NORTHGATE Blog

Eternal Hope for the Outdoorsman

Birds are nesting, lawn mowers have been taken out of storage, and community pools have opened; it is officially summer! For the outdoorsman, that means it’s time for fishing, hiking, and camping!

I grew up in a family that loved the great outdoors. As a kid, I spent hours and hours traipsing around the woods and fields behind our house.  My family took regular hiking and camping trips, the binoculars and bird book always within reach. From an early age I learned to love God’s creation. The sound of wind rustling through the leaves, the bubbling creek cascading down a hill, and the call of a loon singing hauntingly from across the lake, all fill me with peace, joy, and delight!

When I am in nature, every fiber of my being says, “This is good”. I feel at home when I’m in the woods, on a lake, or climbing a mountain. In the past, this has made it difficult for me to fully look forward to heaven. I often heard it said, when talking about the world, that “This is not our home”. This has conflicted with my deep sense that earth is where I belong. The idea of heaven has always seemed so lofty, spiritual, and honestly…boring!! I don’t want to spend eternity in a church service singing hymns and playing harps! I don’t want to walk on streets of gold or live in a mansion if I can walk barefoot on the sand and sleep in a tent! If you are an outdoorsman like me, or if you’ve had a difficult time getting excited about “going to heaven” I have some good news for you today!

The eternal hope we have as Christians, isn’t that we get to go to heaven when we die (although we do), but that heaven will someday come down here to Earth! Yes, that’s right, heaven isn’t our ultimate destination; Earth is heaven’s ultimate destination. Our eternity will not be spent floating on clouds in some spiritual existence, but will be spent here on a renewed Earth, fully being what God intended it to be!

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).

Don’t panic ocean lovers, this doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be large bodies of water on the new earth. For the people in biblical times, the ocean represented chaos, danger, and the unknown. Many scholars believe this is a metaphorical statement, not a literal one. In the new earth there will be no chaos and no danger. That sounds like a sweet deal to me.

The foundation of our Christian faith is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. In his resurrection, he defeated death, and now we too will participate in His resurrection! We look forward to new physical bodies, in a new physical world. That is the hope of the Gospel, and that is what we look forward to.

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

This is the good news, the eternal hope, for the outdoorsman. Our love for God’s creation is not in vain, but is there because God loves His creation too. So get out there and fish, hike, swim, and camp. The glory of God we see now in creation will pale in comparison to the new Earth we get to enjoy for all of eternity! We’ll get to be in relationship with the one who first looked on this world and said, “it is good”.

“And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

Time for Spring Cleaning

I don't know about you, but this radical change in weather has brought a smile to my face.  Spring is always an optimistic season for me.  The plants and trees are starting to bloom and the feeling of something "new" is in the air.  That's the "good news"….

This is also the season of spring cleaning.  That annual tradition of ripping apart the home and garage and cleaning away all the dust, dirt, and grime that has accumulated from the winter season.  While the end result of all of this work is amazing, the process of cleaning up is hard to start and even harder to complete.  I know that each time I look at this project, I get easily distracted by the desire to move quickly and get on with my day.  There are all sorts of other things that "need" my attention.   You know, really important things like checking my social feeds to make sure I haven't missed anything or maybe streaming an entire season of my latest new favorite series.  But with all that said, there's nothing more satisfying than looking at the results of the clean-up that has been completed.  What was once old and dirty now looks new.

Occasionally, as followers of Jesus, we too can enter into a season where we fall away and let the dust and dirt of the world enter into our lives.  Maybe we have become so busy with activities and work that we do not spend time reading the Bible or praying.  Or maybe there have been events that have taken place that have caused us to turn away.

The good news is that we have the opportunity to perform some "spring cleaning" in our lives as well.  The invitation from Jesus is clear.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"  You see, something new is inside of us that makes us new.  All we have to do is turn back to Jesus and re-engage with him to take away the dust and dirt to uncover the new you!  1 John 1:9 says - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

My prayer for you today is that you will take time this spring and do a little spring cleaning on yourself.  Establish a regular routine of engaging Jesus in prayer and study his word in the Bible and you too can have the opportunity to rediscover that "new" feeling that is so obvious this time of year.

 

Helping Kids Through Difficulty

I confess, I think I had become desensitized to the life stressors kids and families face today.  Divorce, death, depression, health diagnoses, adoption, foster care, bullying…the list could go on. They have become so common place that we don’t think twice about it.  However, those things are anything but common place to those experiencing it.  Especially children and youth, who because of their developmental level, process stress very differently than adults.  Not only that, but kids, even within the same family, can process and react to stress very differently from each other.  My concern is that our kids today are developing a “world view” of despair, isolation and “waiting for the other shoe to drop” rather than a “world view” of hope, love and connectedness that Jesus offers. 

We at Northgate don’t think it needs to be that way.  For a few years now, we have been praying, asking God how we can support hurting kids/kids with various “special needs” and their families.  As a result, beginning on Mondays in the fall, Northgate Church is launching a new program called Confident Kids.

Below is from ConfidentKids.com

Growing up in America today is not easy. Simply surviving can be complicated for children growing up with fractured families, drugs and alcohol in their homes and communities, family and neighborhood violence, foster care – and so much more! Yet few places within our society, and even fewer within our churches, are reaching out to help children deal with the complexities of these high-stress life situations.

Confident Kids is a Bible based support group program offering a life skills curriculum that helps families deal with the stresses of living in today's world. Through games, skits and small group discussions, children learn important life skills while experiencing a safe place to talk about their life experiences. In a concurrent group, parents/caregivers learn to apply these same skills at home, while experiencing a safe place to share their stories, as well. In both groups, participants grow as they discover they are not alone. 

Confident Kids is designed to bring hope, healing and the message of God’s love to hurting kids and struggling parents within our community by providing a safe, supportive Christ centered community.  

Northgate’s Confident Kids program will have a place for everyone in the family, from childcare for infants and toddlers to support groups for kids and youth ages 4 to 18 as well as a group for parents/caregivers.   No one needs to be left home on Monday nights this fall.  A meal will be provided as well.  

Even more important than providing strategies for dealing with life’s stressors, we hope that Northgate’s Confident Kids program will connect kids and families…to each other, to others going through something similar, to loving, well trained volunteers who are cheering them on and to Jesus who came so that we could live differently.   

Registration for participation in Confident Kids will open in August.  For more information on opportunities to serve on the Confident Kids team visit http://ngatechurch.org/kids-1/  

From Northgate’s Vision

Compassion-loving
We envision a Christ-centered, radically-loving, excessively-compassionate church who serves rather than be served, who gives rather than takes, and who blesses rather than curses.

Wendy Walton

Kids’ Ministry Director

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