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Are all sins equal in God's eyes?

Answer provided by Pastor Jacob Eichers of Faith Lutheran Church and Student Center, La Crosse: 
A boy gets an air rifle for Christmas and wraps himself up in his winter coat to brave the Wisconsin winter to enjoy target practice in his backyard. Mom hears a crash and a plink in the living room. The son had shot a bb sized hole in the big picture window! The mom was furious and yelled at her son, “Not even an hour of owning that air rifle, and you broke my window!” 

The son replied, “Mom, the window’s five feet by five feet! I broke less than a tenth of a percent of the window!” I forgot to mention, the boy was good at math. However, that didn’t help his case. The air rifle disappeared, and he was grounded for the rest of Christmas vacation.

“Are all sins equal in God’s eyes?” I would relate that question to our picture window from our Christmas story. How much of the window needs to be damaged for it to be “broken”? We would say any amount, even a bb sized hole would break the window. James 2:10 is clear: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” In this sense, all sins are indeed equal in God’s eyes. Even the slightest lie or one lustful look “breaks the window,” breaking the relationship with a perfect, holy God, and sends us to eternal damnation.

What is Mom going to do on Christmas day? No window repair crew is going to go out on a holiday. Maybe she just patches over the hole with some packing tape. The situation might be more dire if the son shot an arrow through the window, or a shotgun, or rammed a toboggan through the window. There could be cuts from shattered glass, and even setting personal injury aside, it’s much harder to heat a home when a 5 feet by 5 feet window suddenly becomes open to December weather.

All sins may be equal in God’s eyes in that they separate us from Him, but they are not all equal in the ways in which they harm our neighbor and harden our soul to the deceitfulness of sin. Looking at a woman with lustful intent on the beach and having an affair may both be violations of the sixth commandment, “do not commit adultery,” but clearly one has more damaging repercussions. Zoning out during a worship service and skipping worship for a decade may both be violations of the third commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day,” but latter runs a higher risk of one losing his or her faith.

The mother didn’t get out a caliper to measure the size of the bb hole, she took out the yellow book and lined up phone numbers of window contractors to call on December 26th. Our job as Christians is not to measure the size of our sins, but to turn from them, and trust that in Jesus all our sins have been forgiven: big or small. 

Question: Why do we pray? And if God already knows what is going to happen, why bother asking him to change the outcome?

Answer provided by Pastor Jacob Eichers of Faith Lutheran Church and Student Center, La Crosse: God has a sense of humor. Just as I finished my daily Bible reading from Luke 11, Martha Keeffe called to see if I could contribute to the Shepherd of the Hills newsletter. In Luke 11:1–13, Jesus gives us an excellent reason as to why we pray. The picture He paints is of a friend going to ask a friend for bread in an emergency (verses 5–10). Jesus then shifts the focus to a father knowing to give good gifts to his children (verse 11–13). Jesus concludes the section saying, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

I am the father of three children. I’m by no means all-knowing, but I’m not clueless. I know that when 11 o’clock rolls around and my kids start getting cranky, it’s probably because they’re hungry for lunch. The same could be said of many other needs or wants of my children. They don’t need to ask, and I can get them what they need. Nonetheless, I love to hear things like, “Dad, I’m hungry, may we have lunch, please?” Am I completely clueless that I need to go off of my children’s cues? Maybe, sometimes, but certainly not our Heavenly Father!

To be a Christian doesn’t only mean to be promised a pie in the sky when you die. Certainly, the eternal rewards of heaven are the prize to which all Christians strive. But to be a Christian means to be placed into a family. In my family we have conversations. Prayer is a conversation with your Heavenly Father. He loves to hear from you. Admittedly, it’s a different kind of conversation. I’ve never heard the disembodied voice of God. But He speaks to me through His Word. For example, as I prayerfully read Luke 11 this morning, God was speaking to me to prepare me for the newsletter article I am writing to you now.

Thus, three reasons why we pray, 1. God wants to hear from His sons and daughters. 2. Prayer cultivates a trusting attitude toward our God.  3. God uses our prayers to open our eyes to how He is already fulfilling the prayers. As in, it gives us the reflex to seek out God to be the answer to our worries, trials, and needs.

Prayer is an example of the journey is just as important as the destination. Yes, God knows the outcome of that for which you pray, but you don’t!  Therefore, pray just as you would ask an earthly father. Pray trusting God is listening. Pray trusting that no matter how He answers the prayer, that fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. Pray, knowing that as you get in the habit of prayer, the Holy Spirit is working to open your eyes and your heart to see how God takes care of you every day! 

Question: Will our pets be with us in heaven?

Answer: Pastor Stein gave the following response: This question has a two-part answer. First, God breathed life into man, creating a being in His image - with an eternal soul - which will reside with Him in heaven until the creation of the New Earth. However, since our pets do not have eternal souls, they will not be with us in heaven. Heaven is the presence of God who is spirit, so only spirits are in heaven. However, God will create a New Earth where our bodies will be physically - and gloriously - restored. And, the Bible indicates that animals will reside with us on the New Earth. (Isaiah 65:25) It is often discussed that since God created animals to enhance our lives - and gave us the capacity to bond with them - that He just might restore their bodies as well. Recently a church member passed along an article that gives some more insight into this topic.  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2020/05/animals-in-the-afterlife/?utm_source=Newsletter