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No heaven, no hell

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Note: This is not intended to be a biblically accurate account of the existence of heaven or hell. It’s just a story. Or a poem. Or whatever.

Two brothers
Sons of a preacher
raised to believe
there’s more to this life
than time spent on earth

One questioned his faith
cultivated his seeds of doubt
and at times chose paths
unworthy of a preacher’s son

One never wavered
stayed close to home
clung to the safety
of his father’s faith

Both were visited
by an angel
with a message from God
he said,

God knows the number of hairs of your head
and the number of days you have left on this earth.

Both replied,

We know this to be true. The Word of God tells us as much.

The angel then said,

The message God has sent me to deliver is this:
There is nothing else beyond this earth.
No heaven
No hell
The earth you walk upon encompasses both
and you choose which you will inhabit;
which path you choose to journey upon.
When you draw your last breath
your journey will come to an end.
No bright light at the end of a tunnel.
No fiery pit to suffer for all eternity.
There is no eternity
Only now.

The brothers spoke to one another
about this messenger from God
One was relieved
the other angry

I’ve spent my whole life depriving myself
of the things you’ve indulged in.
I’ve missed so many experiences
in lieu of heaven.
Now I am told there is nothing
beyond this world?
I’ve much catching up to do.

And so he did.

The other brother
who had questioned his faith
knew that what his brother had missed out on
didn’t amount to much.
And he heeded the angel’s words
about which path he would choose.
Heaven or Hell was a choice he could make.
He’d glimpsed at Hell.
He decided to give Heaven a shot.

And so he did.

He died to himself
Spent his days serving God by serving others
Not out of obligation
or the promise of Heaven
but out of Love
and he caught glimpses of Heaven
everywhere he looked.

Years later…

The brothers meet again
in a homeless shelter
one serving food
the other being served
and they talked about
the visiting angel

Do you still believe what the angel said?
About no Heaven or Hell?
After death there is nothing?,

asked the homeless brother.

Yes and no,
the other brother replied.
I believe we begin to live eternity here on earth,
but after that visit I began to search the scriptures.
I believe what God’s word says.
Not the angel.
I also believe that you’ve been given a glimpse of Hell
in order to understand the gift of Heaven.
A gift you felt entitled to as a birthright.
I hope you understand now the gift you chose to refuse
and know it is still being offered.

I think I do understand now, brother.
I don’t want to choose Hell anymore.
I choose Life.

Just then the brother felt a weight fall from his shoulder
Both brothers turned towards the sound of shreiking.
The angel who had been watching them all these years
was enraged that Hell would have one less resident.

As he flew away
both brothers remarked
How neither had noticed
the black wings
and singed robes before.

Puddy in his hands

The release of Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins and the public discourse among Christians before and after its release hasn’t exactly been the greatest public relations coup in the history of the church. And let’s face it, we can say we love God and love people until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t back up our words with the way we live and the way we treat each other, let alone those who aren’t Christians, we probably deserve much of the bad press we’ve received. I’m not suggesting we simply agree to disagree and not speak out against what we believe to be bad theology or legalism, we just need to do a better job with how we present our beliefs. The world is watching us.

I’ve often said that you can relate just about any life circumstance to an episode of Seinfeld, and I was only partly kidding. Funny how a show about nothing seemed to have covered just about everything. In the following montage, Puddy reminds us how NOT to be salt and light:

(Sorry, you’ll have to watch the clip on youtube because of copyright stuff.)

What important life lessons have you learned from Seinfeld?

The obligatory Rob Bell post

I’m pretty opinionated here. Which is why I’m always a little surprised I don’t get negative comments. I mean almost never. In fact, the only truly angry comment I’ve ever received was for this post way back in May of 2008:

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Is it just me, or does watching a Rob Bell video remind anyone else of “The Chris Farley Show” of SNL fame? Here’s what I mean:

Do you remember the story,

when Jesus walks up to those dudes,

and says,

“Follow me,

and I will make you fishers of men?”

and then,

the dudes, like

drop their nets,

and follow Him?…

That was awesome!

Now before anyone shoots me a comment about how Rob Bell is just the coolest, most relevant dude of the 21st century, and shame on me for making fun of him, I’m not dissing the message, just the delivery. I only say this because I once shared this observation with a youth pastor friend of mine and he looked at me like I had just said, “Jesus sucks!” And let’s be honest…he does kinda talk like that! Thoughts?

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Even though I made a disclaimer that I was not dissing Rob Bell’s message, I still got the following comment from your friend and mine, Anonymous:

How can you crack a joke on Rob’s excellent video series if you’ve never even met him or even watched any of them? Maybe you were just having a little fun, but it defies all logic and makes you look like a ignorant babbling fool! I need to get back to my Nooma videos, you know, something that will actually add value in my life!

The ironic thing is, I expected a comment like that. Because some fans of Rob Bell are so completely, rabidly devoted to him that they go around looking to defend him from any and all detractors. At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who believe Rob Bell is the anti-Christ and a heretic leading countless followers to the fiery pits of hell.

And speaking of hell… (Excellent segue, katdish)

Rob Bell has a book coming out on March 29 entitled Love Wins which is causing quite a firestorm. Here’s a video trailer for said book:

“Millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. So what gets subtly taught sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that? That we would be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How can that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?” – Rob Bell

Predictably, many in the Christian community were quick to challenge Bell’s (presumed) declaration that a loving God would not send people to hell. Justin Taylor penned a blog post entitled Rob Bell: Universalist?, which John Piper tweeted prefaced by the words: “Farewell, Rob Bell”. It pretty much snowballed on twitter and Christian blogs after that point.

I’m not going to defend either side of the argument here. Do I believe there’s an actual, physical hell? Yes, I do. Do I think the entirety of Rob Bell’s teachings should be dismissed because I happen to disagree with him about certain interpretations of scripture? No, I don’t believe that either. Because this is what I know to be true:

Rob Bell is not

Justin Taylor is not

John Piper is not

Francis Chan, Erwin McManus, Pete Wilson, Vince Antonucci, Alan Hirsch, Matt Chandler, Matt Smay, Neil Cole,Tim Keller, Mark Batterson, Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, Mark Driscoll, Ed Stetzer, Andy Stanley, Charles Stanley, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Lee Strobel, Joel Osteen, T. D. Jakes, John Calvin, Oswald Chambers, Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis…

are NOT

Jesus Christ

And their books and writings may inspire you or enrage you. They may cause you to question your faith or confirm what you’ve always believed to be the Truth, but they

are NOT

The Word of God

The Bible is.

And you have the same access to it as anyone else.

Equip yourselves to defend

The Gospel of Christ


“The only thing worse than the joke you don’t get is the explanation that is bound to follow: an explanation that, while it may help you see why you should have seen the humor that you so lamely missed, is little likely to make you laugh. It may provoke you to muster a sympathy snicker so as to avoid more of an already tedious and misdirected lecture. It may inspire a mild giggle of recognition, but it will hardly ever raise a real belly-laugh, which was the original desired effect. And so, here I go — me and a dozen thousand other people — trying to explain a joke that we would do better to learn to better tell. I am setting out to explain again why Jesus is the only true hope for the world, why we should put faith in Him, and what all of that won’t mean. I am collecting the information, selecting from what I hope will be usable as evidence, arranging my findings into arguments, framing it for presentation and recognizing that, while it may be fine as far as it goes, it doesn’t go far enough…

So, here I offer what is possibly the worst thing that can be offered: an explanation of a joke. And, what makes this more inexcusable than the fact that this is that, is the added fact that this is an explanation of a joke you’ve already gotten. I offer it anyway. I offer it in the hope that it might somehow encourage you to live out your lives and, by your living, tell the joke that I, in my writing, so feebly attempt to explain.

Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.”
~ Rich Mullins

Editor’s Note: In case anyone’s interested, I thought I would let you know that I belong to an independent, non-denominational Christian Church. If you’d like to know what we believe, you can find out at our website. I figured if this turned into a theology debate, you may as well know where I’m coming from. Not that I necessarily want this to turn into a theology debate, mind you. Just didn’t want y’all assuming I was a Baptist. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)