Doing WHAT forever??

Our Sunday School series on worship is coming to a close.  This sixth lesson on July 8 will help our youth understand that we will worship God forever in heaven.  For some, that can be a frightening concept.  During “worship” we tend to have a lot of internal complaints:

  • My feet are tired!
  • I don’t like this song!
  • Casting Crowns’ version is better.
  • We’re singing the chorus again?!

You get the idea.  That’s why Sunday’s topic could bring another thought:  We’re going to do WHAT forever??   The thought of worshiping God forever and ever seems like torture if we compare it to some of our not-so-heartfelt worship experiences.

But true worship will not be dull or boring.  It will always be exhilarating as we worship God and discover His endless wisdom.  There is also biblical evidence that suggests we will continually learn and explore God’s creation.  Just take a look at a related post from our Tough Questions series two years ago.

Worship Discussion Sheet – This is something you can discuss as a family this week.

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What’s your utopia?

In my last email about Sunday School, I said we were finishing the series “Bridging the Gap,” moving through the book of Isaiah.  I forgot that we are actually finishing this series this Sunday, which is fortunate because this week’s lesson holds the promise of the future for believers under God’s loving care.

We have two discussion sheets for you this week, January 8:

  1. Safe and Secure – this one begins with a discussion on natural disasters, something easy to get teens talking about.  You could even ask them what type of natural disaster they would most/least like to go through.
  2. Free Future – taking a cue from our inner longing for a utopian society, this discussion helps remind us of the perfect future we have with God.

Remember, each link will be active for about a week.

Good Riddance Day

Today I saw an article online about a strange practice I had never heard of before.  It’s called “Good Riddance Day,” and it took place in Times Square.  Read more about it here:

This event, sponsored largely by Cintas Document Management, allows people to say ?Good riddance!? to their unwanted memories throughout the year.  Pretty inventive idea?well, at least for the Latin Americans who originally started it.  It?s hitting the States with a corporate sponsor, emerging as a marketing ploy.

Nevertheless, as I pondered this new (to me) practice, I thought of the pros and cons of such an activity.  There are some good aspects to it.  For example, God chooses to forget the sins of believers (Heb. 8:12), remembering them no more.  That comes from the shed blood of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  Heb. 9:22 says, ?For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.?  If 2011 carries some tangible paper memories of our sin, I could see and applaud an exercise where a Christian symbolically destroys it to show that God no longer remembers the sin or holds it against him.  From shedding of blood to shredding of paper?hmm.

In another sense, though, I wonder if this practice is really a healthy one.  The tendency that I see in people is an eagerness to erase their past on their own without actually dealing with it.  Do we want to say ?Good riddance!? to our bad memories, or do we want to deal with and learn from them?

What if we?re simply talking about difficulties we face that are not a result of our sin?  We don?t want to shred those either!  In 2 Tim. 2:3 says to ?endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ.?  Paul writes, ?We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope? (Rom. 5:3-4).  Isn?t that what people are trying to do in the first place ? remove their despair to gain hope?  That doesn?t come from destroying our bad memories.  It comes from holding them up to the life-giving light of the gospel to see that Jesus can redeem even these to give us the greatest hope of all:  We will live eternally with Him and need not fear this world and its troubles!

So don?t try to shred your bad memories.  Learn from them and allow God to take what was evil and turn it into good!

Parent Question – Will everyone enjoy heaven, or will some people prefer hell?

Tough Questions – Week 7

Will Everyone enjoy heaven, or will some people prefer hell?

The youth lesson will answer the question “What is heaven going to be like?”  Youth will be challenged to ask parents another question:  “Will everyone enjoy heaven, or will some people prefer hell?”  Plan to bring it up if your youth does not.  The question’s basis is that perhaps some people in heaven will wish they were in hell.  This, of course, could not be further from the truth.  Youth should come home with a pretty good understanding of what heaven will be like, and with that understanding they will realize that no one would want to leave heaven.  Even so, part of these notes will give some references to heaven.  The bigger source of confusion seems to be of hell.  The reality is that no one will enjoy hell, and those who think otherwise have no understanding of it.


The following are some descriptions of heaven with supporting passages.  These are essentially a digest of the youth lesson on heaven.  If you are interested in learning more, it would be wise to pick up a copy of Touchpoints:  Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, a book that is packed with information arranged by questions.  It is a quick read and costs very little (as low as $5.00).

  • The city of heaven (New Jerusalem) will be majestic.  Revelation 21:15-22:6
  • God in His full glory will be there.  Revelation 21:22-25; 22:3-5
  • We will not be bored.  Instead we will enjoy every moment.
    • Learning.  Ephesians 2:6-7; 2 Corinthians 3:18
    • Worshiping.  Revelation 5:13-14; 7:9-12
    • Ruling.  Matthew 25:23; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3
    • Our bodies will be physical, with enhanced senses and abilities.  2 Corinthians 5:3; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:53;
    • The earth will be renewed into a sinless state.  Acts 3:21; Romans 8:19-23
    • There will be rewards, fun, play, exploration, and dancing.  Matthew 6:19-20; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 6:21,23; 2 Peter 3:13


Heaven will clearly be enjoyable.  But what about hell?  Below are some of the truths the Bible teaches about hell.  For a good web article on hell, visit

  • Matthew 25:41,46.  This parable of the sheep and the goats reveals that hell is a place also prepared for the devil and his angels.  It is eternal, a place of never-ending punishment.
  • Matthew 13:36-43, 47-50.  These 2 parables show that the righteous will be separated from the sinners, and the sinners will be sent to hell.  It is described as a place for those who do evil, full of fire, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.  
  • Isaiah 33:14.  Hell is also mentioned in the Old Testament.  Other passages include Psalm 9:17; Proverbs 5:5; 9:18 and 15:24 (uses the Hebrew word ?sheol?)
  • Revelation 20:11-15.  The Great White Throne Judgment will take place at the end of time.  Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life will be judged and thrown into hell ? the lake of fire.

Sometimes people talk about hell and think that they will be with their friends, which will make it bearable.  The Bible shows that there will be nothing bearable about hell.  All of us deserve it (Romans 3:10, 23).  The only people who will not go there are those whose names are written in the Book of Life.  Jesus is the only way to get one?s name written there (John 14:6).  A person must place his or her faith in Jesus as the One who paid the penalty that is deserved ? hell.  Jesus is the only One who overcame sin and death and hell.  Trusting in Him allows a person to have eternal life instead of eternal torment (Romans 10:9-10).

It is important to help youth understand that hell is a real place of torment.  Everyone deserves it, and only those who trust in Christ will be freed from that sentence.  It is also a good opportunity to ask them who they know who has not trusted in Christ for salvation.  Pray together for those people and set a plan to tell them about God’s plan for salvation.

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Parent Question – If God wants everyone in heaven, why doesn’t His plan involve everyone going there?

Tough Questions ? Week 6

If God wants everyone in heaven, why doesn?t His plan involve everyone going there?

The parent question this week is, ?If God wants everyone in heaven, why doesn?t His plan involve everyone going there??  Before students ask you this question, they will have covered in their lesson the concept of God?s sovereignty compared to man?s free will.  They will understand that, in some inexplicable way, God remains completely in control of everything even though people make daily decisions for which they are responsible.  This certainly relates to the question they will be asking you.  Here are some notes on the subject.

God certainly does want everyone to be in heaven.  2 Peter 3:9b says God is ?not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.?  John 3:16 also reveals the extent of God?s love for a condemned world ? He sent His Son to die for sinners.  But not everyone will go to heaven.  The verse goes on to say that ?whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life? [emphasis added].  ?Whoever? means that it is available to all.  2 Corinthians 5:15 says that Jesus ?died for all that those who live?? [Emphasis added].  There is a distinction between ?all? and ?those?; not all will have eternal life.

Getting back to the question, why doesn?t God just give everyone eternal life?  If He truly loves the world and everyone in it, why couldn?t He just pardon everyone of their sin?  The reason why God does not do this is related to His justice and His holiness.

God is completely just.  We learn that we are sinners deserving death and separation from God by reading Romans 3:23 and 6:23.  God in His holiness cannot tolerate sin.  In Leviticus 19:2 we read God commanding the Israelite assembly to ?Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.?  Our sin is something that God in His holiness cannot tolerate.  Here is what Colossians 1:21-22 says:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

The question sent home with students is actually backward.  Knowing that God is holy and just, not able to tolerate sin, and knowing that those who have put their trust in Christ have been redeemed, the question should be rephrased.  It should be, ?If all of us deserve judgment because of our sin, why did God allow some of us to go to heaven??  Those who are sent to hell are only receiving what they deserve.  That does not mean we shouldn?t be filled with a passion to reach as many as we can with God?s love, but it does mean we should realize that none of us deserves heaven.  God is merciful.  God is loving.  He sent Jesus to take our place and pay for our sin so that some of us would spend eternity with Him in heaven.  Perhaps there is yet another question that we should ask:  ?If we think God should allow more people into heaven, why don?t we care enough to share His message with others??  We are God?s chosen instruments to spread His message.

Make these truths stick

Below are some optional things that you can do to really make some of the concepts in these notes come alive.  There is an illustration, an object lesson, and a family challenge.


To illustrate why God won?t allow people into heaven who haven?t placed their trust in Him, here is an example you can use.  Let?s say you had a house that was nice and clean, with brand new, gleaming white, wall to wall carpet.  Youth and their friends are playing outside?in the mud.  You have just prepared a nice meal for them, and you want them to come inside.  The problem is that they are filthy.  You go outside on the doorstep and announce that they may come into the house for a meal, but they have to be clean.  Since they really don?t have any way to clean up, you stand out there to have them take off their shoes, and you hold towels for them to wipe the mud and grime away.  You cannot tolerate mud in your home.  It would not be a clean home if you did.  Suppose some of the friends refuse to clean off?  Will you allow them into your home?  No.  You have provided them with the opportunity, but they are the ones who refused.  God also has provided a way to heaven through Jesus.  Some have accepted, and others have refused; this is not God?s fault.  Heaven would not be heaven if sin were tolerated in it.

Object lesson

Experts say that bed sheets should be changed every two weeks.  When was the last time you changed yours?  Before the lesson, have your children wash their sheets (or you could change them yourself, but why rob them of the joy of housework?).  When they arrive home from the lesson, keep their bed stripped of fresh sheets.  As you talk about God?s holiness and the sin-free environment of heaven, relate this concept to fresh sheets.  There really is nothing quite like the feeling of climbing into a bed with fresh sheets.  Students who put fresh sheets on after this conversation (and perhaps shower as well) can climb into a clean bed with clean sheets to thank God for His holiness and the sin-free environment of heaven.

Family Challenge

The question was related to asking God why He wouldn?t have everyone to go to heaven.  The reality is that He asks us to share His message with others.  As a family, pick out people in your lives whom you will pray for and share the message of salvation with this week.  Pray daily for those people and encourage each other in telling them about Christ.

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