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turn your blog posts into enewsletters

Turn Your Blog Posts into Email Newsletters

Blogs help you quickly and easily publish compelling content about you and your services out to the world. Blogs help to connect your business to potential customers. But how do your readers know when you’ve published a new blog post?

rss to email

Simple RSS to Email by AWeber Communications

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) helps you connect your customers to your blog. The problem is, not many people know what RSS is or even how to use it. Your audience wants to connect with you, but they’re not sure how. The fact you likely don’t know how to help them connect with you makes the challenge even greater, right?! Well, blog owners, there’s an answer to this.

Aweber has made it easy to connect your blog to your newsletter (your electronic newsletter, that is). Now you can turn your blog into an email newsletter. Simply plug in your blog’s RSS feed (for WordPress sites, this is usually something like yourdomainname.com/feed/) and choose one of Aweber’s colorful templates. When you publish a new post, Aweber places your brilliant content into the email template and fires it off to your subscribers.

You can even schedule your newsletters to go out on a particular day and time in the form of a weekly digest that delivers all of your latest posts! As your subscribers click through to your posts, you’ll see an increase in readers and comments. Plus, even more readers will discover your blog as your subscribers forward your emails to them.PC Magazine Business Choice

Over the years, Aweber has been continually recognized for a high-quality email marketing experience:

  • PC Magazine 2016, Business Choice Award – Best Email Marketing Software
  • 2016 Gold Stevie® for Best Service Industry – Contact Center of the Year
  • 2015 NCSA All Stars Service Team of the Year – First Runner Up

Interested? If you’re tech-savvy, you can go straight to Aweber and proceed in setting up your account. If you’re a little unsure how to proceed–or if you get stuck–simply contact us and we can walk you through the next steps.

Why We Teamed with Qgiv for Online Donations

church donationsWhen the request first came to us, it arrived as a desire for a PayPal alternative. News to us, we discovered from our client PayPal offers financial support to organizations that don’t really support the ideals shared by our churches and faith-based organizations.

Let’s just say there are some concerns about the sanctity of human life.

So the search began. We reviewed a number of online donation systems. We looked at rates, client-bases, support levels and technology. Oh, and and we asked about who they financially supported.

And now we’ve partnered with Qgiv.

As their site boasts, fundraisers who use Qgiv process 39% more donations than they did before, and those donations are 160% greater than the industry average. Seems kind of impressive, but how do we know that 39% increase in donations isn’t just because now you’re able to take donations online? And does the 160 number include offline donations? If so, that might be explained by the 39% increase in donations, right?

We had to look deeper.

Alright. We know your members want to donate using their debit or credit cards instead of using cash or checks. The intuitive Qgiv platform makes that easy. Your donation forms and events will be beautiful and user-friendly on any computer, tablet, or smartphone. But what does it cost?

Using the Qqiv free account for nonprofits, your fee schedule is low:

$0/mo
3.95% + $0.30 per transaction

Hmm. Pretty competitive, but PayPal offers a lower rate of 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction. Now if the rate was the most important factor, our research would have ended there. However, we already know Qgiv’s heart is better aligned with our own (because we asked them point-blank if they financially supported the organization in question. They checked. They don’t.) Still, we needed to really get a sense for the Qgiv product. Here is a list of the Qgiv standard features. Power and extensibility just go up from here into the paid plans. Dreamscape Multimedia and the Qgiv team will work with you to ensure your donations work smoothly and securely. Setup is free.

qgiv example

  • Positions you for receiving year-round giving
  • Mobile-responsive giving – Supporters can give easily from their mobile devices
  • Smooth email and social sharing – True: fundraisers who share their pages through email and social posts raise more money.
  • Recurring donations and donor accounts – Your donors can customize frequency, start dates, and end dates for ongoing support.
  • Unlimited event registrations – Take event registrations on your donation form, virtual terminal, or kiosk.
  • Unlimited donation forms
  • Customizable landing & confirmation pages
  • Powerful donor receipts system
  • Donation dedications
  • Unlimited users
  • Account owner dashboard and reporting
  • Easy-to-use form builders and widgets
  • Online virtual terminal for in-person gifts
  • Unlimited email and phone support
  • Convenient donor summaries
  • Free live Qgiv training

Need to track your fundraising? Sounds like something you should be doing, right? Whether you need to know how much money you’ve raised this month or how many donors have given to a particular campaign, the information you need is right at your fingertips.

Then we began working with Qgiv. Don’t be surprised at the diligence with which they meet your account. These people are serious about your security and the security of your donors. After a little coordination and paperwork, your church or nonprofit will be ready to accept donations online, securely and elegantly.

Questions? Interested in getting started? Send us a note!

potter and clay

Creation Identity vs Creator Identity

This message was originally written for an intra-church outreach campaign focused around an outdoor music festival called “Common Ground”. This talk was first delivered to a small team of local evangelists who met at Maranatha Church for messages, prayer and announcements prior to beginning their work at the festival. The talk speaks to personal concerns held by the evangelists, who—over the course of the outreach—had expressed challenges they were experiencing in their own lives.

Early in my career as a web designer and Internet marketer, I took a lot of pride and identity from my work. In fact, I took so much identity from my work that when I would experience trouble with a client, it would wreck me emotionally. It took me years on an emotional roller-coaster before I learned that not all clients are a fit. For every 10 to 12 jobs I took over the course of a year, one always seemed to implode. Of course, I always tried my best to salvage any project, but sometimes things just took a turn. This was a bitter pill until I learned to not glean so much of my personal identity from my work. I also learned to communicate more and to be more selective about both my clients and the contractors I hired.

Where Do We Get Our Sense of Self?

Our identity comes from one of two places: either from the world or from God. Another way to put it: our identity comes from either the creation or our Creator. Seeing as the things of this world are temporary (family, friends, culture, media, etc.,) it’s obviously best to claim our identity from our infinite God, in whose image we were created. Still, where does this broken sense of world-driven identity come from?

Genesis 3:6-10

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Good for food to whom? Pleasant to whose eyes? To make who wise? Adam and Eve decide against God’s will for them, and in choosing their own path, humanity falls into sin. Don’t think for a second your or I would have done any better. Adam and Eve walked with God, among His glorious, untarnished creation, and still, humanity fell within the first generation of a single family. The probability for this error would only be higher had there been more than two people in the beginning. This should show us something about ourselves and the nature of free will. Even a third of the host of heaven fell through free will. The problem isn’t with free will, but with what we do with it.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Self-consciousness leads to self-protection; self-preservation.

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Of course, God knows where they are, just as He knew what they would do. God calls us to conviction, confession and repentance, as modeled first here.

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Self-centered desire leads to self-consciousness, self-focus.

Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Self-indulgence and self-preoccupation.

More Examples of Self-Seeking

In Genesis 20, Abraham lies about being married to Sarah so he is not killed.

Self-preservation. Self-protection.

In 2 Samuel 11, David takes Bathsheba for his own and sends her husband into battle and certain death.

Self-gratification.

The kings of Israel and Judah were primarily self-seeking and self-motivated.

Even the great prophets often sought to save their own skins. Moses, Gideon, Saul, Jonah and Jeremiah are just some examples of great men of God who were reluctant to step out for God. Consider Moses’ reluctance in accepting God’s mission for him to return to Egypt and demand the release of the Israelites:

Exodus 3:11

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 4:1

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.

Exodus 4:10

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

Exodus 4:13

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

NKJV

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

Here we see Moses—considered to be one of the greatest men of God of all time—arguing with the Infinite Creator of the Universe, desperately hoping to place his will before the Father’s. The same Moses who later leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea is nervously trying to talk his way out of his God-given mission.

In contrast, we have Jesus’ example. In self-less, self-sacrifice, He died to self and took on the will of the Father.

John 5:30

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Called to Be Light

For me, this Common Ground mission pulls me out of self. It’s not always comfortable to hand out tracts and receive rejection after rejection. Self-confidence—if that’s what we’re running upon—takes a hit after so much rejection, but love and obedience perseveres.

Fortunately, we don’t rely upon our own self-confidence. We seek to die to self, move in the Spirit and be of Kingdom service. The mission is larger than the self.

Matthew 5:15 / Luke 8:16 / Luke 11:33

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Our challenge is not only for a few nights here at Common Ground. Our mission field is in the living rooms, in the offices, on our social media channels.

When circumstances and people become uncomfortable, do we shrink away in self-preservation and self-consciousness?

Or do we die to self and stand upon the rock in the storm, in love and patience and confidence—confidence not in ourselves and our own abilities, but in our Lord?

Even at the end of the night, when we may be wondering if our time invested will bear any fruit in the people we’ve touched, we must put aside any notions of self-worth and leave the expansion of our efforts to the Holy Spirit.

Don’t Expect to Be Enough

1 Corinthians 4:10-14

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

Paul’s words to the prideful church of Corinth act as a reminder. Even to say we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, not old enough, not young enough, not eloquent enough; these things are still pride. Self-consciousness. Self-focus. Self-loathing. Self-preservation. Through it all, our attention is to remain on Him.

Our Prayer

Father, we humble ourselves as servants and we step forward in love and faith and belief to minister to God’s children, believers and non-believers alike, under the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Father, we recognize if we’re fearful and focused upon ourselves or our circumstances, we’ve taken our eyes off you and placed them upon the storm, and—like Peter—we’ll begin to sink into dark waters. So, Holy Spirit, walk with us as we commit to keeping our eyes upon you. We want only you.

I pray this, in the holy name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

matt signature

youth bible study

Curriculum for Christian Youth Ministry

The Challenge

Challenge: Students aging out of 6th grade Sunday school are pressed into adult service before they may be ready.

Solution: Offer an additional class for young students to continue the faith development.

Audience: 7th to 8th grade, 9th-12th grades optional.

Format: A typical segment may include verbal instruction, video, guest speakers, breakout groups, extracurricular field trips and supplemental reading.

Focus

A proposed curriculum would target the following three approaches:

Identity

The world attempts to shape us in accordance with its shifting trends, fads and events. It drives to distract, lure and establish strongholds that last for generations. Our identity must be rooted in what the Father says about us through the life of Jesus Christ. Without this understanding, our so-called “Christian” walk will be sin-conscious, confused and void of the power and authority necessary to weather life’s storms and certainly won’t represent the glory of God’s kingdom. We know we’re told we are made in His image, but what does that really mean? Are all events, good or bad, really ordained by God? Topics may include the character of God and mankind, how the life of Jesus should affect our walk, spiritual gifts and the power of prayer.

Apologetics

Establish a strong foundation for understanding, communicating and defending the proof-claims behind the Christian worldview (1 Peter 3:15). According to a 2006 study by Barna Research, 61% of young adults who were once churched are now spiritually disengaged. As our children mature, are they ready to take on the world without being shaped by the world? Does Noah’s ark still look like a bathtub brimming with cartoon animal heads? Discussion topics may include young Earth creationism in the face of “billions” of years, global flood accounts, evolution, fine tuning of the universe, the authority of the Bible (including archeological evidence for Sodom and Gomorrah and the Red Sea crossing,) atheism, world religions, the problem of evil and the argument for God.

Culture

Whether at school or at home, our children will be confronted by varying forms of relativism. The life decisions they make in the blink of an eye will be shaped by how well-grounded they are in their faith and their moral code. If absolute truth doesn’t exist and we are simply living for ourselves, matters of morality become a personal choice. Issues such as drugs, abortion, bullying, sexuality, body image, social media, academic and peer pressures, on-screen violence, depression, morality and ethics may be covered.


SUPPLEMENTAL

The testimony of college students (from the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding – www.cpyu.org):

1) Alysia at the University of Illinois said:

My youth group was fairly useless in preparing me for college. A short course in different religions helped me, but what helped me more was attending Worldview Academy for two summers. The challenging of my faith and teaching me the apologetics, leadership, and evangelism helped the most–especially by helping me determine why I personally believed in Christianity and by giving me the tools to help share that with others…My youth group was a place where the leaders were trying everything from games to parties to entice people to come, but they wouldn’t dive deep into any theological or social topic. We were treated as intellectual babies and thus never grew to understand the importance or the relevance of the Christian faith.

2) Daniel at Erskine College said:

I wish my youth group had done more to prepare me for the academic challenges to Christianity instead of focusing on high school drama. I was fortunate to make great and knowledgeable friends, but I have known others who have turned away because of professors and students raising tough objections. I wish my youth group had taken things more seriously and done more apologetics and less of worrying about the drama of high school.

3) And Gabrielle at Chatham University said:

I was in several youth groups in high school and unfortunately found that youth group was too ?soft—we played a lot of games and had a lot of fun retreats, but rarely learned about the fundamentals of faith, why we believe what we believe, and what it is that we do believe. Now that I am in college, my faith is under constant scrutiny and always being tested by scientific concepts and the secular slant of most universities. I wish I had been equipped with a more solid justification for my faith: knowing how to answer the tough questions, how to respond to arguments, and how to stand firm in what feels like a storm against my spirituality.

We can’t let up “in here,” in the church, because they’re not letting up “out there.”

Listen to philosopher Richard Rorty, quoted in Rorty and His Critics, chapter 1 entitled “Universality and Truth” (Blackwell Publishing 2000), page 22:

…we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own . . . The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students . . .

When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization….So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable..


References

Kunkle, Brett. 2009. Who‘s Waiting for Your Kid. Stand to Reason.

sarai and hagar

God Allowed Abram’s Polygamy but Never Approved It

Starting in Genesis 13 and finally concluding in Genesis 21 with the birth of Isaac, we see an account of Abram and Sarai’s struggle of faith. Abram’s covenant with God in Genesis 13 and 15 leaves Abram and Sarai with God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (15:5) and a claim to the lands of nearby nations (15:18). Abram was already in his mid-80’s at this time and Sarai was considered barren and beyond child-bearing years. As they wrestle with God’s seemingly improbable promise, Abram and Sarai eventually decide to take matters into their own hands. Sarai convinces Abram to go in unto her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, in order to help the prophesy along. Hagar does indeed conceive a son, Ishmael, however this was not in accordance with God’s promise. The whole account is one that teaches us the importance of waiting upon the promises of the Lord. For good measure, God waits over 15 years more before fulfilling His promise, making the supernatural blessing of Isaac undeniable.

doctrine of hell

Questioning the Doctrine of Hell and the Fairness of God | Part 1

In his November 2016 video, “Is HELL REAL or an Invention of the Church?” former Christian pastor and missionary, Joshua Tongol, sounds off on his problems with the doctrine of hell and eternal damnation. He opens with the example of a loved one who doesn’t believe Christianity but still has a loving heart. They die suddenly. “Where are they now?” he asks. Fundamentalists would say, “Hell. Forever. Eternal conscious torment.”

Of course, most Christians trying to be soft in their response would say, “Well, that’s for God to judge.” Theologically speaking, however, most Christian fundamentalists still silently feel—without the salvation prayer (an invention within the past 100 years)—the unregenerate “unsaved” will be going to hell. Even if one says the prayer, without true repentance and a heart-felt desire to pursue Christ, can’t they still be counted as “still-born”?

Tongol poses some tough questions. I was completely unequipped to answer the same questions in my late teens when a Jehovah’s Witness friend fired them at me. My inability to answer these questions in the face of my staunch Catholic upbringing marks my own launch into personal apostasy. That fall would last over two decades before I returned to the faith. The questions:

  • What kind of loving parent would send their children to eternal damnation? For not believing? For having little context for believing?
  • How to reconcile God’s unconditional love and everlasting mercy with eternal damnation? Preachers push this concept often when they posit “God loves you so much, but if you don’t love Him back, you’re going to burn.”
  • If God is omnipresent, how can the common explanation that hell is “existence without God’s presence” hold any water?

My Children Are Destroyed By Lack of Knowledge

When you can’t reckon the gap with logic, folks rebut with, “What does the Bible say?” Well, which Bible? Certain bibles don’t mention the word “hell” at all. Furthermore, the images of hell don’t seem to coincide. Are we talking about the verses that support an eternal hell, the verses that support the destruction of sinners, or the verses that support a temporary hell? So, which is it?

If God is all-knowing, as the Bible affirms, why create people who are simply destined for eternal hell? As a parent, say you’re able to clearly see the future for your children. You see that your next child will have less than 100 years to live on the planet, and then will burn in eternal conscious torment afterwards. Would you still bring them into existence? Our lowly, natural minds would say certainly not. If we can agree that God is way more just, way more loving and way more merciful than we are, it’s safe to assume we don’t have the whole picture.

Does it seem fair to be eternally punished for believing the wrong thing about God? Maybe you’re born in the wrong place, at the wrong time or into the wrong religion. A common response to the remote aborigine who never hears the Gospel is, “Well, God will take that into account then.” Essentially, they’ll be graded on a curve because of their ignorance. So then are missionaries doing a disservice to proclaim the Gospel to indigenous people, placing them in the path of eternal damnation by risking their rejection of Jesus? Why make them responsible and put them at risk? Wouldn’t ignorance over a span of less than 100 years and a higher likelihood of union with the Father be better than risking them making a bad decision and landing in eternal torment? This same argument has been applied to abortion providers, as if abortion simply jettisons the unborn into the lap of God.

Will we really be infinitely punished for finite sin and understanding? This possibility is hard for our fallen minds to swallow. Yet, if we believe the Bible, we can expect God is fair. Not only is He friend and father, but also judge.

And so, the questions continue to brew.

What’s the Big Idea?

Tongol asks, “Does God’s loving pursuit of humanity end at death?” If love is patient, does one’s physical death mark the end of that patience? What of the many who live short lives?

The common retort is, “God gave us all free will. God doesn’t send His people there; we send ourselves.” And if that is true, and it was our free will that landed us in hell, can we not use our free will to get back out of hell? Does our free will stop at physical death? Isn’t the concept of hell dangerously abstract to those with no experience of it?

If the residents of hell (angelic and human) have–through their own free will–resisted the love of God, can God’s love be resisted forever? Wouldn’t even a loving earthly parent try to snatch their child out of eternal torment? If God is love (as Christians claim) why would God do anything less for His children?

The scenario can be irreverently described like this:

Humanity starts with two people who trip over themselves in the garden of Eden and commit all subsequent generations (billions and billions of people) to sin-driven lives, losing most of the Father’s creation to hell. God, being smart and loving, has a plan. He sends His Son to die on the cross to take our sin from us and model the Way, the Truth and the Life, BUT still only a few people will find salvation. “Narrow is the path, but wide is the road to destruction.” (Matthew 7:13)

So, what would be the point to losing most of your creation to the devil; to free will; to sin?

If eternal hell does exist, shouldn’t Christians be more passionate about witnessing to the world? How can we even sleep with millions of people dying everyday with little or no knowledge of the Gospel? Do we not care? Do we not believe in hell? Are we just lazy?

In the Nazi holocaust of World War II, millions of people were tortured and killed. Fair to say most of those were not evangelical Christians. The unsavory question: Should we believe that most of those people are in hell along with their persecutors because they didn’t believe and convert during their time on earth?

Many fundamentalist Protestants may even say Mother Theresa herself has been swept into to hell. As a Catholic, the Protestants may argue she would have been works-based and not operating under grace. But if we believe our eternal salvation hinges upon accepting Christ or saying a salvation prayer before our physical death, isn’t that works? Both contingencies are actually marketed by churches as steps we have to take in order to become “saved.” Does your chance to accept Christ as Lord and Savior end upon physical death?

Retribution, Restoration or Both?

Tongol goes on to ask, “Is true justice retributive or restorative? Is it all about getting what you deserve or is it about restoring a person?” If unending punishment is the solution, then evil is not overcome by love, not overcome by good. In fact, it would appear evil would have won. An eternal hell keeps the cycle of evil and penance going forever. It keeps the cycle of evil demons doing evil things to evil people going forever. If that is the case, there is nothing redemptive in that. Was Jesus’ example to us an example of retributive or restorative love? (Hint: John 3:17 NKJV, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”)

When our Lord stood down the crowd wanting to stone the woman for fornication, most of us agree He disqualified them from casting the first stone. Maybe fewer of us notice that—in doing so—He qualified Himself at the same time. He did not cast stones but simply told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

Do we not know the will of the Father through the life of the Son?

Here is where the opposing comments arise:

  • “It doesn’t matter how you feel on this topic.”
  • “It doesn’t have to make sense.”
  • “While you may not be willing to send people to hell forever, you’re not God.”

“So even people you love may be burning in hell forever,” Tongol says.

Love heals. Love restores. We know the will of the Father through the restorative life of the Son. Did Jesus not teach we are to forgive our neighbor not seven times but seventy-times-seven? Will not a loving, infinite God do even more for us?

Is It Wrong to Even Ask the Question?

Rejecting the notion he is a Christian Universalist (who says everyone is going to heaven,) Tongol makes the point: Once he lands in the afterlife, he “would rather be guilty of overestimating the love of the Universe rather than underestimating it.”

The “Universe”? An apparent nod to pantheism and the notion that the Creator and the creation are all one. While Tongol’s questions are well-constructed, he—like the rest of us—has room to grow in the understanding of God’s character. The potter is not the clay.

I believe there was way more accomplished through Christ’s atonement than we can intellectually grasp. I believe Jesus taught on hell and that it certainly exists, but my jury is still out on how many will be lost to the grave and how many will be lost to eternal conscious torment or everlasting destruction.

Of course, maybe that’s the problem with the whole question. I’m placing questions about salvation into my own court instead of keeping them in God’s. We’re counseled by God’s response to Job and by verses like:

  • Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:21 NKJV,)
  • And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! (Jeremiah 18:4-6) and
  • Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16.)

Is it darkened and audacious to even ask questions then? Yes, we are to seek His face and grow in our understanding of His character, but far be it from us to push an “ought” or “should” onto the Father. It is surely a darkened mind that seeks to pass judgment over the methods and intentions of our infinite Father.

Questions Bought by Eternal Conscious Torment

To summarize some of the questions provoked by the doctrine of eternal conscious torment:

  • Are your deceased loved ones exposed to eternal conscious torment for not saying a salvation prayer?
  • What kind of loving parent would send their children to eternal damnation? For not believing? For having little context for believing (e.g. born at the wrong time, in the wrong place or into the wrong religion?)
  • Will we really be infinitely punished for finite sin and understanding?
  • How can we reconcile God’s unconditional love and everlasting mercy with eternal conscious torment?
  • If God is omnipresent, how can the common explanation that hell is “existence without God’s presence” hold any water?
  • Will our loving God sustain spiritual torture for all eternity? The Bible says all are sustained through God. We cannot exist apart from him.
  • Are the punished granted eternal life as well as the redeemed? According to the doctrine of conscious eternal punishment, they are.
  • If God is all-knowing, why create people who are destined for eternal hell?
  • Does God stop pursuing us upon physical death? Does your chance to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior end upon physical death?
  • Does judgment and subsequent delivery to heaven or hell occur immediately upon physical death? If so, how do we rectify the resurrection and judgment during the Second Coming? (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • If eternal hell does exist, shouldn’t Christians be way more committed to saving the lost than they are?

The doctrine of eternal conscious torment—a stumbling block that brings emotional distance and confusion to believers and unbelievers alike—seems to be far out of character with the Father of unconditional love and unending mercy. Jesus even went to his death without chastising his accusers. “You will be with Me in Paradise,” He told the believing thief.

In our confusion over this issue, are we as wrongly accusing God as the Jews did Jesus?

If I’ve established anything on the doctrine of hell, it is to continue to seek understanding and intimacy, but to do so with a heart hungry for communion—not with a heart rife with intellectual judgment or emotional confusion surrounding my prospects for the afterlife.

matt signature


References

Amirault, Gary. Tentmaker. Bible Translations That Do Not Teach Eternal Torment. Retrieved from http://www.tentmaker.org/books/GatesOfHell.html.

Jones, Erik. Life Hope & Truth. What Is Hell? Retrieved from https://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/life-after-death/what-is-hell/.

Tongol, Joshua. YouTube. Is HELL REAL or an Invention of the Church? – Joshua Tongol (Former Pastor/Missionary). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/54KoNT-19Bk.