Summary: Going to begin a series entitled, “From Here To Eternity”… focusing on the grand questions of death and eternity… of what lies on the other side.

Intro: Begin with Question: Where are you going?—not after church… not in your career … I mean the “BIG going.” What awaits you when you face physical death?

- I hope in your heart your response is heaven. If so… do you have any idea what heaven will be like? Simply a place of rest? Issued halos and harps?

- Is such a future merely a matter of consolation… conjecture?

Going to begin a series entitled, “From Here To Eternity”… focusing on the grand questions of death and eternity… of what lies on the other side. A little background…

1. The significance of dealing with death may seem obvious… there’s no experience more common to us all than death itself.

- Billy Graham—‘Death is the most democratic experience in life, for we all participate in it.’

2. My own experiences—both personally and in a pastoral context—in which life was lost.

- A period of several encounters with death… 3-5 years… began when just 18 years old.

o Girlfriend Diane Shibley

o During college my roommates and I took people in who were homeless and messed up … one suicide… another older woman… Lola… became a daily drama of family like care for years… and would be the first funeral I would lead when I was 21.

o During that timed I moved to India….first time I had actually handled bodies that had lost their life.

- Pastorally… privilege… of sharing in the painful losses many of you have experienced

o Brauns… child

o Pittlucks… nephew

o Pat’s… mother

o Many others (lost parents… grandparents.)

 Every time we lose a parent, we lose a part of our past.

 Every time we lose a child, we lose a part of our future.

3. Our eternal hope is a priority of God

- ‘God’s world is centered in his desire to maintain relationship with us… the great love and mercy expanded to give us life… and the great hope that awaits us.

4. Contemporary confusion

- Cults that draw well-meaning lives sold strange mixes of spirituality and science fiction. Hollywood conjecture. Entire culture is trying to hold together a strange combination of materialism and mystical conjecture.

5. God has stirred this within me… and so I’ve set out to study…

Some of what God has to say to us will be merely a comforting reminder of truth and Good News you may know well… some will be a labor of understanding some complicated parts of scripture to get a better perspective… and some will surprise and stir your soul.

All in all I believe these weeks will infuse you with a depth of hope… even excitement, about your future.

And the hope God reveals… is a hope which stirs in the face of life’s loss… life’s sheer brevity.

- Apart from God… human life is at a loss for any lasting purpose or prospect… futility

- Writer of Ecclesiastes… ‘life under the sun’ = apart from God

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; and yet they cannot fathom what god has done from the beginning to end… I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14

- Larry Crabb—“Ever since God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, we have lived in an unnatural environment, a world in which we were not designed to live. We were built to enjoy a garden without weeds, relationships without friction, fellowship without distance. But something is wrong, and we know it, both within our world and within ourselves. Deep inside we sense we’re out of the nest, always ending the day in a motel room, never at home.”

- Malcom Muggeridge—“For me there has always been—and I count it the greatest of all blessings—a window never finally blacked out, a light never finally extinguished. I had a sense, sometimes enormously vivid, that I was a stranger in a strange land; a visitor, not a native, a displaced person. The feeling, I was surprised to find, gave me a great sense of satisfaction, almost of ecstasy. The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves at home here on earth. As long as we are aliens, we cannot forget our true homeland.”

In the coming weeks we’ll explore the realm of heaven that’s ahead… but this morning… I just want to explore the eternal nature that’s in us… the nature of death that divides us… and what God has done to see us home again.

- There’s little value in the hope of heaven if we don’t know how to get there… how to understand and overcome death itself.

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