Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

desert-cross

Today I was reading from the book of Luke and was reminded of what it must have been like when Jesus said goodbye to his friends and disciples.  It wasn’t a time that he packed his bags and found a new job in a new city, but a time when life was literally cut short.  Voluntarily, Jesus went to the cross- but that didn’t make it any easier.

There is a particular passage that I caught for perhaps the first time.  It’s when the women are weeping as Jesus passes them by on the way to Calvary.  He looks at them and, with a word of both comfort and challenge, tells them that they should be weeping for the generations to come. It’s as though He is saying, you think it’s bad right now?  There will be a day when the tree (the cross) is not green, but brown- and on that day things will even be worse.

As I have been reflecting on this past year, I can’t help but to notice how things have gone from bad to worse in our country.  Of course, the obvious place to look is the economy, the infighting politically, wartime, and family turmoil.  But that’s not what I mean.  People have become more and more oblivious to the love and grace of God.  They have managed so well at avoiding the most obvious source of all that is good- Jesus himself.

As I reflect, I also think of the church that, in many ways, has become just as oblivious.  We sit around weeping for ourselves, while the world around us has no one to intercede for them.  It’s much easier for us to judge them and live our own “blessed” lives.  At least it has been…but maybe not so much anymore.  In fact, the stuff that is is affecting all of us on the outside may be just the thing we need to shake us up on the inside.

As I reflect, I think of Jesus passing us by as we’re weeping for ourselves, our financial issues and things not going as we wanted them to go.  Maybe we are weeping because we are afraid of what this means for us.  And then Jesus passes by and says- don’t just weep for Me, and don’t just weep for you- but weep and intercede and care for those who have no concept.

As I reflect, I want to go into 2009 with an attitude of intercession, love and hope.  As the government is creating bail-out plans, let’s remember that the greatest bail out ever took place on a cross and that the way is open to anyone who would say yes.  Reflect with me.

-peter

It’s been about a month now. My mother-in-law fought a grueling battle with cancer; all the way to her last breath. She left this life with faith, hope and love- especially love. It was a difficult thing to say goodbye. I had the chance to see her just a few days before she passed from this life to eternal life. Although her body was ailing, her heart was strong, her sense of humor intact and her eyes bright. Mom (really more of a mom than I can imagine) didn’t really want to go yet. Who does? She wanted to see her grandchildren grow up and be involved in the earthly experiences that are a real blessing of God. But it was her time and not one of us doubted that.

There is something much different about grieving the death of one who has such a strong relationship with the Lord. God says that the death of those who are faithful is precious to Him (Psalm 116:15). Unfortunately, this is not the common way of thinking in the church today. We look at death as a second rate alternative to living here on earth. We forget that we are just “strangers passing through”. We have lost sight of eternity and play to the temporary nature. Some segments of the church preach that unless we get all 85 years that we’re missing out on God’s best for us. What’s up with that? So we go to heaven earlier than others- that sounds like more of a blessing than a slight.

So our grief, although real and painful, is also hopeful. Our family has cried and worshiped at the same time; we’ve prayed with tears and with smiles. Truly, the intercession of others who love us has kept us strong during this time.

The hardest thing about saying goodbye to someone you love so much, is that we have this gap of time that we know we won’t see them for. The pain of death is really a great evidence that there must be more than this. We hurt because this is not the way God intended it originally. And that’s why He made a way to pass from here to there.

If you’re reading this and you’ve lost a loved one who knew Christ- take heart, be encouraged, and rejoice. It’s not over! It’s only just begun really. Of course, make sure that you’ve made the arrangements to join them one day by receiving the love of God through the death of his Son. Jesus conquered death for us through His death and resurrection. He has gone on to prepare a place for all of those who love Him and long for His appearing.

So, for now, we say goodbye- or as I like to say it, “see you later, mom!”

-peter

Most people think of heaven as a place they will go when they die. And, though it’s true, it’s much bigger than that according to the Bible. We are given a picture of eternity that is far from floating on the clouds and playing a harp, but a reality that is both exciting and massive.

The book of Revelation gives us the most information about heaven. It talks about those who are currently there in the present heaven (chapter 6) and the future heaven on earth (chapter 21). Listen to the hope: “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. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Currently there is a book that Oprah Winfrey is promoting called “A New Earth.” Unlike the Biblical view of eternity and spirituality, it is filled with self generated mysticism and a “things will get better” here and now mentality. The truth is that things aren’t getting better and without Jesus they won’t. We don’t believe this so that we run and escape the world we live in, but because we have a greater hope that comes through the power of the Resurrection. I know that this world is not my home, but that I’m temporarily living here to fulfill the purpose of God.

The problem we face is that it’s so easy to live here as if it’s all there is. We can become accustomed to the beauty and the joy and the comfort, and lose sight of what is “unseen”. Easy to do actually, to see what’s seen and not what’s unseen. Then when things aren’t going the best- like when it snows again in the Spring, or when someone we love gets sick, or when our bills are overdue- we grow depressed. Instead of looking to heaven, we look back to earth and try to do it all on our own again.

One day those who are followers of the Way (Jesus) will follow Him to their new home where there will be no more sorrow or pain. And what a day that will be. In the meantime, we wait and pray and build relationships that have eternal significance.

-Peter