid talking about the real possibility that many people we know will end up in hell.  It discusses the response we should consider having to hell as well as the history behind other people groups’ views on hell.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Just keep in mind it is not necessarily Chan’s typical writing style; it’s obviously a response.

Here’s an informational video from the publisher: 

Sticky Faith

After the National Youthworkers Convention in Atlanta last weekend, I feel so ready for our next year of ministry and so equipped.  I am so thankful that God has given all of the seminar and big room speakers the gifts He has given them.  Most of all, I am thankful that none of these people are too proud or too busy or too full of themselves to not be personable with “the little people.”  One thing I’m learning in ministry is the complete and utter lack of “little people” and “big people” personas.  We’re all just one big family trying to point teenagers/young adults/youth toward a radical, faith-filled relationship with God through Jesus.  It’s amazing.  After I got back, I was able to sit and chat on facebook with one of the seminar speakers.  We sat and honestly and earnestly just downloaded some struggles and life lessons and were just able to be two women of God sharing our experiences with one another.  It was beautiful!

Now, onto what in the world “Sticky Faith” is all about.

This book was easily the most promoted resource of the whole conference.  So much so that it sold out and we weren’t able to get a copy of it until we got back home.  There’s a youthworker and non-youthworkers version, and, naturally, we have the youthworkers edition.  I started it yesterday afternoon and WOW is all I can say so far.

It’s interesting to me that much of the research (if you look at the timeline) is based off of people around my age, yet is timelessly relevant to todays young people.  I encourage ALL of you who work with or care about young people to get your hands on this book immediately.  I’m on chapter 3 now and already have learned valuable lessons about getting teenagers to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” and a “red bull gospel” to something that Sticks!  Sticky Faith.  Genuine relationship, not a list of rules, not a God who shoots lightning bolts or is only there when you’re being a “nice person” but a genuine relationship with our Creator.  I can’t wait for the rest of the journey, but I had to share this interesting tidbit that I would LOVE your feedback on…

(“Sticky Faith” by Dr. Kara Powell http://www.amazon.com/Sticky-Faith-Youth-Worker-Practical/dp/0310889243)

The beginning of Chapter 2 discusses that many young people involved in the study, even at their senior year of college (the end of the 6 year study) were unable to clearly articulate “what does it mean to be a christian?”  How would you define it? ? Please discuss below…

captivating

you are a woman

an image bearer of God.

the Crown of Creation

you were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved.

you are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiance, Jesus.

you are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power.

you are needed.

.

as a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender.

you speak to the world of God’s mercy, mystery, beauty, and his desire for intimate relationship.

you are inviting

you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God’s love

you labor with God to bring forth life–in creativity, in work, in others.

your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus, where you wait on him and wait for him.

the eyes of his heart are ever upon you

the King is captivated by your beauty

.

we need you

we need you to awaken to God more fully and to awaken to the desires of the heart that He placed within you so that you will come alive to Him and to the role that is yours to play

perhaps you are meant to be a concert musician or a teacher

perhaps you are menat to be an activist for ecology or the poor or the aged or the ill

you are certainly called to be a woman, wherever else He leads you.

that is crucial, dear heart

whatever your particular calling, you are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever he leads you

he will lead you first into himself, and then, with him, he will lead you into the world that he loves and needs you to love

this is all by His Invitation

.

I found this while finishing a book i’ve been reading today and wanted to encourage each of you.

don’t be a wave

“If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm.A man like that shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.  He can’t make up his mind. He can never decide what to do.”

James 1: 6-8

When we ask, we receive if we have faith. If we receive and attempt to ignore, it will only work for so long (the ignoring).  God is good, He carries through. He provides.  We HAVE to trust. we cannot be indecisive we cannot expect Him to halfway answer our prayers. we cannot expect Him to let us pick and choose what parts or things we follow. we follow Him, period.  I’m re-reading through James starting about an hour ago and half blogging my thoughts

ever read a book that smacked you in the face?

ever read a book that seems to just smack you in the face?

Forgotten God” by Francis Chan is doing that to me right now.

I just finished a couple chapters in which the following quotes exist:

one chapter was about our intentions for wanting the Holy Spirit to be in our lives. Self glorification is NOT the reason the Holy Spirit exists in us. He does not exist so that we can do all the things we want to do. we are not Spirit filled so we can accomplish things, God has put the Spirit in us so that HE can do the things HE needs done. we are to be guided by the spirit and see it as the living God in us so that we can work for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)

“All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.”

It is also on HIS timing. We do not get to choose when the Spirit leads us or when we want Him to lead us. If we are truly submitted to His guidance, He controls and consumes us in a beautiful fashion.  We are not slaves, but children. We are working by the Spirit for the common good of the universal Church, not ourselves. Not self glory.

“by not submitting and totally trusting the Holy Spirit, I am not submitting to or trusting God. That is no small matter” p.90

the next part literally hit me in the face
“did God lead you to where you are? a lot of people in my church and my travels tell me “I believe God has called me to Simi Valley or wherever” That may very well be the case, BUT it could also be a cop-out because you like where you live.  You have a good job, the school district is safe and has high ratings, your family is close by. It just makes sense to be “called” to be there, right?”

SMACK.

i’m not sure how the next few months with graduation and jobs will play out, but i HAVE to be open to leaving Nashville. I’d like to stay. I love it here. Alot. More than I’ve ever loved living anywhere. But closing myself off to leaving is closing myself off, potentially, to what God has planned for me. I HAVE to be constantly open to His guiding hand, or else I might as well be completely shut off. God doesn’t do halfway… and a great friend reminded me recently that he doesn’t do Plan B. He has a plan for us and no matter what we do or how we try to screw it up, He NEVER says “oh well you messed up, i guess we’ll have to settle for less than I originally wanted for you.”   I can’t even explain how much I needed to hear that, not because necessarily of any situation, just because.  I’ll quote the message I got because it’s better than re-wording it

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my life, over and over again, it’s that God does NOT resort to Plan B when we screw up. He doesn’t shake his head disappointed, saying “I told you so” and thinking “I had these great things for her, but she screwed them up, so now all I have for her is okay things.” His blessings are always abundant and he never changes. He doesn’t change his mind or his plan or his will for you.”

Back to literal living places. Francis goes on to say “it is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are, but it’s absolutely vital to grasp that He didn’t call you to be there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random or arbitrary. If you are still alive on this planet, it’s because He has something for you to do. (drawn from Ephesians 2:8-10)

7-10Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

this is a sporadic note, just mostly chronicling the things i got hit in the face with about 30 minutes ago…

“we are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do those things”

Duh, but how often do we forget that when we are in those moments, it is not us, it is Him guiding and working through us and we are called to live a lifestyle this way.

onto the next chapter….which i assumed wouldn’t hit me in the face as hard.

“Maybe you are reading this and are thinking, “i just don’t experience that kind of intimacy with God…the Spirit in me never cries “Abba, Father!”. If this is you, i don’t have a 4 step guide to connecting with the Holy Spirit, I would however like to suggest 2 potential obstacles for you to consider: comfort and volume.”

Maybe your life is too safe.

Maybe your life is too loud.

-“in my quest to accomplish much I’ve lost the art of focusing on one thing or one person”

“it is a spiritual discipline to be still, to listen, and to cut out the distraction and din of our world. as we practice this stillness, this wanting, this being, it is then that we can experience deep intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit”

Wow. What a day.

with arms high and heart abandoned

i overcomplicate things.
i take simple things and complicate them.
i create things out of nothing.
i say i love change but when you mess with certain routines of mine, chaos ensues.
psychology allows my mind to twist things any way it wants them and then question each of those ways along the way.
the hardest thing for me to do is to simply do nothing.
i don’t know how to ‘clear my mind of all thoughts’ or simply ‘be.’
i’m really struggling with it.
i have so much to do and yet i always seem to have ‘so much to do’
psi chi, work, read, homework, read for school, finish the never ending independent study i brought upon myself, eat, sleep, friends, call friends, figure out life, figure out how to figure out life, on and on and on….that is how my mind goes
i have no idea how to simply just BE and clear my mind of it all.
last weekend i went to the Passion conference in Atlanta and it was nothing short of amazing. something i really felt God challenging me to do was to stop overcomplicating everything and stop doing doing doing and simply pause and BE. i overcomplicate everything in my life to the point where I think i’ve overcomplicated His love for me. part of me, unconsciously, refuses to accept it because i’ve mentally overcomplicated it. i’ve, for reasons unknown or understood to me, gotten to the point where His love for me seems complicated. i KNOW that it’s not, i KNOW that i simply have to accept it and it will all be given. i KNOW that works do not earn His love but it is given freely because i am His princess of a daughter, yet for some reason lately, i feel my heart not accepting that.
i feel my mind overcomplicating it. i don’t know how to just stop and be. stop and rest in His love for me. stop and see that as my strength and shield and comfort. i KNOW that it is and i KNOW that He will not leave me when i am weary or tired or weak or just feel like my world is spinning out of control, yet my heart cannot simply get past my mind and accept that.
life’s a bit complicated to say the least right now. i have a tendency to beat myself up about it and think i’ve brought it all upon myself. maybe i have. i don’t know. but what i do know is that i desperately want to be at a place where i wholly accept God’s love for me and wholly accept that as my strength each day.  i want to accept it, abide in it, rest in it, and just feel comforted in it, yet i don’t. i KNOW that i can, but for some reason, i don’t FEEL it.  i’m not sure that anyone reading this will understand how i feel, but please let me know that i’m not alone if you get this. please.
i’ve been realizing more and more over the past few months that there is a critical difference between KNOWING that something is true and FEELING it. i know all of the things He says to us are true. i have zero doubt in my mind about them. i have zero doubt in my mind that i love Him with all of my heart, yet for some reason, i cannot FEEL comforted or safe or secure in it. i cannot FEEL wrapped in His arms of mercy.
i’ve been reading through a book called “Do you think I’m beautiful” by Angela Thomas which seems to be addressing this very issue. the issue that women have a hard time simply accepting that we are called to dance with our creator. we are called to dance in his arms and constantly rest in the assurance that He calls us His and He calls us beautiful. we were created in His image for a purpose. we were also created with a God sized hole in our hearts that only he can fill.
throughout growing up in a “traditional baptist church” i was constantly introduced to the concept of a “God shaped hole” in my heart, but it was never presented to me in the way that Angela Thomas presents it through her book. it was simply presented to me as using sex or drugs or other clearly negative things to fill that void. Angela presents it as using our relationships to fulfill us. seeing the people around us as supposed to fill us and make us feel whole and make us into who we are to be. that can’t be how it is. if that’s all it is, we will never be whole, we will constantly be disappointed, and we will constantly expect more than people were created or should be expected to deliver. God is to be our portion, He is to be our fullness.  people on the earth are simply vessels of His love in our lives, not fulfillers.  no guy can ever fulfill me the way God can and no guy can ever make me into who God wants me to be, only God can. it sound simple, but i think if we all spread our lives out on the table, we can begin to see that we want our friends, boyfriends, families, work friends, etc to each fulfill us in a way they weren’t created to at some point.  while they are God’s vessels and can be used to help us see something about ourselves or fulfill things in us, THEY are not the ones doing it and THEY should not be expected to do that. God may work THROUGH them, but it’s not them. its Him.
i guess its something i never realized i struggled with.
this blog has been insanely personal, but its real life and its me.
i pray that over the next week i will be able to more successfully begin to be filled by HIM in a radical way and that i will accept the love in not just my head but my heart more consistently and more wholly. i cannot be whole apart from him.
So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You
So I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
So I’ll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours