I have to admit when I heard that Francis Chan had written a book called Erasing Hell, I sucked in my breath. I mean the title is ambiguous and this book coming off the recent Rob Bell controversy, where he dismisses the Christian view of hell, was a little unsettling to say the least. I loved Forgotten God and wondered if Francis Chan would also drink the punch and attempt to erase hell? Say it ain’t so, I thought. So I bought the book and brought it home.
My husband, Doug and I sat down to read the book together over an afternoon. At first, Doug’s exasperated comment was, “What are we reading?” , in a tone that was displeased at my selection. Then we began to dive in. We read, keeping an open mind as was suggested in the book. We allowed questions that maybe we had squashed deep in our soul, to rise to the forefront of our mind. Granted, somehow it just seemed wrong to ever question why God chose to do things the way he does, but Chan’s transparency allowed us to at least form the question in a tangible way. Had the church today, pointing directly at ourselves, preached the palatable parts of the bible and neglected the very thing people really needed to hear?
Where Francis Chan hit a nerve with me was when he asked if the street corner preachers who are screaming about hell were actually doing more than I was? After all, I cringe when I see them and have said out loud that I think they do more harm than good to the faith. Yet, I couldn’t deny that what they were saying was true. Yikes, what an ugly feeling I had about my responsibility to humanity.
I loved that the book took the time to study out what Jesus said about hell, in the context of his Jewish faith and in the time he lived out his time on earth. I am a person who studies with an open concordance, dictionary, lexicons and commentaries so this appealed to me. Doug was eerily quiet through our reading. It wasn’t until the conclusion that we breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome of the study and then discussed where we felt we were at in the whole process.
We both concluded that this book deserves a read and a frank conversation. The bottom line is people are dying with a lot of different ideas which have no basis in fact and like it or not, we have a responsibility to at least take a chance and speak up.
Taking a ride on a train in Napa, we sat across from a woman who was wearing three necklaces. The first was a cross, the second was rabbit’s foot and the third was a buddha. Doug asked her what the significance of the necklaces were and she answered him sincerely, “I’m covering all my bases.” Admittedly that’s as far as the conversation went. The conversations of mercy and grace are easy, but it doesn’t negate the conversations about where people will spend eternity and that, my friends, is what we should be about. A million thanks to Francis Chan for boldly asking questions that demand soul searching answers.
Buy the book read it, if you’re like us, you’ll finish the entire thing in a few hours and search your heart. Where do you stand? What do you believe? It’s important to know.
Luke 5:16 As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.
While listening to the radio the other day on my drive to work, a runner was describing his ability to run 30 miles a day without hitting the wall. Hitting the wall is a term runners use to describe what happens when they are running and suddenly they feel extreme fatigue and loss of energy.
He went on to describe that endurance runners, those who run long distances even cross country, know that slow and steady are the keys to avoiding hitting the wall. He said there was a formula to endurance and that was to run and recover, run and recover, run and recover.
I began to think of ministry and how often we run but don’t recover and we end up hitting the wall. Jesus seemed to understand that the demands on his life required him to run and recover often. Over and over again in Scripture, Jesus heals, meets needs, preaches, teaches and then goes off to recover. Sometimes he takes his disciples with him. Other times he goes off alone but always he is running and recovering and endurance doesn’t seem to be a problem.
How often do you get away to pray alone? Do you make time and have a place in your life where the cell phone and the demands of daily life get left behind and the only thing that goes with you is a desire to pray and hear from God? Are you like some who are hitting the wall and wondering why you aren’t fulfilled in your calling and why you can’t seem to push beyond a certain place in your ministry?
Sometimes the most urgent thing you can do is rest. ~ Anonymous
If there is anything I have learned this year it’s to run and recover without regret. I used to feel lazy if I took a day off to sleep and rest. No longer is that a thought in my head. I use to feel bad if someone knocked on my front door on my day off and I didn’t want to answer. Not anymore. You see, I understand that if I am going to run this race to the finish, then endurance is key and recovery is necessary. It’s not an option. We must learn to be strategic. We must learn to not bow to every urgent need but instead focus and not lose sight nor neglect the important things in life.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
and found it to be very relevant to what is happening in my life these days.